Peter couldn’t find his mask. He’d searched everywhere, high and low. His school locker, the bottomless pit of his backpack, the dust encrusted confines of his closet, even the crevices of the washing machine. The mask was nowhere to be found.
“May?” He yelled out into the apartment. It took a full minute of silence for him to remember that she was out getting groceries.
Peter stood in his bedroom with his hands on his hips and considered where else in the universe his Spidey mask could have wandered off to. Actually, now that he thought about it, maybe he didn’t need the mask right now. It was a good excuse not to go on patrol. He was so tired. More tired than he had any right to be. Actually, Peter was just going to take a nap right now. Just for twenty minutes. Little nap. Baby nap. Peter closed his eyes.
When Peter opened his eyes he couldn’t see. He tried reaching for the lamp next to his bed, but his fingers met cold concrete. The reek of piss hit him in the face.
Peter groaned. The sound vibrated in his skull, louder than a train whistle. He clapped his hands over his ears. Peter blinked. He still couldn’t see. Where was he? There was something over his face, blocking his vision. Peter tugged at it. It felt like a helmet.
Coarse ground scraped under him as he wrestled with the offending helmet. He wasn’t in his room. What was going on?
“Matt?” A voice yelled. Peter hissed as the sound crashed against his skin. He could feel the air displaced by the person running towards him. The footsteps on the ground slammed into his chest. He tugged harder at the helmet.
“Matt, buddy, are you okay?” The voice was a foghorn.
A pair of hands clasped Peter’s elbows and in a rush Peter could feel every callous and smell the sweaty palms. The person sighed and Peter’s nose filled with toothpaste, mustard, salami, bread, salt, strawberry. His stomach turned.
“Oh man. Don’t be sick, Matt. I just got new shoes.”
“Who’s Matt?” Peter’s voice came out all gravel.
Peter realized he could hear the person’s heartbeat when it skipped. A flood of body odour hit him in the nose.
“Hey buddy that’s not funny. Please tell you know who you are?”
The hands were gripping him by the wrists, preventing Peter’s attempts to rip the helmet off his face.
The heartbeat skipped again and then started leaping double time. “Ok, that’s not good. How many hits to the head did you take?”
“I don’t know,” Peter groaned. “I don’t know where I am. I can’t see.” He pulled at the man’s grip, but the hands tightened on his wrists. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why you keep calling me Matt.”
“Ok, you’re scaring me. Just stop. Matt?”
Peter wrenched his hands free. He yanked the helmet off his face, expecting light to fill his vision. There was no change. The dark remained dark. Peter panicked.
“I can’t see. God, I can’t see!” Peter’s breaths were wheezing between his teeth. His head was getting fuzzy.
“Matt, calm down! Jeez, here,” The man shoved the helmet back into Peter’s hands. “Focus on this. Tell me what you feel.”
The mask was hard, smooth under Peter’s fingertips. It wasn’t his soft Spidey mask. Which was still missing, dang it. That must be why he was wearing a different mask. And he got into a fight and his concussion was blocking his memories. Peter scrubbed a hand over his face. That would also explain the loss of vision and the nausea and the smells and the… stubble? Peter’s hands stopped at his own jaw. Scratchy hairs prickled his fingers. His face didn’t feel right. It was too hard, too square.
He scrambled for the helmet, tracing the contours of the mask. It started at the nose. No eye holes. Peter got to the crown of the head and paused. Something sharp protruded from both temples. Something like horns.
“Holy crap, I’m Daredevil!”
“Winner winner chicken dinner,” the other person sighed. Peter wished he wouldn’t. The mustard on the guy’s breath was suffocating.
The realisation hit Peter like lightning. Daredevil was blind! How the hell did he function? Holy crow, there was blind man in red spandex jumping off roofs every night! What the hell?
“But I’m not Daredevil,” Peter pleaded. “I’m Pe-, I’m Spiderman!”
Mustard breath paused. “Are you being serious? Because I’ve seen a lot of wacko crazy in the last year and I’m not in the mood for jokes.”
Peter bobbed his head. “I’m Spiderman. I’m in the wrong body!”
The guy swore under his breath. It still hit Peter’s ears like a sledgehammer. How did Double D put up with this level of noise all the time?
Peter squirmed. “Um, I don’t know who you are. Sorry.”
“Foggy.” The guy answered automatically. “Call me Foggy.”
What kind of name was that? Actually, no, Peter had no right to question Foggy when he was calling himself Spiderman.
“Do you, um, know? About Daredevil?”
Foggy snorted. “Do I know he’s blind? That’s what you’re asking, right? Yeah. He says he’s got something called radar sense that helps him navigate. This is seriously weird, explaining Matt’s mutation to his face.”
“You’re telling me?”
Radar sense, huh? That sounded like BS. Peter couldn’t see anything. It was all black. But his other senses, those were dialled up to a hundred and fifty. The harder Peter focused, the more he noticed about the alley he was sitting in. It was definitely an alley. The piss was a good indicator. And Foggy’s voice bounced up along rough walls. A cool breeze raced down from the street opening. It scratched like sandpaper over Peter’s face. He could smell the entire contents of the trash bin at the end of the alley. His stomach turned again at the scent of rotten bread, meat, old cigarettes, and vomit full of booze.
“How do I get my body back?” Peter asked the same time Foggy said, “Where’s Matt if you’re in his body?”
Holy crap. No. “If I’m here, he’s probably in my body, right?” Peter scrambled to stand. “What time is it? My aunt cannot find someone else in my body. She’ll flip.”
“It’s four thirty.” Foggy took Peter’s arm and helped pull him off the smelly ground.
“Seriously?” Peter had only been out ten minutes. Dang it, he’d missed his nap!
“I have to get home,” Peter put a hand against the brick wall. It grated like crushed glass. Peter took three steps and stopped. “I can’t… I can’t see. How am I supposed to get home?”
“I can help. I’ve got to find Matt, too,” Foggy said. “Here,” Foggy took his hand and shoved something in Peter’s fingers.
“A cane?” Peter tapped it against the ground. “I don’t know how to use this.”
“Take my arm,” Foggy wrapped Peter’s fingers around his elbow. “Little looser, yeah like that.”
“Before we go,” Foggy’s hands were suddenly at Peter’s throat. Peter jerked back, thrashing wildly.
“Woah! Hey, my bad,” Foggy shifted back, his shoes scuffing the ground. “Sorry, I forgot you didn’t know I was coming. You’re wearing the Daredevil suit under your shirt. I was going to button up your shirt for you.”
“Oh, sorry.” Peter held still as Foggy’s hands deftly raced through the buttons at his collar.
Foggy’s mustard breath washed over Peter’s face. Peter did his best not to breathe. The exhale receded as Foggy leaned back. “Eh, good enough. No one will know it’s the Daredevil suit.”
He moved into Peter’s space again.
“Okay, here, take my arm. Yeah, like that. Alright, now we walk. Where are we going?”
Peter’s stomach soured. Was he really okay with this? Could he trust Foggy enough to bing him to his home? To May? The list of people who knew Peter Parker, AP student, was Spiderman was ludicrously short.
“Before we go, you’ve got to swear you’re not a super villain.”
Peter was serious.
“I swear. My hand is over my heart and everything.”
Peter knew that. He could hear the fibres of Foggy’s shirt shifting under his hand.
“Queens,” Peter rattled off his address.
Foggy led him through the streets. Horns honked, people shouted, footsteps rattled Peter’s bones. A Manhattan sized headache was forming in Peter’s skull. He tripped over every corner, every rock, every sidewalk curb. Were it not for Foggy, Peter would have been crawling on his hands and knees.
“How does Daredevil do this?” Peter gasped.
“I ask myself that everyday.”
They finally arrived. Peter stumbled on each and every one of the front steps because the universe hated him.
Peter directed Foggy to the spare key in the flower pot. The door clicked open and shut behind them. Peter felt something hurtling towards them.
“Down!” Peter yanked Foggy to the floor. Something whizzed over their heads, smashing against the closed door. Ozone hit Peter’s nostrils.
“Was that a salt shaker?”
“Um,” Foggy twisted under Peter. “Yes?”
They pulled each other to their feet. Foggy’s heartbeat raced in Peter’s ears.
“Who’re you?” A squeaky voice yelled from further inside the apartment.
The person swore. “Foggy? Holy crap.”
There was a scuffling, a wild displacement of air, and something knocked Foggy out of Peter’s grip.
“Oh Lord, your eyes are blue!” Matt laughed.
“Holy cow, you’re tiny,” Foggy crushed the smaller person, Matt, to his chest. That was Peter’s body hugging Foggy. Weird. Peter could smell his own deodorant and shampoo, and that carbon stench of Spider-webbing. His voice speaking Matt’s words was way squeakier than it sounded when it was in his own skull. That was embarrassing.
Matt turned to Peter and his breathing spiked. “Is that me? Is that what I look like?”
Peter waved. Matt’s heart jumped. “I’m so ginger.”
“Really?” Peter raked a hand through the wavy mess of hair. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling for. Colours didn’t have textures.
Matt’s eyes were wet. Peter could taste the salt on the air. Matt kept touching Foggy’s chest, Matt’s heart racing like he was… Oh. He was seeing Foggy for the first time. The blind kid was seeing his best friend in the flesh, with real, working, if slightly nearsighted, eyes for the very first time. What a rush.
Peter redirected his attention to let Matt have his moment.
Peter’s shoulder relaxed by degrees as his newly heightened senses breathed in the comforting normalcy of home. Laundry detergent, and sage from the plant by the window. The dented floorboards and the tiniest hint of new paint from the bathroom renovations he and May did over the summer.
Foggy held Matt by the shoulders. “Tell me what happened. How did you become a teeny bopper?”
“Hey!” It wasn’t Peter’s fault he was a late bloomer. And actually, Mr. Foggy, he was in the middle of a growth spurt. When the shin splints finally stopped he’d be taller than May and Foggy. So there.
To his credit, Matt jumped right in to his explanation. “I was following that cult from 88th street. They were doing a weird ritual today. I got into their basement just as they started the ceremony.”
Matt directed his words at Peter. “They have a weird obsession with powered people. Their leader was going to swap bodies with you.”
“So this is their fault!” Peter interrupted.
Heat flooded Matt’s face. “Well, only half their fault. They had your mask.”
Peter groaned. So that’s where it went. It was Parker luck that a magic cult stole his stuff instead of him just losing it like a normal person.
“I didn’t know they were doing, but I knew the mask was important,” Matt continued. “So I jumped in there and grabbed it. I didn’t know that touching the mask was what would force the switch.”
Aha. So it was Matt’s fault. That’s okay, buddy. You tried.
“I woke up here. Your aunt is really nice, by the way. She thinks you’ve lost your mind, but she’s very nice.”
“Wait, you met my aunt?”
“Well yeah. I’ve been here since yesterday. I had to go to your school and everything.”
Panic sliced through Peter’s chest. “Yesterday? What day is it?”
Worry sent heat in waves off both Foggy and Matt. “It’s Tuesday.”
Peter groaned. “No! It was Monday. It’s supposed to be Monday.”
“Wait, what did you do all day?” Matt asked.
“Nothing,” Peter growled. “I only woke up an hour ago.”
Matt turned on Foggy. “I’ve been missing a whole day and you didn’t go looking for me?”
Peter heard Foggy’s shrug in the brush of his shirt fabric. “You take sick days all the time. I started looking for you after the hundreth unreturned phone call.”
It was very embarrassing to hear Peter’s own voice threatening bodily harm on Foggy. Peter understood now why no supervillain took him seriously. It was like being threatened by a chihuahua.
“How do we fix this?” Peter finally interrupted the tirade.
Matt stopped to ponder. “Well, touching the mask started this whole mess, but I don’t think that will work again. I’ve been carrying it all day.” He pulled the mask from his pocket. Peter recognized that swish of spandex.
“What if we were to touch? Like, you and me?” Peter suggested.
Matt extended his hand immediately. Peter grasped his own hand.
The room spun. Peter was suddenly exhausted. Bursts of cherry assaulted his nose. Slowly, the background noises blaring in his ears faded. Then colours slowly started to bleed into his vision. Blue, then green, red came last.
The red filled his vision. Red hair, attached to a weary face and a red suit peeking out of the collar of a white dress shirt. Matt.
Peter tipped his head back to meet his eyes. Milky white eyes looked back at him. There was no denying Matt was blind.
Matt took a shaky breath. “Wow, that’s a rush.” He wrinkled his nose. “Did you paint your bathroom?”
He didn’t look at Peter when he spoke. His head tipped to the side and his eyes raked over the space slightly to the left of Peter’s face.
“Yeah, sorry. I’m glad I don’t have to smell everything all the time.”
Matt shrugged. “I’m used to it. Usually. Although right now, it’s a bit much. I think I would like to go home now.”
Foggy came forward. Peter finally got a look at the guy who had saved his bacon. He was blonde, and very cuddly looking. Crows feet in the corner of his eyes matched the laughing smirk on his lips as he took Matt’s arm.
“Alright Daredevil, time to go.”
Matt reached out and squeezed Peter’s arm. Without looking at him Matt said, “Thank you, Peter. If you ever need help, my office is always open.”
“Office?” Peter asked.
“Nelson and Murdock, Attorneys at Law,” Foggy rattled off.
Peter gaped. “You’re a vigilante and a lawyer?”
Matt laughed. It was like the sun passed over his face. “You have no idea, kiddo.”
Matt and Foggy left arm in arm. As they closed the door behind them Peter caught Foggy saying, “No more cults for you.”
“That was one time!” Matt protested.
Peter leaned against the closed door and laughed. His life seemed a whole lot easier compared to Matt’s. High school was a breeze compared to being Daredevil.