Matt knew his soul was stained.
He wasn't lost, not yet, and he tried hard to keep it that way. To not kill any of the scum he fought to clean off the streets, the monsters who had surged up to fill the void Fisk and Vanessa had left behind. He thought it would be easier, sometimes, if he could – surely if he killed enough of them, more would stop flowing in – but he didn't think he could face either Father Lantom or Foggy if he did.
But he was far from clean. He had the devil in him, dark and hard and just as merciless as Fisk at his worst. There was no true forgiveness if you enjoyed the crime. He didn't know what he would do if the streets were empty of criminals, how he would keep the prowling beast inside him sleeping and away from those he loved.
Especially Foggy, one of the most genuinely good men Matt had ever met. He'd run from the darkness once before, horrified of what his best friend was capable of, and Matt was terrified that one day he'd give him a reason to do it again. He could no longer keep it a secret – there were no more lies between them, not anymore – but he could keep it in the shadows as much as possible.
The less he reminded Foggy of that part of himself, the longer he would be able to keep him.
Matt carefully removed the suit, wincing at the coppery scent of blood and the tacky feeling under his fingertips. Most of it wasn't his, and even now wasn't entirely certain where all of it had come from. In some ways, he knew, that made it almost worse.
At least the four men had been breathing when he'd left them, even if it was only just. He'd checked.
The man’s breathing was ragged. “I’ll find you, you son of a bitch. And when I do….”
Matt cleaned close, his hand at the trafficker’s throat. “You’ll what?” he growled. “Come on, tell me. I’m sure it’ll be hilarious.”
He hid the suit where Foggy couldn't see it, but the coppery scent lingered. Even though he knew Foggy wouldn’t be able to smell it, he pulled the suit back out and started cleaning. He wished he had some idea of how visible it was – red seemed like a morbidly appropriate choice for a suit color at the moment – but he couldn’t risk Foggy seeing it. If he thought it was Matt’s blood, he would worry. If he knew it wasn’t….
A knife clattered onto the asphalt, the man’s knees hitting the ground a second later. There was no fight left in him, but Matt kept punching him anyway.
He shook his head, clearing away the memory. Maybe he should just sleep on the couch tonight. Except when he did that, Foggy always worried that Matt hadn’t come home at all. No good options, not tonight at least. All he could do was keep cleaning, and try to stay quiet enough that he didn’t wake up Foggy.
As if he’d heard the thought, Foggy’s heartbeat sped up just enough to make it clear he was waking up. Matt froze at the faint sounds of movement coming from the bedroom, then scrambled to get the suit back out of sight. Far too soon, he heard footsteps. “Matt?”
“Sorry.” Closing the trunk lid a little too quickly not to be obvious, Matt hurried to the sink to rinse off the washcloth. “Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s the empty spot in the bed that usually does that.” His voice was a little too agreeable, which usually meant that he was busy reading Matt like a book. “Decided to do a little midnight cleaning?”
“Yeah.” Matt wrung out the washcloth, grateful that he’d only bought ones in dark fabrics. “Some cockroaches have been eyeing the place. I’m trying to discourage them.”
“Hey, it’s better than the rats who keep sniffing around my building.” Foggy’s voice was gentle now as he moved to Matt’s side. He reached for one of Matt’s hands – so carefully, no sudden movements – and it took every ounce of will Matt had not to flinch away. If he’d missed something….
Foggy’s grip tightened just a little, making it clear he’d picked up on the sudden tension in the muscles in Matt’s hand, then gentled again as he smoothed a thumb down the length of a finger. “You or them?” he asked quietly.
Matt didn’t need to ask for clarification, because the details didn’t really matter. The heart of the question was always the same. “Them,” he whispered, looking down at their joined hands. It was a tangle of fire, the variations too subtle to really tell where one ended and the other began.
But there was a line, even below the surface of the skin.
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
Foggy didn't say anything, his heartbeat faster than it had been, and Matt's chest tightened as he quietly pulled his hand away. He could sleep on the couch now without worrying Foggy, and the flattened cushions would be a thousand times better than the six inches of empty space he was all too afraid he would find waiting in the bed. Matt couldn't even blame him - no one wanted to cuddle a monster. In the morning Foggy would make himself forget again, and it would be so much more than-
The rest of the thought blanked out when Foggy wrapped his arms around him, pulling him close. He didn't react for a second, too stunned to really process what was happening, then he made a choked sound and let his body collapse into the hug. His own arms went around Foggy, holding on too tight.
Foggy was holding on just as tightly. "I don't understand you," he whispered, voice wet. "But I love you. All of you, even the bits I kind of want to punch in the face sometimes. You don't ever have to hide from me, okay? Not ever."
Matt buried his face against Foggy's neck. "I don't want you to see something that will make you leave again."
Foggy let out a breath. "I told you, that didn't work." He pressed a kiss to the side of Matt's head. "You and the guy with the red horns and the terrible fashion sense are stuck with me forever, unfortunate bloodstains and all."
His heartbeat was absolutely steady, the words backed by every ounce of Foggy's conviction. Matt let himself just listen to the steady rhythm, letting himself believe in miracles for just a little while longer.