Fisk has been in jail – no bond, of course, that “waiting helicopter” escape attempt making the judge’s decision easy – for two months. Eight weeks of cold, bitter air sweeping through the city, with gusts snaking between buildings. It is a time to run inside for warmth, with the homeless sleeping in subway stations for heat, outside vendors not bothering with their tables, and petty thievery at a low point for the year. It has also meant very few Daredevil sightings, even though people have been watching for him. Matt says two reports aren’t even him. There’s at least one looney toon with a devil mask up on a roof.
Which does not make things all peachy keen. Matt is tense. Matt is always tense; Foggy doesn’t know why he expected him to be otherwise. He does show up to work looking less like a domestic abuse case, he does do less sleeping while sitting straight up in his office chair, but he looks like he is just built to be tense. Foggy notices this especially as they walk back from the courthouse, where a possession charge hearing was cancelled due to weather conditions preventing the judge from getting into the city. It’s a little hard to tell through all of the layers of wool and silk, but Matt’s hand is gripping Foggy’s arm a little harder as they cross the street. Winter is always tough; his cane has to find the ordinary stuff, the white sheets that form frozen rivers at the sidewalk corners, where the natural dip in the pavement makes puddles the rest of the year.
“Let’s do the other corner,” Foggy says automatically, which means this one is more precarious, and they’ll take the roundabout way and cross over twice to avoid a patch of solid, uneven ice. Matt has already found it with his cane. He doesn’t need to answer.
This rhythm is comfortable – it’s something that didn’t change after Foggy found out about the Man in the Mask. They fell right back into it after Matt explained that it was easier for him to focus less on the road, and he was used to it. And he missed it. And he’s allergic to dogs.
Plus you can’t just throw the dog into a dumpster like a cane. Hell’s Kitchen is almost petty crime free and he’s still on his third this month. He doesn’t offer a good explanation.
“What are you doing Saturday night?”
Matt looks more confused by the question than anything else, but he’s always very hard to read. “Do you want to know?”
“It’s going to be single digits. I’m having trouble imagining who works in that weather and I studied criminal law. On your left.” He veers away from an old snowbank that still hasn’t managed to melt in the sun despite it being a week old. It’s a filthy gray, which partially hides how slippery it still is. “You shouldn’t be out now, in broad daylight. No one should be. Unless you want to fall and sue the city.”
“It would help keep the student loan people off our backs.”
“Very funny.” They’re almost to the avenue, thank G-d. “If you ever get really desperate I guess you could go to Times Square and have tourists pay to take pictures with you.”
“Isn’t that selling my body?”
“If you tell the six Spider-mans there that, they’ll be very offended,” Foggy said. He could see his breath. “Hey, do you think of them might be the real Spider-man?”
“If he feels the way I feel about it, then probably not.” Matt is finally smiling. He does it so rarely these days. “But I guess we’ll never know.”
“Unless you told me – “
“I don’t – Foggy, there’s not a mailing list.”
“Maybe you just haven’t been invited yet. Or they did it the old fashioned way, and sent you a letter, and you haven’t let me read you your mail in forever, so that’s why you don’t know.”
“I have a camera phone for that.”
Foggy shakes his head. “I’m being replaced by an app.”
“Is that want you want to do Saturday night? Come over and read me my electricity bill? I pay it with direct deposit,” Matt says as they finally reach the office and paus in the doorway, where coats could be unbuttoned and shockingly warm air could be inhaled. “Marci’s out of town, isn’t she?”
“This isn’t about her. This is about you and me and me getting you to relax the only way I know how. Which we should do because we haven’t in a while and I think it’s taking its toll.”
“Foggy, we’re lawyers now. We uphold the law.”
“If every person you’ve assaulted could press charges, how many counts would you be looking at?”
“They could never get them to stick. Not without CCTV footage and a strong self-defense claim.”
Matt’s left hand twists around his cane. “I don’t have a count.”
“Which is why this is, in comparison, no big deal. We’re adults, we know what we’re doing – “
“We need a sitter.”
“Everyone’s being replaced by apps. It’s called TripSit.”
“I’m not great with a touch screen.”
“Karen,” Foggy said with finality. “Karen would totally do it. And you need to tell Karen, anyway.”
“You tell her. It’s your idea.”
“No, about the – “ He waves his hand over his face. “I just waved my hand in front of my face.” He knows there’s no way to fight every urge for visual cues. “Like a mask. Like I’m wearing a mask.”
He can see Matt’s face tighten. When Matt swallows, it’s like he’s tied all of his neck muscles up in a knot. “And how is this a good way to do it?”
“She’ll be upset for a period of time – and I remind you, that period of time is only going to get longer the more you wait – and you’ll be okay with it. I’ll talk her down. I get really talkative.” He watches Matt’s expression. “Or we can make a game night decision. Maybe she’s got some shit to unload on us when she thinks we’re vulnerable.”
“This isn’t an office therapy session.”
“Yes. It isn’t. A real therapist would be much more expensive by the hour and you wouldn’t say a damn thing. And you know that you wouldn’t.” Foggy tries to sound as exasperated as possible. “Plus, when was the last time we did this?”
“When we passed the bar exam.”
“When we passed the bar exam. Which means you haven’t relaxed since we passed the bar exam.”
Matt opens his mouth, and then shuts it. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a wallet, holding out a twenty folded into four quarters. “Don’t buy the test kit from the dealer.”
“Who would be stupid enough to do that?”
The infamous grin returns. “You mean a second time?”
It’s Thursday. They’re eating lunch in the conference room with Karen, making the place stink to high heaven of garlic pizza, which Foggy insists will help cover the slight mold smell they’ve been unable to root out. They don’t think it’s that bad, and Matt is used to it. He’s used to pretending he’s used to a lot of things. The smell he can handle, but there’s no way he’s biting into that greasy pizza rolled and handled by a guy who uses the kind of ointments and makeup men use to cover sores. He knows he can easily be mistaken for OCD, the way he orders a salad and then washes all the lettuce when it comes. He’s over it.
“I got the stuff,” Foggy says, offering no further explanation to Karen. “If we’re going halfsies, you owe me another forty.”
“Assorted supplies,” Foggy says. “Your apartment is shit, Matt. You don’t have a single working lamp.”
“Why are we doing it at my place?”
“Because you don’t know my place.” Which makes a lot of sense. Matt also doesn’t like the way it smells, but that is not worth mentioning. “I have very little furniture and I don’t want it to be the mess your furniture is in.” He must have sensed Karen’s curiosity too. It’s probably in her facial expression. “Karen, we have a favor to ask. A big favor. And you can say no.” He takes another bite of pizza. “You can totally say no. You do not have to consent to anything.”
Karen is looking at Matt. She’s turned her head in his direction. He doesn’t need to wait for her to say his name. “I don’t think, technically, we need a sitter. But it’s better.” He stabs at a wedge of lettuce, eager to fill his mouth with something. “We’re going to do ecstasy and it’s good to have someone there. And our last guy – “
“ – is under investigation for his work at Landman and Zack,” Foggy pitched in. “So he’s probably got a lot on his mind.”
“You guys do drugs. Hard drugs.”
“Some people classify MDMA as a therapy drug,” Matt says evenly. It helps that he believes it. “The most serious risks are dehydration and overhydration. And drug conflicts with SSRIs and MAO inhibitors, which neither of us are on.” He adds, “There’s a lot of medical literature about it, if you want.”
“This is also the only way to see Matt relaxed. Ever. In the history of the world,” Foggy says, a little too cheerfully. He probably has a bunch of shit saved up for this. “Look, we’re not idiots. We know what dose to take, we know what to not mix it with, and we have rules about what can and can’t happen. We’re basically asking you to sit in Matt’s apartment for like, six hours, and listen to trance music while Matt tries to braid my hair.”
“I don’t always do that.”
Foggy is giving him a look. Matt knows. And he knows that Foggy knows that he knows. “I know it’s luscious but come on.”
Matt shrugs. “Tell me to stop next time.”
“Why don’t you ask Marci?” Karen asks, reasonably.
“She’s out of town. And she’s kinda ... bad vibes?” Foggy is looking at Matt. “We did it with her in school. With like three other people. Matt spent the whole time curled up in the corner. I think he was trying to fuse with someone’s football.” He does not wait for Matt to say something; Matt hardens his jaw but wasn’t going to. “Also, this is not a sex thing. If it was, Matt would have to make an honest man out of me.”
“Which is technically impossible,” Matt said. Karen’s heart had stopped racing; she was considering it. Or just less creeped out. “It’s really not. And you can leave if you don’t like it. It’s just better if we have someone to – “
“That’s not – “ He listens to her voice. She’s agreeing. “Yeah, maybe that’s the word.”
Karen heads to Matt’s place at five in the afternoon on Saturday. It’s winter and it’s already getting dark. She doesn’t want to stay up to late, Foggy’s only running on excitement fumes, and Matt wants to be up for church the next morning.
Matt’s apartment still looks like shit. There’s been a concentrated effort to clean it recently, so there’s no broken glass and that’s saying something, but the door to his bedroom is held up with duct tape, his rug is missing, and the only lamp is conspicuously new-looking, as in it’s still wrapped in plastic and tied up with rubber bands. She gives him credit for trying. There’s also a bit more snack food in the fridge than she’s used to – must be for Foggy, Matt is a health nut – and dinner, for her, because they’re keeping their stomachs empty.
Foggy is shaving down a white pill on the counter, which is loaded with dropper bottles and assorted medical-looking supplies. He’s dressed down. So is Matt, who is in a hoodie and wandering around in his socks, listening to something from his phone.
Karen eats and watches Foggy drop different testing liquids onto the pill shavings. “How did you get into this?”
“Law school,” Foggy says, not taking his eyes off his work. “We were spending way too much on alcohol. And pickling our livers. My language TA was huge into the rave scene – in New York, which is not very impressive. You’re supposed to go out to the desert and try to time your peak with the sunrise and all that shit. Way too intense. Neither of us are really crowd people.” It was his way of saying that Matt wasn’t a crowd person. “Plus people do die that way. Of dehydration. Or hyperthermia. Or drug interactions.” He adds a few more drops to the last shavings. “You know they want to approve this for anxiety?”
“For terminal cancer patients,” Matt points out, because Matt has to be accurate, even if it was unhelpful. “You keep eating those eels, you might qualify.”
“They’re all natural!”
“Nothing in that bar is natural, Foggy. Except the mold in the bathroom.” Matt opens his palm and Foggy gives him a pill and a glass of water. “Cheers.”
“Cheers.” He turns to Karen. “Okay. These are the rules. No alcohol, no nudity, and we tend to overshare, so if you don’t want to answer, you can say ‘pass.’ And if you don’t like a topic you can just say ‘veto’ and no one can ask any more questions about it. Like this.” He twirls around. “Matt, how’s your mom?”
“Dude, let me finish my drink!” But Matt is smiling. “Veto.”
“See that? That’s a bad topic.”
“How’s your crushing insecurities, Foggy?”
“Pass.” He turns back to her. “See? Easy.”
She is beginning to understand how these two had stayed friends all these years. “Yeah. Easy.”