When the first news report comes on Foggy’s sprawled on his couch, his hand curled loosely around a mostly-empty bottle of beer. The bulletin breaks through the House rerun without warning, and his immediate reaction is a spark of annoyance. Not a particularly remarkable episode, true. And according to formula still with at least twenty minutes left before House and company work through their series of misdiagnoses to arrive at the correct one. But still. He was watching that.
He’s instantly distracted by the images on the screen, jittery cell phone footage of smoke pouring out of the subway. An explosion. Nobody’s saying anything official yet, but these days there’s no chance of something blowing up without terrorist being the unavoidable subtext. Whatever it was, it just happened; too soon for concrete analysis, for anything but speculation and sensationalism. The news is just looped images of frantic people, streaming choking out of billowing clouds coming up from an underground station.
Five solid minutes of this, with no new information or visuals. But Foggy’s sitting up anyway now, his beer hanging forgotten from his fingers. He’s glued to the repeating pictures like he might personally spot the clue that will solve the crime. He wonders if Matt’s on his way there, half expects to see the red and black costume appear at the edge of the shot.
The return to the show is abrupt and anticlimactic, and right in the middle of one of Hugh Laurie’s lines. Foggy can’t remember what the episode is about anymore, other than at some point the patient was vomiting blood. It hardly narrows things down. He’d change it, but he’s not really watching. Instead he’s seeing the inside of a dark subway tunnel, the artificial lights of a claustrophobic car. Trying with everything he’s got not to let himself imagine what it would feel like to be suddenly trapped in there. Panicked.
It’s gotten a bit harder to breathe. A rational voice in his head – tiny, and ignored whenever possible – is suggesting maybe he should get up, change the channel. On the TV or in his mind; it seems either one can only help. Should he be calling people? Making sure that his friends are okay? It’s after ten now, and he hasn’t talked to Matt or Karen since leaving the office.
It feels like the thing to do. Just to be certain. Foggy’s not sure where he left his phone.
He sees it on the half-wall, abandoned next to his keys. His apartment might not have the lofty ceilings and grandiose brick of Matt’s corner steal, but it’s got the same open kitchen floorplan. An optimistic design meant to make the small place seem bigger than it is. Debatable whether or not it actually achieves this; all it usually means for Foggy is that he can see his sink full of dirty dishes from way across the room.
He’s pushing himself up from the couch to go get the cell when the news cuts through again. Another explosion, near a church. He falls back into the cushions.
It reminds him of Fisk, that night that Hell’s Kitchen burned. If that asshole wasn’t in jail, he’d be the first person Foggy’d be pointing a finger at. Not that anyone’s asking for his opinion. He’s just a useless lump tonight, sitting in front of the TV in his sweatpants. A bystander.
He leaves the TV only long enough to grab his phone, hurrying back the moment he’s snagged it. Without any real facts, the angle’s all gratuitous emotions: glimpsed fear on faces, captured hysterical tears. Anybody they can shove a camera in front of is apparently fair game. It looks like chaos out there.
Foggy tries Matt’s numbers first, wholly unsurprised when there’s no answer at either one. He gets ahold of Karen, but as soon as he gathers that she’s home and safe, he stops listening. He’s too busy scrutinizing each new frame jumping across the screen for a hint of the Daredevil. Her voice flutters against his ear, meaningless sound. He must be making the right noises in the right places, though, because she keeps talking.
There. A flicker of something that could’ve been the costume, an impression of those stupid horns and a dark figure darting through shadows. Or maybe he’s just seeing what he wants to. Evidence that his best friend’s still alive. Karen asks him something, but when Foggy tries to rewind the mental echo all he can hear is the way her voice had gone up at the end.
“I asked if you’d talked to Matt. Twice.” Her voice shifts, easily flooded with the unnerving horror of the night. “Oh my god, have you? Is he okay?”
“I haven’t, but I’m sure he’s fine. Totally at home.” He’s not at home. “Probably just sleeping or something.” He’s not sleeping. “I’m still trying.”
“Do you think we should go over there? Check on him?”
Yes. If Foggy thought there was any possibility that he’d be there. “No… I don’t think we should really be out there right now.” Any of us. “I’ll keep calling. Let you know when I talk to him.” When. Not if. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
He’s really not sure.
The clip with the possible Daredevil sighting rolls again, and Foggy slides closer to the edge of the couch. It’s short, the corner he’s looking at out of focus. It’s him. It’s not. He thinks the recorded figure staggers as he passes through the shadows. He may or may not promise to call Karen back before he hangs up on her.
The news runs continuously now, and there are two more bombings in the next hour. Nobody seems to have a clue as to patterns or motive; they’re scrambling from one site to another, trying to catch up. Casualty reports fluctuate wildly, and none of the numbers they spout feels entirely trustworthy. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that people are dead. That he doesn’t know where Matt is.
He turns the phone over and over in his fingers, willing it to ring. He considers calling again, but he’s got no reason to assume that that fourth time will make any difference. If Matt’s out there – Matt’s out there – he’s busy. He might not even have the burner Batphone on him. Foggy can hear sirens, but they’ve been wailing for so long that they’ve become merely the night’s background soundtrack.
The tension builds with no outlet. Watching events unfold on the TV lends them a weird distance from the sounds trickling in from outside; this illusion is undeniably shattered when he hears a muffled boom that’s echoed a few seconds later in the live video feed on the screen. He goes to the window, but there’s no signs of destruction on the slice of his street that he can see. It sounded close though.
Like freaky close.
The news informs him that this latest explosion was actually several blocks over, but outside a deli he knows well. The reporter listens to something in her earpiece, mumbles something about cameras heading to the scene. She’s rattled, unprofessional. Way too human; Foggy can’t look at her, and he gets up to grab another beer.
He’s taking the first cold sip when something slams against his window. He drops the bottle, and frothy amber pours a stream into the abused fibers of his rug.
Foggy’s frozen, momentarily rooted by an absolute certainty that it’s the Mad Bomber come to kill him off. It’s unclear exactly why the mystery man might be holding a grudge against him, but the same can be said on behalf of the city. Nothing makes sense tonight.
He hears the window slide open, a screech of painted wood. His mouth goes dry.
When it’s the Daredevil who stumbles around the door and into the room, it’s both more and less jarring. It takes Foggy’s brain a second to reboot. The costumed man trips over that second, over nothing. He finds the side of Foggy’s tall bookshelf with his shoulder. Wavers, and crashes to his knees.
It’s Matt’s apartment all over again. Except this time Foggy’s standing barefoot in a puddle of beer.
Matt flings an arm toward the shelves, trying to find some handle with which to drag himself back up; he succeeds only in pulling a tumble of mass market paperbacks down on top of himself. If it wasn’t already obvious that there’s something wrong, this unfamiliar clumsiness would be a dead giveaway. It gets Foggy’s feet moving. Finally.
“Matt? What’s the matter? What’re you doing here?” He can’t seem to get up, his gloved fingers slipping off the cheap varnish. Why can’t he get up? Foggy hovers over him, trying to pinpoint the problem. Or problems. “Tell me what I can do.”
“Sorry, jus’needed…” It’s slurred together, and the way it fades off at the end is most definitely not helping Foggy to calm down. Matt licks his lips, swallows. The only parts of him visible in that outfit.
“Whatever you need,” Foggy assures him. Matt’s holding his left arm protectively against his body, but Foggy can’t tell if this is supposed to signify pain in the arm or his ribs. Maybe worse. He wishes House was here. “Only can we, I dunno, move to the couch? There’s more light over there.”
Matt nods, offers his right arm to Foggy. The costume’s slick under his fingers, and he wonders if it was raining earlier. He doesn’t remember it, but on a night like this one it feels as if something like that could have gone unnoticed. “Ready?” he asks. Another mute nod.
Matt’s all muscle, far heavier than he looks; Foggy already knows this, but every time it still comes as a surprise. They almost don’t make it all the way up on the first attempt. Matt hisses through his teeth as his back collides with the bookcase, and Foggy holds his breath, waiting to see if the thing will simply disintegrate. It isn’t exactly a quality piece of furniture. But it stays in one piece and – more amazingly – upright, and keeps Matt mostly on his feet long enough to give Foggy a chance to readjust his grip.
The path to the couch is no easier.
Reminiscent of their college drinking days, with the weaving and the way their feet tangle unhelpfully together. Even smells like beer in here. Except neither of them is laughing now, and that pained panting noise Matt’s making is really sucking all of the nostalgia out of the moment. Foggy’s not positive they’re going to make it all the way over there, but they do. It’s an accomplishment worthy of some kind of trophy.
Something with two gold-plated guys on top, arms slung around each other’s shoulders. He could put it on the console next to the TV.
Matt’s knee finds the arm of the couch, and he wriggles away from Foggy’s hold to drop awkwardly onto the cushions. He’s sucking in big gulps of air; that left arm is still pinned to his body. All Foggy can see of him is the curve of his throat, the iron set to his jaw. Equal parts hurt and exhaustion.
So maybe Matt deserves the trophy more. He usually does.
“What’s going on out there? What happened to you?”
“Looters.” It’s a huff of breath. Foggy’s not sure if this answers one or both questions.
Decides it doesn’t matter so much. Matt looks like he’s got a limited supply of energy, and Foggy doesn’t want to squander it on unimportant clarification. He crosses to the light switch on the wall. When he flips it on, his hand leaves a red streak across the paint.
Foggy stares at it. For way too long. An incongruous swatch of color that matches no part of his haphazard living room décor.
“Jesus,” he says.
He spins back around to look at Matt slumped on his couch, and he says it again. “Jesus. Matt, you’re bleeding…”
“Noticed,” Matt coughs out, around something that might be a laugh.
Foggy doesn’t think he’s ever been farther from amused. “How bad? Where?”
Matt shrugs – shrugs, and Foggy wants to grab him by the shoulders and shake him for it – winces and curls around his cradled left arm. It’s a place to start, but Foggy doesn’t think that’s where the blood’s coming from. As if he has any idea. All he really knows is that it’s all over his hands.
The other side then, the arm he’d been holding. The rain storm that never happened. There are rips in the costume – repeated in spots across his chest, Foggy sees now – but with all that melodramatic red and black it’s difficult to tell exactly how many. Or how much blood there is. Foggy hates that fucking costume.
“Help me help you, man,” he hears himself say, a slipped-out cliché that gets even Matt’s attention. He’s never said that before in his life.
“Seriously?” Matt mumbles into his knees. Foggy can’t see any bit of his skin now with him bent over like this. But he knows the curve of that back, those shoulders.
“Seriously,” Foggy snaps back, so completely not in the mood. The city’s burning down around them, and his best friend is bleeding on his couch. There’s even room for a teensy bit of embarrassment that something so stupid just came out of his mouth. “How bad is it?” he demands again. “Just tell me how I can help. You came over here for a reason, right?”
“… closest…” Mlatt unfolds himself to let his head fall limply back against the cushions. “Needed a minute.”
He looks like he’s going to need more than a minute. Foggy would point this out, but he knows the futility of it. In his head, Gregory House reminds him that talking to the patient is generally a waste of time. “Okay, I’ve got… bandages and stuff. I’ll get them. Stay here.”
Ever since he’s found out about Matt’s secret, Foggy’s been collecting supplies. He’s never gone out on any kind of a deliberate shopping trip, but it’s hard to pretend that he doesn’t have a reason for buying two rolls of elastic bandaging – the biggest size of gauze pads, double the antiseptic – when he restocks his first aid kit. Despite it having taken him six years to go through the original tiny roll that came with the thing. Nothing wrong with being prepared, right? He might need that stuff someday.
He’s kidding no one, least of all himself. It’s an arsenal of medical supplies for his vigilante best friend. Foggy misses the days when all he worried about was Matt tripping over a pile of his dirty laundry.
With all the added elements, his first aid kid has ballooned beyond the confines of the duffle bag that it came in. Foggy grabs it, and whatever else he can scoop into his arms. He’s not really paying attention, just gathering up the things he can carry. He reminds himself that he can come back. That he’s got no clue what he needs anyway.
Matt’s motionless, but his carefully modulated breathing tells Foggy that he’s still conscious. That’s good, that’s something. His lips are stretched thin, a grimace, but Foggy’s not sure if it’s from the pain or the fact that the news is still running on the TV. He sets his supplies onto the coffee table, picks up the remote and mutes the sound.
Matt twitches, startled; it makes Foggy’s skin crawl, a flash flood of wrong. There’s no way he should have been able to sneak up on him. The cowl lifts an inch or two off the cushions, but falls back again with a dull thump. Foggy sits on the low coffee table in front of him.
“Smells terrible in here,” Matt says toward the ceiling, his words still alarmingly slurred. “You have a party?”
“Without you? What kind of party would that be?”
“M’really good at ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey,’” is what he thinks that Matt says.
Foggy snorts. “Awesome. I’ll remember that the next time I host a children’s party. Maybe you can wear the costume, and we’ll see how many of them we can put into therapy.”
He stands again, and his toes hit the bottle that’s rolled half under the couch. Foggy glares down at it, turns back to Matt. Later. He can’t see any kind of fastenings or seams on the mask. It looks like it’s just pulled on and off, like a hood. His hands hover between them, hesitant; he doesn’t want to surprise Matt again.
It’s usually not something he thinks this much about. “Matt? Can we, uh, can we get this stupid mask off?”
“S’not stupid,” his friend protests. It sounds like he’s barely awake. Foggy decides to take this as a go-ahead, reaches for the edge of the thing. His fingers brush Matt’s cheekbone, and the other man suddenly tunes in to the plan. “No…” He tries to push Foggy away; a weak shove, but Foggy takes a step back. His calves hit the edge of the coffee table.
“Have to go back out,” Matt murmurs, heaving his body to its uncoordinated feet.
He sways, pitches unexpectedly sideways; Foggy instinctively grabs what’s closest to keep him up. His left forearm. Matt makes a noise that he never wants to hear again, and the only bit of his skin that Foggy can see washes three shades paler. He instantly lets go, and Matt crumbles onto the couch.
He’s trembling violently, and it’s a tough call whether the horrible breathy moans he’s now making are a noise any better. A desperate sound exhaled between huge gulps of air, one that makes Foggy itch to cover his ears. “Jesus, Matt?” He has no idea what parts of his friend are safe to touch. “I’m sorry. Just –“
Matt’s giving him nothing, face smashed into the seat cushions and clutching at his arm. There are irregular black smudges all over the old dark fabric, and Foggy wonders how one goes about subtly disposing of a blood-stained couch. A pointless musing, way down on his list of concerns right now. Besides, it’s Hell’s Kitchen – he’ll just leave it out by the curb.
It takes too long before Matt’s breathing begins to slow; it’s more settled, but still nothing that can be described as even. Not quite that frantic gasping anymore, but jagged. “Sorry,” he gets out through his teeth. Foggy isn’t sure which of the things that aren’t his fault he’s apologizing for.
“You can’t go out there like this,” Foggy says, avoiding any argument by pushing it off until later. He likes later. It’s not now. “Can you sit up? C’mon – I’ve been watching House all night. Let’s play doctor.”
He’s hoping for a reaction. Matt manages a feeble attempt at raising his head.
“You’re no fun,” Foggy grumbles. He gets his hands onto spots that don’t seem to be exceptionally painful, tentatively helps him more upright. The costume feels like rubber under his fingers, and he’s expecting with every second to hear that awful agonized noise again. “Why didn’t you call Claire?” he asks, mostly just to cover the sound of their breathing.
“Working,” Matt groans. “Hospital.”
The volume’s off, but the TV still flashes flickering lights about the room. Foggy doesn’t have to turn around to be able to visualize the images. “Yeah, I guess she would be.” His fingertips find the bottom of the mask again; Matt tries to squirm away, but doesn’t get very far. “It’s coming off,” Foggy tells him. “Work with me, Murdock. I miss seeing your pretty face.”
Matt’s lips begin to spread into a smile; he winces, and it’s gone. “Nurse Foggy,” he mutters, hunching forward to wrap himself around the injured arm.
Foggy pushes him back against the cushions with two fingers against his shoulder. “That’s Doctor Nelson, thank you very much. Now off,” he warns, just before he pulls the cowl away.
Exposed, Matt blinks owlishly up at him. That unfocused gaze only serves to make him look more vulnerable; his hair, slick with sweat, clumps in crazy directions. Foggy doesn’t see any blood, can’t find any when he runs a quick hand over the back of Matt’s head. He’s way, way too pale, though. Foggy doesn’t need a medical degree to see that. Just the years of their friendship.
“Tell me where to start, Matt. You’ve already ruined the couch, but that doesn’t mean I want to watch you bleed out on it.”
“Ruined?” It would be an echo, except that Matt’s version only has one mangled syllable. “Sorry.”
“So not important. Where are you bleeding? What’s wrong with your arm?”
He’s totally out of his depth here. He thinks about trying to get ahold of Claire, for some emotional support if nothing else. But the pictures of destruction continue to parade across the TV screen, incessant with or without his attention. He knows she’s got a lot going on.
“Broken.” Foggy’s watching the silent images; it takes a moment for this to sink in.
“Wait… what?” His head whips around so quickly that he thinks he may have strained something in his neck. “Did you just say your arm’s broken? As in, split into more pieces than it should be?”
Matt looks sheepish, buried in there under the layers of everything else. His blank eyes dart away from Foggy, toward the silent TV like he’s going to try and claim watching it as a distraction. “My wrist. S’no big deal.”
“Seems like kinda a big deal, Matt.” More than Foggy can fix with his hyperactive first aid kit, anyway. “Maybe I should take you to the hospital. We could try to find Claire?”
A twitch of Matt’s head, but a clear negative. He grinds his teeth together; watching is making Foggy’s jaw ache. “Too hard… too hard to get across the city. Besides… I can’t, have to –“
“Not yet.” It’s annoyed, and Foggy takes a deliberate breath. This is the wrong way to go about this; it’ll probably just make Matt more stubborn. If he’s battling his friend’s sense of duty, his only chance is to appeal to his intelligence. “At least let me see if I can help somehow. That makes sense, right? You’re already here.”
He can’t tell if the victory goes to the skill of his pleading or to Matt’s lack of choice; what matters is that he stays on the couch. The entire costume appears to be one complete piece, and Foggy’s not excited about helping his friend struggle out of it. “Does this thing have, like, a zipper or something? How do you even get it on?”
Matt makes a vague gesture that seems like it’s supposed to indicate somewhere on his back. “Easier to get on than off,” he mumbles.
“Great,” Foggy says unhappily.
Matt’s nearly nonresponsive as he kneels next to him on the couch; Foggy wants to shake him again. Wishes he would say something. Pretty much anything would be good. He lifts Matt away from the cushions, trying to get a better view of his back. Sure enough, there’s a zipper. Tiny and expertly hidden, and he would never have seen it if he hadn’t been intentionally searching. It’s actually some magnetic kind of thing, with a release, but it looks like a zipper. Gene Roddenberry would be so disappointed.
He has to do most of the work himself as they free Matt’s upper body from the outfit. They get it off of his shoulders and the sleeves down to his elbows, and Foggy can see the wound on his bicep. Nasty, but it doesn’t seem to be bleeding as badly anymore. Though what does he know? Right now, it feels like absolutely nothing.
“Fog, stop,” Matt chokes out, his head hanging forward. He’s gasping again. “Gimme… gimme…”
“A minute. Yeah.” Foggy sits back on his heels, and the tired cushion caves beneath him. He looks around his apartment absently as Matt fights to recover, trying to avoid glancing at the TV. He really should get a towel, clean up all that beer.
Beer and blood. He hopes his landlord doesn’t find some reason to stop by anytime soon.
“Okay,” Matt exhales, though it doesn’t seem at all like he is. “Do it.”
Foggy doesn’t want to, but he doesn’t want to wait. He’s as gentle as he can be easing the material over Matt’s swollen wrist, but Matt’s eyes still roll wildly in his head. Foggy wishes he would just pass out. He finally gets the left hand loose, so grateful to be done with this new life experience – one he’s sure he could have done without, honestly – that he doesn’t notice that Matt’s right arm is still tangled in its sleeve. The top half of the suit lies in his lap a mess of fabric folds, and Matt crumples forward in slo-motion to rest his forehead in the nest of it.
“… sucked…” It floats up from the engineered cloth.
“Totally,” Foggy agrees.
He’s not sure what he’s supposed to do now. Invent some kind of a MacGyver splint out of rulers and rubberbands? Oh god, is he going to have to figure out how to reset it or something? He needs to call Claire. Claire will tell him what to do. He can’t reach his phone from here; Matt lifts his head a few inches off of his knees when Foggy’s weight leaves the couch.
Nothing. It’s what he thinks about saying, anyway. “Calling Claire.” He’d gotten her number off the burner phone one day when Matt was in the shower. He’d had a sickening feeling that at some point it was going to come in handy.
“No, Fog –“ Matt swipes for him with his right hand but it’s sloppy, and Foggy’s on his other side. It misses by miles. Might be funny, in some situation that was just as many miles away. “She’ll just want –“ He cuts himself off sharply, makes a visible effort to sit up again. “Don’t bother her. S’okay for now.”
“She’ll want what, Matt? For you to come to the hospital?” The little rational voice whispers calm down. Foggy squishes it under his heel into the beer. “Maybe she can convince you, since I clearly can’t.”
“Just wrap it up.” He pats the cushions beside him with his right hand like he’s looking for the remote, and Foggy stares at the new smear of blood left behind by his fingers. Matt motions toward the television. “What’s happening? Turn it up.”
“What, you can’t hear across town with your super senses? And what do you mean, ‘just wrap it up?’”
“All I can hear are sirens,” he murmurs. “Screaming. Just wrap it up. I gotta go.”
He sounds utterly exhausted, and Foggy’s heart cracks a little. A tremor along a repeatedly shifting fault line labelled Murdock. “Let’s do bandages first,” he says. It vibrates too cheery, epically artificial. “The easy bit, the part that stops you from bleeding.”
Matt closes his eyes, a momentary surrender. Foggy doubts it’s going to last very long. “So many technical terms.” Matt’s lips barely move, and the words crowd against each other as they try to force their way out. “S’like Claire’s in the room.”
“Shut up. Or I might try some amateur surgery.” There’s purple and black bruising all down Matt’s left side; Foggy winces when he finally sees it. “God, Matt – are your ribs broken too?”
Say no. Lie if you have to, but please say no.
“Cracked,” Matt admits softly. “Barely. Only a couple.”
“Awesome. So long as it’s only a couple.” Foggy levels his best scowl at his friend, forgetting completely that he can’t see it.
“… can hear you glaring at me. S’fine.”
“It’s really not. And no you can’t.”
The corner of Matt’s mouth might quirk up a bit at this, but it’s so slight that Foggy could be imagining it. “But y’are, aren’t you.”
“Yes.” And he wants to make sure that Matt knows it. “Because I’m pissed at you.”
Now Matt matches his scowl, an unreflected mirror image. His fingers flex around empty air in front of him, and Foggy wonders what he’s reaching for. “Said you wanted to help. Or gimme the stuff and I’ll do it myself.”
“I want to help.” A sigh that might have come from either of them. Matt’s shoulders slump.
Foggy returns to the bathroom, snags a dirty towel for the beer and a clean one for… whatever. He has no idea what he’s doing. He thinks about grabbing his phone, coming back in here to call Claire, but then Matt’s going to get suspicious. Demand to know who he’s calling.
He could always make something up. And who cares if Matt knows anyway. What’s he going to do? He remembers Matt taking a swing at him when he tried to call 911. Barely conscious and bleeding out of everywhere, but Foggy’s got no doubt that had it connected it would have left an ugly bruise. He could feel the strength behind that flailing fist when he’d caught it.
It isn’t until he sees Matt still on the couch that Foggy realizes he’d half expected him to be gone. Not exactly majorly comforting, though. If he hasn’t left yet, it’s probably only because he can’t. He drops the towel over the top of the puddle, putting no more effort than this into clean up; like with his couch, the damage has already been done. Foggy starts with the bloody mess of Matt’s arm, hoping he’s not going to have to teach himself tonight how to put in stitches. He can’t even sew a button back on.
Matt’s disturbingly still, silent. Not sleeping; his eyes are open. Directed up toward the ceiling, but flicking back and forth as if he’s picturing all the tiny noises outside that Foggy’s sure that he can hear. Muscles jumping in his locked jaw.
“So what happened?” he asks, taping down another square of gauze. He wants to hear Matt’s voice instead of all the sirens.
“Kids. Robbing an electronics store. I was…” Foggy bandages the worst of the slashes across his chest, leaves the rest alone after he wipes off some of the blood. Matt shifts to sit a bit straighter, knowing what’s coming next. “… I was distracted,” he finishes lamely.
“They did all of this?” It doesn’t bode well for the next generation.
“No. There was… s’crazy out there tonight, Foggy.”
It sounds like an evasion, and it instantly raises a scattering of goosebumps over Foggy’s bare arms. “And that means…?” He’s pretty sure that he doesn’t really want to know.
“Nothing,” Matt insists. “Ribs first, before you deal with the wrist.”
At least this is one he knows, one he’s had to do before. The sentiment plays again in his head, and Foggy realizes that it’s kind of a fucked up thing to be consoled by. “Sounds a lot like something,” he says, wrapping his friend’s ribs. Matt holds his broken wrist as far away from the proceedings as he can. “Looks a lot like something.”
“Shows what you know.”
“We’re twelve now?” On the TV a building crumbles into fire, but without the volume Foggy isn’t sure if it’s new or old footage. “Just tell me.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Foggy fastens off the end of the bandaging, and the immediacy with which Matt collapses back into the couch emphasizes how much effort it had been taking for him to remain upright.
“And the more you say that, my friend, the more that I think that it does. You should know this by now.”
Matt fidgets, more bandages than skin. They’re too close to the same shade of white. “S’just say that… that not everybody’s convinced yet that the Daredevil’s one of the good guys.” He tries to raise his injured arm from where it rests pillowed on the costume in his lap. Cringes, swallows. “I gotta go, Fog. Can you just…?”
“You’re saying that somebody attacked you,” Foggy realizes out loud. “More than one somebody. And not just stupid kids trying to steal dvd players.” He can see an angry mob with torches, marching inexorably forward to hunt his best friend down.
“Xboxes,” Matt says.
“So not the point.” The harshness of his tone surprises both of them; it bounces erratically off the walls of his apartment. Matt flinches, but he doesn’t say anything else. “Sorry,” Foggy says. He lifts a hand to rub at his eyes, remembering at the last second that it’s stained with blood. “I’m kinda freaked out.”
“I know,” Matt says. It’s another apology. “So are they. S’a misunderstanding.”
The thought that his friend’s got to worry about fending off attacks from random passerby – misunderstood or no – on top of everything else going on tonight doesn’t make Foggy any more willing to send him back out there. “Gonna wash my hands,” he mumbles, walking into his kitchen.
Could Claire really convince him to stay, if Foggy can manage to get her on the phone? Seems unlikely, but then maybe they’re closer than he’d thought. Matt definitely trusts her.
Matt’s supposed to trust him.
He does, or he wouldn’t have shown up here.
He only showed up here because he had no other options. Same reason you know about the Daredevil at all.
Foggy turns the tap all the way up, trying to drown out the conversation in his head. Most of the blood comes off, but there’s a faint pink tinge to one of his palms. He shuts off the water; there’s a rustling coming from the living room. Matt’s balanced precariously on the edge of the couch, digging one-handed through the first aid kit.
“I was coming right back,” he says, going out there. Matt freezes like Foggy just walked in on him touching himself, and once again he’s struck by how disoriented his friend seems to be. Normally Matt should have no trouble tracking every miniscule movement he makes, something that was fairly obvious even before Foggy found out about his enhanced senses. He understands now that the scope of that tracking stretches infinitely farther than he’d originally thought it had, but the result is the same. Matt should be able to see him, and the fact that he can’t isn’t making Foggy feel any better about the night as a whole.
“Been here too long.” The roll of elastic bandaging sits six inches to the right of the bag, but Matt’s fingers are only searching the inside. He starts the hunt again, individually-wrapped miscellaneous paper packages being pushed up and over both sides as his rooting becomes more frenetic. Foggy hurries to intercede before he loses half of his supplies to the beer soaking into the rug. He grabs Matt’s hand, lifts it out of the bag; Matt jerks the hand back, returns to the looking.
“You’re making a mess,” Foggy says, aiming for something in the neighborhood of friendly teasing. “And it’s not even in there.”
Matt’s frustrated, and it’s splashed across his face. “Forget it.” He shoves the bag toward the center of the coffee table and starts to push himself up.
“Whoa, buddy – come on. Surely even you can see what a terrible idea this is.”
Matt illustrates Foggy’s point beautifully by walking straight into the floor lamp; he staggers, looking more shocked than hurt, and the skinny thing falls crashing to the ground. The bulb shatters into the carpet, a muffled tinkling noise, and Matt catches himself on the arm of the couch. He’s shaking, his head hanging so low that his chin’s nearly touching his chest.
Foggy thinks maybe he should put on some shoes. Wonders if there’s still enough overhead light in here to pick all the glass slivers out of the carpet, or if the area’s going to have to be avoided entirely until morning. “I really don’t think you should go,” he says quietly. Because Matt’s still standing. So apparently it’s something that actually needs to be said.
“Don’t need your permission.” Foggy isn’t sure if it’s meant to sound angrier than it does. If it would, were there more energy behind it. Matt just sounds tired.
“No, but you’re probably going to have to be able to walk in a straight line.” Matt’s still refusing to sit down. “What if there’s still people out there looking for you? Give me at least ten more minutes, to wrap up your wrist. It’ll help, right? Make it easier to focus or whatever?” It’s beginning to come across like begging, but Foggy doesn’t care. He is begging. “Ten more minutes, man. Please.”
Matt wavers, sinks into the far end of the couch. “Ten minutes.” He clearly isn’t happy.
Foggy starts to relocate, but an idea occurs to him. A brilliant solution to the problem. “Need more bandages,” he says, on his way to the bathroom. He waits for Matt to call him out on the lie with every guilty step. He doesn’t, and when Foggy makes it safely to the bathroom he closes the door behind himself. Feels like he’s hiding. He opens the medicine cabinet, wincing as the door swings away from the wall with a squeak. He pulls out the prescription bottle and holds it in his hands.
The idea already feels less brilliant. He can’t drug his best friend without consent; Matt would never forgive him. He might not be able to forgive himself.
But if it keeps him from getting hurt anymore? Killed?
It’s a nice fantasy, to live in a city protected by a superhero, but Foggy still doesn’t like the idea that Matt thinks that he’s the one who has to fill the role. He can’t fault his friend for wanting to protect the people of Hell’s Kitchen – especially tonight – but he’s kinda got a problem with that including the idiots who attacked him. This place is his home, and there are a lot of innocents in trouble out there. But if it comes down to a decision between the city and Matt, Foggy’s going to choose Matt every time.
He opens the pill bottle, shakes one of the capsules into his palm. Curls his fingers around it and puts the prescription back in the cabinet. The city can go fuck itself.
Matt’s waiting patiently, or else simply conserving his strength. Foggy can hear his own heartbeat thrumming in his ears; his breathing sounds weird. Too fast, too loud. He passes the couch and goes straight to the kitchen. Fills a glass of water, and spends several more moments staring at the sleeping pill in his hand.
With his back purposefully toward the living room, as if it makes some kind of a difference. This is a bad idea, the voice in his head warns. But if he’s here, sleeping, he’ll be safe. Getting better. Not stumbling around out there, with roving mobs looking to sneak up on him like packs of hungry wolves.
Besides, hasn’t Matt already done more than enough tonight? Foggy hadn’t done anything to help, just sat around watching things play out on the TV.
It’s not your decision to make. He thought he’d squashed that stupid voice.
He pulls the rubbery capsule apart, and it bursts into a cloud of raining crystals. Most of them make it into the water. Foggy keeps expecting Matt to say something. To hear the thudding of his heart or smell the bits of falling powder.
He doesn’t give himself the time to second-guess it. “Water,” he chirps too brightly, moving back into the other room. “You’re probably dehydrated. Or something.”
He hands Matt the glass when he reaches for it, trying not to hold his breath. He’s going to be able to taste it – of course he is. Foggy should have checked to see if he had any juice left, at least. He has no idea what he’s going to say if he’s discovered now. Maybe he should come up with something.
But Matt drinks two-thirds of the water without stopping, and it instantly becomes a moot point. Foggy exhales; he’s relieved. And he feels completely horrible.
“Thanks,” Matt says, handing it back to him. Foggy almost breaks down and confesses.
But it’s done. “Sure.” He sets the glass on the coffee table, picks up the roll of bandaging that he’d supposedly gone to fetch from the bathroom. “What do you want me to do about your wrist?”
“Just…” Matt makes a circling motion with his finger in the general vicinity of his left arm. There’s none of his usual fluidity to it, but Foggy knows from experience that the drugs can’t have hit him this fast.
“Don’t we need to, like, splint it or something?”
“Sure you’re not a doctor?”
“Just like I’m sure you’re not a comedian, my friend. But we seem to like to role-play.”
“Kinky,” Matt mumbles. He drops his head back onto the couch.
“So?” Foggy prompts, when Matt offers nothing else. “Splint?”
He shakes his head. “Better not. Might… need to use it.” Foggy’s about to ask what he plans to be doing that’s easier with shifting bones than minimally-supported ones, but he decides not to. Matt’s not going to be going anywhere anyway.
There’s another sharp pang of guilt. Foggy’s glad Matt can’t see his expression.
“Okay,” is all he says. Wrap it up now, deal with it in the morning. Deal with all of it in the morning.
Matt’s sweating by the time that they’re done, a new slick sheen across his temples, his bare shoulders. The unbandaged portions of his chest. But he hasn’t made a sound, and Foggy marvels again at what must be a ridiculously high pain tolerance. A thought he’d first had back during the whole thing with that ninja guy. Nobu. Once Foggy had finally calmed down enough to actually be able to think.
He’s got a feeling that this night might join that one on his personal anti-highlight reel. Neither one his finest hour.
“Thanks,” Matt says again, and Foggy nearly tells him to quit saying it. “I know this isn’t… That it’s hard to understand. S’thanks. Really.”
Foggy chokes, tries to turn it into a cough. Matt doesn’t react, so he must’ve gotten away with it. “Yeah. Sure.”
He’s such an asshole. Matt’s never going to forgive him.
The top half of the suit is all twisted fabric, and Matt struggles to wiggle his way back into it without using his bound left arm. Foggy knows he should say something, to save him the pointless effort. But if he suggests Matt borrow some of his clothes, he’s going to have to explain why. It may mark him a coward, but Foggy wants to hold off the inevitable fight for as long as he can.
So he tugs at the costume like he’s helping, tries not to think about the possible exacerbation of damage caused by this futile exercise. The tight fabric doesn’t want to stretch over his swollen bandaged wrist; it takes forever to get it up over both of his arms, and now Matt’s looking decidedly nauseous.
“Ugh,” he says, closing his eyes. Foggy thinks this may be an understatement worthy of the ages.
The suit’s bunched at his shoulders, his back still bare. He leans against the cushions behind him, and Foggy can’t get at it even if he wants to. He tries to figure out how long it’s been since Matt drank the water. Ten minutes? Twenty? He hadn’t looked at the clock, too consumed with the deception.
“M’leaving,” Matt murmurs. Foggy’s not sure which one of them he’s trying to convince. He blinks his eyes back open, works to sit up again. He’s obviously slowing down, but Foggy knows that at least some of this is sheer exhaustion.
The fingers of his right hand fumble at the material, trying awkwardly to pull it down over his shoulders. He gets the right side to fall into place, but he can’t reach the left from this angle. His back’s half covered now; Foggy’s eyes trace the scars he can still see peeking out, knowing as he does that he’s got no context for most of them. A lot of them are way too new.
Matt sighs, a deflating sound that winds around the room. “Lil’ help?” He gestures toward his back; his hand flops limply through the air. “S’usually easier.”
“For your sake, I hope so. You need like a personal assistant for this thing.” He pulls the rest of the costume into place, covering the marred skin. The fake zipper meshes itself back together with almost no effort, the magnetic teeth each seeking their mates.
“…’ve got you.” Matt’s eyelids flutter; his eyebrows knit into a frown. “No, that s’not…” He licks his lips. “Feel funny.”
Foggy winces. “Yeah, well, it’s been a long night. And you’re missing a bunch of your blood.”
A siren splits through the air and Matt moans, his right hand coming up to cover his ear. He can’t seem to lift the other arm; he curls in on himself, trying to press the ear on that side into his own shoulder. He’s stuck like that for a few minutes, long after the siren fades from Foggy’s hearing. He looks like he’s hiding from the noise. If there were blankets, Foggy bets he’d be underneath them.
When he finally does uncoil himself, it’s with a sleepy distraction. Foggy watches him play languid fingertips over his ear, his nose, his lips. As if they’re the features of a stranger. “Something s’not… Tastes like a party in here.”
“You said that already.” Sort of. He’s all disjointed confusion, and Foggy wishes Matt would just give in, go under. The more of this he has to sit through, the worse it all is.
What you get. What you deserve for doing this to him.
“Gotta go,” Matt mumbles, trying to stand. He enlists his broken wrist in the attempt, and falls back onto the couch with a howl. Cradling the offending arm, he glares at it blankly. “Something s’wrong… why can’t…?”
“Shh, it’s okay,” Foggy says. He fights an urge to smooth down his friend’s wild hair; Matt doesn’t seem to recognize that he’s not wearing the mask yet, and Foggy’s not going to point it out. “You’re just tired. You’re fine.”
“No…” Matt shakes his head violently, and the hair shuffles more into place. “No. Different.”
“It’s okay. I promise, you’re fine. Relax.”
“I can’t… I feel…” The words are getting more incomprehensible the more of them that there are. But when Matt suddenly looks up to nail him with that blind stare, each heartbreaking syllable rings crystal clear. “Fog? What’d y’do?”
Fortunately, he doesn’t have to answer this. Matt sways sitting down – exhales in a short, bewildered-sounding puff of air through his nose – and slumps sideways into the seat cushions.
His voice echoes in the silence. Jesus. Foggy drops heavily onto the coffee table.
What did you do?
Betrayed. There’s no other word to better describe Matt’s expression. Foggy tries to find one, runs through his fairly extensive vocabulary in the hopes of coming up with something else. Both languages, but it’s only that one word he keeps hearing. Betrayed.
Well what did you expect?
Nothing. Expectation implies forethought.
“God, I am so stupid…” Foggy drags a hand through his hair. Matt has no comment.
He tries to arrange his friend’s sprawl of limbs into something at least contained to the couch; Matt stirs as he’s lifting his legs up onto the cushions, and Foggy would testify under oath that his heart briefly stops. He can’t have this conversation with Matt now. He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to have it in the morning. But he drifts off again without truly surfacing, and Foggy goes to get a blanket. To get away from him for a few minutes.
It doesn’t do any good; Matt’s echo follows him into the bedroom. Fog? What did you do? He sits on the edge of his unmade bed, rests his elbows on his knees and covers his face with his hands. Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.
I was trying to help. It makes little difference. There’s nothing I can do to change it now. Too late to take it back. This does even less to ameliorate things. And it makes him feel sick to his stomach. When the guilt starts closing up his throat with a psychosomatic squeezing, Foggy drops his hands and gets back up. He sniffs at handfuls of both of the rumpled blankets on his bed, debating which one smells cleaner.
He’s really just stalling. Matt’s not going to wake up to notice. When he finally does, he’s probably going to have other things on his mind.
Foggy shudders, makes a judgement call. He carries the blanket out to the living room and drapes it over his friend. Matt’s dead weight, exactly where he’d left him. Already drooling, and were the circumstances drastically different, Foggy might snap a picture or two. As it is, he already knows he’s not going to want to remember tonight. And he’s got a feeling that he’s not going to need photo evidence to sear it permanently into his head.
He’s not ready to turn the TV volume back on yet. Foggy goes into his kitchen to hunt around underneath his sink, looking for anything he might have that can get beer out of nylon carpet or blood off of walls. The couch might be a lost cause, but the other two he can’t simply haul outside and leave in the street. He’s going to have to figure something out.
He finds Windex. A canister of Comet. A skinny, almost-gone roll of trash bags and a flashlight. A bottle of laundry detergent that Matt had foisted off on him, because though it purported to be unscented he claimed it still had a disgusting smell. Nothing says blood or beer on the label.
Foggy grabs the Windex and the paper towels on the counter, and spends the next fifteen minutes trying to talk the window cleaner into doing something that it’s not designed to do. It gets most of the drying blood off, but there’s a rosy cast around the light switch that won’t entirely fade away no matter how hard he scrubs at it. He eventually gives up, crosses to the lake of beer in front of the couch. The carpet fibers are saturated, and the extent of the discoloration’s telling him that his bottle of Windex isn’t likely to cut it. He’ll have to go buy something tomorrow. If anything in this part of the city is open.
He walks on top of the towel for a moment, trying to absorb what he can. His eyes dart between Matt’s still form and the mute TV; he sees a quick shot of that deli, its familiar sign dangling at a new bizarre angle. They cut to a choppy image of people being carried out of a charred building. One of the bodies is impossibly small, and Foggy has to look away.
What did you do?
Matt couldn’t have stopped this, even if he’d been perfectly healthy. Who’s to say, really, how much help he would actually be at this point? He’s just one guy. A breathing, bleeding, human guy. He doesn’t even have superpowers.
A stream of destruction and heartache scrolls endlessly across the TV. There isn’t a justification in existence that’s going to make Foggy feel any better about this.
The towel is sopping when he picks it up, and it smears sticky beer all over his arms as he carries it to the kitchen sink. He rinses it off as best he can, but he can still smell it on himself. He would hop in the shower, but it feels like he should be ready. For… something. There’s nothing he can do and Matt’s out cold, but the anxiety of the night tingles over his skin. He doesn’t want to be naked and unprepared should some new crisis decide to suddenly arise.
Besides, it won’t make a difference. The whole apartment reeks of it now.
He’s about to use the last of his paper towels to dry off his arms, but he remembers the bookshelf and wipes them on the sides of his t-shirt instead. Sure enough – when he takes his Windex to investigate – he finds finger-width streaks on the faux wood. On a couple of the paperbacks. They’re all over his bedroom windowsill too, but he won’t think to check in there until morning.
Matt still hasn’t moved; he looks wrenchingly peaceful. The light of broadcast chaos flickers across his face, but he’s blissfully unaware. Foggy wants to find some solace in this. Pretends for a second that he can.
He doesn’t deserve it. He grabs the remote and inches the volume back up, goes into the bathroom and returns with the trash can. Sets it down next to the shattered lightbulb without bothering to put on any shoes. So what if he gets cut up a little. He deserves that too.
He listens to the news as he picks nearly-invisible slivers of glass out of his carpet. Things seem to have stopped exploding – finally – though the recaps they’re running are far from comforting. It feels absurd to believe that no one knows anything, but each speculation firmly contradicts the last. All anybody knows for sure is that people are dead. That their corner of the world has just been swiftly and indelibly dented.
He’s reaching for a piece of glass when a hidden one nips at his knuckle. Foggy watches the tiny drop of blood well up, puts it in his mouth and sucks at it. The phone rings.
It startles him; he wobbles out of the squat he’s in and falls backward onto his ass. He sits there for a moment, heart pounding; the melody comes again, and he makes himself get up to answer it. His foot comes down dead center in the soggiest bit of the carpet when he rounds the couch.
Aw, it’s cold…
The ID on the screen reads Karen; he’d told her he’d call her back. It’s almost one in the morning now. “Shit. Hi. Sorry.” It’s not the most eloquent greeting that he’s ever come up with.
“Hi. Sorry, I know it’s late. But I thought –?”
Yeah, he’d definitely promised to call her back. Foggy glances down at Matt, who’s breathing slowly in and out of slightly-parted lips. He looks like a kid. “No, it’s okay. I meant to call you. I talked to Matt.”
“And he’s fine. Right?”
“Yup. Sleeping.” He feels like an jerk, lying to her too. But he’s getting used to it. To the humming weight sitting heavy in the middle of his chest. “I mean, I’m sure that’s what he’s doing now. Sleeping. Because it’s late.” He needs to stop talking.
“Okay… Good.” Karen sounds suspicious, but Foggy thinks that it might just be because he knows that he’s so guilty. “I just wanted to make sure that you guys were both alright. Are you coming in to the office tomorrow?”
He hadn’t thought about it. The night hasn’t let go of them yet. “I dunno. Maybe.” Probably not. “If you want to, y’know, take the day off, that’s cool. I get it. Matt’ll get it.” Matt’s not going to care.
“If you guys are going to go in, I’ll go in,” she says.
He really doesn’t know what to tell her. Honestly, Foggy’s not even sure there’s going to be a Nelson and Murdock firm in the morning.
The thought tries to suffocate him, and he has to clear his throat. “Uh… sleep in. Call me when you wake up.”
“I’m nominating you for the Best Boss Ever award. As soon as I find the right form to fill out.”
“Yeah, that’s me. The best.” Foggy turns his back on the couch, unable to even look at Matt anymore. He wonders if either of them will be speaking to him by this time tomorrow.
“God – did you hear that?” Karen asks over the phone. He didn’t, but he can guess what she means. The picture on the television has a Live logo in the corner again. Turns out their part of the city’s not done blowing up after all.
Foggy fights to breathe evenly. Not to burst into tears. If this is now his fault, if Matt could have stopped that…
“Are you still there? Foggy?”
There’s a brittle edge to her voice. Scared. Foggy tries to pay attention to her, instead of the TV footage. “Yeah. You okay? That, um, must’ve been closer to you than to me.”
“I don’t know. Foggy, what’s going on?”
A movie theater. Almost empty, but not. Oh god... He’d only been trying to look out for his best friend. The car that had been parked by the front is on its side, halfway across the street; the marquee is completely gone. Like with the subway station, clouds of hazy smoke roll out from the broken glass doors. “I have no clue,” he tells Karen. More rescue workers rush inside the burning theater.
“Who ever this is,” she says, confidant now, “whatever sick reason they have for doing it, the Daredevil will stop them. He’s got to be out there.”
It feels like she’s slammed the heel of her hand as hard as she can into his sternum. He can’t breathe; he almost drops the phone. “Sure,” Foggy coughs. “’Course.” Behind him Matt shifts in his sleep, and the blanket hisses over the costume as it slides to the carpet. He can’t do this anymore. “So, you’re okay? Because, uh, Matt’s on the other line. I should go.”
Why not? He’s pretty sure that all anybody’s going to remember from tonight are the lies in general. Not how many there were.
“Oh. Yeah. I’m okay, I guess. I mean, as much as you can be. I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”
Foggy knows she probably needs a friend to talk to right now. He’s such an asshole. “Sure. Call me if you need anything.” Other than a supportive friend who will stay on the phone and continue this particular conversation.
“Tell Matt I’ll see him in the morning.”
“Okay.” On the TV, the world is on fire. The phrase makes him think of Matt. Foggy ends the call.
He grabs another beer, drinks it in big gulps as he wanders around the apartment. There’s a bag of fried rice in his freezer, and he pulls it out to fold it over Matt’s wrist. He wastes some more time searching for sneaky lightbulb fragments lying in wait in his carpet; in the end this project too is relegated to the morning, and he throws the clean towel he’d never used over the whole thing and walks away. The stress of the night is catching up to him, weighing him down. But he doubts that he’s going to be able to sleep.
Matt’s stretched out along the length of the couch, and for a while Foggy sits on the floor between it and the coffee table. The looped cycle of explosions doubles relentlessly back on itself, and it’s difficult to say anymore what’s new and what’s old. It’s all starting to blur together into a fuzzy special-effects reel. Movie clips.
Eventually his tail bone starts to ache; the air down here is nothing but stale beer. He gets up again, goes into the bathroom to have a piss and give his sticky forearms another rinse. Grabs the Febreze and carries it back out to the living room. He sprays it all over the floor in front of the couch. Too much, though he doesn’t realize this until it coalesces to choke him.
He decides that Matt’s not going to notice if he’s forced to share. That, as a doomed man awaiting execution at dawn, he might as well be comfortable. Matt’s lying on his right side, his bandaged left arm kept close to his chest, and he mumbles something inaudible as Foggy shifts his legs to slide underneath them. He doesn’t wake up, though, and Foggy settles back into the cushions. Already wishing he’d thought to get another beer before he’d sat down.
There’s one more explosion, after four. This one’s an empty bookstore, but it takes out an occupied garbage truck.
At some point he sinks into sleep, this level of anxiety unsustainable. It’s now nine-thirty, the sun streaming in the windows. He’d woken up when Matt had groaned, but Foggy only realizes this when he does it again.
He’s not awake, but the pain’s pulling him out of the grip of the drugs. It won’t be long now. Foggy thinks about getting up, finding somewhere to hide. Like under his bed or in the coffee shop down the street. Except he’s not sure that the coffee shop’s going to be open. And Matt will probably be able to find him under the bed. Foggy’s going to have to face him sometime.
So he sits like a statue with all of his muscles tensed, his breath coming in stuttering erratic hiccups as he waits for his fate. Matt’s face scrunches up, and his tongue darts out from between his teeth like he’s tasting the air. The drugs are reluctant to release their hold; he licks his lips, but doesn’t yet open his eyes.
It’s not the first time they’ve been in this position on Foggy’s couch, and he suspects that this familiarity is a comfort not helping Matt come out of the sedation. But the pain is insistent. Foggy can read its growing undeniability in the lines of his expression, and pretty soon Matt’s going to put together enough firing neurons to at least wonder why it is that he can’t move his arm. He starts up a sleepy investigation of the appendage with his fingers; he stops when he reaches his elbow, a frown creasing between his eyebrows. It deepens when those fingers play over the costume covering his chest. When they get to his unmasked face, Matt’s eyes snap open and he struggles to sit up.
It’s an effort failed only seconds after it’s conceived. Matt falls back again with a muffled moan, clutching his arm; his eyes jump frantically around the room, as if he doesn’t know where he is. Or as if he’s piecing together the events of last night. Foggy’s not sure which it is, but at the sight of Matt hunched panting at the other end of the couch, there’s really nothing left but to move closer and try to do something.
“Hey, Matt, it’s okay. We’re in my apartment…”
“You drugged me.”
It’s venomous. Pissed. Foggy had known it was coming, but it still hits him hard. He reaches for Matt’s good shoulder, and Matt nearly goes toppling backward over the low arm of the couch in his attempt to get away. Foggy immediately pulls the hand back, scalded. Even with this retreat, Matt still makes a noise at him that’s disturbingly close to a growl.
“I know. And I know you’re mad. That I shouldn’t have done it. But –“
“You drugged me. You. I… Fuck.” His voice breaks on the last word, splitting it down the middle. He swallows deliberately, like he’s trying to keep it together, and Foggy wonders if Matt can tell that he’s doing the same thing. Matt’s head twitches as he listens to the sounds from outside. “What time is it? How long have I been here?”
Muttered, and Foggy’s not sure that Matt’s actually asking him. He looks like he’s just desperately grasping for something relatively solid to hold onto. “Morning. Matt, I’m –“
“Don’t want to hear it,” he bites out, struggling to get to his feet. The impromptu ice pack had fallen to the floor when he’d first moved, and Matt steps on the wilted defrosted plastic. His foot slips on the shifting rice; it’s not a clownish pratfall, but it’s enough to upset his balance. His teeth click together as he lands back on the couch.
”Can I get you some water or something?” Foggy offers, scooping it up on his way to the kitchen. “You probably should, y’know, give yourself a minute. Sometimes those things take a little while before they really get out of your system.”
“No water,” Matt says pointedly behind him, and it ratchets Foggy’s shoulders up a little more toward his ears. He gets a glass anyway. While he’s doing this, Matt manages to find his feet again. By time Foggy’s gotten back to couch, he’s stumbled his way out of the room.
Foggy sits, waits; he figures Matt’s probably just gone to the bathroom. He tries to come up with something to say when he returns – be it inspired excuse or logically formulated argument – but he’s got nothing. The water glass from last night sits next to the fresh one on the coffee table. Accusing him.
Matt doesn’t come back out, and Foggy hears his dresser drawers being yanked open one after another. Furiously, it sounds like. When he gets in there, Matt’s got most of Foggy’s clothes strewn around him all over the floor. He’s surrounded by a blast radius of cotton and denim. “What are you doing?” It’s out of his mouth before he guesses at the answer.
“If it’s morning, I need clothes.” All of Matt’s other emotions seemed to have focused themselves into the wider scope of his anger. Even his fingers look mad as he runs them over another shirt to try and determine what it is. He tosses it onto the floor with the rest of the clothes, and Foggy bets it’s rejected less for the huge Captain America shield on the front than for its general oversized nature. Everything Foggy’s got is going to be ridiculously big on him. He tries to remember if he has anything of Matt’s here.
“You need to go to the hospital. Get a cast on your wrist.”
“Going home.” Foggy’s not certain if this rules the hospital out completely, or merely postpones it. He suspects Matt’s not interested in hearing his opinion on the subject. “But I can’t get there like this.” He pulls out another t-shirt, discards it after it unfurls too large under his hands. His breathing is devastatingly ragged; Foggy hurts simply standing here watching him.
It catches up with him, and he has to pause for a moment in his search. When Matt drops his head onto the arm slung over the gaping top drawer, Foggy takes a step forward. “Let me go with you. To the hospital. It’s probably a disaster out there.”
Matt straightens as if he’d jabbed him in the spine with a cattle prod; groans, and curls into a modified approximation of upright that can only be a compromise with his ribs. “I don’t even want to talk to you right now,” he spits. It’s not a tone Foggy can remember Matt ever directing at him before. “If you’re not going to help me find something to wear home, just stay out of my way.”
“Matt, come on. I know I messed up. But I was trying to –“
“I don’t care.” His fingers pick up their speed, more clothing is carelessly flung away. “You can’t just… I trusted you, and you –“ The sentences choke off into nothing; Matt bites his lip and shakes his head, and Foggy scrubs at his eyes with a trembling hand.
He takes another step forward. It’s not requiring a whole lot of effort to read the feelings corded in the muscles of Matt’s back; he’s hyper-aware that he’s crowding into his friend’s personal space. It’s not a consideration he’s given any thought to at all since those first few months after Matt had moved in with him. “Look, I know you’re pissed at me. And I totally deserve it. But don’t you think we should talk about it?”
He puts his hand on Matt’s shoulder; it’s completely the opposite of the correct thing to do. Matt’s right arm flies up to crack his knuckles against the bridge of Foggy’s nose.
“Ow! Fuck!” Foggy staggers backward with his hands pressed to his face, willing the world to quit sparkling. He half expects Matt to apologize, like maybe it was an accident. He’s surprised when he doesn’t.
Because it probably wasn’t.
Matt’s never, ever hit him before. And least not when he wasn’t barely conscious or delirious. It obliterates Foggy’s universe in a way that nothing else tonight has been able to. The only thing he can compare it to is the night he’d discovered that Matt is the Daredevil. It tastes the same as that. A gagging mass at the back of his throat.
He falls back onto his bed, fingertips prodding tentatively at his bruised face. It hurts, but he can see again. Better than he can breathe, anyway, with that lump clogging up his throat. Matt’s still digging. Still not saying anything. Despite everything, Foggy feels like he should get up. Help him find some clothes.
Matt finally picks something on his own, and watching him try to pull the outfit on over the costume is like being forced to suffer through a performance by a gymnast who’s lost the use of one side of their body. Foggy sits up, but he’s hesitant to offer his help. Matt grunts as he fights with the t-shirt twisted hopelessly over his head, and it’s the first noise to disturb the air between them since he’d punched Foggy in the nose.
“I’m really, really sorry,” Foggy tries. “I swear, it’ll never happen again.”
Please believe me. Please say it’s okay. Even if it’s not. Just say it once. Please.
Matt doesn’t answer. Won’t turn his head in Foggy’s direction. When he cinches the drawstring on Foggy’s sweatpants, the extra bit is almost long enough to wrap around his waist. The soft grey cotton balloons out around his legs before narrowing again at the ankles to show off the costume’s boots; the tied drawstring hangs in a gigantic droopy cartoonish bow.
Somehow, instead of making the situation funnier, it just makes everything feel more tragic. Broken. Overwhelming.
Matt’s left wrist is clearly larger than the right, and if not hampered by the suit’s tight sleeve would no doubt be swollen even further. It must be a miserable sensation of compression, but Foggy hopes that maybe it’s doing some of the temporary work of a splint. He’s not really sure how all that happens, exactly – still not a doctor, and neither House nor Claire have stopped by in his dreams to explain it – but he knows that keeping things held in the right place is good. Assuming, of course, that they’d been in the right place to begin with.
Nothing he can see to do now. About any of it.
The t-shirt he’d chosen is unadorned – one of the few Foggy owns that doesn’t have something splashed across the front or back – but like the sweatpants way too big. The size offers more assistance in this case; Matt still looks absurd, but the short sleeves hang past his elbows, disguising more of the suit. It’s unclear exactly what style he seems to be going for, but he definitely doesn’t look like a man trying to dress as a superhero.
“Matt, seriously… please just talk to me about this.” Matt wobbles dangerously amid all the heaps of clothes, and Foggy pushes off the bed in case he’s about to keel over. “Or at least sit down for a minute.”
Matt shakes his head, spins around to aim himself for the door. He overbalances, trips a clumsy few steps until he finds the wall with his right hand. Leans his forehead against it and just stands there for a moment. Even cinched as tightly as they are, the sweats sag low on his hips; the shirt drapes around him in extraneous blanket folds. Foggy studies the few angles he can make out under all of that cotton. He’s never had less of an idea about what he’s supposed to say to the guy.
Just like that night, though they’ve flipped sides on the righteous anger. “Tell me what I can do,” Foggy pleads with Matt’s back. “Anything. You want to hit me again? How do I make it right?” He means it. He’ll hold still and stick out his chin if it might fix this.
Matt lifts his forehead only far enough off the wall to drop it back again with a dull thud. He does it again, his teeth bared. “Just leave me alone.”
It’s snarled, and it shoves Foggy a step back like he’d been pushed. His leg hits the bed, and he sits down on the edge of it. Matt straightens, but doesn’t turn around.
“I don’t want to talk to you for a while,” he says, his head hanging. “I mean it. Don’t call me.” He takes a breath like there might be something else, but there isn’t. Matt leaves, and Foggy listens to him crossing the living room. Walking away. He hears his front door slam. It sounds so definitive.
It’s Matt’s apartment all over again. Except, this time, it’s Foggy who’s left sitting alone.