There was something important Foggy was forgetting. Something he was supposed to tell Matt. Foggy pushed his way into the warmth of John Jay Hall and stamped the snow off his boots, shaking out his hair and ignoring the dirty looks from the thus spattered. What the hell was it?
He had the Robitussin and Tylenol, and the orange juice. He had garlicy chicken noodle soup from the deli and a box of crackers. He had even remembered to grab the assignments from the board, as asked. Classes were on hold due to the weather and Matt had a raging cold, but work must go on for Matt Murdock, future DA.
So what the hell was he forgetting?
The moment he walked into room 312, Foggy remembered.
“These brownies are really good, Foggy,” Matt said, a little giggle in his voice. “I thought your cooking skills were limited to ramen.” Matt sniffled and blew his nose, a wet honk. “I got hungry, so I ate a couple. Sorry. I left most of them for you, though.”
‘Remember to tell Matt not to eat the brownies,’ Foggy berated himself belatedly.
Currently bundled up like some kind of caterpillar bent on becoming the fluffiest butterfly ever, the only thing showing outside of the violently purple blanket was Matt’s face and a hand holding a wad of Kleenex. The pan of brownies was about half empty, four or more gone. A few crumbs clung to the corner of Matt’s mouth and a smudge of fudge had somehow managed to smear across his red nose. He blinked unfocussed eyes toward Foggy and grinned. It was the loosest, sloppiest, highest grin Foggy had ever seen, and if he hadn’t been mostly straight, Foggy would have fallen in love right then. The man looked like a puppy. A very stoned puppy.
Guilt and a bit of fear followed close on the heels of his sudden epiphany. Matt was blind as a bat, and now as high as a kite. What the hell was Foggy supposed to do if he freaked out? At the moment, granted, Matthew Murdock looked about as far from freaking out as a human could look, this side of heaven or a fifth of vodka, but still. “You feeling ok, man?” Foggy asked, tentatively. He set down the groceries and moved the pan of brownies away from the now groping hand of his roomie. “Think you’ve had enough of these.” Absently, Foggy dabbed up some greenish crumbs and licked his finger. Good stuff, if he did say so himself.
Matt refocused, turning his head so he was facing Foggy again. “Now that you mention it, I feel a little weird. Must be the antihistamines. I get weird drug reactions sometimes. We got any Cheetos?” He smiled like a saint, beatific and smudged, and snuggled down into his fleecy nest. Rubbing his cheek against the nap, he said, “This feels good. Soft. Smells good, too. I think Martina dried her stuff before we did. She douses everything with lavender oil and it just seeeeeps in. Getting just a liiiil’ whiff. My nose is packed, man. Heh…Pac Man…remember Pac Man? I used to kill that game.” He sniffed again, and then sneezed and blew his nose with a long, wet, disgusting honk. The tissues ended up in the trash, without a miss. Another handful was extracted. “You ever play Pac Man, Foggy?”
Foggy shook his head and opened one of the cartons of chicken noodle soup. “Yeah, of course. We had it on our Nintendo.” The bowl went into the microwave and Foggy noshed down on a brownie, to catch up.
“They had one of the old free-standing games at the gym where my dad trained. After I got my homework done, Dad would give me a few quarters and I’d play while he fought. Man, I got good at that game. They had a Nintendo at St. Agnes’.” Matt lay on his back now, feet wiggling under the covers, and sighed up at the ceiling. “I used to listen to the other kids playing it. Never really understood how they could get so caught up, but then I’d remember Pac Man and chasing down those little blue ghosts, hour after hour.” Suddenly, Matt sat up again. “Man, I’m talking a lot. Why don’t you tell me to shut up?” He glared toward Foggy and blinked, looking confused.
Pulling the soup from the microwave, Foggy laughed. “Why would I do that? I don’t know anything about you, Murdock. This is a golden opportunity to get some Grade-A blackmail material. Here’s your soup. Careful, it’s hot.” He took Matt’s hand and placed the bowl’s handle between his fingers, supporting it until Matt had a good grip. Then he felt Matt’s head and frowned. “You’re running a fever. I’ve got some Tylenol. You eat up and I’ll get you some OJ to take it with.”
Matt’s face lit up in another sunny smile, his earlier puzzlement forgotten. “You are so nice to me, Fog. Why are you so nice? Most people are either too careful around me or they try to hurt me.” He sniffed and then sipped the soup, sighing in pleasure. “This is so good.”
The thought of someone hurting Matt made Foggy see red for a second. He shook a couple of Tylenol from the bottle and carefully tucked them into Matt’s hand. “What kind of dick would try to hurt you, man? That’s just low, hurting a blind dude.” He finished his brownie and put the rest away. He had a nice little buzz beginning, but he had a feeling he needed to stay a little straight, just in case Matt freaked out.
“Lots of people. Cashiers try to give me ones instead of fives. Kids at the orphanage used to push me. And my last roommate at NYU liked to trip me and hide my stuff. I got him back, though.” Matt’s smile turned evil. He popped the pills in his mouth and chased them with chicken broth.
“What did you do?”
“Put Ben Gay in his hand lotion and cayenne in his tissues.”
The mental image that conveyed was almost enough to banish Foggy’s anger. “Oooh, man. That’s just mean. Spiking a man’s spank tools. Remind me never to get in a prank battle with you.” He settled back on his own bed, leaning against the wall. The light was turning golden as the sun set, and Matt’s side of the room was growing shadows. Foggy flipped on a lamp and pulled a pillow behind his back, settling in to his high. “So, what was your major, anyway? Criminal Justice?”
Matt threw off his blankets and stood up, reaching for the wall for balance as his head swum. “Philosophy.” He nudged his leg against the bed and counted steps to the refrigerator. He poured a glass of orange juice and took a long drink, then sighed in pleasure. “How about you?” He refilled the glass and carried it back to bed, cocooning himself once again.
“Poli Sci, man. I’m going corporate. Make a million before I’m thirty and buy my Mom a house.” That had been his dream since forever. “She hates the apartment, even with all of us kids moved out, and Dad really wants a place upstate somewhere. Wants to spend his golden years fishing.”
Matt wrinkled his nose. “Ick. Fish are gross. Slimy and scaly and smelly and just ick. Suitable only for sushi.” He rubbed his cheek against the blanket again. “What do you look like, Fog? And don’t tell me Tom Cruise, because that isn’t helpful.” Stoned and garrulous, Matt was jumping from topic to topic like a frog. Foggy shrugged, going with it.
“Does it matter?” Foggy really didn’t want to get into a discussion of his physical detriments. “I mean, I look pretty average, I guess. I do have Cruise’ chin. And I’m not giving it back.”
Matt rolled upright again, wrapping his blanket around his shoulders like a shawl and walked over to Foggy’s bed. He sat down at the foot, cross legged, facing Foggy. “It seems to matter to people. What they look like. I get a mental image sometimes, but it’s not a visual one. It’s all impressions. I know you have long hair, and a little bitty beard you take way too much time with. I know you’re heavy-set and your arms have some muscle. I know you used to wear Old Spice, but you stopped after I said it made my head hurt. That’s about it. I don’t even know what I look like, now. The last time I saw myself, I was nine.”
He looked so serious and intent, Foggy wanted to ruffle his hair. He didn’t seem sad, though. Just very matter of fact. Made sense, though; this was just his life. Foggy couldn’t imagine going through life not being able to see anything, but Matt lived it day to day. You adapt or die. And Matt was one adapting dude. “Um…ok…well, how do you want me to tell you? What images have meaning, here? I’m pale, gotta baby-face my mom says. Good teeth. I don’t know, buddy,” he said, and rubbed the back of his neck in discomfort. “I’m nothing to write home about.
Matt bit his lip, then said, “Can I touch you? Your face, I mean.”
Foggy blinked, startled. “You really do that? Like in the movies?” Weird when life imitates art. “Sure, man. Go for it. Cool.”
Matt smiled that beatific, stoned smile again and scooted forward, his knees pressing into Foggy’s. He’d never really been this close to Matt before, and it was a little un-nerving. Matt’s eyes never met his, of course, but Foggy could look all he wanted without being accused of staring. You could really look at someone when they didn’t know you were looking. And Matt was easy on the eyes, with that full mouth and boyish face. Foggy had more than once caught himself looking, simply because he could and because he liked to look at pretty things. He wished he could return the favor, give Matt something pretty in return, but he was afraid his blind friend was going to be disappointed. None of Foggy’s girlfriends, or boyfriends for that matter, had ever called him anything but cute.
Reaching out, Matt found Foggy’s face and started tracing the contours with a delicate touch. Matt’s fingertips were smooth, warm with his slight fever. Foggy shivered a little and watched Matt’s face as he explored. Matt smiled a ghost of a smile, his eyes distant. Starting at the top, his nose twitched and then his brow wrinkled when he found a tiny scar at Foggy’s hairline, left over from a long-ago fight with his older brother. Then he smiled again as he sketched the contours of Foggy’s ears and jaw-line.
Suddenly feeling a little like he was intruding in something, even though he was a part of it, Foggy twitched at the whispering tracery, closed his eyes and just let Matt do what he did. It was easier not to watch as Matt’s fingers drew over his eyebrows, down his nose, over his chin, down his cheeks. Ending on his shoulders with a squeeze. “Thanks,” Matt said, and scooted back. “That helps.”
Foggy drew a shaky breath, and opened his eyes. Leaning back, he did his best to fake casual. “No prob. So what do I look like?” He chafed the goosebumps on his arms and mentally denied the partial boner in his pants. He hadn’t flirted with Matt again, after their first meeting. Matt had made it clear, in a nice way, that he was very straight. And Foggy would rather have him for a friend, anyway.
Matt rubbed his nose, sneezed, and shrugged back into the hideous purple blanket. “You look like you.”
“What does that mean?” Foggy blew out his breath in exasperation and reached for another brownie. They really were pretty good and he needed to be a little messed up right now.
Matt snagged the last one before Foggy could stop him and bit off a chunk. “I dunno what to tell you,” he said around a mouthful of chocolate and high grade sativa. “You look like you look. What were you hoping I’d say?”
Foggy shrugged, then mentally kicked himself when Matt kept waiting for an answer. “I just shrugged. Sorry.”
Matt giggled and waved his hand in forgiveness. “I figured it was something like that. Nodding and shaking your head were out, given that wasn’t a yes or no question, and I heard your hair brush the back of your pillow. A shrug. Sometimes body language is audible. Thanks for translating, though.”
“That makes total sense. But then, I am very high right now.” Foggy froze, cringing as he heard the words come out of his mouth, as if on tape delay. “Oh, shit. I didn’t mean to say that. I meant to tell you about the brownies but I forgot. Then, when I realized how many you’d eaten I was afraid you’d panic or something. State of mind has a lot to do with how you experience pot.” Matt didn’t seem to be freaking out, though. He just smiled beatifically and nodded.
“I know. I got passed a joint once, at a party, and my last roommate smoked like a chimney. I thought the brownies tasted a little weird, but I can’t taste much right now, with my nose all stopped up. I didn’t realize until after the second one, and I was starting to get a little buzz by then. So I went with it. Sister Mary Claire would have killed me, back home, but I’m a grown up man now and I can make my own mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made enough of them.” Matt reached out and ruffled Foggy’s hair, then did a backwards roll off of the bed. He landed on the floor with a sprawled thud. “That was so much cooler in my head,” he said, his voice muffled by blanket and tile. “Ow.”
Foggy looked over the edge of the bed, then scrambled up and helped Matt to his feet, barely keeping his own balance from laughing too hard. “Hey, it started good.” He rearranged the blanket back over Matt’s shoulders and gave him a gentle, guiding shove toward the other side of the room. “I’m not calling Cirque du Soleil, though.” He waited to make sure Matt was going to make it back safely to port before turning off the lamp and curling up in his own blankets, letting the shadows claim the room.
“I think the insurance for a blind acrobat would be cost prohibitive, not to mention the medical bills. And I think you look fine, Foggy.” Matt began winding himself into a nest, until only his red nose was sticking out. “You have a nice face, to answer your question. It feels nice.”
“Hmph. At least you didn’t call me cute. I hate it when they call me cute. Baby ducks are cute.” Foggy fluffed up his pillow and stifled a burp.
Matt’s voice was smeary, sleepy now, coming out of the shadowed dark. “I don’t know what cute means, really. The last time I saw a face I was nine. Girls were still gross, and boys were all kids like me. My aesthetic is different. I like smooth skin, and gentle curves, and a nice voice. Nice smell. Soft hair. That kind of thing. So, yeah, you look fine to me. I like your voice. And you make great brownies.” He turned a sleepy smile toward Foggy, his teeth glinting white in the dark. “I’ll show you how to make labels in the morning. This was fun, but I don’t want to do it again soon. Everything feels weird right now. I’m gonna sleep it off.” He yawned and pulled the covers over his head. “G’night, Foggy.”
“Night, Matty,” Foggy said. His own buzz was starting to fade, but the clock was saying it was time for sleep. Classes were back on tomorrow, and it was time to return to the realities of law school. Before dozing off, he made a mental note to check his hand lotion before he used it again, just in case Matt decided to hold a grudge. He fell asleep still feeling Matt’s fingers along his cheek, and he smiled in the privacy of the dark.