It takes a very confusing few minutes to even figure out who he... is. Ish. He finds the badge and has a nice, isolated bout of panic about that, and then stares at it for a good long while, willing his brain (his brain? how is this happening, this can't–) to make sense of the letters: MAHONEY.
Matt knows the basic shapes of written letters, but not – not, in anything approaching recent memory, with his eyes (his eyes? what–), and tracing them with his fingers helps bring it back a bit.
“What the fuck,” he whispers, and then jumps about a foot in the air because he recognizes the voice. Should have started there.
So. He's Brett.
He can't hear anything.
He can hear Bess Mahoney, coming up the stairs. “Brett!” she calls, and then knocks on the door, and Matt dives back into the bed. “Aren't you up? You're gonna be late!”
“I – I think I'm sick!” Matt calls back, and the hoarseness in his voice is entirely due to terror, but if it will help sell his story he'll take what he can get.
“Sick?” Bess nudges the door open and steps inside. Matt closes his eyes and when he opens them again she's standing over him. She looks –
She looks –
Matt doesn't know how she looks. He's casting back twenty years, trying to remember how other people's faces move when they're thinking or feeling certain things.
She sounds concerned. “What kind of sick?” She lays a hand on his forehead.
“Don't know yet,” Matt groans. “Might be food poisoning,” he adds, and he – he shouldn't have said that, it was at the top of his list because last night he felt like he'd eaten something off (even though he was sure he hadn't, and - and, wait, wait, did he pass out?), but for all he knows, Brett Mahoney's last meal was something Bess cooked.
She clicks her tongue and straightens up. “So you weren't just blowing smoke last night.”
...Or, his last meal and Brett Mahoney's last meal was something with actually impossible properties that might have switched their bodies, okay, sure, he can work with that theory.
He forces himself to laugh. Throws himself into the role. Nothing else for it. “Nah, that's your job. I keep telling Foggy to quit buying those things.” Brett – Brett does call him Foggy, right? He doesn't call him Nelson, does he? Shit. He can't remember. Maybe he calls him both.
Bess smacks his arm. “Oh, let an old woman have her fun.”
“If I see any, I will.”
“Good answer.” Bess chuckles, pats him on the shoulder and turns to leave. “Today's my day out with the girls, you want me call it off, keep you company? We could watch a movie.”
“No, no, you go ahead,” Matt says, hope and panic flaring as one. “I'll be okay. I might... I might take a walk later, clear my head. If I'm not home when you get back.” He's trying, now, to remember why Bess lives with Brett, vaguely remembers Brett mentioning once or twice that he'd like to move her someplace warm, and he really hopes there's not some absolutely vital healthcare-related daily thing that he's going to have no idea how to do. Hey, Mom, brought a friend over, I just thought it might be a nice change of pace if Matt Murdock helped you out with your medications tonight.
“Feel better, baby.” She's walking away and Matt is getting dizzy, witnessing the shifting perspectives of continuous motion like this for the first time since – since there'd been a truck, coming at him, very fast. Bad thought, bad thought. Abort.
“Don't throw any wild parties!” Bess adds over her shoulder, laughs, and shuts the door behind her.
Matt sits up, slowly, and finally acknowledges his current relative calm for what it really is: shock. It's a window that's rapidly closing, and he needs to be utilizing it. It is in fact a miracle that that interaction didn't end in disaster.
So. So – phone. Yes. He should – he should call in sick. He should definitely call in sick, because he's pretty sure Brett would rather lose a sick day (or however many days this might take) than deal with any... ramifications that might arise, should Matt attempt to do his job.
Matt shuts his eyes, confused and irritated by the lack of a headache, which he is pretty sure he should have for about five hundred different reasons. Hopes Brett is the type who sleeps with a phone, feels around the bed for it.
Phones have – changed, somewhat, since the last time Matt saw one. This feels like a phone. And looks... like how he's heard phones described, probably. He thinks. It's all very...
He can see.
He's wearing cotton sweatpants, lying on cotton sheets and they feel fine, traffic outside is muted and the only voices he gets are muffled shouts, his sense of smell is about on par with a bad head cold, he can't – he can't taste anything, in the air, it's just – it's just air, and he can see.
And Brett's phone is locked.
Brett's phone is locked and Matt doesn't even know who he would be calling with it if it wasn't. He doesn't know who Brett calls when he calls in sick and the phone is locked and he can fucking see.
Matt buries his head under the pillow and wastes precious seconds hyperventilating.
Then he hears the front door shut. ...He thinks. It's about as loud as a door shutting two blocks away would normally sound, but he's going to have to risk it.
He gets up, opens the bedroom door. Keeps waiting to feel dizzy, disoriented, because he's been blind for most of his life; his brain should not know how to look at things, but it's not his brain, it's Brett's – with – Matt's thoughts. and. memories. somehow.
Executive decision: no more thinking about that. Or he's going spend the day screaming on the floor.
In the hall, he's momentarily frozen. Because he can't – he can't sense anything. He's never been in Brett's home before and he doesn't know the layout, he can't tell where anything is –
“Eyes,” he growls, and creeps forward, hands pressed flat to the wall. “Use your eyes.”
He does not like this.
People have asked him – so many people have asked him, whether or not they had any reason to – does he miss being able to see? He has his stock answers, a nice mix of sincerity and humor to get through the conversation as painlessly as possible for all involved, but honestly, he's always kind of figured it's a moot point. It doesn't matter if he misses being able to see. That's just how things are, however he feels about it.
And now. And now.
It's overwhelming and it's not. Physically, everything is – fine. This is a body equipped for visual processing, it's not like someone just threw some kind of magical, sight-giving powder in his face and then left him to deal with a brain that's at least partially rewired itself to work without that input.
But. Mentally. Cognitively, emotionally, whatever this is. He's trying to – remember. Everything. Colors are more than hazy associations, old memories – they're popping out at him from all sides, bright and dark and absolutely everywhere, they never end, everything is some color. Photographs line the hallway and he gets stuck watching the second hand of a wall clock making its full round and it's so quiet.
It occurs to him then that he's – probably not going to be able to get to his apartment like this. He might have better luck blindfolded, even without his heightened senses, but that would... probably draw attention. And he would, ideally, like to get through this without getting Brett into any sort of trouble.
In the kitchen, he finds an older, corded telephone, hanging up on the wall, and he prays it's not decorative.
“Brett! What've you got for us?”
“Foggy, listen to me. This isn't going to make any sense at all, but just – just listen. I need you to come by my place and – walk with me over to Murdock's, because I... need him to tell me how to call in sick.”
The end point Matt eventually reaches is: Brett called in sick last night, right before he passed out.
The road to that point is a long and winding one, and it begins with Foggy saying “What the hell are you talking about? Go put a shirt on!”
Matt is not – he is not at his best. Because. Foggy.
Foggy is still – Matt can still place the voice, but, just – everything else, everything else that he's learned to use to piece together Foggy Nelson over the years, he can't access it, not with his senses dulled like this.
Foggy is supposed to be – nervous or hurried gait, sometimes (usually), constant movement, mint toothpaste, mild aftershave, the quiet noise of his hair when he turns his head.
Now he is those things – those things, most of which Matt can't even sense now – and – and – and.
Matt gets stuck on his hair.
“That's blond, right?” he says. He's sitting in Brett's kitchen with his head down on the table, staring up at Foggy, who is staring back down at him. “I've heard people say you have blond hair. Or brown.”
He never asked. It wasn't important. But now Foggy is – here. And Matt can – see his face, and his hair, and his hands, and – it's not. It's not bad, it's – just new, new information, information Matt has never really asked himself whether he wished he had access to because it was never going to happen, and now it has, and that's. Interesting.
It's also a little like hitting an extra step at the top of a staircase, and then that step spontaneously developing limbs and punching you in the face.
Foggy is not happy, and does not believe him, which. Give him credit, Matt didn't expect him to.
“Look,” Foggy says, “I appreciate a well-crafted prank as much as the next guy, and I'm honored to be the target of such a – really weird one, but. All three of us have kind of important jobs to do.”
“That's why we need to go to my apartment and talk to Brett,” Matt says, pleading now. “So I don't get him fired.” Brett is the one cop Matt knows they can trust, knows the people of Hell's Kitchen can trust. And also a nice guy who doesn't need his livelihood taken away by whatever the hell is going on here.
Foggy just keeps staring. Then he pulls out his phone and says “I'm calling Matt.”
Matt tries to lunge for the phone over the table, and – oh. That's. Odd. He can't quite – move, as fast, like this. Brett's in good shape but the muscle memory is all – different. He has effectively just knocked the wind out of himself via table.
“You don't want to do that,” he says, urgently (and wincing). “If he's asleep, you really don't want to wake him up, and if he's awake, he's probably panicking, and an electronic voice repeating your name over and over again will not help.”
Very slowly, Foggy puts his phone back in his pocket. “You are... really committed to this, I'll give you that,” he says, but he's starting to sound – worried.
They live in a strange world. It is not entirely impossible that Matt might be able to talk him around to this.
“Foggy,” he says, folding his hands on the table. “Ask me something. Anything. Something only I – something only Matt would know.”
Foggy actually laughs. “Yeah, nice try, you guys spend a few minutes swapping secrets for this? I'm not that gullible.”
Matt takes a deep breath. If Foggy doesn't believe him by the end of this, what he is about to say may in fact destroy their friendship.
“You and Brett made out at a party when you were seventeen, stone cold sober, and told everyone else you were drunk; you both agreed it was a mistake and never spoke of it again, until one very drunk night in law school, when you told Matthew Murdock – well, first you told him who Brett was, and then you confessed you had a 'ridiculous teenage hate-crush' on him for two years, with that party as the midpoint.” Matt pauses for breath and then barrels on, before Foggy can get out more than a squeak of protest. “A few weeks later, you and Marci Stahl spent a solid hour arguing about absolutely nothing, after which you said, and I quote, 'Kill me now, Murdock, this is gonna be Brett Mahoney all over again.'”
Foggy's face is changing colors, and Matt wonders what sort of heat must be radiating off him, heat Matt can't feel now. “I'm gonna kill him,” Foggy says, voice hoarse. “I'm going to actually – murder him – no, no I'm not, officer, I'm. Definitely not going to do that.”
It's too late to switch tactics and Matt has a lot of ammo. He presses onward. “You hit on Matt Murdock within five minutes of meeting him, you left Landman and Zack with a box full of tiny dinosaurs and stolen bagels, you love musical theatre and you secretly think Russell Crowe did okay as Javert, and, oh yeah, one more thing...” He leans over the table, slams his hands down and hisses: “Matt Murdock is Daredevil.”
Foggy backs away from him so fast he almost trips. "What Crowe lacked in finesse he made up for in passion," he says weakly, sagging against the kitchen counter. "I don't know what you're talking about with that last thing, though, I think Matt – fed you some bad info. That and me h-having a crush on you, for two years, he was definitely lying about both of those things, have you ever seen him backflip off a building? I haven't! Because he doesn't, he does not do that and will you please go put on a shirt!"
It's actually – surprisingly heartening and also terrible, how quick Foggy is to defend Matt's secret, as much as he hates keeping it.
Matt sighs. “I appreciate you not going right for it, but in the future, you have my blessing to just respond to any Daredevil accusations with 'what are you talking about, he's blind.' Seriously. Play it up.”
“Matt.” Foggy is sliding, very slowly, down a cabinet, to the floor. “What – what? What is happening?”
Matt throws his hands up. “I have no idea! But we really need to get to my apartment, Brett is going to panic.”
“How are you not panicking?!”
“I did earlier and I will again, now let's go.”
“Okay. Yeah. Okay.” Foggy scrambles up from the floor, drags both hands over the top of his head. He's still staring, wide-eyed and breathing too hard. “I'm gonna – try to hold off my own screaming fit until I'm one hundred percent convinced this isn't the cruelest prank ever, which will probably be – whenever we talk to... Whoever is currently in Matthew Murdock's apartment.”
“Now – Brett, Matt, whoever the hell you are, for the third time and I really mean it: Go. Put. On. A. Shirt.”
“So,” Foggy says, not the least bit awkwardly, after... Matt, or Brett, or whoever, has spent one entire minute staring up at the sky. It's cloudy and blocked out all over by buildings and smog and Matt/Brett's mouth is hanging open. Foggy clears his throat. “Vision, huh?”
“Yeah,” 'Matt' says hoarsely, still gazing upwards. “Vision.”
Foggy looks up again and briefly tries to imagine how he might feel about this view if it was his first glimpse of the sky in twenty years. He swallows. “How... how is it?”
“I'm trying not to think about that.”
'Matt' looks down at last, shaking his head, and keeps his eyes glued to the pavement as they walk. “Everything's just so... It's just. I don't know.” His voice is... alarmingly shaky, for a moment, and almost too quiet to hear under the sounds of the city around them. “There's so much. And everything - everything else is so. Muffled. It's like I'm underwater, I'm not... I don't remember how to do this.”
Foggy decides, right at that very second, that he's going to believe this is absolutely Matthew Murdock walking beside him. Up until now he's been almost half convinced that Brett found out Matt's secret and they decided to make the best of it by fucking with Foggy's head for a while, but Brett would never – Brett would never make fun of Matt like this.
“Anything you want to see, in particular?” Foggy prompts, because he's kind of at a loss here but he has to – he has to say something. “We could stop by the office. Say hi to Karen.”
Matt hunches his shoulders. He looks – not quite put together, he's still wearing sweatpants and now a black t-shirt and a raincoat, the first things he'd found in Brett's dresser and closet, because he said digging through Brett's things felt too strange and intrusive. “I... I don't think that would be a good idea. Maybe later, if this... lasts.”
Foggy pats him on the back and hopes, for the hundredth time, they don't run into anybody who Brett knows and they don't. “Up to you, buddy.”
There's no screaming when they get to Matt's building, which, hey: definitely a plus.
Foggy's emergency spare key (handed over silently about a month after he found out Matt's secret) is sitting at home on his dresser, so they go in through the rooftop access and Foggy tries very hard not to have a flashback-induced freakout. At least Matt can't hear his heartbeat.
“Hello?” Foggy calls, because they decided on the way over that he should probably do the talking at first. How not to keep someone calm when they wake up suddenly blind and overwhelmed by every other sense: talk at them in their voice.
“Nice of you to show up,” says Matt's voice, from – the kitchen? What the hell.
Foggy turns on a light.
The place is – kind of a mess, in a very non-bloody, non-terrifying way. Matt's sheets and a couple of pillows are strewn in a clear path from his bedroom through the living room, and the couch has been knocked slightly askew.
And Matt – Brett – is standing at Matt's kitchen counter, clinging to it for dear life, looking equal parts terrified and profoundly unamused. He lets go with one hand long enough to wave in their general direction. “Foggy,” he says, “please tell me the person next to you is Brett Mahoney claiming to be Matthew Murdock.”
“Oh good,” Foggy says, because if Brett is going to be calm about this, he absolutely refuses to be flustered. “Everybody's on the same page.”
He glances at Matt, and Matt is sort of – staring. And frozen. Frozen and staring. He is – okay, he is seeing what he looks like, for the first time since he was nine years old, shit, that is probably. A little bit mind-blowing.
Foggy knows Matt Murdock, knows he is all about stoicism and being Absolutely Fine, and knows, therefore, that Matt would probably like to not have some sort of emotional scene right now. So he nudges his arm and says, “Told you you were hot.”
Matt gives a very mangled approximation of a laugh.
Brett sighs. “I have two questions. Well – I have about five hundred questions, starting with 'what is happening' and ending with 'are these pajamas actually silk,' but two important questions you might actually be able to answer. Question number one: how do you live like this, I've been – keeping myself distracted listening to a couple – somewhere – arguing about the cost of organic produce for two hours.”
“Ah, yeah, that'd be the Montgomeries,” says Matt, almost fondly. “They live one street over, that argument's going on week three.”
“Second question,” says Brett, firmly, and takes one very determined step away from the counter – then stops to wince, clutching at the left side of his ribcage. “Who the hell beat the shit out of you?”
This has so far proven to be the most confusing, terrifying, and interesting day of Brett Mahoney's life. Which is saying something, because it wasn't too long ago that he witnessed half his coworkers – his friends – being marched out of the station in handcuffs. (It's not like – listen, he has a healthy amount of skepticism and wariness when it comes to his fellow officers, but these were people he's known for years, people he's never seen abuse their power, and he maybe lies awake at night sometimes now, wondering just how much he never saw.)
He's glad Foggy and Murdock showed up when they did, as opposed to about – twenty minutes ago. He woke up two hours ago to someone, somewhere (apparently a street away), shouting I don't know, Rosa, how much do you think a healthy body and mind are WORTH?, and things only went downhill from there. (They're not worth forty fucking bucks for nine fucking ounces of fucking kale powder, Sophie!)
He's pretty sure he got into (and lost) a physical altercation with a couch.
It took about five minutes to even realize he couldn't see, at which point he opened his mouth to – definitely not scream, that's almost never a good idea in unknown circumstances, but he did eventually try talking, and. Well. Truth is stranger than fiction these days and he can't deny facts. It was definitely Matthew Murdock's voice coming out of his mouth, and, hey, that also explained why he couldn't see. Clinging to that short but comfortingly sound train of logic got him out of bed and (very slowly) out into – probably a living room, or something, in one piece.
By the time he found what he is reasonably sure is a countertop of some sort, he was certain of three things: Murdock has fucking superpowers (and they're terrible; the floor under his feet is so rough he could almost cry, and he could both hear and taste the drink someone must have poured – somewhere in the apartment building, right before he ran into the couch), Murdock has recently had the crap kicked out of him, and someone named Rosa really fucking hates kale powder. (Brett is with Rosa on this one. Forty dollars for kale powder sounds like – well, about like forty dollars for getting the crap kicked out of you.)
“Maybe,” says Murdock, in Brett's voice, and Brett is trying very hard to come to terms very quickly with this one more little bit of weird, “before we do anything else – you should probably tell me how to call you in sick.”
Brett shakes his head. “Did that last night, right before I passed out. Thought I had – food poisoning, or something.”
“So did I,” Murdock says, grimly, and – really? Food did this? Shit. He's never straying from his favorite restaurants and home-cooked meals ever again, broadening horizons be damned.
Wait. Wait. “If – if it was food. What if this is happening all over? Did you eat something from that new bakery?”
There's a pause, and then Murdock – laughs, that same awful, not-laugh as before, and says, “I just nodded.”
Brett grins. “How's vision treating you?”
“It's – weird. I'd rather not, uh... I bought a scone from that place.”
Oh. “So did I." Brett throws his head back, scowls when it strains something in his neck. "I bet this is happening all over, there were people lining up out the door by the time I left.”
“Wait,” says Foggy. “Just – wait a minute, are we really – our leading theory is scones?”
“Well, it's got to be something,” Brett snaps, and then takes a deep breath, and then winces. Pain lances through his ribs and through the wound in his right side, slams into him like hitting a brick wall. “Murdock! Seriously, I want an answer, who did this to you?”
There is a very long pause.
“Um,” says Murdock, and – is that – Brett is pretty sure that's his heartbeat, speeding up, why is it – doing that, why can he hear that, this is the worst superpower ever. “That's – a long story, it's – it's really not important, it was my own fault.”
And, wow. Brett crosses his arms. “Okay, you know you're setting off – every alarm bell in my head right now, right? If this is like – a pride thing, or a – a 'can't go to the police' thing, rest assured, I'm not filing any reports that start with 'Well I wasn't actually in my own body at the time, so I don't know if this can be official or not.' I'm just... asking. As a friend.”
Murdock sighs. “It's really – it doesn't matter.”
“Doesn't – Murdock, your ribs are cracked!”
“Cracked,” Foggy squeaks, at the same time that Murdock says, loudly, “BRUISED.”
Brett winces again and his hands fly to his ears, which does – absolutely nothing. He can still hear everything, from Sophie and Rosa debating the ethics of veganism to someone's car backfiring to Murdock's heart, which is - which is his heart and which is still beating way too fast. “I know cracked ribs when I feel them, Murdock!”
“It's probably – the pain is probably more intense than it should be, you're not used to my heightened senses.”
“Yeah, I've got questions about those, too, but first I want to know why your ribs are cracked. Because they are. Among – several other injuries. Seriously.”
“I'm, uh,” Murdock says, and swallows, and Brett fondly remembers a time when he couldn't hear people swallowing from across a room. “I'm –”
“He's in a secret fight club,” says Foggy, and – his heart is also beating too fast, shit, is that what this is? Is he a human polygraph now? Why is Foggy helping Murdock hide –
“Matthew,” Foggy hisses. “You swore to me your ribs weren't broken. You swore, Matt!”
“They're not, they're not broken! Cracked isn't broken, I – I mean, they're bruised.” Murdock sounds – scared.
And Brett really, really doesn't want to think these things about Foggy Nelson, but. No one ever wants to think these things, no one ever wants to believe these things, not about their friends, and that's how people get away with it.
He takes a step towards Foggy. He hopes. “Nelson,” he growls. “If you–“
“Oh, fuck my life,” Murdock groans. “Brett? I'm Daredevil.”
“You're what,” Brett says, very quietly, and before Matt can answer, Foggy is rounding on him and practically shouting (and then whispering, because he has presumably remembered that Matt has neighbors)–
“Seriously? Five minutes! Five minutes and you tell him! You are – you are awful at having a secret identity!”
Matt takes – a little bit of offense at that, but not much, all things (and dumpsters) considered. Not much. “I wasn't about to let him think you've been abusing me!” he protests, though, because seriously – “Seriously, Foggy, between that and Matt doesn't jump off buildings, we – we are having a discussion about what kinds of things do and do not constitute an appropriate cover story!” He considers for a moment, and relents: “Secret fight club might have some promise.”
“Appropriate cover story?!” Foggy demands, indignant. “This! This from the guy who said he 'tripped and fell,' taking out the trash.”
“This from the guy who bought that,” Matt mutters.
“YOU'RE WHAT?” Brett repeats, a lot louder this time, and then claps his hands over his ears again. “Okay,” he says, through clenched teeth, and Matt winces on his behalf. “My five hundred questions just doubled.”
“You said no reports,” Matt reminds him, weakly.
Brett jabs a finger at him, more or less. “I'm gonna kill you.”
“Well,” says Foggy, brightly. “This is going swimmingly.”
“Both of you,” Brett snaps. “Just as – just as soon as my head stops pounding.”
“Yeahhh,” says Matt, and winces again. “That never really stops.”
Foggy is giving him a – a look, now, of some sort. And so is Brett.
Matt looks back and forth between them, at a loss. “What?”
“I'm going back to my first question,” says Brett. “How do you live like this?”
Oh. Backpedal, backpedal. Un-dig this hole. “I mean, it's not – it's not always as bad as it probably is for you right now. I'm – I'm used to it?” This does absolutely nothing to change the looks on their faces. “I'm used to it,” he says, more firmly, because he does not need some sort of – some sort of pity party, here.
Wordlessly, he treks into the kitchen, closes his eyes and finds the correct cabinet and then the correct bottle by touch, and half fills a glass of water.
He presses the glass and one pill into Brett's hands and says quietly, “Take this. It'll help.”
And then he goes back to trying not to stare at himself.
He looks –
He looks –
He does kind of look like he has recently had the shit beaten out of him. It's... the least startling thing to focus on, so Matt does. And he begins to more fully understand why people are always so concerned about the minor injuries on his face, the ones that generally don't hurt nearly as bad as the ones everywhere else. He knows, of course, that visible wounds are the sort of thing that sighted people notice, but – there is a difference, suddenly, between knowing that, and – well. That bruise under his left eye is awful. That's – he's pretty sure that's purple.
Foggy must notice where he's looking. “Do you get it now?” he says, pointedly, and smacks his arm with the back of one hand. “Do you get why people worry?”
Matt shrugs, a little helplessly. “I... yeah.”
“Okay,” says Brett, after he's drained the glass of water and (very carefully) set it on the floor. “Seriously now, I have questions. Soooo many questions.”
“The chemicals that got splashed in my face when I was nine enhanced my senses, a blind old man named Stick taught me martial arts when I was a kid and then left me to my own devices, I kept up the training on my own, a few years ago the sirens and the screaming were all finally too much and I beat the shit out of a man who was – abusing his daughter,” Matt rattles off, deciding, at the last second, to spare them all the exact details of that last part, “I've never committed pre-meditated murder but there's probably a few cases to be made for manslaughter, yes I know that's horrible, it is in fact eating me alive roughly every waking moment. Does that cover most of it?”
Brett gapes at him. “...Yeah, most of it. Now I have – new questions. I'll just – I'm gonna skip right over manslaughter for now, what the fuck, I'm not on duty, we will figure that out later, please do not confess to anything else. A blind old man named Stick?”
Matt sighs. And kicks himself, a little, because he definitely should not have just confessed to manslaughter. He's a little off his game, fucking sue him. He'll win. “That's what he told me to call him.”
“And good luck getting any answers beyond that, because I'm still trying,” Foggy grumbles, crossing his arms.
Brett throws his hands up in the air, unbalances himself, and stumbles back a step towards the counter.
“So, um.” Matt clears his throat. “The senses. It – uh, it might help if you try to pick one or two nearby – sources of input, to – to focus on. I generally try not to make it people, because. Boundaries. But. We're here and you're – probably in sensory hell, right?”
Brett smiles, and it's – maybe it's easier to read his own face, somehow, maybe he can imagine which muscles are moving, but he thinks it definitely looks strained. “Just – just a little,” Brett confirms. “Slightly hellish, yeah.”
“You'll probably want to be sitting down for this,” Matt says, and steps forward. “I'm gonna – lead you to the couch, okay?”
“Please do,” says Brett. “Before I find it on my own again.”
“Focus on a heartbeat – not yours, one of ours,” says Murdock, and this might in fact be the actual weirdest thing Brett's ever done. Potentially. Even the vaguest of thoughts in that direction tend to prompt an instant rebuttal in the form of remember that time you made out with Foggy Nelson?
This is probably weirder.
(A lot of things are weirder. But in bad ways that aren't the least bit amusing to occasionally remind himself of, so: thank you, teenage Foggy and teenage Brett, for a safer weirdness yardstick.)
Murdock's sitting on his right and Brett figures – well. It's his own heartbeat, technically. Kind of. Maybe that'll make it less...
It does not.
“Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold, and then out through your mouth,” Murdock says, very quietly. “Don't worry about a count.” Brett's taking breathing instructions from his own voice. The literal absolute last thing on this planet he is currently worried about is a count.
He doesn't say that. Opens his mouth to try and gets as far as “I'm–” and then someone, somewhere, throws a plate against a wall, and somewhere else there are tires screeching and somewhere else there are a thousand different conversations going on in a dozen different languages and right here in this room the floor is still too rough under his feet and he's surrounded on two sides by body heat that isn't his and he can smell that fucking scone on his own breath and Murdock's and this is –
This is why he was glad they didn't show up any earlier. Didn't show up when he was fighting with the couch, or when he gave up and collapsed against it for a few minutes, hands over his ears in a futile attempt to push back the wall of sound, shoved away in horror when he realized he could smell blood in the cushions.
He can still smell it.
“You spend some time laid up on this couch, Murdock?” he asks, somehow, forces the words out even though his teeth feel like they're buzzing with the vibration of all this sound, because he needs to know, suddenly. Murdock said – probably a few cases for manslaughter and Brett needs to know nobody died on this couch.
The heartbeats on either side of him go a little funny. It's dizzying, and he latches onto it, doesn't try to figure out what it means. Just focuses. Tries to let it drown out (or just drown) everything else.
“Yeah,” Murdock says, eventually. “Got hurt pretty bad, a while back. The blood, right?”
“Yeah.” Brett swallows. “Yeah. Sorry. I just... wondered.”
“It's a fair question. I'm used to the smell, sorry, I didn't – think.”
“You're used to the smell of blood,” Brett says, faintly. And - listen, he is more or less used to the smell of blood, which was not a fun revelation to have at the time, but, there it is. However: he does not have this sense of smell, and – and – he is coming to terms with all of this in stages and Murdock is supposed to be a civilian. “On your couch? Or in general?”
“Been used to that smell since I was a kid,” Murdock says, chuckling – fucking chuckling, like this makes it better, and then Foggy interrupts him:
“You'll have to excuse Matt, here; he thinks people should find it charming that his dad used to come home from boxing matches and let his nine-year-old sew up his face.”
There's a long pause. And then Murdock offers, again, like it's some kind of improvement, “Started when I was seven.”
“Somebody stop this ride,” Brett groans. “I want off.”
“Are you focusing?” Murdock says, and Brett kind of wants to punch him, a little bit.
He nods instead. “Heartbeats. Yeah. Got it.”
Someone's phone buzzes.
“Whoops,” says Foggy. “That's probably Karen, wondering why there are no lawyers at the law firm where she works.”
“Tell her to take the day,” says Murdock. “Tell her I'm sick, make up an emergency. Something.”
“'Lie to Karen' cannot keep being our go-to response, Matt,” Foggy mutters, and Brett can – hear, feel, whatever – some kind of movement, probably? The body heat to his left is – shifting, somehow, and he can hear something like – something like – apparently the air makes sounds, now. That's great. Whatever. He can feel the couch shifting, in a blessedly normal sort of way. Foggy must be getting his phone out of his pocket.
“For the record,” says Murdock, and then backtracks, “or – not, very much not for the record, but. Just so you know, Karen – does not know. About me.”
Brett sighs. “Great. How small is this club I've joined, exactly?”
“Getting bigger every day,” Murdock says, all false cheer, and Brett – almost laughs. Almost.
“Um,” says Foggy, and clears his throat. “Karen... Karen told me to check the news feeds. So I... did. And, uh.”
“All over the Kitchen?” Brett guesses.
Movement, again, terrifyingly audible movement, and then Murdock says, “He just nodded,” and then Foggy says, “Fuck me sideways, you guys were right about the scones.”
“So,” says Foggy, eventually, once they've all kind of taken a moment to process the fact that people all over Hell's Kitchen woke up in the wrong body this morning (and after Foggy has taken a moment to separately process his regret at having said the words 'fuck me sideways' while sitting on a couch next to two people who – well, he wouldn't mind, is the point, is the problem, and now Brett's got Matt's super-heartbeat-eavesdropping abilities – and hopefully very little idea of how to use them). “So we could, actually, just sort of. Go by the office. And say hi to Karen.”
“No,” Matt says, instantly, and Foggy throws his head back against the couch in frustration.
“Oh, come on! What if – and just, just go with me on this for a second here – what if, just to shake things up a little, what if this time we tried – not. lying. to Karen. about a huge weird thing that just happened!”
“I'm sensing some communication issues here,” says Brett, deadpan, and Foggy groans.
“You have no idea.”
“Starting to get one.”
“See, Matt, see, even Brett thinks you're terrible at communicating!”
Brett buries his face in his hands. “No. No. Leave me out of – this. Whatever it is. I'm out.”
“You are kind of officially in,” Foggy says, as apologetically as he can, and pats Brett's arm for good measure. “Welcome to the worst club in the world. On the plus side, we meet up every other weekend to talk shit about our president, who is not invited. Alcohol optional, shit-talking not.”
Brett sighs. “Drinking with you twice a month. Great. Best consolation prize anyone could ask for.”
“Not just me,” Foggy assures him, deciding, for the moment, to not take great offense at that. “Me and–”
And he stops. And realizes. And grins. “Claire! Matt – Matt, we need to call Claire! Please tell me she's around, or – like, has a phone that can do video!”
“No,” Matt says again, and it sounds a little more. A little more growly, this time.
“What,” Foggy scoffs, actually scoffs, and that takes effort, and technique, “you don't wanna see–”
“If you call her Hottie McBurnerPhone again I might actually punch you,” Matt snaps, and then – gets up off the couch, whoa, hey, Matt, this whole 'let's sit weirdly close to Brett to help ground him' thing was your idea –
Matt paces back and forth in front of the window, stops in his tracks and looks out at the lighted billboard. During the day, with the lights on inside, it's not so bad. Hardly even noticeable. Matt is glaring at it.
Foggy turns to Brett. “I may,” he says, again apologetically, “have just created a situation. Of some sort. Within the larger situation. You be okay if I leave you here for a minute?”
Brett shrugs. “Not like I won't be able to tell where you are. ...Roughly.”
“True. Be right back.”
He approaches Matt slowly and sideways. Like trying to catch a cat. Or a startled horse, maybe. Something, there's definitely something you're supposed to sneak up on sideways.
For a while, they just stare out at the billboard together.
“This isn't,” Matt says, and then stops. “I'm not,” he tries again, and then gives up for a while.
“I'm sorry for calling Claire Hottie McBurnerPhone,” says Foggy, because that's easy enough. “For the record, that's her secret codename now when we text about meeting for drinks, she thinks it's funny, and mine is – less funny, way less funny, now that I'm thinking about saying it, out loud, to you. Uh. Forget I said anything.” Foggy's secret drinks codename is Heroically Didn't Faint At The Sight Of All That Blood Lad.
He may need to rethink exactly why he and Claire both find this hilarious.
Or probably he shouldn't. Coping mechanisms are best left in their own realm.
Matt heaves a shuddering sigh. “I just don't think I'd – have the correct... reaction.”
Foggy blinks. Opens his mouth, shuts it. Opens it again. “You don't – what?”
“What am I supposed to say? When – if. What – what do you wish I'd said?”
“Well,” he tries, testing the waters with humor, which is maybe not always his safest bet but is at least something Matt might be expecting. “I mean, you didn't cover your eyes or scream, so, I guess I was pretty happy.”
Matt doesn't laugh.
Foggy tries again. New tactic. “Is it, like... It's too weird? You haven't adjusted yet?”
Matt clenches his jaw so hard Foggy actually hears his teeth clack together. Then he takes a deep breath, and says, “No. I don't, uh. I don't think you quite... get it.”
“No,” Foggy admits. “I probably don't.”
Matt glances at him, briefly, looks him up and down and then goes back to the billboard. “I've never needed to know what you look like,” he says, and sort of half-shrugs. “But now I do. Know. And tomorrow, or – whenever this wears off. I won't ever see you again. I have – nothing to do with this information, except – except try to hold onto it, and I don't know how well or how long I'll be able to, and I don't. I don't know how hard I should try. Which can't be a fun thing for you to hear. Or Karen. Or Claire.”
“Let's just,” says Foggy, carefully. “For a minute here, let's just say, screw everyone else's feelings, okay, including mine, especially mine. What do you actually want to do, or not do, with this?”
Matt shakes his head. “I have – no idea. I just know... I've held onto my father's face. For all this time. Sometimes it's – it's clearer than others, and I remember, I used to be – so scared, when I was a kid, I was so afraid I'd forget what he looked like. And I... I have and I haven't, and when I can't remember, it doesn't matter, because I can remember other things. About him. What his face felt like. The sound of his voice. Things he'd say to me, things he'd... I taught myself to hold onto all of that, instead of panicking about – about not always being able to remember what he looked like. I don't, um. I don't... I don't want to panic about that. Again. With all of you.”
“Okay,” Foggy says, quietly, and swallows. “Okay, I'm an asshole, wow. Sorry.”
Matt huffs a laugh. “You're not an asshole. And we should – we should tell Karen what's happening, at least, and I'll... I'll think about the rest. Just – I need you to understand. I don't want to adjust to this, okay? I want to hate not having heightened senses because otherwise I'll hate getting them back, and I want vision to be – weird and scary and off-putting, for as long as possible, because tomorrow – I hope – I'm not gonna have it anymore. Vision is to me as my senses are to Brett. How you holding up, Brett?” He directs this last part towards the couch, without raising his voice at all.
“Great,” says Brett, and Foggy looks his way and sees he's almost doubled over, arms wrapped around himself, possibly because of the rib injuries or possibly because of panic because they definitely just ditched him for way more than 'a minute,' shit. “Really, really great, definitely no danger of adjusting to this, so that's. Awesome. Gonna cope perfectly well with being dumped back into my boring old non-superpowered body tomorrow.”
“Glad to hear it,” says Matt, and moves back towards the couch. Foggy follows his lead and they settle in on either side of Brett once again, both of them muttering apologies.
“Focus,” says Matt, and Brett growls at him.
“Keep in mind,” says Foggy, “if you punch him, you're gonna be the one with the bruise.”
“He has a point,” says Matt. “Your best option here is probably punching Foggy.”
Brett takes a shallow breath and clutches at his ribs. “Don't tempt me.”
“Um,” says Murdock. “Brett?”
Which is probably not a good sign. Brett steels himself before he asks, “What?”
“I should – we should probably. Call. Or text. Your mother.”
Brett tries to sit up straight. “My mother.”
“She – we.” Murdock clears his throat. “Spoke. Briefly. This morning. I – told her I felt sick and might. Go for a walk. She went out with her friends. I. Didn't exactly tell her I was... not... you. Because...”
“Because she would never in a million years have believed you.”
Brett sighs. “Do you have my phone?”
“No, but I – I can. Go find mine.”
“You do that.”
He should probably – he should probably be more alarmed about this, really, but. It's difficult to pin down, exactly, why. On top of everything else. So – Matthew Murdock interacted with his mother, this morning, for a few minutes. While she thought he was him.
“I really hope he didn't say anything weird,” Brett mutters.
“I,” says Foggy, and then stops there for a second. “I was about to ask,” he says, and there's laughter in his voice, self-deprecatory, “how Matt was going to use his phone, now that he can see it.”
“Oh,” says Brett, and then thinks that probably the only reason he didn't almost ask the same question is that the entire setup of it didn't occur to him in the first place.
“Yeah,” says Murdock, his (Brett's) voice and footsteps (and heartbeat and body heat and Brett is so done with this) coming closer. He sounds amused. “Accessibility doesn't actually work like that.”
“Take it up with my brain, man,” says Foggy, and then Brett kind of – loses track, of everything.
These senses seem to have an ebb and flow to them, or maybe it's something that he's somehow doing, or not doing, or doing wrong. One second the strangest thing he can hear is Foggy's heartbeat and the next, he's back with the Montgomeries, who have reached some sort of an impasse and are now tearfully apologizing to each other, and who have no idea someone is listening to them.
He's been – almost entertained by that argument, almost grateful for it, because it was something to focus on instead of flat-out panicking when he first woke up. Just... some background noise. He realizes with a sickening lurch that he's been thinking of them as some sort of awful sitcom, but now he is suddenly listening to two very real strangers cry, and it's – it's so beyond not funny. It's invasive and it's awful and it twists something inside of him because he can't – he can't stop listening, he can't – how is he supposed to –
Murdock is asking for his mother's phone number.
Brett fumbles out the number as Rosa and Sophie's voices fade like bad reception. He tries to latch onto the sounds of the room around him, clenches his fists in the couch cushions and that grounds him, a little, because it hurts.
“Maybe,” he grits out, and he's not even sure how much time has passed since he gave him the number, “maybe you better just talk to her. I don't think – I don't think I'm –”
There are so many individual components of this plan that he is absolutely certain he's in no state to take part in, he gets stuck trying to even figure out if he should list them chronologically or by order of importance. And then all the reasons why. Can't talk to mom, don't sound like myself, panicking, would scare her, can't do that to her. Can't talk on phone, background noise on other side, noise from inside phone, terrified by thought of eavesdropping on people a block away from wherever mom and friends are. Can't talk to mother, on phone, both sets of problems exacerbating one another. Can't talk, can't talk, noise everywhere and old blood in the couch and he hurts all over, too much input for his head to take, his ribs ache, he's stitched up in at least three places and he's pretty sure he knocked all of them against furniture and walls this morning.
He thinks he might throw up.
Somehow, he doesn't. He loses the thread again, of everything, of all of it, he's out on the street with two very confused and talkative strangers who woke up as each other and texted their own phones and found a place to meet, he's up on the roof where a bird is screaming at something, he's – he's – somewhere that smells like oil and tastes like brake fluid, he's in the middle of traffic with horns blaring on all sides, he's –
– he's hyperventilating on a couch in Matthew Murdock's apartment, and Foggy Nelson is talking at him.
“-ett, Brett, it's okay, you're okay, just – focus – you can totally punch me later, if you want, but focus, focus on my heartbeat, okay?”
Brett forces air into his lungs – not his lungs, shut up, shut up, don't think about it – and then back out, in, out, in – heartbeat, yes, okay, he can do that, he can –
It takes him a second to figure out which one is his (not his) and which one is Foggy's. Both are too fast. Separating them takes concentration and it helps.
They're both breathing too hard and Brett figures he can just skip the part where he's supposed to be embarrassed about this, because everything is fine so long as they're both freaked out. “Where – where'd Murdock go?” he asks, eventually, more as a test to see if he can get actual words out than anything else. He should probably be able to hear him, should be able to figure out exactly where Murdock is, but that would entail relaxing his concentration on Foggy's heartbeat and he has a feeling that would put him right back up on the roof with that bird.
“Uh.” Foggy clears his throat. “Well, that was actually – some of the most spectacularly bad timing I've ever witnessed, to be honest. We didn't realize you were – uh, having trouble, until after he made the call, and then Bess picked up and then we both kinda panicked and Matt – stepped out into the hall, to tell her how absolutely fine everything is.”
“Great,” Brett says weakly. “That's – okay. As long as she... As long as she doesn't worry. I don't – I don't want her to worry.” He shuts his mouth, then, because he's afraid he might get stuck in a loop. He doesn't want her to worry. He doesn't want her to worry.
On some sort of periphery, he feels – hears? – air moving, again, and doubles over, his hands pressed to his ears. Foggy nudges him gently and says, voice low, “Matt just stuck his head back in, he's pointing at the phone, sort of – like a question, I think he wants to know if you wanna talk to her?”
Wordlessly, and vigorously, Brett shakes his head. If he talks to his mother right now, if she asks him how he's doing, he's probably going to start crying. Absolutely not.
More movement, of some kind, he can't block it out. Foggy drapes an arm around him and says, “He's back out in the hall, presumably spinning an expert lie about why you can't come to the phone right now but you're still definitely completely okay.”
“His expert lie when I asked him why his ribs are cracked was no they're not,” Brett points out, and is pleased when the words all come out in the right order.
“...Yeah,” says Foggy, starting to sound doubtful. “Yeah, okay, it's entirely possible he's gonna end up saying 'he can't talk right now, he's blind,' and then hang up on her.”
Brett startles himself by laughing, and then Foggy joins in, still with an arm around him. This should - this should probably feel weirder than it does. As it is, Brett's grateful for how casual Foggy is being, about all of it.
A lot of things happen at once.
Murdock comes back into the room, footsteps and heartbeat and etc. etc. etc., and Brett starts to ask him what exactly he told his mother, and tries to stand up, pushes off from the couch with his right arm and feels something – pull.
And then the world coalesces into:
searing agony down his right side, and it's important that it's the right side, it's important, for reasons he can't grasp, can't remember, and –
the smell of blood, new blood, fresh blood, drowning out the old blood in the couch, and he's getting blood all over the couch, that's not good, he's bleeding a lot, that's not good, and –
his own voice (not today), frantic, saying something about stitches.
It's been a long time since Claire has been glued to a tv screen by something that wasn't terrifying. This – this, she thinks, might actually qualify as hilarious.
“–led away in handcuffs. In a statement given mere minutes ago, Mr. Beaufort has allegedly assured the authorities, first, that only those who specifically consumed scones have been or will be affected, and second, that the effects will wear off within thirteen hours of their initial manifestation.”
Scones. Delicious, magical, body-swapping scones. Claire shakes her head and drinks her coffee and wonders how many hysterical customers of Mr. Beaufort's are going to wind up in the ER tonight, pleading for some sort of reverse-magical transfusion.
She kind of hopes it all wears off before her shift.
Her phone rings, which does not alarm her, since it's broad daylight, but then she sees the caller ID and sort of braces herself before answering. “Foggy?”
“Yeah, hi.” There's some sort of noise in the background, distinctly human and nothing good. She tries to listen closer, and that's – definitely, someone (Matt?) moaning like they're trying not to scream (Matt), and Foggy sounds nervous. “So you know the magic scones on the news?”
Oh, hell. Claire closes her eyes and thinks, this is what you get, for thinking things are funny, Claire, you tempted fate. “Yes?”
“Good, because I just realized I had no way to explain that sentence if you didn't. Um. Matt ate one. And so did our friend Brett. And now they're... each other. And Brett kind of – popped some of Matt's stitches, and, um. Pretty sure Matt's pain threshold is entirely mental and not at all physical, like I think – I think his body has the opposite of pain resistance, actually.”
Claire groans, pinches the bridge of her nose. “I'll be there as soon as I can.”
“Please bring drugs. Really good drugs. Hospital drugs.”
The scene she walks in on is like something out of a very confused B movie, like maybe the writer was aiming for comedy but the director is more of a horror buff. Matt – not Matt, Brett apparently – is thrashing around on the couch, panting and gasping for breath, and Foggy and – presumably Matt, are kneeling in front of him, hands hovering, not touching, and all three of them are yelling at each other, in a very quiet way, and there is blood everywhere.
Not actually everywhere. Claire has seen what 'blood everywhere' looks like and this is not it. But it's all over the couch, and all over – not-Matt-Brett and all over Foggy's and Matt-apparently's hands.
“Oh, look at me,” not-Matt-Brett hisses, arching his back and clutching at his side, “look at me, I'm Matthew fucking Murdock and I think it's a great idea to join knife fights with my fists and then jump off buildings, nothing ever goes wrong!”
Well. At least she doesn't have to worry about Matt's cover, apparently. Good. She's had her one awkward and terrible night of sewing Matt Murdock back together and explaining absolutely nothing to his drunk and panicking best friend; she might have had to draw some sort of line at actually in fact lying to the person being sewed up.
“I come bearing gifts,” she announces, holding up her bag. “Of suture kits, and painkillers.”
The guy who is apparently Matt looks up and kind of stares at her for a second, and then smiles, a little, and Claire has been so focused on the fact that there is someone unaccustomed to Matt's levels of sensory input currently experiencing Matt's levels of pain, it almost didn't even occur to her that Matt was going to see her.
That entire situation is still happening, though, so Claire joins them quickly at the couch, shoos the other two out of her way and starts pulling things out of her bag. “Where is it?”
“Right side,” Brett and Matt say, simultaneously, which is. Okay then.
“You want the painkillers?” she asks, because, well. Formalities.
She looks up at Matt, because – it's his body the drugs are going into, and, formalities, and he shrugs and nods. “Just give him one, he took something earlier.”
She puts one pill instead of two in Brett's mouth and he swallows it dry, which is not ideal, but none of this is, so she pulls up his shirt and gets to work sterilizing the area.
“So, this is Brett,” Foggy says helpfully, gesturing between Brett and Matt for a visual aid. “He may or may not be joining us for drinks from now on, depending on how much he hates any and/or all of us when this is over with. Like, I'm hoping he'll hate Matt the most and decide to hang out with me and you, at least.”
Brett makes a noise like he hates everything and everyone in the universe, but probably mostly Matt, all things considered.
“I've seen you on the news,” Claire says, conversationally, and starts in on the stitches. He looks a little more familiar than that, like maybe she's seen him around the hospital, too. Claire runs into a lot of people, has hurried (frantic, polite, vital) conversations with a lot of people, and she likes to think she's decent with names and faces. “They were interviewing you about Daredevil. Mahoney, right?”
“Yeah,” he manages, head thrown back, fists clenched. “They i-interview me again, I m- I might have a little more to – to say. Which is not –” he hastens to add, and then has to stop and spend a few seconds breathing through his teeth. “Which is not a threat, I am not – threatening anybody – while I get sewed up – on a couch – I just meant – he's kind of – an asshole.”
“In my defense,” says Matt, “I honestly never expected anybody else to have to deal with the injuries on my body.”
“When you say,” says Foggy, and gestures at Claire and then at himself, “'deal with' –”
“You know what I meant.”
“I will probably,” says Brett, and Claire can tell he's trying hard not to squirm away from her at this point, “I will probably stop being angry, and – feel really bad about – ripping out your stitches – the second I'm either unconscious or back in my own body, but right now I hate you, Murdock, I really do.”
“That's fair,” says Matt. “That – yeah.”
In the grand scheme of things, compared to long shifts and bad nights and everything Claire has seen and done – the stitches go quickly.
“Does anyone mind,” says Brett, woozily, “if I just kind of. Pass out, for a while.”
Claire pats his arm. “Probably a good idea.”
“Okay,” says Brett, and falls silent.
Foggy stays put to keep an eye on him, and Matt and Claire retreat to the kitchen.
“So,” says Claire, bumping the sink tap with her elbow so she can wash the blood off of her hands and tools. She'll sterilize them all properly later. “How's your day been?”
Matt laughs, and it's – strange. It's his laugh, with a different voice. “Oh, you know, pretty boring. Woke up in somebody else's house, in somebody else's body, your typical morning after a wild scone bender.”
Claire snorts, and moves sideways so Matt can join her at the sink. “At least you weren't out fighting when it happened.”
Matt actually flinches, full-body. “Yeah, I – that did occur to me. Probably, um. Probably a good thing magic scones apparently feel like food poisoning, or I... I would have been.”
“Really?” calls Brett, from the living room. “That's where you draw the line? Food poisoning? Did I mention your ribs are cracked?”
“Bruised!” Matt calls back, and Claire rolls her eyes.
“Cracked,” she says, poking a finger into his currently uninjured chest. “I told you to rest.”
“I am not thrilled,” calls Foggy, and he does not sound thrilled, “about being lied to about your ribs, Matthew, that's a conversation we're having later.”
“Brett's trying to sleep, here,” says Matt.
“Shut up, Murdock,” Brett and Foggy chorus.
Matt throws his hands up, scattering water droplets, and backs away. “I can't win.”
“Since when does that stop you?” Claire turns off the tap and leans back against the sink, facing him. Studying him. He's shifting on his feet, looking sort of off to her right and only occasionally actually glancing at her. “Should I ask about...” she starts, and breaks off, gesturing vaguely at her own face, her own eyes.
Matt sighs. “I... I would rather you didn't. I just. Everything is weird and I have no frame of reference and I'm trying not to think about – anything. Short version, I don't want to hate myself if I can't remember what you look like tomorrow.”
She nods. “Okay.”
“Okay?” He seems – surprised?
Claire tilts her head. “...Yeah, okay? That makes sense.”
Matt is staring at her, now. “I just.” He swallows. “I guess I don't want to – disappoint people.”
Claire raises an eyebrow. “By what, not jumping for joy at how gorgeous we all are? I think I'll live.”
He grins. Claire grins back and they head for the living room.
“How do you sleep,” says Brett, toneless, as Foggy gets up off the floor and goes into the kitchen. “Ever, Murdock, how do you ever sleep.”
“Takes practice,” Matt says, apologetic. “You – uh, you probably won't be able to. Without sleeping pills. Do, um... Do you want some?”
Brett opens his eyes and slowly, carefully sits up. “Do you have some?”
“Yeah,” says Matt, rubbing the back of his neck. “I just, um. I don't take them much. I'm always afraid I'll – adjust. And they'll just... stop working. But. You're in pain, and I haven't taken any in months, it – it should be fine. Maybe you'll be able to sleep through the rest of this.”
“Oh,” Claire remembers, in the middle of packing up her bag. “Did you hear on the news? This stuff supposedly lasts thirteen hours, how long have you guys been like this?”
“I think I passed out around – around eleven? Last night?” Brett doesn't sound very sure. “Eleven or midnight, somewhere in there.”
“Sounds about right for me, too,” Matt confirms.
Claire checks her phone. “Quarter past noon. You should go back to normal – if that word even applies to anything, anymore, but you should switch back in the next hour or so.”
Brett runs his hands over his face, his head, clutches at the back of his neck and exhales hard. “Okay. No. No sleeping pills.”
Matt takes half a step forward. “Brett–”
“I am not drugging you, Murdock,” Brett snaps. “I've already had painkillers twice and I'm guessing you worry about adjusting to those, too. I'm not doing that to you.”
“I,” Claire says, standing up and snapping her bag shut, “will leave that to you guys to figure out, because I actually have normal errands to run today, that don't involve blood, or stitches, or body-swapping pastries.”
But she pauses on her way to the door. Turns back around. “Brett – don't let Foggy scare you off of joining us for drinks.” She smirks, for Matt's benefit (but mostly, actually, for her own), and snickers, for Brett's. “We do have fun.”
Brett does not take any sleeping pills.
Foggy gets to work cleaning the blood off the floor, and out of the couch, because somebody's gotta do it, and Matt gathers up his scattered sheets and pillows and goes to make up his bed, and Brett crawls into it and warns them that he's probably going to end up eavesdropping on whatever conversation they have, and promises to scream if he gets lost in Matt's heightened senses again, yes, he really will, now leave him alone, please.
And Foggy makes a very apologetic phone call to Karen.
“The only reason we didn't tell you right away,” he says, and hates himself, a lot, “is, I mean, body switching? It's a miracle he even convinced me, and you're a much more reasonable person than I am.”
Flattery gets him nowhere. Karen is pissed. “It's been on the news for hours now! I texted you about it!”
“I – I know, I'm sorry, Karen, really sorry. It's just. Matt – and Brett, um, they've been, a little freaked out, okay? Matt can see, and Brett can't, it's – it's weird, for both of them, and Matt...” He trails off, not actually sure how much he should be saying, how much of that conversation Matt would be okay with Karen hearing about. He's walking two entirely separate fine lines of friend betrayal, here.
“I guess it must... I guess it would be weird,” says Karen, her voice suddenly hushed. “Is he okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, he's – um. Maybe... Maybe text me a picture, of yourself? Just. Just a picture, any picture, and... He might look at it. He might not. Don't ask him what he thinks. Okay?”
“Yeah,” says Karen, and that is the voice of someone who is about to take five hundred selfies, which is the kind of dedication Foggy can admire. “Yeah, okay, I'll – I'll send a picture. What about Brett, how's he doing?”
“He's fine, mostly, little bit freaked out.” Lying just – just gets easier and easier and Foggy hates it. He's pretty sure Matt just started the sleeping pill argument back up. “Really – really sorry we didn't call earlier. We should have.”
“It's fine.” And Karen laughs, uneasily. “It's – it's not a big deal, I get it, everyone was upset, it's not like I could have done anything to help.”
“We'd – yeah, I mean, we'll always tell you.” Foggy shuts his eyes and leans heavily onto the kitchen counter and wishes someone would punch him in the throat. “Stuff like this.”
“Yeah,” says Karen, her voice tiny. “I'd tell you guys, too. I'm – I'm gonna hang up now so I can take a picture, okay?”
Foggy stares down at his phone for a while.
Eventually, Matt joins him at the counter. They don't look at each other.
“We have to tell her, Matt,” Foggy says hoarsely.
Matt swallows. “I know.”
“I mean it.”
“We will. Soon.”
Foggy shuts his eyes. “No we won't.”
They're quiet, for a long time, then.
Foggy's phone buzzes. He glances down at it, then snatches it off the counter before Matt can accidentally see. “Karen sent a picture,” he says. “If... If you want. To see.”
Matt freezes up, stops breathing. Foggy hastily backtracks. “It's fine if you don't, I – I told her you might or you might not, it's all fine, Matt.”
Matt blinks, shakes himself. “I... I. Yeah. Yeah, okay.”
So Foggy unlocks the phone, shows him the picture. Matt looks at it for a few seconds, face blank, and then nods. “Okay.”
“This gonna mess up your mental pictures of us?”
Matt shrugs. “Maybe. Maybe not. It might just... become a part of them. Or it might fade entirely, they're really not all that – visual. I really – I'm gonna be fine,” he says, insistently, and also like he would really love for Foggy to agree with him, so Foggy does.
“Yeah, course you are. Vision – vision's still weird and scary, right?”
“Yeah,” says Matt. “Weird. And scary.”
Foggy checks the time. “Is there anything you want to –”
“My dad's last fight,” Matt blurts out, like maybe he's been trying not to say it or even think it for the past however many hours. “I want. I want to see him... I want to see him take down Creel.”
“Okay,” Foggy says quietly, and pulls up youtube.
It doesn't take long to find. Foggy keeps the phone out of Matt's reach until he's sure he's got one that isn't a compilation or a tribute or anything that's going to cut suddenly to awful, traumatic news footage, and then he hands it over.
Matt keeps the volume low and stares, hard, completely expressionless, down at the phone, until MATCH OF THE CENTURY!!!!! BATTLIN JACK MURDOCK VS CRUSHER CREEL!!! THE KNOCKOUT has finished playing.
Then he puts Foggy's phone on the counter and sits down on the floor and says, “I'm fine.”
“Yep,” says Foggy, and sits next to him.
“I'm,” says Matt, and shakes his head. “I think, if I have a breakdown, while I'm somebody else, that's. Going to be a breakdown that doesn't ever end. So. I'm fine, and I'm gonna stay fine, at least until. At least until I'm me. Please just – humor me here, aid me in this very strategic instance of emotional repression, okay?”
“What else are friends for,” Foggy says, and slaps him heartily on the back. “I can even tell you to suck it up, if you want. Chin up? Stiff upper lip? How many ways are there to tell someone they shouldn't have feelings?”
Matt – laughs. Good. Leans into him, a little bit. Better. Maybe. Or possibly, worse.
“I think,” Matt says, “I think – I guess... It's not like, I - I didn't used to wish I'd - I – that's not – I don't know exactly... I'm glad, I'm not – I'm not glad this happened, but, I'm glad you were here when it did, I'm – I'm glad if I had to... If this had to happen. You were here. Does that make sense?”
“Yeah,” Foggy says, and swallows, and thinks, suck it up. He wraps his arm around Matt. “That makes sense, buddy.”
“Please,” Brett yells, from the bedroom, like maybe he could tell they were both doing a terrible job at emotional repression and needed someone else to interfere, and what else are friends for, “please do not kiss. I put my mouth through that experience once, I'll never get the taste out again.”
“We were not about to kiss!” Foggy says, indignant, but. But maybe they were, had been, about to, slightly, so he looks at Matt and mouths, silently, Were we about to kiss?
Matt shrugs, minutely.
Foggy is – so confused, for so many reasons. He sighs. “This has been a weird day.”
At 12:43 by Foggy's phone, Matt slumps over sideways, limp and unresponsive, and thirty seconds later Brett sits up.
Matt stumbles out of his bedroom, wincing and clutching his head, and says, “So this has been fun.” (And he's wearing new, non-bloodstained pajamas, and Foggy spends a few seconds being very distracted by the sudden knowledge that Matt must have helped Brett into those, when they were still. Each other.)
“Yeah,” says Brett, getting stiffly to his feet. “That's one word for it.”
Matt grins. “Still hate me?”
“I,” Brett says, taking a step towards him, “am going to hug you, but. Very carefully. If that's okay.”
Matt looks surprised, but he says “Sure,” and hugs back.
“Foggy,” Brett says, and shakes his hand, and Foggy thinks that might actually be weirder than if he'd also got a hug, “you are not allowed to choose my secret drinks codename.”
Oh. That's – definitely just Brett saying 'yes I will hang out with you,' which might also possibly mean 'thanks for letting me borrow your heartbeat, let us never speak of it again.' So he just smirks, and says, “You may reconsider that when you find out what Claire named me.”
Then Brett turns back to Matt and says, deadly serious, “Murdock, please let your ribs heal. Keep in mind I can now storm into your apartment and yell at you when I see you out on the streets.”
And Matt laughs, but there's something thin and nervous in it, and they all hear it, and Brett leaves in a hurry after that (and Foggy thinks, at least until I'm me, and determines to call Brett later, see how he's doing).
Matt goes back to his bedroom, and Foggy, at a loss, decides to follow him until Matt tells him to stop.
He sits down on his bed, knees up to his chest, hands and feet splayed on the silk sheets, and says, “I'm fine.”
“Uh-huh,” says Foggy, and stands in the doorway, arms folded.
“Everything's just – everything's... It was so quiet, so – it was so. Muted. All of it. And now it's.” He gulps, shakes his head. “The painkillers are helping, but. It's. It's a lot.”
Foggy realizes, then, that Matt is never going to ask him to come in, will probably not even ask him to stay, and rather than put them both through the conversational roller-coaster that prompting these things himself would bring on, Foggy just goes and sits next to him. Doesn't touch him, because. Everything. Touch might just – be painful, for all he knows; there's probably a reason Matt is currently huddled on the softest things he owns.
But Matt leans into him, again. And says, too quietly, “I'm fine.”
“Yep,” says Foggy, and wraps an arm around him – carefully this time, because, ribs, and stitches, and everything. “You're fine.”
“Still – still glad you're here,” Matt whispers, and that's as close to please stay as Matt Murdock is ever going to get.