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A Moral Decision in One Eighth of a Second

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The line at the deli is taking forever and Karen sticks her hand into her purse to call the office and tell the boys lunch will be a little delayed. Except her phone isn't in the side pocket, and a minute of increasingly worried searching fails to reveal it in any of the other compartments or her coat pockets.

Shit. She doesn't have the money to afford a replacement right now, not with her last rent increase, and even though she's careful and uses passwords and codes for anything case-related, she still has a bunch of confidential emails that could cause real trouble in the wrong hands, not to mention some really embarrassing personal--

No. Wait. She took her phone out this morning to call Ms. Adwan's former H&R department without having Nelson & Murdock's number appear in their records. She probably just left it on her desk when Matt asked her to make the lunch run.

That's the most likely explanation. And if something else happened, well, she can panic later.

Right now, the person in front of her is finally done deciding what bread and toppings he wants for his turkey sandwich. Karen steps forward, places three orders, pays with the company credit card she badgered Foggy and Matt into setting up, and moves off to the pickup area where she promptly misses her phone even more. Websurfing may not be the best use of her time or battery life, but at least it would keep her from wanting to strangle the staff for their lack of speed. Seriously, how hard is it to make a sandwich? Are they trying for haute cuisine arrangements of their tomatoes or something? And those two over there by the door to the stockroom, chatting instead of bringing a new loaf of bread to the counter--

Karen closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and does her best to let the frustration go. It's just bleed-over from her little phone-related panic. The sandwiches will be ready when they're ready, and her phone will be waiting safe and sound when she gets back to the office.

Then she distracts herself by people-watching while she waits for the sandwiches to appear. She tries to imagine stories for all the construction workers and businesswomen and men in casual office clothes. She wonders what joys and hatreds carved lines into their faces, what they're trying to say with their clothes and postures. There's one older white lady, sitting by the plate glass window and absently picking apart a BLT, who is wearing an amazingly lurid and glitter-spangled neon purple hat plus about twenty layers of clashing floral-print scarves that Karen really wants to photograph just so she has proof people actually wear things that bizarre. But, again, no phone.

When the clerk calls her name, Karen snatches the proffered bag and leaves at a much faster pace than normal. For once she doesn't look around in search of pictures waiting to be captured. She has more important things on her mind.


Her phone isn't on her desk.

Karen drops the paper bag beside her keyboard and frowns. Maybe she left it in the kitchenette or the bathroom? "Lunch, guys!" she says, and crosses the main room to search.

Alas, no luck. Shit. Maybe she really did drop her phone outside. Maybe somebody lifted it right out of her pocket. Maybe somebody's been following her. Maybe they're trying to send her a message about--

Karen stamps firmly down on her paranoia. "Foggy, have you seen my phone?" she calls as she returns to her desk with some paper plates and napkins (because distracted eaters are messy eaters, and anything that helps keep lettuce and sauces off the paperwork is a worthy investment).

Neither Matt nor Foggy has appeared to claim their respective sandwiches. Weird. And they aren't in their own offices, either, Karen realizes as she glances around. They're both in the tiny conference room, sitting on the same side of the table and ignoring their computers and the paperwork from Ms. Adwan's case spread out around them. Instead, they're looking down at something in Foggy's hands, something small and black and--

"Hey! That's mine!" Karen says as she pushes the door open, suddenly panicked for a whole new set of reasons. "Just because I told you the password doesn't give you the right to look through all my--"

Foggy is staring at her with the strangest combination of guilt, amusement, and betrayal. Matt's shoulders are hunched up nearly to his ears, which are turning bright pink.

"--through my... Okay. What did you read and how embarrassed should I be?" Please not the Daredevil kinkmeme updates. She's pretty sure Foggy knows about celebrity RPF, but he doesn't know she reads it, let alone writes over-the-top angsty fills when she's having a bad day. And if Matt finds out what she's made his fictional alter-ego do, she might literally spontaneously combust.

"I don't know, on a scale of one to what the actual fuck, where would you rank a whole folder of dead pigeon photos?" Foggy says. "That's kind of creepy! Also two dozen takeout meals in funky lighting, a bunch of traffic cones at strange angles, and a lot of weird close-ups of crumbling bricks and concrete. And that's not even getting into all the pictures you've been taking around the office without asking permission."

Pictures. Karen takes a deep breath. They saw -- only saw? -- her pictures. Okay. Right. Fine. She can cope with that.

Her hands are shaking a little from residual adrenaline. She sets the plates and napkins down on top of the braille copy of Ms. Adwan's statement. "Permission. I see. Like you got permission to look through my phone? Through my private and personal data?" she asks, pointedly.

Foggy winces. "A fair point. Nevertheless, I think I deserve to know that pictures of me sleeping on my desk in a state of less than perfect shevelment--"

"Is that even a word?" Matt puts in, a little breathless.

"--pictures of me looking less than perfectly put together," Foggy continues, and tries to kick Matt under the table judging by their paired twitches, "are floating around on a digital network that demonstrably can be and has been hacked, and therefore might let those pictures out into the wild where, conceivably, my sisters might find them."

"It's not that big a deal. I'm pretty sure they've seen you drooling on your arms before," Matt says. His posture is sliding away from tension toward amusement, though his ears are still pink.

Foggy waves the phone in Matt's face. "That's not what you said when I found the Christmas party pictures!"

Karen claps her hands to her mouth, trying to stifle laughter. "Oh my god, no. You said you'd wiped that whole night from your memory and never wanted to speak of it again. Did you go looking for those pictures on purpose? You liar!"

"I choose to think of it as adjusting my opinion based on new evidence," Foggy says loftily. "And while I am deeply disappointed that you broke the sacred guacamole trust and took advantage of us while we were drunk, Karen, I still want a copy of the one with Matt wearing reindeer antlers, hugging the poinsettia, and crying like it's his long-lost puppy."

This time Matt tries to kick Foggy, with rather more success judging by Foggy's, "Ow! Hey! No fair with the ninja moves."

Karen thinks about the party, or at least what she remembers of the party through a blurry alcoholic haze. Matt and a poinsettia, Matt and a poinsettia... Oh! Right. Foggy's mother brought the plant to the office a week before Christmas. Apparently it reminded Matt of something from his childhood, and he's a maudlin drunk when he starts the night already feeling a little tender over things he's lost.

Except. Karen bites her lip. There's more than one picture that fits Foggy's description. The first is just cute and sad. The second, on the other hand...

She tries hard not to ask, she really does -- they're all embarrassed enough already, aren't they? -- but some battles simply can't be won. "I'll email it to you. But, um. Which version? Before or after he lost his shirt?"

"There's a shirtless version?" Foggy looks back down at her phone and starts frantically paging through her photos. "Hallelujah, there is a god. I want it, where is it hiding, come to papa--"

Matt snatches the phone from Foggy's hands and shoves it across the table at Karen. His apologetic expression is only slightly spoiled by the renewed flush in his ears and cheeks. "I'm sorry, Karen. I didn't know what Foggy was doing at first, because I can't see the pictures--"

"Excuse you, I narrated every minute of that; you knew exactly what I was doing!"

"--and then it kind of, uh, spiraled. We apologize. I'm sure the dead pigeons and traffic cones are very artistic. And I think we should add some of the less embarrassing photos to our website. That would make us look more approachable, right?"

Foggy turns in his chair and throws up his hands in exaggerated outrage. "That's what you're going with? You are a traitor, Murdock, a cowardly suck-up. I'm not speaking to you."

Karen raises her eyebrows. "Really? If anyone has the right to be offended here--"

"--it's all of us, though you more than me and Foggy," Matt interrupts. "And we're all going to let it go, because we have more important things to do, like find who really stole seventy thousand dollars from Zellbright Associates or at least create enough reasonable doubt to get Ms. Adwan off the hook."

Foggy takes a breath, obviously winding up for a speech. Matt kicks him under the table again. Foggy deflates and sighs. "Yes, all right. Karen, I'm sorry for looking through your phone. I promise never to do it again. But from now on, if you take pictures of me I'd like deletion rights."

"I can do that," Karen agrees. "Now why don't you two grab the sandwiches and some coffee and we'll have a nice working lunch in here, since you already have all the documents and your laptops."

"Good idea," Matt says, and walks around the table.

They settle in with a rustling of paper wrappers and Foggy's traditional complaint about Karen's coffee-brewing skills (or lack thereof). Karen digs out the notes from her contact with Zellbright's H&R people, and prepares to pass them on. The last dregs of her panic and embarrassment are fading away under the wash of determination to see Ms. Adwan vindicated and the real thief brought to justice.

Before she can start, though, Foggy sets down his meatball sub, slaps his hand on the table and says, "Karen, I'm sorry. I know we agreed to let it go, and I will in a second, but first I need to know one thing. Seriously, what is up with the dead pigeons?"

As Matt dissolves in a fit of badly stifled giggles, Karen throws her pen across the table and buries her face in her notepad.