Actions

Work Header

Touch Me, Don't Feel Me

Work Text:

 

Foggy often alleges he’s committed to the relationship he has with his state-of-the-art coffeemaker, but every morning he still finds himself in line at the coffee shop three floors under his new apartment. He sways on his feet a little while he waits and tries to avoid excessive drool. Today’s recipient of Foggy’s back of the neck stare is woman with a half-shaved head and a daisy tattoo under her ear. The freckle where her hair intersects with her neck stars out like an amoeba. Foggy smiles past a jaw-cracking yawn and rubs his eyes. He only vaguely remembers learning about amoebas in science class.

“No charge,” the cashier says when Foggy tries to hand her his credit card.

Foggy blinks and his gut swoops with secondhand embarrassment.

She tries to hand him an onion bagel loaded with extra veggie cream cheese, and Foggy has gotten that here before, yes, but he didn’t order it *today*. Foggy eyeballs the paper plate, stricken. He is so uninterested in being in this situation today or at all.

“You’re, uh.” He waves a hand at her face. “I mean, you seem like a nice girl, and everything---but I think the age difference---”

“I’m still in high school,” she deadpans. Right, so--- “A guy with red shades and walk of shame neck beard got it. But yes, I’m a very nice girl, thank you. Have a wonderful day. ”

And get the fuck out, she doesn’t say.

“Next!” she shouts.

The traitorous organ in Foggy’s chest skips a beat. Red shades. A kernel of desire flickers, pops, and dies away. His broken heart is only relevant as an origin story.

Foggy grabs the paper plate, the coffee, and does a one-eighty at the register. The line of dead-eyed people shuffle forward, synchronized. He steps aside to avoid life as a pancake. It’s already pushing eighty degrees, and the suns not all the way up yet, so the flop sweat he shakes out doesn’t draw any attention. He loiters by the bubble gum machine, each hand occupied by what can only be classified as a bad idea, but Matt doesn’t show himself. He’s probably parkouring after purse snatchers by now.

Foggy’s phone buzzes in his pocket, an alarm warning him about a meeting he can’t miss.

He licks the back of his front teeth and gazes forlornly at the cup in his hands. It’s white chocolate mocha and it smells like candy. It lands in the trash can outside the door with a wet thump. There’s a guy who sleeps on the bench by the nail shop until morning patrol who will gladly take the bagel and always has a dirty Reddit joke to share.

It’s time to buy a thermos.

*

Foggy camps out in the library late.

Jeri Hogarth does most of her directing while stalking to her next appointment unless you catch her in her office and you really don’t want to catch her in her office. She does not have time for your bullshit. It doesn’t take super senses to hear her coming; the heels, the entourage, the dramatic presence. She and her secretary must make some noise when they come in, but Foggy has gone so deep in his head that he doesn’t notice her until she taps him on the shoulder with a single neatly groomed finger.

Matt. He’s remembering Matt.

[A hand slaps over the page Foggy bends over. Tapered fingers carrying what have to be permanent ink stains obscure the text. Matt tugs the book away and shuts it. “Stop moping,” Matt demands. “You’re worth ten of her and you know it.” Matt pushes up his glasses with a single finger. Matt smiles. The dim yellow room brightens---]

[or was it bright already. Was it morning or---]

[Matt pushes up his glasses and Matt smiles.]

Foggy blinks as Matt fades.

Jeri raises both finely plucked eyebrows. Foggy straightens out of a slouch.

“I had an idea about corporate espionage,” he explains. Wait, that sounds weird. He waves his highlighter in the air. “Um, not to do it. How to defend it. When it’s defensible.”

“And it couldn’t wait for morning,” Jeri says. The dark metallic dress suit fits her like a glove but doesn’t cling. When she bends over him, arm propped on the back of his chair, the suit hardly wrinkles. It wouldn’t dare. “I’m assuming you’ve made progress then.”

She smells like expensive jewelry and investment portfolios, Foggy thinks dreamily.

He restrains himself from sharing the sentiment, but what must be a blush prickles up from his shirt collar and burns his cheeks. The secretary coughs into her hand.

“I just wanted to brush up on some of the fine print.” Foggy gestures to his fort of books. “I’m a detail man. I like to uh. Be prepared.”

Jeri’s mouth twitches. She nearly smiles.

“I know I told you there would be overtime.” She raises one finger. “Unpaid overtime. Reserve it for when I request it, Mr. Nelson. Because I will.”

“For Jones,” Foggy says.

“For Jones,” Hogarth agrees. She steps back, gesturing for him to mirror her. “To start with. There’s more where she comes from. Have you ever heard of a man they call Iron Fist?”

Foggy stands and tucks the most important book under his arm. Jeri glances at it and gives the distinct impression that she’s rolling her eyes without actually doing so. Foggy follows her to the elevator.

“Iron fist…” Foggy rolls the name on his tongue. “It rings a bell.”

The elevator doors slide shut, gleaming, and for a fraction of an instant, Foggy sees himself in the reflective steel with much longer hair and maybe ten pounds lighter. In flannel. And there’s Matt, arm slung like a scarf around Foggy’s shoulders, giggling an overabundance of joy against Foggy’s cheek. Jeri wades into the daydream and presses a button on the control panel. Matt from then vanishes, leaving Foggy looking sharp and pressed, neat lines and organized hair, like a Photoshop trick.

Before Matt. After Matt.

 

*

It happens again; at McDonalds, this time.

“No, I really want to pay for this, can you just---”

The young man stares at Foggy through the smudged glass window and wipes his nose on the back of his wrist. Foggy waves the card. The kid shrugs and makes devil horns at him.

“Take my money,” Foggy yells, voice breaking. “C’mon, it’s good, I work for it, mostly---”

The gas-guzzling monster truck behind him honks.

“Fuck! Shit!” Foggy slams his palms on the steering wheel. “If you got more than twelve miles to the gallon, maybe you could afford a little more patience, buddy, hold on.”

He puts his credit card away and drives past the pick-up window faster than is strictly safe without his seatbelt on. His stomach growls as he spots the golden arches in his rear view mirror, but he doesn’t stop. He has peanut butter and a spoon at home. Fucking asshole, Foggy thinks. Keep your fucking guilt fries. Foggy feels tears sting his eyes at a red light and digs his thumbs in, dragging from the tear ducts outward until the tail lights ahead blur together.

Karen leaves a voicemail the next morning while Foggy is in court.

“Call me!” she chirps. “Call me, call me, ca-aallll me.”

The men’s room Foggy picks for the task only has one stall with the door still on it. Foggy sits on the toilet seat with his tie dangling between his knees and dials.

“Foggy-Bear!” Karen answers. She sounds far away like she’s on the speaker phone. There’s a noise like clicking on a keyboard. “We need to get together stat. How about Josie’s? I need a good case of food poisoning. It’s buy one, get one on all antibiotics at Harry’s Pharmacy this weekend..”

Foggy frowns at the shiny tips of his shoes. Josie’s, huh? Strange timing.

“Maybe somewhere else?” Foggy suggests. “Pretty much anywhere else, actually. There’s this biker bar I know of if you’re down. Though I would suggest bringing an unconcealed weapon.”

“Foggy,” Karen sighs. Click, click, click. “It’s been a year.”

“What the hell, Karen.”

“I’ve been talking to Matt,” she says, typing rapidly

Foggy bends forward. Sweat drips under the expensive collar of his shirt, slithering an uncertain path down his spine. He bites his lip. Karen’s typing fades to a crawl. There’s a static clatter. The next time Karen speaks, her voice is clear and close, like she’s sitting beside him.

“We’re working on becoming friends,” Karen says. Foggy pictures the pale concern in her eyes that never seems to find a bottom. “Like we should have been all along. If my embarrassing crush hadn’t gotten in the way and if someone hadn’t been pushing us together.”

Ha. As if they’d needed any pushing. Ok, maybe a little.

“Good for you. Glad you’re working it out.” Foggy shapes a fist in the air and crushes an imaginary can. “I’m happy for you. Honestly.”

“Oh, Foggy,” Karen says. “He misses you.”

“I’m trying to figure out a way to say this politely,” Foggy says through clenched teeth, then stops and slaps his forehead. He hangs up and turns his phone off.

Twenty minutes later, Foggy eviscerates the prosecution.

Foggy sees Matt a week later. It gives Foggy indigestion. Foggy pushes through the first of three sets of doors that lead outside the post office, looks up, and boom. Foggy instantly regrets the dairy. Matt stops on the sidewalk like he’s run into a glass wall and Foggy lurches backward, taking out a handful of stamp porn with a wild swipe of his arm. Matt hangs around while Foggy cleans up the mess and it sucks how good Matt looks out there: hair flipping around in the wind, suit tie doing the Macarena.

Matt tilts his head and it clicks that he’s waiting Foggy out.

“Go away,” Foggy says under his breath, heart pounding crazily.

Matt purses his lips, face twitching, then nods sullenly. He starts feeling his way forward with the walking stick, much slower than Foggy knows he needs to. People part around him like trained dogs. If seeing Matt ruins Foggy’s digestion, watching Matt leave ruins Foggy’s entire day.

He calls Karen when he gets back to the office and there’s a door between him and the rest of the world. The phone rings. He considers curling up under his desk but manages to stay upright in his chair without turning into a fetus. When Karen answers, she does so timidly. She already knows.

“Did he run into me on purpose?” Foggy asks.

“No, Foggy,” she says. “Well, he’s shaking his head no, but it’s Matt, so---”

She trails off. Wherever she is, Matt’s with her. Sabotaging. Foggy covers his eyes with one hand and starts counting down from ten.

“Hey, so I’m doing this article about female superheroes,” she says.

“Dammit, Karen,” Foggy says. “No comment.”

“But. Feminism, Foggy.”

“Karen,” Foggy whines.

“Fine,” Karen sighs. “Lunch? Just you and me,” she adds. “I’m buying.”

“I can’t,” Foggy says. “I’m working through lunch.”

“Um.” Karen coughs delicately. “Is it, uh, about Jessica Jones, maybe?”

“I don’t want to make a habit out of hanging up on you, but---”

*

Jones calls just before it’s Foggy’s turn to order his sandwich. Two minutes later and it would have been in his greedy hands, damn her. Foggy finds her with her hip cocked out, booted foot tapping and ready to ram up the nearest ass with all the terrifying force she barely restrains.

“Not another word, Jones!” Foggy shouts, wading through blue uniforms.

Jessica smiles snottily when she sees him. She has a spectacular head wound and half her face is covered in dried blood. It must be Tuesday. She waves at him through the smoke and cinder.

“That’s my lawyer,” she informs the cop guarding her, then flicks his badge. It drops off his uniform and pings to the ground. Jessica makes a dramatic oops face and stoops to retrieve it. She holds it out with a beatific smile. The officer cracks his neck and gives Foggy the eyeball.

“She’s under arrest,” the officer tells Foggy. “Again.”

“I crashed a car,” Jones explains. She jerks a thumb at the twisted smoking metal down the street. Half the block huddles around the wreck to gawk. One woman sobs into a mysteriously headless stuffed animal like the world is ending. Foggy experiences a strange sense of Déjà vu that he is so not about to investigate.

“Into a hot dog stand,” the officer clarifies.

“Ha! Those were hardly hot dogs. Are you even from New York?”

“Did I tell you to speak?” Foggy hisses. “Not another word.”

Jones rolls her eyes. Foggy considers poking them out.

“A hot dog stand,” Foggy repeats. “I need to call Jeri. You? Stay. No talking. Comprende?”

Foggy circles the scene, sweating buckets under a sky without clouds. Little hands attempt to pocket his wallet. Foggy doesn’t say a word as he plucks the boy out of the crowd by his shirt collar. The kid drops the wallet into Foggy’s hands with a sort of desperate sheen to his eyes. Foggy gives him a twenty and sends him on his way. Foggy finds privacy in an alley by the modern art building and crosses his arms over his chest while he waits for his call to connect. It goes straight to voicemail. Foggy sighs and peers up at the malicious sun, a drop of sweat streaking off his temple into his ear.

A gloved hand covers his mouth.

Well, fuck.

The world tilts and spins, light to shadow, and Foggy thuds against brick. He’s pinned there in the shade of a commercial dumpster, Daredevil’s illuminated eyes flickering an inch away.

“Ouch,” Foggy says, winded.

“This is uninvolved?” Daredevil spits. Foggy brings his knee up but Daredevil blocks it with his own, snarling and pushing Foggy’s shoulders tight to the wall. “It seems to me, Mr. Nelson, that you don’t know how to stay out of trouble. Need a lesson?”

“Hands off,” Foggy says through gritted teeth. Foggy thumps his fist against the armored suit, but Daredevil only tilts his head. “Right now, before I---”

“Before you…? Enlighten me.” Daredevil smiles, a sweeping bird of prey grin. Foggy’s throat dries up and his sweat goes cold. He tries to look away but can’t. He doesn’t want to be here, in this man’s hands, this stranger’s hands, when every reaction and heartbeat can be analyzed and deconstructed. Sniffed out. When none of the data collected had mattered enough. “Tell me what you’ll do, Mr. Nelson.”

“I don’t know.” Foggy goes slack, like a dead mouse. “Buy you a razor. Do you even try anymore? Or is all of that on your face on purpose?”

The red lights in the eyes of the mask flicker and fade.

Daredevil loosens his grip, cherry red mouth softening into something familiar. Foggy shimmies sideways, sharp bits of uneven brick catching his jacket and snagging his hair. He nearly loses a piece of his scalp trying to escape. Foggy cusses and turns his head. Daredevil reaches out slowly with one hand to untangle the trapped hair with extreme patience that Foggy, jittering in his shoes, doesn’t possess. When Foggy is free, Daredevil drops his hand to his side, fingers curling toward his palms. Underneath all that armor, the man is huffing, chest lifting and falling with some restrained emotion.

Foggy doesn’t care. Honestly.

“You should stay out of this kind of mess,” Daredevil warns as Foggy circles him.

“I’m on retainer,” Foggy says. “This is exactly the kind of mess I’m good at.”

After a second of silence, he adds, “Don’t put your hands on me again.”

He pivots from Daredevil and nearly runs into a telephone pole for his troubles. He sidesteps it sightlessly, body fizzing to weird and wild life.

“Foggy,” he hears, and no, no, feels it, like a myocardial infarction, the big bang, a time-warp in his chest, but then his phone rings and he answers it, deliberately drowning in the crowd. Foggy comes up for air after Jessica actually agrees to fill out the required forms. The alley is empty but for a patchy cat pawing under the dumpster to reach a stray can.

“I already signed my name,” Jones argues, waving the clipboard at the same beleaguered officer.

“In the wrong spot,” the officer groans. “And you cannot use profanity as descriptive language---This is wrong, all wrong. Is that blood? Did you sign in your own blood?”

“The pen died,” Jessica says.

The officer goes red in the face. Jessica tightens her stance.

“Nelson,” they say as one, turning to look at him.

Foggy pinches the bridge of his nose. He needs that sandwich.

 

*

Three firm knocks jolt Foggy awake Friday night. He comes to in his own bed. Roberts vs. Roberts is splayed out on his lap as he tilts sideways and drools on his own shoulder. Foggy blinks sleepily and wipes his mouth off on his sleeve.

Two more knocks jar the silence. Foggy climbs out from beneath the mess of blankets and paperwork, muttering to himself. It’s probably Marci looking for a weekend romp. Just in case it’s not, Foggy grabs the baseball bat from behind his bedroom door as he goes. The fuzzy Captain America slippers muffle his footsteps over the hardwood floor. He turns the light on in the living room, solidifies his grip on the bat, and peers through the peep hole.

Glint of red glass. A fading yellow bruise. The puppet on a string grin.

Foggy recoils and cringes.

“Crap,” he mouths and does a full circle. He checks again.

Matt waves.

Foggy spins away and knocks himself gently in the forehead with the bat until it actually starts to hurt. Just deal with it, he tells himself. You’re an adult. Listen to him so he can leave and you can continue living without him. Foggy nods, turns, and reaches for the door handle, then. No. He pivots and walks three feet. Stops. He puts his hands on his hips and pictures Matt in the newspaper, a grainy shot of Daredevil clutching Elektra’s collapsed body.

Matt knocks once more, softly. Maybe he can sense the flicker-beat of Foggy’s emotions.

Foggy sighs and rolls his head around on his neck, cracking it in three different spots. He props the bat against the wall and unlocks the deadbolt. The chain stays latched. He opens the door a crack and sticks his nose through. Matt tilts with the pull of the door as if drawn by the weight of wood displacing.

“I didn’t order a stripper,” Foggy says.

It’s an opportunity. He takes it. He’s not proud of it

Matt smiles warily.

“Foggy,” he says, like what he means is, ‘hi there.’

“I’d ask how you know where I live, but that would be redundant.”

Matt shrugs a shoulder. Huffs.. Basically.

Foggy squints one eye at him critically. The yellow hallway light hollows out Matt’s face, creates pockets of shadow under his cheekbones and glasses. The new shades are sleeker and the color of fresh blood. Foggy wonders who helped Matt pick them out or if he’s figured out a way to discern color as well. It’s as likely as anything else Matt can do.

“Can I come in?” Matt asks. His hands are in his pockets.

“Is it life threatening?” Foggy asks. He leans his weight on the door. “Does it involve conspiracies or criminal organizations? We should discuss my retainer fee first.”

Matt bends forward, right in Foggy’s face. “Just let me in, Foggy.”

Foggy sighs. It’s late. These neighbors abide by noise ordinances. Last week, Mrs. Thomas got a note on her door warning her against midnight Jeopardy marathons. It’s a shame. Foggy had found them to be extremely educational.

“One time,” Foggy allows. “This is not a white flag.”

Matt nods quickly.

Foggy shuts the door and lets it hold him up for a second, trying to calm down. He listens to his breathing and counts. His stomach hurts and his fingers tingle, but it’s his heart that is going to give him away. His stupid heart flutters like it’s the first year of law school all over again. Foggy sends a prayer to the ceiling and undoes the chain.

“Mi Casa,” Foggy says, opening the door and shifting to the right.

Matt breaks his cane down as he steps inside. He leans forward ahead of his feet like he’s looking with his eyes and not his bat sonar or whatever. He passes within two inches of Foggy, sets the cane on the bookshelf, and the backs of Foggy’s knees go weak. Matt smells good. Not just freshly showered good but like an old bad habit good. This is the Matt Foggy’s body remembers, not the blood and iron and trash smell from the alley, but this: clean sweat, old books, and the burst of spices under hypoallergenic soap. Foggy shuts the door and lingers on the chain. He leaves it off.

“So this is where Foggy’s dwell now,” Matt muses aloud.

Matt circles the living room loosely, head cocked as he observes the environment for the first time. The open floor plan is somewhat like Matt’s place and he probably notices that first. Foggy’s kitchen flows into to living room without a barrier, and then there’s a small hipster bathroom shielded only by a glass wall. Foggy still showers somewhat suspiciously. The bedroom is the only real separate area. Matt stops by the closed door for a moment, head cocked, then moves on.

Foggy follows at a distance, stomach in knots. It’s hard to miss how good Matt looks. He’s buttoned the wine red shirt all the way up to the collar and tucked it into his shiny leather belt. The jeans hug his ass in a way Foggy has been avoiding looking at too directly since college. Matt turns his head and his jaw is smooth like it might have seen a razor today. Foggy swallows and tucks his hands in the wide pockets of his saggy pajama bottoms.

Seeing Matt for the first time in a long time is like puberty: painful and uncontrolled.

It makes Foggy feel like his skin is too tight.

“So,” Foggy says, when Matt seems content to do another loop. “What’s up?”

Matt runs his palm over the back of the sofa as he trails ahead.

“I’m working again,” Matt says. He fluffs a pillow.

“Like, punching people, or---”

“In the courtroom. But. You’re not wrong.” Matt shrugs. “I do that, too.”

“I figured that by the rainbow on your face.” Foggy waves vaguely at an area on his own jaw. Matt has a fist shaped bruise there: yellow and purple, speckled with red. “You’re being careful, right?”

Matt’s lips jerk up. Foggy rolls his eyes.

“Well it’s good to know that law degree isn’t going to waste,” Foggy says. “The other stuff---I don’t know. You do what you want. Best of luck.”

Matt nods vaguely and passes the end table. He touches the polka dot lampshade intently and his fingers glow pink. Foggy frowns, a tick starting in his left cheek.

“Why are you here, Matt?”

Matt twirls a hand in the air like a magician unveiling a rabbit.

“You don’t write,” Matt says sweetly. “You don’t call.”

Foggy feels his blood pressure rise. Phantom pain starts up in his shoulder.

So Matt’s here to fight.

“Are you being fucking serious right now. Oh my god, you’re being fucking serious.”

“It’s been a long year.” Matt’s face flicks between expressions, never settling long enough to give him away. Foggy waits for an opening. “You don’t even know---I haven’t told you. Stick’s gone. Karen is our intrepid reporter. Elektra is---Foggy, she---”

“I know.” Foggy reigns himself in. It’s not easy. “I’m sorry.”

Matt moves into the shadows, as steady as smoke.

“Nelson and Murdock is over. You told me you wanted that more than anything, remember? That dumb avocado joke we couldn’t let go of. You left, but you didn’t go far, did you? You’re still around every street corner. People mention you by name on the bus. I get your junk mail. Your mom invites me to lunch. She, uh, doesn’t know we dissolved the partnership. You’re everywhere, Foggy.”

Foggy lifts his chin. “This is my city, too. I’m not leaving it.”

“No.” Matt laughs. “No. You just left me.”

Matt’s wording spins what happened sideways. Who wronged who here? The space Foggy had carefully maintained between them shrinks as Matt comes closer and Foggy doesn’t dare give ground. He shores up his defenses and puffs out his chest. It feels like he should be wearing a three-piece suit because this is definitely Matt swooping in to dismantle the prosecution.

“Have you had time to reconsider?”

Foggy swallows then winces at the tell.

Matt grins like the devil and takes another step. Foggy itches to move away.

“There’s nothing to reconsider,” Foggy says shakily. “You’re cancer, man.”

Matt tilts his head. The lamplight plays over his glasses, reflecting twin bolts of Foggy’s messy bed hair and weak, hopeful eyes. Foggy squares his shoulders. That’s not him anymore.

“So you’ve cut me out,” Matt says.

Foggy doesn’t respond. Matt would hear the lie.

Matt nods and turns his head to the side, giving Foggy a view behind the glasses at Matt’s flat eyes, over which a wealth of thoughts flicker constantly with no veil to obscure them. Matt’s eyelashes flutter together, then apart, and he reaches up to pluck his glasses off. Foggy reacts at that, shuffles backward, but Matt catches Foggy by the wrist and turns those vulnerable eyes on him.

The defense rests, ladies and gentleman.

“It’s late,” Foggy says. Stop staring, he tells himself. Matt can tell.

Matt folds the glasses with his free hand and slips them into his shirt pocket. He reaches out after, achingly slow, and broadcasts his intent just like he had in the alley. Foggy watches Matt’s hand approach with the inaction of an underwater dream. He can’t move, can’t dodge or welcome. Matt holds the whole world in his eyes. He has the power to make people uncomfortable or to calm them. Foggy doesn’t feel calm. He feels snatched. Pinned.

Foggy flinches when Matt touches the side of his throat with just fingertips. They’re rough, callused, but the touch is unmistakably a five-point caress. Foggy hiccups air when Matt cups his neck. Matt’s lips part as he strokes up the underside of Foggy’s chin, then sweeps back down.

“I wasn’t going to do this,” Matt says conversationally. He drops Foggy’s wrist so that he can use that hand to press over Foggy’s heart. Foggy feels it all but leap into Matt’s heavy palm. “I would have tried to be your friend again. It would have gone back to how it was before. I would have been a very good friend to you, Foggy, so good you’d forget this entire year ever happened.”

Foggy moves his tongue. It clicks wetly and sticks to the roof of his mouth like a lump of meat. He closes his eyes and lets his hands dangle at his sides. Maybe that’s an answer.

“You’re my best friend,” Matt says, the air around them warming. Foggy peeks through the blur of his lashes and Matt’s face hovers near, wide nose angled just above his own. Foggy falls deep into that old bad habit. At least ten fantasies had started out this way. Corned by Matt. Seduced by Matt. When Matt’s exhale stirs on Foggy’s upper lip, it’s like he’s breathing on Foggy’s dick.

Matt’s nostrils flare and Foggy wants to die.

“You don’t want that anymore,” Matt whispers. “And that’s my fault. It’s not over, though. There’s a flaw in your plan, Foggy.”

Matt’s nose slides over his cheek, toward his ear, and Foggy shivers. Matt jerks a step closer and Foggy realizes he has Matt’s soft shirt wadded desperately in his fist. He doesn’t recall lifting his hands. Foggy smoothes the fabric out, flattens it to Matt’s chest. Matt’s shoulder flexes under the incidental caress, pulses toward the touch. He’s burning under the shirt, muscles tense.

“Flaw?” Foggy echoes. “Plan?”

“There’s nothing stopping us from doing this,” Matt says into his ear. “So say no if you’re going to, Foggy. Or say yes. You should really, really say yes.”

Matt drums his fingers over Foggy’s racing heart and places a very light kiss on his ear.

It’s as good as being bitten. Foggy feels his mouth and fingertips go numb, then burn to bright life. He’s been mentally scapegoating, trying to explain away this moment like they’ve explained away all the rest, but Matt isn’t leaving room for interpretation. He wants to fuck. He wants to fuck Foggy, and he wants it right now. Yesterday, maybe. Foggy opens up his body to the idea, feels around and discovers that he aches everywhere they’re in contact, points of gnawing hunger under Matt’s hands, even where their knees are knocking together.

He’s desensitized supposedly, conditioned out of wanting Matt, but Matt dips, temple grazing Foggy’s jaw, and the sweet smell of his shampoo makes Foggy throb sharply between his thighs.

“Yes or no,” Matt breathes, panting already, like Foggy is a sure thing

Ok, so Foggy actually is a sure thing.

“I guess, I.” Matt’s knee knocks his again. “It can’t make things worse.”

He feels the sharpness of Matt’s grin against his throat before he sees it.

Matt’s fingers tighten on Foggy’s neck and Matt lifts up, sharp mouth zeroing in. Foggy cuts him off. He slides ten fingers into Matt’s fluffy hair, yanks, and gets Matt’s lips under his own for the first time. Shock and awe. Sudden stillness. Foggy barely registers the kiss at first. It’s all white noise and disbelief until Matt breathes out noisily, Foggy’s name tangled up in the web of air, and it’s suddenly wet, wetter, and warm. Time restarts. Foggy works over Matt’s mouth like it’s his day job, like it will feed him for a week. This is why he’s the detail man.

Matt comes up for air then angles for something deeper. Presses with his mouth. Digs in with teeth. He slips the hand on Foggy’s neck up, deep into Foggy’s hair, and their tongues touch. It tugs the heart and the groin simultaneously, and Foggy breaks the kiss, turning his head aside.

“That’s good,” Matt hushes, petting Foggy’s hair. “This is good.”

“Great,” Foggy says. “Awesome. Why are you talking---”

Matt kisses Foggy’s cheek, under his jaw, nuzzles his nose in the space under Foggy’s ear. Foggy’s eyes roll back and he releases Matt’s hair. Who knew Matt had been listening when Foggy shouldn’t have been telling? He clutches Matt’s shoulders for balance and lets his head drop back. Matt murmurs something low and approving as he grips Foggy by his waist, fingers like claws. He scrubs kisses all over Foggy’s throat and makes these little noises between each nipping bite, like what he’s tasting is sweet. It’s hypnotic. Foggy turns his head at Matt’s whim, basking at the attention.

[so you’re a neck man, huh? Yeah, Matt, I mean---it depends. With the right touch? What kind of touch? Are you writing a book about this? Why are you so curious? You dirty bastard.]

Foggy shudders at a particularly sharp nibble. Matt burns his way back up to Foggy’s mouth, bites it open and pulls Foggy close, closer. Foggy drags one hand down Matt’s front, feels the tight bunch of his nipple under the dress shirt. Pinches. Matt grunts, once, and lifts his thigh to press on the outside of Foggy’s hip, maybe trying to actually climb him right where they stand.

Foggy sways, unbalanced, and Matt kisses him and kisses him, barely taking the time to inhale before returning for more. It’s like he’s something happening to Foggy, a wave slamming down on him, and Foggy clutches whatever he can reach, grips Matt’s hair or his shoulders, clings to his belt, and Matt pulls on him, drags and uses his weight to bring Foggy to the floor with him.

His knee cracks against the table---

“Ow!” and then Matt pushes, and Foggy lands, winded, on his back.

“Whoa, um,” Foggy says, arching against the cold and---let’s face it---poorly swept floor.

Matt hitches over him, breathing like he’s chasing something. He straddles Foggy’s waist and begins unbuttoning his own shirt with hands that shake. He’s visibly hard in his jeans, fabric curving over his swollen dick. Foggy thrusts sympathetically, rubbing against the ridiculously firm cheeks of Matt’s ass, and Matt pauses, shuts his eyes and grinds back like that’s something Foggy could survive.

“This okay?” Matt whispers.

Foggy says, “Yeah, yeah, it’s---good, Matt.”

Foggy lives through it. Sort of.

Matt fumbles with the rest of his shirt buttons. He yanks at the wrists and sends a button rolling across the floor. His mouth twists in a muted snarl.

“This is kind of.” Foggy sits up a little to run his palms up the inside of Matt’s thighs. “Just let me---” and Matt grins fiercely when Foggy finds the ridge of his dick, teeth shining like he’s winning a fight, so Foggy squeezes, and ah, retribution. Matt’s hips snap. Foggy smiles and rides it out, giving Matt’s hungry cock a nice firm rub through his jeans. Matt yanks his shirt the rest of the way off before crashing over Foggy to bite his mouth again.

Foggy turns out of the kiss.

“No,” Matt says. “No, Foggy---”

Foggy pushes on Matt until he sits up. Foggy gets to his elbows and chills out enough to take an extended look at the man in his lap. Call it an indulgence. There’s a new scar or two, maybe, but this is the same naked chest Foggy has seen a hundred times while Matt changed, while he suffered, while he rested. The brutally efficient muscles themselves have no effect on Foggy after all this time, and yet, Matt’s body looks entirely different with Foggy’s hands running over the shuddering skin, fingertips dipping into the red crease where Matt’s stomach folds, palms scraping up Matt’s sides. Matt shudders when Foggy scratches those tight brown nipples. Interesting.

When Foggy looks at Matt’s face again, it’s to see Matt gnashing his teeth.

“You good?” Foggy asks.

“No,” Matt says.

Matt stands abruptly, leaving Foggy in the cold. Matt kicks off his boots and yanks roughly at his belt, ripping it apart. Foggy’s dick aches in the loose cotton pants so he cups himself, because why not, that’s what his hands are for. He could get naked too, but then he’d miss the show. Matt grunts when he gets the belt undone and unzips his fly sharply enough that Foggy winces, and then down the jeans go.

Matt takes his boxers to his ankles at the same time and kicks them both off.

When he straightens, his clothes are strewn around them in a vicious circle, like a blast radius, and Foggy’s sitting in the center of it, fully dressed. Matt stands over him, naked and trembling slightly, nipples tight, dick fat and fully erect. Foggy swallows and shifts, uncertain of the next move, and Matt’s hand flexes at his hip like he wants to cover himself.

“Still want this?” Matt asks. Stupid fucking question.

Foggy gets to his knees and Matt’s stomach ripples. Foggy pauses. He’d meant to put them on even ground, but Matt’s eyes gleam above him, and his jaw is tight like he’s locking something down. Foggy reaches out and grazes Matt’s knee. It nearly gives out at the contact. Matt braces himself with one hand on Foggy’s shoulder, hair flopping over his forehead.

“You really want me to suck your dick, huh,” Foggy says, strangely vindicated. He wraps his hand around Matt’s hairy thigh where the muscle stiffens like steel rods under his skin. All that strength. All that leashed power. And the back of Matt’s thigh feels like silk. “Thought about it a lot, huh? Where were we? At the office? The dorm?”

“The office,” Matt grits. “The dorm. Your bed. My bed. On the train.”

Very interesting.

Foggy leans closer to Matt’s dick. Slips his hand up to the crease of Matt’s ass, fingers the line there, which usually, yeah, that’s about right. Matt’s dick throbs, precum peeking out of the slit. Matt digs his fingers in Foggy’s shoulders and huffs.

“Suck me,” Matt grunts. “I’ll tell you all about my pathetic daydreams, just fucking put my dick in your mouth, Foggy.”

Foggy shrugs. “I don’t know man, I mean, you didn’t even say please---”

Matt grabs Foggy’s chin and Foggy shuts up, blinking up at Matt.

“Please,” Matt grits.

Foggy half wants to make him suffer, but Foggy’s suffering too. Matt hunches over Foggy, holding Foggy’s chin firmly as he grips his own dick with his other hand. Breathing hard, he gives himself a firm stroke and his fingers get slick with how wet he is. Foggy is captivated. He’s never laid eyes on Matt’s dick before, and here it is, begging for participation. Matt shifts closer and spreads his legs, angling his hips so he can lift his beautiful dick so that it is just in front of Foggy’s slightly open mouth. Matt can probably feel the saliva on Foggy’s breath. Taste the hunger.

“Say it again,” Foggy says and licks his lips.

Foggy can taste Matt when he inhales, the faint tang of soap, and underneath, really insistent, the sharp bite of dick. Foggy’s mouth waters and he grabs onto Matt’s hips with both hands now, fingers fanned out to squeeze the sides of his ass. It’s the Goldilocks of asses. Just the right amount of give.

“Please,” Matt says. “How many times, please, Foggy, please---”

Foggy swallows him. Matt goes wild, spine curling like it’s breaking. He braces his legs wide apart and stabs his fingers into Foggy’s hair. Foggy drags in desperate draughts of air through his nostrils and squeezes that truly gifted ass for all he’s worth. He hangs on and does his best to wash down the bitterness he swallows every day with Matt’s dick. Matt pulls him away when Foggy gets too into it, goes for the gold so to speak, and pants into Foggy’s mouth, kissing him. No way he doesn’t taste himself.

“You could have come,” Foggy says.

Matt shakes his head. “Not yet.”

They end up on the new couch with Foggy on top. Foggy intends to remain dressed and make this quick, but Matt keeps magically making clothes disappear. When he unties the knot on Foggy’s pajama bottoms, he does so slowly, like he’s plucking the petals off a flower. Foggy grabs him by the hair and yanks him up. Matt whimpers, high-pitched. Foggy kicks off the bottoms, the last of his dignity, and pins Matt’s arms over his head so they can thrust together. Bruises fade in and out of Foggy’s line of sight, scattered over Matt’s torso and legs. It gives Foggy a headache.

Foggy runs his palm up the underside of Matt’s arm and feels Matt jump and shiver. He’d do this differently if he could take his time. He’d savor the grain of Matt’s skin, uncover the ticking of Matt’s internal clock, reset it, and reset it, until it only told the time to Foggy. Matt strains up for a kiss, neck hollowing out with the effort, and Foggy gives in a little, kisses him. There’s no room for what Foggy really wants, but he can do this. He can kiss Matt until Matt writhes under him like he’s possessed, until Matt’s thighs tremble and jolt when the drag of Foggy’s tongue mirrors the wet catch of their dicks.

When Foggy backs off, Matt’s mouth is flushed a deep, abused red, and he’s still leaning up for more. Foggy bites his chin, his neck, and eventually Matt falls against the couch, whimpering.

“Fuck me,” Matt says. He wraps his calves around Foggy’s thighs, sweat forcing him to shimmy to get a good grip. He lifts his ass up and pushes on Foggy’s hips to get him in position. Foggy’s ears buzz and his cock aches. He pushes one of Matt’s legs off his thigh.

“No,” Foggy says.

He thrusts down, swivels his hips, and Matt’s face crinkles hungrily.

“C’mon,” Matt says. “Fuck me. I’ll turn around, you can---”

“I said no.” Foggy pushes back and straddles Matt’s thighs, cupping their dicks together with both hands, thrusting in counterpoint. “Don’t make me tell you again.”

Matt shakes his head erratically, hair sticking to his temples. He gets one hand free, no struggle at all really, and runs it up Foggy’s arm [hovers over the bullet scar, hovers too long] up his throat, sticks two fingers in Foggy’s mouth. Foggy sucks dutifully. Matt shuts glassy eyes, face going loose and distant, and his stomach flexes violently. Foggy watches it happen, watches Matt unhinge like a broken door, legs falling apart then slamming together tight, entire body seizing up. He comes like it hurts him, like it shakes his bones, and maybe it does.

Foggy follows Matt down, bears him to the couch and hugs him through it, and Foggy will deny to himself later that he strokes Matt’s hair compulsively, deny the whispered praise he dotes on Matt’s ear as Matt catches his breath. It’s just a little slip.

“Give me a minute,” Matt says, sounding like a wet rag. “I’m good to go.”

“I got this,” Foggy says and sits back up. “You just rest your eyes, buddy.”

He jerks himself off unashamedly until Matt takes over, uses both hands, then climbs off the couch and buries his face between Foggy’s legs. He blows Foggy like he intends to take his time but then forgets to, going deep and holding, holding, making Foggy come, making him come, making him---

Foggy brings Matt a damp towel and watches Matt mop up the mess on his face, then his stomach, and for good measure, Matt scrubs under his arms. Matt doesn’t say a word the entire time, face tilted toward Foggy but not demanding anything. That’s good. Foggy can’t speak. He digs his pajamas out of the pile on the floor and fumbles with the mess they made of the waist tie. He steps into them awkwardly, facing away from Matt even though Matt obviously can’t see him.

Somehow Matt’s glasses ended up caught around the leg of the coffee table. He picks them up and inspects them, but the wire seems straight enough. He’s not the one with superhuman senses, though. Matt takes them from him with a tense smile, fingertips feeling out the rims before he slips them on.

“You, uh.” Foggy winces. “Daredeviling?”

Matt looks at Foggy, or his approximation of looking, that twitch thing he does.

“Did you just. Was that a verb?”

Foggy shrugs.

“I’ll do a patrol,” Matt says. “It’s been a quiet night, but you never know.”

Matt buttons his shirt, toying with the buttons. He’s buying time.

“I don’t know what to say to you,” Foggy admits, ripping off that bandage and taking a few hairs with it. Matt shakes his jeans out with a snap and looks like he could throw up as he balances on one leg to step into them. His legs look watery.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Matt says. He jams his foot into his boot.

Foggy kind of does. They fucked. Matt used to be Foggy’s best friend and now he’s a ghost that haunts Foggy. No words come to mind. He’d used them all to say goodbye in the first place, to cut a piece off of Matt that Foggy still carries around, but here they are again, spinning old news into fresh print.

“Be careful?” Foggy says, like a question. It’s an offer.

Matt swallows. Foggy can see his throat move. Matt steps closer, shirt still mostly unbuttoned, and Foggy doesn’t flinch away. There’s no point in that kind of barrier right now. Matt cups Foggy’s face and kisses him for a long time, aligning their lips so that there is no overlap, just fusion. When Matt pulls away, their lips cling together for a fraction of a second. Tears burn Foggy’s sinuses.

“Sleep well,” Matt whispers. He strokes his thumb down Foggy’s cheek, something he’s done twenty times before, when Foggy’s sad, when Matt’s drunk, when they need each other, then lets go jerkily and fades away down the dark hallway. Foggy hears the door open, hears it shut, and lets out a shaky breath, sitting hard on the couch. He gets up after a second and goes to dig out the fabric spray from under the kitchen sink. He spends twenty minutes scrubbing the couch. It’s rented.

Matt tries to buy him coffee twice more. Foggy orders a thermos from Amazon.

He rubs his shoulder while he updates the shipping address.

*

Karen causes a minor diplomatic incident at the beginning of July, but ultimately reveals the CEO of an up and coming software company to be bankrolling a plot to mind control Hell’s Kitchen. She wins so many awards she probably has to rent a storage space to house them. Foggy takes her out to a celebratory dinner, because---seriously. He likes his mind under his own control.

By the third glass of wine, Karen’s cheeks turn a bright pink and her forehead glistens. Somehow she never looks gross when she sweats. Foggy wouldn’t mind a trick like that in his own toolbox. She starts telling the story about a dead body she had found (when is she not finding dead bodies, let’s be real) and she starts telling it loudly. The waiter starts eyeing them from the podium. Foggy seriously would not care if Karen picked that moment to hop on the table and sing karaoke, but Hardened Reporter Karen might not agree, so Foggy catches the man’s eye and signals for the check.

The waiter approaches them smoothly like he’s on wheels, not feet. He slips Foggy the bill while distracting Karen with another glass of wine. Without asking.

Karen winks at Foggy. Sort of.

“He likes me,” Karen informs Foggy in a loud whisper as Foggy signs off on the check with a messy flourish because it makes him feel fancy.

The waiter clears his throat and hovers at a higher frequency.

“What’s not to like?” Foggy agrees. He refrains from drawing a smiley face after his signature.

“Foggy,” Karen says, super serious. “Foggy, I make so much money right now---”

“Maybe you should be treating me to dinner, then.”

Foggy hands the sleeve back to the waiter. He’s tipped extra for discretion. The man smiles faintly and floats away. Foggy tilts sideways, but doesn’t see any wheels.

“I can!” Karen says brightly and pops up straight. “Oh, but I’m very busy. We need to plan it in advance. Waaaaaay in advance. Let me get my planner.” Karen struggles with her purse and starts to pull things out: a mirror, a recorder, lipstick, a small handgun. Foggy looks around but no one’s paying attention so he can take a moment to boggle at how much stuff fits into a little pink square. “Oh, it’s not here, where did I---Foggy, I lost my planner.”

“It’s okay,” Foggy says and stands to pull her chair out. “I’ll have my secretary call your secretary. We’ll do brunch.”

“I don’t like brunch,” Karen says sadly. “There’s no special food at brunch. What’s the big deal about brunch?”

Karen looks a little forlorn as she wobbles to her feet but she opens her purse again and sweeps all her junk back inside it. The gun sticks out a little this time, but hey, it adds character.

Foggy offers his arm. And ouch, his heart hurts for a second. There’s a little ping [hey, remember when this was Matt?] that Foggy only shakes off because Karen looks like she’s stolen the waiter’s wheels so she can float, too. She takes Foggy’s arm regally, bowing (or maybe nearly falling over). She sure is a picture, though. She looks more like a movie star than an investigative journalist.

The streets are about ten times safer than they used to be, so they opt to walk home. It’s cooler tonight than it has been. Foggy puffs air in front of him to see if he can see it, but it’s not cold enough. Karen goes oddly quietly, sobering a little as she holds Foggy’s arm and sways against him. She stares at stars that are barely visible through the light pollution with a faint shade of longing in her eyes. She gets sad like this sometimes. He used to think it was what happened when they first met, but it’s something more than that---something farther back. Old hurts.

He keeps the chatter going. He’s good at that. Karen plays the part and laughs at all the right moments; a unique sound, like champagne fizzing. She doesn’t add anything. They pass people who must think: This guy? Really? It doesn’t bother him. It never has.

Near her condo, Foggy slows their pace.

“Are you ok?” Foggy asks. “You haven’t nagged me to grow out my hair for, like, two solid hours. I’m kind of worried about you.”

Karen smiles wistfully and squeezes his arm.

“Tell me about Matt, Foggy.”

Foggy stops walking and looks at her. The flush on her cheeks is still there. She’s tucked her hair messily behind her ears and her eyes are a little wet, catching light off the streetlamps.

“I’m not mad,” she says softly. “I’m not jealous. Not really.”

“It didn’t seem right to say anything,” Foggy says. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

Karen raises her hands to Foggy’s throat like she could throttle him.

“Stop worrying about me, Foggy. The only thing I feel is bad for me from a year ago. I honestly thought I liked Matt and I honestly thought he felt the same way.”

“You did,” Foggy says. “He did. All of that was true.”

Karen takes him by the shoulders and stares down at him hard.

“I liked Matt best when he was with you, Foggy,” she says slowly like she’s written these words down before and she’s trying to remember them. “So did Matt. I think he would have given it a go with me if Elektra hadn’t shown up. To keep me happy. To finish the picturesque little family you were building around us. You were as much a part of that relationship as we were. Matt’s crazy about you. So now that you know that I know. What happened?”

Foggy peers at her. “Did Matt say something to you?”

“It’s what he isn’t saying. He was… working through it. He’s regressed.”

Foggy bites his bottom lip. Karen leans forward intensely.

“Spill,” she says.

“We had sex,” Foggy blurts.

Karen lifts an eyebrow and nods. Go on…?

“It was really good?” Foggy offers. “Those abs are real? What are you looking for here?”

Karen groans loudly and does a circle on the sidewalk like she can’t handle another second. Foggy waits until Karen calms down. She eventually comes back to him without stomping.

“What do you feel, Foggy? Tell me that. Matt’s abs can wait.”

Foggy digs deep and thinks about it. If Karen is right that Foggy pushed Matt at her, then she deserves the truth out of him. Foggy holds his arm out to her as he’s thinking and she frowns, but takes it, tucking her fingers comfortably against his elbow. He starts walking forward, staring at the ground.

“I feel like---”

Foggy struggles, frowning when he comes up with nothing. He lifts what feels like hollow eyes to Karen, half panicking and half numb. She squeezes his forearm tightly, forehead wrinkled.

“You don’t even know, do you?”

Foggy nods, but then shakes his head. So that they’re clear. Karen sighs and leads him forward. Her porch light is on. The flag she put out for independence day still swings from the door.

“I feel a little sick,” Karen says. The flush has faded at last. “I can’t tell if it’s the wine or all these feelings. Help me upstairs.”

*

Foggy rolls a shiny silver pen over the surface of his desk. It spins off his fingertips when he gives it a push, loses momentum and rolls back. Foggy repeats the action mindlessly. He pages through the New York Times website, watches a few sad videos and reads the comments and opinions of the ridiculously ignorant public. His sock profile gets a work out as he offers some choice commentary himself about the upcoming election. The sun beats on his back through the office window.

He sheds the suit jacket, rolls up his shirt sleeves, and pulls out his phone. Is it backsliding to scroll through old photos on facebook? Yes, but only Foggy will know.

Graduation. Matt’s hand over Foggy’s face while Foggy tries to strip him of his gown. Matt was supposed to be naked underneath. It remains a mystery whether he was.

Foggy props his crossed ankles on the desk and sinks down in the high back leather chair. Scrolls. Pauses over a photo from their trip to Long Beach. Matt sitting cross-legged on a beach towel with his thumb and forefinger forming a circle on each knee as he pretends to meditate. Matt got so wasted on that trip that he tried to sleep in a trash can. Twice. Foggy scrolls and scrolls. There are plenty of other familiar faces on Foggy’s page, it’s Matt he’s looking for.

Matt who always seems to know a camera is out, who usually turns his head away, his hand a blur, but every now and then mugs for the camera like a real boy, tongue between his teeth.

Foggy pinches his fingers on the screen, releases, and enlarges a photo of Matt holding up a two finger peace sign while he smokes an invisible doobie. He’s wearing a scarf that was a gift from Foggy’s ma. Foggy knocks a closed fist against his mouth and looks at it for too long before he moves on. It takes him an hour to go through the photos, and by that point, Foggy gives up. He e-mails Jeri and asks for a half day. She asks for Saturday in return. Foggy takes it and leaves his suit jacket draped over the back of the chair when he leaves, cartoon dust kicking up behind him.

Foggy pokes a finger in Matt’s face the second Matt opens the door.

“You whammied me,” Foggy says and wags the finger.

He shoulder-checks Matt and stomps inside.

“Um.” Matt scratches his head. He’s in jeans and a Mountain Goats t-shirt he definitely stole from Foggy before they graduated. “Come in?”

“Sex me up,” Foggy demands before Matt has even shut the door. He strips three shirts over his head at once and kicks his shoes off. Screw the socks. They’re fashionable. “Sex me up right now, or I’m going to file a restraining order, I swear---”

Matt shuts Foggy up by yanking the tangled shirts off his arms. His face is already severe in a way Foggy has come to recognize is Matt biting down on his inner devil. Foggy wonders what it would be like to make Matt laugh during sex, what would strip the sternness away and replace it with wonder. He’d lost an entire afternoon once to a daydream about tickling Matt senseless.

But that was. A different version of them. Better to keep it simple.

“What do you want?” Matt asks, no waiting. He drops his glasses off on the counter and starts walking backward, toeing off his sneakers with the laces still tied. They thud on the floor.

Foggy tugs his belt out of his pants. “Fast.”

“Done,” Matt says and takes Foggy by the hand.

Foggy nearly trips over both sets of their shoes.

He drags Foggy to the bedroom. There’s a window open somewhere in the apartment. Foggy can hear the outside traffic, feel a breeze tickle its way past his bare legs and cool the sweat on his skin. Matt pants on Foggy’s neck and jerks him off slowly, not fast at all, tantalizing strokes from root to tip. Foggy’s toes curl inside his socks and Matt bites the soft underside of Foggy’s jaw.

“Look at you,” Matt whispers to Foggy. “You’re all wet.”

Matt can’t see it. Can he smell it? Taste it?

Foggy’s thighs clench under his own hands. He bites his lip to keep from whimpering. Matt chuckles like he hears it anyway. His beard rasps against Foggy’s ear and Foggy grabs Matt, pulls on Matt’s loose shirt until the collar seams pop. Matt mutters something and undoes his own zipper, stuffing his hand inside. His breath hitches every time his forearm flexes. He grimaces against Foggy’s neck and comes first, hand squeezing too tightly on Foggy’s dick before falling lax. Foggy wiggles. Matt gasps wetly against the side of Foggy’s mouth and Foggy turns, sucks on Matt’s bottom lip. Matt leans in lazily and makes it a kiss, tongue easy and sloppy.

It takes Foggy a while to come. Matt toys with him until Foggy can feel how red he must be, until Foggy is sweating and shaking and swearing. He spreads Foggy’s precum down and fingers him with it before coming back to jerk him off again. When Foggy does come, it’s messy and nearly silent, Foggy’s lips pinched between his teeth. Matt mops them up with the shirt and Foggy turns away from the thin drag of Matt’s skin over his ribs, the scatter of bruises that look fresh. Purple and black. A splatter of red, like a paintbrush dripped under the skin. If Matt notices the change in his heart rate, he doesn’t say.

Foggy texts Matt while finishing up dishes.

“Sorry about the drop in,” Foggy messages, getting soap on the screen.

The phone lights up just before bed as Foggy is brushing his teeth.

“Do it again sometime,” Matt replies. “I’ll feed you after.”

Foggy gargles water and spits in the sink. He itches to text back but doesn’t. For some reason that makes it hard to look at his own eyes in the mirror, so he doesn’t wash his face. He’ll regret it when the oil build up makes him break out. Anyone older than twenty-five shouldn’t deal with acne, but Foggy has been exceeding expectations since he repeated the same exact thinking man pose in every photo of all four high school yearbooks, including group photos.

He tries to delete their conversation in the morning. He saves it instead.

*

There is an ongoing debate for two weeks about whether it is appropriate to give Daredevil the key to the city. Columnists and bloggers chime in on what it would mean to label Daredevil a hero instead of a vigilante. No way would Matt ever agree to it. Foggy wonders how Matt is sleeping. Is he eating? Does he find enough reasons to laugh?

Foggy doesn’t buy magazines anymore, but when on his way to work one morning Foggy passes a table stacked high with the clearest Daredevil sighting photo to date, he nearly does. Foggy lingers over the table and sips his iced coffee until the straw makes a loud slurping sound. Shaking the ice in the plastic cup releases one last swallow.

He calls Matt numbly. Matt answers on the third ring.

“Foggy,” he says, sounding sleepy. “Hey, where are you---”

Foggy’s throat squeezes shut.

“I pocket dialed,” Foggy spits and hangs up.

He squeezes the phone like a dirty rag and groans at himself.

“I’m an actual idiot,” Foggy says.

“Yeah, but look at that ass,” a skinny man in magician get-up says as he passes on Foggy’s left. He licks his lip suggestively when Foggy scowls at him and flicks his cape majestically. It should have been ridiculous, but it was a pretty cool cape.

Foggy cuts between honking taxis. A man zooms past on a bicycle and nearly takes him out. Foggy gives him the finger and when he sees a little girl staring at him from a bus stop bench, he carefully conceals said finger behind his back and waves with his other hand. She looks down at her own hand and then lifts it thoughtfully, middle finger sticking up.

Hell’s Kitchen, baby.

Karen calls him on his lunch hour. Foggy picks up while paying the food vendor.

“So Matt is taking up knitting,” she says, without waiting for him to speak.

Foggy tries to balance the phone, his wallet, and the hot dog without losing the chili.

“I care why?” Foggy asks and takes his first bite. He moans a little.

“Because it’s hilarious,” Karen says. “He’s working on a bootie I think. For what baby, who
knows? Don’t tell me you didn’t wear protection.”

Foggy finishes the hot dog in three bites and wipes his hand on the napkin before throwing it away. He wanders down the street, past a man with his guitar case open as he strums the acoustic version of Bittersweet Symphony. I can change, I can change, but I’m here in my mode…

“Did you put this kind of witty dialogue in the book you’re writing?”

Karen pauses. “We’ve agreed never to mention ‘The Book.’”

“Did you make air quotes while you said that?”

“Stop asking questions,” Karen says primly. “Guess what color the bootie is? RED.”

“Karen…” Foggy trails off. It’s becoming pretty clear what she wants.

“Hey, I’m sorry.” Karen is suddenly louder like she’s closer to the phone. Is she a better friend than Matt was? Foggy wonders. Hard to say. It’s not the same game anymore. “You sound sad, Foggy. I’m just picking on you. I’ll leave it alone.”

“I shouldn’t have slept with him,” Foggy says. A woman gives him with a sly smile as he passes her. She looks him up and down. “I knew it. I thought I could deal, but---”

Karen hums.

“I slept with him twice, Karen,” Foggy says. “It’s like I have no self-respect.”

“I don’t think that’s what it is,” she murmurs. “But I’m not exactly an expert.”

“I called him this morning,” Foggy admits. “This has to stop.”

Karen hardballs him.

“Can you tell me, in clear terms, why you feel that way?”

Foggy hesitates.

“Still don’t know? Figure it out. There’s a reason why you guys never hooked up before and there’s a reason why he made a move now. Why’d you say yes, Foggy? That should tell you what to do.”

Foggy sighs. “Can we please talk about your book?”

Karen glitters at him through the phone.

“Oh, Foggy. You need so many hugs. Just wait until I get my noodle arms around you.”

*

Foggy marathons House of Cards over the weekend and turns down Marci’s invitation for a crazy threesome in some rich guy’s rooftop pool. She sends him a photo of what he’s missing. Foggy glances at it while rooting around in the bottom of the bag of Cheetos for more than orange dust. Nice.

He parries with a thumbs up and deletes the photo. She wouldn’t have risked sending it to anyone else and he doesn’t want that kind of power over her. Foggy falls asleep on the couch. When he wakes up, it’s the dark-o-clock Sunday morning. The room glows red and Foggy scowls at the television. Netflix wants to know if he’s still watching. Foggy uses the remote control to turn it off. He sits up with the blankets tangled around his legs and rubs his neck.

Outside his window, the street lights hum. People feel a hundred miles away.

Matt, Foggy thinks and lays back down. The next time he wakes up, it’s on his stomach and the room is bright. Birds chirp and whistle. Foggy cracks his back on the way to the bathroom and holds his hip.

The weekend finally ends. Foggy spends the morning in court to assist Jeri with a criminal case where it is clear to him that their client is guilty as fuck. It’s not supposed to matter. He carries the files, distributes documents as the need arises, and consults with Jeri when she requests it. She makes the jury hold their breath during her closing argument. That’s an actual thing that happens. They win.

Their client will be back on the streets within days. He was a Daredevil collar.

Foggy cleans up the table under the watchful eye of the court officer and aches from his shoulder to his hand. He massages his knuckles, but the pain isn’t anywhere he presses. It’s psychosomatic.

Jeri leaves in the town car Foggy calls for her. Foggy stays behind and watches the reflection of himself morph and twist in the rear passenger window as the car pulls away. He goes to the bathroom to wash his hands in hot water. The paper towel dispenser spits out dust. Foggy hesitates, but all his fucks are going somewhere else, so he dries his hands on his pants.

He steps outside the bathroom while answering a text and a bulldozer flattens him. Well, that’s what it feels like. In reality, someone with a few too many knees and elbows sideswipes him and the collision sends Foggy, Foggy’s phone, and Foggy’s leather satchel sprawling to the mirrored granite floor.

Foggy lands hard on his knee and elbow and watches his phone arc across the floor, spinning under several pairs of sensible heels. It stops by the stairs, one inch from doom. Foggy stays where he lands until the ringing fades from his ears. When he moves his elbow, pain lances through it, making him hiss. Suits file past the display Foggy makes without a curious glance. Robots.

“I hate Mondays,” Foggy says, with feeling.

He starts to get to his feet when two big hands pat down his back and get a little too friendly with his waist and hips. Foggy giggles when the offensive appendages press too deeply into his ticklish sides and scoots away, swiveling on his throbbing knee.

Matt wiggles five fingers at him. There’s a groove in his lip where he probably bit it during the collision and a fat drop of blood wells there.

Foggy sputters. “You did that on purpose!”

“Our audience would disagree,” Matt says and pushes his glasses up on his nose. “Unfortunately, I was in an accident when I was young and I can’t see.”

Foggy stares at him.

“I’m blind,” Matt says loudly. He leans close as he helps Foggy to his feet and whispers in Foggy’s ear. “Actually, I heard you won your case today. I thought I’d steal you for a little while. I meant to run into you, just not so violently. Sorry, buddy.”

Matt retains his hold on Foggy’s elbow when they are both standing and Foggy notices Matt is wearing an actual suit for once. He must be working. Foggy takes his satchel when Matt hands it to him and it almost slips from his fingers. Foggy wiggles his hand. The ache is gone. The sun pouring in from the enormous window at the front stairs washes out half of Matt’s face and turns his glasses translucent.

“You didn’t mean to?” Foggy reaches out and tugs one of Matt’s earlobes until Matt slaps his hand away. “You couldn’t hear me coming?”

Matt smiles crookedly and wrinkles his forehead.

“I was preparing my argument. I didn’t want you to say no.”

Foggy glances at Matt’s hand on his elbow. Matt gives him a gentle squeeze.

“Get lunch with me,” Matt suggests casually.

Foggy looks up. Matt’s face is hard.

“Let me get my phone.”

They go to Matt’s apartment. Matt feeds Foggy truly horrible undercooked ramen and then they strip their pants and rub off together there in the kitchen. Matt has an inch of height on him and uses it to try to get on top even though they are both standing. One heavy palm brackets the back of Foggy’s neck, the other hooks under Foggy’s leg and lifts it so that Matt can thrust against him at a better angle. Matt rolls his forehead back and forth across Foggy’s while Foggy sweats in the ridiculous heat and ruins his expensive suit. Foggy holds onto Matt’s ass with both hands to make Matt go harder. Faster.

It wrings the morning out of Foggy; strips the city dirt off his skin, the bad taste clean from his mouth, and the tremble out of his hands. Matt’s dick drags against his own again and again, until Foggy lifts to his toes, feet skidding off the sink cabinets that he himself painted.

When it’s over, Matt gets Foggy naked and leads him to the living room. Matt settles him on the couch and vanishes to make a tremendous amount of noise in the kitchen while Foggy covers his face and silently screams into his hands. When Matt returns, he’s in clean boxers, holding two spoons and a tub of melting vanilla ice cream. Something angry in Foggy uncoils and goes to sleep.

They curl into one another to take turns eating until the remaining ice cream is liquid. Matt abandons the tub on the floor by the couch and takes Foggy’s spoon away. He swoops back in to kiss Foggy with his cold mouth, laughing when Foggy’s nipples go hard. Matt slings one leg over Foggy’s hip and barricades Foggy against the couch, wiggling in Foggy’s lap. Foggy holds on loosely. They kiss until their mouths are warm again

“I have to get back,” Foggy says, gasping for air.

Matt rises over him in the afternoon sun, distant eyes lined gold.

“Me, too,” Matt says. He still settles in Foggy’s lap and leans down to rest his head on Foggy’s collarbone. It doesn’t exactly feel good, the ridge of Matt’s brow too pronounced, but Foggy carefully touches Matt’s naked back. He smoothes the soft dusting of protective hair on Matt’s skin, measures the distance between the knobs of his spine, and counts his ribs as they expand. He ponders the many times he quickly looked away when Matt changed in the dorm. Matt lingered a little too close with his shirt off, and Foggy looked away, away; Foggy tried so hard to be a good friend. Matt must have known.

“You’re skinny,” Foggy says. “How do you win any fights?”

Matt pokes Foggy in the side like he did earlier and Foggy flinches, giggling.

Matt lifts a hand, ghosts it over Foggy’s smile, the indent of his dimple.

“I miss you, Foggy,” Matt says. His face is soft, transparent.

Foggy swallows.

He would have never done this to Matt back then. He would have been so careful. So sweet.

Foggy pats Matt’s ribs. “I’m right here, Matty.”

When Foggy gets dressed again, the light has changed and the shadows of the furniture angle over the floor. Matt hops into a pair of pants that are a little too tight. They cut into the flesh of his sides as he sucks in to button them. The soft hair on his lower stomach pokes over the edge. Foggy kisses Matt’s prickly cheek goodbye and winces. He didn’t mean tot do that.

Matt frowns and puts his glasses back on. The red tint hides the rest.

Foggy doesn’t sleep that night.

He goes into his kitchen, opens the refrigerator door, a flood of cold white light. Sitting on the floor, Foggy eats three-day-old rice out of the takeout container. He shuts his eyes even though it’s already dark and tries to imagine a different way of seeing.

Matt e-mails him a coupon for a free sundae with three toppings.

*

Two days later, Foggy loses his first case since he left Matt.

It’s an ugly scene---Foggy’s client gets carried out of the room in his orange jumpsuit; he twists and turns like a snake, the tendons in his neck bulging, face heart-attack red. Jeri pats him on the shoulder twice when Foggy comes back to the office and suggests he take a half day so he can start fresh in the morning. She smiles distractedly. This case was pro bono. A tax write-off. It’s hardly a concern.

Foggy turns his phone over and over in his hand.

He took the case because he really believed the guy might not be guilty. Too little evidence, too much of it circumstantial, too many lapses in the chain of custody. Too bad the guy had a tattoo on his neck and face. The jury couldn’t see anything else. Poor luck.

Foggy calls Matt, and the phone rings and rings. He’s about to give up when Matt answers.

“Sorry,” he says, huffing. “I was following a perp.”

A perp, Foggy thinks dimly. My boy’s got lingo now.

“You there?” Matt asks. “Or is this a pocket dial?”

“I’m here,” Foggy says.

Silence over the line. “Ok, so….”

“Can I meet you tonight?”

Foggy hears the wet click of Matt’s smile.

Matt’s place again. Foggy starts to question that about himself. It’s easier to do the leaving. Stop thinking, he tells himself, matching Matt as they strip their clothes off in the dark bedroom. Matt moves smoothly through the darkness where Foggy fumbles. It’s no different for him. Foggy breathes wetly, fighting tears. Matt strokes Foggy’s cheeks and kisses his nose.

“Bad day?” Matt asks.

Foggy nods. Matt’s thumb twitches on Foggy’s face. He kisses Foggy deeply but gently. He slows Foggy down when Foggy tries to go fast, holds Foggy’s arms against the bed and lays on him. He presses their dicks together without urgency. Matt’s warm hairy body settles over Foggy like a blanket. Foggy huffs, thrusting up, but Matt simply kisses him into submission, stopping to smile every time Foggy tries to bite him. Matt lets Foggy’s arms go when Foggy finally calms down. He takes the opportunity to stroke Foggy’s hair against the pillow, catches strands of it between his fingertips and rubs. He kisses Foggy again and works his way down Foggy’s stomach, bypassing Foggy’s dick for something new.

Foggy arches against the pillow and Matt laughs against Foggy’s thigh.

He flutters his tongue over Foggy’s hole until Foggy is jiggling like a fish on a hook. He’s sure it’s about the same level of attractive, but Matt is panting and jabbing his tongue deep between huge gasps for air and Foggy feels like he can come but never actually does. Matt eventually rolls Foggy over and starts circling two fingers around the Foggy’s rim. Foggy opens his mouth wide and humps the bed. Matt pulls his fingers away and makes a wet noise with his mouth. They come back spit-wet. Foggy moans when Matt pushes them in, just a little.

Matt leans over him and kisses his cheek.

“I want your ass,” he says, one finger slipping deeper. “You gonna give it to me?”

He stretches the rim and Foggy throbs against the mattress.

“This is me giving you enthusiastic consent,” Foggy mutters into the pillow. “I think you’re going to need a little more than spit, though. I’ve seen your dick.”

Matt ignores him and fingers him a little bit longer like he enjoys the extra friction or the way it makes Foggy squirm around on the sheets. It starts to sting. Matt must know the difference somehow because he stops and fumbles around in the dark, opening drawers. He comes back to bed with dripping fingers and rubs the base of Foggy’s spine with his dry hand while he opens Foggy up with the slick.

It’s silent between them. The only sound is the wet push of Matt’s finger.

When he finally feels like Foggy can handle him, Matt wipes his dirty fingers off on the side of the bed and climbs over Foggy’s closed legs, hugging Foggy’s thighs with his own. He hovers there, like he’s waiting for Foggy to say something, but Foggy bites his lip and squeezes the pillow. Matt’s throat clicks. He spreads Foggy’s ass cheeks and presses the flared head of his dick against it. Foggy buries his face in the pillowcase. He should have tried to come first. He’s too tense.

Matt presses in slowly, leaning over Foggy with both hands under Foggy’s armpits. Foggy grimaces and fists the bed sheets, trying not to fight it.

“You know it’s worth it,” Matt mutters against Foggy’s skin. “Give it---give it a minute.”

Foggy’s not exactly an amateur. He reaches under himself and strokes his own dick back to life, reaches behind his balls to feel where Matt is pushing into him, slick and steady. Matt moans like he’s dying and rests his full weight on Foggy’s back. He sinks in deep. And it hurts. It really fucking hurts. But it also feels really fucking great. Foggy’s never been able to explain the contradiction, even to himself.

Foggy relaxes and tilts his hips up.

Matt makes it good. He lets Foggy focus on his own dick and fucks Foggy so sweetly, one endless thrust after another, until Foggy’s ass is practically numb from the slow friction. He sticks close to Foggy’s back, stays tangled up with Foggy as well as he can while he pulls his hips back and swings them in, whispers the nicest things into Foggy’s ear as he pounds Foggy out. How good Foggy feels. How hot he makes Matt. How much Matt wants this. Thank you. Matt thanks him. He pushes up Foggy’s sweat-curled hair and brushes prickly kisses over the nape of Foggy’s neck.

“Spread a little,” Matt directs. He rubs the thick inside of Foggy’s left thigh. “Bend your knee.”

Foggy moves his thighs apart and it stretches the skin over his groin. Matt shoves one knee in, climbs between Foggy’s opens legs and locks their ankles together.

“F-foggy,” Matt says, hips stuttering. “Say something.”

Foggy cracks his eyes open, cheek against the pillow.

“You’re good at this,” Foggy says. He hitches his hips a little higher. “I’d have let you fuck me years ago if I knew your dick would feel like this.”

Matt grunts and pauses, holding deep for a second and swiveling his hips. Sweat drips on Foggy’s shoulder blades. And then Matt releases a deep breath and resumes that steady pace, the deliberate fuck that’s more like making love.

“Would you have?” Matt mutters, clearly thinking about it. “Really?”

He pulls out and thrusts deep like he can reach the Foggy from then.

“I would have done it,” Matt says. “I’d have fucked you on that stinky single bed and loved every minute of it. Your ass is so sweet. We’d have gotten thrown out in a week.”

Foggy grits his teeth. He needs to come. Right now.

He plants his face in the pillow and reaches under himself with both hands, selfishly hedonistic. He cups his balls while he beats off with intent. Foggy nearly suffocates on the pillowcase and behind him, Matt gets to his knees, cups Foggy’s hips and thuds into him again and again, picking up speed at last. Foggy comes first, messily and abundant, yelling from the pure fucking relief, but Matt loses it right after, shuddering and yanking Foggy back jerkily until it hurts more than it feels good.

It’s all such a cliché, coming so closely together, but when Matt floods his ass, Foggy isn’t coherent enough to mock it. He thrusts mindlessly into his own hand and floats away.

Foggy flops onto the sticky puddle under him and sighs happily. He’s gonna feel it for days. Matt lands on him, collapses really, heavy as fuck and sharp in all the wrong places. Perspiration glues them together and when Matt lifts up to drag his dick free, the separation of their skin makes a sucking sound, but nothing could destroy this Zen. Matt drops down again and digs his arms under Foggy’s pillow, locking their hands together. His soft dick squishes against Foggy’s ass cheek. Foggy wrinkles his nose and wiggles. Matt mumbles incoherently and plants a noisy kiss on Foggy’s neck.

They doze like that until Matt finally peels away and stumbles out of the room.

“I call dibs on the bathroom!” Foggy yells, pushing himself up.

“I’m already in it!” Matt yells back.

Foggy grumbles at the apparent logic in that and is waiting by the door when Matt comes out with wet hair that sticks up on one side. There’s toothpaste on the corner of his mouth. He yawns and pinches Foggy’s butt when Foggy scoots by. He looks stupidly content. It’s kind of---nice. So when Foggy is finished in the bathroom he heads back to the bedroom where Matt has been considerate enough to turn on a lamp, and bounces onto the mattress to give Matt a raspberry in the center of his back. Matt fights him off, laughing, and struggles off his belly. Foggy lets him win. Mostly.

“Let’s watch a movie,” Matt suggests, flat eyes bright. “Something funny.”

Foggy considers the idea. It’s late. He’d probably fall asleep during a movie, and that feels like crossing a line, but the trek across the city sounds miserable. Secondly, Foggy ate chips in bed last night, so there are definitely crumbs waiting in his own sheets. Matt’s bed, Matt’s seriously comfortable bed, is right here. It’s mostly clean. It smells like lavender under the porn stench. It also has Matt in it.

[Foggy moves into his own place and needs zolpidem to sleep at night. The tiny apartment is too big. He doesn’t fall off the side of the bed. Matt isn’t six feet away drooling on his homework. Matt spends the night a few times before they open the office. This time, he’s all busted up from a recent drop off a step and he is affectionate, bumping into Foggy in the postage stamp kitchen, putting him in headlocks, hugging him too often. Foggy sleeps like a baby.]

Oh, but wait. Foggy snorts.

“What?” Matt asks, still fiddling a bit with his own dick like he can’t let go of the moment.

Foggy pats his cheek. “On what television, Matthew?”

“Oh.” Matt drops his dick. “Right.”

Matt smiles. It’s a delicious stretch of his mouth that is clean and so dear. He looks five years younger with it and Foggy’s breath sputters, love welling up dangerously from his pores. His shoulder aches sharply. Matt’s smile wobbles apart. As though he’s aware Foggy’s instinct is to flee, he leans over the wet spot to kiss Foggy’s chin dimples, the soft vulnerable baby fat. Matt fights dirty. Foggy sighs into it, heart pitter-patting the sweet song he thought was ancient history. It threads through his blood with every heartbeat. Fingers to toes. It reclaims Foggy from the ashes.

Matt kisses Foggy more delicately like he recognizes the rhythm. Like he’s listening. He grazes Foggy’s mouth with his own and lingers. Foggy opens eyes he hadn’t realized he’d closed and Matt’s are waiting to be seen, wide and vulnerable. Foggy’s wounded duck.

Foggy draws back. He pushes Matt’s hair off his forehead and flattens it. The move reveals a scrape on Matt’s temple that Foggy hadn’t noticed in the near darkness. Foggy traces the air above the cut and Matt’s eyes flutter shut. His lashes brush his cheekbones.

“Remember when we stayed up all night during finals watching the National Lampoon movies?” Foggy murmurs. “Your love affair with Chevy Chase still sickens me.”

“He’s a comedic mastermind,” Matt says. He ducks his head into Foggy’s neck. “And you have a talent for narrating his facial expressions. I think you called him a dank potato once.”

“If you ever smelled a bad potato, you’d understand,” Foggy insists.

Matt waits, face tilted up and open by Foggy’s shoulder. Foggy watches himself pick at the covers and then shrugs. He’s being ridiculous. It’s just Matt. “Matt, do you mind if.” Foggy stops. “It’s late.”

In answer, Matt gets up to turn off the lamp. He drags the blanket from the bottom of the bed and drapes it over Foggy’s hips. It’s so easy, Foggy thinks. He’s not making Foggy work for it at all. Foggy rolls onto his back under the covers, arm extended. Matt melts against Foggy’s side. Foggy reaches down and grabs Matt’s knee, tugging until Matt’s leg is slung over Foggy’s belly. Foggy exhales and Matt mirrors him, forehead knocking Foggy’s cheek. Foggy relaxes deeply into the mattress.

“Do you need to leave tonight?”

“Jones has it,” Matt whispers. He yawns. “Go to sleep, Foggy.”

Foggy tangles his fingers in Matt’s thick hair, picking through snags until only silk remains. Matt nudges into it like a cat and lifts his chin into the purple glow of the billboard that reaches them even here. He pinches Foggy’s nipple playfully then settles with his hand cupped around Foggy’s shoulder. Foggy listens to his breathing change. Everything feels slow here, dampened. Nothing touches them. Matt falls asleep first, head suddenly heavier on Foggy’s neck, and Foggy blinks drowsily at the ceiling until his eyes don’t open again, and---

 

*

Foggy doesn’t call Matt for a week. It’s a sickness, he tells himself. Codependency.

He looks up bad relationship advice on the internet and takes facebook surveys.

5 Ways To Cut Ties, and 1 Reason Why You Shouldn’t!

Things like that.

Foggy wants to plant himself right back in the middle of that whole mess, but instead he buries himself in work that keeps him at the office until the early hours and always has a taxi bring him home. In the mornings, he’s up and out the door with only enough time to shower and brew a coffee. He imprints on himself a blinking caution sign that even a blind man could read. Ha.

Matt calls twice: once the day after Foggy spent the night, then again on Foggy’s third midnight stretch at the office. After that, Matt doesn’t call again.

Daredevil has a very good week. Criminals do not.

The upstanding citizens of Hell’s Kitchen might give Matt that key after all.

Foggy feels like a jerk.

He shies away from the newspapers to keep from going batshit, but Karen is apparently all about the responsibility of staying informed, so she texts him the headlines. When Foggy fails to respond, Karen follows the blurbs with a series of elaborate dancing poop emojis that makes a woman behind him in the elevator snort soda out of her nose.

*

 

Foggy stops at a crosswalk in an area of Hell’s Kitchen where the signs are primarily written in Chinese. It’s a windy day. Stray plastic bags and newspaper inserts dance bizarrely on the breeze like that one movie that one time and it’s supposed to make you find beauty where trash lives. Foggy instead takes the opportunity to rapid-fire text cute kitten emojis at Jones. He pictures her opening it up after a night hitting the bottle, the casual what-the-fuck-ness of her face and giggles. Life lived.

Jones and Karen are keeping him alive. Marci would just further complicate things.

A bus passes by with Karen’s face plastered on its side. She’s winking.

“Huh,” Foggy says.

Jones messages him an emoji shaped like a fist, followed by a spray of exclamation points.

‘Stop hitting on me, Jones,’ Foggy texts back.

He meets Karen around noon for a salad buffet. She looks a little shaky, white lines bracketing her eyes and mouth like she woke up as a Charlie Brown character. They sit by the water fountain with their trays balanced on their laps because all the tables are taken. She crosses her ankles and glows red from a recent sunburn. Her shoulders are peeling.

“So, the book,” Foggy begins.

“Ugh,” Karen says, folding over her tray. “Don’t start.”

“No, no, this is happening. ‘A little something,’ you said. ‘Just gonna see if I can actually write,’ you said. And now you are a big shot true crime novelist? You skipped some details with me.”

“I really was only trying,” Karen says in a small voice. “Guess what? I’m great at it.”

“How much do you hate your life right now?”

“I threw up twice this morning.” Karen holds up two fingers. “Before breakfast.”

Foggy rubs her shoulder and casually flicks dead skin away after.

“It’s hard to be so talented, Kare-Bear. You’ll overcome.”

“I’m really happy, Foggy,” Karen says. “I love what I’ve been working on. I’m the voice for so many people that no one else will listen to. It’s just my publisher! They want a release party! I have to do a radio interview! I did not sign up for this.”

“I saw your face on a bus this morning,” Foggy offers.

Karen turns green under the sunburn.

“Um,” Foggy says. He takes Karen’s tray when it’s shoved it at him.

“I’m going to puke,” she says precisely, then stands. She walks evenly and determinedly to the women’s restroom inside the food court. Three ladies clear out like scattering civilians within a bomb radius. Foggy eats the tomatoes out of her salad while he waits. She returns looking a little less fifty shades of Grinch. She plucks the lemonade from her tray.

“Matt will be there,” Karen says, pressing her skirt to the back of her thighs as she sits. “At the release party. I already asked.”

Foggy tips his water bottle over as he reaches for it. He picks it back up and takes a gulp.

“Don’t act like you don’t care. I just wanted to warn you.”

“Matt doesn’t bother me,” Foggy says. “That’s done now.”

If Matt were here, he’d listen to Foggy’s heartbeat and know the truth.

That old song is stuck on loop. Foggy has lost all hope.

“I don’t think he agrees. I thought you two were, ya know.” She pokes her pointer fingers together and when Foggy stares blankly, she frowns and does it again with exaggerated eyebrow wagging. “Gay sex,” she says eventually. “This,” she illustrates, “means fucking.”

“Why aren’t we married?” Foggy asks wondrously. “This life makes no sense.”

“Tell me about it,” Karen says. “Oh! Matt said he’d wear a tie.”

“Not a tie,” Foggy groans. “Remember the Ninja Turtles one?”

“Turtles in a half shell!” Karen cries. She admitted once that she’s still tempted to get a tattoo of Raphael. She harbors weird feelings about that cartoon turtle. “What about the pizza slice tie? That smelled a little bit like pizza? Tragic.”

“He once wore a tie that had smaller ties printed on it,” Foggy says, straining to reach the appropriate level of intensity. “And each of those printed ties had even smaller ties printed on them.”

“NO!” Karen covers her mouth, giggling. “Tie inception?”

“I had a migraine for two days trying to figure it out,” Foggy boasts. “I made him trash it.”

“So outside of the tie thing?”

Outside of the tie thing---Foggy blinks at a seagull that hops by. In his chest, he feels the love song swell and ebb at the whim of his blood sugar.

“I’ll be fine, Karen.” Foggy smiles winningly. He points at his own pearly whites. “Do I look like I’m suffering serious heartbreak here?”

Karen chews on her straw.

“None of that,” Foggy says decisively. “It’s too beautiful out for your moping.”

Only one storefront is boarded over because of vandalism. Odds are high that no one has peed in the fountain yet. It doesn’t have that particular golden glow. It’s a great day to be alive in Hell’s Kitchen, and Foggy is a sucker, who does he think he’s kidding? It’s a Matt marathon behind his eyelids at all times. Foggy’s heart sings and his shoulder aches and it’s all Matt’s fault.

Karen picks up her tray and pokes morosely at the lettuce.

And oh, there it is. A man pissing in the fountain. He covers Karen’s eyes.

Foggy leaves work at five and takes a cab home. It rains during the ride and all of Hell’s Kitchen mutes to a sodden, oppressive gray. The windshield wipers squeak rhythmically on the glass. In the back seat Foggy fingers his phone, scrolling through his most recent text conversations with Matt. He never cleared the history, and he has a year or more sitting in his hand, of Matt’s awkward voice-to-text answers, the constant undertone of adoration in every message they sent each other---or maybe it’s colored that way now. Maybe it’s all in Foggy’s head. He doesn’t remember feeling adored. Maybe this is all just because he’s had Matt’s dick in his mouth on a regular basis now. Or maybe it’s love.

He leans back against the seat, head tilted up. Rain beats on the rear window, close to his forehead. Foggy shuts his eyes. He misses Matt.

At home, Foggy calls Matt and it goes straight to voicemail.

Foggy pictures---dead in a ditch, fell down the stairs, tied up and being beaten.

He pictures---Matt casually glancing at his phone display then pressing ignore.

Foggy draws a bubble bath to soak the chill out of his bones.

He wakes up to wrinkled fingertips and his phone buzzing on the rug next to the bathtub. The water is gray with the dissipated soap. It’s also cold. Foggy yawns and stands, wrapping a towel around his hair and another around his waist. The rug squishes when he steps out of the tub. He wipes the steam off the mirror and brushes his teeth. When he’s done moisturizing, he retrieves his phone from the damp rug, but doesn’t check it, still half in his dream world.

It’s starting to get dark out. The street lights pop as they come on. Foggy gets dressed in the near dark, pulls on an old Columbia t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts that he’s never once used for athletic purposes. He sits down on his bed to roll his socks on and unlocks his phone. It’s a message from Matt.

Foggy opens it. He drops the phone and runs.

Matt is collapsed against the wall on Foggy’s fire escape, one leg bent, the other kicked out and dangling through the bars. He holds his helmet in his lap. The rain patters gently over the suit, runs off his already drenched hair in pink streams. There’s blood on his face. His eyes are open, directed at the cage protecting the street light. He blinks when the light does and shudders.

Foggy can’t breathe. On knees that wobble, he climbs outside. His socks soak up the rain.

Matt winces when Foggy says his name.

“Quieter, please,” Matt whispers.
[Matt gets these headaches. Headaches like you wouldn’t believe. He’ll close himself up in the dark like even the light makes too much sound. Foggy went to a carnival with Matt once and Matt stayed in bed for three days after under five blankets and noise canceling headphones. But Matt still wanted to go the next year. And the year after that. He likes the games.]

“Matt,” Foggy tries, a little softer. “What happened? Are you okay?”

Matt turns his head slowly, skull dragging against the wall. Eyes that normally settle unfocused somewhere over Foggy’s shoulders line up directly for the first time and Foggy nearly falls on his ass. He has to catch his balance on the slippery railing. A line of red water drips down Matt’s temple. He’s pale to the bone, teeth chattering, but his eyes are vivid in his face, fixed. Foggy inches closer.

“I hit my head,” Matt mumbles, tracking Foggy with his gaze.

Foggy gently takes Matt by the shoulder and runs a hand over his scalp. Matt jolts.

“There’s no cut,” Foggy says. His fingers come away red. “I just feel a bump.”

Matt smiles dreamily and drops his head back against the wall. “S’not my blood. It’s all Tony’s fault.”

Tony? Surely not Tony---

“Stark?”

Matt nods.

“There was an accident. In his lab. I was there for an---experiment, I guess. We were attacked. It didn’t go the way it was supposed to. We won, though.” Matt lifts a gloved hand and touches Foggy’s cheek with one cold finger. “Foggy your eyes---they’re really soft.”

“Holy shit,” Foggy says. “Holy shit, Matt!”

“Can I come inside?” Matt asks. “Please, Foggy?”

Foggy chokes on his own saliva, but helps Matt to his feet. They stand there holding onto each other’s forearms, but the directness of Matt’s gaze drives Foggy’s away. His skin prickles and revolts, goose bumps ripping him apart. He goes inside first, then guides Matt through the window by the hand. He holds on until Matt has his feet back on the ground. Matt sways and stares.

“I’m getting your floor wet,” Matt says.

Foggy left the light on in the bathroom. He crowds Matt ahead of him into the narrow space and goes for the pile of clean towels. Matt glances around blankly. Foggy wishes he had at least picked up the dirty laundry, but Matt barely seems to notice the pile of colorful boxers covering Foggy’s bathroom floor. He guides Matt to sit on the closed toilet seat, wraps a fluffy towel around Matt’s shoulders, and starts mopping Matt’s face with a damp washcloth. The patches of dried blood cling stubbornly. Foggy has to scrub and he leaves red splotches on Matt’s skin. Matt tips his face where Foggy guides him, pupils dilating depending on their exposure to the unkind fluorescent light.

“What’s it like?” Foggy asks. “Do you need the light off?”

“No.” Matt shakes his head. He licks his lips. “My head hurts, but it’s. It’s good.”

Foggy hums. He lifts the cloth to Matt’s face again, but Matt stops him by taking hold of it and setting it aside. He grasps Foggy’s hand lightly and lifts it close to his face. With Matt’s guidance, Foggy curls his hand into a loose fist. He’s never thrown a successful punch in his life. Does that show somehow? Matt runs the pads of his fingers over Foggy’s knuckles, dipping into the bumps and valleys.

“You have freckles by your thumb,” Matt says. “I didn’t know that.”

Foggy’s hand spasms reflexively.

Matt blinks up at him. His eyes tick over Foggy’s face like fingers reading brail.

“You have a sunburn on your nose,” Matt says as if he’s memorizing facts. “The heat on your face is different, so I would have known it, but it makes your eyes look really blue. Your hair is growing out again. It curls under your ears. It’s not just blonde. There’s silver in it now.”

Foggy looks down at his feet and tries to keep his face from doing its usual gymnastics. He wishes he had a face sweater or something. He feels naked under Matt’s stare. Had he really been upset that Matt listened to his heartbeat? It seems like such a small piece of himself to allow access to. So Matt knew when he lied. Matt had to guess about pretty much everything else. The tiny imagined betrayal Foggy has been harboring falls like the first in a series of dominoes.

“What do you want to see, Matt? Where can I take you?”

Matt shrugs.

“Just hold my hand, please. I’m not sure how long this will last.”

Foggy looks and he already is, fingers laced tightly within Matt’s.

“I’m outside,” Matt had texted. “By your window. I need to see you.”

“There’s one thing you should see,” Foggy says. “Here, um. Stand up.”

Matt gets to his feet with Foggy’s assistance and shrugs the towel off. He wobbles, eyes pinched at the corners. Foggy stays close. Those senses and suddenly being able to see? It’s a miracle Matt made it here without getting hit by a car.

“Ok.” Foggy untangles their fingers. “You should know that you’re usually hairier. Like a lot more. A bird could build a nest in your facial hair, I’m serious. But this is what we‘re working with, so.”

Foggy steps to the side.

Matt tries to watch him go, but as his eyes flicker in Foggy’s direction they’re snagged by something over Foggy’s shoulder. The mirror. Matt goes blank like film sputtering off the reel. He removes a glove and touches his own face. Foggy hugs himself in the corner. He’s not exactly obsessed with himself, but he can’t imagine not knowing what his own face looks like. Matt pinches his own cheek and lets the skin snap back. He tilts his head back and forth. Foggy notices a patch of blood he’d missed just above the neck of the suit and hopes Matt doesn’t see it.

Matt. Seeing. What the fuck.

“That’s my nose?” Matt says, faintly annoyed.

Startled laughter bursts out of Foggy.

“Sorry, buddy,” Foggy says, still chuckling. “I’m pretty sure you inherited it from your dad.”

Matt frowns at himself disapprovingly. “I guess I never grew into it.”

“I like it,” Foggy says. He loves it.

Matt looks back at Foggy with tears leaking toward his nostrils. This isn’t the devastated, face-wrecking crying only Foggy seems capable of bringing out of Matt. The tears are almost an afterthought.

“What? What is it?”

“You’re smiling.” Matt darts at him, grabs him. “No, no, don’t stop.”

Foggy shakes his head. Matt reaches out to cup Foggy’s face.

“Foggy, Foggy, Foggy…”

He kisses Foggy tenderly on the lips and leaves his eyes open. Foggy closes his eyes reflexively, too much of everything and not enough space, and when he opens them again, Matt’s irises fill the world. Foggy trembles. His cheeks feel like lumps of dry clay. His tongue fills his mouth.

Foggy feels---he feels---

“Don’t stop smiling,” Matt warns again. “Keep smiling.”

Foggy grins until it his face wants to crack. Matt sways with him in the ugly bathroom light and turns easy circles until it feels like they’re dancing. Maybe they are. The suit of armor digs into all of Foggy’s soft places even though Matt holds them together gingerly like Foggy will disappear if Matt is too rough. Foggy tries to stay open to the moment. Matt needs this.

Lines fan out from Matt’s eyes, soft creases that deepen as his eyes twinkle with unfamiliar life.

Foggy sticks out his tongue. Matt laughs, delighted.

He tugs Foggy an inch closer. Hey, buddy.

It crystallizes for Foggy in that heartbeat. They could have it back. All of it.

It has to be all over his face.

All at once, Matt stiffens in Foggy’s arms, crying out and grabbing his head. Foggy scrambles to catch him before he falls. Matt sobs out air, paler than the toilet seat he nearly broke his face on.

“Tell me you love me,” Matt whispers, eyes on Foggy’s lips.

“Matt, that’s not---”

Matt stares at his mouth.

“Quick,” Matt says, fisting Foggy’s shirt.

“I love you.” Foggy panics and flails. “I love you, I do, I love you.”

Matt nods and grabs Foggy’s face. He stares at Foggy so hard Foggy’s head hurts in sympathy. When it happens, it’s quick. A haze folds over Matt’s eyes like a curtain coming down. Matt furrows his eyebrows, face twisting with effort, but his gazes drifts somewhere over Foggy’s shoulder. Time’s up. Matt squeezes his eyes shut. Foggy struggles to move Matt’s uncooperative weight. His wet socks slip on the tiles as he lifts and maneuvers until Matt is sitting on the floor with Foggy between his legs.

Water drips in the sink. Matt stays slumped on the floor while Foggy strokes his hair.

“Thank you,” Matt says quietly.

Foggy shakes his head. Matt shouldn’t thank him. Matt pulls one leg up and the suit creaks as he hugs his own knee. Foggy squeezes Matt’s shoulders helplessly and Matt makes a soft hurt sound. Foggy echoes the noise and tugs. Matt falls. He lands with his face against Foggy’s neck and wraps his arms loosely around Foggy’s waist. There’s no weight to him like this. Foggy rubs his back, huge sweeps up and down his spine until his palm tingles from the friction. Matt doesn’t say anything and Foggy doesn’t know where to begin. He hugs Matt with all his strength instead.

“Do you want to stay?” Foggy asks. “You should stay.”

“You don’t want me to,” Matt says quietly against Foggy’s chest. “I can go. I just had to---”

I need to see you.

Matt shudders and his muscles shift. Foggy lets go convulsively. Matt stands and each knee pops. How many sprains? How many broken bones? Matt fakes a smile with half his mouth and his eyes land somewhere close to Foggy’s, but the connection is one-sided. Business as usual. He wants to tell Matt that there’s nothing wrong with the way Matt is, that Matt is a gift, but it would come out patronizing. He gets to his feet instead and wonders what to do with his hands.

“I should probably go out the way I came.” Matt holds up the mask. “Get back to work.”

So many bad guys are gonna get their asses kicked tonight.

“Hit something hard,” Foggy says. It feels good to say it. “Make it bleed.”

Matt twitches his chin, startled, then backs up while putting the mask on.

“I plan to,” he says. “Thanks--Thank you, Foggy.”

Stop thanking me, Matt, Foggy thinks.

Foggy reads the newspaper front to back the next day. There’s no mention of Daredevil. No tally of the broken bones. Just useless politics written by and for people who don’t care. Too bad every newspaper doesn’t have a Karen. Matt messages Foggy closer to nightfall.

“I’m glad I got the chance to see you.”

Foggy taps his phone against his mouth and watches the street below his window.

*

Foggy arrives fashionably early to Karen’s release party so that he can hold Karen’s hair back while she dry heaves into a potted plant . As she chokes on about twenty solid years of being told she’s not good enough, Foggy inspects the truly epic view afforded from the balcony on the hotel’s uppermost floor. Hell’s Kitchen and the rest of the city beyond glows under the late afternoon sun. Steel and glass liquefy into shades of molten fire. Imagine if Matt had seen this instead of Foggy’s dirty bathroom.

“It’s so pretty,” Foggy says.

Karen huffs. Foggy pats her back.

“Sorry, I’m not trying to be a jerk,” he tells her.

“You’re not,” Karen says and wipes her mouth. She stands and adjusts the straps of her simple red dress. “I’m just not sure I agree with you. Did you even read my book?”

“Front to back.” Foggy shivers delicately. “I didn’t sleep for a week.”

“You’re too precious for this world,” Karen says. “Help me hide some of the balloons. I feel like I’m at a kid’s birthday party.”

“When’s Matt coming?”

Karen holds the door open and raises an eyebrow at him.

“Shut up,” Foggy says and goes through the door first. “I need a wingman. You’ll be too busy.”

Karen puts her hand on his lower back and says, “At least it got you in a tux.”

Foggy’s unpaid labor comes to an end at sunset. Waiters line up around the room and at the entrance, holding polished trays weighted with flutes of champagne or finger foods and desserts. Giant chandeliers drip from the ceiling. Swaths of deep purple fabric drape the walls. A huge poster of Karen’s book cover takes center stage, lit up by spot lights. The image is of a tense female hand holding a bloody knife that reflects a man’s enraged face.

Karen holes up in the corner with a short young woman whose hair is so blonde it’s white, their heads close together as they speak about something intently. Foggy plucks a flute of champagne from a passing waiter and frowns when the man gives him a dirty look.

“I’m not actually working right now,” Foggy says.

It’s the tuxedo, right? He looks like a penguin.

Guests arrive at seven. Sound and color inflates the air. Naked shoulders and legs glisten. Foggy tugs at his bow tie, wishing he looked better in short black dresses. He doesn’t have the legs for it.

Foggy toys with his watch under the stiff sleeve of the jacket. Come on, Matt. Don’t let Karen down tonight. He meanders through the room but never settles for long. The heat makes him grumpy. Someone says his name, but it’s his full name, Franklin, so Foggy waves and keeps on scooting. He does pop into a couple of conversations about Karen’s book, just to get a feel for the response.

Four songs into the music playlist, Foggy has to admit that he really misses Matt. He snags
a cream puff from a passing tray to comfort himself and eyes Karen for a while. She settles into the hostess role easily, shedding her anxious skin as she speaks with confidence about topics she’s passionate about. He catches her eye once and she gives him the thumbs up at hip level. He leaves her to do her thing and settles by a potted tree, hands in his pockets.

People pity laugh all the time, he realizes. No one is actually that hilarious. They throw their heads back when they laugh. They clap each other on the shoulder and puff garlic breath in each other’s faces. They shed crumbs as they eat like they need it to find their way home. It must drive Matt crazy.

Foggy glances at the door.

A pair of women file in side by side. One of them pets either a dog or a very furry purse and the other sort of looks like a clothespin. Foggy is about to look away when the black tux behind them catches his eye. Well, the tie. Captain America. The women part like an orchestrated reveal, curtains to the real show, and Matt’s left standing there like the center of gravity, pulling Foggy in and tearing him apart.

Matt is---perfect. Crisp, dry, and elegant. The tuxedo fits him like it was cut with him in mind. It tapers to Matt’s trim waist and hips, and it’s maybe a little tight on his wider shoulders, but that’s not a flaw. No, sir, that is not a flaw. That tie, though. Really, Matt?

Matt frowns when he eases into the crowd, eyebrows crumpled down to the rim of his glasses as he squeezes both fists around the handle of his walking stick. He turns his head, left, left, and oh, stops with his ear tilted in Foggy’s direction, cheek pulling up a fraction in recognition.

Foggy waves and leans against the tree. He cocks his head. C’mere.

Matt twitches and turns his body in Foggy’s direction, taps toward him. He lets people bump into him and nearly trips a waiter. Appearances.

“Sorry, sorry,” Matt says, defusing anger with baffled jazz hands. Foggy shakes his head.

“I can’t take you anywhere,” Foggy whispers when Matt arrives at side.

Matt tilts into him and rubs his smile all over Foggy’s shoulder. Foggy lets him.

“How’s she doing?”

“Hmm?” Matt smells really good. “Oh, she’s batting a thousand. People really take to her when she lets them. It’s impressive.”

“Yeah,” Matt says softly. “She’s pretty great.”

Foggy squashes the curdle of jealousy that wants to sour his belly. There’s no point. If Karen and Matt wanted to be together, they would have figured it out. But Karen is over there, prepping for her Question and Answer session next to a man strumming a guitar, and Matt is here, leaning toward Foggy like Foggy is the actual sun.

Like Foggy keeps telling himself, this isn’t a year ago.

Matt plucks two flutes of champagne unerringly from a waiter and holds them in one hand so he can grab Foggy’s elbow with the other. Not exactly playing the part, but everyone has their eye on Karen. Karen, in the spot light, stepping hesitantly up to the mic, knees slightly together, but her shoulders back.

Matt tugs on him.

“She’s about to talk,” Foggy argues.

“I’ll narrate,” Matt persuades, pulling gently. “Outside, Foggy. Do you know what this room smells like? It’s like perfumes made love to gas bubbles, buddy. Have a heart.”

Foggy follows Matt to the balcony and has to admit, the air is fresher here. Matt leans on the railing and hands Foggy a glass. Foggy brushes dirt off Matt’s perfect sleeve before taking a sip.

The sun outlines the buildings in gold, only a faint hint of it left in the sky. Lights pop on in windows staggered across the city as they stand there. Foggy inhales deeply and shuts his eyes to listen. Traffic below, planes overhead, music and laughter behind. Matt beside him, breathing steadily like he never went away.

“You okay?” Matt asks quietly.

“Yeah.” Foggy opens one eye and squints at him. “You look really good, Matt.”

Matt goes red and ducks his head. He coughs.

“Do you think,” Foggy starts.

“What?”

Foggy shakes his head. He leans his elbows on the railing and shakes his head again.

“I don’t know, man. I wish I knew.”

Matt’s eyebrow twitches. He lifts the glass and takes a small sip. His cuff links match his tie. Foggy wonders how Matt did that. Can he feel the design on the buttons? Does he organize them as he buys them but has to trust that the seller was honest? Foggy hasn’t been there to help.

“What’s she talking about?” Foggy asks, for something to say.

Matt frowns into the glass. “Fisk. Her arrest.”

“Yuck,” Foggy says. Poor Karen. “Hey, do you think she’ll mention us?”

Matt mirrors Foggy’s position against the rail. “Count on it.”

Matt sways his hips and Foggy moons a bit, because seriously. That ass. Matt notices and covers his smile by turning away but Foggy can tell by the swell of his cheek. Foggy rolls his eyes and nudges his shoulder against Matt, who nudges back. God, they’re so gross. They finish the champagne like that.

“She’s doing a lot better,” Matt says, breeze tugging his hair into disarray. “I’m happy for her.”

“It was hard at first,” Foggy says.

“For her or for you?”

The music changes inside. A violin begins to weep over a piano. A woman sings in Italian.

Foggy chuckles. “I seriously cannot have this conversation with you right now.”

Matt frowns and then seems to understand. He chuckles brightly. It’s not the kind of laughter that annoyed Foggy from before, the kind that waits for its own chance to be hilarious. Matt’s laugh has years of layers. Foggy broke his back to unearth it and it was worth every stupid pun.

Foggy tilts into Matt and puts one hand on Matt’s waist under the tuxedo jacket, where the vest cinches Matt’s side. Matt breathes in sharply and turns his head quickly in Foggy’s direction. Foggy kisses him gently on the side of his mouth. When he pulls back, Matt’s face is a riot of interest.

Electricity hums around them as the city flickers to its second life.

“You ready to go back in?” Foggy asks. “I kind of want to witness Karen try to explain her suspect appearance at so many crime scenes. She’s cute when she’s shifty.”

“Can I, uh---” Matt balls one hand in a fist.

Foggy lifts his arm.

“Thanks,” Matt says, fingers curled around Foggy’s bicep. They go back in together and don’t leave each other’s side for the entire night. They end up crashed on the floor with Karen at midnight, polishing off the last bottle of champagne and falling over each other laughing. Karen loses a shoe and Foggy saves the world, the universe, and everything and all he has to do is tie his bowtie around her wiggling toes. Matt dozes in Foggy’s lap with his glasses hanging off his nose and Karen’s smile outshines the glitter that had mysteriously spread from surface to surface as the night drew to a close.

Matt comes home with him and they barely make it through the cab ride. Matt keeps trying to get under his clothes. The driver has to blast the radio to cover Foggy’s whines. Foggy leaves more than a few buttons behind in the seat and Matt absolutely destroys Foggy’s neck with his beard.

Foggy fucks Matt, face to face. He undresses Matt piece by piece, until Matt is pink and shaking for it, mouth begging for Foggy’s whenever Foggy is close enough to kiss. Matt knees backward onto the bed and falls when Foggy climbs him. He pulls Foggy between his legs and traps him there with his arms crossed over Foggy’s back, feet curled behind Foggy’s knees. Foggy kisses him.

Foggy holds Matt open by pressing on the back of his thighs and sinks in.

Nice and easy. Matt grunts at him, thigh muscle jerking.

Foggy feels up Matt’s leg from anklebone to the biting edge of his pelvis. Hair compresses and springs back up under his palm. Matt’s unfocused gaze lands somewhere around Foggy’s chest. Foggy can feel his own heart thrumming wildly. He takes hold of Matt’s hip and thrusts in again. Matt cries out and leaks sticky fluid onto his own stomach, lifting into it. He holds Foggy’s forearms with all his strength.

They sleep.

Matt’s still there when Foggy wakes up in the morning.

Maybe he left and returned, but he’s there. Drooling on the mattress where the sheet slipped off the bed. Foggy steals the blanket and goes back to sleep.

When Matt leaves, Foggy takes a box down from the top of the closet. There’s a framed photograph of Foggy and Matt inside. Matt’s wearing a Rudolph nose and Foggy has the antlers. Foggy sets it up on the bookshelf by his front door. There’s more where that came from.

*

Hell’s Kitchen happens. Bombs, assassins, poisonous darts. Patricia (“Just Trish, Foggy.”) Walker gets kidnapped for like, the third time in as many months, and Jones whose mental health is already pretty questionable---Loses. Her. Mind. Jeri keeps Foggy doing what he’s come to realize he’s best at: damage control. Foggy messages Matt once, just a quick, “stay safe!” and leaves it at that, because the last thing he wants to do is distract Matt. The city needs Daredevil right now. Jessica needs him.

A video trends: Jessica destroys the front window of Macy’s with a single punch and Daredevil nopes right the hell out of there, parkouring to the nearest rooftop.

Foggy e-mails his eighteenth cease and desist letter of the day.
An explosion booms somewhere outside Foggy’s window.

The concussion shatters the glass.

When it’s over, when Trish’s ex is in custody and Trish is sleeping off her hurt with a dozen anti-anxiety medications, Jones drags Foggy to a scummy bar she favors. There isn’t a name anywhere that Foggy can see, just a peeling door that falls off the hinges when Jessica opens it. Malcolm is already there, drinking a glass of ice water. He waves when Jones sends Foggy tumbling into the booth.

“Shots!” Jones declares, slapping the table. The surface cracks.

Malcolm sighs and pulls a tube of masonry caulk from the pocket of his jean jacket. Foggy, not to be outdone, pulls out a tube of gorilla glue and winks broadly. Malcolm glitters back.

Six more so shots chill Jones out a bit. She leans on Malcolm and flips her dark hair out of startlingly vivid eyes that are just a touch too big for her face. Foggy sips his beer and watches the news on the flat screen above the liquor bottles. A video of Jones and Daredevil fighting upward to twenty men in black masks plays on a loop while a news correspondent discusses the repercussions.

Foggy considers calling Matt, but it seems pushy. He wants to be careful.

“So, this Daredevil guy,” Jones starts, and looks at Foggy sideways. Foggy’s already unsteady stomach takes a sudden dip. “He’s a real hero, isn’t he? I mean. I wouldn’t be doing this if things were different, but Daredevil didn’t just fall into it. He chose it, right?”

“I wouldn’t really know.”

Foggy peels at the label on his bottle. Jones leans on the table with her elbows crossed and gives him the stink eye. She’s worse than Karen because she’s not even wobbling from the drinks yet.

“Hmm.” Jessica taps one finger on her mouth and looks up at the ceiling as she pretends to consider the subject deeply. “You wouldn’t know. Never met the guy, right? So tell me why the first thing he asked me when that bomb went off outside Jeri’s office was where you were. Any thoughts?”

Foggy spins the bottle over the table and doesn’t say a word.

“Well, listen up, baby cupid. If you see him? Tell him I said thank you. I mean, I had it covered but thank him anyway. Malcolm here tells me that’s the polite thing to do.”

Foggy stops the bottle mid-spin and looks up.

“For what?”

“He took a bullet for me.” Jessica downs another shot and leans back in the booth, pale arms flexing with hidden strength. “He went down hard. I don’t know what that suit is made of, but he got back up and fought the next twelve guys without breaking a sweat. He’s alright, I guess, for a superhero type---Where are you going?”

Foggy doesn’t answer. He forgets his coat and his keys and his wallet. He won’t recall later the four block hustle from the shithole to Matt’s apartment. It will all be a blur of moving shadows and light. Sick sweat. The thud of his heart in his chest and his temple. Matt’s elevator is broken again so Foggy takes the stairs two at a time and tries not to throw up when he gets to the top.

Matt opens the door after Foggy pounds on it for five minutes.

Foggy instantly calms down. His shoulder gives one last pathetic pulse.

It’s dark behind Matt. The single hanging bulb in the hallway flickers like it might burn out at any moment. Foggy sucks in a breath at the sight of Matt---he’s wearing an oversized hoody, baggy sweat pants, and thick socks. There might not be any visible bruising on Matt’s face this time, but Foggy recognizes hit-by-a-truck Matt Murdock when he sees him. It’s like stepping back in time a year.

It’s a chance to do things differently.

“You’re hurt,” Foggy says, leaning on the door frame.

Matt’s nose wrinkles. He waves a hand in front of his face. “You’ve been drinking.”

“Also true!” Foggy stabs a finger in the air. “Evading!”

Matt slumps. “I’m hurt,” he admits. “And very tired. Get in here.”

Foggy follows Matt into the dark apartment. He feels along the wall to keep himself upright while Matt moves easily ahead of him, a darker shape in the blob of shadows. When Foggy’s fingers bump the light switch, Foggy flips it. Nothing happens.

Matt sighs and keeps walking. The billboard lights up the living room in vivid moving colors. Blue logos move over Matt’s face, shadows that are words obscure the shape of his mouth, and bright red splash art hovers where Matt’s eyes should be. Foggy tries the table lamp. Nothing.

“Forget to pay the electricity bill again?”

Matt shrugs and crawls over the couch arm. He has a ready-made nest of blankets there and an open vial of prescription medication sitting on the rug.

“I’ll get to it,” Matt mumbles into his arm.

“The fridge and stove need electricity as well,” Foggy says. He sits on the arm of the chair and watches Matt curl into himself protectively. “Where did you get shot?”

“Let’s just say we match now,” Matt says.

Foggy reflexively touches his own arm where the bullet went through clean.

“Bingo,” Matt says.

Foggy swallows and reaches out to cup Matt’s ankle where his sock has slipped down. Matt doesn’t move and doesn’t offer anything else. The silence has a sullen taste to it. Matt’s been inside his own head for hours now. Foggy grimaces and struggles on.

“Claire stitch you up?” Foggy tries. “She’s not here, so I’m assuming you’ll recover.”

“She took the bullet out as payment. She’s gonna bottle it and sell it on eBay.”

“Matt.” Matt shifts, blankets rustling. “Matt. You should have called me.”

Matt opens his eyes for a moment, the billboard gleaming in the whites, then shuts them.

“You could have,” Foggy insists. “I would have been here for you. I know I haven’t---I know I’ve been difficult, but Matt. I really can’t do this anymore.”

Matt groans and pushes himself up painfully. He sits hunched at an angle.

“I’m glaring at you,” Matt says.

“I know,” Foggy says. “It’s very menacing. Matt---”

“Not right now, Foggy. I just got a bullet cut out of me. Give me five fucking minutes and then we can fight about it. You’ll leave in a huff. I’ll beg you for forgiveness. Just…” Matt rubs his shoulder under the hoody. “…tomorrow.”

Foggy scrubs his hands over his face and fights off a snappy retort.

“That’s done,” Foggy says, patience stretching.

Matt kicks the coffee table and sends it on its side. Foggy rolls his eyes.

“We’re not done,” Matt says in a near hiss that Foggy has to strain forward to hear. “How the hell haven’t you realized it yet? We’re right in the fucking middle, Foggy. You and I don’t end. We love each other too much. If you walk out on me again, I swear to God, I’ll---”

You’ll what? Foggy wonders as Matt hugs his arm and breathes loudly through his nose. You’ll stalk me and try to feed me and buy me coffee? You’ll be conveniently available whenever I need you? You’ll love me until I feel stupid for forgetting it? What, Matt?

He says none of this.

Matt covers his own face with a pillow and screams. Foggy bends over and plucks it out of Matt’s hands so that he can look Matt directly in the face. Matt’s eyebrow is messed up where he hit himself. Foggy itches to smooth it out but he fluffs the pillow instead and looks down at it while he talks so that he doesn’t have the advantage of reading Matt’s face.

“I’m trying to tell you to call me when you’re hurt. I want to know. I want to come here and take care of you. I don’t want you to suffer alone.”

The billboard flashes a staccato rhythm over the floor. Matt spilled a glass of milk when he kicked the table. It’s on its side, leaking a pool of white over the throw rug.

“I know we’re not done,” Foggy says. He laughs a little. “I keep saying that we are. I don’t know how many times I’ve told you to go fuck yourself this summer. I’ve been a real dick, huh?”

“I deserved it,” Matt says instantly. “I knew I had to work for it.”

Foggy shakes his head in wonder.

“At some point, you just have to cut your losses, Matt. It’s not like me to drag out the suffering. Give me the easy path every time. I mean, I understand why you took the hard road, but me?”

“It’s worth it,” Matt says urgently. Foggy hears him shift closer. “Life without you---”

Foggy holds up a hand.

“I’m saying I forgave you months ago, Matt. I’m just an asshole. In my defense, I’ve been in love with you for like four years at this point---when you picked her over me, I lost my shit.”

Matt shakes his head wildly. “I didn’t pick her, I didn’t---I didn’t know there was a choice.”

There probably hadn’t been. Not at the time.

“I also couldn’t deal with seeing you hurt,” Foggy admits and finally looks up.

Matt is biting his lip, all but shredding the blanket in clawed fingers.

“Foggy, it’s---”

“Part of you, I know.” Foggy gives in to the urge and slides of the side of the couch. He curls a protective hand around the nape of Matt’s neck and finds Matt’s pulse hammering. “That part of us is going to take a little more time to figure out, okay? I can’t picture anything bad happening to you that I would be okay with.”

Matt waits, perfectly still under Foggy’s hand.

“I wanted you to convince me,” Foggy says. “When you asked, I didn’t tell you the whole truth. There is nothing more I want in the world than to be talked into something by Matt Murdock.”

Matt twitches. He rubs his forefinger and thumb together like he does when he’s feeling something that he can’t quite contain. His toes wiggle under the blankets.

“So convince me,” Foggy says.

Matt lets out a breath and lifts his face into the purple light.

“Ok, I’m convinced,” Foggy says and settles his forehead gently against Matt’s.

“I love you,” Matt says helplessly, hugging Foggy’s waist. He says it like he’s both apologetic and thankful, like he’s being selfish and greedy and he’s not going to stop or try to be better. “I loved you first, Foggy, and I’ve always loved you best.”

Foggy chuckles and plants a kiss on Matt’s nose before carefully separating and getting to his feet. Matt tries to follow but Foggy pushes him back down. Good boy.

He wonders about himself sometimes.

“You’re down and out, pal.” Foggy tucks the blanket around Matt’s neck. “You need to eat. Since you don’t have electricity I’ll have to go for something pre-made. Hey, you got any money? I think Jones stole my wallet when she was feeling me up.”

Matt sits right back up and uses what meager strength he has left to tackle Foggy to the couch. Foggy gets the breath knocked out of him and Matt climbs on top of Foggy’s prone body, flinching the entire time. A lipstick commercial plays over his pout. Foggy can’t stop laughing.

“You’re gonna get jealous all the time, aren’t you?”

Matt leans down, something sly and vicious kindling between them.

“You have no idea,” Matt promises darkly against Foggy’s mouth.

*

Three days later, Matt comes out of the burger joint with a greasy bag and a dumb look on his face. Foggy waits by the phone booth, jacket casually draped over his shoulder. The moment Matt notices Foggy sweating happily in the afternoon sun, he stops in the middle of the sidewalk and tilts his head. He crushes the paper bag close to his suit vest when he understands, practically hugging it.

“Oh,” Matt says. Foggy grins.

“You’re welcome,” Foggy says and holds out his arm.

Matt’s eyes crinkle. He folds up the walking stick and reaches out.

End.