Chapter 1: the meet cute
Operation Get Steve Laid takes an unexpected divergence.
"Yoga instructor in his early twenties, very flexible."
"Tony. No," Steve says flatly.
"Come on, Cap. You've rejected the last eight people I suggested," the inventor wheedles. "This is the twenty first century: we have something called no-strings-attached sex."
"We had that back in the forties, too."
"Maybe, but if you had been getting laid on the regular, you would not be nearly as uptight as you are."
Somehow, Steve manages to summon patience. "When I enter a relationship, I will do it on my own terms," he says calmly. "Tell the nice yoga instructor that Steve Rogers is not looking for anything or anyone right now."
"Yeaaah, about that."
Steve turns around slowly. "Tony."
"Hypothetically speaking, how pissed would you be if I already arranged a lunch at a low-key outdoor cafe?" Tony asks.
Steve advances on him. He repeats, "Tony."
The billionaire says in a rush, "Kahve's in Hell Kitchen - shitty neighborhood but amazing chai. It's daylight, and you're Captain America, so I wouldn't worry about getting mugged. Your date is - right now actually. The guy's probably already there; you should hurry. JARVIS, why don't you give Cap the directions?"
"Certainly. A taxi is waiting below, Mr. Rogers," JARVIS informs.
"Is that Bruce calling me? I think I hear Bruce calling me." Tony scuttles away.
"I'm going to kill you," Steve says, but he's already heading towards the elevator. Just because Tony is an asshole who doesn't listen to people doesn't mean that a poor, innocent yoga instructor has to suffer for his sins.
Steve will have to go there in person to gently turn the man down.
"Kill me later, enjoy your blind date first!" Tony sing-songs.
Steve is going to need more patience.
He rushes to Kahve, but it still takes him nearly half an hour with traffic.
Steve spots a dark-haired man sitting alone at a two-person table outside. It looks like he's just paid the check.
Damn, he's too late then.
He hurries over. "I am so, so, sorry. I'm Steve; you must be my blind date."
Despite the sunglasses covering his face, Steve can tell that the man is, as Tony promised, quite good-looking. Not that it matters, because Steve has already made up his mind about being set up. No more of Tony's shenanigans, no siree.
"Excuse me?" His blind date has a pleasant voice and a nice, if vaguely bemused, smile.
Steve momentarily reconsiders his decision. But he reminds himself that there is a slippery slope, and if he agrees to this date, then Tony think he'll agree to the next, and the next, and the next.
Steve soldiers on. "There's no easy way to say this, um..."
"Matt," the man provides, brows furrowed.
"Listen, Matt, you seem like a swell guy, but I've already told Tony multiple times that I don't want to be set up with anybody."
"Steve, I -"
He adds hastily, "I didn't intentionally stand you up; Tony didn't even tell me about this date until the last minute."
Steve has to finish before he loses his momentum. "I'm sorry that Tony got you involved in this, and I apologize for any misunderstandings, Matt."
Steve chances a look down at Matt. The dark-haired man doesn't seem to be devastated. In fact, he's leaning back in the chair with a look of amusement on his face.
"Is it my turn to speak yet? " he asks dryly. "Yes? Good. Steve, I think you've been operating under the false impression that I am-"
"Steve? Steve Rogers?" somebody calls from behind him.
Steve turns around and sees a slim, attractive light-haired man with a distinctly predatory smile.
"I'm Drew, your date."
"What?" Steve says blankly. He whips his head back to Matt. "Then, who -"
Matt gives him a close-lipped smile. "That would be what I was trying to tell you." Then, from beneath the table, he unfolds a white cane.
Isn't that a mobility aid device for - oh. Oh no.
Matt inclines his head. "Enjoy your blind date, gentlemen."
The rhythmic tapping recedes as Steve remains rooted to the ground.
Drew grabs the chair that Matt just exited and leans forward seductively. He says huskily, "I have to say: the shirtless picture that you sent me gave me high expectations, but you are even hotter in person."
Tony Stark is a dead man.
Steve. Steve, Steve, Steve. *shakes head*
NEXT: "It's not every day that you walk into the Avengers common floor and see Captain America attempting to smother himself with a pillow."
Chapter 2: the 'unexpected' second meeting
Clint and Natasha are telepathic ninja matchmakers, Tony hacks some credit card records, Foggy snarks, Matt goes grocery shopping, and Steve tries again.
It's not every day that you walk into the Avengers common floor and see Captain America attempting to smother himself with a pillow.
Clint and Natasha exchange glances.
You do it, the archer communicates with a jerk of the chin.
I handled Tony last time, Natasha replies, quirking her lips.
Clint inclines his head. Yeah, but the time before that, I dealt with Thor. Five hours of moaning about Jane and how their love was not meant to be. *Five* hours, Natasha. You're taking this one.
She sighs noiselessly. Fine. Start us off then.
Clint smirks victoriously. Clapping his hands together to get the super soldier's attention, he announces cheerfully, "Date went that well, huh?"
The blond lowers the cushion to gaze at them reproachfully. "You knew about what Tony was planning?"
It must be bad if he's pulling out the Captain America-is-disappointed-in-you look.
Natasha lifts an elegant shoulder. "Personally, I predicted that Drew would be a bad match. He's the type to chew his boys up and spit them out when he's done."
Flustered, Steve ducks his head. "It's not that. There was...somebody else. I - this is kind of embarrassing."
Natasha joins Steve on the couch. Clint follows.
She raises an eyebrow. I thought you wanted me to handle this one.
Clint clicks his tongue. That was before Steve said it was embarrassing. I need to get the story firsthand if I'm going to tell it to Phil later.
She rolls her eyes in response, then reminds Steve, "I have a high threshold for shame; I was Tony's PA for three months. Also, I'm friends with Clint."
"Hey!" protests the archer, "that is - accurate."
After a bit more prodding, Steve recounts his story.
It doesn't sound that embarrassing by her standards until he concludes miserably, "Then, he took out his walking stick and told me to enjoy my blind date."
Natasha allows her lips to twitch. Clint possesses less restraint and rolls off the couch in laughter.
"Clint, it's not funny!" Steve protests.
"It's kind of funny," says Clint from his position on the floor.
Natasha lets the boys bicker for a moment before leaning forward. "Are you upset because you put your foot in your mouth or because you would have rather went on a date with Matt than Drew?"
"I didn't say anything about-"
She shoots him a look.
Steve groans. "I hate when you read me like that. Maybe, I don't know - I liked Matt. I just want to apologize to him."
"It's too late now that he's gone," Clint says pragmatically. "Guy probably thinks you're an asshole or an idiot. Or both."
Steve stares. "Was...that an attempt at comforting me?"
"Clint provides a particular brand of comfort. It's an acquired taste, if you will," Natasha says.
"Gee, thanks. I feel so much better now," Steve retorts, and returns to smothering himself with the pillow.
Natasha discreetly snaps a photograph of him. Steve is pathetically endearing in a way that 6'3" men built like tanks probably shouldn't be. She sends the picture to Tony with the caption of You break it, you fix it.
Tony replies instantly, so he must be hiding from Steve somewhere within the Tower. ???
I told you that he wouldn't like Drew, didn't I? Luckily, Steve met somebody else at the cafe, she types. So, if you want to avoid death by patriotism, check the credit card records at the restaurant for someone named Matt.
A few minutes later, Tony responds. Matthew Murdock. 26 years old, recent graduate from Columbia Law School. Part of a duo called Nelson and Murdock, the small practice who exposed Fisk a few weeks ago. David, Goliath, etc. He's a blind, ethical lawyer - the irony here is ridiculous. After another minute, Tony forwards her an address. Tell Steve not to kill me, I found him his new boyfriend. Judging by the patterns of purchasing behavior, he'll be at a local supermarket tomorrow at 5:30 PM.
It's not the first time that Natasha has the thought that the world is lucky Tony uses his powers for good and not evil.
She gently pulls the cushion away from Steve's face. "You said you wanted to clear things up with Matt. What if you could?"
Steve peers up at her questioningly, and Natasha has to repress the urge to "aw."
She holds out the Stark Phone. "Tony sends his apologies, along with a full name and the address of your man's favorite grocery store."
"He's still not forgiven," Steve grumbles but takes the phone.
"And how was your weekend, Matt? Anything interesting happen with your," Foggy lowers his voice, "nocturnal activities?"
"Foggy, that sounds disturbing. Just say 'Daredevil,'" Matt replies, hanging his suit jacket up. "Karen is downstairs, and I would pick up on any bugs or eavesdroppers within hearing distance."
His partner mutters under his breath, "Ruin all my fun, why don't you" before returning to a normal tone. "Fine, did you do anything fun this weekend, Daredevil?"
Matt walks over to his desk. "Stopped a few assaults, foiled a burglary, was mistaken as somebody's blind date, the usual."
"Hold up - what did you just say?"
"Foiled a burglary?" Matt repeats innocently.
"Date. Date, you said. Matt Murdock doesn't date." Foggy waves his hands around. "He meets attractive men and women of questionable morality who eventually screw him over in both senses of the word."
Karen enters the room. "Matt! I didn't know you were interested in men. Wait, was I not supposed to hear that?"
"It's fine, Karen. I would have mentioned it, but the issue never really came up. I haven't dated a man since undergrad."
Matt can tell Foggy is making a face. "Ugh, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," Foggy hisses.
"I'm pretty sure that's Voldemort, actually," Matt replies. He addresses Karen. "His name was Namor. He was an international student and apparently a foreign prince of a small country."
Foggy chimes in, "Also - an asshole. You definitely did not date that guy for his personality."
"Again, Foggy, how would I know whether he was good-looking or not?"
"As a man comfortable in his sexuality, I would rate Namor as a solid seven. And he was a swimmer, so you know he had a great body. Actually, I would appreciate if the next man you date is less built. I nearly broke my fist on Namor's abs during the breakup. How about next time you date a scrawny hipster artist from Brooklyn?"
Karen giggles. "How do you two even get on these topics?"
Foggy points accusingly at Matt. "Ah! That's right, spill about your not-date. Our client isn't coming until 10:30, so you have no excuses."
There may or may not be some lingering guilt over the "lying to Foggy for most of our friendship" thing, so Matt obliges. When he finishes the story, Foggy says, "Wow, this guy sounds like an asshole. Or an idiot. Or both!"
"I'm willing to give Steve the benefit of the doubt. I'm relatively sure that he only realized I was blind when I left."
"So just dumb then," Foggy corrects. "Ten bucks says he's a blond."
"Hey!" Karen protests.
Foggy raises his hands defensively. "I'm a blond too, I can say that!"
After work, Matt goes to buy groceries. This particular store hasn't changed its layout in ages, so he manages to identify what he needs relatively quickly. However, he wants to pick up Foggy's favorite chocolates as a "Thank you for putting up with my vigilantism" present.
Of course, that particular box of chocolates happens to be on the top shelf, just out of reach. Matt could ask the store workers for help, but the last time he did that, his short shopping trip ended up taking an hour thanks to the over-solicitude of the manager.
Matt is seriously considering knocking the package down with his cane when someone approaches.
"Need any help with that?"
The timbre of the voice is familiar, but the man has an unusually low resting heart rate which makes reading him a little difficult.
After a moment, Matt remembers. "Fancy seeing you again, Steve."
Steve sounds pleased. "You recognized me from my voice? That's pretty impressive." Then he backtracks. "I don't mean to be rude in assuming anything! I - "
It was definitely a misunderstanding earlier then.
"Steve, you're going to have to do a lot worse to offend me."
"You may not be offended, but I still want to apologize," Steve says firmly. "I'm very sorry for the misunderstanding, Matt. Can we try again?"
Matt sticks out a hand. "Matt Murdock, attorney at law."
"Steve Rogers, security specialist." The man has a strong grip, but Matt knows that he is still holding back.
"Steve Rogers? Your parents must have been big Captain America fans," he teases.
"You could say that," Steve says with amusement.
"Tell me, would you happen to have blond hair?" Matt inquires.
Looks like he's going to owe Foggy ten dollars.
Just dropping some casual Prince of Atlantis, pre-serum Steve references.
Chapter 3: the quirky best friend
Foggy meets Steve, the team hears about a mysterious, new hero in Hell's Kitchen.
Following their seventh rendezvous together (the tactile gallery at the Metropolitan), Matt is forced to admit that he is dating Steve Rogers. Properly even - they're taking things slow.
After the shitshow that was his reveal as Daredevil, Matt swore to keep Foggy posted on any new significant changes in his life. His entering a healthy, long-term relationship for the first time in three years is probably one of them.
So, he tells him.
Foggy doesn't say anything for a moment, drumming his fingers on the table. Then: "Tell me about this Steve Rogers."
"Steve's 27. He's blond - you were right about that - and has blue eyes apparently. Steve told me that he works in security, but he walks like ex-military, and I get the feeling that there's more there that he hasn't told me yet." He adds ruefully, "Not that I have a leg to stand on when it comes to keeping secrets."
Foggy snorts. "Always admired that self-awareness in you, Murdock. Tell me more."
Matt rattles off, "He likes drawing, he's still bitter about the Dodgers moving to Los Angeles, he used to have asthma, he's Irish Catholic -"
"You two must bond over Catholic guilt syndrome," Foggy mutters, then motions for Matt to continue.
"He keeps trying to pay for me and pull out my chair and lend me his jacket when it's chilly out. I think it's more of 'him' thing than a 'me' thing. He's protective but not overbearing about my blindness. He worries about how 'accident-prone" I am."
Matt trails off when he realizes how sappy he's beginning to sound.
"I want to meet him," Foggy declares.
"I'm basically your older brother, and somebody has to give this guy a shovel talk. He sounds like a good dude, but I need to see for myself that he's not another Namor." Foggy pounds his fist against an open palm ominously.
"You know you're only five weeks older than me, right?"
Foggy sniffs. "I'm talking about emotional and life maturity here." Then, more seriously, he says, "Let me have your back for once, Matt."
And there's only one thing Matt can do after hearing that. He asks Steve to pick him up from the office on their next date. Only...Matt forgets to tell Karen.
He hears a barely audible (to the average ear) "Oh, wow" before Karen manages to compose herself.
She says brightly, "Hello, the modeling agency is actually on the second floor."
"Er, no, I'm actually here to pick up Matt? Matt Murdock? I'm Steve; I don't know if he mentioned me."
"You're Steve? Blind date Steve?" Karen says incredulously before she catches herself. "I mean, of course, right this way."
She calls out, "Matt? You have a visitor."
Matt winces. He can hear her annoyance at being caught off-guard.
He taps the desk, where Foggy has been immersed in reviewing papers, and gives him a nod.
Foggy straightens up and cracks his knuckles. "Showtime."
Steve and Karen enter the room, and Matt can practically feel Foggy deflating. "You neglected to mention that you were dating an Olympian-G.I.-Ken-underwear model," his partner whispers fiercely, before turning a bright smile at the two people in the doorway.
"Nice to meet you, Steve. I've heard so much about you." Foggy winks. "Don't worry, it was like 95% good." He extends a hand. "Foggy Nelson, attorney at law, Matt's partner and best friend."
Steve shakes it. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, Foggy. Steve Rogers." He doesn't seem to register the intent of the handshake, but Matt can hear Foggy attempting to grind Steve's bones into dust. Key word - attempting.
Foggy leans in. "I'm an orange belt in karate."
"Congratulations?" Steve tries, bemused.
Karen comments, "This is the most entertaining thing I've seen since I stopped being able to afford a Netflix subscription. I forgive you for not remembering, Matt."
The confrontational atmosphere doesn't last long since one, Foggy is physically incapable of being mean to another human being and two, Steve Rogers is a Golden Retriever in human form.
Eventually, Foggy sends them off with his blessings, shouting, "Don't do anything Foggy Nelson wouldn't do, you crazy kids!"
There's an awkward pause before Steve finally says, "Your friends are very...interesting."
Matt could never be ashamed about his best friend, but he is feeling a little sheepish at the moment.
"Foggy can be a bit much for people the first time. He grows on you."
Steve takes Matt by the hand instead of the elbow, and hello, that's new.
"Don't worry," Steve says confidently. "I get a lot of experience dealing with unusual personalities at work."
Nick Fury slaps down a newspaper article. It reads, "Daredevil Collars Fisk!"
"How many of you have heard of the recent arrest of Wilson Fisk?" the director demands.
Tony momentarily stops fiddling on his phone. "Wilson Fisk? I've always hated that guy."
"I'm so glad that you approve of his arrest, considering that he ran the New York City criminal underground and was the former director of the Los Angeles sector of Hydra," Fury retorts dryly.
Steve interjects before the two of them really start going at it. "What do we know about the person who took him down?"
Thankfully, Fury turns away from Tony to answer. "We don't know his identity yet, if that's what you're asking, but we're pretty sure he's unenhanced."
Tony challenges, "And how do we know that?"
"Hell's Kitchen isn't a nice place, Stark. The inhabitants can't afford to set up security cameras. Luckily for us, a certain Russian mob boss did, though it definitely wasn't high quality. No audio either." Fury jerks his chin at Coulson. "This clip is dated from two months ago."
Coulson presses a small button that brings a video up to the screen. It shows a long, darkened hallway with several doorways. After a few seconds, a masked man dressed in black limps into view.
"He's injured," says Bruce immediately. "Sprained ankle, broken ribs, contusions, the whole gamut. I'm surprised he's still walking; he must have an impressive pain tolerance."
Daredevil extends his hand to the wall for a few seconds - working up the courage? - before entering the room with his fists ready.
Thirty seconds later the door crashes down, and one of the Russians fly into the opposing wall, followed by a television. Daredevil stumbles out after him.
The next two minutes are chaos.
Natasha notes clinically, "His fighting style is a mixture of boxing and martial arts. Interesting."
"He's good," Clint utters at the same time.
"High praise from the ninja assassin twins," Tony quips.
In the end, only Daredevil is left standing, though standing might be a generous word, considering how he leans on the wall for support. He enters the room at the very end of the hallway and emerges with a small boy on his shoulder. Daredevil makes his way out, slowly and painfully, and the screen goes black.
"Daredevil is not enhanced, but he is very dangerous," Coulson summarizes. "However, he seems to be on our side at the moment."
"Avengers, we've got a new player in town. Keep your eyes peeled for any clues to his identity," Fury orders, exiting with a dramatic swish of his trenchcoat. Coulson nods at them before leaving as well.
"And Fury says I'm a drama queen," Tony rolls his eyes. "Okay, done with this Daredevil guy. Tell me about your gentleman caller, Rogers."
"This is not an appropriate venue for this discussion," Steve scolds, though he can't keep his lips from curving at the thought of Matt.
Tony points accusingly at him. "That is not the face of somebody with a new fuck-buddy. That is a soppy, besotted face. How dare you twist my noble efforts to get you laid into mushy feelings?"
"It's going well, then," Natasha states more than inquires.
There's no way he's getting out of this, so Steve gives in with little more than a surrender. He admits bashfully, "Yes, it's going very well. I met his partner yesterday."
"His partner?" Bruce questions delicately, "Is this an open relationship?"
Steve blinks before realizing the other meaning of the word. He quickly corrects himself. "Matt is a lawyer with his own practice - Nelson and Murdock. Foggy Nelson is his partner in the legal practice."
Clint butts in. "Okay, so his friend met you. When do we get to meet him?"
Steve averts his gaze. "...he doesn't know I'm Captain America yet."
After a moment, Bruce says diplomatically, "The identity of Captain America isn't public knowledge at the moment, and I can understand not wanting to drop a bombshell on a burgeoning relationship."
Tony says, "Isn't communication the key to a healthy relationship?"
They all turn and stare at him. Natasha, who is terrifyingly good friends with his ex-girlfriend Pepper, practically beams "hypocrite" with her eyes.
"Yeah, okay, I deserve that," Tony admits, then holds up a finger. "But! Just because I don't practice what I preach doesn't make it any less true."
Steve runs a frazzled hand through his hair.
"No, you're right. I've been trying to find a good time to tell him. It's just been sort of nice getting to know somebody as Steve, not Captain America."
"It's your choice," Natasha says. "You'll know when it is time to reveal yourself."
As it turns out, Steve doesn't have much choice in the matter when the time eventually comes.
Some assumptions I'm making:
1. People don't actually know what Captain America looks like.
2. Photographic evidence of Daredevil is too blurry for SHIELD/Tony to make a positive ID.
3. Matt has suspicions that Steve's private security thing is more than it seems but isn't willing to push at this stage. Steve never lies about anything else, and plus, it's not like only one person is allowed to have secrets in a relationship.
Chapter 4: the homicidally protective best friend
Bucky finds out about Matt.
They never talk about it, but they both acknowledge that Bucky has disapproved of all the people Steve dated since he woke up in the future.
It isn't like there was anything wrong with Beth the waitress or Sharon Carter or the one or two men that Steve went out with when he realized he was bisexual. They all seemed like decent folks.
Bucky just can't help but feel that no one can ever be good enough for Steve Rogers. Not because of the Captain America thing, but because Steve is the best person that Bucky knows.
However, Bucky has been trying to at least tone down his dissatisfaction with Steve's significant others ever since a scowling Sharon bit out, "Jesus Christ, Barnes. Try to act a little less like I'm defiling your virgin daughter." Ouch.
Also, it doesn't escape him that post-Sharon Steve is reluctant to introduce his new partners. It is possible that his overprotectiveness has been ruining Steve's chances at finding love, and that is the last thing that Bucky wants. Out of everybody in the world, his best friend deserves to be happy.
Consequently, Bucky has resigned himself to the inevitability of Steve settling in any of his future relationships.
He's been on an ongoing mission with Coulson's new team to find and destroy the remnants of HYDRA for almost half a year when Natasha contacts him.
The email simply reads, "Steve's beau for the past two months." Natasha doesn't have to include any other commentary; the fact that she deems this development important enough to inform him speaks for itself.
Attached is a file on Matthew Murdock compiled by the Black Widow and Tony Stark. Ergo, the profile is pretty damn comprehensive.
Matthew Murdock, blinded in a chemical accident at age 9 after pushing an old man out of the way of an incoming truck. Because that wasn't shitty enough of a thing to happen to a kid, a year later his father was killed in a mob hit. And the way the kid's luck went, he was the one to discover the body of his only guardian. Murdock was then sent to Saint Agnes Orphanage, where he stayed until he was 18.
Despite beginning life way behind the starting line, Murdock was accepted into the prestigious Columbia Law School on scholarship. Graduating summa cum laude, he then obtained a competitive internship at prestigious law firm Landman and Zach. To general shock and disapproval, Murdock declined Landman and Zach's lucrative job offer to start his own practice in the crime-ridden Hell's Kitchen with his partner Foggy Nelson.
The small firm, Nelson and Murdock, only opened last year but had already made headlines for taking down the kingpin of New York's criminal underground, former Los Angeles HYDRA director Wilson Fisk. Nowadays, Nelson and Murdock is getting a lot more business. Yet, they still take on more pro bono cases than any other firm in New York.
Murdock's salary is unimpressive, and what doesn't go to his rent and living expenses goes towards donations to his old orphanage and to the American Foundation for the Blind. Also, he volunteers at a homeless shelter on the first Sunday of every month.
After Bucky finishes reading, he takes a moment to sit back heavily and just breathe.
What the hell.
Somehow, Steve has found the only person in New York who might possibly be good enough for him. And he hasn't told Bucky about him yet.
Which, considering his past treatment of Steve's girlfriends and boyfriends, makes sense. It still kind of stings though, so he calls Steve even though it isn't time for their regularly scheduled video chat yet.
Bucky lets him ramble on for a few minutes before casually inserting a, "So, how's Murdock doing these days?" He watches with no small degree of amusement as Steve grinds to a halt.
"Oh! You know about that. How-?"
"Steve," Bucky prompts.
His friend sounds genuinely regretful. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Matt sooner."
Feeling magnanimous, Bucky makes a dismissive hand gesture. "Tell me about him now."
And the look in Steve's eyes...Bucky hasn't seen him light up like that since Peggy Carter. Steve is in deep with this one.
Steve doesn't actually run out of things to say about the the wonderful Matt Murdock, but at he pauses at the ten-minute mark, abashed at how long he's been rhapsodizing about his boyfriend.
"Enough about my love life," Steve grumbles. "Tell me how things are going on your side."
Graciously, Bucky lets Steve change the subject. "We're in Croatia. Skye says this is the last of the HYDRA strongholds in Europe."
"So you'll be back soon?"
"Yeah, so stay in one piece for another two weeks. Maybe your boyfriend can keep you out of trouble."
It is Steve's turn to look amused. "I'm a supersoldier, in case you've forgotten; I can take care of myself."
"You're always going to be the underdog from Brooklyn to me."
Steve is quiet for a moment before replying. "I know, Buck. Stay safe, you hear me?"
"I hear you. I'll be back in no time, soldier."
And then, because he needs to give Steve some shit about this, he adds cheekily, "After all, it's my honor-bound duty as your best friend to tell Matt all your embarrassing stories."
"Bucky!" cries Steve.
Bucky is still laughing as he signs off.
Short update, but action sequences coming in less than two chapters, hopefully. *crosses fingers*
Bucky is relatively recovered from his stint as the Winter Soldier because I need everything to be rainbows and butterflies.
Chapter 5: never talk about politics on a first date
Steve and Matt talk shop. Daredevil gets a job offer.
Considering that Steve and Matt have been dating for more than two months, it was inevitable that they would eventually touch upon the topic of vigilantes/heroes. Matt confesses a certain degree of personal investment concerning which side of the argument Steve falls under.
It's not that Matt plans on revealing that he is Daredevil anytime soon, but recently he has started to think "maybe" instead of "never." Foggy, who still hasn't dropped the matter of telling Karen the truth, would probably call that progress.
Matt figures that he should start with something slightly less controversial before moving onto a figure that some New Yorkers swear is actually Satan walking the alleys of Hell's Kitchen.
So, one day he casually mentions, "Great job the Avengers did in Central Park with Loki last weekend."
Steve chokes on his drink. "What? I mean, thank you. I mean, yes! Yes, great job that those Avengers did, ha ha."
Matt presses further. "Did you know that the Avengers operate outside of government jurisdiction? A lot of people seem to believe that they're state-sanctioned in some way, but the Avengers don't technically answer to anyone."
"Actually, I did know that," Steve says. "Just out of curiosity, what is your opinion on the Avengers? As a lawyer."
Matt can't say that he was expecting a cross-examination, but this is an issue that he has given a lot of thought over the past few years. For obvious reasons.
"Well, in theory everybody residing in the United States should be subject to its laws and governance. In practice, there are exceptions. For example, I highly doubt that Loki would be willing to sit trial in our courts."
Steve snorts. "Our prisons might as well have a revolving door, considering how easily he slips out of them."
"Exactly. While I wouldn't have become a lawyer if I didn't believe in the legal system, I also recognize its limitations. It seems a little inappropriate to apply our rules to a supersoldier, a green monster, two secret agents, a billionaire who could probably purchase his own small country, and a Norse alien."
"And...your nonprofessional opinion?" Steve asks cautiously.
"I appreciate that the Avengers saved my city from an alien invasion. It would have been nice if they had managed it without 160 billion dollars in property damage, but I grant that it probably wasn't on their minds at the time."
Matt allows a little more candor than usual to slip out. "The Avengers have taken it upon themselves to clean up the big messes, as they should. However, that also means that they don't have time for the 'smaller' crimes and injustices. There is a gap between what the police can do and what the Avengers can see, and quite a few victims fall through that gap in the meantime."
Steve broods on Matt's impromptu speech. After a few moments, he says, "Yes, I can understand how that would happen. Is that where heroes like Daredevil come in?"
Momentarily thrown, Matt says, "Hero? I think most people would categorize Daredevil as a vigilante."
Steve shakes his head. "Like you said, the Avengers don't answer to a governing body. No one calls them vigilantes. If they can be called heroes, then so can Daredevil."
"The level of caliber is different, don't you think?"
"Daredevil isn't so different from the Avengers," Steve says reflectively. "Though, I do worry about him. There's a rumor that Daredevil is literally the Devil, but it's utter nonsense. I bet that Daredevil is a skilled but unenhanced human, and up until recently, he ran around in what basically amounts to gym clothes. Not exactly knife or bulletproof."
Matt is slightly offended. He can't exactly afford gold titanium-alloy armor or a kevlar-based super suit on his kind of salary (it's probably overly generous to even call it a salary).
"And he fights alone. That's dangerous. The Avengers has enhanced hard-hitters, and even they work as a team. I wonder if Daredevil has people to rely on when he's in a tough spot."
"It's a good question," Matt acknowledges ruefully.
Steve suggests, "Maybe the Avengers and Daredevil will team up one day."
This time, Matt is the one to choke on his drink. "I highly doubt that will happen. It's unlikely that the Avengers even know who he is."
Steve sounds thoughtful. "Daredevil has made a name for himself now. I wouldn't be surprised if they were looking for him right now."
Those words come to haunt Matt exactly two nights later.
Daredevil has just finished knocking out the last of Gao's men when he feels a new presence on the scene.
Non-hostile combatant, crouched on the fire escape to observe. Male, mid-thirties, trained in stealth, and is that a quiver?
"Hawkeye," he says aloud.
A jump in heartrate, before the archer deliberately unfolds from his crouch and hops to the ground.
"Daredevil. I gotta say, you're a hard man to find."
"Maybe that's because I don't want to be found," Matt growls. "What do the Avengers want from me?"
Hawkeye continues as if he hasn't heard him. "I'm digging the new uniform. You finally got some body armor! All the better to avoid the stabbity-stab. I like your horns too; they add a bit of panache. And, ooh, is that a convertible billy club?"
"You tracked me down to provide sartorial commentary?"
"That, and to tell you that a man in an eye-patch would like to offer you a job opportunity," Hawkeye answers cheerfully.
"Is it an offer I can't refuse?" Matt asks dryly. Godfather was one of the few movies that he watched before he was blinded.
"Ooh, Godfather reference. I like you!"
Matt has done his own research on the suspiciously clean homeland security branch that has displayed various connections to the Avengers. "Tell S.H.I.E.L.D. that I'm happy with my current position and will have to decline."
Hawkeye's heartrate spikes again before settling back to normal. "But we have great health benefits! Wait till you hear about the dental plan."
Matt can hear a far-off scream from twenty blocks away. A mugging.
"Try the recruitment spiel on Spider-Man, maybe he'll be interested," he says with finality.
Matt leaps onto the dumpster, then to the fire escape, and finally to the roof. Luckily, it seems like Hawkeye isn't going to follow him. Matt knows Hell's Kitchen like the back of his hand, but it would have been a pain to try and lose the archer.
Matt is on the roof of the building four blocks down when he hears a faint, "But I didn't even get to mention Shawarma Saturday yet!"
Strangely enough, Steve's workplace also has Shawarma Saturday.
After a moment, Matt shrugs the coincidence off. Must be one of those new food trends.
Finally finished watching Daredevil!
Here, have some discussion about superhero accountability in preparation for Captain America: Civil War. Because let's be real, Steve and Matt are cleancut, goody-two-shoes...that would totally ignore the law if they thought it stopped them from doing what is right.
Chapter 6: let's talk about sex, baby
No sex actually occurs in this chapter, to the everlasting disappointment of Tony, Karen, and Foggy.
Tony begins with a, "So. Matthew Murdock."
Steve doesn't groan aloud, but it's a close call. With Bruce at a hospital opening in Banglor, Thor still off-world, and Clint and Natasha on a classified mission somewhere in Canada, he should have known that Tony would be bored out of his mind. And a bored Tony is a harassed 'everyone else' in the Tower. Which, unluckily for Steve, is only him at the moment.
Tony shoots a barrage of rapid-fire questions at him. "How is he in bed? Shy and retiring? A devil in the sack? I slept with a blind sculptor once, but my sample size is too small to draw any inferences. Help a scientist out, Cap."
Steve gives him a long-suffering look. "You're being offensive again."
"Mea culpa then," Tony allows. "I just want to know if things have been working out with your new man."
"Things are fine. Not every relationship requires physical affirmation for validation."
"Somebody's been talking to the SHIELD shrinks," Tony snarks.
"Shouldn't you be, I don't know, making some kind of tech that will let us track down Daredevil?"
Tony rolls his eyes. "Despite what Fury says, tracking down a non-murderous vigilante who has only targeted criminals is not my priority, okay? I've got nothing against Daredevil trying to clean up our city on a smaller scale. God knows we don't have time to handle every mugging or assault."
Steve hates to admit it, but he sort of agrees. Daredevil is on the same side as the Avengers, even if he does have a darker reputation. The man is doing good in the city, and that's all that matters - there's no pressing need for him to be under SHIELD's payroll and supervision. Though, if possible, Steve would like to contact him to offer support. It can't be easy doing what Daredevil does without any support or fail-safe.
Tony quickly gets back on track. "Anyway, don't think I didn't notice you trying to change the subject. It's been more than two months. You two have had sex by now, right?"
Don't show it, don't show it, don't show it - damn.
Steve flushes a dull red.
"Seriously?" Tony says incredulously. "I would have tapped a young, idealistic thing like Murdock eons ago. Not that I will now, of course. Bros before hos, et cetera. And you, Rogers, it might actually be a sin to withhold that kind of perfection from the populace." He gestures meaningfully at Steve's body, lingering on his...
Steve resists the urge to cover his crotch with both hands.
Tony persists. "Is this a Catholic boy thing? A 40's sensibilities thing? Saving yourself for marriage? We don't really do that anymore."
"It's a 'I don't want to sleep with someone under false circumstances' thing," Steve answers exasperatedly.
He scoffs. "'False circumstances' - yeesh. It's not like this is one of Widow's honeypot missions."
"It just feels...deceptive. To go that far with Matt when I'm withholding information about half of my life."
"Half? You're Captain America. I think that rates at least 70% of your life, even without the whole cryogenics situation."
Steve sighs. "I really like him, Tony."
"Of course you do. Man's almost as much of a boy scout as you are, and that's a high bar to meet." Tony furrows his brow. "Say - what's keeping you from getting him to sign the non-disclosure papers then? Has he professed an undying hate for the Avengers or something?"
"No, it's not like that." Steve smiles faintly. "Actually, he said that Captain America was his favorite superhero growing up."
"Perfect, you'll be fulfilling one of his childhood dreams then!" Tony crows. "What's the holdup?"
Picking his words carefully, Steve says, "I guess I'm just worried that he won't take it well. After all, it would be completely reasonable of him to not want to get involved with Avengers business. It's not a complication that most people would want to accomodate. I know Beth didn't have it easy worrying about me every time a disaster came up."
"That's...yeah. It's a lot of pressure to put on your significant other, especially if they're a civilian." Tony falls broodingly silent, and Steve remembers too late that the constant threat of danger of their job was the sticking points for Pepper Potts. Tony is alright now, but he was in bad shape for a while after she dropped the girlfriend part of her multitasking CEO-friend-babysitter-girlfriend role.
The billionaire bulldozes through. "But that doesn't mean you shouldn't tell him. Especially if you want this to be a long-term thing. And hey! If you tell him, you boys can have your first time in the Avengers Tower. Won't that be special? Judging by the profit margin of his legal firm - hint, it's close to a round, single-digit number - and by the general level of real estate in Hell's Kitchen, his place must be a real shithole."
Steve thinks about the glaring light of a billboard through the windows of Matt's place and winces. "It's not that bad," he says loyally. Then his brain catches up with the first part of the sentence. Steve sputters. "I'm not going to - ! Just so that he and I can - !"
"Relax, you don't have to defend your lawyer's honor against me. Wow, that sentence sounds weird." Tony clicks his tongue. "Think about it, Steve. I can get you a stack of NDAs by tomorrow if you want them."
Steve nods slowly. "I'll think about it."
Two dubious martinis in at Josie's ("Is that supposed to be...an olive?"), Karen says, "So. Steve Rogers."
Foggy, with his internal sense of when drama is going down, straightens up eagerly. "This is going to be good."
"You haven't actually asked me a question," Matt notes placidly.
"So it's going to be like that?" Karen says. She clears her throat and intones, "Mr. Murdock. Please state for the record the current state of affairs with your supermodel boyfriend."
Matt plays along. "Objection. Your honor, I don't see how this information is relevant to the case."
"Overruled." Karen breaks character. "Now spill."
He lets out a huff of laughter. "It's been going well with Steve. I don't know what else to say."
Foggy interjects, "How's the, you know - " and makes what is almost certainly a crude gesture in his direction.
Karen narrates, "Foggy just made a crude gesture."
"Thank you, Karen; you're the worst, Foggy. And if you mean sex, we haven't had it yet."
"How are we defining sex?" Foggy wonders. "Like, heavy petting. That ought to count for something. Is that first base? Should I bring out my baseball euphemism chart?"
"No need for that. Let's say Steve and I are...still warming the bench for now."
"How?" Karen demands. "I'm sorry, but that man is the most perfect specimen of a human being I have ever seen in my life. I would climb him like a tree if you weren't his boyfriend."
She is perhaps more inebriated than he originally estimated.
"I appreciate your restraint," Matt says dryly.
"Matt's ability to pick up the hottest person in the room strikes again," Foggy declares. "Listen, we're all good-looking people here. I like to think of myself as a high 6 on my good days. Karen here is easily a 9."
Karen attempts a curtsy, as much as she can while still seated on the bar stool.
"Matt, buddy, you're around the 8 zone, and you consistently pull above-8's. But Steve?" Foggy thumps the counter for emphasis. "Is using the hundred-point scale, unlike the rest of us mere mortals."
"I'll take your word for it," Matt replies.
"You slept with Elektra on the first date. What's holding you back with Steve?" Foggy asks.
Matt shrugs. "He is pretty traditional about some things. I don't want to move faster than he's comfortable with."
They seem to accept that answer, and in a reversal, Karen starts grilling Foggy about Marci. Matt ignores Foggy's mouthed/whispered "help me." Turnabout is fair play, after all.
Instead, he thinks.
Matt has sensed Steve's building arousal before, but the man always pulls back before they get too far. Steve is certainly a change of pace from the 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know' sort that have been his type before. This is probably the longest Matt has waited for the physical consummation of a relationship.
However, this is also his first long-term relationship since becoming a masked vigilante. One night stands generally refrain from inquiring about the scars that decorate his body, but Steve almost certainly would worry if he saw them.
There is still a voice in his head, which sounds a bit like Stick, hissing, "What they don't know can't hurt them!" It's why he hasn't told Karen and Steve about Daredevil yet.
But outright lying to Steve is something Matt doesn't want to do. Not if he doesn't have to.
To be honest, Matt is grateful that they are taking it slow. Things will come to a head eventually, but for now there's no pressure to confess anything.
The tick of the second hand on the wall clock beats a, Not yet. Not yet.
Note that I personally don't believe in a 'rule' delineating when people in a relationship should have sex. Reach those milestones at your own pace and comfort level.
Also, I've started watching season 2 of Daredevil. You know a man is hardcore when he makes the Devil of Hell's Kitchen look like an altar boy - cough, cough, the Punisher. There won't be any spoilers in this story, but I might reference some minor s2 things.
Chapter 7: that one eccentric rich guy
Tony Stark drops by Nelson and Murdock.
Warning: Tony being Tony. AKA, being a vaguely well-intentioned but offensive ass.
"Yesterday I passed a sushirrito shop. As in, sushi and burritos. I don't even know anymore," Foggy says. "I mean -if you have to pick a food combo, it should be pizza bagels. Now that was the food of my childhood."
Matt lets out an absent-minded hum. Normally he would be paying attention and giving his own opinion on the ultimate hybrid food (cronuts, definitely cronuts), but there is a very familiar voice emanating from their office.
He cocks his head and concentrates. Male. Middle-aged. Glib, charismatic, and fast-talking. Accustomed to public speaking. Business? Technology?
"I could use a trustworthy PA. My last one was a Russian spy who announced her resignation via a needle in my neck. And the one before her is currently running Stark Industries. Hey! Advancement opportunities. Secretary to CEO, we have a precedent, you know."
That's Tony Stark. What is Iron Man doing in their shoddy Hell's Kitchen office?
Karen demurs. "Thank you for your offer, but I'm quite happy here at Nelson and Murdock."
Have the Avengers managed to track him down as Daredevil? Why would they send Tony Stark as their representative?
"Jesus, it's hot in here. That's one improvement - I can guarantee there's a state-of-the-art AC system in all Stark facilities," Stark says, tugging at his collar.
It isn't impossible for them to have found out; who knows what Tony Stark can manage with technology?
He can hear the smile in Karen's voice. "My answer is still no, but I'll keep it in mind."
Matt resolves to not show any signs of anxiety until he knows for sure what Stark wants from them.
Finally, Matt and Foggy reach the top of the stairs.
Stark whines, "At least let me buy you guys an electric fan or something. I'm dying here; how did people survive in the summers before Willis Carrier invented air conditioning?"
Foggy's ode to pizza bagels slows down as his ears finally pick up on the voice emanating from the office. "Is our 10 o'clock here already? That doesn't sound like a 65-year-old Korean grandmother..."
Foggy opens the door. He stares for a moment, and then shuts the door again. He turns to Matt. "Did heat stroke finally take me down, or is Tony Stark trying to poach our administrative assistant from us?"
"Trust your senses," Matt says dryly, and nudges the door open with his cane.
He addresses the general direction where Tony is leaning on Karen's desk. "Welcome to our humble abode, Mr. Stark. What can Nelson and Murdock do for you?"
"Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson, I presume. Hope you don't mind me dropping in without an appointment."
"We do not mind at all. So little minding," Foggy breathes.
"Word on the street is that Nelson and Murdock have been tearing it up recently," Tony says smoothly. "I was hoping to get some legal counsel from the team that put Wilson Fisk behind bars for good."
That's a lie.
Matt crosses his arms. "Last time I checked, Stark Industries has its own legal teams - plural. That's not to mention the in-house legal advisors for Tony Stark as an individual and Tony Stark as a superhero."
Foggy shifts, probably realizing the same fact now that his star-struck wonder is giving way to common sense.
Stark replies confidently, "Trust me when I say it absolutely has to be you guys."
Matt cautiously uncrosses his arms.
Sensing vulnerability, Stark presses forward. "I know I'm dropping in out of the blue here, and Karen told me that you've got two appointments coming up. Your office seems a little on the...understaffed side, so I don't want to pull away both of you for little ol' me. How about this: Murdock and I grab a coffee, we chat for half an hour, and I pay you the going rate for Stark retainers for the entire day, for each of the three of you?"
Karen whispers to Foggy, "How much is that?"
"More than we made in the last year combined," Foggy says out of the side of his mouth.
Unfortunately, it appears that Stark wants to get Matt alone. The odds are good that this is Daredevil business. What else could a man like Tony Stark want from a man like Matt Murdock?
Stark directs towards Karen, "And I was serious about the air conditioning offer. That would be more of a gift to myself, really. If I have to spend a minute longer in this oven you call an office..."
Matt weighs his options. If this really is about Daredevil, then deferring Stark now isn't going to stop him from tracking down Matt later. And they haven't managed to pay Karen in two months, let alone themselves...
"Can you excuse us for a moment, Mr. Stark? My partners and I need to discuss your offer."
Stark flaps a hand at him in acquiescence and immediately starts clicking away at his cellphone.
Once they are alone, Foggy immediately blurts out, "Discuss? I have only one thing to say, and that is an emphatic 'yes!'"
Karen shrewdly asks, "Is there a reason you're hesitating, Matt? It is a little strange that Tony Stark would come to us when he already has a legal team, but you can't imagine that the man is going to try and scam us out of money."
"What could it hurt, Matt?" Foggy wheedles. "Half an hour of our time - well, your time - and we get $50,000 in the bank. I'm already salivating at the amount of pizza bagels I can buy with this."
"You don't think it's suspicious that he is willing to pay that much money to talk to just one of us? For only half an hour?"
He purposefully avoids mentioning his worries that this serendipitous meeting might have something to do with Daredevil. There's only so much he can hint at to Foggy with Karen in the room. Also, he wouldn't put it past Stark to possess listening devices that could spy on this conversation. He'll have to scan the office later.
Foggy doesn't pick up on the hint. "Fifty grand is probably chump change to a man who pioneered the future's energy source. He's - what do you call weird people with money? - eccentric. That's right. Eccentric people do things like that."
"As for why he wants to speak to you alone, who knows?" Karen says slyly. "Maybe he's trying to pick you up? He was staring pretty intently at you, Matt."
"Oh wow, Steve Rogers versus Tony Stark, battle of the century! I like your boyfriend, but I can't guarantee that he'd win in that contest. I think being one of the richest people in the world gets you automatically on the 100-point scale, even if you're old and crusty," Foggy muses. "And Tony Stark is what, in his late thirties? Early forties? He makes it work, is all I'm saying."
Karen chimes in. "Not to mention the glowing reviews of his prowess in the tabloids. And he's a genius. Did we mention that yet?"
Matt rubs his forehead. "I'm guessing you both want me to take his offer?"
Foggy points a finger at him. "I am not above prostituting, whoops, hiring you out at an outrageous hourly rate to a billionaire. We have seen and taken much sketchier clients. This is like, 1% sketchy. 3% at the most. And this way, I can still see our 10 o'clock. Mrs. Lee is bringing us kimbap as payment for today's appointment. Pizza bagels and kimbap. Win-win situation here!"
"Outvoted," Karen coughs.
Matt sighs, but duly goes back out to tell Tony Stark that they'll accept his $50,000 coffee chat deal.
Tony takes Matt to a restaurant that is so upscale that it doesn't even have a name plaque.
Within five minutes, Matt has an incredibly fragrant cup of coffee placed in front of him (Tony has three. And Karen says that Matt has a caffeine addiction). The drink, he is forced to admit, is better than the coffee in the office by a magnitude of infinity.
Stark launches into the conversation. "So, you're a hot, young, educated thing living it up in New York. You must have the boys and girls banging on your door day and night."
It's not a great start.
Matt suppresses a sigh. "This is extremely unprofessional, Mr. Stark. I thought you wanted legal advice?"
"I do! Totally. But this is like...a character reference. I need to know you better as a person before I can trust you with my legal problems. And Matt - can I call you Matt? - it's Tony."
"Tony," he corrects.
"Tony," Matt says, "my relationship status will not impact the professional relationship we may or may not have in the future."
Tony props his chin on a hand. "But then how will I know what level of flirting is permissible? If you're taken, I promise I'll turn the charm down a notch. Just a notch, though: rakish libertine is my default state."
Matt doesn't want to give Tony any more personal information than necessary, but he's starting to think it would be easier to give him something. "Turn it down a notch," he says, knowing what Tony will conclude from his words.
"Aha! So you are dating someone. What a shame for the rest of us."
Matt might be inclined to consider Karen's theory that Tony is attracted to him, but despite his words and demeanor, Tony isn't showing any signs of physical arousal. Well, beyond the baseline arousal that people seem to demonstrate around Matt, for whatever reason.
Matt puts on his "sharkish" lawyer smile, as named by Foggy. "Tony, we both know you're not here for legal counsel. Or for the opportunity to futilely hit on me. I think you would make it easier on the both of us if you told me what you really want."
"Well, I wouldn't want you to think that I'm easy."
"Tony," Matt says sternly.
"I've heard good things, and I wanted to see for myself if you were trustworthy," Tony admits. "You're a candidate for receiving some very confidential information. I'm not the person you should hear it from, but you'll be finding out soon."
"Is this information related to Stark Industries business? Avengers business? SHIELD?"
"Huh. Surprised you know about SHIELD. But my lips are zipped until you sign the papers, can't ruin the surprise."
"Then what is your verdict? Are Nelson and Murdock trustworthy?"
"I'm generally a good judge of character, and I'd say so," Tony says seriously, before switching into his lighthearted tone again. "I've only made the wrong call like three times. Four, max, if you're counting the Russian spy. "
Matt drums his fingers on the table. He can't be certain, but he no longer believes this is about Daredevil. Surely Tony would have brought the issue up by now if that were the case. But what else could it be?
"Would you happen to know Alicia Masters? She's a blind sculptor," Tony says suddenly.
Matt is nonplussed by the non sequitur but manages to recover enough to reply, "There are over 100,000 legally blind people in New York State. Surprisingly, not all of us are acquainted with each other."
"That's not an answer," Tony responds in sing-song.
Grudgingly, Matt says, "In this particular case..." He happens to know Alicia from attending one of her sculpture shows back when she hadn't yet skyrocketed to fame in the art world.
Tony fist-pumps. "Ha! I knew it. You probably belong to the same gorgeous blind people club."
Matt doesn't want to deign that with a response.
Unfortunately, Tony takes that as a cue to continue. "Is face-touching thing something you do for everybody or just people you want to pick up?" he asks curiously.
At this point, it might be easier to answer his questions until their half hour is up. "I touch people's faces when I want to get a better sense of what they look like. I usually require some measure of intimacy first, platonic or romantic."
"I don't know about intimacy, but I promise we'll be spending more time in the future together if things go well. So how about it?" Tony points at himself. "Wanna do me?"
Matt hesitates. "I - before I was blinded, I saw you on a TV program. You made a robotic dog? It was pretty impressive."
"Huh. Argos, yeah. I remember." Tony seems lost in memories for a moment, before shaking his head. "Well, I'm all grown up now. Don't you want to see how I've blossomed from my ugly duckling days?"
"You were a pretty cute kid," Matt protests. And...he kind of does want to feel what Tony has grown into. It's not everyday that he gets a comparison touch. (Mostly because people don't really stick around Matt long enough for him to do so.) "Alright."
Tony scoots over. "Okay, what do I do? Should I make a face?"
Amused, Matt says, "Just close your eyes and stay still."
He carefully feels Tony's face, smiling when he comes to the famous Van Dyke beard that he's heard about.
And - he shouldn't be surprised, but Tony is starting to exhibit a faster heart-rate. He is also muttering "bros before hos, bros before hos" over and over again. (Matt decides that he is never going to understand rich people.)
Matt removes his hands once he has a good measure of the man's face. "Thanks, Tony," he says, more warmly.
Tony says in a strangled voice, "No worries. I'm here for you anytime you want to - touch a face."
(Confusingly, he also adds under his breath, "Damn it. Cap better be grateful for my self-restraint. I should have gotten there first.")
Tony says, "Next time you should visit Avengers Tower. Before you come there to, ah, christen it."
Matt is unsure about what Tony means about "christening," so he ignores the second sentence and responds to the first. "Make an appointment in advance, and I'll see what we can do."
He returns to the office to discover that Tony Stark indeed keeps his promises - Matt is greeted by the hum of a newly installed air conditioner unit and Foggy and Karen's cheers of relief.
Flirtatious Tony, because in an alternate universe (That Siren Song by achray), Tony and Matt make a really cute couple.
Apparently the top lawyers in London can charge more than 1000 euros an hour? And I'm assuming Foggy and Matt keep an 8-hour work day, since Matt has to have time for his "nightly" activities. So, $2000x3x8=$48,000. Craziness.
The people that Tony made bad calls about, in order: Obadiah, Tiberius Stone, Sunset Bain, and Natasha (revised).
Chapter 8: conflict in relationships is natural
Here's the thing about waiting for the right moment - there isn't one.
Steve has been carrying the non-disclosure agreement in his bag for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, every time he gets close to bringing it up to Matt, something goes wrong.
The first time, he's walking Matt back to his apartment after a date. Steve says, "Listen, Matt. There's something I need to..."
That's when a woman shouts from behind them, "My purse!"
So then Steve has to chase the thief for three blocks and drag him by the collar of his shirt back to where Matt and the woman are waiting. The woman thanks him profusely, the thief curses at him profusely, the cops take his statement, and by then it's already midnight. Matt has work the next morning, so Steve resigns himself to bringing the topic up next time.
Next time, Matt and Steve are feeding birds on a bench in the park. The park is relatively secluded, and they've been sitting in companionable silence for a few moments. It feels like the right time.
Steve is about to open his mouth when his StarkPhone starts urgently vibrating with the Avengers emergency ring tone. By the time he manages to fish his phone out of the bottom of his bag, it's stopped ringing. On the screen flashes the message, "Giant goo monster on 34th and 8th."
Steve sighs, apologizes to Matt for interrupting their date for a work emergency, and gets up from the bench to fight a goo monster.
Today, he's hoping the third time is the charm. Coincidentally, it happens to be the three-month anniversary of when Steve and Matt first met, so he chooses Kahve as their meeting place.
Steve clears his throat. "Matt, we've been dating for a few months now, and I feel like it's important to be honest in a relationship."
"That seems like sound advice," Matt offers cautiously.
"Right. The thing is, I may have neglected to mention a few things. Which is why..." He reaches into his bag for the legal papers.
But Matt is cocking his head, brows furrowed like he is concentrating hard on something. Suddenly, he says, "Steve, get down!" and tackles both of them to the ground.
There's a moment of silence in which Steve is very confused and slightly irate at being foiled again. That's when the stun grenade hits the sidewalk next to them and goes off.
Shielded by Matt, Steve doesn't get the full effect of the flash, but the "bang" is loud enough that he can't hear for several seconds. The grenade's effect is worse for Matt, who is now slumped over Steve with blood dripping from his ears. He's unconscious but otherwise uninjured.
The armed men come in droves. Steve takes out the first wave and the second but they just keep coming. One of the goons has a needle and manages to inject him with something before he punches him out. The last thing Steve sees before his vision goes dark is a masked soldier dragging Matt out from underneath the table.
He wakes up to the accented voice of Baron Von Strucker.
"Captain America. A pleasure."
Matt's last thought before everything goes to hell is that Steve is acting strangely.
Sitting on cold linoleum with a villain monologuing above him and Steve - Captain America - chained to the wall behind him, Matt thinks, "In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense."
Von Strucker waxes on about his evil plan for a while, something about how Steve's teammates have been taking out HYDRA bases one by one, and how he is holding Steve and Matt hostage to buy time and immunity from the other Avengers while HYDRA relocates to a top secret location that they'll never find, etcetera, etcetera.
Matt isn't paying that much attention, partially because of aftereffects from the stun grenade and partially because he is still processing the fact that he's been dating Captain America this whole time.
But he snaps to attention right away when Von Strucker grabs him by the chin.
"We'll be using your lover as leverage. He's a cripple, so he won't be useful for much else." Von Strucker's finger accidentally brushes against Matt's lower lip. "Though I suppose even a cripple must have some...merits." The touch (not to mention the blatant ableism, weirdly predatory tone, general Nazi-ness) makes Matt's skin crawl.
Furious, Steve jerks against his chains. "Get your hands off of him!"
"His continued wellbeing relies on your cooperation-" Von Strucker begins to say in his oily voice.
Steve doesn't seem to hear him because he continues to forcefully pull at his shackles until small spiderweb cracks form on the wall where the chains are attached.
Von Strucker releases Matt and barks at one of the guards. "Dose him again!"
As the effects of the sedative kick in, Steve's struggles get weaker until he is practically being held up by the chains, unable to support his own weight.
Von Strucker looks smug again.
And Matt...Matt is pissed.
Von Strucker didn't bother immobilizing Matt. He probably doesn't think a blind guy can do anything against the might of HYDRA. That's his mistake.
Matt is going to make these bad guys regret underestimating him if it's the last thing he does.
Yeah, it's been forever. Sorry. Binge-watched Defenders though, so I got inspired again!
Chapter 9: better than the movies
Tony watches a romance unfold on the screen.
Also, Steve and Matt have been kidnapped by HYDRA, and there's bomb that can take out half of New Jersey, but whatever. Priorities, right?
Tony was having a good day.
He woke up with 6 whole hours of sleep under his belt, uninterrupted by accidental Hulkouts, Clint roaming around in the air ducts, or Natasha breaking into his room to "test" the security. Other than Steve and Tony, the other Avengers were out on various missions and conferences. Tony was currently the only one in the tower, so he didn't have to fight anyone for access to the kitchen coffee machine. More for him! Oh, and he was currently in the lab working on a project that would change the way people used technology.
You know, a pretty good day for Tony.
And then he got an encrypted video call from Baron Von Strucker, and that sort of blew up the whole good day thing.
"You will not contact any of the other Avengers or members of SHIELD. You will not mount a rescue. You will not do a thing other than sit there, if you want your friends to survive. This man-" Von Strucker gestured to an armed HYDRA operative, "-will shoot the Captain's lover if you exit the frame of the video for more than thirty seconds. Do you understand?"
Matt wasn't looking too hot. He had dried blood on his jawline and a darkening bruise on his temple. His glasses had been smashed and although he wasn't chained down like Steve was, they had taken his cane.
Steve looked even worse. He was barely conscious and hanging limply from his chains. Von Strucker must have given him an elephant-sized dose of tranquilizer for the supersoldier serum to struggle metabolizing the drug.
"Understood," Tony gritted out.
Von Strucker exited the room, and Matt immediately tried to stumble over to Steve.
"Hey!" the guard at the door barked. "Where do you think you're going?"
Tony rolled his eyes. "Jesus Christ, you guys broke the blind man's glasses and confiscated his cane. Do you really think you missed the industrial-grade boltcutters he would need to free Captain America?"
The guard subsided with a grumble.
Tony could just hear Matt softly murmuring to Steve. "Steve? Steve, are you alright?"
"I'm so sorry. I meant to tell you. This wasn't how I wanted to tell you," Steve slurred.
"It's alright, Steve. We're going to be fine."
Matt kept patting Steve soothingly until the supersoldier lost the fight to stay conscious.
Tony's mind was racing, coming up with contingency plans. Bruce wasn't an option since he was out of the country, Thor was even less of an option since he was off of the planet, and he didn't know where Clint and Natasha were, due to the "secret" part of "secret spies." Bucky was meant to come back today, but the Quinjet was probably somewhere over the Atlantic at this point.
Maybe if Tony managed to contact Bucky discreetly, Bucky could push the Quinjet to Mach 3 and arrive here in time...but where was "here" anyway? Tony's hands were tied unless he knew where Matt and Steve were being held.
"Sir, you should see this," JARVIS murmured in his earpiece and projected another screen next to the video of Matt and Steve. It was Morse code.
Tony's eyes darted back to the video, and he realized that Matt was tapping his finger on the floor. Just loudly enough to be picked up by a supercomputer like JARVIS, but subtly enough that the guard interpreted the movement as a nervous tick.
It wasn't a nervous tick, unless nervous ticks usually spelled out, "OVER THE BRIDGE FROM MANHATTAN. NEWARK. INDUSTRIAL AREA. 2 MILES AWAY FROM ANY ACTIVE FACTORIES. 3 MILES FROM CLOSEST TRAIN STATION. UNDERGROUND. PAPER MILL ON TOP FLOOR."
It was good that HYDRA hadn't actually gotten very far, but Newark? Really? Ugh, he knew he hated New Jersey for a good reason.
JARVIS began narrowing down the potential locations fitting the criteria Matt provided. Tony had no idea how Matt was getting this information, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. At least not until later when Matt was safely unkidnapped and could therefore be interrogated by Tony at their leisure.
"Sending coordinates and SOS notices to Mr. Barnes, Ms. Romanov, and Mr. Barton," JARVIS announced. After a pause, JARVIS added, "Infrared imaging shows signs of multiple bombs that will need to be disabled within the next hour."
Tony swore silently and began tapping back to update Matt on the situation.
Matt gave a sharp nod to indicate that he received the message. "CAN YOU SHUT DOWN POWER TO AREA?"
Tony furrowed his brow. "YES, BUT IT WON'T DISABLE THE BOMBS AND BLACKOUT WILL BE TEMPORARY UNTIL THEY START THEIR BACK UP GENERATORS. WHY?"
"FOR HOW LONG?" Matt asked, ignoring Tony's question of why the hell he was asking. Not that Tony had anything else to do but sit here and answer his inane questions, considering the guard would put a bullet into Matt the second Tony stood up for so much as a bathroom break.
So he dutifully replied, "BLACKOUT WILL LAST FOR 20 MINUTES."
"WHEN IS BACKUP ARRIVING?"
JARVIS reported, "Mr. Barnes has initiated Mach 3 and should be arriving in New York within the next half hour. Mr. Barton and Ms. Romanoff have cancelled their mission and will be here in the next hour."
Natasha and Clint weren't going to make it in time. It looked like Bucky was flying solo this time.
However, it would be nearly impossible for him to break into the HYDRA stronghold, rescue Matt and Steve, and disable the bombs before they blew up half of New Jersey within their time-frame.
Not that half of New Jersey was all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it was the principle of the matter.
"IN 30 MINUTES," Tony relayed to Matt, who was still bizarrely composed. Like, Bruce after meditation composed. Maybe all these useless details were serving to calm him? Matt did seem awfully calm for a first time Hydra abductee.
Matt didn't respond for a moment or two, then he tapped, "SHUT DOWN THE POWER IN 5 MINUTES."
"WHY?" Tony repeated, in the hopes that Matt would actually reveal the workings of his inexplicable logic this time.
"EASIER FOR BACKUP TO DISABLE BOMBS IF GUARDS ARE DOWN WHEN THEY ARRIVE," Matt explained, except for the part where he explained nothing.
"TRUST ME," Matt told Tony and would say no more.
Normally Tony wouldn't be listening to blind civilians who had clearly been knocked harder on the head than originally assessed, but something about the grim line of Matt's mouth and the clench of his fist ...
"Prepare to activate night vision," Tony ordered JARVIS, who had already managed to hack into the video feed and cameras in the facility. (HYDRA should really have thought twice about initiating any digital connection with Tony Stark. You would think villains would have caught on by now that "technology" plus "Tony" equaled "their doom.")
When the five minutes were up, Tony took a deep breath and hoped to God this wasn't the wrong call to make.
He let out a sigh of relief thirty seconds later, when Matt took out the panicking guard with a chokehold that would have made the Widow proud.
Even through the low-quality night vision camera feed, Tony recognized those bodacious moves. And, in retrospect, the chiselled jawline and the pouty lips were pretty familiar too.
God had nothing to do with it. The Devil was in the house today.
Bucky kicked in the door to the surveillance room. "Where are they?" he roared.
"Oh hey! You're finally here!" Tony said, spinning away from the rapidly flashing video monitors to face Bucky. He was holding popcorn.
"I disabled the bombs like ten minutes ago. Good thing too, since it's not like Matt can tell the difference between a yellow wire and a red wire," Tony said, throwing a piece of popcorn into the air and then catching it with his mouth. "You're welcome."
"Why are you sitting here eating popcorn?" Bucky asked, worried that HYDRA had released some sort of hallucinogenic gas and he hadn't noticed.
Tony waggled his eyebrows. "The suit has lots of surprises. And pockets." With that, he fished out a packet of blueberries from god knows where in the armor and tossed it at Bucky.
Bucky caught the blueberries. Of course, just because his motor functions were intact didn't mean his mental faculties were. Hallucinogenic gas was looking more and more likely as an option by the second.
"Where are Steve and Matt?"
Tony gestured at one of the screens, where an unmoving figure was slumped against a wall. "HYDRA gave Steve an elephant tranquilizer. But no worries, he's sleeping it off! Plus, it's dark, so his melatonin levels will be high. I figure Steve can get a good nap in before their romantic rescue-reunion."
"I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what 'no worries' means." Bucky paused, recalling that the HYDRA base had been awfully dim when he broke in. "...and why is it so dark?"
"So Matt can pick off these HYDRA goons one by one like the apex predator of the night that he is."
"When will you start making sense?" Bucky said, exasperated.
"I dunno, I thought I was being pretty straightforward there," Tony said, gesturing to the bottom left-hand monitor, where Matt was indeed taking out HYDRA agents in complete darkness like some kind of vampire-ninja.
Bucky squinted at the screen in confusion. "Is that blind Matt? Stevie's Matt?"
"He just goes by Matt, actually. But yes. Look familiar?"
Bucky took another minute to stare at the video feed, before exclaiming incredulously, "Steve's been dating Daredevil?"
"You might also say, Captain America has been dating Daredevil. Now there's an Avengers pairing that no one's written fanfiction about yet. I checked."
Bucky sat down heavily in the chair next to Tony. "Seriously, I am too old for this shit."
"Nonsense, you're a sprightly octogenarian at the oldest!"
"Shut up, Tony."
Tony shut up.
And with that, they both gazed at the monitor, where Matt was delivering a textbook-perfect roundhouse kick to Von Strucker's face.
"...and pass me that popcorn," Bucky said.
Chapter 10: it was always you
Captain America meets Daredevil.
Steve woke up to total darkness and the far-off sound of panicked shouting.
There was no response from the room, but he could hear a cut-off scream from outside.
"Well, that's not mysterious and concerning at all," he muttered. Where were the HYDRA agents? Where was Matt? What was going on beyond that door?
Judging by his internal clock, Steve had been out for fifteen minutes or so. He was still feeling dizzy from the tranquilizer, but his body had metabolized enough of it that he broke his shackles with only a grunt.
He started feeling his way along the wall to the exit. Halfway there, he stumbled into a prone body.
His heart leaped into his throat, and he immediately crouched down to run his hands over the body's face.
A moment later, he exhaled in relief. Who knew that memorizing his boyfriend's face by touch would come in handy?
The unconscious body wasn't Matt. It was the guard, which meant that an unknown rescuer had knocked the HYDRA agent out and taken Matt with them. It could be the Avengers or SHIELD, but this wasn't their usual modus operandi.
Steve resolved to be on his guard and pushed the door open. He figured his best bet was to follow the sound of pained grunts and cursing.
As he made his way down the hallway, he passed multiple bodies like that of the first guard. He took a flashlight off of one of them. The unconscious HYDRA agent was holding it tightly in his fist. Judging by his black eye, it hadn't done him much good against whoever or whatever had been lurking in the dark.
Steve was almost there. He could hear the fleshy cracks of fist against face and the thump of bodies being thrown against the wall.
In preparation, he switched off his flashlight to avoid alerting anyone to his presence. Enemy of his enemy and such, but he still didn't know whether the mysterious rescuer was on his side.
Steve rounded the corner and took in the tumultuous scene before him. The HYDRA agents were trying to coordinate the beams of their flashlights to illuminate their enemy. Key word: trying. In reality, they were wildly waving their flashlights around while slowly being picked off by one person. Steve would see a flash of the mysterious figure, then a flashlight clatter to the floor before its former holder swiftly joined it.
The silent winnowing of the group was reminiscent of Natasha's efficient and understated violence, but from the brief glances he managed to catch the figure was dark-haired and male. Moreover, he was less graceful and more brutally determined. The fighting style did remind him of someone, but the memory flitted away as soon as it came.
When the last of the flashlights rolled to the floor, Steve tensed. Now was the time to see whether this person was an enemy or friend.
He switched on the flashlight but kept the beam pointed upwards along with his raised hands to show that he meant no harm.
"Hello?" he said.
No response. If it weren't for the heavy breathing, Steve would think he were alone in a hallway of beat up HYDRA agents.
"It seems like you've taken care of all of the HYDRA agents in the building. I appreciate it, but I'd like to ask if you've come across somebody else while you were here. 5'11" Caucasian male, late twenties, wearing a gray suit? Er, blind?"
There was a long exhale, before an amused, "Can't say I've seen him."
Steve would recognize that voice anywhere. "Matt?!" he said incredulously and directed the flashlight in front of him.
A scuffed-up Matthew Murdock waved back sheepishly. His suit was torn in several places, and he was bleeding copiously from a cut on his forehead. Matt wasn't wearing his glasses (courtesy of HYDRA agents who had no respect for personal property), and his unfocused brown eyes gazed directly into Steve's high beam light without squinting or flinching.
"Hi Steve," Matt said, "I think there may have been some things we neglected to tell each other during the first date."
"This is way better than that accidentally-married assassins movie," Clint commented from his perch in the surveillance room.
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith?" Tony suggested.
"Yeah, the one with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But forget those two. We should sell the storytelling rights of Matt and Steve's romance to Hollywood. They'd make a killing at the box office."
"Romance and action, mystery and misunderstandings - a formula for success," Natasha agreed.
Bucky appealed to the group. "Um, not to be bearer of practical news or anything, but don't you think we should have helped Matt out with those guards?"
"Please, Daredevil can take down two dozen HYDRA agents with his eyes closed." Clint paused. "Hah. See what I did there? Ha! I did it again. Wow, we're going to get to make deaf and blind jokes now!"
Bucky tried again, "So...are we going to tell them that the bombs have been disabled and they can go home?"
"Hush, Bucky-boo," Tony admonished, "movie isn't over yet."
Bucky sighed and resigned himself to being the only sane person in the room. Other than Natasha, but she was amused by the situation and disinclined to intervene.
A minute later, Clint started chanting at the screen, "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"
The Avengers still had to introduce themselves to Matt, but if it happened that he was willing to put up with their insanity? Then Steve better start picking out rings, because that relationship was a done deal.
Chapter 11: all's well that ends well
And they kicked villain ass together, happily ever after.
The first thing that Clint says when Matt boards the Quinjet is, "I'm so glad you're blind."
Natasha looks pained, and Tony face-palms. For the umpteenth time, Bucky marvels that this team is supposed to be the Earth's last line of defense.
"That seems a little sadistic," Matt says bemusedly.
"No, it's all good. I'm deaf! You know what that means, right?"
"A lot of 'see no evil, hear no evil jokes?'"
"Wow, I hadn't even thought of that one yet," an awed Clint says. "Steve, Steve, you need to lock this guy down, stat."
Steve flushes and then looks a little uncomfortable at the insinuation.
No one ever said the Black Widow couldn't take a hint. "Why don't we leave Steve and Matt alone for a little while?" Natasha suggests firmly, ushering the others out of the room.
On his way out, Bucky points two fingers at his eyes, then at Matt, and clarifies aloud, "I'm watching you. Treat my buddy here well, or else." He's only half-joking.
Matt doesn't appear very intimidated. "It's good that somebody is watching."
"Ha! Seriously, Steve. If you don't put a ring on this guy, I will!" Clint hollers from down the hallway.
"Have a good talk, boys," Natasha says, quietly shutting the door behind her.
Steve and Matt sit quietly for a few moments before trying again at the same.
After a minute, Steve snorts.
"Just missing each other seems like a theme in this relationship," he comments dryly.
Steve ventures, "So, is there still a relationship?"
The humor is wiped off Matt's face. "I understand if recent revelations have caused you to re-evaluate whether we-"
"I should be the one saying that!" Steve interrupts hotly.
Matt seems surprised and then a little shy. "...maybe we can each take half the blame and call it a day?"
Steve smiles. "I'd like that."
Eavesdropping behind the reinforced door like the rest of the Avengers, Bucky has finally reached his boiling point at this ridiculous day.
"What the actual fuck. They're resolving their relationship issues through Catholic guilt? Only these two contrary bastards, I swear to God."
"When I said 'bring Daredevil in,' this isn't what I meant," Fury says.
"I don't know what you mean, sir. As you requested, we discovered Daredevil's identity," Natasha says sweetly. "SHIELD's always been known for 'unorthodox' recruiting."
"Would you say dating Captain America is an employment benefit or a workplace perk?" Tony wonders.
Matt interrupts the sassing; Fury could almost forgive the man for the huge headache caused by his presence. "Director Fury, I'd like to make it clear that I have no desire to join the Avengers."
Steve is taken aback. "Matt?"
"The Avengers fight aliens and monsters and gods. Daredevil is just a man trying to keep his corner of New York City a little safer. We're in different leagues," he explains patiently.
"Dude. I'm a former carnie who's really good at shooting arrows. In the year of our lord 2019. You can hear, like, a tissue falling on someone's lap from a different building," Clint says.
"I'm going to have to agree with Hawkeye on this one," Fury says. "We're not requesting that you join the permanent roster, but there will be fights in which your unique abilities are indispensable."
"You can be an honorary Avenger! Part-time? Contractor? We'll think of something. We can hammer out the contracts and salary later," Tony says.
Matt says indignantly, "I don't do this for the cash."
"Well, obviously! I've seen your office. But if you're going to be doing the equivalent of holding two jobs and going out every night as a human punching bag for the scumbags of New York, you might as well have decent health insurance."
Matt opens his mouth and then closes it.
"You don't have any health insurance right now, do you."
Matt looks vaguely guilty.
"You probably sew yourself up with a needle and some bourbon."
A wince but no denial.
"JARVIS, put this man on the Avenger roster immediately!"
Matt moves to protest but is quelled by Steve's reproachful, "Your health is important, Matt. Back when I was growing up in the 1930s..." speech.
Natasha whispers in Russian to Bucky. "He's being a total hypocrite, isn't he."
"Oh yeah. Back then, Stevie had the self-preservation instincts of a drunk lemming. He still does, he just heals faster now."
"It's impressive. They both have the same levers of motivation, and they'll be able to use them against each other."
"They're perfect for each other," Bucky says, sarcastic and sincere in equal measures.
And they were.
"Steve is Captain America?" Foggy groans. "Damn it! Now, I'm really never going to be able to give that shovel talk."
...also I just realized that I switched tenses every chapter or so. Oops.