This is going to be fun.
Matt takes a delicate sip of his coffee, waiting politely for his student to finish talking.
“So it makes sense for me to be on the opposition.” The student concludes grandly. An expectant silence ensues, during which Matt takes another thoughtful sip of his coffee. He’ll need a refill soon—this cup is getting a little cold.
He hears the sharp intake of breath, feels the sheer shock washing over the man, and takes yet another sip of coffee to hide his grin. So much fun.
“What?” The student asks blankly. “But I just told you why I’m right.” Matt nods agreeably.
“And I respect your opinion.” He assures him, lying through his teeth. “But I’m afraid the assignments are set.”
“I don’t want my assignment.” The student says deliberately, like if he says it slow enough Matt will change his mind. “I want the other one.”
“But you’re not getting the other one.” Matt reminds him, pleasant. “You’re getting this one.”
The man takes another deep breath, and Matt has the feeling it’s to keep from yelling. Join the club, Matt thinks a little viciously. I’ve dealt with a hundred students just like you, and I haven’t raised my voice once.
“I’m significantly more qualified to be on the defense.” The student points out. “I have a deep reservoir of knowledge to offer on the benefits of heroes.”
This is true, in a way. Matt had this student last semester too. The man’s a fanboy to the highest degree, capable of listing off every statistic of Hulk’s smash radius in different settings and the longest shot Hawkeye has ever made on camera.
The problem isn’t that he doesn’t know his facts. The problem is that he’s an idiot. He’s got a head for trivia and nothing else, and no knowledge of law other than the fact that his parents want him to practice it. When he’s not babbling about vigilantes, he’s out at frat parties, coming in to class smelling like Jell-O shots.
And he doesn’t just talk about the Avengers. He’s brought up the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen too, and he’s just as obsessive on that point. Maybe that should be flattering, but instead it makes Matt uncomfortable. The man’s a fanatic, and Matt doesn’t want people looking that closely at his strategies—especially if they appear to be getting off on it like this kid is.
There’s also the fact that he calls them ‘heroes’. Matt doesn’t like that word. So he’s given the student the task of crafting an argument that condemns ‘heroes’ for being a plague on official law enforcement.
It’s a little cruel, but Matt never said he was nice.
“You’re keeping the topic.” He says, allowing a thread of steel to enter his voice. “And you only have one week to prepare. I suggest saving your debate skills for the actual debate.”
The man slams the door on the way out, muttering under his breath about asshole professors and running to Daddy for help.
Matt smiles for real this time and finishes his coffee. Another day well spent, drinking coffee and crushing the souls of spoiled students. It’s a great method of anger management, and it comes with the delightful possibility of tenure.
Matt loves his job.
The fanboy drops out of his class. Matt is thrilled. No more dealing with disturbing commentary on how aerodynamically built the Devil’s suit is. No more questions about what a subpoena is.
The fanboy drops out, and another boy drops in.
“I can switch the schedule around a little.” Matt tells him with a brisk smile. “Here’s a copy of the topic you’ll be debating. You get one week, just like everyone else. Since this is your first time, please let me know if you have any questions on policy before then, okay?”
It’s not his favorite thing in the world, droning on about details, but he hopes the man takes him up on it. It will let Matt get some one-on-one time with his new student. Matt can vet him—he doesn’t want another kid with a spandex fetish.
“Oh, thanks.” The new kid says brightly, plucking the paper out of his fingers. “Awesome.” Matt hears the slight susurrus of paper against skin, and nods, going to step away and call the first pair to the podium. “Huh. Actually, I can do this one today if you wanted.”
Matt blinks, turning back to face him.
“You just got it.” He points out slowly, and the man makes a sound of agreement.
“Yeah, but it’s okay. I should be able to adlib it. It’s a great topic, there’s so much to say.” Matt blinks again.
“You want to debate a topic you only received…one minute ago.” He checks, bewildered. The student makes another happy sound.
“Totally. Extemporaneous speaking is my jam. I like the time crunch.” He claims cheerfully. “Don’t worry, I won’t screw it up.”
Matt can’t quite think of what to say to this. It’s ridiculous, of course. There’s no way someone can craft a persuasive argument in a minute, and the new kid will be opposing one of Matt’s best and brightest students. He’ll get slaughtered.
Matt should say no, but the man seems very eager, and also very sure of himself. It might be good to take him down a peg before he gets too cocky. Matt’s not fond of people who think they can breeze through his class with an easy A.
The kid is literally asking for it.
“If you’re sure.” Matt demurs, and makes his way back to his desk. He hears the new student standing behind him, the slight rustle of paper and the squeak of shoes as he makes his way up to the podium. He’s muttering to himself, but it’s hard to tell what he’s saying. It’s just a word here or there with bits of indecipherable sounds in between, thoughtful and a little excited. Whatever he’s saying, it makes sense to him.
Matt announces the start of the session and settles down behind his desk. The old student, the one Matt knows has been obsessing over this all week, begins. It’s impressive, even for her. Matt feels a little guilty for throwing the new kid in with the sharks on his first day.
The girl finishes, and Matt waits an extra five seconds before telling the new student to begin his rebuttal. A small gesture of mercy, but not nearly enough. The new kid takes a deep breath, clears his throat, and starts talking.
Six minutes later, Matt has a new best and brightest student.
He dazedly tells his old best and brightest student to begin her response, and then scrambles for his attendance cards. There's the new student, right at the top, and Matt runs his fingers over the name carefully.
Foggy Nelson is Matt’s best and brightest student.
Matt ends class early. He’s feeling a little too lightheaded to properly judge any more debates, so he tells the students to have a nice day and wanders out of the classroom before the first book closes.
That was possibly the most amazing thing he’s ever heard in his life. Foggy Nelson convinced Matt to hate vigilantes for a minute or two, and Matt’s pretty firmly in the pro-vigilante camp—for obvious reasons.
If that’s what Foggy Nelson sounds like when he’s had the topic for a minute, what will he sound like when he’s had it for a week? Matt’s knees go a little weak at the thought.
He’s not sure he can survive it.
“Wait, wait a second!” Someone calls out, footsteps hurrying towards him, and Matt recognizes that voice. He’d been wondering over it for the past hour, awed.
"Mr. Nelson.” Matt says, pasting a mild smile on his face instead of asking how the hell did Foggy do that, did he sell his soul to Satan for those debate skills? “That was a very strong start to the class.” The strongest start possible—no, impossible. It is impossible for a start to be that good.
“Thank you.” Foggy replies, and he sounds absolutely elated. “It was really fun.”
Fun. There’s a word Matt doesn’t think he’s ever heard applied to his class. Brutal? Sure. Difficult? Definitely. Soul-shattering? All the time.
Fun? That one’s new.
“I’m glad.” Matt tells him. “Was there something you needed to ask me?” He doesn’t want to be rude, but he thinks he might need to go sit down for a while to get his equilibrium back. That speech is still echoing in his ears.
“Oh, uh.” Foggy laughs a little abashedly. “No, I just…I wanted to say hi?” He offers hesitantly. “Sorry, sort of dumb. I just didn’t get a chance before, and I wanted to say…hi. So. Hi.”
Matt wonders for an incredulous moment if the previous hour was all some kind of auditory mirage. There is no way that this is the man that tore apart every carefully crafted point made by Matt’s smartest student with a vicious efficiency. He sounds earnest and sweet and just a bit shy. He’s stuttering, for heaven’s sake.
“Hi.” Matt says, smiling gently. Foggy blows out a huffed breath of embarrassed laughter.
“Geez, I’m sorry. I get a little wired after a debate. I forget how to talk to people instead of at them.” Foggy apologizes wryly, and he sounds calmer in the face of Matt’s relaxed response. Matt shakes his head.
“No, it’s fine.” He assures him. “I get the feeling. The adrenaline.” He gets that feeling a lot actually, slipping between night and day, professor and punisher.
“Yeah, exactly.” Foggy breathes, relieved. Then he hesitates. “So, I said hi. And that’s actually all I planned to say.” He snorts. “I’m really sorry. You must be busy.”
“No, no.” Matt denies honestly. “I’m not busy at all.” He’s not. Normally he’d be considering what grade to assign, but he already knows he’s going to give Foggy a perfect score. He’d give him more than a perfect score if Matt didn’t make it a policy not to provide extra credit.
“Oh.” Foggy replies, sounding surprised. “But you were in such a hurry when you left.” Right, that. Matt shrugs.
“Just wanted to stretch my legs.” He lies easily. “I feel much better.” He considers for a moment. “But you must have another class.” Foggy hums.
“Not today, actually.” He informs Matt. “You’re my last one. Pretty good note to end on. It really was fun.”
The thing is, he doesn’t sound like he’s trying to butter Matt up. It’s just an absent compliment, cheerful and casual. He almost sounds like he’s saying it to himself, no meaningful emphasis on the words at all. He just really thought the class was fun.
He’s clearly insane.
“Are you sure you don’t have any questions about the class?” Matt asks, and he’s angling a bit. He normally doesn’t like answering questions about rules rather than about theory, but he’ll make an exception. He wants to hear more about how fun his class is.
“Well, I guess I might want to know a little about the syllabus.” Foggy muses thoughtfully. “Do you have office hours?”
Matt has office hours on Monday and Wednesday mornings. It’s Friday evening.
“Right now, actually. What a coincidence.” Matt says nonchalantly.
“Awesome.” Foggy enthuses. “Do you have anyone else on the schedule, or can I sneak in?” Matt smiles at him kindly.
“A spot just opened up. How lucky.”
Now that he’s calmer, Matt can hear the debater in Foggy again. Foggy’s not vicious, not like he was then, but he’s articulate and clever and he always seems to know exactly what to say.
One thing that didn’t come up in the debate is that Foggy is also incredibly funny.
“No, really. Ink everywhere. I was blue for the whole day, and I had to do my admissions interview. I have no idea why Columbia let me in—I think they felt bad for me. Or maybe they thought I was a Smurf, so it counted as affirmative action.”
Matt’s stomach hurts from laughing too hard.
“At least it wasn’t orange. Oompa-Loompas don’t count as a minority anymore.” He informs Foggy solemnly, and that sends them both off into another fit of laughter.
“I probably could have passed for a Leprechaun even without the ink, what with my noble Irish heritage.” Foggy muses, still giggling. “A biracial Smurf-Leprechaun. Man, I would have gotten a full scholarship.”
“You got a scholarship.” Matt argues, skeptical and amused. “I know you did.” There is no way someone like Foggy didn’t get a full ride.
“I really did.” Foggy agrees, smug. “But I could have gotten it without studying my ass off in college if I’d been a Leprechaun-Smurf.” He groans. “I was a nerd. I was the quintessential nerd. I went to maybe one frat party in my life, and I studied during it. I missed beer pong to learn Latin cognates.”
“But you passed the class.” Matt guesses, and Foggy sighs in agreement. “It’s a shame though. Beer pong was quite fun.”
“Okay, two very important things wrong with that statement.” Foggy drawls dryly. “One, the fact that a blind man is good at beer pong is baffling. Sorry, had to be said. Two, you are a teacher, and you should not be encouraging rowdy behavior and drinking.” Matt shrugs.
“I was very good at beer pong.” He corrects Foggy. “And I’m not encouraging it. Studying is important, and so much more fun.” Foggy scoffs.
“Yeah, Latin cognates can get pretty wild.” Foggy tells him, wry. “Add a bottle of wine and it’s a real party. In vino veritas.” Matt chuckles.
“Very good.” He praises indulgently. “Perfect pronunciation.”
It is, actually. Foggy has a way of making words roll off his tongue, natural and flowing. It’s the same with everything he says, not just Latin. It sounds wonderful to Matt—sound is everything to him. Getting to listen to something so pleasant is a blessing.
“I should have taken Punjabi. Punjabi gets all the girls.” Foggy complains bitterly. “And I really should have taken an elective that actually had something to do with my major instead of another language.” Matt blinks.
“You took two languages?” He wonders, impressed. Most people barely scrape by with one. He’d done very well in Spanish, and dabbled with a few Asian languages to better understand the philosophy behind his martial arts, but nothing more than that.
“Kind of. I did Braille too—which, you know, seemed like a bit of a dead-end at the time but might actually pay off.” He muses optimistically.
“You took Braille?” Matt asks, incredulous. It seems too good to be true. His best and brightest student took Braille. He can understand a language that’s special to Matt, something he treasures.
“Yeah, sure.” Foggy says easily. “I always thought it was cool. Like something from a spy movie—a secret code. A bumpy secret code.”
A bumpy secret code. Not exactly the way Matt would have described it, but not far off the mark.
“Show me.” He commands, pushing the first piece of paper he can reach across the desk. There is the rustle of paper when Foggy picks it up, and a brief pause.
“It’s a not-very-polite request for the foreign policy professor to stop giving deafeningly loud and mind-numbing speeches next door.” Foggy tells him dryly. He makes a fascinated noise. “Wow, this is mean. Did you actually send this?”
“He can’t read Braille.” Matt reassures him, a little rueful that the top paper on his desk wasn’t something innocuous like a schedule. Instead it had to be a rather wordy—and a lot of the words would have gotten him a detention as a child—rant about the failings of his neighboring lecturer. “I wouldn’t have given it to him anyway. I just needed to blow off some steam.”
“Huh. I didn’t hear anything.” Foggy contemplates. “Was he doing it today?”
Honestly? Matt’s not sure. He couldn’t really register anything other than Foggy talking for the full hour.
“Yes.” He probably was. He does it every day that Matt has class. “My hearing is just a little…” He gestures vaguely. Foggy makes a sound of sage comprehension.
“Gotcha.” He says, tone understanding. “Cool.”
It is, Matt supposes. He doesn’t really think about it anymore, and he almost never brings it up. It’s just another secret he has to keep, and he’s not sure if it would make people uncomfortable. Even his plain, bland blindness does, so it would probably terrify them. Foggy doesn’t seem uncomfortable or terrified at all.
And yes, he doesn’t know that Matt can hear his heartbeat, steady and slow. He doesn’t know that Matt can smell that he had peanut butter and jelly for lunch and washed it down with chocolate milk. He doesn’t know that Matt can tell he’s wearing cotton freshly washed with unscented detergent, or that he uses strawberry shampoo, or that he buys peppermint toothpaste instead of spearmint.
Foggy doesn’t know that, but he’s comfortable with the blindness and he’s comfortable with the hearing, and that’s already more than Matt could have hoped for.
“Thank you.” He says quietly. He clears his throat when it feels a little too dry, suddenly. “So, do you really hate vigilantes that much?” He asks quickly to cover the embarrassing depth of his gratitude. Foggy laughs.
“Not really.” He admits. “I think it depends on the vigilante. You know, who they go after, how they do it. The level of violence is important. There are lines, you know?” Matt winces. Level of violence. If that’s what Foggy’s judging on, Matt might be in trouble.
“Right. Of course.” He agrees wanly. “Violence is wrong.”
Violence is wrong. Matt’s body just never got the memo.
“Yeah.” Foggy replies cheerfully. “But generally? Sure, they’re okay.”
Matt can work with okay. It’s a good starting point for negotiations. Of course, there’s nothing to negotiate. He’s never going to be telling Foggy what he does at night. Even if he wasn’t a masked street fighter, there’s no reason to be chatting with a student about what Matt likes to do after class.
But that’s what they’ve been doing. That’s what they’ve been doing for—how long has it been? Matt wasn’t even thinking about it. He wasn’t paying attention.
“Could you check the time?” He asks politely, and he hears the slight fumble and rasp of Foggy grabbing his phone and tapping a button.
“Wow, ten o’clock.” Foggy murmurs, awed. Four hours. They’ve been talking for four hours. If Matt had been forced to guess, he’d have said one, rounding up. “Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?”
“Apparently.” Matt mutters.
He’s never that unaware of his surroundings. He can usually recall the time to within a minute, a constant internal clock ticking away. Time is just another sense, just something to build his world with.
But today he didn’t hear the foreign policy professor, and he didn’t remember the time. Foggy Nelson is dangerous.
“I’ll stop bugging you, promise.” Foggy swears jokingly, and there’s the scrape of a chair being pushed back. Matt shakes his head, standing to lead Foggy to the door.
“No, it was nice to talk to you.” He argues warmly. “I like getting to know my students.” For four hours, maybe ten minutes of that talking about class.
“Oh, great.” Foggy responds, sounding pleasantly surprised. “You too. I guess I’ll see you in class?” Matt nods, smiling gently.
“Absolutely.” He promises. “And my door is always open. My Friday hours tend to be pretty clear.” Mostly because he doesn’t have office hours on Friday. “So if you need to talk, drop by then, alright?”
“Thanks.” Foggy says, and he sounds grateful and happy at the thought. “I will. I mean, hopefully I won’t need to, because that would mean I’m having trouble in class, but it would be fun anyway.”
Fun. Foggy says that a lot. Matt doesn’t know if Foggy’s just generally a playful person who finds a lot of things fun, or if he finds Matt in particular fun. He wouldn’t mind it being the second one.
“Have a nice night, Foggy.” Matt tells him softly, opening the door and letting Foggy slip out. “It really was a wonderful debate.”
“It really was a wonderful topic.” Foggy returns the compliment, voice getting quieter as he moves away. “I can’t wait for the next one.” Matt waits until Foggy’s footsteps fade to close the door again. His smile is the most real it’s been in a long time.
“Neither can I.”
The next topic is the underrepresentation of minorities in vigilante justice. Matt wrote it after their conversation, and Foggy gives a rousing speech on the wonders of diversity and their applications. At one point he mentions in a brilliant hypothetical how Smurfs and Oompa-Loompas could balance each other’s language skills and cultural acumen.
Matt chokes on his coffee and gives him an A. It’s not favoritism. It was a clear win, and Foggy was excellent. The whole class clapped. A few actually wolf-whistled. Matt would have given him an A without the Oompa-Loompas. The Oompa-Loompas were just the cherry on top.
To Matt’s surprise, Foggy comes back to his office the next Friday. He’d hoped, but he hadn’t been sure. Foggy had said it was fun, but one of the best qualities a budding young lawyer can have is the ability to lie through their teeth.
But Foggy comes to see him despite Matt's misgivings, and it is fun. Foggy was telling the truth, and Matt agrees. The first time is fun and the second time is even better.
“It was a pretty awesome debate.” Foggy brags with no modesty. “Wasn’t it?” Matt sighs.
“I was going to compliment you on the impressive nuances, but I think you’ve done that enough for both of us.” Matt tells him wryly. Foggy laughs.
“Nope, too late. Compliment accepted.” He retorts cheerfully. “My nuances were so impressive, thanks for noticing.” Matt rolls his eyes but smiles indulgently.
“Yes, how did you think of the Oompa-Loompas?” Matt wonders sarcastically. “A stroke of genius.” Foggy laughs again.
“If it had been a written paper I totally would have cited you.” He assures Matt, then pauses. “No, actually I would have shamelessly plagiarized it. Intellectual property is a hazy area, you know. You’d never have been able to prove I stole it.”
“You’re cutthroat.” Matt chides teasingly. “I should fail you for pirating ideas.” Foggy cheers.
“That means you didn’t fail me.” He deduces. “I got an A, didn’t I? No, an A plus. No, it was so good I looped all the way around to Z. I got a Z plus.”
“B.” Matt corrects him mildly. “If I’m generous.” Foggy snorts.
“No, it’s an A.” He says confidently. “You loved it.”
Matt did love it. It was miles better than anyone else’s in the class. Matt has no idea how he survived without Foggy’s speeches. He’s hooked. He already has five possible topics lined up for Foggy’s next debate. He can’t wait to hear what Foggy does with them. It’s going to be amazing.
“C.” He replies firmly. “Minus.”
“Liar.” Foggy mutters, but there’s no bite to it. “So, how was your week?” Matt blinks.
This is new. He’s talked about his past, but only relevant or nostalgic memories. And Foggy’s talked about his life currently, homework and schedules, but he’s supposed to, sort of. This is his time to speak, and Matt’s time to listen.
“Good?” He tries, unsure.
He hasn’t really talked about ‘how was your week’ in a while. At least, not really. He’s on good terms with the rest of the other teachers in a distant way, and a polite ‘how was your week’ comes up now and then, but Matt usually just gives a vague ‘fine’ and flees. He doesn’t want to just brush Foggy off though, not after Foggy’s been so open and generous about his own life.
“That’s a question, not an answer.” Foggy teases. “Come on, give me something. Read any good books? Eat anything yummy? Learn any new languages?”
Not really. But that sounds boring and a little pathetic, so Matt doesn’t say it.
“I went to the gym?” He offers, and it sounds like a question again, but he’s sort of at sea here.
It’s the truth, if you count Hell’s Kitchen as the gym and criminals as the punching bags.
“See? That sounds great.” Foggy encourages. “Not my favorite method of getting hot and sweaty and sore, but—oh my god.” He gasps, horrified. “I did not mean to say that. I am so sorry, that was so inappropriate. It just came out. I have no filter, I swear. Sorry. God.”
Matt blinks. Huh. Well then.
Foggy sounds absolutely mortified, so Matt pushes away his surprise and smiles at him bracingly.
“Hey, it’s okay.” He soothes. “I wasn’t offended.”
Stunned, sure, but not offended. Sex happens. Matt’s not used to thinking of his students in that light, but he knows it’s there. It’s particularly disturbing when students come in smelling like sweat and each other. Matt knows significantly more than he wants to about the dating scene of the Columbia student body. And the teacher body. And the janitor body.
“Really?” Foggy asks hesitantly, and his voice is muffled—probably covering his face with his hands. “I really am sorry.”
“It’s fine, Foggy.” Matt repeats earnestly. “Let’s just move on. What did you do this week?”
Matt should probably end the session early, cut Foggy’s suffering short and give him time to cool off, but Matt hasn’t heard what Foggy did this week and he wants to.
As understanding as Matt is, he really hopes Foggy won’t say that he got hot and sweaty.
“I watched a movie.” Foggy offers tentatively. “Actually, I watched Star Wars—the good trilogy. You’ve seen those, right?” Matt nods, genuinely pleased.
Most people tiptoe around the topics of movies, like Matt’s going to burst into tears at the thought that he can’t go watch the latest Mission Impossible. They seem to think that to blind people, movies just don’t exist, even though Matt’s probably seen more classics than all of them put together in the brief time he had the chance. He's listened to a hundred more since.
“Which one is your favorite?” He urges gently. Foggy answers more quickly this time, tone a bit more animated.
“Okay, so I have actually have a bulleted list about this, and a couple charts. I’ll just paraphrase though, and then you can offer a rebuttal.” Foggy tells him. Matt smiles, bemused and amused in equal parts.
“You want to have a structured debate about Star Wars?” He checks, and Foggy makes an eager sound.
“Yeah, this’ll be awesome!” The embarrassment’s gone from his voice, excitement taking its place, Foggy really does bounce back, Matt thinks fondly. That or he has the attention span of a goldfish.
It’s been a while since Matt has actually participated in a debate. He usually just judges them, which isn’t nearly as interesting. It’s been even longer since Matt’s gotten a chance to talk about Star Wars, and he doesn’t think he’s ever had a structured debate about it.
“I must warn you that I was the valedictorian of my year.” Matt tells him. “I’m very good.” Foggy scoffs.
“I can take you.” He challenges confidently, and Matt shrugs.
“Your funeral.” He says lightly. “Six minutes. Go.”
“How do you read your notes?”
Matt pauses in his organizing. He’s got a dozen student evaluations to submit, and he needs to transfer them from Braille to print. It wouldn’t be hard, of course. There are systems for that, and help desks. Matt could also just do it himself by hand when no one was looking. But he mentions it in passing to Foggy, fishing for sympathy, and to his surprise Foggy immediately offers to read them and translate. Those years of Braille are finally paying off, Foggy cheers.
It’s a lovely gesture, and Matt’s lazy. He says yes. Foggy’s already finished them all—except Foggy’s, of course, which Matt won't let him read—but he’s still here. Matt wants him here.
It’s five weeks in, and Foggy doesn’t just come in on Fridays anymore. Matt’s office hours are still Monday and Wednesday morning, for everyone but Foggy. For Foggy, Matt’s office hours are all day, every day. By now, they just leave the classroom together and walk to Matt’s office, and on the days Foggy doesn't have class he shows up anyway. There’s not even a question—it’s just what they do.
Foggy never talks about his topics at all before the debates, just saying that Matt is going to love them. They talk about Foggy’s other classes instead, and the similar ones that Matt had taken during his time at law school. Matt should probably feel bad about how funny he finds Foggy’s stories about Matt’s colleagues, but he doesn’t regret it a bit.
Foggy tells him what people look like too, to enrich the stories. Matt knew that annoying foreign policy professor had beady little eyes, he just knew it. Big nose too, Foggy had informed him gleefully. It’s more satisfying than any rude note Matt could have written.
Speaking of notes…
“I read my notes the same way I always have.” Matt reminds him with a bemused smile. “Bumpy secret code, remember?” Foggy hums thoughtfully.
“Right.” He agrees, and Matt shakes his head, entertained but still lost as to the point of this conversational detour. Honestly, he has no idea how Foggy’s mind works sometimes. “But how do you read the ones you write in pen?”
“Pen?” He repeats faintly. “I don’t write my notes in pen. That would be impossible.” He tries to say it with a note of fond reproach, but instead it just comes out a little shaken.
“Yeah, I thought so too.” Foggy says slowly. “I saw a few papers with handwriting scattered around, but I thought someone else had written them.” Damn, that was sloppy, leaving notes out. He's gotten so used to Foggy being here that he doesn't bother tidying up anymore before Foggy comes.
“That's right.” He assures Foggy quickly. “They’re just memos from other professors.” That Matt shouldn't be able to read. Well, he had someone read them out to him. Not Foggy, but someone.
It's a very weak argument. The debater in Matt is ashamed.
“No.” Foggy says, even more slowly. But sure, he’s sure. “They’re not. You have ink on your hands. Fingers, the places you’d be holding a pen and then the tips like you were touching paper where the ink was still wet. I do it all the time, by accident.”
Matt rubs his fingers together, worried. Yes, there’s a slight oiliness of ink on the pads of his fingers. He hadn’t noticed it before, but it’s there. Clear as day to anyone who was looking.
“It’s not ink.” Matt lies, and then winces. That’s horrible. Foggy’s not stupid—it’s pretty obviously ink. “You know I can’t read pen, Foggy. I’m blind.” It’s a low blow, pulling the blind card, but Matt’s out of options.
“It’s ink.” Foggy claims flatly. “You have blue ink all over your fingers. You have the hands of a guilty Smurf.”
“I do not.” Matt protests, offended at the idea. “It’s not…It isn’t…” He’s not quite sure what to say.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Foggy tells him gently, seeming to catch on that this is something bigger than just teasing fodder at stake here. “So you can somehow write notes to yourself in pen and read them later. That’s kind of cool.” He considers. “Even though I have no idea how you do it.”
Matt hesitates. He’s never actually told anybody about his senses. His dad had known since the beginning, Matt screaming and unable to handle even the simplest textures and sounds, and Stick had searched him out specifically because of them. Other than that though, Matt’s kept it as a closely guarded secret.
And there’s a reason. People already look at him a little oddly, he can tell. Adding super senses, knowing that he can tell some of their deepest, darkest secrets within a moment of meeting them, knowing that he can tell every time they lie or cheat…People don’t like that. Being different is dangerous. Being different is also not conducive to maintaining a double life. People look closer when you're different, they notice more. Matt can’t let that happen.
But it’s Foggy. Foggy the brilliant debater, who looks at every side of an issue and understands. Foggy who gave up his Friday to transcribe boring student evaluations. Foggy who said it was fun, and meant it—not because of the papers, but because of the talking. They have fun.
“I can read what I write in pen because I write it in pen.” Matt admits cautiously. “The pressure leaves little grooves, indents, and they feel different to me when I touch them, if I press hard enough. That’s why…” He holds up his fingers. Caught blue-handed. He smiles weakly. “It’s a little strange, I know.”
There is a brief moment of silence.
“You are the coolest person ever.” Foggy breathes, sounding awed. Matt blinks, taken aback. That was not the response he was expecting. “That is so amazing. It’s like a superpower.”
You have no idea, Matt thinks wryly.
“Thank you.” He says, relieved. Foggy doesn’t sound upset or unnerved. He sounds just as calm and curious as he did when he found out about Matt’s hearing. Happy, relaxed. Like it’s totally normal. Cool, but normal. “Not much of a superpower, I’m afraid, but it can be useful.”
“Wait, hold on.” There’s a scratch of a pen, quick and light, and then something’s being shoved into Matt’s hand. “Read that.”
Matt shrugs and obeys. Nothing left to lose now. Might as well show off.
“It says…” He stops, snorting. “I’m not saying this.”
“No, no. Come on.” Foggy urges. “You’ve got to prove it now. Otherwise I won’t believe you.” He will, obviously, but he sounds eager and excited, so Matt sighs and decides that this is payment for Foggy not freaking out and running to start a rumor that Matt's faking being blind.
“Foggy Nelson is the most amazing, wonderful, intelligent and stunningly attractive man in the world.” Matt recites in a reluctant monotone, rolling his eyes. “And he is my favorite student.”
To be fair, it might actually be true. Foggy is amazing, wonderful and intelligent, and he is Matt’s favorite student. Matt isn’t sure about the stunningly attractive part since he can't see him to judge, but it’s probably true too. It seems impossible that someone as amazing, wonderful and intelligent as Foggy wouldn’t also be gorgeous.
“Wiser words were never spoken.” Foggy intones solemnly, and Matt snorts and folds the paper into a neat paper airplane, throwing it at Foggy. Direct hit, he guesses from the yelp. “Okay, I’m not sure which is more disturbing—the fact that you can make a perfect paper airplane in under a second, or the fact that you can throw it with that much accuracy. Both are pretty weird.”
“Lucky shot.” Matt demurs, smirking. “So, satisfied?” Foggy makes a happy sound.
“Completely.” He replies. “And don’t worry, you’re my favorite teacher too.”
Of course he is. Matt’s smirk widens.
“And as your favorite teacher, I am obliged to remind you that you do, in fact, need sleep. So we’ll stop here for tonight.” He stands, and Foggy groans but follows him to the door.
“Sleep is boring.” Foggy complains. “I’m not going to do it anyway. I’ll probably stay up all night partying.” Not likely.
“Sleep, Foggy.” Matt commands gently, pushing open the door. “I’ll see you Monday, alright?”
“Okay.” Foggy sighs, slightly mollified. “Hey, I won’t tell anyone about the ink, Professor Murdock. I promise.” He adds quietly, and it's the most deferential, the most student-like, that Foggy's ever been. Matt freezes.
It sounds strange. Foggy never uses his name really, or his title. This is the first time Matt’s heard it outside the classroom. And Foggy’s been ‘Foggy’ to Matt since the first day. Foggy admitted later that his real name is Franklin, but he likes Foggy better so he’d put it on all the forms. Matt likes it better too. Foggy is Foggy, and Matt is…Professor Murdock.
“You can call me Matt, you know.” He offers kindly, trying to make it sound casual instead of ‘please call me Matt, I need to be Matt for you'. “At least when it’s just us.”
There's a moment of quiet, one of such stillness that all Matt can register is the ticking of some other professor's annoying clock some few doors down and the gentlest little intake of breath from Foggy, too soft to be a gasp but still surprised enough for Matt to realize this was probably a bad idea. He feels vaguely like he's standing on the very top of a building, toes curling over the edge, and he's trying to decide whether it's safe to jump. Whether there will be something soft for him to land on.
“Matt.” Foggy repeats dutifully, sounding he’s testing the name, tasting it. “Okay.”
Matt doesn’t stiffen nearly as much as he should when Foggy gives him a quick, tight hug. In fact, he doesn’t stiffen at all—his arms just wrap around Foggy so that Matt can hold him back. It’s an automatic reaction, even though Matt’s not usually a fan of being touched.
It’s different, with Foggy.
Foggy’s soft, and so, so warm. He hugs in that happy, easy way that means you like getting affection, and you’re damn good at giving it. Matt can smell the shampoo better now, Foggy’s hair tickling against his face—strawberry, bright and sweet. It's comfortable, hugging Foggy, not awkward at all. It feels like they should have been doing this forever. Matt doesn’t want to let go.
That’s probably not a good thing.
“So, Matt, what did you write about me in my student evaluation?” Foggy teases, pulling away. “Because if you needed some help, you could just use the note I wrote. It’s all true, and totally what you were going to write anyway.”
Wonderful, amazing, intelligent. Matt rolls his eyes.
“I wrote that you’re a menace to society, and I recommend no possibility of parole.” Matt deadpans. “Goodnight, Foggy.”
“Night.” Foggy hums a happy little song as he walks away. Matt closes the door and leans against it for a moment before returning to his desk. He takes the note that Foggy wrote—surprisingly elegant handwriting, little loops on the end and slanted at a jaunty angle—and tucks it into the side drawer for safekeeping.
Then he pulls out the evaluation he wrote. He can’t use either one, of course. He’ll need to think of something else, something actually acceptable, but he still has the notes he’d written for Foggy in class. He makes observations for all the students in his head, and then jots them down afterwards so he won’t forget. For most students he’s got a page or two in deliberate, heavy-handed letters.
For Foggy he only has three words. He takes the blue pen, the one Foggy used to scribble his note, and he crosses out two of them.
Pretty much perfect.
It’s not excessive—they just hug every night before Foggy leaves to back to his dorm, and sometimes Foggy gets a few steps away, turns right around and hugs Matt again. So they hug twice a night, maybe three times if Foggy is feeling particularly affectionate. Matt thinks it’s probably a little more than most of his colleagues hug their students, but most of his colleagues don’t have students like Foggy. Foggy’s lovely, and Matt likes him. It’s not Foggy trying to earn brownie points—he’s just friendly. He enjoys hugging people. Matt is people.
Matt does not usually enjoy hugging people, rough rasp of clothing on his skin and too-tight touches, but he makes an exception for Foggy. He makes a lot of exceptions for Foggy. Foggy gets smiles, Foggy gets office hours that don’t exist, Foggy gets hugs.
It doesn’t feel wrong. It feels natural, like Matt’s supposed to have been hugging Foggy for his whole life and the universe only just figured that out.
And Matt doesn’t let it affect his work. After a week, Matt realizes he will either have to stop the hugging or find out a way to grade Foggy without positive bias. He still thinks Foggy deserves a perfect score on every assignment with five extra credit points for being generally marvelous, that's just basic logic and knowledge of the grading scale at work, but he recognizes that his fondness might color his judgment in the future if he’s not careful. So it’s stop the hugging or stop the grading. Matt's a teacher. His entire job is to grade his students on their work. It's what he's getting paid for.
There's really no choice.
“You’ll be grading each other’s work for the rest of the semester. Enter a score, and they’ll be averaged. After all, swaying a jury is an important part of legal work. We should practice.” Matt smiles sharply. “And do keep in mind that this isn't a popularity contest. Be honest, or I’ll know. I’m still the judge in this court.”
There is a murmur of surprise, but the students take to it admirably. There are only a few incidents of voting blocs that Matt has to break up with thinly veiled threats. Foggy still gets a perfect score, and more than one person asks Matt if they can give him extra credit.
So Matt may be biased, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.
“You should see some of the comments I get on my assessments.” Foggy tells him proudly. “I’m a rock star.”
“Mm-hmm.” Matt says fondly, resting his chin on Foggy’s head. Foggy has to duck a little to let him, they're not that far apart in height, but Foggy never complains. There's something very comforting about holding someone like this, feeling like a shield around them, and Matt's finding very quickly that he's a bigger fan of hugs than he thought. And strawberries. He really does love strawberries. “Remember to study for your legal documentation exam tomorrow, rock star.”
“I don’t need to study.” Foggy claims confidently. “I’ve got it.” Matt shakes him gently.
“Study.” He orders firmly. “You are not failing out of law school in your last year.”
“I have a 4.0 GPA.” Foggy huffs. “Even if I flunked, I’d still graduate.” Matt shakes his head.
“But you won’t get summa cum laude.” Matt points out. “And you’re so close.”
“You’re such a perfectionist.” Foggy sighs, but it’s warm. “Don’t worry, Matt. I’ll make you proud.”
Matt’s arms tighten for a moment and he smiles.
“I’m already proud.” He tells Foggy honestly, and presses a light kiss to his hair.
Even fewer teachers probably kiss their students’ hair after holding them for five solid minutes, but they still don’t have students like Foggy. Foggy’s special, and Matt’s gotten out of grading him for the rest of the term. He doesn’t have to worry as much about prejudice. He can hug. It’s not weird.
“Besides, if I get really desperate, I can ask Marci to quiz me. She’s usually up late anyway, planning her new world order as Queen of Earth.” Foggy laughs. “She’s going to rule with an iron fist, but she’s promised me a spot as Court Jester. So that’s something.”
Marci. Matt’s heard of Marci. She’s Foggy’s friend, and from Foggy’s stories about her it’s clear that they’ve been more than friends in the past. Foggy always sounds vaguely terrified of her, but also fond. It ended well, Matt guesses, and judging by the strength of Marci’s perfume sometimes on Foggy’s clothes, Marci might not mind it starting up again.
Foggy never smells like sex though, which means he hasn’t said yes. Good. He needs to focus on his studies. He doesn’t have time for dating between going to class and visiting Matt’s office. He’d be run ragged—it’s much better this way.
Matt’s just not sure Marci knows that.
“I’m not tired.” Matt offers casually. “If you wanted to study in here, I could help you.” Foggy hesitates.
“Is that cheating?” He wonders unsurely, always such a strong moral code when most students would jump at the chance for a cheat sheet, and Matt adores that about him. Matt shakes his head.
“Not at all.” He assures Foggy quickly. “I never had Carson as a professor, so I don’t know his exams. I do know documentation though. Think of it as intensive tutoring.”
“You are a really good teacher.” Foggy admits, a little more confidently. He says it like a fact of existence. Snow is cold, the Sun is hot, and Matt is a really good teacher. Matt adores Foggy's easy, kind faith even more than his strong moral code. “You sure you don’t mind?”
“I’d love to do it.” Matt tells him truthfully. “We can get coffee and stay up all night. You’ll ace it.” Foggy hums thoughtfully.
“That sounds really fun.” He muses. Of course it does. They always have fun together, since the very first day. “Okay. You have to use pen to make your study guide though. That never gets old.”
“It’s not a magic trick.” Matt mutters wryly. Foggy shakes his head, another burst of strawberry when his hair brushes against Matt’s skin.
“It totally is.” Foggy argues. “You’re amazing.” Matt grins. “Okay, I’ll get my book.”
Matt lets him go, still grinning, and goes to get the coffee. One cream and three sugars, just the way Foggy likes it. It really is for the best. Matt’s a much better study partner for Foggy than Marci is. And Foggy has another test coming up, doesn't he? Matt can help him with that one too. It’s good to foster Foggy’s potential, make sure he’s the best he can be. Matt’s invested. Foggy deserves the best, and Matt can give it to him.
After all, Foggy is his best and brightest student.
It takes Matt a long time to realize what he’s done. By then it’s too late.
“Ugh, why can’t you just cheat on this like normal people do? Too many notes.” Foggy complains. He keeps saying that, but he also keeps dropping by to help with them anyway. They both know Matt can do it himself, but neither one mentions it.
Matt smiles at him sweetly.
“Because cheating is wrong and I’m setting a good example for my impressionable young students.” Matt teases, and Foggy snorts.
“Young? You’re three years older than me, tops.” Matt shakes his head absentmindedly.
“Mm, seven.” He corrects him, shifting another paper to the bottom of the pile. Foggy makes a startled sound.
“No, really? You look so young. Seven?” He asks, stunned. Matt nods, choosing another paper.
“Almost exactly.” He adds, frowning at his vague note. What does ‘grape, okay’ mean? Was he half asleep when he wrote these observations? “Your birthday is a week after mine.”
“Huh.” Foggy says, considering that for a moment. He finally seems to decide that the particular number attached to the birthday is not as important as the birthday itself. “You should have told me, you dope." Foggy's quite lucky Matt likes him. He'd destroy any other student who tried calling him a dope. It's all in the delivery, Matt thinks. Foggy says 'dope' like most people say 'you adorable creature'. Matt would probably punch anyone (except maybe Foggy) who called him 'you adorable creature', true, but it's the tone that counts. "I would have gotten you a cool present. Now I have to wait until next year.”
“Your delightful company is the best gift a man could ask for.” Matt deadpans, and then he freezes when Foggy’s words sink in.
Foggy will have graduated by next year. All he has after this is his capstone, and he’ll be done. That means that he assumes they’re going to keep in touch after he leaves. That they’re going to celebrate Matt’s birthday together. That Foggy’s going to buy him a present, and wrap it up with a sparkly bow and garish wrapping paper that Matt can’t see but he’ll sense the ugliness, and he’ll probably have a goofy smile on his face for Matt to imagine and he'll butcher a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday To You’.
“At least you got some of my cake this time.” Foggy muses. “But you like chocolate better. I’ll make you a chocolate cake next year—devil’s food. You seem like a devil’s food guy. Devil’s food and dark chocolate frosting and red sprinkles and enough candles that it’ll be a fire hazard.” He laughs. “Maybe some sparklers if we’re feeling really crazy.”
Cake, Matt thinks dazedly. Foggy’s going to bake him a cake, and he’ll probably make Matt help even though Matt can barely scramble an egg, and then they’re going to sit down together and eat cake until they get sick, and then they’ll open presents.
And Foggy can be a little clumsy, judging from his stories and the way he’s stubbed his toe four times in the past week. He’ll probably get batter everywhere, all over his face and clothes.
He’ll have to change, peel off the dirty clothes until he’s got nothing on but a smile, and maybe if Matt’s feeling generous he’ll let Foggy wear one of Matt’s shirts. Or maybe not. Maybe Foggy can just stay like that, nothing but a smile, all day. Maybe he can sit on Matt’s lap while they eat, nipping at Matt’s fingers every time Matt feeds him a crumb, licking away the frosting and laughing. And when they’re full, when Foggy’s sighing and satisfied, then Matt can lean down and finally taste it for himself.
“I get the feeling you’re hard to shop for though.” Foggy’s chattering cheerfully. “But I’m sure I can think of something you’ll like.”
So can I.
“Well, a year is a long time to think about it.” Matt reminds him gently, forcing down the scream that’s rising in his throat.
This cannot be happening. Not this, anything but this. Matt’s not this kind of person. He’s a good man, he is—no, he’s not, but he tries to be. He’s not the kind of sick monster who would lust after a student. A student who is seven years younger than him (Christ, what was Matt even doing seven years ago? He can't remember. It was lifetime ago. He was so young.) A student who spends every day alone with Matt in his office, who believes Matt is a respectful teacher and a kind friend. A student who trusts Matt, who’s sitting here relaxed and warm and has no idea the horrible things Matt wants to do to him.
A student who is the most brilliant person Matt’s ever met, who laughs and teases and hugs and watches Star Wars and understands Braille and smells like strawberries.
Matt’s not the kind of sick monster who would fall in love with a student. He’s not.
“You okay, Matt?” Foggy asks, amused but a little worried. “You don’t need to look so terrified. I’m a really good baker, honestly. You’ll love it. It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever tasted.”
Matt shivers. Best thing he’s ever tasted.
“I’m sure you’re right.”
That’s what he’s afraid of.
Matt can’t stop himself.
He still smiles at Foggy in class after a rousing (oh so rousing) debate and keeps Foggy in his office as long as he can, hugs him goodnight and presses light kisses to his hair, soft enough that Foggy can’t feel them.
He wants more.
He wants to pin Foggy to his desk, right over the papers they wrote together, ink seeping into Foggy’s bare skin while the colors were still wet. And Matt would write special notes, ‘I love you’ and ‘Sweet’ and ‘Perfect’ and ‘Angel’, scatter them on the desk with fresh ink so they’d stay dark and clear for days when they got stamped on Foggy's skin like tender tattoos. Matt wonders how many times it would take to be able to feel the words, not just know they were there.
Foggy has trouble sleeping, so Matt would keep him there until he was dozy and drained and then send him off to bed. No, he would take Foggy home instead, wrap him up in Matt’s coat and nothing else and lead him through the hallways in front of everyone, Foggy sleepy and shy but still covered enough that no one but Matt would know he was naked and aching under the coat.
And Matt would stop, tell people with a mild teacher’s smile about how Foggy is his best and brightest student, what a fast learner—in the classroom, of course. No one would know, but Foggy would whimper and press closer and walk faster, desperate to prove just how fast a learner he is.
That’s what Matt wants some nights, but others he wants something completely different. He wants Foggy to lead him home, to their home, and take Matt apart piece by piece. ‘You’re so amazing’, Foggy would whisper worshipfully. ‘Look at you, it’s like a magic trick. Just one touch and you’re begging for me.’
Those aren’t the worst nights. The worst nights are when Matt just wants to hold Foggy’s hand, climb into bed with him and fall asleep a second later, happy and curled together in a knot of limbs. No sex, no base feelings and wicked wants. Just falling asleep together, waking up in the morning and staying in bed as long as they can, laughing and kissing lazily. Matt can accept that he’s a monster for wanting the other things, but there’s nothing monstrous about love.
That’s what makes it so awful.
He hears Foggy’s heartbeat coming towards him across the courtyard, light and happy, and he should run. He’s got time and Foggy would never know, Matt could be long gone by the time Foggy gets close enough to see him.
Instead Matt sits down on one of the benches, pretends to be deep in thought, and waits for Foggy to call out ‘Professor Murdock!’ Then he waits for Foggy to settle down next to him, close enough that their shoulders brush when Foggy moves, and for Foggy to say ‘Hey, Matt’ in a quieter voice, like he needs to make sure that Matt knows he’s still ‘Matt’ when it’s just the two of them.
Not ‘Professor Murdock’. Not the professor who doesn’t want to tell him good morning, who wants to kiss him good morning instead, out here where everyone can see. Foggy wouldn’t mind. He loves affection—he loves when Matt gives him affection, warm hugs and gentle brushes of fingers over paperwork and soft smiles. Foggy would love it.
“Good morning.” Matt says instead, and clenches his hands until his fingernails dig into his palms. Little crescent moons, indents that he can read like ink and remind himself that this is wrong. Foggy wouldn’t love it. He’d hate it, and he’d never forgive Matt for abusing his trust and his position.
“Here, I got you a cupcake. Not the most balanced breakfast, but it’s better than not eating anything like you always do.” There’s the pop of a Tupperware container lid being opened and then a cake is being pressed into his hand.
Matt stares down at where he knows the cake lies guilty in his palm, horrified. Foggy’s buying him cupcakes. Matt’s taking bribes—no, he’s not grading. He’s just taking gifts, which is almost worse. There’s no shadier meaning behind it. Foggy’s not bribing him, he’s just buying Matt things because he wants to. Because he likes Matt. Matt wants to shove the cupcake back into Foggy’s hands, tell him to stop, stop torturing Matt like this, please.
Matt takes a bite instead, and he almost chokes.
Foggy didn’t buy him a cupcake. Foggy baked him one.
And it’s devil’s food. Devil’s food and dark chocolate icing and crunchy sprinkles, probably hellfire red. It’s devil’s food and Foggy licking the frosting off his fingers, bare and lovely, kissing Matt and begging for more, as much as Matt can give him, please please please Matty, just a little more, don’t you want to open your present?
Best thing Matt’s ever tasted.
“Delicious. Do you want a bite?”
“Yeah!” Foggy cheers. “I haven’t tasted them yet. Man, I got batter all over making these. I had to take a shower before I left for class. Totally worth it though.” Matt passes over the cupcake mutely, and he hears Foggy make a pleased sound before he passes it back to Matt.
Matt presses it to his lips. Foggy took a bite right next to his, mouth moving over where Matt’s was a moment before. Licking away the frosting, and Matt’s got frosting all over his fingers. He moves a little carelessly so that he gets even more on them, absolutely covered. Enough to keep Foggy busy for a while, getting them all clean.
‘I need you to come to my office.’ Matt almost says. ‘I have a few questions on your performance.’ He’d add. And when they were in his office, when the door clicked shut, Matt would lock it and turn around with a warm smile. ‘Would you prefer the chair or the desk for our first time? We can do both, don’t worry.’
And Foggy would laugh and say ‘Chair first. You have the comfy one, it looks so soft. I’ve been wanting to try it all year.’
It would be so easy, so wonderful. Matt flexes his sticky fingers, licks his lips. He takes a quick breath, turns towards Foggy, smiles and opens his mouth.
“I wanted to give you your topic for the final exam. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
Student. Final. It’s almost done, just wait. Wait until he can say yes or no without being terrified you’ll punish him. Wait a little longer before you damn yourself to hell.
Wait just a little longer before you taste what you really want to, sweet and dark and the best thing in the world.
Matt doesn’t want to wait. He’s never been a patient man. Patience is a virtue, and Matt is no angel. Gluttony is much more his style. Gluttony and greed.
Matt wants to taste devil’s food.
Matt doesn’t sleep that night. He pulls on the mask and goes out, and then he fights until he’s bloody. It’s still not enough, so when he can’t find anyone else to fight he goes to the gym instead. He stays there for hours, alone in the dark and punching the sandbag until his hands hurt too much to continue. Then he punches some more.
He tasted the cake on Friday. He can’t forget it for a moment, and by the time he stumbles into work on Monday he’s lightheaded from lack of sleep and beaten from head to toe. He’s careful, no bruises anywhere that can’t be covered by a suit and tie, but his knuckles are sore and his fingers are so stiff it’s hard to hold a pen. A pen with blue ink, the one that Foggy wrote his note in.
Foggy Nelson is my favorite student.
Matt drops the pen and buries his face in his aching hands.
“Jesus, what happened to you?” Foggy breathes, horrified. Matt screams silently into his hands for a moment before looking up, forcing a welcoming smile on his face.
“I didn’t hear you come in.” He says, privately ashamed. Is he really that far astray, that nothing works right anymore? Not even his senses, the only things in the world that he thought he could always trust? “Is something the matter?”
“Uh, no.” Foggy tells him, slow and unsure. “I always come here after class, remember? Pretty much every day for the past four months?”
Four months. It took four months for Matt’s life to be ruined, four months for him to lose any shred of sanity that he had left, four months for him to give another piece of himself to the devil.
Four months to fall in love.
“Of course.” Matt says, hoping he doesn’t look too sick at the idea. “Sorry, I just had a bit of trouble sleeping. Low on caffeine.” The chair doesn’t squeak like it always does at this point, after Matt says hello and waves him inside. Foggy’s not sitting down.
“You drank four cups of coffee in class, so I doubt caffeine is the problem.” Foggy points out bluntly. “Sleep…yeah, I could believe that. I can see the shadows under your eyes from here. But you also look like you’ve been battling rabid kangaroos all weekend. And losing.”
“What?” Matt asks, a little bewildered and very wary. What does that even mean?
“You know, kangaroos.” Foggy says, voice getting louder as he gets closer. “Bop-bop-bop with the little boxing gloves—they’ve got a mean right hook, which you apparently figured out firsthand.” Matt shakes his head.
“I wasn’t battling rabid kangaroos.” He protests, pretending this isn’t the most ridiculous conversation he’s had in his whole life. Foggy hums thoughtfully.
“Well, you ran into something that punched you. A lot.” He muses, tone menacingly mild. “And the only other animal I can think of that likes to punch people is humans. So, Matt. Are you sure you weren’t out battling rabid kangaroos?”
“I didn’t get punched.” He whispers. Foggy laughs sharply.
“I’ll bet. Just like you don’t use pens, right?” He asks pointedly. Matt winces. “Yeah. I can’t see the bruises, but I know you. You’re hurting.”
“I’m not hurting.” Matt lies, and his voice breaks. He’s hurting more than he’s ever hurt in his life, but it’s not because of the bruises.
Foggy sighs, and Matt jumps when he feels light fingers brushing across the backs of his hands.
“They look a little swollen.” He tells Matt, and the heat of his body is unbearable when he steps closer. “Did you put ice on them?” Matt shakes his head mutely. “Okay, hold on.”
He pulls away, and even though Matt was terrified of having him so close, he wants him back. Now. He hears the slide of leather—Foggy’s bag, which Foggy claims was too expensive but loves anyway—and then a zipper being pulled open and closed. A moment later there’s a strange snapping sound, and then Matt feels something cool being pressed gently against one of his hands.
“Instant cold pack.” Foggy explains. “I bump into things a lot.”
Matt knows. Four stubbed toes. Clumsy, so clumsy, dropping things and tripping over things and spilling things all over himself.
“Thank you.” He murmurs, and he goes to hold the pack down but Foggy won’t let go, actually pushing Matt’s hand away when he tries to take over. “I can do it.”
“I know.” Foggy says simply. “Stay still. Start talking.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Matt replies earnestly. “I went to the gym, I got a little too overenthusiastic with my boxing, and I went home. I have a touch of insomnia, but that’s fairly common.” He smiles gently. “You don’t need to worry about me so much.”
“No, actually. I do.” Foggy informs him flatly. “Because not only are you getting yourself beaten up—punching bags do not fight back—but you’re also lying about it. To me, Matt. You’re lying to me.” He sounds upset, almost wounded. “Don’t do that.”
“I’m not…” Foggy makes a rather threatening noise. Matt hesitates. “I don’t know what you want me to say.” He admits uncertainly.
“The truth.” Foggy tells him, sounding maddened. “I want you to tell me the truth.”
Matt shakes his head.
“I can’t do that.”
Not because it’s a secret, his secret. That’s important, but it’s not the reason. No, he can’t tell Foggy because if Foggy knew, he’d be worried. Foggy worries too much, and Matt doesn't want to add to his already heavy burden.
Foggy has also made it clear that he doesn’t like violent vigilantes. This fact has nothing to do with Matt’s decision. Really.
“Do you really want me to guess?” Foggy asks quietly. “Don’t make me guess, Matt. You won’t like it when I guess.”
Matt looks down, tries to make out the blue cold of the ice pack against the orange-red of his skin. Where the light of Foggy meets both in one bright point.
“I can’t.” He whispers. Foggy waits for a moment, giving Matt time to change his mind. Matt doesn’t. Foggy sighs.
“You know, I can’t do what you do. I can’t feel ink and impressions. I’m not amazing like you are.” This is a blatant lie. Foggy is the most amazing person in the world. “But I don’t need ink. I can still read a newspaper. Actually, I have one with me right now—just the front page, the parts that everyone knows about. So, let's check the news right now."
There’s the sound of rummaging as Foggy goes through his bag again, and then the rustle of paper. Matt had heard it, but he'd thought it was one of Foggy's assignments. Not a newspaper.
“What…?” Matt wonders, bewildered. Foggy clears his throat.
“So, let’s take a look at the headlines. Oh, look, a baby seal has learned to count cards. Cool. That’s some hardcore reporting.” He hums thoughtfully, rustling the paper again as he moves down the announcements. “Uh-oh, weather doesn’t look good. There are some storms ahead for Hell’s Kitchen. Well, that seems fitting.” Matt swallows. “And—oh. Well, this is interesting. It looks like the Devil has popped up again. You know, that’s quite a coincidence.”
“Is it?” Matt croaks, stomach swooping in despair.
“Quite.” Foggy repeats casually. “Because the last time he popped up was about a week ago, and you showed up to work with a cut on your lip. And then three days before that—bruised cheekbone. And then, hmm, six days before that? Oh, right. You had to ask me to carry your things for you, because your arm was sore from grading essays—not notes, essays. Matt, you only assign oral exams. How dumb do you think I am? Be honest.”
“You’re not dumb.” Matt assures him in a burst of desperation. “You’re brilliant. It wasn’t that I thought you were dumb. I just…people don’t really notice.” Foggy takes a sharp breath.
“Oh, so you assumed I just wouldn’t notice if my best friend got himself beaten to death.” He translates lowly.
Best friend. Now is not the time, but Matt still feels a glow of warmth at the words. Even though Foggy’s furious, he’s still calling Matt his best friend. It’s the first time either of them has said it, but Matt’s been thinking it for what seems like forever.
“I’m okay.” Matt reassures him quickly, fiercely. “Foggy, I’m okay. I’m not dying. I’m nowhere near dying.”
“But you could have been, and what would have happened then? For all you knew, I was clueless. What would I have done when I realized who you were, what you did, why you died?” Foggy snaps, and there's the crisp sound of paper on carpet when Foggy drops the newspaper—or maybe he throws it down in anger. That's possible too. “I just found you, and I almost lost you again.”
“You didn’t lose me.” Matt soothes, reaching out. Foggy doesn’t push him away again, but he does tug Matt’s hand down instead of simply holding it.
“Switch.” He commands, and lets go. Matt does, resting the ice pack on his still-sore hand and reaching back out again his newly cool one. There is a moment of stillness where he thinks Foggy’s going to refuse to touch him, and his fingers falter before Foggy huffs and grabs his hand. “You’re an asshole, you know.”
“I know.” Matt agrees, miserable.
“No, a complete asshole.” Foggy emphasizes. “Do you remember what you gave me for my final debate topic, Matt?” Matt flinches. “It’s a good one. Go on. Say it.”
“I’m sorry.” Matt whispers. Foggy’s fingers twitch, like he wants to squeeze Matt’s hand hard in warning, but he stops himself just in time. Even though he’s angry, he still doesn’t want to hurt Matt.
“And you gave us two weeks. You want it to be good. You want me to make it perfect.” Foggy reminds him deliberately. “And what’s the topic, Matt? What do you want me to talk about for an hour, in front of an audience, while you listen to every word?”
“I’m sorry.” Matt pleads again. Foggy ignores him.
“Prove it.” He hisses. “Tell me. What do you want me to say, again and again until even I believe it?” Matt shudders and swallows a sob.
“The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is a hero.”
His throat hurts around the words. He feels like he’s been crying for hours, wrung-out and weak. He wants to go home and hide until the world goes away, until he can pretend that Foggy still trusts him. Likes him. Until Matt can pretend that Foggy might have loved him.
“And what was the first topic you gave me?” Foggy continues ruthlessly. “What was the first thing you told me to say, the day we met?”
Matt shakes his head. His throat hurts too much. He can’t answer.
“It took me a minute, remember?” Foggy muses. “Easiest speech I’ve ever given. Why I hate vigilantes.”
“Please stop.” Matt begs, tears in his eyes. His hands are shaking. The ice pack is slipping off, onto the desk. His fingers feel numb. Everything feels numb. “Please.”
“It was an easy answer. There are so many reasons to hate them.” Foggy mentions idly. “Now, why I like them—that’s a harder question. I had to think about that one for a long time. I sat on my bed all night after you gave me my topic, tried a million different ways to write it without sounding like I wanted to punch you in the face.” Foggy snorts at the thought. “But I finally got something.”
Matt freezes. Warmth floods through him, pins and needles over every inch of him inside and out.
“You did?” He whispers hoarsely. “You thought about it? You thought of a reason?”
Matt’s been trying since he first put on the mask. He’s never thought of a single one.
“Yeah.” Foggy agrees. “A good one, actually. Hey, put that back on.” He moves to adjust the ice pack, pressing it more firmly against Matt’s skin, still gentle enough not to hurt. Matt pushes it away completely, instead reaching out so can cover Foggy’s hand completely with both of his. Too tight, trapping.
“Tell me.” He’s not sure if it’s a question or an order. “Please tell me.”
Foggy sighs, a soft breath of peppermint against Matt’s skin.
“Two weeks, Matt.” He tells him gently. “You can hear it in two weeks, along with everyone else.” Matt shakes his head.
“No, now.” He commands, feeling like a child demanding his Christmas presents on Thanksgiving. “Tell me now.” Foggy doesn’t answer. “Tell me and I’ll give you an A. I’ll give you a Z. A Z plus.”
He hates himself, because it’s not quite a joke. He’d take out his grade book, write down anything that Foggy wanted him to. Anything to make him happy. A, B. Z, I love you.
Foggy laughs, and it’s kind, none of his earlier accusation in the sound. It was a test, Matt realizes. It was one of Foggy’s brutal debates, testing the opponent’s weaknesses and strengths and planning his attack. He wanted Matt to tell him the truth, to admit it on his own.
Matt failed the test, but Foggy’s still here. It's not like his debates at all. Mercy.
“You don’t give the grades anymore.” Foggy reminds him gently. “Which was stupid, by the way. Now you can’t bribe me.” Matt swallows.
“It wasn’t fair.” He explains guiltily. “I would have given you a Z plus, just for existing. Just for being you.” Foggy sighs, using his free hand to ruffle Matt’s hair.
“Don’t say that until you hear my speech.” He advises. “I’m not sure you’ll like it.”
Matt is pretty sure that’s impossible. He loves everything Foggy says. Foggy talking about why Matt’s a hero will probably break Matt’s heart in the very best way. Even if it’s just abusing a technicality, using a loophole—Foggy’s good at those, a sly bending of the rules and a wicked twist of logic—Matt will love it.
“I can’t wait.” Matt says, and it’s not just something nice to say. He’s not sure he can wait. It will kill him. Two weeks. He won’t be able to think of anything else for two weeks. He’ll have to write notes to remind himself to eat instead of daydreaming.
“Don’t go out.” Foggy blurts out, and Matt blinks. “Don’t be…don’t be the Devil. Please. Just for the two weeks. I want you to be healthy when I say it. I don’t want you to be hurting.” Matt hesitates.
“And after the two weeks?” He wonders warily. He can’t stop, even if it’s Foggy asking him to—no, that’s a lie. Matt would stop if Foggy asked him to, even if it killed him.
He hopes to God Foggy doesn’t ask.
“I’ll be worried out of my mind, but I won’t stop you.” Foggy promises. “Just…listen, okay? I’ll come find you after.” He sounds worried already, and Matt’s not sure if that’s from the debate or the Devil. Matt squeezes his hand once before letting him go.
Matt needs it a hell of a lot more than Foggy does.
Matt barely manages to sleep a wink for the two weeks, but he forces himself to close his eyes and lie still in bed the night before. He needs to be wide-awake for this. Foggy deserves nothing less.
Matt doesn’t know what to expect. There’s still a big part of him that thinks Foggy will use a loophole, and that’s why Foggy’s worried—he feels guilty that he can’t think of a single reason that doesn’t involve letter-of-the-law cheating. Or maybe he tried to write something more personal, but it’s a weak, anemic thing because there’s nothing to write about.
Matt’s not stupid. He knows he’s not a hero. He’s given Foggy an impossible task.
His only comfort is that he’s not the one grading. The students are, and they like Foggy. They’ll be kind with their assessments. When he inevitably loses, they’ll still give him at least a B. Poor guy, they’ll say. Professor Murdock is just awful, isn’t he? Why did he give Foggy such a hard topic, an argument he can’t win? It’s not fair.
Foggy has the last debate of the week—of the year. After this he’ll be free. He can walk out of Matt’s life and never walk back in. He’ll stay though, right? He said he’d be worried. That means he cares, that he’ll be paying attention. That’s something.
He’s against Matt’s old best and brightest student again. Matt had wanted to pair Foggy with Matt’s worst student so that Foggy might actually have a chance of winning, but he’d forced himself to do the noble thing for once in his life.
Matt’s old best and brightest student has a thirst for revenge. She’s vicious, using dirty tactics and personal attacks. She even insinuates that Foggy bribes the other students for a good grade, and Matt has to grit his teeth against failing her right then and there. Despite the petty undertones, it’s a good argument. Judging by the scribble of pens and the interested noises of the class, they thought it was persuasive. The girl concludes grandly with a sweeping statement of victory and a pointed taunt. Matt closes his eyes for a second, pained.
Foggy doesn’t have a chance in hell.
He’s got to do it. No special treatment. It's just this one day and then he can beg Foggy to give him another chance and wipe the slate clean. Foggy might not want to. He said that he could make an argument for the Devil—he never said anything about Matt. Foggy never said he’d forgive Matt.
“Six minutes.” Matt tells Foggy reluctantly, and he can’t quite muster up a smile. He wants to hear it, he does, but he’s also terrified. “Begin.”
Foggy wastes five seconds saying nothing. Matt’s stomach lurches. Foggy’s never hesitated like this. Does he really have nothing to say? Does he have no argument, and he’s just realizing how impossible this is? Has he been scared into silence by the knowledge that there’s no way he can win? Foggy likes to win, Matt knows. He’ll be frustrated. If he freezes up, he’ll be embarrassed afterwards. Please let him have something.
Foggy takes a deep, shaky breath. When he speaks though, there’s not a hint of doubt in his voice, not a tremor. His voice is quiet, but it echoes in the room, strong and sure.
“I’m in love with him.”
There is dead silence for a moment. They’re waiting for Foggy to add something else, to laugh and continue talking. ‘Now that I have your attention, here’s what I actually wanted to say.’ There’s nothing. Another minute stretches by at an agonizingly slow pace. Nothing.
Someone coughs awkwardly, and like a switch has been flipped the room erupts in sound. ‘What did he say?’ ‘There’s no way he just said that.’ ‘Is this a joke?’ ‘Is this a dare?’
Matt can’t breathe. Foggy’s heart hadn’t skipped a beat. He’s not lying. Foggy just stood in front of the whole class, in front of Matt, and he spoke without a hint of shame. I’m in love with him.
“I think I proved my point.” Foggy tells the room at large, cheerful. “Thanks for listening.” And that’s not to the room at large, that’s to Matt. Just Matt. Soft and sweet, and a little shy.
And Foggy walks out of the room. There’s the click of the door, and his footsteps fading away. Towards Matt’s office.
Minutes tick by. Matt can’t move. The alarm on his desk goes off—six minutes. Time for a response. Go.
He stumbles to his feet, chair screeching when he pushes it back too hard. It topples to the floor with a cringe-worthy sound, and Matt kicks it aside as he goes. He doesn’t even bother with his cane. He rips open the door and steps through, sparing one careless wave for his students.
“Debate over. Grades later. Have a nice summer.” He tells them, and starts running.
Foggy’s waiting in his office, and when Matt slips inside he takes another shaky breath. Matt closes the door and double-checks the locks. No interruptions.
“I have an real response.” Foggy assures him nervously. “Ten pages. It’s really good, very convincing. I can give it to you, if you want. Or you can fail me, that’s okay too. I sort of have it coming. I just thought I should say it in an environment where you knew I wasn't angling for some kind of special treatment on the final, so you knew that I was serious. And the other students will probably give me a zero but I'll still pass your class since I had a perfect score until this, but I won't graduate summa cum laude, and I didn't meant to disappoint you and this was a bad idea, wasn't it? This was—“
Matt kisses him. Foggy makes a surprised noise, but after a second he melts into it, arms wrapping around Matt’s neck and pulling him closer.
“You win. Perfect score. Z plus.” Matt murmurs against his mouth. “I love you.”
“Oh, thank god.” Foggy breathes, relieved. “This would have been really awkward otherwise.” He kisses Matt again. “It’s kind of sketchy as it is. Pretty sure this is against like twenty school rules.”
“Not my student anymore.” Matt reminds him, exultant. Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you. "It’s okay.”
There are actually several rules banning faculty from dating students, even if the student isn’t in their class, but they’re more…guidelines, really. Matt’s pretty sure he won’t get fired, at least.
“Liar.” Foggy teases slyly. “But don’t worry. I can keep a secret.”
He can. He’s kept every one of Matt’s secrets since the moment they’ve met, and he’ll keep a million more.
“So can I.” Matt promises. He’ll keep two million for Foggy. “So, this isn’t…” He hesitates, uncertain. “You’re not…I’m not…”
Please say I’m not forcing you. Please say you want this, that you want Matt instead of Professor Murdock.
“I don't need to bribe you with saucy tactics. You’re not my teacher anymore.” Foggy returns coyly, borrowing Matt’s words. “We’re good. We’re great. We’re perfect.”
He punctuates each reassurance with a quick brush of lips, and Matt grins, tangling a hand in his hair and keeping him there the next time. Strawberries and mint, sweeter than ever before.
“I love you.” Matt whispers again fiercely. “You have no idea. Forever, god. Since that first class. You were amazing, stunning, the best I’d ever heard.” Weak-kneed and woozy. He should have known. Foggy laughs.
“You fell in love with my debating skills?” Foggy wonders incredulously. “I don’t know if I should be offended. Not my sparkling personality? Not my wry sense of humor?”
“All of it.” Matt assures him. “The debate was just the beginning. It was my version of love at first sight.” Foggy huffs.
“That’s a little better.” He allows. “Still totally shallow though. I’m so much more than my brilliant rebuttals.”
“So much more.” Matt agrees breathlessly, and decides that as much as he loves Foggy’s voice, debating or otherwise, there are really better things he could be doing with his mouth.
Foggy’s wearing one of his nice shirts, the ones that are worn and well-loved, material soft under Matt’s fingers. He wants to rip it off anyway, but that might be a little fast. Matt needs to take this slow, make sure they do it right.
So he picks Foggy up and places him on Matt’s desk, stands between his legs and sucks a bruise into his neck. Taking it slow, he congratulates himself. Great self-control, keeping it PG.
In Matt’s defense, it’s been a very long time since he’s seen a PG movie.
“You know, doing this on the desk is probably my number one fantasy?” Foggy muses when Matt pulls away to run his fingers over the mark, feeling out the edges by heat and checking his work. “Well, this and the chair. It’s a really nice chair.”
“Chair later.” Matt promises. “We can do both.” Foggy really is perfect for him.
“Mm, sounds good.” Foggy murmurs happily. “Love you.” It already sounds so easy for him to say, as simple as breathing. Foggy loves him.
Slow is boring. Matt rips off the shirt. PG-13.
“I’m not going out like this.”
Matt smiles, standing behind him and doing up the last button.
“You look lovely.” He promises, certain of this fact without seeing it. He presses a kiss to Foggy’s hair. “No one will know.”
“You did this on purpose.” Foggy accuses, sounding somewhere torn between annoyed and reluctantly amused. “There is absolutely no excuse for tearing my boxers in half.”
“I was a little eager.” Matt admits. It had taken a fair bit of effort to ruin all of Foggy's clothes, but it was worth it. And Foggy didn’t seem too upset at the time. “But it’s alright. We’ll walk fast, and then we'll get you home and in something nice and warm.”
Not a chance. If Foggy wants to wear something, it’s going to be Matt’s coat and nothing else. The soft wool sounds like a symphony sliding against his skin.
No, no coat. The coat’s so no one else can see, because this is all for Matt. When they get home, Matt is going to unwrap his birthday present early and keep him like that all night long. Maybe all weekend long too.
“Why can’t you wear the coat?” Foggy wonders suspiciously, not buying it for a second. “We could switch. I could fit in your clothes.” This is true, and that will come later. On Monday, Matt thinks. One of his favorite ties looped around Foggy’s neck.
“But you’re already dressed.” Matt argues gently. “And it’s late. Aren’t you tired?”
“No.” Foggy mutters petulantly, and then yawns. “Maybe. A little."
“Mm-hmm." Matt agrees gently, wrapping his arms around Foggy’s waist and tugging him backwards against Matt’s chest in a brief embrace. “And I love you.”
“Emotional blackmail." Foggy accuses, but there's no heat to it. "You've already started playing the emotional blackmail card. But I love you too." He adds afterwards, as though he can't quite help himself. Matt beams and takes a step back towards the door, pulling Foggy gently with him. "Matt, seriously. I look ridiculous. Trust me.” Foggy moans, but he doesn't pull away. Matt kisses his neck. “Nope. Not happening.” Matt nibbles on his ear, and Foggy sighs and leans back into it. “You are an evil man, you know that?”
“Please?” Matt murmurs, blowing warm breath gently over where he’s bitten. Foggy shudders. “I want to go home with you. I’ll make you dinner.” He can order in. That counts.
“You can’t cook.” Foggy points out, and that reluctant amusement is back again. “No.”
“We can bake a cake.” Matt coaxes. “We can stop at the store—“
“I am not going grocery shopping naked, Matt.” Foggy half-laughs, half-yelps. “There is something seriously wrong with you, I swear. You're a madman.” Matt's aware. He's discovering all sorts of kinks within himself that he'd been sure never existed. Maybe they really didn't for him, not before Foggy. Foggy has the remarkable ability to get Matt's creative...juices flowing.
“Okay, no shopping.” Matt concedes generously. “We can do that later. We can just go to bed, alright? Get some sleep.” After quite a few other activities. Foggy’s not tired enough yet.
“This is crazy.” Foggy complains, but he doesn't seem as put upon as Matt thinks he's going for.
“We’ll have to leave at some point.” Matt reminds him kindly. “And the sooner we leave, the sooner you can get dressed again.” Or not.
Foggy is silent for a moment, obviously weighing his options, and then he sighs in defeat, slumping a little in Matt’s arms.
“You're going to talk to people, aren't you?" He asks, resigned and wryly knowing. "You're going to be a total perv about it." Matt blinks at him, a wee bit startled. He never mentioned that part of his fantasy. How did Foggy guess?
“Talk?" Matt repeats in affected surprise, testing. “Why would we talk to anyone? I want to get home just as much as you do.” Probably more. Foggy snorts, unconvinced.
“Fine. Okay. Whatever. At least the coat covers everything. I'll just be the freak that looks like he's walking around in capris and a trench coat in freezing weather." Foggy reasons snarkily, and oddly enough, that's the part that sways Matt. Freezing. Naked.
"Will you be too cold?" He worries, biting his lip. "Maybe you're right, we can just switch clothes. I don't want you to be cold." And, even more oddly enough, this seems to be that part that sways Foggy.
"God, you're so sweet." Foggy groans, sounding almost pained by it. "Kinkiest guy I ever met, but still so sweet. It's fine, Matt. It's brisk out, not freezing, and this coat is really comfy. We're good." Matt hesitates, unsure but so eager. "This is like a kink thing, right? Bucket list fantasy?" Matt nods guiltily. "Cool. My next bucket list fantasy is breakfast in bed with a really hot guy. You game?" Matt nods, no hesitation this time. It sounds lovely. "There you know. You do that, I do this. Kink negotiation."
"But I would have brought you breakfast in bed anyway." Matt points out, and Foggy sighs and strokes his cheek.
"Yeah, I know." He agrees, sounding terribly fond. “I know. But hey, the deal is already struck, so let’s do this thing.” Matt knows that Foggy has just let him win, and he's so grateful. He's going to do his best to actually make a decent breakfast tomorrow, the best breakfast Foggy has ever eaten. Matt steps back and takes Foggy’s arm, lets him lead Matt out of the room. They walk in silence for a minute, Matt running reverent fingers over Foggy’s arm as they move.
“Oh, Professor Murdock.” Someone calls out. “I just got my schedule. I have you next semester.”
Matt stops dead. Foggy tugs him hard, but Matt won’t move. He’s been dreaming of this for weeks. This is fate.
"You kinky son of a bitch." Foggy mutters, triumphant and exasperated. "I knew it. I want fresh-squeezed OJ, and pancakes. Got it?" Matt nods, shallowly enough that the student can't see it, and walks towards the student. Foggy follows with a put-upon sigh that is entirely too knowing.
“How wonderful.” Matt tells the student with a mild smile as they approach her. “Did you have any questions you wanted to ask me before I head home for the night? I have all the time in the world.”
Foggy reaches up while pretending to pat his arm and pinches it hard enough that it would make a lesser man flinch. Matt’s smile widens.
“Just a few.” The student says, relieved. “Thanks. Oh, is this your TA?” Matt shakes his head, tugging Foggy closer. Just close enough that it’s a little too friendly, but not enough that anyone can call him on it.
“No, no.” Matt tells the student cheerfully. “This is Foggy Nelson. Say hello, Foggy.”
“Hi.” Foggy greets, a bit awkwardly. "Should I leave you two alone to talk? I don't want to get in the way." He starts pulling away. Matt shakes his head.
“Stay.” He pleads quietly. It’s a lot to ask, but he wants it. So much. “It’ll only take a minute.” There is a moment of silence, until Foggy sighs and steadies again at Matt's side. Matt beams at him like Christmas has come early. The student clears her throat.
“So, how do you two know each other?” She asks slowly, not quite suspicious but close.
Matt beams at her, wrapping an arm around Foggy’s shoulders—bare skin warm and close under the wool, and Foggy’s breath catches when Matt’s fingers brush against one of the love bites. Matt shifts, running his fingers over it again, and Foggy whimpers. Matt smirks for a moment before smoothing his features into a gentle, politely proud teacher’s smile.
“Foggy Nelson is my best and brightest student. He's my favorite.”
Foggy stiffens, and for a moment Matt thinks he's gone too far. Was that too personal? Too warm? Too patronizing? He swallows, smile slipping a little. It will be fine. He'll say goodbye to the student right now, say something came up. He'll take Foggy straight home, make him dinner and breakfast in bed, and spend the whole night making up for his silly idea.
Foggy sighs. Matt bites his lip, words on the tip of his tongue. 'Sorry, sorry, sorry, please don't be mad, I'll make you pancakes and waffles, I love you'.
Matt jumps when an arm wraps snug around his waist, slipping just a little too low and a thumb rubbing tenderly over his hipbone. Matt shudders, and Foggy leans in just enough that Matt can almost taste the sweat and the strawberry shampoo.
"Right." Foggy says brightly, cool mint and warm words mingling together enticingly, hanging in the air like the promise of snow or a sunny day or maybe both at once. "Professor Murdock is so proud. I'm a very fast learner."
This is going to be fun.