Matt comes to, flat on his back, with Iron Man and Hawkeye hovering over him. “Oh fuck,” Stark says, less than comfortingly.
Matt’s not sure what the problem is. He’s felt worse. When he does a self-catalogue, there’s maybe two broken ribs and a good sized hematoma on his head. And something is wrong with his eyes. Well, something is always wrong with his eyes, but there’s something extra wrong now.
Barton puts a hand on Matt’s shoulder when he goes to sit up. “Stay down, Daredevil,” he says, a little too calm.
As if Matt has ever listened to anyone who told him that. He levers himself up into a sitting position and raises a hand to his head. The bump isn’t all that bad. He feels a little dizzy and it’s messing with his radar perception but that’s not unexpected, it’ll pass. What’s worrying is the way half his mask has been blown away by the explosion. The back and most of the right side are stilling hanging on, but the left side has been ripped away almost entirely, like Matt is the Phantom of the Opera. When he puts his fingertips to what’s left of the eye holes, Matt hisses at the residual heat.
“Bruce,” Stark says, through comms, “are you de-Hulked and decent yet? We need you over here.”
Rogers gets there first. “What happened?” he asks. “Is everyone okay?”
“I’m fine,” Matt insists.
“Daredevil took that blast right in the face,” Barton says, ignoring him. “I saw from up on the roof. Couldn’t get down to street level fast enough.”
Rogers crouches down in front of him. “Daredevil, can you tell me how many fingers I’m holding up?”
Crap. Matt can’t. Usually he can figure it out if he concentrates but his head injury puts that right out. “Three,” he guesses, trying to sound confident. That’s usually what people choose unless they’re really angry and choose one.
The awkward silence tells him that he guessed poorly. Maybe even that Cap had used two hands. Rogers never could be ordinary.
Barton puts an arm behind Matt’s back and helps him stand, propped against his side. “Let’s get you back to the tower and we’ll patch you up and do some tests.”
“All right,” Matt sighs.
Foggy hates Avenger’s Tower. I mean, it’s cool and all, but the only reason he ever has to come here is when Matt’s been beat up enough that the Avengers call him as the emergency contact.
Natasha is always pretty tight-lipped from what Foggy knows of her but there was something in her closed tone that made Foggy offer the cabbie an extra fifty that he didn’t have to spare if he could get him to the tower in under ten minutes.
Foggy lets the AI scan him in and then sprints for the med lab. Unfortunately, he already knows the way from previous times Matt has been laid out with stab wounds and head injuries that he insists are “minor” and yells at the Avengers for dragging Foggy in for.
Foggy skids through the doorway, hoping it’s nothing worse than a broken bone or two. The first thing he notices is that Matt is wearing Captain America’s mask instead of his own. He’s sitting up under his own power. It’s the Avengers who look more like they’re trying to recover from something.
“Foggy?” Matt says, reaching out an exploratory hand like the asshole hasn’t known exactly where Foggy was the second he walked into the building by the panicked pounding of his heartbeat. The Avengers look stricken.
“You jerk,” Foggy sighs, but he still reaches back, lacing their fingers together, because it’s Matt. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Matt says, despite the clear indications to the contrary that are his being practically handcuffed to a gurney in the med lab and surrounded by his dismayed teammates. “I got a bump on the head and a couple broken ribs. And,” his voice chokes with what Foggy recognizes as suppressed laughter but the Avengers probably think are tears, “some retinal damage.”
Foggy does not laugh in front of the Avengers. That would be classless. But when he and Matt get home they are both going to laugh so hard. “Your eyes?” Foggy says, level voiced. “Let me see, buddy.”
Foggy comes to the side of the gurney alongside the cabinets and the Avengers politely turn the other way as Matt lifts off the mask. Foggy takes his chin gently in one hand and tips Matt’s face up to look into his sightless brown eyes. “Well, from my perspective they’re still ridiculously attractive, babe,” Foggy says, pecking Matt on the lips in relief.
Matt smiles. “Then they’re fine.”
Stark groans. “Okay, you saps are adorable but this is an actual genuine problem. You’re blind. You get that, right?”
“Yeah,” Matt says, putting the mask back on. “That might take a little getting used to. Maybe give me a few days to adjust and get back in fighting shape.”
There’s a beat of awkward silence.
“Everyone is looking at you like they want to hug you,” Foggy informs Matt pitilessly.
Matt winces. “Please don’t. I’ll go home and rest-” Foggy snorts. “And rest,” Matt continues, as if he’s deaf as well as blind, “and we’ll see how things go.”
Banner steps forward and hands Foggy a piece of paper with a name and number on it. “This is the number of someone it might help to talk to. To help process.”
“I don’t need to see a psychologist. I have a priest,” Matt says. He turns to Foggy and asks, “Did you bring my spare glasses?”
“Got ‘em right here,” Foggy says, putting them into Matt’s left hand.
Matt hops down from the gurney and lets Foggy guide his right hand to the crook of Foggy’s arm so he can be led. “Thanks for the loan, Cap,” Matt says, tapping his glasses against the blue mask. “I’ll leave it down in the lab by the service exit for you.”
Banner unlocks a cabinet and presses a bottle of some kind of painkiller that Matt’s never going to use into Foggy’s hand. “Thanks, doc,” Foggy says. “I’ll look after him.”
Foggy does most of the laughing for both of them because broken ribs aren’t conducive to anything more strenuous than breathing. When he’s done, he says, “Maybe you should just tell them.”
The truth is, Matt’s been thinking about it for a while and there’s no way Stark’s tech couldn’t identify him in 0.5 seconds if tasked to, but Matt’s kind of interested to see how this plays out now.
There’s a knock on the door and Foggy answers it. Matt can hear the scratch of a pen as he signs for something. “So,” Foggy says, bemused, “this is from Stark but I have no idea what it is.”
He puts a slim, metal cylinder in Matt’s hand. “Clearly it’s a lightsaber,” Matt jokes, feeling for imperfections. There are grooves down the side but no obvious button or switch.
It takes Matt and Foggy together upwards of fifteen minutes to figure it out. “God damn it, Stark, we’re lawyers, not engineers!” Foggy yells and that’s when Matt puts his thumb on what must be a fingerprint reader and the cylinder makes a noise like the flick of a lightswitch.
“Wood,” a female voice says, pleasant and nonsensical.
“It seriously is a lightsaber, Matt,” Foggy says with awe. “There’s this white beam shooting straight out of it toward the dresser. Point it at something else.”
Matt shifts and the voice says, “Glass.”
“The window,” Matt says.
“Yeah,” Foggy confirms. “I guess it’s like the electronic version of your cane?”
Matt points it at Foggy. “Biological material,” the voice says pleasantly.
“Hey!” Foggy objects.
Matt smirks. “As much as I appreciate the thought, I think I’ll keep my cane.”
Two days later, Stark sends a tablet that turns on like a regular StarkPad. “Thank God,” Foggy mutters. “Oh, hey, now this is cool. You’ll like this one, Matt.”
Matt reaches up from the couch where Foggy has finally allowed him to migrate under the condition that he remains horizontal and listens to terrible reruns of Law & Order with mocking descriptive audio from Foggy. “What is it?” he asks, running his hands over the bumps and whorls of the screen.
“Tactile gaming,” Foggy says, happily. “Check if it’s got tetris.”
“You know,” Matt says, putting his head back down in Foggy’s lap, “maybe I could take a couple more days to recuperate.”
Matt will admit he loves the gaming tablet and he spends almost a whole day addicted to Bejeweled but by the end of the week he’s starting to get concerned that Stark is building him a robot seeing eye dog or something and there are reports of Whiplash and several ex-SHIELD Hydra agents busting stuff up downtown. The Avengers haven’t called Thor, so Matt assumes he still has his sort of auxiliary spot on the team.
When he gets to the tower, they’re just closing the ramp on the Quinjet. Matt has to slide under the door like he’s stealing third. “Leaving without me?”
“Daredevil,” Rogers says, concerned. “You’re not back on the roster yet.”
“I’m fine,” Matt placates.
Banner pulls a penlight out of the med kit they keep stashed under the pilot’s seat. Matt can hear the ca-click as he turns it on.
“What? I told you I’m fine,” Matt says, suddenly realizing he didn’t expect his own trust-but-verify life strategy to be used on him.
“And I believe you,” Banner says, affable and yet implacable, “I’d just like to have a look.”
Matt can hear the too loud beating of Banner’s heart. He doesn’t really believe him. Matt resigns himself and Banner shines the penlight in his eyes, flicking it horizontally to no effect in both eyes. He tries it twice. Matt’s glad he can’t see Banner’s expression of what he expects is profound disappointment because his damning silence is punishment enough.
“Daredevil, you’re blind.” The sympathy in Banner’s voice is excruciating.
“Okay, fine,” Matt admits. “But the rest of my senses are fantastic. I can still fight.”
The whole team lapses into the awkward silence that Matt feels they’re starting to become overly familiar with.
“Daredevil,” Rogers says, putting a hand on Matt’s shoulder, “please stay with the jet.”
The please makes Matt feel guilty but if he let guilt stop him from doing anything, he’d never get out of bed. He waits thirty seconds after they touch down and the team disperses to home in on the distinctive sizzle and crack of Vanko’s energy whips.
Matt cocks his head to listen. Twenty meters away there’s the distinctive sound of Romanov choking someone with her thighs. Closer, he hears the thip thip thip of Barton’s arrows.
There’s the hot, ozone smell of electricity against metal as Whiplash lands a hit that sends Iron Man flying backwards into a building.
Matt steps up to take his place.
“Oh, Christ,” Barton prays under his breath, sending an arrow at Vanko to distract him. “Daredevil, get back!”
Matt steps right into Vanko’s face and gives him an uppercut his dad would be proud of.
“Duck!” Stark yells at the same time Romanov calls, “Left!”
“Stop distracting me!” Matt yells back, dodging out of the way of the energy whip. He steps out of range and listens for the steady underlying hum.
Vanko flicks the whips at him mockingly and Matt moves, ducking under his guard and snapping his left wrist with one smooth twist. Vanko screams and drops the whip but he’s already spinning the other one and Matt can feel the crackle of it like static electricity as it brushes past his arm. He needs to end this quick. A knockout in the first round.
Barton shoots another arrow and Matt takes Vanko’s half second of distraction to build up momentum in a triple twist that ends with a kick to the head. Vanko goes down like a ton of bricks.
The whip gives one last twitch as it settles and Matt jumps neatly over it.
“What the hell just happened?” Barton says.
“Okay, did you seriously become a blind ninja in under a week?” Stark asks when they get back to the tower for the traditional post-mission debrief and snack break. “Because I was working on a really cool electronic eye and now you’ve made it obsolete before it even made it off the lab bench.”
“Tony,” Rogers says, “I think he’s actually going to tell us something about himself here.”
“Shutting up,” Stark says.
Matt clears his throat and reaches up to pull off his mask. “My name is Matt Murdock. I’m a lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen and I’ve been blind since I was nine years old.”
“You’re a lawyer?” Stark says.
“You were already blind?” Barton asks, more relevantly.
Matt nods. “Chemical spill when I was a kid. I guess it’s lucky my eyes couldn’t get any more messed up. But like I said, the rest of my senses are fantastic. I found other ways to see.”
Stark turns accusingly to Banner. “‘Don’t look up his name and medical records,’ you said. ‘Respect other people’s privacy and basic human rights for once,’ you said. Well, my way would have saved us a lot of worry and panic and accessibility items that we’re never going to use.”
“The lightsaber cane was kind of crap but you should market the gaming tablet,” Matt says. “I finally understand what everyone is talking about when they say they’re addicted to Candy Crush.”
“Lightsaber cane?” Barton says, interested.
Stark snaps his fingers. “You can’t see half of my inventions. This explains so much about you and why you’ve never been properly impressed by me.”
“Does it?” Matt says, ambiguously. Romanov laughs. “By the way, this building is completely out of compliance with ADA rules and regulations. I served your legal department and you have thirty days to get up to code.”
“Lawyer,” Stark mutters like a curse but Matt knows he’ll have it done by the end of the week, if not the end of the day.
Matt grins. The first time he gets to say it to people is always the best. “Justice is blind.”