Diplomas hung on the wall, fancy Latin that Foggy had never bothered to translate. They said, "this guy went to an Ivy League college and law school," and that was good enough for the clients so it was good enough for him. The frames were heavy and expensive, more than they could afford at the time but still worth the cost to house those pieces of paper, black letters representing years of work. They were just like Matt's.
When he looked up from his desk at night -- when everyone else had gone home and he needed to take a break or die but if he stood up he might just walk away from everything so he just sat and stared -- he saw the diplomas and thought about what they stood for.
He remembered endless hours in the library. The smell of rotting lawbooks, strangely like the smell of fresh raisin bread, sunk into his clothes and made everything he ate taste sweet. That was back before there was Lexis/Nexis and Findlaw and all the other technological tricks that made legal research so much easier and more intensive. He remembered Shepardizing, looking up cases side by side with Matt, Matt's fingers slipping across the pages so he could read the slight differentials caused by the ink.
Sometimes Foggy would try that too, his blind fingers touching the same pages Matt had touched. Feeling nothing.
Matt's world was so much richer than his. And Matt didn't - hah! - Matt didn't see it, of course. Foggy could have written it in Braille across Matt's door and Matt still wouldn't get it, what it was like being less than a sidekick.
More than a friend.
How could Foggy even hope to compare? Foggy was briefs and Tort Law in a Nutshell, scheduling conferences with the clerk of the court and settlement discussions (inadmissible as evidence). Foggy lived the life Matt escaped every night. His justice was dispensed, if at all, slowly and with the assistance of judges and police officers. He could have been happy with it, if it hadn't been so obvious how much better Matt was at even those mundane, lawyerly things. The fact of it was, Matt was a brilliant lawyer and Foggy was a good one, and Matt didn't even think that his brilliance was all that important compared to mystic disciplines and enhanced senses.
Wanting to be good at something one's best friend believed was essentially trivial was all kinds of awful. Except the kinds of awful Matt experienced, the physical torture and death of lovers and family - so even Foggy's self-pity was petty, no surprise there.
A chime on his computer brought him back to the moment. It was a reminder sent by the paralegal on the Wilson case that the interrogatory answers were due the next morning. Did Foggy want to review them one last time for consistency with the deposition questions?
Yes, of course Foggy wanted to do that. That was exactly what he wanted to do.
Without him, the Wilson case would founder and die, and the Wilson case had a couple of actual people named Wilson attached. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson needed his help to get the right medical treatment for their little girl - Matt wasn't on the case - and it was something he could do to make the world better, a little, keeping the office running, keeping it waiting for when Matt needed to be a lawyer for five minutes.
Foggy reached for the mug on his table, the bitterness of cold coffee suiting his mood precisely.
He didn't have Matt's senses. He didn't even have Matt's sense of justice, because if he did he'd be out there on the front lines as well - plenty of cops and firefighters did it every day without mutant powers of any kind.
He had - he had Matt's friendship; he had Matt's back. He kept the rest of Matt's world running while Matt did the showy acrobatics and experienced the terrible lows of failure whenever someone he was trying to protect died. He talked to the clients who wanted Matt Murdock and convinced them that Foggy Nelson could do the spear-carrying. He kept a bottle of bourbon and a first aid kit in his left-hand desk drawer for when Matt needed one, or both. He ran the firm so that Matt could do his legal work and then his extralegal work without revealing himself.
Maybe there was something to be said for quiet desperation, he thought as he opened the Wilson directory and began skimming the requests for admission. If nothing else, it provided a nice contrast for Matt's louder despair.
Outside, the lights of midtown made New York City glow, an endless carnival. Outside, Matt was working.
And so was Foggy.