The walk home from work is only a few blocks. Since he can’t find a cab, Foggy tucks further into his coat and resolves himself to walking. He keeps his head down, eyes on the ground. For a moment, he misses him. The slumped, dirty figure is dismissed as a homeless man, huddled against the side of a building. But as he passes him, Matt’s glasses catch the light. Foggy stops, his heart in his throat.
They’re the only two people on this sidewalk, but Matt doesn’t react. He remains on the ground, crumpled and shivering.
“Matt,” Foggy calls, cautiously stepping closer.
He finally responds, his face pale in the orange street light, “Foggy?” His voice is weak, “That you?”
His head wobbles. Foggy’s sure that if he walked away, Matt wouldn’t be able to follow. Some dark, aching part of himself insists on trying it. Swallowing it back, Foggy squats down.
“Yep,” He doesn’t bother to soften his tone, “It would be just my luck to find you out here,”
When Matt doesn’t respond he accuses, “You stole my wallet the other night, didn’t you?”
Matt turns his head, letting it flop on the concrete wall. The building rage Foggy feels is choked by the sight of Matt’s ear—a black trail of drying blood has leaked out, painting his cheek and neck. He swallows again, trying to stave off fear and anger.
Matt shrugs, “Got hit in the head,”
Inhaling, Foggy stands, “You probably deserved it,”
He regrets his words when Matt sighs, “Yeah, probably,”
He clenches his jaw, sickened by the resignation in his voice. Silently, Foggy stares at the pathetic heap of a man and hates him.
“You,” He jabs an accusing finger at Matt, “Are not my problem anymore,”
Nodding, Matt says, “I know,”
The ache in his chest widens and says: You were never a problem, Matty.
He swallows that too. Now isn’t the time to remember his friend as he was. He needs to get them both off the street before something circles and picks off the weak. Until this moment, he’s never considered Matt weak.
Taking him by his bloody, limp hands, Foggy tugs Matt to his feet. In his months spent as a dead man, he’s lost a significant amount of muscle mass; Foggy yanks him upward with too much force and throws them both of balance. They stumble into each other, Matt swaying like he’s drunk. Nimbly, he snatches the front of Matt’s shirt, hauling him away from the wall.
“Come on,” He snaps, still beating away his exasperation, “Time to go home,”
Foggy glances at Matt’s lax expression—he sounded like he genuinely doesn’t know.
“What, you can’t use your radar to find my apartment?”
“No, I told you,” He doesn’t seem to grasp Foggy’s spite, “I hit my head,”
He lists to the side, entirely off balance. Foggy has to pull against him while forcing him forward. If Matt weren’t so compliant, he wouldn’t be strong enough to do both.
“You have a concussion?” He tugs Matt closer.
When he doesn’t elaborate Foggy glances at his face. His eyes are rolling, searching for an anchor they’ll never find. The blood from his ear smears onto his cheek and Foggy’s jacket. He remembers what Matt said about how he navigates; his ears are essential.
Foggy curses, “Matt, your ear—what’s wrong with it?”
Matt sighs, “Got hit in the head,” He lifts his hand, clumsily snapping into his opposite ear, “It’s not so bad this time but...I couldn’t find….”
He never finishes that sentence, evidently too exhausted. Foggy grits his teeth—Matt can’t even walk straight and apparently, this has happened before. What might’ve happened to him if Foggy hadn’t stopped, Foggy doesn’t like to think.
“Why didn’t you call someone?”
Dropping his head on Foggy’s shoulder, Matt asks, “Who am I gonna call?”
They say no more after that.
Halfway to Foggy’s apartment, Matt’s head snaps up.
“Where am I? Where are we going?”
“To my apartment,”
“No,” He gasps, honest fear in his voice. He plants his feet, shoving himself away from Foggy with excessive force, “I don’t—I can’t...I don’t go there anymore,”
Foggy tries to catch him as he sways, fighting his own frustration, guilt, and worry, “Cut it out, Man. I’m not in the mood for your bull right now. We need to get you home,”
“No,” He growls, “It’s wrong,”
“Marci won’t even be home. She’s on vacation,” He offers, hoping to soothe.
His words have the opposite effect. Reeling, Matt stumbles back. His red lips are parted, eyes wide and childlike.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I live with her,”
“No, you don’t,”
Foggy shrugs, trying to disguise how unsettling Matt’s behavior is, “Okay, sure. I don’t—are you happy?”
He makes one last mad grab for Matt’s arm, wrenching him close. As they start walking he hears Matt whisper, “No,”.
After a moment of silence, he demands, “I have to be gone by morning,”
“Fine by me, Buddy,”
“Yeah, I caught that,”
“I can’t be there when he gets back,”
Foggy’s mouth goes dry. He hadn’t considered whatever left Matt in this condition. What if it comes looking for the Devil? Despite the old reflex to protect his friend, Foggy nods.
“I’ll make sure you’re gone,”
The rest of the journey is quiet apart from the odd comment from Matt. For his own sanity, Foggy ignores him. In the lobby light, Matt looks even worse. The doorman raises his eyebrows at the vagrant on Foggy’s arm but doesn’t ask. The luxury of money—no one minds if you drag a hobo into their building.
Matt’s filthy. He smells like a dumpster. Once he’s pulled him inside and turned on the lights, Foggy’s stomach turns. Matt isn’t just dirty, but bruised and slovenly. He leans on the doorframe as if he can’t support himself.
For a moment, Foggy can only stare. Matt seems too confused and weary to move. It crashes upon Foggy, that this is their life. He’s engulfed by loss; for a moment he’s smothered in the wave.
“Matt,” It’s a hoarse response that he doesn’t react to, “What happened to you?”
Where did his brother go? Who stole the man he knew and replaced him with...this?
Matt only rocks in response.
“Okay,” Foggy snaps to make himself move, “You have to shower,”
“I need to go home,” Matt sighs but doesn’t move.
“It’s safe to assume you won’t be going anywhere, my friend,”
Matt frowns, “He used to call me that,”
Inhaling, Foggy tells himself he doesn’t want or need to know what that means. Forcing Matt to shower, eat, sleeping, and then casting him out in the morning is hardly forgiving him. If he left him in the street—bleeding, lost, weak, rotting, alone—he might as well shoot him in the head. This has nothing to do with friendship; this is common decency.
“Go shower,” He sheds his coat, “Just toss your clothes in the hallway,”
They’re getting thrown away as soon as he does.
Matt doesn’t move.
“Matt,” His tone is sharp, “Go shower,”
Letting his head thump against the wall, Matt sighs, “I can’t find it,”
Before he can stop himself, Foggy asks, “What, have you been looking?”
Matt nods, a smile tugging on his lips, “Yeah. But I can’t tell if we’re next to the bedroom or the bathroom,”
Matt nods again, “Makes sense,”
He offers Matt his elbow. Matt follows, his steps still wobbly. He leans against the counter as soon as they step into the bathroom. Narrowing his eyes, Foggy watches him critically.
“You’re gonna fall over in the shower, aren’t you?”
Foggy rolls his eyes, “Of course not,” He stoppers the drain anyway.
He helps Matt stand, then guides his hands across to every bottle he’ll need, “Shampoo, body wash, face wash—for my sake, use all of those,”
Matt parts his lips and tilts his head back slightly, which is akin to rolling his eyes.
“I’m serious, Murdock. You smell like you haven’t showered in weeks,”
Matt cocks his head, “Did you close the drain?”
He’s obviously straining to hear the sound of a filling basin, so Foggy nods, “Yep. You’re taking a bath,”
Without waiting for his answer he pushes past Matt. Before closing the door he says, “And don’t touch Marci’s soap,”
While Matt’s bathing, Foggy considers calling Karen. Of course, he told her that Matt’s alive, but couldn’t tell her more than that; before tonight, he hadn’t even seen Matt himself. If only to spare them all from Matt’s mental instability, he doesn’t call her. He ends up on the couch, staring at the rug.
He keeps having nightmares about what he said in the bar—how could Matt Murdock be dead by Daredevil alive? When he stumbled home without his wallet, Foggy thought he understood a little better. But now, with Matt here again, hurt and vulnerable, it’s hard to reconcile him with who he’s become.
He’s pulled out of his introspective haze by Matt’s soft voice.
His head snaps up. Matt’s standing awkwardly in the hallway, wrapped in a towel.
“What did I do with my clothes?”
His eyes catch on the ridges of Matt’s scarred torso. He shouldn’t have looked. There are fresh wounds; brilliant green and purple bruises cover his shoulders. A burn has swallowed Matt’s ribs. Foggy can barely breathe.
“Fog,” Matt prompts him gently.
“Yeah,” He says again, tearing his eyes away from the wreckage.
“My clothes—what’d I do with them?” He’s still swaying but seems more alert.
“I threw them away,” He gestures to the kitchen, “You can just wear something of mine,”
Matt sighs at the floor, “Those weren’t my clothes,”
“Well, trust me,” Heaving himself off the couch, he exhales, “Nobody wants them back,”
He does his best to pick clothes that won’t irritate Matt’s skin. He ends up with an old t-shirt and sweatpants. The pants have pilled, but Matt won’t complain. When Matt limps back to the bathroom to change, Foggy starts making dinner.
Matt only becomes more hazy and glum after he’s comfortable. He refuses to relax, even after being fed ramen and hot tea. He’s tense and shivering again. Scowling, Foggy wraps a blanket around Matt’s slight shoulders. Whatever injury he’s sustained to his ear leaves him unbalanced and addled.
Because he doesn’t trust Matt to stay put when he’s not looking, Foggy says, “You’re taking the bed with me,”
“Why?” He’s so spent he can’t even lift his head.
Foggy lies, “The couch won’t do your back and favors and you already have a limp,”
“I should go,”
“Yeah,” He nods, “After you’ve had a few hour’s sleep,”
Without waiting to see if Matt’s followed, he plods to his bedroom. Awkward and leaning, Matt slips in behind him. He sits on the edge of the bed like he’s afraid to lie down. Foggy sighs and tries to ignore his theatrics; he drops into bed and tosses the covers over himself. It’s not until he’s rested his head that he realizes he left the lights on. So tired there’s a lump in his throat, Foggy inhales before shoving the covers off. Matt finally lays down, shivering, atop the covers.
“Where are you going?” His voice is soft.
“I’m turning off the light,” Foggy doesn’t mind this narration; turning out the lights wouldn’t occur to Matt, because he never turns them on.
“Don’t,” He orders, sitting up slightly.
Foggy pauses, hand on the switch, “Excuse me?”
“Don’t turn off the lights,” His eyes are wide and empty.
“Leave it on,” Matt’s panting; he always gets breathless before he cries.
“Why?” He insists, “You afraid of the dark?”
It isn’t a kind thing to say but Matt laughs, still gasping, “No, it’s—it’s for Foggy,”
He drops his hand. Worry is closing around his chest like a vice, “For...Foggy?”
Matt nods, staring at the ceiling, “He—Foggy won’t be able to see. Not without the light,”
The air tastes bitter. He watches Matt shiver, feeling vaguely sick. Doesn’t he know who he’s been with for hours? Did he just become confused? Where does he think he is?
“He’ll be fine,” Foggy promises because he doesn’t know what else to do. He flicks off the light and disregards how violently Matt flinches. In the morning, he’ll handle Matt. Right now, he needs to sleep and so does the drifter in his bed.
He wakes to Matt doing battle with the air. He’s twitching harshly; his hand flails and slaps his own chest. He watches Matt dance for a moment before rolling over. Foggy has nightmares too.
When he wakes again, Matt’s awake too. The clock reads 3:03 a.m. but Matt’s already forcing himself out of bed.
“What’re you doing?” His voice is surprisingly clear.
“I shouldn’t be here,” He’s panting again and struggling to sit up.
“Oh, gah, not this again—Matt can you shut up and go back to sleep?”
“Whose house are we in, Foggy?” He’s angry. Foggy can hear an accusation in his tone.
Propping himself up, he snaps, “Mine, you freak,”
Matt freezes, panic in his eyes, “We’re—we’re in Foggy’s house?”
“Yeah, I just said that,” Exhaustion makes him more inclined toward irritation than concern, although he knows he should be alarmed.
“How did I get here?”
Leaning against the headboard, he sits up fully. Matt looms over the bed.
“I found you on a sidewalk and carried you home like a wounded puppy,” He spits his words, “I fed you, clothed you, saved your life, and now you’re keeping me awake to act like a loon—any of that ring a bell?”
Matt starts like he’s been struck, “Wait, this...you carried me?”
“You couldn’t walk. You said you hit your head. Is that why you’re being such a jerk?”
“If you carried me then you’re—” He chokes, a pale shade of grey.
Years of frustration bubble into Foggy shouting, “I’m what, Matt?”
He whispers reverently, “You’re real,”
The silence is so deafening that Foggy must be dreaming.
Swaying, Matt seems stuck. Tears have gathered in his eyes, but he looks more frightened than sorrowful.
“Matt, what did you think was going on? What do you mean I’m ‘real’?” When he doesn’t answer—only balls his fists and wets his lips—Foggy pushes himself partially out of bed, “Matt,” He snaps, “Have you been having hallucinations?”
“I need to go,”
He tosses the covers aside and springs across the bed to block Matt’s path.
“You’re not going anywhere,”
Laughing, a humorless, airy sound, Matt limps forward, “You’re probably the hundredth person to say that to me and by far the least threatening,”
The threat isn’t lost on Foggy. Matt’s scared and vulnerable—both make him dangerous. Still, he’s injured and uncoordinated. When Foggy reminds him, he only cocks his head.
“Trust me, Murdock. I carried you here. I know just how bad you’re doing. So let's just skip the dance and go back to bed,”
“Why?” He throws up his hands, “I don’t know. I just don’t feel like fist fighting you in my pajamas,”
“No,” Matt scowls, “I mean why’d you take me here? To your home?”
Maybe he is concussed, “So you wouldn’t die?”
Foggy shakes his head, disgusted, “What is wrong with you? Do you even need to ask that? Wait, hang on—” He steps forward, cutting off his own line of questions, “What did you think I was doing before? When you thought I was...when you thought you were hallucinating?”
Matt clenches his jaw like he’s deciding if he wants to answer, “I thought...I thought you were a manifestation. From my subconscious. Something to guide me home,”
Foggy swallows, his vision blurring, “Has that happened before?”
Matt ducks his head. A siren sounds outside.
“It happens when I can’t hold on. When I’m about to let go,”
Greif envelops his heart, “So when I found you there you were just,” He shrugs, bitter tears on his cheeks, “About to give up and die?”
Matt’s eyes have captured the floor, “Yeah, something like that,”
“If something—” He grits his teeth, “If someone came to finish you off, would you have been able to stop them? Would you have even tried , Matt?”
The silence makes his ears ring.
“I hate you,”
Matt sighs, “I know,”
Sheer agony courses through Foggy’s veins. Matt’s so still he looks like he’s not breathing.
“You are getting back in bed,” He spits. The permanent slump of Matt’s shoulder slips further, but he doesn’t move, “You’re going to bed. You aren’t going to—to escape out the window or scale the roof. You’re going to sleep. And you’re not leaving until I say you can,”
Matt’s voice is soft, meek, when he asks, “And if I won’t?”
“You might’ve missed it, but those weren’t suggestions,”
“Let me,” He has to stop to breathe, “Foggy, let me go,”
Fury so fierce wells up, he’s afraid he’ll strike him, “Screw you,”
“You’re better off without me, Foggy,”
He steps forward, shaking with rage, “You don’t get to say that about my best friend,”
The tears finally spill. Matt’s brow crumples, “Your best friend is dead, Foggy. He’s gone,”
These words are vile. They poison and haunt them both.
“No, he’s not. You’re standing right here,”
“Stop it, Matt! I already lost you. After Midland Circle I—Matt I can’t sleep,”
Matt’s weeping now; his childish cry sends fire to Foggy’s heart.
“I have nightmares every time I close my eyes,” The confession rends them both.
Shaking his head, Matt whispers, “They’ll fade, Foggy. They always do,”
Too roughly, he grasps his arm, “No, you won’t,”
He’s trembling, sobbing. He tries to step away but won’t pull himself out of Foggy’s hold.
“I can’t do this anymore, Foggy,” He’s shaking his head so fast that tears fly off his cheeks, “I can’t. Every time I try I—” He gasps, “I can’t breathe,”
Foggy yanks him down, forcing his tear-wet face into his own neck, “Neither can I,”