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The Man Without Fear

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They don't call him "the man without fear" because he doesn't feel fear. He isn't broken that way, he knows what it is to be afraid. They call him "the man without fear" because he refuses to allow the fear to conquer him or lead him. Because he acts despite the fear. He pushes through it and comes out the other side, half the time exhilarated and half the time nearly dead.

There is no pushing through the kind of fear that grips him now. It's the kind of fear that glues him to the uncomfortable chair, rubbing his fingers, fidgety, over the crosswise pattern of rough, water-and-whatever-else resistant "fabric", almost flinching when he finds the metal frame, cold from constant air conditioning. He's been told to go at least ten times, but he can't, he can't.

Matt Murdock has never been afraid to die before. Maybe that's selfish - it's almost definitely selfish, because he knows that there are people in his life who certainly fear that for him. But now...

Foggy needs him here. Needs him in this hollow hospital room, full of the stink of antiseptics and chemicals and latex, to be strong and most of all to be present for him. Needs him to endure the ambient noise trying its hardest to burrow into his skull, and the flashback feeling of terror from what feels like a million years ago, a phantom voice in his ear to accompany all the other voices and sounds and smells that envelope him.

His head hurts, and his heart hurts, and he closes his eyes because it doesn't matter and Foggy isn't awake right now, sleeping in preparation for surgery, to see him letting the anguish show. It's hard to keep a straight face when the person you love best in the entire world is sitting in a hospital bed, waiting for successive rounds of surgery, chemo and radiation therapy to kill a cancer that you can't do anything about, that nobody can do anything about. It's so hard.

Matt knows a hundred superheroes, and none of them can take his calls on this. It seems so goddamned unfair that it makes him want to scream. They can fight intergalactic threats, travel through time, battle armies, do fantastic things that make his accomplishments look like a first grader winning a medal for showing up, but they can't kill the cancer that's trying its damndest to take his friend.

He doesn't scream; He prays. It's probably the sixteenth time since Foggy fell asleep, but Matt figures it can't hurt to try, and makes a mental note to ask his priest if he can't put a few good words in as well. Foggy needs all the help he can get.

(Not that anything bad is going to happen. Well, not anything worse than aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Nothing worse than that. He has to hold on to that, or he's going to lose his grip completely.)

He isn't entirely convinced that God is taking his calls lately, either, but he has to believe that He is. For Foggy's sake, if nothing else. Even if all He can do is let the results come back that the cancer hasn't metastasized, that it's treatable, that there's an 80% survival rate like the doctor said - he'd take that gladly, he'd go on his knees on the cold linoleum and thank God for that.

Right now, it's the waiting game. It's hearing footsteps outside and the clock ticking away and not knowing unless he forces himself to check, how much time has passed since they got there, and how long to go. He clicks his watch open and feels for the placements. 4:32. Another few hours before anything happened, then. Surgery was at ten, and Foggy had been on nothing but water since that same time yesterday (his complaining about it had almost made Matt feel normal for about fifteen seconds at a time, until he remembered everything else about the place). Matt was fasting in solidarity, and because going to get food would mean getting up and leaving Foggy for longer than it took to walk the hallway, up and down, to calm his restless nature and make nice with the nurses. (He knows how important their work is, and more than that, he knows how important it is to make a good impression, lest Foggy's care suffer.) It's killing him, a little bit, to stay still for so long, to avoid going out and being Daredevil like he usually does when he has a problem he can't find a way to solve. But he swore to Foggy he would be here for him, and he's not about to break that promise.

He can't break another promise to Foggy. Not now, when so much hangs in the balance.

Foggy mumbles something in his sleep, Matt can't make out the words. Instead of trying, he leans forward in his chair to brush back Foggy's hair, and kisses him gently on the forehead. It seems to help, or maybe he's only hoping it helps hard enough to make a difference. It's hard to tell anymore.

But his best friend - maybe more than that, Matt isn't sure, isn't sure he wants to question that here, now, with everything feeling so precariously balanced - stills again in sleep, and Matt allows himself the tiniest smile from relief. At least Foggy's sleeping, the only blessing they've been allowed so far.

In the morning, after sunrise, there will be the surgery, and then they'll know what they're dealing with as far as the rest. The chemo, the radiation. How severe it will have to be, how long it will take. What his chances are.

Matt has never been more afraid. For himself, because if something happens to him - and given recent events, that's not exactly an unfounded fear - that leaves Foggy with no one. And for Foggy, because if anything happens to Foggy...

If anything happens to Foggy...

Matt stops himself, focusing on his breathing, a slow intake of air. Count of ten...
He breathes out.

Until that afternoon, the world is still there. Until that afternoon, everything hasn't fallen apart. And he has to take what strength he can from that, because today... today he isn't "the man without fear." Today he isn't even Daredevil.

He's Matt Murdock, and he's scared out of his mind that his best friend might be dying, and there's nothing he can do about it but breathe, and pray, and be there, and hope that it's enough.

He hopes to God that it's enough.