It’s a Monday when Foggy walks into work and announces that he’s signed both himself and Karen up for a first-aid class down at the Red Cross building and she absolutely cannot get out of it. Karen gapes at him and Matt is doing that little pursed lip thing, though he doesn’t speak.
“Wait,” Karen says, then, “what?”
“It’s a great idea,” Foggy says. “Came to me out of the blue.”
Actually, it came to him through the window, where Matty dragged himself over the windowsill with a gash the size of the Mississippi crossing his back, but whatever.
“We should take a first-aid class. Remember when Elena –“he still can’t say her name without his voice hitching, just a little, but he presses on anyway. “When Elena got hurt and we didn’t know what to do?”
“We knew what to do,” Karen counters, speaking slowly. “We got her to help. That’s what normal people do.”
“Yeah, but what if we’d been stuck and unable to get help? What if it was just us?”
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little bit?” Matt says. He’s so calm and reasonable like he doesn’t know damn well that he’s the reason for this whole thing, like he isn’t the one getting himself half-killed every night. Foggy flips him off, shaking his head when Matt’s lips quirk into a smile. Smug bastard. He still can’t figure out how Matt knows everything, all the time.
“Am I missing something here?” Karen asks, narrowing her eyes and looking between them.
“No,” they both say. Matt kneads at his temple and Foggy’s pretty sure Karen is taking exactly none of their shit right now.
“No,” Foggy repeats. “I just got a little shaken up by Matt’s accident, you know? If anything happened to him – or you – I don’t want to be helpless. Is that so bad?”
“I guess not,” Karen says finally. “But I know you’re keeping something from me and I’ll get it out of you eventually.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Foggy says. “Just show up. Saturday morning, 9:00, get your Florence Nightingale on, it’s gonna be awesome.”
“Hey, what about Matt? You aren’t forcing him into a first-aid class?”
Foggy gasps dramatically and clutches at his chest. “The man is blind Karen! How could you be so insensitive?”
Karen rolls her eyes and Matt chuckles, shaking his head. “I would be shit at stitches,” he says.
“I would still trust you over Foggy.”
“Seriously, Karen? Seriously? Oh, it’s on. You’ll see. I’m gonna kick your ass at first-aiding.”
“Loser buys drinks,” Karen says.
“Wait, how are you guys going to judge this?” Matt asks. Damn him and his reasonableness.
“We’ll figure that part out when we get there,” Foggy says. “Duh.”
“Besides, this is a win-win for you. Your drinks are free no matter who wins,” Karen says. Matt grins.
“Right,” he says. “I think I can get behind this.”
Marcy is even less understanding than Karen was.
“I’m not interested in saving lives,” she says. “I like to ruin them.”
“You’re totally lying,” Foggy says. “You know I can see through your bullshit, right?”
Marcy sighs. “Fine,” she says, “but I’m still not going to a CPR class. When am I going to use that? Ever?”
I don’t know, Foggy thinks, maybe when your best friend decides to become a freaking superhero. Aloud he says, “You never know. Your boss is, what, 102 years old? What about when he keels over during a meeting one day and you save his life? That’s like an instant promotion.”
“He’s probably got a DNR,” Marcy says. “I’d probably get fired. And sued.”
“Okay fine, not your boss. But someone else, then. The point is, it never hurts to be prepared, right?”
Marcy sighs and looks appraisingly at her nails.
“Okay, I’ll do it. But you owe me.”
“Perfect,” Foggy says. “I love owing you. I can even pay in advance, tonight, if you want.” He raises his eyebrows suggestively.
She smirks at him and twirls a finger through her hair. “I might just take you up on that.”
He tries to recruit Josie too.
“Would it keep you from coming here and bothering me?” Josie asks.
“Cross my heart and hope to die,” Foggy says.
“Yeah right,” Josie says.
“Come on Josie, it’s about saving lives –“
“You’re full of shit, Nelson. Want another drink or not?”
“Load me up,” Foggy says, and mentally crosses her name off the list.
Karen, it turns out, is a natural at first-aiding. Foggy buys the drinks.
“Foggy, I really don’t think this is necessary – “
“What happens when Claire isn’t around, Matt?” Foggy demands, hands on his hips. “Or when you’re too banged up to move? What happens then?”
Matt doesn’t answer, but his tongue sneaks out and wets his lips, so Foggy knows he’s anxious and uncertain.
“You were just going to let yourself die, weren’t you?”
“No!” Matt cries. “No. I’m not a martyr, Foggy.”
“Then stop acting like one. Swear it.”
“Foggy – “
“Matt, if you don’t swear to call me when you get injured, I swear I will move in with you.”
“What about Marcy?”
“How would you like to be a third wheel forever?”
Matt seems to actually be thinking about it. Foggy rolls his eyes.
“Your walls are thin, Matt, and with your senses…you really want to be hearing that?”
Matt grimaces. “Hell no.”
“Okay, then swear.”
Foggy sighs. “You have to mean it, Matty. I’m pulling out the pinky swear.”
Matt raises his eyebrows. “Seriously? How old are you?”
“Old enough to appreciate the eternally binding nature of the pinky swear. Now are you going to do it or not?”
Matt huffs out a breath and sticks his pinky out. Foggy links his pinky with Matt’s and says, “Now you’ve got to say it.”
“While our pinkies are still hooked?”
“Fine. I, Matthew Murdock, solemnly swear to call my idiot best friend, Franklin Nelson, the next time I am injured.”
“Every time you’re injured.”
“Every time I’m injured.”
“Great,” Foggy says, letting Matt’s pinky drop. “I feel better now.”
“Yeah? I don’t.”
“Whatever Murdock, that’s your problem. You’ll be thinking differently when I save your ass.”
Matt can be a real smartass sometimes. Foggy’s phone has been ringing off the hook, and he’s starting to second-guess his pinky swear contract. He’s also starting to question Matt’s sanity. So far, he’s gotten a slew of minor injuries, including hangnails, nose bleeds, and jammed fingers, and a few less minor injuries that he tries to make sound small, like bruised ribs, “shallow” cuts, and a probable concussion. And it’s only been three days.
The next time the phone rings, he’s in the middle of a Netflix marathon so he lets it go straight to voicemail.
“Hey, Foggy, it’s Matt again. Just calling to let you know that this morning I stubbed my toe trying to avoid stepping on one of your boxes in the office. And I might be getting a cold because my sinuses have been feeling really weird. Also, I bruised a couple ribs. Anyway, talk to you later. Bye.”
Foggy rubs at the bridge of his nose and goes back to his marathon.
The phone rings again.
“Hey Foggy. So those bruised ribs? Might be broken. Talk to you later.”
Foggy pauses, plays nervously with the remote for a second. Matt’s fine.
The phone rings and Foggy lunges for it, brings it up to his ear with hands that are absolutely not shaking.
“Foggy, hey.” It’s breathless. Shit.
“Where the hell are you? What’s wrong?”
“Think I – might’ve – hit a lung?”
He says it likes it’s a question, like Foggy has the answer.
“Damn it, Matt!” Foggy explodes, before taking a deep breath. “Where are you? Where’s Claire?”
“Out of – town,” Matt says, and of course he would answer the question that doesn’t actually matter first. “I’m – behind Josie’s.”
“I’ll be right there. Don’t hang up,” Foggy says. “Save your breath, but stay awake, okay?”
“’k,” Matt whispers.
Foggy drives like a man possessed as Matt breathes heavy and inconsistent across the line.
“I’m five minutes out. How you doing, Matty?”
“Still here,” Matt says, and that’s good enough for now.
He bolts out of the car as soon as he’s thrown it into park and tears toward the alley behind Josie’s. He can hear the unsteady breathing clearly now, as Matt struggles for air.
“Shit,” he says as he drops to his knees and fumbles with Matt’s suit. “How do I get you out of this thing?”
Matt weakly waves a hand, which doesn’t actually help, but Foggy is eventually able to rip it open with his pocket knife. Matt groans, maybe with pain, probably at the demise of his suit.
“I can’t fix this, Matt, you know I can’t, right?”
Matt gasps and claps a bloodied hand to Foggy’s wrist. “Trust you,” he manages.
“I don’t care if you trust me, I’m not a fucking doctor!”
Matt’s lips are turning blue. They’re turning blue.
“I’m stripping you of this damn suit and then I’m calling an ambulance. No, I don’t care what you say, this is hospital worthy. We’ll tell them you got mugged, okay? I’m not letting you die here.”
Matt doesn’t seem to have the energy to respond anymore, just flops a hand around, chest heaving. Foggy strips him down to his undershirt and boxers, wincing at the dark bruising that covers not just his chest, but also his thighs. One of his knees is swollen so that it’s nearly double the size of the other.
“I’m gonna go stash your suit in my car, okay? I’ll be right back.”
Matt nods weakly and Foggy runs for his car, shoves the fucking suit in his trunk and runs back to Matt’s side, calling 911 as he goes. Matt’s slumped over, eyes closed when Foggy gets back.
“Hey, Matt, stay with me,” Foggy says, tucking the phone between his chin and shoulder and shaking his friend. “Come on Matty.”
“Mm,” Matt says, and that’s evidently as good as it’s going to get.
“Damn it,” Foggy says. He scoots around and maneuvers the other man so that he is sitting behind Matt and his friend’s head is tilted back, mouth hanging open as he struggles to breathe. “What did they do to you?” he whispers. The knee and the chest were clearly caused by some sort of blunt trauma, maybe a baseball bat or a steel pipe or –
“’You – okay?” Matt gasps.
Matt’s hand pats clumsily at his chest. “Too fast,” he whispers.
Too fast? It takes him a second to realize that Matt is talking about his heartrate being too high, and then his vision goes white with a rage that takes him by surprise and steals his breath until he couldn’t speak if he wanted to. It takes him a moment to form coherent thought.
“Shut the hell up,” he says finally. “Just – just shut up, Murdock.”
For a second, he hates his best friend. Hates how self-sacrificing he is, how selfless he is, how Foggy will never, ever be as good as he is.
“Siren,” Matt whispers, and then Foggy hears it too.
By the time the medics take him away, Matt’s stopped breathing entirely and Foggy is blinking back tears and vowing to kick Matt’s ass as soon as he’s well enough. He follows behind the ambulance in his car and wishes that he could burn the suit and, just like that, force Matt to stop putting himself in such danger. It wouldn’t be that easy, though. Matt would just find someone else to make his suit, or even make one himself, and then he’d go straight back into beating up bad guys. Hell, he’d probably go back to it without a suit at all, just in his under armour again.
No, Matt Murdock was a hero – but a vulnerable one. Foggy was just going to have to be a hero for him.
Matt cracks his eyes open, murmurs “Foggy?” and extends his hand. Foggy considers not taking it for all of a second before grasping Matt’s hand tightly in his.
“I can’t keep doing this,” he says. “You’re gonna get yourself killed.”
“Foggy,” Matt says. His eyes are already drooping closed again. “Thanks,” he whispers.
Foggy sits for a while after that, Matt’s hand trapped inside his, IVs carefully set aside. There’s a chest tube coming out of one side of Matt’s chest, a nasal cannula draped under his nose. A balloon from Karen bobs on the bedside table, a teddy bear and a card from Marcy next to it.
“I can’t keep doing this,” he repeats quietly.
Claire sets him up. Foggy doesn’t ask how because it doesn’t really matter, and he borrows the money he needs from Marcy, who looks at him funny but doesn’t question him on it. Which is good, because even he would have a hard time selling a first-aid class meant for mobsters who can’t go to the hospital and therefore need more intense training.
“They’re discrete. They don’t ask questions,” Claire says. “Give him the money and you’ll be fine.”
“Right,” Foggy says. “Great.”
It’s in an old warehouse, because where else would you hold a black market medical class? Foggy walks up to the front door and is let in by a huge bouncer with a bald head and biceps approximately the size of a basketball. Inside, there are a few metal chairs in front of a large metal table. Foggy swallows thickly. This looks a lot more intimidating than the Red Cross first-aid class.
“Hello! You bring money?” This must be the doctor. He’s a small man with dark hair and a sweet mustache, and he grins when he sees Foggy.
“Yep,” Foggy says, handing it over in a thick envelope.
“Excellent,” the man says. “I am Vukovic.”
“Brian,” Foggy says.
“We have one more person coming, then we begin,” Vukovic says. “Please, sit.”
Foggy sits in one of the chairs and tries not to freak out as Vukovic starts laying out all kinds of scary looking medical instruments. Foggy’s been watching Discovery Health channel surgery videos on YouTube the past few days, and so far he’s gagged three times, but it’s for Matt, so he’ll do whatever he needs to.
Another man, tall and regal looking with silvery hair walks in and quickly hands Vukovic money, than sits next to Foggy. Foggy nods at him. The other man ignores him.
“Right. You not going to become doctor from this class,” Vukovic says, “but I teach you a few things not available elsewhere, yes?”
They start by stitching up bananas. The other man, Liam, struggles, but Foggy seems to have a knack for it.
“Take that, Karen,” he mutters as he finishes his banana in record time.
“Very good!” Vukovic says, inspecting Foggy’s banana. “We move on to IV next.”
“What about chest drains?” Foggy says. “Can we learn how to do those?”
Liam groans. Foggy thinks it’s probably safe to assume that he didn’t voluntarily sign up for the class.
“Oh, yes!” Vukovic cries. “We will, yes. Normally my students, they are not so eager.”
Foggy grins. “Well I’m all ears,” he says.
His stitching looks really good.
“You know, I’ve been practicing on bananas,” Foggy says. And a few live people Vukovic brought in, but Matt probably doesn’t need to hear about that.
“That’s reassuring,” Matt says.
“Hey, you should be grateful,” Foggy says. He’s just finished stitching up a gash on Matt’s shoulder blade, and there’s still another across his abdomen. “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.”
Matt frowns but doesn’t say anything as Foggy moves to his front and prods gently at the cut. It doesn’t look like it penetrated the abdominal wall, which is where Foggy draws the line at helping, but it’s still bleeding pretty good and Matt’s looking a little pale.
“I don’t think there’s anything internal?” Foggy says. “Though I can’t really tell, so.” He turns and rummages through his first-aid kit, which is pretty kick ass, before turning back to Matt.
“Hey. You okay?” Matt asks.
Foggy sighs, but he doesn’t erupt with the anger that accompanied Matt’s last beating. “I’m fine,” he says. “I just get tired of seeing my best friend beat to hell, is all.”
Matt nods and lets out a slow breath, and if he starts crying Foggy is going to lose it. He doesn’t, though, just puts a hand on Foggy’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly. “Foggy –“
“Don’t,” Foggy says. “It’s okay. I mean, it’s not okay, but you’re not going to stop because you’re a dumbass, and I’m going to be here for you because you’re my dumbass. Got it?”
Matt smiles thinly and grunts a little as Foggy starts in on his wound. Foggy blinks rapidly. He’s gotten somewhat used to the blood and the stitching and even starting the IVs, but he doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to the clenched off groans and the flinches and the way Matt doesn’t even try to put on a smile to protect Foggy. Maybe that more than anything freaks Foggy out, the sheer vulnerability and pain that Matt doesn’t hide.
“Got it,” Matt says after a minute. “Thank you.”
“You wouldn’t be thanking me if you could see these stitches,” Foggy says. Matt lets out a choked laugh and groans.
“Claire doesn’t make me laugh,” he says.
“Well I do,” Foggy says. “That’s what I do. But I’ll try to hold off until you’re bleeding a little less, okay?”
“Anytime. Okay, I want you to lay down, put your feet up. If your blood pressure doesn’t come up soon I’m gonna start you on some saline, okay?”
He helps ease Matt back onto the couch and pulls a blanket up around him, tucks a couple pillows beneath his feet.
“You can read blood pressures now?” Matt says, his voice already sleepy. “And start IVs? Must’ve been a hell of a first-aid class.”
“It was,” Foggy says, reassured that his heartbeat won’t give anything away. “I’m practically an MD now.”
“Thanks,” Matt whispers, eyelids drifting shut.
“It was all for you, buddy,” Foggy says. He sits on the floor next to the couch where Matt is sleeping so that his head is just next to Matt’s and gets out his anatomy coloring book.
If Matt wakes up, Foggy will know.