Karen sighed in relaxed bliss. There was something wonderful about a night in with her flannel sheets, a Netflix show to binge and a tub of her favorite ice cream – so calorie laden that she reserved it for days when Nelson and Murdock won in court.
Today had been one of those days. When she had started working for them, cases were so sparse that her ice cream treat was super rare. Now that they were establishing a good reputation, cases went to trial more often. She looked down guiltily at the peanut butter swirl. Nelson and Murdock had also won a case a week and a half ago, she probably needed to up the requirements for the ice cream but that was definitely going to happen tomorrow.
Besides, Matt had absolutely spanked the opposing counsel. He had earned her the ice cream. It had been beautiful to watch. If it had been allowed, she would have happily taped it for Foggy because he loved watching Matt go in for the kill in the courtroom.
Unfortunately for him, he had a great uncle that no one liked who had died. Foggy hadn’t been even remotely broken up about it but it did mean he had to leave for a funeral. Normally Matt went with him for anything Nelson-related but with their case scheduled for court Foggy had reluctantly left him behind.
But not without leaving some serious instructions for Karen, Matt and Claire. Like a phone tree. A literal, elementary school room mom phone tree.
He was only supposed to be gone for three nights.
They were currently on night two and she’d already gotten like sixteen calls. How had the case gone? Had Matt eaten? Did she find the documents he’d left on her desk for another case they were working on? Matt said he’d eaten but had she actually seen it occur?
Basically, he was worried about the office and he had no faith in Matt’s self-preservation skills so he was kind of a wreck. She agreed on at least one of those counts, so she had solemnly answered his calls and texts and accepted her copy of the phone tree, some helpful hints for dealing with Matt that he’d typed up and her own copy of The Nelson & Murdock Scale of Pain with all the seriousness that the situation called for.
She hoped he was calming down at least a little bit. The case was done and they only had a couple of client meetings scheduled for tomorrow, so things were going smoothly. Matt had earnestly promised them both that he had only gotten some bruised knuckles from his patrols thus far.
Karen settled down into her blankets, pressed play on the next episode of her show and started digging out a brownie chunk. It was late but she wasn’t tired, so she was pretty much committed to finishing the season.
“And like, he’s agreeing to this? The Scale of Pain thing?”
“Why does everyone keep asking that?”
“Considering ‘everyone’ is Claire and Karen I don’t really think you get to be that annoyed about it, Matty. Also, they’ve met you, so it’s kind of a valid question.”
A huff of breath, “I’m agreeing to it.”
“Wow, Matt, that’s really, um, awesome. I’m serious, you guys, this is pretty cool.”
“Oh yeah, having to make a scale about my boyfriend’s injuries is a rad way to spend my time. Kidding Karen, I appreciate the support.”
“I do support it! In any way you need, just let me know!”
Karen woke up with a jolt. Her lights and TV were still on and her empty ice cream container was in her lap. Why had she woken up? Had the episode just ended and the lack of sound had gotten through her doze? She glanced over at the clock. It was nearly three in the morning, even if she remembered where she’d left off in the show it would have ended over an hour ago.
She strained her ears, listening.
The knocks were on glass, not her front door, and Karen knew instantly who was visiting.
“Jesus, Matt.” Karen pressed her hand to her racing heart. Foggy and Claire said that waking up to someone knocking on the window was a freaky thing but she still hadn’t been prepared for it. She threw the covers off, slid her feet into slippers and went out to her living room window where the fire escape connected.
And there he was, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen looking slightly less intimidating than usual within the frame of her curtains.
She lifted up her window, “Are you okay?”
“Um…” Matt said awkwardly. The lighting was dim enough that she couldn’t seem him very well but even with the low light she could see his little shuffle on her fire escape. He looked like a little kid who knew he was going to be in trouble.
“Oh! Sorry, yeah, come in,” Karen stepped back to give him room to bend and slide into her living room. As much as she loved Matt and Foggy as a couple, she still took the opportunity to look Matt over in an admittedly less than clinical way. So sue her, the suit was really tight.
Things got a little more clinical when she noticed the blood.
“Please tell me that’s not your blood.” She begged as he straightened up in front of her.
“Don’t freak out.” Matt said. He worked his mask off with one hand, the other that he wasn’t using belonged to the shoulder that looked bloody and if there were two things designed to make her freak out, it was that phrase out of Matt Murdock’s lips and any sign of an actual injury that he was favoring.
Sure she had agreed to be Foggy’s stand in if Matt needed help but she hadn’t actually expected it to come up. He was on a twenty-seven day streak for God’s sake!
Or rather, he had been on a twenty-seven day streak. It looked about over.
Matt looked repentant in a way that suggested he cared more about her reaction than his own blood loss. Actually, that was probably exactly it. “You’re freaking out,” He said quietly. “I’m sorry.”
“Can you like, smell, people freaking out or something?” Karen asked.
Matt quirked a smile at her, “Or something.”
Maybe she didn’t want to know, just in case he verbally confirmed that he could smell panic-based boob sweat. He probably could… strike that, he definitely could. Stop thinking about it, you idiot, “So, I guess we need to call Claire?” She asked hopefully.
The look on his face said it all. “She’s working tonight.”
Karen took a deep breath, “I was really hoping you weren’t going to say that.”
He reached up with the one arm he was apparently willing to use and started working on the weird clasps and zippers that Foggy had told her about. There was even, she remembered, a diagram with them marked in the papers he’d given her just in case she needed to help Matt get out of the suit.
“I’m going to walk you through it but I need your help.” Matt said gently. “If it was anywhere I could reach I’d stitch it up myself but…”
“Um, yeah. Okay, I can…” Karen peeked around his back, “Wow, that’s actually kind of a lot of blood?”
Matt shook his head, as if his opinion on the matter was super trustworthy, “It’s not, actually. Trust me.”
He pulled the top half of his suit off and left it hanging down. Karen gave herself thirty second to really admire his abs before she refocused on the task at hand. “Did you say stitch? Did I hear that part or did you mean you just need me to clean it up a little? Apply pressure? I am really confident about applying pressure.”
Matt’s face was not reassuring in the slightest.
“Claire said she left you a first aid kit?” He asked, completely sidestepping her admittedly stupid questions. “She’s been giving you lessons?”
Claire had been giving her lessons, at her own insistence in fact. She was even capable of actual sewing, as long as it wasn’t anything really complicated, so Claire said she was getting the skills down fairly quickly. She had been feeling pretty confident about it, honestly.
That was, of course, until Matt turned more into the light and she got a good look at the slash in his shoulder.
Now she was feeling not so confident.
“Foggy, seriously, I’ve got this. Go to your Great Uncle Bernard’s funeral and, well, maybe don’t have a good time but at least have a nice time with your family.”
“It’s going to be about how Matt’s not there for like at least seventy percent of the conversations I have.”
“Everyone knows you love him, Foggy, you can talk about other things.”
“Okay, wow. First, I meant the rest of my family is going to ask me over and over again why Matt isn’t there and after I convince them that it was unavoidable I’m going to get all the questions they’re too polite to ask when he’s around. Like when I’m going to marry him or possibly why I couldn’t have just stayed home myself and sent Matt to the funeral instead.”
“He’s everyone’s favorite, Karen. Including mine. That brings me to my second point – are you saying I talk about Matt too much?”
“I think we’re getting off track here.”
“Deflection, your honor.”
“I think you talk about Matt a regular amount, except for the last two days. We’ve had this conversation like seventeen times, Foggy. I have my copy of the Scale of Pain. You gave me the ridiculously thorough drawing of where all the zippers on his suit are, I’ve dutifully read your ‘Dealing with Matt’ tips. What else can I do to reassure you I’ve got this?”
“I know you do.” A sigh that sounds slightly less hysterical than anything he’s managed so far. “I know this doesn’t seem like such a big deal, Karen, but it really is. And I feel bad asking this of you too. I mean, you think you’ve got this in the bag, but wait until he stumbles in after getting gutted by a ninja and suddenly it’s less fun and games and more holy shit.”
“I hear enough about it to realize that this job has the potential to get really holy shit really fast, Foggy.”
“I’m still freaking out.”
“You’re adorable and Matt is adorable and I love you guys but if you sit me down to go over this Scale one more time, Foggy, I’ll give you a number five, seriously.”
“Okay, okay, I get it. I’ll freak out more quietly from here until I get back. I trust you totally, Karen, I hope you know that. The freaking out is me, not you.”
“Good, because I am totally confident that Matt and I will be fine until you get back, Foggy.”
“I can hear your heart pounding, Karen.” Matt said quickly, “This is not as bad as it looks. It’s only going to need a few stitches towards the bottom. The top half is really shallow. You can, um, apply pressure there and it’ll be fine.”
Snap out of it, Page, he shouldn’t be the one making you feel better! She mentally scolded herself. She took a deep breath. “Okay, I’ve got this. A few stitches are nothing.”
Matt chuckled, “That’s what I keep telling Foggy.”
“Oh shit, Foggy!” Karen remembered, “I have to call Foggy!”
He whirled around so fast she hadn’t even registered the movement before both of his hands were on her shoulders, “No, we don’t have to call Foggy. Foggy is hours away, he can’t do anything about this.”
“He’d still want to know!” Karen protested.
“And I’ll tell him when he gets back.” Matt promised, “But worrying him when he can’t help is cruel, Karen.”
“Why don’t we swing back around to this when you’re not bleeding?” Karen offered up, because losing an argument (and he was totally going to lose) and bleeding at the same time seemed like a lot to ask of a guy.
Matt looked like he didn’t trust her not to lunge for her phone the minute he took his hands away.
She sighed, “No phone calls to anyone but Claire until you’re stitched, I promise.”
Slowly, Matt let her arms go. “Okay.” He agreed, even if he still didn’t look like he trusted her greatly. To be fair, sometimes he looked like he didn’t even trust Foggy that much, so she tried not to let it bother her. Matt Murdock was the poster child for what happened to people who desperately needed therapy and didn’t get it and that was coming from another person who was stubbornly avoiding some probably much needed therapy herself.
“I’m going to get my first aid kit and my cell phone, but again,” She moved away slowly, “I’m not calling Foggy… yet.” She darted away and tried not to laugh at his sigh.
She went into her bedroom to grab her cell phone and to take a moment to thank whoever was out there that she’d gone to sleep in flannel pants and a tank top. Not that Matt would have seen anything if she hadn’t but the last thing either of them needed was Matt to like hear her nudity while she panicked about it. All she needed to do was throw her hair up in a ponytail to keep it out of her eyes and she was off to the bathroom to grab Claire’s hand-assembled first aid kit before she went back out to Matt.
She dropped the first aid kit on the table and listened to it thud. It was extensive. When Claire had gone over the contents with her, Karen had joked that she had enough gauze in the thing to treat a gunshot wound. Claire’s silent stare had been sobering, to say the least.
Now, she cracked it open with a deep breath and tried not to think too hard about all the possibilities. First things first, she put on some gloves.
“Okay, you need to clean it first.” Matt said gently. “Where is it easier for you to do this?”
She looked around her apartment with new eyes. Never before had she been forced to appraise her furniture for the best place to have her boss and friend lean over so she could drag a literal needle through his skin. “Maybe at the table?”
Matt nodded and went to sit down at her small dining table. He turned the chair around and straddled it like he was a relatable teacher in 1995. The thought almost made her giggle. Humor is the key here, she thought.
“There should be some…” Matt started.
“Got it!” She said as she grabbed the bottle. She held it up, vaguely proud that she was not a complete failure at being a clandestine nurse.
“Great,” Matt encouraged, “Just pour it straight on. Foggy likes to count to warn me but I don’t need it. Just go for it.”
Karen bit her lip, “Sure,” She said as she uncapped it. She splashed a little on his wound and winced when she saw his muscles tense. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be, I’m the one who should be sorry.” Matt said, “I wish that it was pretty much anywhere else, so I didn’t have to bother you with this.”
She grabbed a gauze pad and wet it, “We could keep going back and forth with this, so let’s just say that neither of us need to be sorry, okay?” She gently started in on the gash.
“Agreed.” Matt said. He paused and then put on one of his more charming smiles, “Do I smell the celebration ice cream?”
Nice distraction, Murdock. “Of course, you rocked it in court.”
“So you get ice cream?” Matt laughed softly, not enough to jostle his shoulder under her hands.
She poured a little extra from the bottle onto his wound, “Are you saying that I’m not a vital part of any Nelson & Murdock win?”
“Not at all,” Matt coughed a little. “You’re very vital.”
“How many secretaries-slash-research-assistants do you think would be willing to stitch their bosses’ shoulders in the middle of the night?” She asked. The wound looked clean, so she set the bottle and bloody gauze down to grab the suture kit.
Matt turned his head to the side so she could see his smile, “None, which is why we regularly pay you now.”
“I know, the thrill of a paycheck hasn’t worn off yet.” She laughed while her hands mechanically got the supplies ready. If she thought about what she was about to do too hard, she was pretty sure she was going to have to make a quick puke break in the bathroom, so she tried to detach into two Karens so she didn’t have to put much thought into it. Claire’s patient voice echoed in her head and she held onto it tightly.
“Do you want me to walk you through it?” Matt asked quietly, his smile faltering.
Karen shook her head, “No, I’m trying to think about how Claire explained. If you do it’ll be a little too in this moment and I’m trying not to think too much about how you’re an actual person… sorry.”
“I understand,” Matt assured her, “Whatever you need.”
She prepped the needle and tried to zero her vision in on the wound, as opposed to Matt’s face. Whatever she could do to make it less him the better. She took a deep breath and got started, “Is Foggy any good at this?”
“Yes, for all that he really hates doing anything that causes me pain.” Matt said, “I try to tell him it doesn’t hurt that much but he won’t believe me.”
If her breathing was going a little tense in the effort to keep her hand steady while she worked, Matt didn’t say anything, “I don’t believe you either, for what it’s worth.”
“I’m okay.” Matt promised. He hadn’t seemed to realize yet that he said it so often and in situations where he definitely wasn’t okay that the words had lost all meaning when they came out of his mouth.
She stopped talking, both to focus on what she was doing and to keep from remembering who she was doing it to. Matt, thankfully, followed her lead and stayed as silent and still as he could. She worked as best she could, trying to gauge whether speed or gentleness was better. She decided on speed.
After a few more minutes, Karen grabbed a towel to wipe away the slowly oozing blood so she could see the stitches clearly. She had done four. She had literally done four stitches into another human being’s body. “I think I’m done?”
Matt took a deep breath and moved his shoulder gingerly, “Yeah, that feels good.”
“You have a seriously off sense of what feels good.” Karen said gravely. She grabbed what she needed to bandage the wound, ready to cover the thing up and go decompress in her shower for an hour. Her stomach muscles almost ached she had clenched them so hard over the last ten minutes. If this was what Foggy did every night then she needed to be sweeter to him in the mornings.
“I really have to thank you, Karen, I know this is not what you signed up for.” Matt offered as she finished up. “I’ll buy you all the ice cream you want for it.”
She laughed as he stood up, “I owe you a lot more stitching for having saved my life.” Matt frowned and she held up her hand to cut him off at the pass, “Seriously, Matt.”
He seemed reluctant about letting the point go but apparently she had just generated enough good will to earn her the win. She stripped off her gloves directly in the trash, along with her handful of bloody gauze. The hand towel she had used was going into the wash; it was going to lead a new life as the designated Daredevil clean up towel. She was only sacrificing so much to the cause. Unless he was really in trouble, of course.
“Was that it?” She asked as she watched him pull his suit back on. “You’re not hiding anything else, right?”
Matt shook his head and flashed her a grin, “Did Foggy tell you to ask that?”
“Maybe,” She dragged the word out teasingly, because asking Matt repeatedly for confirmation that there were no other injuries was definitely in Foggy’s guide.
Matt’s grin fell just a little and Karen knew he was remembering her earlier insistence that they call Foggy, “Listen, Karen…”
“It’s in the Scale of Pain, which you agreed to, that you have to tell him.” Karen reminded.
“Yes,” Matt agreed, “But you agreed to be Foggy’s proxy and I’ve informed you.”
Crafty jerk, Karen thought fondly. “I’ve agreed to be Foggy’s proxy in the care, not in the informing. You would tell him about your level threes and fours, wouldn’t you? Not me, right?”
“I haven’t had any,” Matt answered, “But I told you about the bruised knuckles from last night.”
“And Foggy. I know because he called me and asked if you were telling the truth.” Karen revealed. Foggy had asked her not to mention it but she figured he would forgive her under the circumstances.
Matt looked a little sour, which almost made her laugh. “He did?” He asked.
“Oh my god, you cannot be annoyed about that.” Karen put her hands on her hips, “He asked me because you are totally not trustworthy about injury reporting, hence the Scale and this entire conversation.”
“I reported the injury!” Everything from Matt’s expression, to the sound of his voice and right down to the way he squared his shoulders screamed exasperation but Karen didn’t feel particularly bad.
“Great, so keep on reporting and call your boyfriend!” Karen shot back. She might have been a little exasperated herself. “Let’s just settle this. I’m adding an amendment to the Scale.”
The deer in headlights look on Matt’s face was sort of adorable. “What?”
“We’ll call it the Page Amendment. Considering four people use the Scale, I think we each get a twenty-five percent vote and we both know which way Claire and Foggy will go.” Karen said, “The Page Amendment states that no matter who acts as nurse for an injury, if the injury is at appropriate level for reporting, those reports must be given to Franklin Nelson.”
This exact moment, Karen was sure, was the one where Matt started regretting saving her. Or at least hiring her. The thought made her laugh, just a little, “And since you’ve got a level five gash, you have to tell Foggy.”
“He’s just going to torture himself with it,” Matt protested. He was appealing to her soft spot for Foggy, which was an admirable goal but if it were her she would rather know and torture herself then get bombarded with the lie later on. Next time Matt wanted to keep her in the dark for ‘her own safety’ she was hoping Foggy would remember tonight and return the favor.
“He’s going to thank you for telling him.” Karen countered. “Look, Matt, either you call him or I will. I think we both know who he would rather hear it from.”
Matt visibly clenched his jaw. She understood where he was coming from, she really did, but telling Foggy was what he would want them to do. She knew it and Matt knew it. “Just call him, put him on speaker and I’ll vouch for how it’s actually not that bad.”
“Could you call him on yours?” Matt sighed in defeat, “If I call him on the burner he’ll freak out.”
Karen grinned and grabbed her phone. “Seeing my number at this time at night isn’t going to be much more reassuring but sure, I’ll call.”
“This way you’ll know I’ve actually talked him,” Matt mumbled a little petulantly. She kind of loved it when he lapsed into his sulky little boy mode. It was cute.
Karen pressed the button to call Foggy and braced herself for his answer. One and a half rings later, Foggy’s breathless voice came through, “What’s wrong?”
Karen answered, “He’s okay,” The same moment Matt called, “I’m fine.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound really reassuring,” Foggy said. She heard him shifting around in bed and the sound made her miss her own bed with a sudden pang.
She gave him the best laugh she could, “It really wasn’t so bad, Foggy. Just a few stitches.”
“Stitches?” Foggy squeaked. “How many?”
“Four,” Matt said. He stepped closer and focused his eyes on her phone as best he could. It was almost sweet how intent he was on it, like he wanted to crawl through it to be by Foggy’s side. “It’s a level five. I would have handled it myself but it’s on my shoulder.”
“You stitched it, Karen?”
“I’m choosing to call that question and tone impressed and not skeptical, Foggy,” Karen warned. He didn’t need to sound so shocked. “And yes, I did it. We couldn’t get a hold of Claire.”
“Jesus, I never should have left.” Foggy said.
Matt shook his head, “She did a good job,” Truth, “It barely bled.” Her gauze supply begged to differ.
Foggy sighed shakily, “Are you hurt anywhere else?”
The question, a serious one, made Matt throw his head back and Karen giggle. “No, Foggy,” Matt sounded exhausted all of a sudden, “I’m not hurt anywhere else. Not even a new bruise, I promise.”
“Are you okay to go home and be by yourself? How much blood do you think you lost?” Foggy asked, rapid-fire. Karen felt a flush of guilt, because she hadn’t thought of that. Should she be making Matt lie down and eat some cookies or something? She had hazy memories of a high-school blood drive and the little snacks that they had given after a donation.
Matt dragged a hand down his face, “Yes, Foggy, I’m okay to go home now. It really wasn’t that bad.”
“I have cookies.” Karen blurted out, “Do you want a cookie before you go?”
“No, thank you,” Matt said as Foggy simultaneously said, “Yes, eat one.”
Karen pushed her phone into Matt’s hands and turned on her heel to the kitchen. She heard him sigh for what seemed like the seven-hundredth time since he had gotten there.
“Hey, can we talk real quick?”
“Foggy, I swear to…”
“No! This is new, I promise.”
“Okay fine, what’s up?”
“It’s just one last thing about Matt.”
“This is sounding kind of the same. Do you need to make sure I have a copy of the Scale to take home in my purse tonight?
“That would be nic… Wait, no, that’s not what I was going to say. Listen, Matt has a serious thing about thinking he’s bothering me. That’s like half of where the Scale came from. It’s like a Catholic thing or an orphan thing, I’m not sure. The point is, he’s not going to want to tell me what’s going on because that’ll worry me and I won’t be home and he’ll argue with you to tell me later or not at all.”
“That sounds… likely. What do you want me to do?”
“Fight with him, remind him fifty times that I want to know if you have to. Tell me yourself if it comes to it but try to get him to do it himself. Do whatever you have to, Karen. I’ll back you or thank you or smooth things over with him after if he gets upset.”
“Absolutely, Foggy, I promise. I’ll make him tell you if something happens. Which it won’t but still, it’s a promise.”
Her kitchen was mostly open to the rest of the room, so Matt didn’t get much privacy but his voice still dropped a little as he whispered to Foggy. She gave them a few minutes while she pretended to loudly be rummaging through her cabinets. Once she couldn’t pretend to be still looking, she came back with a half eaten package of milanos – double chocolate, of course – and pressed three into Matt’s unwilling hands.
“Um, thanks, Karen.” Matt said as he fumbled with her phone and a handful of cookies.
She took her phone back and said, “I gave him three cookies. Is that enough?”
“Yeah, it’s great.” Foggy answered, “Make him stay until he finishes them.”
“I’m fine.” Matt ground out, “I got a few stitches - ”
“Three is a few,” Karen cut him off helpfully, “You got four.”
Matt shut his eyes and huffed, “I got four stitches, which is practically nothing. I didn’t lose enough blood to merit this much drama afterwards.”
“You don’t get to be the judge of that,” Foggy snarked back over the phone. “Eat your cookies, Murdock.”
With a look on his face that suggested he was supremely done with both of them, Matt shoved an entire milano in his mouth and started chewing. They all stayed silent until Matt swallowed and raised an eyebrow at her.
“Great,” Karen said, “Two more to go.”
The look on Matt’s face morphed into something that she imagined criminals saw right before they were punched unconscious.
Her smile widened.
Matt ate another cookie.