Matt had met her a coffee shop.
Which, really, is probably as cliché as it gets. The shop had been small and cramped, stuffed into a corner with food and drink that was perpetually burnt, but opened early and closed late with free and fast WiFi and was near the bus stop Matt needed to board to trek towards Landman and Zack.
But, really, a coffee shop, and Matt still feels as though that part of his life was badly written romance novel that had been scrapped halfway through.
Insipid as the entire establishment was, cluttered with bodies and whatever it was the owners thought passed as decor, the goods were cheap and the WiFi really just made up for the rest. Listening, he mapped the area: six window-side tables with a pair of chairs on either side. All chairs had been occupied with an active heartbeat, laughing and chatter thrown in between the space of the duos on either side. Except for one, an open seat with quiet occupant on the other, the constant clicking of a keyboard the accompanying soundtrack for this individual. Fine. He wasn’t looking for company, he was looking for a seat to establish and a portion of a table to use to settle his coffee (black, no sugar, no milk) and his files that he needed to organise and make sense of before he clocked in.
Matt had met Mary when he approached her table.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” He asked.
“Nope, make yourself at home.” She said, the movement—or lack thereof—of her hair says she doesn’t lift her head to look at him from her screen.
He gave his thanks through a quick mutter and settled.
She continued her incessant clicking, and Matt's tangentially aware that she typed two paragraphs before she takes actual notice of the man seated across from her.
He’d been reading and shifting through cases when her clicking stopped. The change in direction of her breath meant she looked up from her laptop, the prickling of the hair on the back of his neck announced that she was looking at him.
She smelt a jasmine. The buoyancy of her hair and clicking of her sharp nails against her keyboard suggested a well groomed and kept woman. A businesswoman.
Her momentary distraction from her work had been short lived; the clacking of her keyboard returned soon after.
“Keyboard tip you off that this table wasn’t completely empty?” She asked. Her voice had probably been as dry as the half-eaten bagel stationed at her left.
“Indeed.” He said, moving his fingers over the Braille of his papers.
Clickety-clack. “And who is that I have to thank for the lovely company?”
“Matthew Michael Murdock, at your service.”
A snort. “Wow, triple M. Really liked that alliteration, your parents?”
A smile of his own. “Something like that.”
She hummed, the minute whisper of a pop means she purses her lips; she wore lipstick. “Mary Fitzpatrick.”
“Third generation Irish-American. Family immigrated in 1930.”
“1889, fourth generation for me.” He registered the Pierre and Randall cases in the Disregard section of his binder, which also doubled as his Look Into Later In Private division.
“Hmm.” Mary appraised. A tap on the table, new weight being distributed; she leaned on her elbows and inspected her companion. “And what does Mr. Murdock do to have such a nice suit?”
He tilted his head slightly, considered the faint tingling dancing upon his skin birthed from her staring. “Lawyer.”
“Oh, so you’re a leech.” At his snort, she snickered. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m an accountant.”
He gives another tilt of the head, towards the opposite direction, paused in his reading. Matt remembers smiling. “Glorified secretary?”
She lets something small and short, but a bark all the same. Her chair makes noise; she leaned back in her seat. Her voice was wiry, hiding that would-be wit he’ll be welcome to. “Hey, I got connections in the CIA. Insult me like that again and you might disappear.”
Matt won’t need to imagine the verbal spit roasting she and Foggy could have, because they’ll do just that when they meet in two weeks. With her snark containing a certain underlying bite Matt will become intimately familiar with, a tone she’ll reserve when she has him in bed.
“Of course, ma’am.” He answered, a mock bow both in physicality and meaning.
Whirling of the air around her; she gave a flippant hand wave. “Ew, don’t ma’am me, I’m only twenty-five.”
“My deepest apologies, madam.” The Goldsteins case was also directed to the Disregard file.
“You can make it up to me by buying me a drink.” Her chair creaked as she readjusted her weight to lean once more forward. Clickety-clack. “Also, sweet sunglasses.”
And that was that.
Mary becomes pregnant eight months later completely by accident.
She announces it by taking hold of the lapels of his suit roughly, and shoving him against the wall.
“You got me pregnant,” she drawls, not seething, not exactly. Exasperated, mostly, with breath hot against his face. Her heart betrays the roughness of her actions and coarse speech; quicker than usual, not as if she had run a marathon, but one brought from something undeniably resembling fear. Matt can smell the sweat on her back, but something else he can’t quite place, not yet. Familiar, in a background sort of way.
She stands with her body pressed up against his, invitingly warm despite the fact she slammed into him as she entered his apartment. Normally he’d welcome such an entrance, accompanied by her mouthing at his neck with teeth bared and a thigh suddenly in-between his legs. She does neither, however, and he already knew this meeting would be different the moment he caught wind of her nearing. He heard her approach, when she had rounded the corner and marched with purpose towards his building. The weight of her steps, the pace she carried herself, the breathing through her nose; all indicated this wouldn’t be one of their normal liaisons.
And then he suddenly realizes the smell on her. She—well, she smells pregnant. Faint and weak, something Matt needs to consciously reach out towards, too early for it to be a settled signature. Her hormones have increased as her body prepares itself.
Pregnant. She’s pregnant.
And she’s afraid. Of his reaction, of the life that will later present itself in her—he doesn’t know. He’s afraid, he belatedly realizes. His own heart flutters to match her own, breath stunned in his lungs and coming out stuttered as he tries to level his own thoughts. None of his limbs cooperate at such a hammer to the face.
He listens to their combined heartbeats in an attempt to ground himself, “Pregnant?” He asks, feeling his own brows reach towards his hairline in some sort of helpless expression. She isn’t lying.
“Yeah,” she intones, like describing something particularly simple to someone particularly stupid. “You proud of yourself on that front?”
For all his senses give him, nothing helps the static in his head. Matt doesn’t like swimming, the clogging of his hearing from the water is unpleasant like a centipede going down his ear canals. Accentuating the blood that thrums in his veins, too loud and too encompassing, and he may as well be submerged completely. Mary’s still staring, her hands still clenched upon his chest.
He doesn’t hear the noises outside. Everything’s merged together in something blurry. There’s a pair of idiots attempting to rev the engines of their car as a show of bravado only a mere block aware and he doesn’t hear it. He’s focused solely on the woman in front of him.
“Are you going to keep it?” He asks, mouth dry.
“Do you want me to?” She asks, slowly. Carefully done with little inflection, but there’s a subtle hitch when she finishes her question.
There’s no hesitation, and Matt surprises himself so much so he stops breathing.
She’s pregnant. He can’t think of anything else. The fact repeats itself constantly and echoes as if in a vast cave, the reverberations constant and overlaid upon each other. Loud, so loud.
Mary speaks through it still. “You gonna take care of it?”
He’s still not breathing. “Will you marry me?”
He says it as a whisper, breath leaving him like all his energy has been sapped out, air entering him like a punch to the gut. Bared out like his heart was on display for her to step on because he's suddenly governed by foolish thoughts. His skin blossoms in goose pimples as if he were suddenly made nude.
He owes her this obligation. He was the one who knocked her up, after-all. They could reap the legal and social benefits, and for him to soothe his sense of duty of their related fate.
(As people act, God watches.)
Mary makes a sound. She reels back, the fluttering of her eyelashes meaning she blinks rapidly in surprise. The weight of her fists against his chest lessens as she steps back, and he thinks she’s going to refuse. He doesn’t know how to act then. He doesn’t know how to act if she says yes.
Mary snorts, after a moment. Her hands leave him. “Usually you drop down to one knee for that.” She says simply.
Was that a yes? That might have been a yes. He’s going to get married. Actual, real life married.
“Do you want me to?” he asks, words broken with a weak laugh.
She’s pregnant. He made her pregnant.
“Nah,” she responds. Hair being sifted; she runs a hand through it. Black hair, she said when he had asked. Short and curved around her jaw, when he had his hand carded through it on the occasion when their mouths were on each other.
Which fabled encounter was it that led to this? Shit. He can’t move from his position against the wall. He listens dully to Mary stepping towards his couch before she unceremoniously flops on to it.
“I want you to get me the biggest tub of chocolate ice-cream Hell’s Kitchen has to offer.” She says with a huff, and Matt can’t help but laugh something small. And tired.
He’s exhausted, suddenly. Legs only barely keeping himself upright, and Mary’s announcement was the greatest marathon he’s ever experienced.
“Does that substitute for the ring?” He asks, his head floating away from the rest of his body. The crying infant in the next building isn’t helping matters.
“You’re still going to get me a ring, Murdock.”
“I feel like we’re on a first name basis, now, Mary.” He walks unconsciously towards her, once more in water. He sags downwards as a boneless heap to the floor, back resting against the couch.
Her heart is nearer to her normal pace. Calmed with a more predictable rhythm. He listens, focused and sedated upon its melody. He wonders how long it will take to hear a second heartbeat from her. He hears her fiddle with her fingers in that still ever present anxiety.
“Mary Murdock,” she mutters, and Matt nearly has his heart seize that he doesn't hear that her tone is unsure. “Now doesn’t that have a ring to it, huh?”
Mary Murdock, fuck. Fuck, he needs to bury his face in his hands, palms set firmly against his eyelids. He counts his breaths, One-two-three. They come out shaking. He’s shaking.
“We’ll make it work, Murdock.”
“Yes.” He says, nodding absentmindedly.
A father, he thinks, too dizzy to even properly comprehend it, like it was still some far away concept.
“I’m going to be a father, Foggy.”
His breath is a waft with alcohol, everything’s too warm beneath his skin, everything comfortably blitzed with Foggy as his anchor in this bar.
“That right?” Foggy laughs, giggles with snorts planted in between. Matt is nearly careened off his bar-stool when Foggy bumps shoulders playfully.
“Yeah,” Matt says, floating. He hasn’t slept for three days.
There’s more snickering in Foggy’s direction. Rustling of clothing, rubbing of skin; Foggy rubs at his nose, still finding this whole exchange amusing. Matt will need to find audiobooks on parenting, he realizes with another swig of his drink, which goes down like fire down his gut.
Matt hears Foggy’s breathing pattering out; he eventually stops his giggling fit, looking towards his companion. The lack of creaking of his seat signals to Matt that the man straightens, just minutely, as he further investigates Matt’s own reaction. Matt still ‘stares’ into the wood of the countertop, easing out his own breathing. Will it be a boy or girl?
Foggy has sobered up remarkably quickly. “Wait, really?”
Matt traces the rim of his glass with a finger. The bar itself isn’t tightly packed, sparse with guests with what Matt assumes to be some folk song playing on the speaker. There's a pair of men speaking about the results of some sports game. A group of five women are speaking of a television show about dragons, he thinks. He’s certain the bartender is attempting to eavesdrop on Foggy and him.
“Mary’s pregnant.” He says, after an effort. Like an abstract concept, that never gets clearer even when attempts to put the pieces together, still as nebulous as before.
Silence. One of the women’s favourite dragons has died in the newest episode, and she is, quote: ‘emotionally compromised.’ Then: “...Mary,” Foggy says, slowly, like her name is a foreign word. “The human calculator?”
He snorts. He hopes the child inherits her smarts. And his, as testified by multiple, dashing good looks.
He wonders how their child will look like. A good jawline, certainly, at the very least. A button nose? He likes button noses.
“I’m gonna marry her.” He says, and before he is cognizant of the fact he feels his face break out into what can only be described as a ‘goofy grin.’ He can’t help himself. A husband, a father, those were ideas only ever distant and almost trivial, to him. Thoughts only a lonely boy in an orphanage played with when everything else was too loud.
Matt faces his friend, lifting a hand to squeeze the other man’s shoulder. “I’m gonna—I’m gonna be a dad, Fogs.” And then he’s giggling. How absurd, the very thought.
“Oh.” Foggy says. Matt hears him blink multiple times, opening and closing his mouth, before he can speak again. “Shit. That’s—holy shit, that’s great. Fuck.” His disbelief doesn’t bother Matt. The hesitation turning into that eventual startled acceptance has Foggy move; he turns, slowly, to stare bewildered at nothing, before Matt can feel him reinstate his gaze on him.
“Do I get to be Uncle Foggy?” He asks, and his voice is hopeful. Small like he asks an impossible thing, and Matt knows he’s been given an inconceivable honour.
Matt laughs, moving to give his friend an amical, albeit awkward, side-hug. “Of course. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“And your best man?” He may be waggling his eyebrows, Matt isn’t certain. The women are still talking about dragons.
“You’ll be my only best man.” He says it like a secret, like two men conspiring something nefarious in a bar. They both break into laughter.
“That’s kinda sad, dude.”
“It’s true, though.”
Turns out, Mary doesn’t want to get married.
“Listen,” she starts, the sound of his running her hands through her hair loud in his apartment, the sound of her heart thumping making his own speed up. She’s pacing in front of him. “I can’t get married to you, alright? I can’t just rush into this just because you put a kid in me.”
“And that’s exactly why we should,” Matt says, the near screech of her shoes coming to an abrupt stop leaving all the air in the room stifling. “Because we’re going to have a child.”
“No, you are.” He goes to say that it is not him pregnant, but her; but she continues. “You want this kid, yeah?”
He gestures helplessly in front of him. “Yes!” He blurts out. It is his responsibility to, he owes both her and the child that much.
“I don’t want it,” she says, she stresses. He’s heard this tone before, from clients, imploring for him to believe in them when no one else would, to help them when they sought help before but faced only closed doors. She’s pleading with him. She’s desperate. He doesn’t need to listen to her heart or the displacement of the air with her frantic gestures to understand that.
“Mary,” he starts.
She doesn’t allow him to continue. “You got any idea how many times I wanted to drink or smoke these past few days? I haven’t been sleeping like a normal person, I feel like my hair is gonna hair out because I can’t stop thinking about this—this fucking thing growing inside me. You think that’s a good sign of a mother?”
He opens his mouth, then closes it, and he can hear Foggy's voice complimenting his impression of a fish in his head. He opens it again with words at the ready. “You could change. You might change your mind—”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” She roars, voice laced with in sharp annoyance. She's angry, obviously, but it is also diluted by dread, betrayed by the fluttering of her heart. “This is your fault, you made me pregnant. This is your spawn inside of me.”
“We both chose to have sex!” He asserts with his own annoyance and incredulity growing into a fire inside him at her gall. He intends to step forward towards her, a finger pointed sharply in her direction; but his march ends prematurely as he hears her take a step back. “It is our child. We both made it. We both have an obligation to it because we’re the ones bringing a kid into this world!”
“If I bring into this world.” Her voice is stiff but held with determination. Matt hears her fists clench. She takes a deep breath. “I can still get rid of it.”
He reels, shocked like he had been slapped. “You—no.” No, this is his kid. His child, she may as well have put a gun to his head. “You can’t. You said you’d keep it.”
Is that his voice? He sounds so desperate. Like all his rational has been forgotten entirely and he's just powerless. Just a boy parading as an adult.
The air is a black cloud around them. There’s no heartbeat yet developed from her womb, obviously, but he feels like he can hear its echo. A small, deceptively light ringing that he attempts to focus on, but another pregnant woman sleeps in the next building. God, he really is desperate. He didn't even want kids before all this, the mere thought was so pointless in his life. But he accidentally made his fuck-buddy pregnant and he's been barely able to think coherently since.
Mary shifts her weight. He hears her place a hand on her hip, the other once more running through her hair. She exhales deeply, her heart steadying itself.
Her tone is a controlled level one. “I’ll keep it, if you take care of it. I can see how much you want this kid, Murdock. You want this kid more than anything else.”
“Yes.” He says, with some sort of frantic urgency, like he may break apart into pieces at any moment and this is the glue to keep himself together.
“Then you can have it. Full custody and everything.” Mary says, a certain finality in her voice. “And then you never contact me again.”
Like a knife, screwed in deep. His jaw is set hard, hard enough to ache when he speaks again.
“I grew up with a single father.”
There’s something hollowed out in that. There’s a child skipping as she walks with her mother outside on the sidewalk. He hears Mary take in a sharp intake of breath, but not one out of surprise. She’s steeling herself against something.
“Matt.” She says, hard.
He’s turned himself numb, long, long ago on this specific topic. He can feel his hearing beginning to fuzz out, the beginnings of static. “And I always wondered, why did the other children have a mom, but not me?”
Despite general consensus, children aren’t as stupid as they seem. He understood the absence of his mother, that it had elicited sympathy from some and others was a target to tackle when they wanted to bully him. Even before his blindness and advent of his senses, he remembers overhearing others. About how it was so sad, about how kids need a mother, about speculations if she was dead. Statements that are ludicrous and wholly unneeded, without context and ill-informed. He knows that now, as an adult, but as a child, they echoed enough that it kept him from sleep.
“Matthew.” Mary says. She’s pinching the bridge of her nose.
“I would go to bed thinking, what made me different to not have a mom? Where was she? My dad said that she was too sad to be with us. I thought it was my fault. That she was sad. So sad, that she abandoned me.”
He took time, and active training, to not get tight in the chest whenever he saw (and heard, later down the line) a child his age with two parents. With a mother, who kissed them on the cheeks.
Fluttering of hair; Mary shakes her head. “I’m not—I’m not abandoning this kid, Matt.”
You are, something vicious says inside of him, involuntary and full of passionate ire. A sudden switch so severe he thinks he feels vertigo from it. Something ugly crawls out of his gut, slick with an oil. It's what he feels when he wants revenge; when he had beaten an older boy into submission for stealing his lunch, when he thought he could kill the man who murdered his father.
(He can’t quite pinpoint why he needs revenge now, against Mary. But he’ll understand it as some residue from when he found himself alone without sight, without a father, without a mother.)
He shakes his head, a weight beginning to settle on his shoulders. “Then what are you doing?” He asks. You’re abandoning me, stays unsaid.
He hears her swallow thickly. “Giving you a family.”
“Then marry me,” he reasserts, taking another step forward. She steps back. “Let me help you, Mary. You said we could make this work.”
She’s shaking her head again, her tone is once again pleading. “That—I’m not ready for this, alright? I’ve been thinking about this very goddamn waking hour. I don’t want to be a mother. I can’t be responsible for another living person. I don’t—I don’t even want to marry you. Do you want your kid to grow up with parents that don’t love each other? We’d get a divorce in months.”
Its true, everything she says. Her heart doesn’t betray her, neither does her voice or the way she shakes or the smell of stress off her. He wants to say that she doesn’t know that. That with enough effort on both sides, they could learn to love each other, or at the very least tolerate each other to be sufficient co-parents. But he knows, deep down, that’s a futile effort.
He swallows. It goes down like he attempts to choke himself.
“Okay.” He concedes, waving his white flag. “Okay.”
He already asks so much, he knows. For her to carry a child to term for him. He should be thankful. He will be thankful, when Father Lantom tells him he is being selfish, at the confessional, and to have faith in God’s plan for him, for his child. Mary could have gotten rid of it, she didn't even need to tell him. She could have privately gone to a clinic and never spoken with him again, as is her right to do so. The fact he even knows she's pregnant is a miracle in of itself. She's doing this for him, and he's being selfish.
The relief off her is instantaneous. Like a flood has sprang in his apartment. She sags, a small exhalation of total reprieve leaves her as a weak laugh. She steps forward, and Matt stands where he is.
He continues standing still when she places a hand on his shoulder. “Listen,” she says, bringing her other hand forward so she holds both his shoulders as she rubs her hands up and down in some sort of consoling gesture. “I looked up podcasts about parenting for you. For single parents. For blind parents, alright? I’ll send them to you.”
He can’t help but laugh at that.
Mary becomes registered as his surrogate, under an altruistic contract.
Almost, almost, there’s discourse in the court pertaining to his blindness and whether or not he could be an able father. An able single father, without a sighted partner.
But Matt’s not only a very, very good lawyer, he’s also very, very tired of people assuming he can’t do things because he can’t see.
When he hears it, he walks into a table.
“Jesus,” Mary says, springing to his aid. She hovers at him with obvious concern, hands at the ready to steady him but he does so himself.
He doesn’t have any time nor mind to feel embarrassed over the fact he literally just nearly impaled his hip against the corner of his table. The table that hasn’t moved since he got it.
His embarrassment is null, because with Mary this close, her belly nearer to his ear, he can hear it more clearly. There’s no mistaking it, now.
Concern evidently evaporated, Mary straightens. She scoffs, “You idiot, how did that happen?”
“Hold still.” He says. His urgency makes her momentarily stiffen, freezing her hands up as if she was being arrested.
She blinks, once, twice, three times when Matt positions the side of his head onto her stomach, with his hands on either side of her hips to steady her. She then grunts, after a small bout of stunned silence. He both hears and feels her relax, her arms falling downwards to rest at her sides. He assumes she rolls her eyes at him, but he doesn’t care.
Like the thunder of a thousand galloping horses. 120-160 beats per minute, Mary had read to him. The rate of a healthy heart.
Her stomach is still flat, at eight weeks, the baby-bump not yet present. But a second heartbeat sings through her, and he feels like a boy again learning about the intricacies of pregnancy. Amazed that the human body could create life so, and he feels the urge to worship the temple in front of him.
He knows, technically, with ‘normal’ senses he shouldn’t be able to hear his child’s heartbeat.
(His child—still so dizzying.)
He would, realistically, need the help of a technician to hear the heartbeat, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t take notice to his own grinning, like a madman.
Mary’s brought a hand upwards, patting his head, as if he were some overly affectionate dog.
She hums, idly carding her fingers through his head. “You’re gonna be a great dad, Matt. Really.”
He could listen to its—their heartbeat for eternity, he knows.
“It’s a boy,” says the sonographer.
Mary’s belly has extended, swollen and round. She’s got a hand on his shoulder, rubbing slightly.
A boy, his son.
He can’t see the ultrasound, but he doesn’t need to.
“He’s got a big head,” Mary quips, her fingers squeezing his shoulder. “He’s gonna be a genius, Matty.”
“Yeah,” he says, smiling and listening.
There’s fluttering of papers, and a thoroughly unimpressed noise coming from Foggy.
"You need an engineering degree to assemble this shit, Goddamn."
"Language," Matt mutters, on the floor with what he believes to be one of the legs of the crib. The confounded contraption had felt perfect when Matt had scouted it out, and Mary said it was black, modern in design with soft curves and a convertible. He needed to ask her what that even meant, and it turns out, the crib can be changed into three different beds. At first, perfect, wonderful; three-in-one bed, for infant, toddler and even older, something used for many years to come, and Mary helped in purchasing it.
But now, with the thing in pieces and with assembly instructions not in Braille (he doesn't know why he expected different, truly), he wonders if it may have been a little exorbitant. Excessive and a waste of money and all this thing does is confuse the two of them. He really should have become an engineer, he doesn’t think he could realistically sue the manufacturing company, though the temptation is there. If only for the lack of Braille or instruction videos.
"The kid ain't here yet, I can cuss." Foggy mutters back with what Matt thinks is a pout. There's more furling of sheets; is he turning the manual upside down to get a better look?
Matt attempts to rationalize where this—torture-feeling device goes on this crib. "Good to break the habit early." He grumbles.
“Fuck this,” There’s a sudden blowup from Foggy’s direction, and the flapping of paper weaving downwind; he’s throw the papers in the air in exasperation.
Matt wrinkles his nose at Foggy’s direction. “You’re going to pick that up.”
Who makes a mess in a blind man's apartment, honestly, Foggy. Get it together.
“Uh, yeah, ‘course,” Foggy says, somewhat sheepish. Matt hears him then snort and shake his head. “I’m calling in backup. Maybe Mary can make better sense of this.”
(In the end, they return the crib and get a simpler one delivered already assembled.)
The material in his hands are so dreadfully soft. He may as well as been holding a newborn puppy.
"I'm trusting you two that these match." Matt drawls, folding the baby clothes, a soft lime green he’d been assured, with matching socks.
"Of course they match." Foggy says, with that Are you stupid, Matt tone of voice. Matt hears him turning his head towards their other companion. "Don't they match?"
"Obviously." Mary says, a little more convincingly than Foggy. The fact that Foggy even asked her plants seeds of suspicion in him. "You're going to have the most fashionable kid, Matt. Don't you worry." Mary says.
He sighs. Heavily and more theatrically than strictly necessary, as he puts the clothing into the shopping basket. He’ll have to trust these two are normal enough people that don’t have the cruelty in them to purposely mismatch the clothing for a blind man’s child. He hopes so, at least. He has reasonable doubts about Foggy.
“We should get only white socks,” Matt muses, out loud. White socks, no chance for mix up.
Foggy scoffs, and then there’s movement. Rattling; Foggy’s takes a pair of socks off the rack. He jiggles it, making sure Matt can hear its tag.
“This one’s got dinosaurs on it.” He says. “What kid doesn’t like dinosaurs? You really gonna deprive your kid of dinosaur socks?”
He says it as if it would be the most grievous of offences to not consider it. And Matt can almost believe him.
He plucks the socks from Foggy’s hand, “This is white-socks only household.” He says, as he tacks the socks back onto the rack (and hears Mary replace them in the correct aisle).
“Dinosaur socks,” Foggy mutters, and Matt begins to think his conviction was sincere.
The changing table is more complicated than the crib.
“For the love that is everything holy,” Foggy moans, head in hands and a royal mess of parts between the two of them. “How the Hell do these people think we’re going to piece this architectural nightmare together?”
“With an engineering degree,” Matt says, defeated, on the floor again. This thing, with a three-drawer cabinet with a top that can lined with the included blankets. Cotton. It has wheels.
Talk about new age.
Pieces for the table are still strewn on the floor, the behemoth of an instruction set littered about and mocking. Matt knows the thing is a barely half-made monstrosity.
He hears Foggy step towards him, muttering a ‘on your left,’ before he sits down.
“That’s my right.”
The creasing of Foggy’s pants abruptly stops, his descent stopped mid-way through. He grunts, re-lifting himself and walking to sit at Matt’s left.
He goes down with a thump, and Matt can feel the exhaustion of today radiating off him. Foggy—God’s gift to humanity, bless him—accompanied him to numerous baby stores for wipes, diapers, ointments, washcloths, cotton balls and a whole slew of other items, stocking as if they were preparing for the apocalypse. They’ve been mistaken for expectant husbands more times than he can count, to the point where they just both concede and call each other ‘partners.' Because, really, at this point Foggy might as well be an official co-parent, awfully selfless he’s been. Matt needs to find a way to have him recognized as the Saint he is.
Matt doesn’t know what he’d do without him. He sends a silent thanks to the big man upstairs.
"I just want you to know,” Foggy starts, “I'm not changing the kid's diapers. That's all on you."
Matt snorts. “Valuable life experience you’re missing out on.”
It’s certainly not something he’s explicitly looking forward to, all things considered.
(And Foggy has his Saint status revoked.)
They sit like that for a moment, breathing between the two the soundtrack that accompanies them. Sitting together with a changing table that probably looks like it imploded on itself, and Matt feels like this is the setting wherein he should have an existential crisis.
This is real. This is actually happening. He has a crib in his bedroom, holy fuck.
Matt hears Foggy shift where he’s seated on the floor. He blows a raspberry through his mouth, hair swishing indicating to Matt that Foggy looks upwards to the ceiling, before slumping and sparing Matt a glance.
“Can’t believe you’re gonna be a dad. Wow.” Foggy mutters, disbelief still hinted in his tone. “You. A dad.”
Well, that’s not exactly a winning endorsement.
Matt feels his brow furrows, tilting his head towards Foggy in silent question. Foggy’s inflection is near cynical, like speaking of some absurdity. And Matt finds, yes, he is actually slightly offended.
Matt’s thinking of the most non-confrontational, but also most passive-aggressive, way to ask for Foggy to elaborate (settling, mostly, on simply asking “Elaborate"). Foggy shifts again suddenly, before Matt can evolve from the stink-eye he's surely giving him.
“I mean—you’ll be great. I know you’ll be great.” Foggy scrambles, and Matt hears the other man lift a hand in a placating gesture like Matt's got a gun pointed at him. “This was all just. Y’know. Fast.”
Of course, Foggy isn’t wrong. And he knows himself not to be the spitting image of fatherhood. The fact he still hasn’t acclimated to the title of “father” is enough proof of that. Since Mary’s announcement it still feels as though he walks in a dream, like another person pilots his body.
Everything’s been tilted and hasn’t righted itself since then, because his son wasn’t meant to happen in the first place, but he takes full precedent in Matt’s life at every moment.
He sags. “An accident.” Matt says.
Matt hears Foggy rub the back of his neck. “Well, maybe it would be better to not think of it that way.”
Maybe. 'Accident' has negative connotations. The kid was still unplanned, and he’ll readily tell his son that if he asks. Matt’s aged centuries already, and his kid isn’t even born yet. He’ll have to ask Foggy if he sees any grey hairs in the near future. But. But, he can’t deny that sense of invigoration within him. He’s anxious, certainly, the most he’s ever been in his entire life, at a near debilitating level. But he feels like an entirely new person, shedding an old skin to bring out a new one, something bright and polished. Well, more polished. It’s still rough around the edges.
He smiles, only a small rise of the corners of his mouth. “A happy accident.”
“That’s the spirit.” Movement, then Foggy lightly punching Matt on the shoulder. “You’ll raise him good, Matt. You’ll raise him right.” More movement, then Foggy leaning forward. “And you’ve always got me, yeah? Uncle Foggy’s got your back whenever you need it."
Saint status re-endorsed, then.
“I hope you’re ready to get called for emergency clothing match checks and to help me tidy the place.” Matt says.
“And to make sure you don’t look like a disaster when you come into work. Would hate for a client to see you with baby food on your suit.”
He’s going to be responsible for a whole living person. His kid. His son.
Maybe he’ll never get used to that.
He’s got a crib in his bedroom. A changing table in the living room. His bathroom is stocked. He thinks he probably has an absurd amount of towels. His bank balance is in shambles.
The entire course of his life just took a nosedive. The whiplash of such a sudden shift persisting like his head isn’t ever properly screwed on. He’s been running solely on caffeine to get him through the day and he knows that won’t change; he won’t be sleeping properly for the next couple of months when his son is born. He’ll need to get up every two-to-three hours to feed the little guy, he’ll have to change diapers seventy times a week, he’ll have to make sure the boy has enough stimulus so that he develops properly, so say the articles he’s listened to. He’s going to have a kid. An actual son.
The bare minimum would be to live his life for his kid for at least eighteen years, until he’s legally an adult. And, suddenly, that’s a very, very long time; endless, stretching to all eternity and there's never not gonna be a time where Matt isn't wholly responsible for his kid. Matt’s life suddenly dictated by—a stranger. Who still resides inside Mary. His life is for this person who doesn’t even properly exist yet, he’s obligated to this kid for bringing him into the world in the first place.
Matt’s been standing as a statue in his living room for more than an hour now. It’s 10PM, and he has his phone out limply in his hand like a stone. He should call Mary. He wants to, some sort of midnight soliloquy to ask her to help raise their kid. Their son, they both helped create him, he isn’t solely Matt’s spawn. Maybe he isn’t above begging.
To beg her to marry him, so that he isn’t alone in this. He knows Foggy will be his rock regardless, but Foggy is his own person with his own life with his own apartment. He can’t wake in the middle of the night to swaddle the kid like Mary could if they joined hands in this, and shared rings.
He knows he’s being pathetic, that isn’t lost on him. That he would consider literal groveling, but the walls of his place are empty and quiet and the thought of a pair of young feet soon accompanying it is going to make him break out into a sweat. It’s such an alien feeling, like this child is going to intrude on something sacred. Which he also knows is a ridiculous thought, but the sound of cars blocks away and the chattering of drunkards can only distract him so much.
He’ll be alone with a kid, his kid. His father had been alone with him, and he had cried himself to sleep on occasion, about the amorphous mother-shaped absence in his life.
(Will he hear that from his kid too? The quiet sniffles that are stifled with a blanket but still too deafening. He can’t even bare the thought of it, something squeezing uncomfortably in his chest.)
He never even thought about having kids before Mary’s reveal. It was barely something that crossed his mind unless prompted by another person about his future. The idea he could have a spouse and children were fanciful one-off imagines, ones birthed when sleeping alone at night became too thundering and his room suddenly morphed into his boardings at St. Agnes. Alone on a stiff bed in an unfamiliar place, his parents only ghosts and something cavernous inside him missing something he could never quite place.
He’s twenty-two, for Christ’s sake, he’s barely out of law school.
The very real and horrifying possibility he’s gonna irreversibly fuck this kid up is one that has his skin crawl like his flesh wants to seep off his bones entirely. Like this kid is going to inherit the fact there are days he spends using up all the hot water underneath the shower-head scratching at his skin until his whole body red, his own skin a foreign invader. That the impression he’ll leave on his son is something that resembles something too similar to Stick.
His stomach is churning like a whirlpool. He’s braced against the wall before he is even cognizant of the fact. His gut constricts as a tight knot, and he needs to count his breathing to steady it, to focus on something before he can keel over and vomits all over the floor. He’s barely eaten anything as is, it’d just be stomach acid and that’s a bitch to clean.
(He thinks of his father, of how much he can remember his face. Of how warm and so undeniably safe the man made him feel, unshakeable and always his foundation. Jack Murdock had been the sun and the world is less without him, and Matt still feels that deep and unshakable ache.)
But he can’t leave this kid. He won’t. And he’d rather off himself than drop the kid in a basket at St. Agnes. Bless all the Sisters who devote themselves to their children, but he will not have his kid become haunted what he could have had, to be weighed down by rocks and thrown into the ocean. It wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be right.
He wants Mary with him. He wants Mary with their child. He doesn’t think that’s an absurd request to make. But he knows, ultimately, that Mary will not have herself be forced and their surrogacy contract is already in place. She’s already made it clear she does not want the child, or him, and it cuts deep and twists. He knows it’s futile but the temptation is as heavy as the phone in his hands.
(He needs to be like Jack Murdock.)
He doesn’t call Mary.
He doesn’t get any sleep that night. Mary’s approaching due date is a looming thing.
There is an infant in his hands.
A fake one. One made of smooth plastic and stiff limbs, and probably not heavy enough to replicate an actual baby.
“So you can practice putting on clothes,” Mary says, and her tone is obvious in the fact she thinks this is the funniest thing in the world.
“You shouldn’t have.” Matt says, dryly. Because she really shouldn’t. The toy baby has three pairs of clothing for its closet, and Mary slaps his shoulder in some sort of camaraderie as she snorts and giggles. His unimpressed expression must be comedy gold.
And he had planned on throwing the thing away, dumped into the garbage and promptly forgotten and Mary’s odd attempt at some undecipherable joke left unsolved.
He doesn’t, though everything tells him he should. Like a magnet, he’s drawn to the blasted fraudulent baby like it plays some siren song. Its plastic face, moulded so the baby sits with open mouth as an ‘o’ like a fish, reads like it knows something he doesn’t. This terrible plastic atrocity harbouring countless secrets.
He sits on the couch with the thing on his lap, nude in all its synthetic glory with its clothing settled as an unceremonial heap next to him.
Babies wriggle, of course. They squirm and drool and have no concept of etiquette on the account of being babies. They do not sit stiff as a plastic mound, when getting dressed. This toy is an awful teacher, and Matt idly thinks Mary gave it to him as some indirect poke at the fact he can’t see.
That alone should make him angry, but he sits and he—He. Dresses the thing.
Obviously his son won’t be so well behaved, when Matt will shuffle clothing in his hands and feel around where that accursed foot is to slip it through a pant leg. The routine of it, dressing and re-dressing, on an unmoving plastic body is preposterously calming. He can drown out the yelling match between siblings on who gets to play on the Playstation two blocks down with the rustling of baby clothes.
Having something in his hand that is baby-shaped, with at least some weight, with little hands and little feet is…
It—makes it tangible. Real.
“Have I ever told you your apartment looks like a homeless person living in an abandoned warehouse?”
“Thank you, your insights are very valuable to me.”
He actually means that, considering he’s going to bring a kid into this place. Mary’s stomach is so alarmingly large, now, so ready to pop. Matt makes sure to pay his thanks in food when she tolerates him enough to allow him to rub her belly or listen onto his kid’s heartbeat.
(He’s memorized that rhythm, now.)
“You got flaking paint you need to remove, by the way, the kid may eat it.” She moves throughout his place, a phone in one hand while the other braces against her back to support herself. His son has gotten so much bigger since the first time he heard his heart, and Mary needs to practically waddle around the place. Matt never took notice of it, by pregnant women really do have a different gait when carrying their children.
“I’ll have someone look at it, thanks.” Matt replies.
Mary’s donated her time to not only criticize his taste in interior decorating (“I’m blind, Mary, you can’t exactly expect Kelly Wearstler."), but also to prep his abode against the oncoming baby invasion.
She’s got an entire checklist with her, for which he is thankful;
Move all wobbly lamps behind furniture, check.
Install fireplace screens around hearths, check.
Put safety covers over outlets, check.
Pad the corners of furniture with soft pads, check.
Anchor TV and hide cords, he doesn’t own a TV. Double check.
Install baby-gates on the top and bottom of stairs, check (Baby banishment zone, Foggy breathes when he firsts see it in some sort of misplaced awe, and Matt still doesn't know how to make sense of that statement).
He never realized how much guarding he would need. In hindsight it's obvious, of course. Babies aren’t exactly known for their self-awareness or critical thinking, and the multi-coloured detergent pods looks enticing to anyone. As Foggy tells it, anyway.
There’s too many safety latches and guards to count, and Matt will need to practice movement around these new safeguards. His apartment may as well be a warzone Baby banishment zone, indeed.
God, he really is preparing his place for the apocalypse.
Listening to articles of experienced parents giving tips to new parents is—exhausting. There’s so much shit. So much he needs to memorize. Worse than when he was in law school, for fuck’s sake, and infinitely more complicated.
Babies are ravenous. He already knew he’ll have to say goodbye to a proper sleep schedule, but he needs like ten bottles ready in advance for his kid. He’s going to be governed by bottles, a baby-formula factory, when one bottle empties he needs to make another in its stead. Just a constant, never-ending cycle, and his body is already tiring at the thought of it.
Seventy. Seventy diapers per week.
(It’s what nightmares are made of.)
He doesn’t even know how other people do it. How his father did it. God help those who have multiple babies at one time.
Never mind Superheroes, the true power lies in the fact that people are capable of raising their kids into functioning adults.
He asks Father Lantom to pray for him.
Foggy and him are on a coffee break. Perfectly mundane and unremarkable and Matt hasn’t taken a drink of his coffee. Foggy’s been animatedly talking about something on his phone, something about trending headline that Matt doesn’t remember. He isn’t listening. Mary could be due any day now, and he feels like he could get knocked over by the wind at this rate.
Foggy evidently realizes his tirade isn’t doing much, because the next thing Matt knows, there’s incessant snapping in front of his face.
“Earth to Matty,” Foggy drawls, still snapping his fingers. “You alive in there, bud?”
“Almost,” Matt mutters, leaning back into his seat and rubbing at his face to recover himself.
“Cool, since you’re not completely zombified, you gonna use your words for once or act like the world’s saddest mannequin?”
Foggy’s tone is flat, and Matt hears the man re-position his hands to be clasped in front of him as if he were with a client.
Matt's heart hasn’t been normal for the entire day. There’s just a constant, ever-flowing and ever-present blanket of anxiety surrounding him, and he thinks he now knows how prey animals feel like on a daily basis. He’s being wrung too dry, pulled taunt and near a breaking point; Mary could give birth at any moment.
He’ll have a kid sometime in the very, very near future and all his hair is going to fall out before then.
He’s been too still for too long, evident by Foggy’s inquisitive tapping on the table, and the movement of his hair indicating that the other man looks at him in growing worry.
“Could I be a good father?”
Matt whispers it, asks it in a small voice. His coffee grows cold and Foggy immediately straightens.
“Yeah,” he says, like it's the most obvious thing there is. “You’ll be perfect, Matt.”
Matt listens and—his heart is steady, he smells like his regular pineneedle cologne. Matt concentrates, jaw set, manually going through every and all tell and it all comes blank. Foggy isn’t lying.
Matt swallows, his throat dry.
“How do you know that?” he asks, clenching and unclenching his fist.
“Because you’re doing all this, hello?” Matt hears Foggy spread his arms to encompass whatever all This is. It appears to be the table they share.
“Being concerned about whether or not you’re perfect daddy material in the first place.” Foggy says matter-of-factly, and then Matt hears him make a small ‘eugh’ under his breath. “Okay, maybe not the best choice of words but you get what I mean. The fact you’re so wound up if you’re good enough is a good sign. You’re worried about the kid’s welfare and that’s a sign of any great parent.”
Well, okay, sure. But that’s—
“That’s the bare minimum.” Matt mutters. And that isn’t good enough.
Foggy scoffs, and the man rolls his head as he rolls his eyes. “How much money did you dish out on preparing for this kid?”
Matt’s cringe is answer enough.
“Exactly,” Foggy says, like it’s some eureka! moment. “If you didn’t care you wouldn’t run yourself so dry. Would you say your number one priority is your son?”
The shift to Lawyer Mode in Foggy’s speech is almost comical, and it does bring a small quirk to Matt’s lips. Foggy saying your son in relation to him is still so uncanny, like Matt’s some imposter.
“Yes,” Matt answers, truthfully.
“Good parent,” Foggy says, “would you also say you’re gonna give it your all?”
He has to, it’s his kid. “Yes.”
“Gonna protect your son? Gonna make sure he’s loved and cherished?”
Is he in an interrogation room?
“Yes,” Matt answers with a sigh. God, is he going to be one of those parents, with a fucking leash? He might. He actually might.
“See?” Foggy asks and Matt doesn’t have the energy to make a blind joke. “Perfect. Dad. Material.”
“Foggy,” Matt might be pleading, and he isn’t exactly for what, specifically. He slumps in his seat, removing his glasses so he can rub at his eyes and face.
“Foggy,” he repeats, head bowed. “I’m scared. I’m so fucking scared.”
He confesses like he’s at the executioner's block, with his voice breaking.
“I could ruin this kid’s life.” He says, gripping at his hair as he leans upon his elbows. “I could screw up. So easily. ”
And maybe it's a good thing he’s worrying about such a possibility in the first place, to be so aware of such a probable outcome. And thinking about such a fallout resulting from inept parenting is leaving him to break out in hives, he’s gonna shake himself apart.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, Fogs,” he says, not caring for that line of desperation in his tone. He must look like a madman, his hair can’t be well-kept, and his hands are now splayed in front of him in a powerless signal, his eyes wide. “I really, really don’t know.”
Articles, blog-posts and podcasts can only get him so far. He knows nothing can really prepare him for the real thing, and that’s hardly comforting.
(And he has no one to fully fall back on. Foggy’s the uncle in this, not the parent, and Matt will not solicit further than he already has from the man. He won’t run the risk of—fatiguing the man out so that Foggy leaves him in a ditch. He can’t. He can’t be alone in this. )
“Its normal to be scared shitless, Matt.” Foggy says, slowly, leaning forward so that tentatively grabs hold of one of Matt’s hands. “He’s a baby. Babies are scary.”
Matt focuses all he has on their conjoined hands. He hadn’t realized he was trembling. “Is this supposed to be helpful?” He asks, dryly, energy sapped from him so thoroughly. He'll blame that for showing such blatant weakness in front of the other man. Ridiculous.
“Shut up. Listen, you’ve been willing to take care of this kid since the very moment you knew of his existence. You’ve decked out your place in baby gear. You called me in two in the morning to ask if I couldn’t get you a bottle warmer.” Foggy rubs a thumb over Matt’s knuckles. “Which, by the way, could you not have your baby epiphanies in the wee hours of the night? Some of us sleep, you know.”
Well, at least that gets a laugh out of Matt. A single bark of laughter. “You’re Uncle Foggy, aren’t you? Waking you up in the wee hours is part of the job description.”
Foggy scoffs, and Matt hears him wrinkle his nose. Their hands are still joined, his anchor in this lessening storm.
“Listen, Matty. And listen close,” Foggy says, suddenly so serious, the audio of him, the smell of him, mirroring likewise. Matt didn't know people could smell serious. “You’re going to be great. You’re going to give this kid a great childhood. There’s nothing you can’t do that single parents haven’t done already.” A tilt of the head, then: “Is this a blindness thing? People giving you trouble over that?”
Another small laugh, though infinitely smaller and more tired. “No, not entirely.” He shifts in his seat. “I just—”
He can’t rightly finish what he wants to say, unsure of the words. He doesn’t want to be alone. Not in this, like walking aimlessly in a maze without his hearing or smell or tactile senses. He feels like a boy again.
“You’ll help, right?”
His voice is so quiet, and he thinks he may have to repeat it for Foggy to hear.
“‘Course I would. I’m an uncle.”
And God, he really does wear that title with honour.
He thanks God, not for the first time nor the last, for Franklin “Foggy” Nelson.
When he holds his child, his son, in his hands for the first time, he cries.
Throat tight, he feels his Adam’s apple bob up and down, and he needs to blink rapidly on the onset of wetness in his eyes.
His boy, his son, is warm and wet and small in his arms. Cradled against his chest and wrapped in blankets, his wailing is deafening and Matt thinks, he must have healthy lungs.
Matt himself doesn’t cry like his son (he still hasn’t entirely wrapped his head around that. His son), he doesn’t have tears streaming down his cheeks, but he feels a slow wetness make itself apparent. He’s quiet with hiccups, his son’s bawling making it up for the both of them.
“He’s gonna look like you, Matt,” Mary says with a raspy voice, clearly exhausted to the bone and laying in as a drained heap in the hospital bed. Matt can smell the sweat that sticks to her, the smell of blood, vaginal fluids, amniotic fluids, urine and breast milk from his son’s birth still heavy and persistent in the air, and he doesn’t need to have enhanced senses to smell it. It’s weighty and everywhere and forces itself into his nose—but it's not rancid or sick.
Her labour took nine hours, and Matt felt as though he could have fainted when the smell of—birth grew stronger. Something deep and damp, almost vaguely familiar, and he knew his son was coming into the world at that moment.
Copper, salt, fish and bleach, if he had to name it, and that’s definitely a statement he never thought he’d have to think about in earnest.
He knows physically his body isn’t strained, not at all like Mary’s, but emotionally—having to wait outside the delivery room had been torture. He created a ditch in the area he paced back and forth at, he’s sure. He could have eaten his fingers in nail-biting anticipation.
His son is wriggling, crying, and when Matt raises a hand to lightly trace trembling fingers across his boy’s cheek, he’s soft. Matt feels himself choke. This is a miracle.
“He’s got a cute nose,” Mary says, and Matt nods when he charts the roundness of said nose. “He’s got some hair on his head too. It’s brown.”
His son is so real and tangible and settled like cloud in his arms, and this is actually happening. After nine months with his boy practically having an ethereal quality to him, he’s here. Here, in Matt’s arms. Crying and making a mess but in his arms and so, so real.
He’s a father. He has a son.
“What’s gonna be his name, Matt?” Mary whispers.
How many hours had he been awake thinking about just that? How many ideas had Foggy and Mary suggested? Countless, a constant thought, a distraction Foggy needed to snap him out of at times.
“Peter,” Matt had settled on, a whisper of something so undeniably precious. The audible admission of his son’s name, with the boy in his arms, makes the two of them the only people in the world. “Peter Benjamin Murdock.”
Peter, when the Church was founded by Christ, he chose Saint Peter as His Rock.
His son, and he doesn’t know how he ever thought he wouldn’t get used to that. His boy, his son, and Matt now understands completely the term unconditional love. So nebulous that term was, entirely absurd and dreadfully preposterous, reserved only for romantics with rose-tinted glasses that serves only to fog up rational thought. But Peter is in his arms, his kid, his son, and Matt is now a father and he—he understands. He understands.
"And tonight: Blind lawyer Matthew Michael Murdock drove a pregnant Mary Fitzpatrick to the hospital when she went into labour. Yes, you heard that right: blind, and drove. Mr. Murdock has no light reception and has been legally blind, and therefore unfit to drive a vehicle, since he was nine. You might be wondering: how was his drive possible? Well, it involves six traffic accidents, and stealing a convertible.
“Mr. Murdock ran two red lights, skidded onto the sidewalk, nearly hitting pedestrians and a street lamp, and narrowly missed other moving vehicles. When pressed, Mr. Murdock said only three things: that he's memorized the route to the hospital awaiting the birth, and when Ms. Fitzpatrick went into labour he couldn't wait for an ambulance and therefore took matters into his own hands, and that he has very good hearing and reflexes.
“ Truly, a miraculous feat, and one with no injuries, but hefty damages. However, no one has come forward to press charges against Mr. Murdock, especially after learning about the context. Ms. Fitzpatrick was Mr. Murdock's surrogate, and at 11:32 PM, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, his son Peter Benjamin Murdock. He has since returned the convertible to its rightful owner, and has declined further comment. Ms. Fitzpatrick reportedly doesn't even remember the event."
"I want you to know I recorded that news broadcast about your Crazy Taxi episode, for when your kid gets older and can see what an absolute fucking maniac you were."
"Please never drive me anywhere, even if I'm dying."
She told him, Never contact me again, but leaves with a kiss on the cheek.
She shook her head and gave an exasperated ‘no’ when he asked her to stay one last time, just to breastfeed.
"Welcome to fatherhood, Matty." She said. She left to Texas, and he didn’t see her off at the airport. He was too busy making baby formula in the kitchen.
And that was that.