Chapter 1: Prelude
It was all pretty bizarre if you were to ask him.
Everything was relatively normal that day…
For him, anyways.
It was approaching midnight, and Franklin Nelson snuck out of his bed and through the window to go for a stroll around the neighborhood. He wasn't able to sleep in the unfamiliar place, and the night air had always helped when his comfort foods couldn't.
A lot has happened this year, and he idly wonders if he’ll get to make any friends when he eventually moves into The Hermitage. You think he'd be upset about losing his father, and he is... but the man has not been himself for over a year now; the illness taking his mind along with his body. They were able to stay under the radar for a while, but Child Services finally took him away when his dad flipped out and threw a vase at his head, forgetting who he was, and that he had a son. Well... that's not exactly right.
He might have gotten a black eye and some nasty bruises from trying to stupidly stop his dad's flailing (Eddie Nelson was a big guy, and Frankie was short and chubby). The vase had made a pretty nasty gash that he couldn't take care of with the first aid kit, and his father had started to seize...
That weekend Frankie got stitches, an ice pack, and a nurse with a member from Child Services telling him his father was dying, and that he can no longer take care of Franklin.
He thinks they expected him to cry, or maybe throw a tantrum. But honestly? Frankie has seen it coming, has known it was coming since Eddie Nelson was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago.
So he stayed with a nice lady until their neighbor, Señora Cardenas, showed up to take Franklin home and stuffed him with flan and coffee until he passed out. Now... it was another mess to convince them to let him stay the last few weeks of summer with his neighbor and his friends (ha. he had no friends... unless you count Brett Mahoney who is tolerant of Frankie at best).
And that brings him here. Unable to sleep because in one week everything's going to change again. He'll be starting the school year at a new high school, losing the few 'friends' he did have, after moving into the orphanage, and... it's just his life right now - but honestly? He's kinda looking forward to not being alone. At The Hermitage, there will be other kids like him, and he'll be sharing a room with other boys and there'll be more opportunities to make friends or at least to not be lonely.
All of this is running through the blonde's mind when a chill gust of air billows through his jacked and he draws in a sharp breath, hissing at the sudden cold when it has been a luke-warm, summer night.
Then he hears a terrifying scream.
Personal problems forgotten, the fourteen-year-old dashes towards the source of the sound.
“No… stop… please… STOP!!!” The terrified female yells louder, and there are odd sounds and lights coming from up ahead, so Franklin picks up his pace and he tries not to wheeze when he can tell he’s close – his heartbeat feels like a drumstick against his ribcage when he approaches the alley ahead and stops.
What he sees is like a scene right out of some cheesy, fantasy-horror flick.
There’s a lady with blood smudges on her cheek and crinkled clothes who’s bracing herself against the filthy brick wall and in front of her can only be described as a creature. Its’ features were gruesome, and under the hood and ornamental pendant on its’ chest, reminded him of the crotchety old witch from Snow White.
He seemed to be unnoticed for the moment, so he looks to his side and sees a dented, aluminum baseball bat. Gingerly picking it up, he had planned on a sneak attack but the ugly witch looked to be able to conjure some sort of spell, so Foggy growls and shouts at the girl to run as he takes a careless swing at the spell-casting creature.
Franklin isn’t quite sure what happens next, but there’s light and screaming and then the ugly witch shouts at him – that she’ll have her revenge (or something) and then the air is still and poor little Frankie is at a loss.
He startles when a gentle hand rests on his shoulder and he is met with the face of the girl he had saved. She straightens up and he can see now the slight frown lines and the beginnings of crow’s feet by her unnaturally golden eyes (admittedly both awesome and terrifying) and then he sees she's not a girl but a woman. Probably about thirty-something.
“Thank you for saving me, young man. Though I’m afraid that will not be the last you see of her.”
Franklin frowns, and feels extremely dumbstruck. He probably looks it, too, because the lady smiles sadly.
“You are… uh… a witch too? Or something? Cuz your eyes are really glow-y…” he shakes his head, “But that doesn’t matter much. You are okay?”
The lady smiles and nods, but leans down to set a delicate hand on his shoulder (and it's... glowing?). He looks down at the appendage and, yea. It's glowing a light, purple-ish color. Then lithe fingers that feel like warm sunshine against his skin turn his chin up to force him to look her in the eyes.
“I am sorry. But this spell will protect you until my partner and I can capture the Kilagre – should she look for you before we get to her, she will not be able to recognize you.”
Fear pounds in his chest and dread settles heavily on his shoulders as his entire body tingles, and he feels sparks under his skin that are light at first but then as they increase they start to become incredibly painful.
“B-b-but! No! I'll be fine, promise! I'm really a nobody but –“
She shushes him and pain lances through his chest, causing him to fall to his knees.
He tries so hard not to scream as his wide, cornflower eyes start to water with pain and fear.
“Thank you for saving me, and I am so sorry – but this is the only way I can repay your kindness and bravery, by ensuring that you live.” Her voice starts to fade, and his vision is blurred with tears and nausea.
He squeezes his eyes shut and shivers.
“I will return to change you back as soon as I know you will be safe. This will not be for long, and you can explain to your loved ones so you will not be alone, but you will be safe from her and her partner's detection." Her voice is finite, and her brow is set in grim determination. Franklin tries to speak. To ask what she's doing to him that he'll have to explain himself. But his breath is gone and he can't seem to catch it back.
"I will not have a child die because of me. Though should I not return, this spell will–“
Franklin cannot hear anything more, because suddenly he has his breath back and nothing can be heard over his own screaming and howling.
The world starts to go black as he feels his skin stretch and bones shift.
Just when the sun rises, he finds himself covered in a silky fur coat and shakily rising to stand on four legs.
Chapter 2: Man Meets Cute 'Dog'; 'Dog' Meets Handsome Duck
It has been one of the worst weeks Matt has had in a long, long time. As a senior at Columbia University, Matt had thought that things would get a little bit easier – namely, that his fellow classmates would mellow out, and instead of binging on alcohol and sex on the weekends, maybe spend it doing their capstones or some other mundane, relaxing habit that doesn't leave Matt contemplating violence.
Or that the professors would know about the ‘blind kid on campus’ and not act so put out about providing notes in Braille. He had asked for digital copies today from Professor Paxton, so he could use his screen-reader – suggesting smoothly that it would be easier on her so she can just email a file instead of acquiring the special paper for the brail printer.
That way he wouldn’t, you know… fail the class, because he couldn’t get his materials.
She had scoffed and huffed and puffed, like it was his fault he was blind – and Matt was so frustrated and upset he excused himself and left the room quickly.
Those are the worst cases for Matt to handle.
He can grit his teeth, grin and bear it when some treat him like a child or a complete invalid as they pity him – because he knows they have good intentions. In their own way they are trying to be helpful and nice; but it’s really just insulting and patronizing.
Matt has been blind for years, and no, he doesn’t need help to get to his next class, he has done okay so far, but ‘thank you’, he will be okay today. Yes, he knows he can ask for assistance or help at any time and they’d be more than happy to assist.
Seriously. It grates on his nerves, and he finds himself going to confession for having ‘rude thoughts’ towards these well-meaning people.
Then there are those who are just oblivious and inconsiderate, or purposefully cruel; barging past him and knocking into him while he pretends to ‘navigate’ the hallways and crosswalks. Ignoring his struggle when he drops books and papers – something he would gladly accept help with because it can be a difficult task to make sure he’s picked up all his scattered papers with all the echoing shouts, conversations, footsteps and smells.
His senses can make it difficult to accomplish things like that. But Matt had learned a long time ago how cruel, ignorant and selfish people can be.
He supposes that he’d see things differently if he had actually took the time to make friends… but most of the people he has encountered were either completely dull or were people Matt is not comfortable being friends with.
When taking all the different, negative ways people seem to approach him and his disability, the worst treatment, the one that hurts him the most (even if he loathes to admit it to himself), is when he’s treated as an inconvenience, or a thorn in their side. The nuns didn’t care for him, and neither did Stick. He certainly doesn’t have any close friends.
Matt takes a deep breath through his nose and as he picks up the sharp, fresh scent of newly-cut grass, he takes in the rest of his surroundings and finds himself in a park just off campus. There are a few students lounging on blankets in the grass, though just after mid-day, he notices the walking paths must be clear. He idly taps his stick ahead of him, continuing onward at a slower pace as he attempts to clear his mind of these negative emotions.
With a little more effort, Matt can make friends. He really should give it an honest try. He knows he can score dates, and he can carry on pleasant conversations and even get people to talk to him when he choses to use his charm. But when he leaves (or they leave), when they talk about him afterwards, they all murmur how he sounds insincere and fake.
There’s a wooden bench up ahead, just off to the side of the path under a nice tree and shrubbery, and Matt strides over to and drops himself into it – like a puppet with snipped strings.
He feels tears of frustration start to burn in his sightless eyes.
If he was to die tomorrow, no one would care. He would even be so lucky if anyone would truly notice - because no one really knows Matt Murdock.
Matt grits his teeth and he’s angry. He doesn’t want to pity himself. He doesn’t want to cry. It’s a weakness. He’s being ridiculous, but is it really that hard to find –
The blind twenty-year-old startles, and chokes on a surprised shout when something cold and wet suddenly nudges at his hand.
How did he not notice this dog approaching him?
Undeterred, the dog whines and nudges Matt’s hand where it’s curled on his lap. He’s about to shoo the fluffy animal away when he feels something warm and soft gently settle on his lap.
Well. This is new.
His dilemma is shoved aside and nearly forgotten as he studies the strange animal before him. From what it sounds like, the dog has long fur like silk and... floppy ears?
Matt gingerly sets a hand on the dog’s head and something in his chest lightens a bit.
Matt picks up his hand, debating if he should pet the animal when the dog pulls back. There’s a moment of silence as Matt hears the soft swish of the dog’s tail as it wags slowly. Then it’s shuffling a little closer, forcing him to make more room for the dog. Matt doesn’t really know how to cue a dog’s expression. He has never really interacted with many animals since he was blinded. So he doesn’t know whether or not he can pet it, or really how to react – but the animal hasn’t growled, and Matt doesn’t sense any muscle tension or an accelerated heartbeat that would indicate defense or aggression, either.
So he gingerly reaches a hand out, palm up, to allow the animal to smell his hand.
You’re supposed to do that, right?
Matt hears the dog huff… in annoyance? Exasperation? Do animals feel that? – and then nudges his palm gently. He takes that as his cue, and starts to lightly pet the dog’s head.
He concludes that the dog does, in fact, have floppy ears - and they are extremely soft.
They are both still and silent, and for once, without having to tangle himself in his thoughts or forcibly meditate – he finds himself able to relax and block out nearly all the noise around him. Taking comfort in the soft, silky fur on the friendly animal’s head.
“Where’s your owner? A friendly dog like you is definitely not a stray.”
He sniffles slightly as he 'scents' the dog and then scrunches his nose again. “Though you kind of smell like one.”
As if the dog understood him and was offended, it makes a grumbling sound and pulls back a little – Matt barks out a laugh, and the dog barks back at him.
“Oh? I'm sorry, did I offend you?” He teases the dog as if he can hear and understand him. The dog yips and shuffles backwards and with his ‘world on fire’, the young man can see the dog wag his tail and dip his head low, causing his rump to rise high and wiggle with another happy bark.
Matt’s cheeks are starting to hurt, his grin so foreign to his face these days that the muscles are getting an unexpected (but much needed) workout.
“What? You want to play? I’m kinda the worst human to ask, buddy – “ Matt is interrupted when there’s a voice coming from his pocket, and he senses the dogs floppy ears lift as he tilts his head cutely.
“Oh you are cute.” He mutters fondly, realizing that he’s still smiling as he pulls out his phone –
Matt clears his throat and straightens with a frown, the dog’s attention fully on him. “Well…” he starts awkwardly. “That’s my alarm.” He raises his eyebrows in surprise when he senses the dog tilt his head slightly and raise just one ear, making an… inquisitive? Sound low in its throat.
Weird dog. Or maybe it is just Matt.
“So… I got to go…”
Yea, maybe he has lost it. He thinks himself with a rueful smirk.
He frowns and bites his lip with the dog lets out a quiet whine, its ears dropping. Before Matt can say anything to reassure it (why would he even be worried about that, it’s just an animal…), the dog gets close again and nudges the hand in his lap gently. Matt lifts the hand to pet the dog on the head again and suddenly he regrets that he has to leave. This small interaction has left him feeling lighter, and it feels calming to pet this funny animal – but he has to be someone’s pet. Strays weren’t this kind.
Matt finds that it’s really, really hard to get up and leave, but he knows if he doesn’t leave now, he’ll miss his biology test and he can risk getting a ‘C’ in the class before he can even make it to midterms.
The dog starts to lift his head and pull away and Matt finds that his throat is starting to constrict and is nose and eyes are tingling.
He’s being silly and emotional over a dog… Matt moves to stand, picking up his stick, he takes a step away from the bench and kneels down in front of the dog.
“Well… thank you for chatting at me and letting me insult your smell.” He jokes with a rueful smile on his mouth, and Matt is surprised when the dog is silent for a moment and its tail stops wagging.
Then it leans forward, right in his face and he’s about to laugh and push the dog away because he knows the dog’s going to slobber on him…
But it doesn’t. The dog nuzzles his cheek, and its’ nose gently nudges up Matt’s glasses – and then Matt feels a warm, soft tongue carefully and tentatively licking at the corner of his eye before it pulls back again.
His breath is caught in his chest and he carefully touches just under his eye on the other cheek and feels the tacky, sticky feeling that saline leaves on skin.
As Matt stands he looks down at the dog in mild shock when he thinks he realizes something…
Right then, the dog yips and stands, extending a paw to tap the side of Matt’s left ankle, murmuring low in its' throat before it turns around and leaves.
Matt smiles shakily and then makes his way back to campus. As Matt walks, he wonders for the first time if dogs could smell sadness, too.
Franklin trots away from the handsome, wounded duck he had found at the park, and imagines that if he were human, he’d have a content smile on his face and he’d probably be skipping across the lawn like a schoolgirl with a crush.
Of course, if he were human, he wouldn’t have gotten away with licking his face which, ew. But he held back the slobber (he might be a dog but he wasn’t), and it seemed to get his point across.
The teen had found himself having to do things he thought were quite silly, just to try and communicate with people. They were typical dog-things, he knows, but it felt weird because even though he’s been like this for about two months now, he still has his human brain, and absolutely no doggie-instincts.
Like he’s still nervous when he randomly realizes he’s naked, and he can’t pee in front of people (or other animals, as one night a cat was giving him the evil-eye when he was trying to do his business).
He barks when he thinks he needs to. It’s not like he does it to talk, because he can’t. But it helps to bark happily and whine sweetly (and he knows he has perfected the actual puppy-eyes) to get food and sympathy from friendly people in the parks.
It’s how he’s survived this long, to be honest. Especially when he got a nice, personal pizza twice a week after ten from Rita’s Pizza Grotto, where 'Rita', a kind and elderly woman, had caught him trying to pilfer from their trashcan. He must have looked sad and pathetic, because she cooed and told him to wait (and he understood because he’s not at dog thankyouverymuch) – she came back with the most delicious Meat Lover’s Pizza he had ever tasted in his life.
Franklin learned quickly that she was only there on Mondays and Thursdays, so he had worked his charms six blocks over at Drew’s Bakery, where a lovely young lady prepped for the day ahead every morning before the sun rose. When he could catch her running out to toss out the day-old bread or pastries, she’d smile and toss him a treat.
Unfortunately, Rita started smelling off the past two weeks, and his doggie ears overheard her husband’s concerned yelling when he caught her feeding a ‘scrappy mutt’ that ‘probably got you sick in the first place’ – which Franklin took offense to. Seriously. He knows he hasn’t had a bath, but he does try and keep himself relatively clean when he can. And the one time he caught a nice reflection of his doggy-self in a cracked mirror one morning, he was a pretty cute doggie (and that was totally not a biased opinion, but fact).
He looked small, for a golden retriever. His fur was long, but not too thick, and looked very soft (though it was probably starting to get a little dirty now, he thinks ruefully). Overall, if he was human and he had seen his doggie-self, he would have thought he was a handsome, young pup – because much to his chagrin, he did look like a gangly teen, even as a dog, beause eating scraps and running from cops and drunks the past two months he probably won’t have any of his baby fat when (if) he changes back.
Around these parts, one would think it’d be easy for a stray dog to not go hungry – but even the cleanest-looking ‘left-overs’ he tries to salvage from garbage bins are absolutely appalling to him because of the smells.
And that’s the one thing that took a while getting used to, after the walking-on-four-legs and learning a bit of ‘doggie conduct’ – the smells of the city nearly knocked him on his ass an hour after he ‘woke up’ and he had ‘settled in to’ (translation: ‘stopped freaking out’ about) his new form.
Anyways. He could smell everything that was in the food (or had touched it). If he could ever salvage freshly thrown out left overs outside a fast food joint before the stench of the rotting trash underneath it could ‘latch on’ (there was really no other way for him to describe it, it was weird) to his targeted ‘meal’ – then he’d scarf it down before he thought too much about it.
Franklin thinks he really shouldn’t be picky, but again – not a dog still human thankYOU.
So yes. When he smells rancid cheese and human bile and mold on what could otherwise look like an ‘okay’ meal – he nearly doggie-barfs.
He did once, and that was so not fun. It was worse than that time he snuck out to go to some party with a neighbor kid he went to school with, and got completely trashed on cheap alcohol - nobody had told him not to 'mix his drinks'. Franklin had wanted to taste everything, so he could figure out what kind of alcohol he’d like to swindle for himself when he went off to college, and so he sounded impressive and experienced when he knew what alcohol he liked already (yea, in hindsight, it was incredibly stupid) – but it all turned him off after he regurgitated the liquor cabinet.
So he decided that he could just pretend he was doing some vegan cleansing shit, or feign at sipping beer if he was invited to any parties when he eventually graduated high school.
Well. Now he won’t be going to any parties in the near future. Thanks crazy-wizard-lady.
It did lead him to finding the handsome blind-man at the park.
Franklin ducks behind some shrubs and wiggles his way between a bush and a fence as he waits for the two cops he overhears to pass him by. A month ago he got picked up on their ‘radar’ – but unluckily for them, he’s not a dumb dog (yea, he just looks like one - apparently), so he can hear when they talk about him or when they receive a rare ‘complaint’ about a ‘mangy little retriever’ rustling through their yards or sleeping in their apartment stairwells.
What? He was still human. He didn’t want to sleep outside every night. It wasn’t safe.
Franklin huffs, annoyed as he hunkers down for a long wait, and wonders if he shouldn’t take a nap now before it got dark – He closes his eyes and sighs, thinking about the blind stranger in the park.
He had smelled so sad, that it pulled at Franklin’s heart and he just had to go over and make him feel better. Even if he were a human still, he would have risked complete embarrassment if it had a chance of brightening that man’s day (or at least distract him from his troubling thoughts).
Something other than his human mind that remained after his… mishap… was his sight. He still seemed to have his eyes, and could see in color. He was thankful for that, because then he would not have known that the handsome, wounded duck wore striking red-tinted sunglasses, or had an adorable, unruly mop of brown hair that flops a bit when he walks. Or that he had a very handsome smile, even if it was a little sad and made the squishy, bleeding-heart-teenager inside of his doggie-body want to hug him (okay, he could see the smile if he was color-challenged, but that wasn’t the point).
Then the guy had stood up, and that was when Franklin noticed that the guy was actually pretty tall – probably about six-foot-two-ish, Franklin surmises objectively. And he had gorgeously broad shoulders, Franklin surmises un-objectively.
Franklin knows he might not see the blind man again. He seemed to be a student at the university at the end of the park, and was probably two or three years in already. He seemed like he’d be a smart ducky – so he’d probably not visit the park again, especially for the ‘off chance’ he’d run into a cute, awkward-looking doggie like him.
Reality didn’t stop him from dreaming, though.
Thankfully he could still dream as colorfully as he did before, because his dreams were the only place these days where things seemed normal and safe.
When he dreamed, he was never cold, hungry or lonely.
After his encounter with the friendly dog, the rest of Matt’s week goes by smoothly; even attitude from Professor Paxton couldn't squash the content feeling that blossomed and made his chest feel a little warmer and the weights on his shoulders a little lighter.
Smiling that week was a little easier, and he found himself light up with hope that things will get better when he was invited out to dinner with his study group that Saturday.
However – every night before he fell asleep, he tries to stretch his senses over towards the park to pick out the friendly dog, but finds that each night he’s unable to do it – and he falls asleep with a little frown on his face, but dreams of playing catch in clean-cut grass had him waking up with a smile.
It was a week since his break down, and a week since he had met the kind, cute friendly dog – and today found Matthew Murdock, undergraduate, pre-law student and (secret) badass martial artist, sitting - fidgeting nervously like a child on a bench.
This was a stupid idea.
Some part of Matt had thought about visiting the park on Sunday to sense if the same dog would be there, hopefully to put to memory the dog’s heartbeat or scent (well, probably not scent) – so it’d be easier to find the canine again (Matt's stubborn, but not enough-so to pretend he's not interested in another encounter).
If he can only find him this time.
Matt had waited until Tuesday, at about the same time he did last week and in the same spot in hopes of speaking with (to, Matt… to) the dog again – however, he didn’t realize until right now that dogs wouldn’t know what day it was, and definitely wouldn’t have a that specific of a routine – not like humans did.
He had just as much of a chance at running into the canine again if he came to the park any other day that week.
Or, Matt like had thought sadly over the weekend, that he had been right, and the dog had an owner or a family. It seemed like a happy, young thing – so it had to be loved and missed by someone.
He’s sitting and frowning - so lost in his head again, that he almost doesn’t register the small, happy yip.
Matt’s head snaps up quickly and he smirks when he senses the dog happily heading his way.
“Hey, buddy, nice to see you again. How was your week? Chase any mailmen?” He chuckles at his lame joke (wow, he's even socially awkward with animals, go figure) - and then grins when the dog responds by ducking his head down and playfully wiggling his rear in the air again, yipping happily. A bright blur of happy movement.
It makes Matt smile and the dread he felt all week that he wouldn’t see the dog again melted away.
“So, I take that as a yes? Did they taste good?” Matt makes a face on the dog, and the canine walks up to him, balances his fore-paws on his knees and barks sharply and loudly right in his face, and then nudges his chin with its wet nose. And even though Matt could ‘see’ the dog coming at him, he still startles when he barks. The dog seems to apologize because it lets out a soft whine and then gently licks his chin – Matt senses that the dog is about to pull back so he confidently rests both hands on the dogs shoulders and pets him there.
The dog’s fur is soft, though a little matted in some places where Matt is cautiously stroking, telling him that the dog spends most of its time outside.
“You are a funny dog, you know that? And I don’t know many dogs. Or any. Never really did more than passively pat them on the head – but I know enough about them to know you're a weird puppy.”
His tone is light and friendly, and Matt is happy when he feels the dog shift what little weight it has on Matt’s knees and makes a grumbling, murmuring noise in its mouth and throat that sound absolutely, ridiculous and cute that he can't keep the stupid grin that's starting to make his face hurt.
It’s like the dog was trying to talk.
The dog finally pulls away, but he knows it is not going to leave him just yet. The canine takes a couple steps back and cocks its head to the side, like it’s unsure of what to do next.
So Matt leans forward, knees on his elbows to mime meeting the dog’s eyes.
“So. You told me about your week,” Matt smirks when the dog tips his head to the side, and he knows it is patiently waiting for him to continue. “My week got better. You caught me on a bad day. I wish I could say I didn’t have many of those, but they aren’t usually that bad –“
The dog shuffles its’ paws and whines sadly, making Matt pause in interest and confusion before he continues, “But thank you for making me feel better.” Here, Matt reaches out to gently pet the dog’s head and then fells around scratch behind one of its soft ears. Matt huffs out a quiet laugh at the appreciative groan that earns him. It keeps wagging even after Matt eventually pulls his hand back.
“Well, dog. What do you want to do?” The dog yips and jumps back into that weirdly cute wiggly thing it does. Matt laughs and leans back into the bench behind him.
“Oh, I see.” He says in a teasing voice, “You want to play? Let me guess, Fetch?”
The dog barks and stops its – his, Matt’s senses supply, playfully wiggling and barking so hard, his lithe frame almost bounces with it.
Matt grins ruefully. “Well, then go get a stick or something. You can’t ask a blind guy to find you one, can you?” He imagines the dog giving him a blank stare, but laughs when the dog huffs and paws twice at the ground, his tail slowing a bit.
“What?” Matt shrugs and laughs at the dog who grumbles cutely and then does something Matt does not expect.
He confidently strides forward and quickly snatches the stick off the bench right next to Matt.
Matt’s walking stick.
The dog steps back for a moment and then gently growls impatiently, stepping up to Matt to drop the stick right at his feet.
And then the dog sits down and haughtily lifts up its chin at Matt - giving off every possible indicator of his impatience at Matt's inactivity.
Matt’s sightless eyes are wide and he’s struck dumb - because what the hell?!
Matt must have said that out loud, because he swears the dog is smirking at him.
But that can’t be – logically, the dog saw a ‘stick’, and he gave it to Matt to throw. Because he mentioned ‘fetch’ and ‘stick’… many dogs respond to commands or recognize familiar words. So maybe his owner played with him?
Whatever the case, it’s not like the dog was purposefully trying to be a smart-ass.
Dogs just don’t do that - so maybe he used to have a toy that looks like his cane? Whatever.
But it would be funny if this one did, because it’s such a human thing to do.
Matt leans forward again so that his face is close to the dog’s muzzle, and the dog doesn’t budge or move away from Matt invading his space. “I don’t think I trust you enough to bring it back to me if I throw it – I kind of need that to walk.” He doesn't, really. But the dog and the people in the park don't need to know.
The dog grumbles in his throat again and Matt sits back a little, regarding the canine for a moment before coming to a decision.
“Okay. Trial run. I’m hoping you understand me, because otherwise this is an incredibly stupid thing I’m about to do.”
Matt leans down to pick up his folded-up walking stick at his feet. He moves to stand and he smiles as the dog excitedly backs up, tail wagging happily. Matt can hear the pitter-patter of its heartbeat and can hear a happy whine in its’ throat before it even comes out.
He’s up and he’s seriously thinking about his poor judgment as he lifts his walking stick only to stop when his phone talks at him, alerting him that it’s time to head back to class.
The dog seems to remember the voice from last time, because it doesn’t cock its’ head again, but the wiggling and tail-wagging slows to a stop.
Matt lowers his arm and in three strides he’s in front of the dog and on his knees, hands already rubbing the dog’s sides when he sits in front of Matt.
“Sorry buddy, but I’ll come by again, and next time I’ll bring a stick for you to fetch, okay?” He smiles hopefully, and a little saddened that he has to leave the dog again so soon. Matt had been on the bench for a while until the dog showed up.
His strokes are a little clumsy, and when the dog whines softly, Matt pauses his petting with a frown. When he moves his hand and starts to pet down the dog’s sides again, but with a firmer, more confident stroke, Matt furrows his brow.
The dog was a little thin, and Matt could just feel its’ ribs, and its’ flank was a little concave. Nothing worrying. The dog was very energetic, and Matt can hear its’ stomach and it’s not grumbling with hunger.
When Matt hears a questioning whine (can a dog have a questioning whine?), he notices that he had stopped petting him, and instead his hands were firmly pressed against the dog’s rib-cage. So he gives his new friend a few more pets and then scratches at its’ head and ears, “Maybe I’ll bring a treat or something too, yea?”
Matt leans back on his heels and the dog yips happily, making him grin. “Awesome. I will come back as soon as I can, hopefully you hang around this park enough that you can find me.” The dog barks twice and both human and dog stand up. One on two legs and the other on four.
“You’ll have to find me, buddy.” Matt’s smile falls a little, but he’s not as sorry about leaving this time as he was the last because at least there’s a better chance that he’ll see his new friend again.
“Take care, buddy.” Matt reaches down to pat the dog’s head one last time before turning back to 'carefully' make his way back towards the school. Once he finds the path, Matt unfolds his walking stick.
He doesn't hear the dog move away until he's put a bit more distance between them - then he hears the canine bark once before he turning around and heading across the park - presumably in the direction he came from. Matt strains to see if he can determine where the dog's heading - but all he hears are rustling leaves and branches, and then he can no longer track his new friend.
He’s pretty busy the next three days, so hopefully his canine friend likes to visit the park on weekends.
About ten students and two faculty members greet Matt on his way to class – idly, he thinks it’s because of the happiness that hasn’t quite left his face yet. Had he been so unapproachable before?
Apparently, because Matt gets asked out for a date on Saturday. Normally he'd take the chance - but he only finds himself apologizing kindly, because he already has plans for his Saturday afternoon.
He does keep her number though - Matt's many things, but a saint isn't one of them.
Franklin’s week was starting out fine. He really hasn’t had a good week since becoming a dog, but he’s had some lucky weeks. However, he was definitely happy that he got to see the blind man again. The transformed teenager didn’t care if he felt incredibly stupid when he acted silly, doing that adorable butt-wiggly-thingy puppies and happy doggies do when they want to play. It made the wounded duck smile and laugh, and even though it was at Franklin, it was worth it to see the man’s face light up.
Now, Franklin Nelson has always had a big heart, and one of his favorite things ever was making people laugh – especially handsome wounded ducks, it seems. He always got a happy feeling in his own chest, and a pleasant swell in his chest to match the smile on his face whenever he could make someone’s day. His heart would flutter in his chest even more with happy-nerves when he cheered up a particularly cute girl or good-looking boy.
But this particular guy made Franklin want to pull out all the stops – as limited as they seemed to be now that he was a dog. Or maybe it was better. Cute animals can melt even a cold heart, at least a little.
Maybe being a dog isn’t so bad, if he can keep spending some time with the handsome blind man. Franklin, for whatever reason, felt as if he had known the guy for years. Something about the man made him easy to approach – so he wonders why the sightless man seemed so lonely.
Thank you iraya (http://iraya.tumblr.com) for the absolutely AWESOME and ADORABLE FanArt!! Check out her art on her tumblr site, and here on AO3 as well! :)
It is a Wednesday, and it has been three weeks since Matt's started spending his free time with his new canine friend. He's yet to name him, both because he's crap at coming up with names (he's not exactly the creative type), and because a part of him doesn't want to get too attached - well, okay. Maybe that particular ship has sailed, but he still hasn't come up with a name to suit the scrappy, friendly canine.
After his second visit to the park, Matt had brought a small stick with him that he had found on campus (okay, so he broke it off of a tree and then got yelled at by the campus groundskeeper), as well as a small baggy of left over lunchmeat from the mini-fridge he keeps in his dorm.
Matt was equally amused and concerned when the dog practically inhaled the lunchmeat, and then he was just flat-out concerned when he noticed that the dog’s stomach was still growling in hunger. He started paying closer attention, and eventually Matt resolved to buy something from the pet store before his next visit - something that'd be a bit more filling for his new friend and help stave off his hunger.
So a few days after that, he woke up early for his work out routine, and on his way home he stopped by a pet store and bought a bag of dog treats. They were high in calorie and Matt was hoping that it'd help his doggie friend fill the remaining spaces in his stomach.
Matt had spent the first twenty minutes of that meeting, trying (without success) to coax the dog into eating. Matt could hear his stomach grumble, but still the dog refused to eat the store-bought dog treats. Eventually, Matt had to give up, because he could tell that the canine was getting irritated with Matt... so he guesses that maybe the dog will eat them later and left a small pile by the bench before he returned to class.
But it was like the dog was used to his own hunger, or was choosing to (stubbornly) ignore it, because the rest of that afternoon, he happily ran after whatever stick, tennis ball or other object Matt would find and throw for him to chase - he ever threw the milk bones a few times, only for the stubborn animal to return to Matt and drop the soggy treat on his shoes.
Needless to say... Matt gave up. Once they were both tired, they had spent the next two hours sitting under a tree – the dog lying by his side as he ran his fingers over his brail textbook, and the fingers of his other hand stayed buried in his new friend's soft, downy fur.
For the next week, their meetings held a similar pattern of activity, with Matt still remaining unsuccessful in getting the dog to eat the dog treats and kibbles.
Every time he showed up that next week, the treats Matt would keep leaving had all been there when Matt would arrive at the park. Twice he caught some squirrels picking at the food, but never his friend.
So for the sixth time since that first day he brought the treats, Matt tries to give the dog some more of the dog treats he bought (again). Today, Matt was hoping that buying a different brand of treat (healthier and a tad expensive) would help, but the stubborn animal turns his nose up at it, and makes his ridiculous whiney-grumbling noises.
Like he’s irritated, but doesn’t want to be mean to Matt.
But that he won't eat the food, to avoid hurting Matt's feelings.
It was equally amusing as it was frustrating.
Matt gives up after five minutes of talking at the dog and teasing it, before sighing heavily and finally putting the small bag. When he hears his canine friend's stomach protest in hunger, almost drowned out by his companion's happy yipping and yapping, Matt feels his smile dampen on his face. His brow growing a little heavier with concern and frustration.
“You are stupidly picky. I know you are hungry, even though you sound like you ate sometime last night.”
The dog makes a confused whine, and Matt shakes his head and kneels down to run his fingers through the dog’s fur. “Your fur is getting knotted. Would you bitch and whine at me if I bring you a brush?”
The dog huffs and licks his face, making Matt sputter and scowl half-heartedly.
“You are a little shit. You know that?”
He hears the dog wag his tail, and Matt feels the dog’s lips turn up from where he has his hands on either side of his friend’s face where he grabbed him.
“You are such a weird dog. Good thing I’m kind of weird too.” Matt grins and rubs and pulls at the dog’s face, making a goofy face.
Matt spends the next ten minutes chatting at the dog like he likes to do – telling him about his day and making stipulations about how the dog’s day was.
They both blissfully continue on, both in their own little world, when they are suddenly interrupted by one of Matt’s classmates – a slender girl with long hair in a high ponytail who smells like Juicy Fruit bubblegum.
“Matt? Hi! It’s Vanessa, from World History?” A friendly female voice greets him about two feet away from where he’s kneeled down and petting the dog. He pretends to ‘look’ towards her, and knows he’s mostly staring straight ahead than off to the left where she is.
“Hi. How are you?” He smiles politely, his fingers tangling in the soft fur on the dog’s chest. He has developed the habit of trying to comb the canine's fur with his fingers. Matt thinks he might have someone like an owner (not a very good one if the dog is able to get out) because some visits he is dirtier than others, and dogs don’t clean themselves like cats do.
He knows, because he has bothered to look it up.
“Who’s your friend? He’s super cute... I didn’t know you had a dog? Can I pet her?” Vanessa asks sweetly, her heart beating happily at the thought of petting ‘his dog’. He smiles and jokes as he stands and takes a step backwards (reluctantly) to make room for her, because the dog seems excited to meet his classmate.
“I think it’s a boy, and it looks like he’s fine with it. He’s super friendly.”
He can hear the girl fall to her knees and set her bag aside on the grass so she can properly pet his dog –
No. Not his dog.
“What a cute puppy! He’s so sweet! Oh yes, you are a good boy, aren’t you!” She coos at him and his canine friend’s tail is wagging and he yips happily before moving to lie down in front of her. The dog licks at her fingers and she giggles.
Matt is not jealous.
“What’s his name?” She asks Matt idly and he senses that she holds the dogs face in her hands and lifts it to coo and awe. Before he can answer, she talks at the dog, “Oh you are so cute! But so stinky!” The girl says this with a teasing tone, but Matt can hear a whine low in its throat and wonders if she hurt the dog’s feelings? He frowns to himself, affronted on his friend's behalf, because really, that's insensitive...
Wow. He’s being ridiculous.
It's a dog - he doesn't know what she's saying...
He clears his throat to answer. “He doesn’t have one… at least I don’t think he does. He’s not mine…” Matt frowns, and he hears a soft whine of protest from the canine when Vanessa stops her petting and rubbing. When she responds, there's an audible 'frown' in her voice.
“Oh, that’s a shame. You two looked good together, but I guess that explains why he doesn’t have a collar or harness, and why he looks like he hasn’t had a bath in weeks.” She’s still holding the dog’s head and he makes his silly grumbling noise and ends it with a heavy sigh – making Vanessa laugh happily.
“Oh dear you are super cute!”
Matt lets himself chuckle in agreement, imagining the affronted expression that's no-doubt on the dog's face.
He talks about class and other small talk - Matt is always polite, and although he's running out of patience with this conversation, he's not going to walk away.
The dog was Matt's friend first; but he doesn't know of a polite way to end this interaction... so he can get back to his one-on-one time with his animal friend.
Vanessa must pick up on his awkwardness, because she returns her full attention back to the dog - raising the dog’s head and kissing his nose, making Matt shift awkwardly.
“You, my friend, have the most amazing eyes!”
Matt blinks his own sightless eyes and decides that, and well – he could ask her some visual questions about what his canine friend looks like, things he’s unable to sense. Matt can’t help but be curious.
“Hey, um…” he starts awkwardly and Vanessa hums absentmindedly to show she’s listening, but going to keep petting the dog.
“Can I ask you what he looks like? I’ve come across him a few times already, and I don't know what kind of dog he is.” Wow. He sounds so awkward, but the girl doesn’t seem to mind answering him.
“Well,” She hums, and shuffles to the dog’s side – trying to get dog to roll over so she can pet his tummy but it just makes the him whine and squirm. Matt feels himself clench a fist in annoyance, a flash of protectiveness flaring up. Thankfully Vanessa gives up, and resumes petting his back and head and the dog lays his head on his paws and seems to relax.
“It looks like he’s a golden retriever, they don’t get to be too big, but they are large dogs – this one is small, but no doubt he’s got some retriever in him, even though his poor fur’s a little matted in a few places. And… it's weird, because he doesn’t look like a mixed breed, but his eyes are very unusual... for a dog of any breed, really.”
At that, Matt moves to kneel back down beside his friend and stretches at his ears.
“Oh? What color are they?”
Vanessa gently pulls the dog’s face to her again and hums, “They are… very pretty and bright...vivid. Blue, but not the light blue that some dog breeds have – a genetic defect. No, they are like… Aegean or cerulean blue, but a little... different...?" She trails off and looks at Matt, who is trying not to appear confused, but for whatever reason he really wants to know the color of the dog’s eyes.
Matt remembers some colors from before he lost his sight - but as he's gotten older those memories slowly fade. He has to really focus and concentrate to pull those images of color and texture to mind.
“I’m afraid I’m not familiar with those specific names of ‘blue’.” He says a little ruefully, unable to help himself. It’s the one thing he really misses sometimes about his sight. And well... he was nine when he lost his sight. He was more concerned with not getting girl-cooties and finishing his homework so he can watch his dad box in the ring. He wasn't worrying about learning names of colors past the primary color wheel from Pre-K.
Matt suspects that she’ll bashfully or awkwardly drop it. This is an awkward conversation for both parties, unfortunately.
He flinches at her exclamation, and if his friend wasn't a dog - Matt would think, by the choked-off sound, that the canine was laughing at him.
But that's just ridiculous...
So while listening to Vanessa, Matt covertly glares at the animal anyways - just to be sure.
"Do you… remember what blueberries looked like?” She asks this cautiously, “Assuming you weren’t always blind, of course – I think I remember overhearing you talking with someone about it in passing that it was an accident, so –“
Matt waves his hand dismissively at her concern, “It’s fine, and yea. I remember what they look like.”
He smiles kindly down at the dog who raises his head to look up at Matt, ears lifting a little in attention. Even though he sees it through his heat signature, it still looks kinda silly and cute. “Well, buddy. You sound like a handsome pup. I’m sure you are popular with all the pretty lady-dogs.”
Vanessa laughs and the dog barks happily and wags his tail. Matt grins down at his friend, not caring that his classmate (a stranger, really) is sitting about a foot away.
“But like I said,” The girl continues after she sighs, “he’s small for his breed – so he is still a puppy, probably. I’d guess he’s almost a year old.” Matt, relaxed enough in her presence to be more candid, raises a questioning eyebrow - his face tilted in her general direction. She huffs out a laugh.
“I love dogs, my aunt used to breed Labradors and Retrievers, and even Bulldogs – my educated guess would be that he’s about 10 months. So he’s like a teenager – though he’s surprisingly well behaved. Even for an adult dog that's trained.”
“Don’t let that look fool you. I bet you get into tons of trouble on your own, don’t you, pal?” He says the last part in a different voice, because he’s talking to his friend - and oh God, he's turning into one of those crazy pet-people.
Like this Vanessa chick.
“I thought so too. But I had no clue what kind of dog he was.” Matt adds, finally relaxing a little more into this conversation. His canine friend’s heart is beating happily, and Matt can't help but to feel grounded. It's a good feeling. If the dog likes being here, and likes the girl's attention, Matt thinks he's okay with it.
Also... it won’t hurt him to get to know more people. Matt just wishes it wasn’t cutting into his limited time with his dog - shit.
The Dog. Not his.
After a few more minutes of idle conversation, and showering the funny dog with more attention, Vanessa announces that she needs to be going, and that’s that. They say good-bye, and when Vanessa says 'I'll see you later' - even though Matt can't see - he finds that the standard reply of 'okay' is more truthful than obligational. She wasn't too bad. He won't mind if they become acquaintances. Maybe.
“Well, buddy. That kind of cut into our play-time,” Matt stands and decides that he can be silly with his doggie-friend, so he puts his fists comically on his hips and mimes looking down at the now excited pup who’s yipping happily and wagging its tail as it jumps around - making barks, yaps and mumbling noises, like he's 'talking' at Matt.
Matt grins and reaches out to scratch behind it's ear. “But I made you a promise, didn’t I?”
The dog stills and Matt knows he’s looking at the hand going into his shoulder bag intently. The tail picks back up as he reveals a toy. When Matt was picking it out yesterday, he felt it was long, like a stick, and had a ball on each side that made a little, unobtrusive squeaking noise. The lady at the pet shop had said that dogs liked the sound and it made them happy – he could tell that she wasn’t lying to make a sale (but Matt also didn’t want to have his ears bleed) so he found a perfect compromise.
Matt laughs, moving to toss his bag over by the bench and out of the way before squeaking the toy in his hand. His grin hurts his face when his doggie friend yips and barks more frantically and paces back and forth, waiting for Matt to throw the toy.
“Okay, Okay!” He cocks the toy back and then throws it hard, he smiles as he hears the dog yip and hears his claws dig into the grass as it takes off like a bullet across the field. Matt laughs again and then waits, and for a moment he feels panicked that the dog might not come back.
But he did, after about a minute, and then Matt finds himself throwing the thing about ten more times before they both tire out and collapse on the grass beneath a nearby tree. He laughs, loud and genuine, as the dog rubs his back over the grass - wriggling around and babbling at him.
And Matt feels so light, he’s afraid he’ll float away - high on laughter.
He doesn't remember ever having this much fun.
Franklin is so happy - the happiest he's ever been, in fact.
Even though he’s a dog, and he’s spending more and more time lately hungry than he is not, the teenager can’t remember when he had ever felt totally relaxed with someone.
He finally got a name for his handsome duck just last week. His heart melts and he’s stupidly happy when he pictures the blind man, and mentally sighs his name.
It just suited the guy so well. He definitely had some demons lurking around him, he just had that aura, but the man was so nice and thoughtful... buying food for Franklin.
He felt bad for disappointing him, but his already mostly-empty stomach churned in distaste when he even so-much as smelled that processed 'dog food'; that he knew if he had a few bites just to appease Matt, he would quickly lose that and what little else he had managed to stomach earlier.
Fortunately, Matt stopped bringing ‘dog food’, and the last two times and brought something a little more edible.
Matt and him have been meeting up in the park more and more often – so these days, Franklin rarely leaves the park unless he absolutely needs to.
He doesn't want to miss Matt, if he happens to come by - because he's missed Matt before (Matt told him), and those moments with Matt have been what is keeping him from going insane. Other animals aren't very good company - Franklin is still a person, even in his adorable doggie-body. Even though Matt can't understand him, talking with (okay at) the guy helps. Helps him not feel so alone.
Like late at night, when he’s wandering about looking for food or some place warmer to sleep. Even now, though, he’s only a few blocks from campus – sometimes if he drops by a party at the right time, he’ll get fed pizza or chips (one time some guy filled up a bowl with beer, thank goodness his girlfriend had some more sense, and filled up a bowl with water).
Franklin hasn’t eaten more than half of Matt’s sandwich in three days. Thankfully Matt picked up on Franklin's food preferences - after he covertly snatched Matt's sandwich crusts (really - the man was like, twenty-something. Eat the damn crusts like an adult).
His stomach grumbles and he shivers. It was stupidly cold outside tonight, and if the pumpkins and fall decorations he sees when he wanders some neighborhoods were anything to go by, he’d say it’s October by now.
Suddenly, there’s a shout, and it sounded afraid. Franklin pauses in his walk and cocks his head to listen closely. The same shout rings in his ears again, and then a sob and begging.
He’s already moving towards the sounds, and only speeds him when he hears the voices of men. Growling and taunting and laughing. The sounds were cruel and ugly and it made his doggie-blood boil.
The sounds are nothing compared to the disrupting, bitter, acrid smell of fear.
The fur on the back of his neck starts to rise the angrier he gets and the sobs and begging are muffled now and he’s running.
Franklin really never learned.
Now he can smell these filthy men and their disgusting arousal – but worse than that is the acrid taste of complete and utter terror in the air, coming from the girl. He tries to hold back the growl in his throat when he finally sees them.
The men have pulled down the girl’s pants almost to her knees, and one has a hand up her shirt, large, sweaty hand over her mouth.
He swears that the scene in front of him starts to blur with red. But he shakes his head once and looks around, willing his logical mind to take over and not just charge.
The girl lets out a sob and Franklin’s senses zero in on the Asshole #1’s hand as it’s reaching for his own pants, his chuckle is deep and frightening and sends chills of disgust down his spine.
Franklin tenses his muscles and he fights to hold back a growl as he charges at the man – in two split-seconds, he has his sharp canines tearing into the man’s arm.
He hears cursing coming from Asshole #2, who is off to the side and he hears something hit the ground. It’s metallic and he hears a slight crack so – phone. Broken?
Asshole #1 is screaming as he reels himself away from the girl and tries to dislodge him, but he’s locking his jaws tight. He hears the man struggle with his other arm to reach into his pocket and Franklin knows that there’s probably a knife in there but he will not let go.
Suddenly a knife swipes along his side and it burns, but he just squeeze his eyes shut and clenches his jaws harder.
He will not let go.
Not until the girl has gotten away.
Asshole #1 yells at Asshole #2 and suddenly large, filthy hands are grabbing at him, trying to pull him off and he scrunches his eyes shut again. He hears running footsteps and sobs and harsh breathing fade as the girl runs away.
Franklin releases the man’s arm suddenly and twists to snap at the other man who still has a harsh grip on his fur.
There are no longer hands on him, but he’s kicked on his hindquarters and he stumbles – and he’s slow to react when he looks up to see a knife swiping carelessly at him again.
It catches his shoulder and he yelps in pain because it hurts, and he’s already weak from lack of food and so little sleep – but his jerking knocked the knife from the man’s hands and a boot comes towards his face and he’s starting to trap himself in a corner.
He needs to get his doggie-ass out of there now. Before these men kill him.
Franklin fights as hard as he can, until his human mind sees an opening. He will risks another swipe of the blade but if he keeps trying to fight in this corner with how weak and tired he is, he will die anyways.
Franklin thinks of Matt and he charges.
He doesn’t stop running until he reaches his favorite park. Once there, he makes his way through the bushes and into a small, wooded area – away from all the trails and open grass, where Franklin knows there’s a tight crevice he can squeeze into by a stream with relatively clean water, and he’ll be safe from humans until he wakes leaves it.
He’ll nap. Then tomorrow, he’ll sit in the small stream until the aches go away.
There’s no way he’s going to let Matt see him like this. He’ll take him to the shelter or to a vet and they’ll take him to a shelter and then he’ll feel even more like an animal and he really just wants to cry.
Franklin has always been one to try and look on the positive side of things, but right now he allows himself to whimper pitifully, as he gently licks at the wounds he can reach until he falls asleep.
Tonight was not a good night.
Matt woke up three times; once was to sirens at ten p.m. (heart attack. The man will be fine), another to shouts and jeers (campus party), and the last one was to a scream.
It was close to campus. Maybe able six or seven blocks. He tries to focus on other noises, and struggles because he hears angry shouts from some men and then the sounds of growling and fighting. – He tries to recite a poem in his head from his English class, and it works.
About twenty minutes later he hears sirens, and he can’t help but ‘tune in’, because he wants to hear if anything happened, so he can dig at himself for not charging out there and being the hero. But he can’t do that.
The girl sounds hysterical, as she tries to talk to the men. He hears her say that they didn’t get the chance to do too much. She got away.
Matt stops listening at that point because that’s all that matters.
He’s finally able to fall asleep and stay asleep until his alarm wakes him at half-eight for his Friday classes.
This as been amazing to write so far. So much cuteness.
Also, angst. Just a little.
Our brave, little Foggy. Poor kiddo... :(
Birds are chirping and the cool air warms slightly, and the morning breeze has a clean, comforting scent to it that Franklin wakes to. His eyes are lidded and he takes a deep breath through his nose and sighs. Relaxing further and just basking in the stillness of the early morning. He’s able to ignore the pain he knows his body is in, but at the moment it’s a distant throbbing, because his mind is floating but his thoughts are clear at the same time and he wonders if this is what a meditative state is like.
He continues to focus on his breathing and either zones out or falls into a dreamless sleep because when he wakes up again the sun is completely out and is fully in the sky where it’s hiding partly behind a cloud. The air is still cool, but it has settled and distantly, Franklin can pick up sounds of traffic and the voices of Friday joggers.
Honestly, Franklin just wants to stay curled up in this crevice. It’s nice, and it feels safe. If he was at home with his dad, before he had to go away to the hospital (he didn’t make it until Franklin left for school, so he had the apartment to himself for two weeks) – he would have buried himself under his covers and have his face shoved in a warm pillow.
But when mom was around, she would make Franklin get out of bed when he was sick or hurt, and she’d make him sit in the tub filled with water for two hours, saying it was the best way to soothe aches and pains. It was some hippy, new age, ‘water therapy’ she had heard about when Frankie was five and she adopted it like they had adopted Mittens The Cat.
He idly wonders if Mrs. Cardenas was taking care of Mittens, and if Mrs. Cardenas would somehow know he was Franklin. The old, Spanish lady was always super intuitive like that. She was the grandmother he never had, and brought him and his dad sopa every Sunday afternoon when she returned from Mass.
Franklin thinks about her and the cat to avoid thinking about what has become of his dad. Does he even remember he had a son? If he remembered still, did he think he was dead?
He quickly gets up, accepting the pain that throbs and lances through his little dog-body because it takes his mind away from things he doesn’t want to think about. Franklin stumbles and nearly falls on his face when he gets himself out of the crevice, and feels like he’s dragging his back leg over to the bank of the stream where he gingerly sinks into the water.
Moving a rock so that he can keep his head lifted out of the water to breathe, he lays down so most of his body is submerged. Franklin breathes out and whimpers as he wills himself to relax as the gentle current laps against and around him, the chilled water already working at soothing his aching body and washing away the blood and filth.
He feels himself doze off, and he dreams of Matt petting his head and telling him he’s going to take him home.
His study group this afternoon is cancelled, and Matt can’t help but be relieved. He has been in a daze all day due to the lack of sleep he got last night. Only until he finally grabs himself a coffee after his nine a.m. class does he wake; and once he does, he immediately knows that something is off.
He stops and waits for the girl to approach – the hallway is loud and everything echoes and with all the noise in such an enclosed space, Matt can’t tell who she is until she’s five feet away.
“Hey… Vanessa?” He pretends to hesitate and feigns uncertainty.
Got to play the part, right?
“Yes, sorry – hi. Sorry, I’m in a hurry. Mindy, from your Biology study-group?” She sounds like she’s waiting for a confirmation, so Matt nods.
“Right. Anyways, she wanted me to tell you it is canceled, in case you didn’t get the text yet. I had told her we had class together and I’d pass the message along.”
She sounds a little frantic and worried. He finds himself curious to what is wrong.
“Vanessa, is everything okay?” He forgets to mention that he already heard about the cancelation, but from the tone of her voice, elevated heartbeat and her fidgeting… he wonders if there’s a special reason.
“Well… um. You’ll probably hear about it eventually. Well, there was an attack on a student last night. A girl. She’s – not okay. But she didn’t get hurt badly, and she was able to get away before the worst happened but –“ Her voice starts to wavier and Matt settles back into his somber mood.
“It sounds like you know her, so I’m sure she’ll have all the support she needs to recover.”
Vanessa lets out a shaky breath. “Yea… thanks. It’s just – hearing the story, and she hasn’t stopped shaking. I don’t think she has slept since it happened. She just got back from the hospital, but she’s not to be left alone. She’s a friend of mine and Mindy’s. Hannah from your group is actually her cousin. So. Yea.”
“You don’t have to say anything more. Please go to your friend. Thank you for telling me. I was a little lost, because I didn’t know what all the commotion was.” He demurs.
“Oh. Well. Yea. It’s in the papers too, the whole story will probably be on the news later. She was adamant about making sure she told the media and the police right away. She wants the men caught.”
Matt raises his eyebrows. “That’s very brave of her.”
Vanessa nods her head distractedly, and then hastily says goodbye when her phone chimes.
She jogs down the hall and Matt stays standing in the now-empty hallway before he finally turns to go up to his room.
Two hours later he finds himself in the corner of the gym, laying into the bag.
He doesn’t emerge until he can no longer feel his arms or catch his breath.
At three p.m. he can’t take it any more. He showers quickly and quickly makes his way across campus and to the park bench.
Matt sits until he senses that night has fallen, and when he checks his phone, it’s after seven.
With his chin tucked into his chest, he dejectedly walks back to his dorm.
He could have sworn the dog was somewhere in the park, but he’s been so out of it all day, it could have been any dog.
Anyways, tomorrow he has nothing planned. He will pack a bag and wait all day for him, and eventually he will come with a wagging tail and his goofy energy and happy barks and make Matt feel a little bit better and everything will be okay.
Considering how the past 24-hours went, Matt is feeling much better today.
He’s happy at the prospect of seeing his canine companion today, and since it’s only eleven o’clock, he decides to make a day of it like he did last weekend.
Of course, he’ll just stay up late tonight and do some of his assignments so he can spend all day tomorrow with the dog, too.
Matt finds that he is missing the dog when he’s not in classes or rushing to finish his assignments.
Or wallowing in guilt or anger.
It was probably good that the dog wasn’t at the park yesterday, now that Matt thinks about it.
In an hour he has a bag packed with three peanut butter sandwiches, a towel, the squeaky toy, a rawhide bone he bought as an afterthought when he stopped in to the pet store to purchase a brush yesterday, and a bowl and three water bottles. He’s got a textbook to read and he is out the door and strolling over to the park, letting his cane tap ahead of him absentmindedly as he hums happily.
Matt sits at the bench, and after twenty minutes of day-dreaming he starts to worry. He gets up and starts to wander the park. It’s a big park, and he remembers one time he thought he heard his canine-friend’s heartbeat come from the far end the last two times he visited.
Matt tries calling out for him, but feels a little silly because it’s not like he has a name to call it.
After five people stop and try to help him, Matt gives up and choses to return to the bench.
In three hours, he hears a bark and he startles from where he was lying down and almost falls off the bench.
He hears a happy ‘yip’ as Matt struggles to sit up. He feels the dog paw at his arm and he laughs wetly, he is so relieved.
“Hey, pal? Where’ve you been?”
The dog murmurs and then nudges at his hand to be pet. Matt moves himself to kneel on the grass in front of the dog and the dog leans heavily into Matt’s chest and he wraps his arms around the dog and suddenly the smile slips right off Matt’s face.
His tail is wagging, and he’s rubbing his soft, furry face all over Matt, and he smells a little wet and… and…
Matt smells blood on him.
Well. How rude.
He was still a little sore from the other night, and his original plan was to quickly find something to eat and then spend another full day in his little ‘safe place’ – though when he hears Matt’s voice shouting out (for him, he’s assuming), he figures he is well enough to see his best buddy.
Also, Matt smelled a little sad. And Matt can’t ever be sad. Not when Franklin’s around.
Matt can also make him feel better. Maybe he can act a little sleepy (he’s really still kinda sore), and get away with cuddling against the handsome duck again.
Franklin could really go for some cuddling right now.
So, he trots his butt over here, on his sore leg, mind you – to see his buddy, only for Matt to stop petting him.
He whines and leans forward a bit and then Matt takes in a sharp breath and suddenly the blind man is leaping back into petting him, though a bit frantically and he accidently brushes too hard against one of his cuts and he yelps – yanking himself away from Matt.
Now Franklin is standing, so he’s face-to-face with the guy who… looks terrified. Scared. The scent coming off Matt is wrong and Franklin needs to fix it. So he tries to reassure him, which comes out like some sort of doggie-babble, and scoots closer to Matt and then gingerly licks the man’s cheek.
Matt smells worried and sad.
“You’re hurt. You smell like blood.”
Uh. Okay? He can smell it on him? Franklin’s pretty sure he shouldn’t smell ‘like blood’, because he really didn’t bleed that much. The two cuts ended up being more like ‘grazes’ then deep ‘gashes’. If he was human, he probably wouldn’t have even needed stitches.
It just stings.
He whines at Matt, trying to get something more out of him. Does Matt think he’s a ‘bad dog’?
Then Matt reaches out a shaky hand and brushes his face. Franklin leans into it and steps back up in Matt’s space and sits down.
He found out that Matt likes to pet and hold him. Slowly, Matt gingerly brushes over the worst of the two cuts he got, and Franklin tries to pull his doggie-head back a bit to look at the expression on Matt’s face.
Matt’s eyes are wider, and Franklin hears him swallow a lump in his throat.
“That’s from a knife…”
Matt jerks the hand back to himself and Franklin really doesn’t know what to do.
He was wrong, right? Matt’s not going to turn him in to the Humane Society? Shit. He thought he was well enough – he felt well enough – to be safe for Matt to ‘see’ him again.
Because you know… he can’t see. And if he felt it, well… Franklin’s a ‘stray’ right? Little cuts here and there happen.
Guess he wasn’t counting on Matt having a nose like… well… him.
Then Franklin remembers learning something about how when one sense leaves the others get stronger.
Matt sniffs, and Franklin pulls back to see Matt give him a wilted smile.
Oh. Shit. That’s just sad and totally not fair.
Matt’s like, gotta be like six years older than him. Franklin had smelled beer on him one time, but that doesn't really tell him much. But he talked about graduating so... probably like, 20 or something.
Anyways. Point is, he’s a man. He’s not allowed to look so adorable and also be handsome. That’s just cheating. And Franklin thinks Matt wouldn't appreciate knowing just how 'adorable' a high schooler thinks he is.
So Franklin decides he’ll have to act extra ridiculous today, because Matt can’t have that look on his face.
He licks up his cheek obnoxiously, purposefully disturbing his glasses and getting Matt to chuckle.
It’s not a laugh, and it sounds a little wet, but he will take it – so he wags his tail, and even though the man can’t see him, Franklin tries to look extra adorable.
Matt’s smile is a little more real, and he resumes petting so – Franklin wins.
“You get into a fight? You seem okay…”
He barks once. And as loud as he can. Right in Matt’s face.
Because Matt thinks it’s funny when Franklin is a ‘little shit’.
Another point for the doggie – Matt grins.
“Yea. You’re fine.” Then he laughs, but Franklin still notices how Matt’s hand hovers back to the cut.
“I’m going to clean this though. Or it’ll get infected.”
Franklin gives Matt a gentle lick on his cheek and nuzzles his ear with his nose, which makes Matt laugh lightly before dragging his bag down from off the bench behind him.
Then he makes Franklin’s week by pulling out a peanut butter sandwich.
Yea. Matt is kinda Franklin’s super-best-friend.
Knowing that his only family will probably be gone someday soon, Franklin’s wondering if he’d be better off as a dog for the rest of his life – as long as he can keep seeing Matt.
He tries not to think too much about anything as he lets Matt worry over him for the rest of the afternoon, and he has pleasant dreams when he falls asleep in Matt’s warm lap.
PLEASE tell me what you think so far. :D
This story is literally writing itself, and if I wasn't starting my new job tomorrow, I wouldn't stop until I passed out - But alas, this will be on my mind all day.
I'm so excited to get this story written and posted - why must I start work tomorrow? LOL
Chapter 6: His Name is 'Foggy'
Matt finally gives his canine friend a name -
Matt goes by the park every day for the next week.
The dog seems happy to see Matt every day, and the feeling is mutual. Now the longer Matt goes without seeing the dog, the more anxious he gets.
Matt has accepted that he has been deluding himself all this time by not naming his canine companion – even if he doesn’t have a name, it doesn’t help Matt care any less.
No matter what, he’ll still worry about the scrappy retriever.
So the Monday after his friend got hurt (doing what, Matt still doesn’t know, and probably never will), finds Matt sitting propped up against a large, tree trunk, reading his Biology textbook – his best friend by his side snoring happily.
The few times the dog actually falls asleep, it snores. Sometimes if his nose is stuffy or congested, it will get particularly loud.
Matt finds it endearing.
And very funny.
Today, Matt is glancing down at the dog fondly as it sleeps and snores away – so the Frisbee that lands softly about a foot away startles him. He makes no move to get up and throw the Frisbee back, and when he hears one of the guys in the group that was throwing the aforementioned disc grumble something rude, he makes sure to ‘nonchalantly’ push his glasses up his nose and drags his cane into his lap.
He smirks when he hears one of the girls call him an asshole.
In seconds there’s a girl jogging up to him and apologizing.
“I’m so sorry about the Frisbee… Oh.” She giggles and Matt knows it’s at his friend, because he’s snoring pretty cutely (obnoxiously).
“Wow. He’s kinda loud for such a little guy!” She stage whispers and Matt smiles, “He sounds like a foghorn!” she continues jokingly.
Now Matt laughs quietly, and runs a hand through the dog’s recently brushed fur.
“Yea, he’s my little Foggy.” He means it to be a joke, but he finds himself smiling even wider as he ‘looks’ down at the dog.
The girl ‘awe’s and then wishes him and ‘his dog’ well by bending down to softly run a hand over the fur on the dog’s head.
“You keep having sweet dreams, Foggy. Your daddy’s looking out for you.” She says cutely in a quiet voice and then jogs back to her friends.
Something in Matt’s chest swells and his emotions get stuck in his throat, bubbling up so high he feels like he’s going to choke on them.
Foggy. Matt is looking out for Foggy. And Foggy will have sweet dreams, because he’s safe when he’s beside Matt.
Suddenly, a conversation from some of his first days with his friend comes back to him.
“He’s still a puppy.”
Who knows how long his friend, Foggy, was on his own, with no one to take care of him?
Matt sniffs and feels a little silly but his heart bleeds for this dog.
Because Matt knows how Foggy feels. Matt was left alone as a kid too. Matt had no one who cared for him.
Foggy needed someone to take care of him.
Foggy deserves someone to take care of him, and love him - because Foggy is a good dog.
So. Franklin has found out that Matt has given him a name… and he doesn’t know why, that makes him so freaking happy.
But it does.
Matt calls him ‘Foggy’.
It’s completely ridiculous but he loves it.
Franklin thinks the name suits him well.
The fact that Matt named him just makes Franklin more attached to the guy. Like he wasn’t already wanting to spend all day following him around like… well…like a dog.
Which he is one (and let’s face it, will probably stay one)… so he supposes it’s fine.
But he has a feeling he’d want to do it even if he was human, but he knows that Matt is too cool to ever want to hang out with a dorky kid like Franklin. He also supposes he always had a ‘dog-like personality’ – that’s what some people have said before.
But Matt would probably want nothing to do with ‘human-Franklin’, because as a general rule, dogs are better.
So Franklin is totally fine being called ‘Foggy’ by Matt, because Matt says it with such fondness.
And to be honest? He's not really sure he is 'Franklin Nelson', anymore. His father is probably dead, or will be dead, soon, and Señora Cardenas has her own children and grandchildren to worry about, and Brett probably hasn't noticed he's even gone because that guy was so much in his own little bubble.
So he is totally okay if Matt ever wants to take him home, because living with Matt would be awesome.
Honestly, Franklin never wants to be someone’s ‘pet’. If he wanted that for safety in this form, he could have allowed himself to be ‘rescued’ from the streets by a humane society and hammed himself out, dishing out the puppy-cuteness until he got himself a good home.
It would not have been hard, and he's had offers.
He’s kinda really adorable – even though he probably looks close to a bag of bones with tangled hair.
But he is not a dog. Or… he does not think like one. No weird urges to sniff other animals’ privates, no urge to eat feces even on the days he feels like he’s starving to death… but…
Franklin is just dealing with the cards he has been dealt.
He trusts Matt, and he looks up to him like a ‘big brother’ or… a best friend. Though maybe ‘big brother’ is a little closer to the truth – the adoration he feels for the guy. Or maybe ‘best-friend-who-he’s-got-a-tiiiiny-crush-on.
So Matt to Franklin is just ‘Matt’ – because even in his complex, human mind, that explains everything.
Matt’s special enough to Frankie, to be in a category all his own.
So If Matt ever wanted Franklin…’Foggy’… to come home with him and be ‘his’… he’d probably be okay with that… because Matt talks to him and confides in him and jokes with him like he is human…
Which, lately… when he’s not with Matt, he thinks he’s starting to forget that he is, in fact, a 15-year-old kid who will probably never learn Calculus.
Lately, when he’s away from Matt, he starts to feel lost and empty as well as cold and hungry.
Even with all the emotional baggage he has, he never truly felt numb or completely hopeless. Always optimistic, even if he was a little sad about his dad getting sick and his mom leaving them; he still liked to have a good time, and make others feel even better. But never had he really felt so... wrong.
So that’s why, when he doesn’t see Matt for three days, he doesn’t know what to do or what to think. He’s cold and he’s hungry, and he’s been feeling icky and wrong – and a part of him wants to lie down and never wake up.
But then he hears his new name being called. He struggles to his feet, shakes himself awake (he’s so tired lately) and takes off towards Matt’s voice like he’s going home.
Matt can’t help but worry over Foggy. The last week he has seemed a little out of sorts, and the last couple days he was so busy he couldn’t find the time because he was sick, and his English assignment was due.
When Matt came here yesterday after the brief absence, Foggy nearly tackled him into the ground and nosed and whined at him until he opened his backpack and surrendered his sandwich – which the retriever wolfed down quickly before whining and nuzzling against Matt, knocking him back and climbing into Matt’s lap.
Foggy sounded so sad and frantic, that he held and cooed at the dog for nearly twenty minutes straight. When Matt finally had to go two hours later (the entire time Foggy never separated from him), it broke Matt’s heart when he whimpered as Matt walked away.
So after that, Matt makes sure he doesn’t miss seeing Foggy more than a day at most, because he’s really worried that something has happened to his friend to make him react like that when he leaves.
No matter what was on his schedule, every day this week he has come to the park, and days twice – basically whenever he can catch a free minute… just to bring Foggy food and clean water. Both of which he scarfs down, but it seems that no matter how much Matt brings him, throughout the day, Foggy isn’t getting any healthier.
It is nearing time for midterms, and Matt is running himself into the ground, but he can’t help it.
If he doesn’t see Foggy, he can’t focus on studying for his exams, and he isn’t able to work on his projects.
When he tries to sleep at night, he worries about Foggy. Wondering if he’s cold, or if three sandwiches was enough food, is he safe?
All of those thoughts go through his mind when Matt can’t reach his senses far enough to find Foggy’s quiet, little heartbeat… which has been sounding a little off this past week.
Basically, it’s like Matt has been surviving off quick meals and naps at the park with Foggy, between cramming and attending review sessions, study groups and classes.
So he brings a blanket with him, and wears extra layers, so he can stay later into the evening with Foggy.
This past week, Foggy has been asleep most of the time he’s with him, and Matt’s wondering if Foggy doesn’t sleep until he’s with Matt either.
Matt really, really needs to find a way to take Foggy home. But there’s too much to focus on right now.
Once midterms pass and he has a break, he’s going to start finding a way to bring Foggy home. There has to be some way to keep Foggy with him.
He was going to wait until after the semester was over, but Foggy is looking worse and acting strange and lethargic each time Matt sees him and he can’t take it anymore.
Franklin feels like he’s dying.
It’s not always the cold, or the hunger gnawing at his insides. He has gotten used to that (and isn’t that sad?) – but no… he just feels strange. Like when he was a kid, and he was forced to stay in bed for a week but it only felt like a day.
He feels feverish and sick, and as the week wears on, more and more confused.
Franklin… no… Foggy (which is kind of how his head feels, go figure) thinks he’s worrying Matt.
Another part of him is worried that he’s truly losing his human-brain, because Matt’s voice doesn’t form words any more most of the time, and the world around him is like walking through a narrow tunnel.
Actually. It feels like his brain is mush and it hurts to use it, so it’s being lazy and sloppy and that’s why sometimes the colors and images swirl like an ugly tie-dye, and words sound like they are echoing from somewhere far away and they hardly make sense.
Idly he wonders if this is how his dad felt as the tumor grew and the lesions spread over his brain in into his left eye.
But then he catches the word ‘Foggy’ coming out of Matt’s mouth (because that’s his name now) and it calms him when he can smell Matt’s warm breath and gentle, spicy scent. And even if he can’t make out the words Matt is speaking, his voice (though distorted) helps him sleep, and he feels safe when he has Matt’s warmth near.
He scarfed down the food Matt brought again, and for now his stomach is happy.
But it’ll be gone in a few hours.
Nothing stays down anymore.
A sharp, high-pitched shriek brings him out of his fuzzy mind, and he wearily lifts his head from where it’s on his paws and he looks around.
He’s… not really sure where he is. How did he get here?
Foggy’s heart starts to pound a little quicker and nausea tickles his insides.
Swallowing thickly, he struggles to stand. He falls down twice, but then on the third try, he’s standing up and he feels a little burst of energy.
Shaking his head a little, he wakes up a little more and he’s able to take in his surroundings.
It’s an alley.
He hasn’t slept in an alley for at least two weeks…
When the retriever looks to his left, only then does he feel the warmth coming from the radiator he was apparently wedged against.
Foggy… is confused. He doesn’t know where he is.
So the he walks for what feels like a handful of minutes and a few, blurry, wobbly memories come back to him.
He recognizes this street.
When he follows the street down and turns a corner his heart clenches tight in his chest and he remembers.
This is where his dad went when his sickness got so bad that Franklin couldn’t take care of him any more. Even if he had given up college (and he was going to), apparently his father was too far gone, and needed experienced aide and round-the-clock assistance that the teen couldn’t provide.
What he doesn’t remember is how he came all the way back to Hell’s Kitchen. Did he want to see if he could somehow find out what happened to his dad? If he was still alive?
What was he thinking? How did he even get here?!
How long was he here? What day was it?
It doesn’t matter.
He needs to start heading back towards Columbia before he has another black out. While his mind is sharper than it has been for what feels like forever.
Franklin needs to get back, because he can’t remember when he has last seen Matt, because he doesn’t know how long he was out of it.
Franklin feels weary, and he’s scared. But he shoves it back and deep, deep down, so he can focus on getting as close to home as he can get.
As close to the park.
As close to Matt.
…Maybe his delirious self was trying to go ‘home’.
But he doesn’t have a home here anymore. There is next to nothing here for him in Hell’s Kitchen.
While he’s thinking all this, his body is heading in the direction he remembers going when he left to Colombia from this hospital the first time. Just two days before his life was changed forever.
He stumbles. Tripping forward as he suddenly loses his coordination. When he tries to right himself again, it’s like the world tipped off its axis, and he can’t distinguish which way it ‘up’, because it keeps wobbling.
It goes away, but he doesn’t know how long it took.
More time wasted.
Something’s seriously wrong with him, and the still-aware part of his mind, that’s slowly loosing more and more connections and controls of his actions, is starting to freak out and work overtime.
He knows he’s sick. And Foggy is unable to help himself or communicate with anyone. He could find a pet store, humane society or even a vet’s office. They’d take him in and maybe fix him, or put him out of his misery.
But then he’d be in their system, and he’d never see Matt again.
Matt will know what to do.
Matt will take care of him.
He needs to get to Matt.
The pain and the dizziness and the fever start creeping back again.
He needs to get to Matt.
Matt has never felt so helpless.
Midterms had finished on Thursday, and he’d been unable to come to the park for most of the week. The three times he took a detour towards the park, he couldn’t find Foggy’s heartbeat, and assumed the dog was elsewhere in the city for whatever reason (though Matt was trying to bring him whatever he needed so he wouldn’t need to leave the park as much, so he could see Matt more) – so he turned back around, each time, and resumed cramming for whatever test was up next.
He has never been so distracted.
But Matt promised to himself that he is going to put all his focus and effort into finding some way to get Foggy out of the cold, and into Matt’s dorm.
Get through this week from hell, and then take care of his friend.
Foggy is a good and smart dog. He can take care of himself. He was taking care of himself before Matt. Foggy is okay without Matt.
Matt tries to tell this to himself multiple times, and he still can’t make himself believe it.
Get through the week.
Midterms, then Foggy.
Matt's struggling to finish this stupid paper, but instead he's wondering about Foggy. He hopes the dog is doing okay - he doesn’t want to entertain the idea of giving Foggy to a Humane Society. He knows Foggy wouldn’t like it - he swears the one time Vanessa had mentioned a 'shelter', that Foggy understood, because he was weary and anxious the rest of that day. Matt despises the notion completely, because a shelter isn't safe or clean enough. He has smelled sickness and diseases from those shelters the few times he's come close to one - and his nose is at least as sensitive as a canine's sense of smell; so no doubt Foggy (and other dogs) has drawn a connection between the word and the smell.
Foggy wants to be with Matt, and Matt doesn’t like Foggy not being safe – and right now, a shelter would be safer than the park or the streets.
But Matt will be able to some day have his own apartment, or get Foggy into his dorm. Blind people usually have dogs anyways? Surely he can find a way to get the school to allow him to have Foggy, right? Probably just paperwork… but if not… Matt will beg on his hands and knees.
As soon as he’s able, Matt will give Foggy the home he deserves – no matter what hoops he’ll have to jump through, no matter what it might cost.
Foggy is worth it, and considering all the care centers in the world out there for strays – Matt is better. Matt will take the best care of Foggy.
Matt had thought that Foggy could wait until he had things sorted.
And now Matt thinks he was completely and totally wrong.
Foggy hasn’t been by the park in days.
November as just started, and the days have gotten colder, and the nights even more so.
Panic, anxiety, fear… seizes, bubbles, and chokes Matt as he sits ridged on the bench, the memory of his conversation with his ‘dog expert’ classmate.
“He’s almost a year old.”
“About 10 months.”
Foggy is still a puppy. He has probably never had a winter outside in New York before.
He’s not some seasoned, adult stray, who would still have problems surviving in New York’s harsh winters and unforgiving environment.
For some reason, all this just hits him now, as he waits again in the cold, for Foggy to appear. Thinking about his friend, with tears in his eyes, as he decides he’ll wait another hour before going back.
It’s hard for Matt to remember how young of a dog Foggy is. Foggy is so well behaved, and there’s intelligence in Foggy that Matt hasn’t ever seen in other animals. He has more light, more expressions, and more humor than any human Matt has ever met before.
In human years, Matt thinks idly, Foggy’s probably what, like… ten? A teenager at least?
God! He’s a kid. And Matt just let him continue to be homeless!
Foggy was probably sick, and that’s why he wasn’t gaining any weight, not matter how much Matt fed him. Foggy was probably so cold, and he was desperate for Matt to understand that he needed him and wanted Matt to take him home.
And now Matt waited too long, and his little friend is probably somewhere out there starving and freezing, and dying and it’s all Matt’s fault.
Matt suddenly releases his pent-up sobs into his hands.
Loud and messy.
Because Foggy could be sick and suffering, or worse.
Matt hasn’t seen Foggy for days. One more day, and it will be a week.
A week since he’s seen or hear from his best friend, and he’s at a complete loss of what to do.
Everything hurts when he moves to stand. Matt still feels like crying but he has no more tears left. He feels rung-out, but he can’t give up hope. He can’t lose the best thing in his life since his dad.
Now the anger and determination sets in, as he feels a second wind sweep him up and he clenches his hands and sets his teeth tight where they grind in his jaw.
This is his fault, and he will fix this.
He will scour the city for his friend. He will beg whoever he thinks can help him.
He will not stop until he finds Foggy, or is sure of his fate.
Matt takes a deep, shaky breath.
Time is running out. If Matt can’t find Foggy soon, he’ll lose him forever.
If he hasn’t lost him already.
Alright. Please let me know what you think. I am sorry if some of the writing seems a little disjointed - it's intentional.
It's to mimic their internal thoughts - i.e. if they are afraid, they aren't going to be thinking eloquently. If someone's is panicking or is delirious with fever; I'd imagine (like mine) that their internal thoughts and perceptions would be disjointed.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 7: Getting Him Home
This chapter has so many feels, it's ridiculous.
It's also a very, very long chapter. So I hope you all enjoy. I will now be working on the next one.
Let me know what you think <3
Matt really didn’t want to come here. But he’s exhausted all other options. He knows his classes are suffering severely because of his nightly surveying of the area, and he’s wondering if he shouldn’t spread his search radius wider.
If he were a human, he may have found him by now. But Foggy’s a dog, and he’s also small (probably too small for his age and breed, if Matt were to guess) – so he makes a lot less noise…
Most days, Matt hates how sensitive his hearing is – sense of smell, too. But right now, he wishes it were amplified even more, because he wants his friend safe.
Safe with Matt.
He confidently strides through the police station, following a deputy to a very uncomfortable seat. Thankfully, the officer doesn't feel it necessary to reassure him with platitudes, or to be over polite or accommodating to his blindness. She does warn him to keep his cane out of the aisle so as not to trip anyone. Matt barely registers whatever response she gives to his silent compliance.
Only ten minutes in to Matt's wait, he overhears an upset family on the other side of the wall, hysterical over their pittbull, ‘Darla’, being poisoned.
That wouldn’t have interested Matt too much, but the conversation it sparks. Well. That gets his attention.
It’s what he hears another officer mumble to a co-worker.
“That’s the eighth case this month.”
“Of pets? Who would do that?”
“No. Apparently only three of them were pets. The rest were strays, or maybe missing.”
“Do we have leads?”
“Not really, a minimal profile at best, but to be honest? It’s not a priority case, but they’ll probably put a rookie on it tomorrow. PR won’t want this to escalate to the papers - it'll stir up those PETA and ASPCA protests.”
“Yea, no kidding… so what are they thinking?”
“Probably disgruntled shop or restaurant owners - strays tend to dig food out of the overflowing dumpsters. Could also be a tenant or landlord somewhere, who intended to poison rats or something, and these animals just got caught?”
Matt’s jaw sets tightly. It doesn’t mean much, there are hundreds of dogs out there, and Foggy is smart. He’d smell the poison and wouldn’t go near it.
He’s confident in that fact, because Foggy was the pickiest stray. The dog rejected most food, but loved deli meat and peanut butter.
Still… maybe he can ask what kinds of dogs had…
Or he won’t. Yea. He won’t ask.
“Man… that’s kinda sad… I love dogs.” The coworker continues, “There’s this one dog I’d see sometimes on patrol. Real nice dog.”
Matt bets he’s not nicer than Foggy.
“Why didn’t you report him?”
“Honestly? It would just slip my mind. I mean we see stray dogs here and there, but hardly more than twice because they get picked up.”
Matt gives a tiny, rueful smile. Foggy was too smart to get caught. Then Matt’s smile drops, because if Foggy was sick and starving… he might have gotten himself caught…
But no. Matt checked all the humane societies and pounds in the area and with Vanessa and a friend of hers. No one reported picking Foggy up.
“So not this one?”
“Nope. I’ve seen him probably like, ten times in the last three months – I figured he probably had a home and just kept digging himself out of the fence, at first. But I saw the lil’ guy a week ago and he was so skinny and just… didn’t look the same. He was squeezed up next to a generator. I was going to go to him after my shift ended and take him to a shelter, but he was gone.” The voice curses under his breath, “I really hope he didn’t get into what the others did. That dog was somethin’ else.”
Matt’s heart starts pounding. It couldn’t be Foggy. It could have been any other dog. Foggy’s not the only stray out there.
But, what if…?
Matt stops his internal thoughts when he hears a derisive snort.
“What’d the dog do? Perform tricks for you?”
“Don’t be an ass, but… no... kinda? One time I saw him from across a street. Some lady drops her bag and he trots out of an alley and just picks it up and follows behind her to a taxi. Barks. Scares the crap outta her before he drops the bag and then goes back into the alley.”
A low whistle, “That’s… very weird… strays don’t do that. Hell. Most trained dogs don’t do more than the basic commands, and to do that stuff without one?”
Matt takes in a deep breath.
Now that sounds like something his Foggy would do. Foggy was smart, and he often would retrieve Matt’s stick if he forgot it in the grass without Matt even saying anything. And Foggy was sweet and kind and -
The gritty, booming voice cuts off the conversation, and Matt hears nothing more about this stray that could have been Foggy.
It doesn’t matter. If it was his friend, and there's a good chance that it was, then Foggy was last spotted a week ago. It’s after Matt last saw him, but too long ago that if it was Foggy, he’s probably not around wherever this cop had seen him anymore. So it wouldn’t lead to anything.
But there’s one thing Matt didn’t think about.
If Foggy’s looking for warmth at night, he could be sleeping next to generators, and it's possible that they make enough noise that even Matt wouldn’t be able to pick out his heartbeat – might not be able to even if he was just ten feet away! The noise of the machines would drown it out!
Matt’s getting up and leaving the precinct before the officer comes to retrieve him because from what he's already overheard, they won't do much to help him out.
Besides. Now he's got a solid plan. He’s going to locate every generator he can, and see if he can find Foggy.
Matt has to believe he’s still alive.
But if he is… why hasn’t he come to the park? Has Foggy moved on? Did Foggy think Matt abandoned him? Is that why the dog hasn't shown up? Or - No.
Shaking out the negative thoughts from his mind, he resolves to resume his search just after the sun sets.
Even if Foggy stopped coming to the park because of something Matt did, he’ll apologize. Foggy will understand. Foggy will forgive him.
Foggy is a good dog, and Matt will find him and take care of him.
November is almost over, and he still hasn’t found Foggy.
He hasn’t slept. He hasn’t eaten.
Matt passed out three times in class this week and was sent to the nurse’s office. They insisted on keeping Matt overnight once, and he nearly ran out of there (not something a blind guy should be able to do).
He needs to spend every spare minute on finding Foggy.
But he’s starting to lose hope.
Why are they hurting him?
He’s scared and shaking and they throw bottles and trash at him and laugh.
Franklin knows he’s crying, and if he was human – no, still human… in his human body… his vision would be blurred by tears. But right now it’s sharpening as he desperately looks for a way out. Adrenaline coursing through him and he wonders how his body is even surviving.
He doesn’t want to die. He doesn’t want to keep feeling afraid.
He’s sick and weak and tired and hungry and he misses Matt.
Franklin can’t find Matt.
Foggy, can't find Matt.
He went to the bench and slept under it for three days and Matt never came.
Hell. It might have even been the wrong park, and he might not even be in the right city. He is so lost and confused and so sick – he has turned himself around, he doesn’t recognize things anymore.
Foggy’s mind has a singular focus Matt and survive.
He caught Matt’s scent once. He was close. So close. Then, too soon, it was fading, and Franklin was too sick and weak to follow it.
Hell. It could have been a feverish dream. It wouldn’t be the first one. But it was
He whimpered and cried where he was under a generator the entire night, until someone came and chased him away for making too much noise.
But that was three days ago.
Everything gets so dizzy and jumbled up, but sometimes everything is clear – just for a little bit. Before it all starts to go woozy again and he feels like he’s sleepwalking, or like in an endless dream.
That’s a complete nightmare.
The glass of the last bottle tears through his skin and suddenly a hand is in his face and on instinct he snaps at it.
Blood is in his mouth before he realizes what he’s done, and it makes him hack.
There is silence and then a shout before the four men are kicking at him.
Normally, he tries to keep his head and fight smart whenever he encounters challenges like this one. Like that time he helped the girl.
But he’s so tired.
He wants Matt.
It has been so hard to keep looking. He’s trying so hard not to give up when his guilt and depression are taunting him 24/7.
Matt’s pace and focus is subpar, tonight. It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the nights are getting to their coldest.
Matt is beginning to wonder if he’s not starting to go insane. A phrase came up in class today, the definition of ‘insanity’.
Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
Matt’s thinking right now that he needs to change how he’s looking for Foggy, or stop.
His heart is so heavy, but there’s something in his gut that just knows Foggy is still out there, and needs Matt.
Matt startles from the black hole his mind was trying to suck him in to. Desperate, he strains his senses as far as he can and searches and searches – even though part of him is close to tears, already thinking this will be another let-down like the night before... and the night before that... the week before...
Another part of him hopes. Hopes and prays that he’s found Foggy.
Then he hears it. It’s light and fast and surrounded by four, human heartbeats.
And shattering glass.
And the thud of blows.
A whine and whimper.
And then he smells blood.
Matt hesitates for a moment, before charging forwards and making his way to the scene. He hopes it’s not Foggy. The heartbeat is off and his scent is wrong – it’s hard to pick him out but…
Either way, he’s going to stop them.
The alley entrance is right up ahead and Matt’s too lost in his head to sense that there’s a change in the fight and suddenly a small shape is charging out of the alley and then stops fifteen feet in front of Matt.
Matt’s heart is pounding in his chest and he’s frozen too, but –
He smells blood.
It comes out a little strangled.
He feels shaky.
Shouts echo from a street over – four men shouting after a dog.
And he’s gone again.
Matt doesn’t spare Foggy’s assailants a single thought as he frantically chases after the startled canine.
Why is Foggy running from him?
He’s not letting go of his heartbeat. It's frantic and terrified, and Foggy smells sharply of fear and sick and so many other things.
But he know's it's Foggy.
Nothing else is in his mind except to get to Foggy, and he’s vaguely aware of himself calling out to his friend and begging him to stop and wait and please.
Eventually Matt loses him and he panics. He was so close, and now he’s gone again but Foggy needs him now. He’s bleeding and hurt and –
He hears a generator nearby.
Matt runs a block over and stops about ten feet from the rumbling noise-box and he hears him.
The sounds make Matt want to cry.
But he can’t.
Because Foggy is trembling, and when Matt steps closer, he starts whimpering frantically and tries to bury himself further against the generator – Matt can smell his wounds being opened further as Foggy struggles to get away from Matt - but he wants to bet that if he could see Foggy's eyes, he wouldn't see an ounce of recognition in them. His friend is delirious with fever and is scared.
Matt chokes back a sob. It's a good thing his eyesight is useless, because he's certain his sight would be flooded with tears.
“Foggy…” He whispers. Pleads.
“Foggy… Foggy… it’s me, buddy.” Matt takes a breath to settle his nerves, because he sounds a tad hysterical and breathless. He can’t shake too. “Please… Foggy… please… it’s me… it’s Matt…”
When he says his own name, he hears a small break in the whimpering and desperate noises coming from Foggy.
He crouches low and he starts closing the distance between them. Finally.
“Foggy… Foggy… shhh… it’s okay… I’m here…” Matt’s chest lightens slightly and wetly laughs with relief as Foggy's whimpering quiets just a little.
Matt stops three feet away.
“Foggy… please… come out?”
Over the roaring of the generator, Matt tilts his head and focuses desperately so he can hear Foggy’s breath and frantic heartbeat more clearly.
Over the smell of blood, filth and garbage, Matt can smell Foggy’s fear - acrid, bitter, and sour.
And it breaks his heart.
A breathy sob escapes Matt and he settles on his knees, stuck right in front of his best friend, who he thought was gone – dead, for weeks. The only one he’s wanted and needed affection and reassurance from for weeks… and Matt feels hopeless and desperate and he feels it all leap up from his stomach to his throat.
Foggy's right in front of him, and Matt can’t reach him.
“Pl-please Foggy… please… come out… n-no one will hurt you any more. I'm here.” He takes a sharp breath and holds it to choke back his sobs.
“Please… Foggy… I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” Matt holds his breath again when Foggy whimpers, still trembling and bleeding.
Matt takes a calming breath that only makes the wells of tears in his eyes overflow again.
"Foggy... please... Foggy..." He swallows thickly and whispers to Foggy, gloved hands beckoning him to move forwards.
"Let's go home..."
His breath gets stuck in his throat and he doesn't dare move, because Foggy's carefully dragging himself forwards, away from the warmth of the generator.
Matt (he thinks) is right in front of him – but he was just getting beaten, right? But…
That’s Matt’s scent, and Matt’s voice – though he can’t understand… he’s saying something, but his heart is beating too loudly in his ears, and he’s afraid. He’s so, so afraid.
Matt’s scent… it’s Matt… but Matt smells… scared… and he smells like tears.
His voice is soothing, but sad. But it’s Matt’s voice, and Matt’s scent, even if he smells afraid and sad.
But Matt's strong and brave, why's Matt afraid? Why's Matt sad?
His heart starts to calm down a little further, and he tries his best to hold back the whimpers he can't control. Matt’s voice flows over him, but he doesn’t let his guard down. He can’t.
It could be another dream. Another illusion. The last one almost got him killed.
“I’m so sorry…”
No, no, nonono…
Matt has nothing to be sorry for, but Matt always feels sorry for things he didn’t do…
So maybe it really is Matt… His voice is nice but sad and Foggy doesn’t like Matt sad... illusion-Matt wasn't sad. He was happy and warm and smiling as he called Foggy over... So this must be real-Matt. God... Foggy has missed real-Matt. His voice, his hugs, his laugh...
All Foggy wants is to crawl into Matt’s arms and go to sleep.
But… he can’t stop trembling, and it’s hard to move... even though Matt’s right there…
“Please… Foggy…” Matt says in a calm and pleading voice. It sounds like a promise.
“Foggy… let’s go home.”
Matt is home.
Matt is Foggy's home.
So Foggy inches himself even closer. He doesn't think he can hear or see anything, and the last thing that registers in his mind before it all goes dark is the gentle, soft scent of Matt, and he shoves his nose into it, inhaling deeply.
Foggy feels himself lifted carefully into a strong embrace, and it smells soft, strong and safe.
For the first time in what feels like forever, Franklin knows he's safe.
Matt is going to take him home.
His sightless eyes burn as he gingerly lifts the unconscious, whimpering pup into his arms. Matt bites into his lip, because Foggy feels too light - if he couldn't hear and smell him, he'd not know he was holding anything at all.
Matt can smell the blood, grime and filth caked on his best friend – and he tries not to think about it as he makes his way back to the empty campus.
When Matt senses the campus up ahead, he has to fight not to break into a run. They are almost there. Almost safe.
Foggy has stopped whimpering.
It frightened Matt, until he picked up the slow and sluggish beat of his friend’s heart.
Still alive. But wrong.
Holding him, Matt can smell sickness on him. Underneath the blood and filth. It's acrid and bitter.
Foggy eats, but was still always hungry.
Foggy was losing weight.
Because he’s been losing his food.
Foggy is sick, but there’s not much Matt can do about it right now, besides take him home.
He should have realized before, but Matt can do something about it now.
Matt has never been happier about having his own bathroom and a single, than he is right now.
Being one of ten ‘handicapped’ students on campus did have it’s perks.
This nice-sized tub was a blessing right now. Even when on the average day, Matt didn’t use it.
Once he gets him and Foggy into his room, he carefully sets the sick, boney retriever on his bed.
He’s also never been so glad to have a single room - Matt doesn’t know what he would have done if he had to deal with a roommate right now.
When Matt’s sure that the pup is settled, staying by his side for a few minutes to gently pet and soothe his friend, only then does he leave Foggy’s side to draw him a bath.
Matt makes sure that the water is tepid – Foggy has a fever and he should bring it down, right? The small retriever felt very, very warm while Matt was carrying him during the walk home. He had thought that Foggy would cool down from the crisp, autumn air, but he didn’t.
Matt thought it was the radiator that had made Foggy feel unnaturally warm. Actually, he should probably make the water cold, but Matt can’t bring himself to do that. He’s hoping to get Foggy comfortable enough until morning.
When he can take Foggy to the vet. When he can get Foggy the medical attention he needs.
When Matt can work out a way to keep Foggy.
He has one week to come up with a plan until the campus is once again flooded with students and faculty.
With the tub now filled, Matt stops the water and goes to dig under the cabinets to where he meticulously organized soaps and other bath necessities. He choses the scented soap – it’s light and gentle and smells like cocoa butter and oatmeal. Matt thinks it will suite Foggy.
He nearly drops the bottle into the tub when he hears Foggy waking up in the other room, hearing the quickening beat of his heart and his breathing change - Matt's own heart picks up in his chest at sensing the building panic in the sickly canine.
The sounds Foggy makes leaves a terrible feeling in his stomach, and Matt tries not to show how anxious he is when he slowly approaches the trembling, whimpering pup on his bed. Matt doesn’t even care that his canine friend is filthy – it’s the safest place for Foggy besides Matt’s arms.
He kneels beside the bed and slowly reaches a tentative hand to Foggy’s head and feels how greasy and dirty the usually soft fur is. Matt’s senses are honed in so intensely on Foggy’s face, that he hears the displaced air as the dog’s lids flutter softly before staying open.
“Hey, buddy… let’s get you cleaned, yea? You’re burning up.” Matt whispers softly. Hoping that Foggy will understand that he’s safe now, and can stop being so afraid, and he really hopes that Foggy’s not afraid of Matt.
Holding his breath, the blind man lets out a soft sigh as the dog tilts his head into Matt’s palms, and Matt can feel and hear Foggy snuffle at his hands and wrists. Matt smiles in relief when he realizes that the dog is trying to pick up his scent, and hope blooms when he senses Foggy's heart settling down with each inhale.
Then Foggy lets out a whine and Matt hears the soft movement of his floppy ears as they slightly rise. It’s a familiar and questioning gesture; a ghost of Foggy’s usual, happy, soft, inquisitive whines – but it further reassures Matt that Foggy knows who’s with him now, and that Foggy is okay with that, and knows he's in good hands.
Everything was spinning, and colors and sounds were swirling together in his head. Everything was just noise to his doggie senses – he was delirious still, but at least he was no longer afraid.
Distantly, he feels water lapping at his sides, and he zeros in on the comforting sounds. Strong, steading hands are keeping him upright and gently rubbing at his sides. Slowly, Franklin starts registering these little things around him, but can’t seem to muster up any energy to react. Instead, he just continues to allow the gentle, steady hands take care of him.
Occasionally there will be small shoots of pain when the hands graze an old cut, or press too hard on a bruise, but his body is too tired to react – his mind only distantly observes it and just lets it all wash over him.
Everything feels too warm, and when he opens his eyes (when did he close them?) everything has a white halo to it, and he has to close his eyes again because it's just a tad too bright. He must have made some sort of noise, because a soothing voice breaks the silence.
“It’s going to be okay, Foggy.”
Foggy? He thought his name was Frankie... Franklin? Right?
Oh… yea… he’s Foggy.
Matt calls him Foggy, so the voice is Matt. He’s with Matt.
Franklin feels himself being maneuvered, and when he peels his eyes open, he’s a little more aware. He knows he’s inside, and there’s water around him. And Franklin feels much better and lighter than he did before.
He is facing Matt. Strong arms are around him – Matt’s arms, and he has never felt so safe. He doesn’t register what he’s doing until a salty taste, tinged with a sharp tang of something artificial; bursts on his tongue when he licks the skin in front of him.
Franklin... Foggy hopes he understands, needs Matt to understand, just how thankful he is.
Suddenly, he feels a firm, wet hand grab and lift his face. He blearily opens his cloudy blue eyes to what he assumes is Matt’s face. Everything is still blurry, but he can smell Matt’s breath and smell Matt – so it’s okay.
He’ll be okay.
Franklin keeps fading in and out of awareness, but he thinks Matt has refilled the tub with cooler water. There’s something propping up his head from the few inches of water and he distantly wonders if everything was imagined, because it feels like the stream, only the stream doesn’t smell like soap, and the air would not be warm and smell of laundry and books, and the rock he'd pillowed his head on feels like... well... a pillow.
He can’t hear anything other than the blood wooshing in his ears and his own, sluggish heartbeat; but his body is aching less, and he doesn’t feel as if he’s simultaneously melting and freezing.
Franklin must have closed his eyes, because he’s opening them again when he feels a gentle hand pet down his back and the soft murmur of a deep, soothing voice, Matt’s voice. But he can’t understand. His throat is sore and hurts a little when he tries to make a sound of acknowledgement. Matt keeps speaking softly to him as he pulls the plug and waits for the few inches of water to drain.
Then there’s a large, fluffy, warm towel wrapping around him. It’s so soft and has been so foreign, that the part of Franklin that is awake wants to cry in relief. He’s wrapped up and lifted into a secure embrace and it feels like a home that he never wants to leave.
It’s a little awkward holding the thin retriever, but the immediate calm that falls over the dog’s entire body makes something in Matt’s chest swell with affection. He’s tender and careful as he sets the dog down on his bed, which he made up with clean sheets, and continues to softly towel his friend dry.
Once Matt’s worry ceased to cloud his judgment, he pulled up Google on his computer to research emergency animal care. There wasn’t much to go on, but he was able to tell through his world on fire that Foggy was unnaturally warm, and had sighed in relief that he had not put the dog in a ridiculously warm bath like he had originally intended, in order to stop Foggy’s shivering.
After he had refreshed the water and propped the dog’s head above it with one of his extra pillows – it’ll be wet and ruined beyond help afterwards, but it was worth its loss – Matt pulled up more site windows on how to best help an animal adjust to home-living after being subjected to abuse and the ‘wild’…
It’s not all that different from what he himself had suffered after his accident, and through adjusting to his overwhelming senses.
He had sat the dog up, and Foggy was holding the position for a bit before he started to slump sideways. Matt feels a small, sad smile ghost on his face as he gently teases the worn-out pup.
“Coulda told me you were sleepy, buddy.” Matt carefully rubs a thumb firmly under the dog’s eye and then returns to drying him. Once he’s satisfied, he carefully tugs the towel from under the dog and moves to toss it into his hamper across the room.
Matt returns to kneeling by his side, reaching over to gently run his fingers through Foggy’s cleaned fur. It was still matted in some places, even though he carefully cut out some of the mats from the dog’s fur, there were still some he didn’t get to. Now that the dog was cleaned a bit, Matt is able to smell the distinct scent of blood and… something else. It’s not a smell he’s very familiar with, though the few times he had gone to the doctor’s as a child, he’d sometimes get whiffs of it there.
He continues to gingerly pet the dog, who’s breathing had evened back out into sleep. His heart and body didn’t sound as bad as it did earlier, so Matt allows himself to feel relieved. Matt tries to zone in on the scent from Foggy, and with his hand he trails it down the dog’s flank and then hovers over a spot that seems to radiate heat. Gently, he brings his hand down and tries to sightlessly pull away some of the fur. Foggy had twitched when he brought the scissors near, but he was able to cut off most of the matted fur. When Matt moves to pull some more of the fur aside, Foggy suddenly and violently jerks in his sleep and a sharp whine pierces his ears, but Matt now knows the source of that horrid smell.
It’s infected. When Matt leans forward and gently blows on the area, he gets a brief picture of what it looks like and he frowns. Copper and iron burst on his tongue as he bites too hard into his lip.
Matt feels himself start to choke again, but he swallows it down and goes to get the scissors. He will cut as much fur away from the area as he safely can while Foggy’s out cold. When he had poked at it, the wound had oozed fresh pus and a small bit of blood.
He thinks back to the knife wound he tried to fix up for Foggy about a month ago and wonders if this wasn’t his fault.
He tries not to think about it too much as he does what he can while he waits for the vet’s office to open.
Chapter 8: Getting Better
The vet asked to be alone with Foggy, but Matt refused. When Foggy woke up and the veterinary staff realized they weren’t getting anywhere near the retriever unless Matt was in the room, they begrudgingly let Matt stay.
They also didn’t have the heart to argue with a distraught Matt Murdock. He may have played the sympathy-card a little too.
The small retriever, from the vet’s report, was suffering from malnutrition, dehydration, an infection from untreated wounds, severe bruising, as well as three cracked ribs, and a hairline fracture on his back left leg. The vet’s staff cleaned Foggy again, and shaved off the rest of the matted fur.
Matt spent about five hours there, and after the entire ordeal they wanted to keep Foggy overnight for observation. When they discovered that that wasn’t going to happen, the doctor proceeded to tell the college sophomore what he needed to know for Foggy’s care – though with a promise to bring him in the next morning.
Now, two hours after they got back, Foggy lays on his bed, smelling strongly of antiseptic while he snuffles in his sleep. Matt is currently downloading and printing everything he needs to register Foggy with the school as his ‘animal support companion’.
He turns in his chair to face the injured pup when it lets out a soft, low whine in his sleep.
Matt gets up from his desk and strides across the room and over to Foggy to adjust the cone around his neck with a frown. It looked terribly uncomfortable, but the vet had assured him that the dog, if not supervised, could start to bite at his wounds as they heal – so Matt left it on.
As Matt moves to run his hands over Foggy, attempting to both soothe him and get a better visual of his friend. With most of his fur cut and shaved short, he could very distinctly feel just how boney Foggy was. Then, when he carried him up from the taxi and into his dorm, he grew angry at how frighteningly light and fragile the pup felt in his arms.
Matt bites his lip as his fingers skim across the bandages and stitches along his friend’s sides. It will take a long while until Foggy’s better, but he can do it.
After filling out the paperwork at the vet, Matt felt both relief and anxious when he signed the last form. He was able to keep his hands from shaking in a mixture of relief, excitement and anxiousness.
Foggy was now officially Matt’s responsibility. Foggy belonged to Matt now, and no one was going to take him away from him.
He had already filled out ownership paperwork at the vet, so his friend is now officially named and even micro-chipped.
He was hesitant about the microchip, but the vet had assured him that if Foggy was to ever get lost again and was picked up by anyone, that he would be alerted immediately when Foggy was found so he could be returned to Matt.
Matt doubts Foggy will ever be in that situation again, not if he could help it, but Matt couldn’t pass on that kind of assurance to his friend’s safety.
He then looks over at the corner of the room where they had given him a bag of puppy-care items – Matt already knows without even opening it, that he’ll be throwing out the bags of cheap dog treats and the can of dog food. Foggy won’t eat that, and even if he will, now that he’s starving, Matt knows he won’t like it.
As he looks down and uses two, long fingers to gingerly pet his dog’s (his dog’s, Foggy is his!) nose; Matt can’t keep the happy, relieved grin off his face.
“Foggy, you’re going to be so spoiled, you know that?” He whispers softly, amused and so glad that Foggy will be okay.
He laughs when the dog, his dog, Foggy, grumbles in his sleep and unconsciously licks his fingers.
Franklin wakes up with a clear mind for the first time in what feels like a long time, and the first thing he sees as he opens his eyes is that he’s in a very neatly kept room. Gingerly, he sits up a little, lifting his head, and looks around only to realize that his field of vision is severely narrowed to what’s directly in front of him.
Slowly, memories and snippets of the last few days come to his mind. He vaguely remembers Matt bringing him to his dorm, cleaning him, and then the subsequent painful and humiliating vet’s visit (also frightening, he really did not want Matt out of his sights. He didn’t want to get separated again). Every day after that is clearer and clearer to him, though he still felt like crap, so he was meek and whiney. Not very different to how he’d be if he wasn’t covered with fur and on four legs and could smell the rotting food from the dorm next to Matt’s, and the fact that Matt needs to shower like, yesterday.
Franklin startles slightly when he hears the across the small room move, and he can’t turn to see his caretaker and newest friend.
It explains the irritating pinching and cramping at his neck.
He wasn’t coherent enough to interpret what his diagnosis was during the vet’s visit, but from what Matt seemed to mutter at him during the last three days or so, the worst of it all was starvation and an infection. It would explain his incoherence, and then how he seemed to be shoved aside as his baser instincts took over. Seemed like even with his human mind, he would suffer from doggie-version of PTSD.
But he has Matt. And from what Matt has been promising and reassuring him the past couple days he has spent with him (in the dorm, but not after another vet visit), Franklin will be staying with Matt indefinitely.
Also that, his name from now on will be Foggy, which is find, he supposes. He kinda likes the name better, and figures eventually he’ll start calling himself that in his own mind as well.
Besides, it sounds like he belongs to Matt now, and Matt named him.
It’s kinda doing funny things to his insides.
The young teenager had already known he had a serious friend-crush on the guy – then Matt just had to make himself even more awesome in his eyes now, because now he’s a hero; Foggy’s hero.
Slowly and carefully, Foggy moves himself off of Matt’s spare bed, and eventually he can see a flop of brown, unruly hair. The thin and rumpled retriever then carefully leaves the bed, and slowly makes his way over to where Matt had set out a water bowl for him.
Now this was one of the parts he has hated.
Trying to eat and drink with this stupid cone on his head. But Matt won’t take the damn thing off. Franklin has been a bit meek while he was healing, but he’s feeling much better right now – and he’s now suddenly very hungry and very thirsty and a lot cranky.
He huffs and gingerly sits back on his rump while he considers his options.
He could wait until Matt wakes up on his own…
Or he can be a little shit.
What? He likes the guy, adores him even… but Foggy’s still sore and more importantly he’s hungry and thirsty and he doesn’t want to get his face all dirty because of this stupid cone on his head.
Sue him. He’s feeling more himself than he has in the past month or so – he really doesn’t know how much time has gone past, but it must be some sort of break at Matt’s school now, because he hasn’t heard other students, and Matt hasn’t once left the room other than to take out the trash or toss out the potty mat which, that’ll need to change soon.
Frank-Foggy. Foggy shifts a little so he’s able to see Matt’s wall clock over the dorm room door with his cone, and feels that it’s time for his friend to get up and feed him.
There’s a little voice in the back of his mind that whispers ‘owner’, but Foggy ignores it, because it makes his heart and chest do something funny
He goes to open his mouth, and then he snaps it shut two seconds later.
This always felt so awkward to him. Even when he was half-delerious with fever he rarely barked. Yipping and whining maybe, but only because that seemed to be the direct translations of his feelings.
It was weird, okay? But long-story short, if he wants to wake Matt up, he’ll need to bark. His incoherent murmur and grumbles won’t wake the adorable sleeping lump of college student.
Too quiet. But he was working it out, okay?
He takes a breath, and tries again.
Geezes. He startled himself even, but a part of him was happy that now Matt was awake now. So Foggy tries to watch him as he seems to gather his bearings, but then he starts lowering himself back into bed and Foggy almost jumps to his feet with a quieter bark, that seemed to jerk the other completely awake, and then Foggy proceeds to make his murmur-grumbling noise at him.
It was the noise that came out when he tries to vocalize his human words.
Right now he was teasing Matt about his bed head, and telling him to get his ass up because he’s hungry.
Matt throws back the covers and a very comfy, sleepy scent (there’s no other way to describe it, really) is released into the air, along with the subtle scent of musk and sweat. Overall, a nice smell that Foggy could burry himself in – but he won’t.
Because he wants food and water and this stupid cone off his head.
Matt swings his feet to the side of the bed and leans forward to rub his face in his hands.
Foggy’s patient. He can wait for Matt to wake up.
He finds himself shakily getting on all fours again, to cross the room and sit in front of Matt.
Then he shoves the cone onto Matt’s head to pretend to lick at his face. It startles a laugh out of Matt and just in case the guy didn’t get the picture, he keeps shoving the cone onto his knees. Matt’s just laughing and carefully pushing him away so he growls softly in frustration and whines, but nevertheless backs away and sits back and looks up at when Matt stands, towering over him. He feels his tail stop wagging, but he holds his ground.
It’s stupid to feel nervous or afraid around Matt. Matt won’t hurt him.
“Ruff.” He makes the noise softly, just in case Matt didn’t get the picture.
“Okay, okay… I’m up. What do you want?”
Foggy carefully moves to tug on the hem of Matt’s pant leg in the direction he wants Matt to follow. Releasing the cloth he walks over to his bowls and just sits.
“Oh…” Matt makes a soft sound with his mouth that shapes around the word and it takes a second for him to process because then it’s like a switch was flipped, “Oh!” Then Matt starts moving and getting out things out.
This cone is coming off his head today though, or else Foggy will be reading Matt the Riot Act in his incomprehensible doggie-language.
Seriously. His wounds are closed, the stitches had dissolved two days ago – Matt’s being paranoid.
“Here you go, buddy.”
Foggy can’t really see what he put into his bowl without moving his head awkwardly and looking ridiculous, but he can smell whole-wheat bread with peanut butter and slices of lean, turkey meat.
And Matt thinks he’s clever, but Foggy knows he slipped in his doggie-medicine into the peanut-butter sandwich.
As Matt moves back Foggy can’t help but lick his lips, and he hopes he’s not salivating too much – but instead of attempting to eat his food through the cone, he almost sits on Matt’s feet and presses the side of his neck where the irritating pinch of the clasp is, hoping the guy gets the picture, and takes it off.
Foggy pauses, not moving when Matt stiffens slightly. Then Matt’s lowering himself to his knees and carefully taking Foggy’s head into his hands. Now, he knows Matt can’t see him. But he hopes the puppy-dog look is assumed.
He lets a small, pleading whine escape his throat and… oh, wow… he definitely saw that eye-roll.
“You are ridiculous. Fine, I’ll take it off.” Matt huffs good-naturedly and he smiles as he removes the cone. “Sorry, pal. I know that couldn’t have been comfortable –“
Foggy is giving him his best ‘no-shit’ look, which is completely lost on Matt for more than one reason. So he huffs out a breath and wags his tail at the grin that grows on the guys face.
He’ll admire it later, though. Food. He needs food. So he turns around and proceeds to try and pace his eating, but he feels like he’s inhaling it anyways because he hears Matt make a strangled noise behind him. He seems to quickly stand up and step back.
Foggy slows down a bit, because he almost choked on a mouthful of peanut butter and that would be embarrassing.
Matt laughs softly behind him, and instead of getting ready for the day, he just watches Foggy finish, and then whine for seconds, which brings another grin to Matt’s face. He’s unable to completely finish the second bowl, but he moves on to the water and drinks until it’s nearly bone-dry.
Wow. He feels so much better, but now all he wants to do is sleep.
Foggy turns around and looks up to see Matt standing there with his arms crossed over his chest, beaming down at him. It’s a little confusing, but as Matt sinks to his knees so that he’s level with Foggy again, he gingerly reaches out cups his face gently, carefully bringing it close to his own and Foggy’s tail slows because… yea.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better.” Matt says softly, rubbing his thumbs at the soft fur on his face, under his eyes. “You had me worried. It’s good to see you have an appetite again.”
Foggy ‘talks’ ridiculously at Matt, just to get him to laugh again.
Matt spends almost three hours on the phone with multiple people the rest of the day, and at the end of it the good mood he was in this morning evaporates and he finds himself hanging up his cell with a scowl – kinda wishing it was a phone with a receiver, just so he could slam it down.
He felt like he was getting nowhere with all this paperwork with the school. Matt apparently needs some sort of letter or script, from a therapist or counselor, ‘prescribing him’ a ‘support animal’. What the school tells him he can have is a trained service dog and just – no.
It would probably have been easier if Matt had gotten Foggy before coming to university; even if he wasn’t a trained service dog, no one would dare to split up a blind man and his companion. But he had no way to logically explain his need for Foggy.
Now if Foggy were a cat, or a smaller animal, then he’d probably be able to keep him a secret. But Foggy’s supposed to grow to about fifty pounds – there’s no way he can keep him a secret.
So he needs to find a way around this red tape, or he’ll need to drop out for a semester and find an apartment, or find other temporary accommodations where he can stay with Foggy until he can settle their affairs.
He’s not even going to let Foggy be temporarily ‘put up’ somewhere. Foggy wouldn’t understand, and he can’t put him through any kind of trauma like that again.
Foggy’s already been affected by whatever happened while he was missing. He’ll jump suddenly at certain sounds (lately, the slamming doors as students start returning from Thanksgiving break), he’ll have nightmares, and sometimes, he’ll shy away from Matt’s touch.
The last one hurts a little, but he knows his friend needs some time to adjust. Matt only has a brief idea of what the pup might have experienced while sick and starving. He’ll invest everything he can in helping Foggy recover, because inside is still his friend, is still the soft, happy and loving animal that he came to adore so much.
Matt’s alarm goes off on his cellphone and under the immediate noise, he can hear Foggy shifting on the bed across the room and grumble under his breath. He has to bite his lip to hide a smile. It’s these little things about Foggy that Matt likes the best. The little oddities in his behavior that were so human.
The alarm was meant to remind him that it was time to feed Foggy (and himself, but Foggy first), however, at seeing the weary dog sound asleep – his heartbeat slow and steady, breathing calm and relaxed… makes Matt not want to wake him. The poor pup hasn’t gotten much restful sleep this week, outside of the time he spent knocked out on puppy-pain-killers or unconscious with fever.
So Matt returns to his e-reader, and pulls up another document to read through the fine print, because there has to be something in here that will help Matt.
An hour later, he finds it, and he’s ecstatic.
Under the acceptable ‘professional/authoritative notes and recommendations’, was priest.
A note from his priest, stipulating the importance of an animal companion for Matt’s psyche (which, he’s not too proud to admit that he’s that attached to Foggy already, it’s completely the truth) will waive every disagreement or argument the school could have about Matt keeping Foggy with him in the dorm for the remainder of the year.
In seconds, he’s phoning Father Lantom, and hoping and praying that he’ll agree, and that Matt and Foggy will have one less, major thing to worry about.
Okay, so... IMPORTANT UPDATE
For those of you currently following and are not new readers... I made an important change. It's small, but it's important.
Matt in this fic is a college senior. Foggy is turning 16 soon :) - there will be a time jump, when things get a little more mature, he'll be 17-20.
Father Lantom took a little more convincing than Matt thought. He had made Matt take a trip to his church to meet with a therapist friend of his to have him talk with her briefly, so she could legally draft and sign over a letter for Matt to claim Foggy as his ‘animal support companion’.
She also had told Matt that in the future, should he want his dog to be a proper guide dog so he’d be allowed in public buildings – that she’d ensure he was helped financially.
Overall, the day didn’t turn out as bad as he had originally anticipated.
Matt struggles not to take the steps two at a time in his excitement. Classes started back up tomorrow, and first thing in the morning Matt was going to turn these papers in and then he will be able to breathe just a little bit better.
He’s not going to lie. It’s been a stressful week, and Matt wasn’t getting too much sleep when Foggy was at his worst. The last two nights though, Matt was able to sleep a little better, knowing that his friend was ‘out of the woods’.
Matt’s in his own head when he hastily throws open the door to his dorm, a near-manic grin on his face.
But when he sees the bed and does not see a medium-sized hot-spot in it, he panics.
He’s assuming the worst, that someone discovered Foggy and had him removed while Matt was away, and he takes a breath and –
No. Foggy’s here…
Heart slowing down, Matt steps into the room and closes the door firmly behind him and locks it. He’s… a little confused at what his senses pick up.
Matt… was speechless.
Every sheet, blanket, jacket, towel and pillow in the room was is a large bundle on the floor at the foot of his bed. In fact, his hamper was even knocked over, and it looked like Foggy had picked out certain clothes of his to add to his pile. In fact, all of his jeans, socks and underwear seemed to be deemed ‘unworthy’ of his pile.
And Foggy was somewhere underneath it all.
Now he’s trying hard not to laugh, until he realizes that the window was left open, and it was very cold in his room.
Now Matt felt bad.
…But it was still really funny.
“Foggy? You okay under there, buddy?” Matt tries to keep the laughter out of his voice when he hears an incomprehensible groan and mumble from the dog as he strides across the room and shuts the cracked window. Then Matt returns to the pile of… everything… and kneels down in front of it where he senses Foggy’s head could be.
“You gunna come out?” Laughter is clearly in his voice now as Foggy seems to kinda… wiggle forward, and Matt grins as he helps him, pushing back the pile. Then Foggy’s face is visible and his front paws and… wait.
“How did you get my socks on?!” Matt’s shocked, impressed, and very, very amused – he laughs some more.
“Okay pal, I’ll gunna remake my bed. You can keep the extras ‘til it’s warmer, okay?” Matt can’t keep the grin off his face as dismantles the pile. Then Matt goes and remakes his bed, cheerfully talking to Foggy and telling him about the approval forms and his visit with Father Lantom and his therapist friend.
He keeps talking as he’s idly picking up after his dog, and as the pile dwindles, the room is getting gradually warmer –
Matt has Foggy completely unburied, and realizes something is… on him?
Kneeling in front of Foggy, he pets his head and as he runs his hand back, he feels a soft, blended material. As he fingers the material his eyebrows rise and he quickly follows the material around the front of Foggy, whose head is laid demurely on his socked paws.
Foggy seemed to have wiggled his way into one of Matt’s larger sweatshirts. His head, neck and front paws through the hoodie’s neck hole.
Matt leans away from him slightly, but he’s still fingering the material and petting the fur on his head and neck when he comes across it. Foggy looks up at him (innocently, mind you – Matt’s really missing out on his adorable, blue puppy-eyes).
“That… that was my favorite sweatshirt.”
“I know. That’s why I picked it.”
Foggy thinks that even though Matt can’t see his cute, puppy-eyes (the ones he knows would probably let him get away with so much shit), that the blind man can definitely sense it, somehow, because the man gives him a heatless glare for a quick moment before it falls off his face.
“Well, I guess it’s my own fault for leaving the window open…” The man tilts his head slightly, and Foggy tries not to mimic him. He still doesn’t know why Matt does that. It makes him look like a confused baby bird.
Anyways, his wind-swept brown, bushy hair definitely looks like a bird’s nest.
“You really got creative, I’ll give you that.” Matt mumbles with a smile, still looking at Foggy.
Honestly? He wanted to build a fort. But that's much harder without his human thumbs; so it became a pile of soft-slash-warm things - and things that smelled a lot like Matt... because reasons.
So, Foggy just stays right where he is (thank you) and watches as the tall, blind man walks around the room, navigating without difficulty at all. In the park, there were hardly any obstacles around them, but in a crowded, messy room? Foggy has realized over the weekend just how confident Matt is in this space, and he wonders if he’s like this in other spaces, too.
Well. It sounds like he’s ‘Matt’s dog’ now. So he guesses he’ll be on a leash at some point and he’ll get to see.
Which reminds him…
He wants to go outside.
Foggy moves to stand and –
He wiggles himself against the bedpost, and pushes into it on his side, trying to use the slight resistance to pull himself out of the sweatshirt – similar to how he got in (it took a lot of wiggling, he’s glad Matt wasn't around... even if he couldn't 'see' it).
Foggy must have been making more noise than he thought, because Matt starts laughing at him as he walks up, kneels down, and holds the sweatshirt in place so he can scoot out of it. Once out, he sits back on his hindquarters with a huff.
He probably looks ridiculous – the socks are still on his front paws.
It was really cold, okay?
Matt scoots forward about a foot or two on his knees, shimmying over to Foggy as he leans forward to rub his hands into Foggy’s sides and scratches gently.
Okay, yeah. It feels nice. But he wants the socks off now, thank you.
Foggy lifts a paw and taps Matt with it. The motion a little awkward, but worth it, because Matt grins (he looks so happy) and gingerly holds it to – NO DON’T SHAKE IT DUMBASS.
He grumbles and whines at him, making sure that the tone and sounds are ones that he knows that Matt knows means Foggy’s giving him sass, thank you.
Matt laughs and then takes the sock off.
Geezes. This guy. What is Foggy going to do with him?
Matt moves to stand, but stops when he’s balanced on the balls of his feet, elbows resting on his raised knees in a squat. Foggy quirks his head to the side and raises an eyebrow.
He’s pretty sure that even though Matt can’t see his eyebrow raised, that he can at least surmise it’s presence with his over-emphasized head-tilt-ear-raised. Put that look with the situation… Matt’s smart. He’ll figure it out.
Just because he’s stuck as a dog for probably the rest of his life, doesn’t mean he’s not gunna give sass when it’s due. Especially to this guy.
“You,” Matt reaches out with the hand that’s not holding the socks, and pokes his nose, making Foggy lean back a little and watch it cross-eyed. At Matt’s chuckle he looks up at him, “…you, have quite the personality.” He grins, “So sassy.”
“Damn straight, dude.”
Foggy happily yaps, making Matt laugh lightly and rub his head as he stands up, moving across the room to throw his socks in the hamper. Matt can hear Foggy standing on his own four paws now, and then moving over to pick up his sweatshirt and walks it over towards Matt and nudges him in the leg with it.
“Wow, you do laundry too?”
Matt imagines Foggy rolling his eyes – if he was human, Matt can definitely picture him doing that.
His friend huffs, which Matt’s pretty sure is the doggie-equivalent of an eye-roll, and then goes back to the dismembered pile and grabs a shirt… he repeats this three times until the articles of clothing (and two pillows) are at Matt’s feet.
Matt’s not smiling anymore, as he looks at Foggy in front of him. When the dog doesn’t get a reaction, he makes a noise at Matt and then goes to grab a pillow to move it over by the side of Matt’s bed and then lays on it with a defeated sigh.
It’s… pretty cool, how smart Foggy is. He does the oddest things of his own accord – his familiarity with indoor living is obvious. But picking up laundry? Or even pulling apart the room on purpose and with strategy… it’s not normal. If there was any doubt in his mind at all about whether or not Foggy had a home before Matt, it’s no longer there…
While he’s thinking over everything he has learned about dogs, and then what he knows about Foggy, Matt’s fixing up a small meal for his friend and refilling his water bowl with fresh water. As soon as he sets it all down, the dog is eating happily.
…but the vet had confirmed how young of a dog Foggy was; less than a year to a year at most. She recommended that he put him into puppy training, before he put him into a service-training program. Matt looked up the training programs. Usually they are rigorous, and sometimes the dogs are trained as early as six months, and it takes a long time. He wouldn’t have reached this level in his training in so short of time – most service animals he doesn’t think take initiative like this…
Just as Matt’s thinking this, he senses that Foggy is finished, and hears the soft scraping of his blunt nails and paws on the thin carpet as he moves towards the bathroom, and then the soft click of his nails on the tiles and then –
Foggy shuts the door, before doing his business.
Matt will have to do more research on dog behavior.
He will also need to get Foggy a leash and a pooper-scooper.
Truthfully, Matt would have started to take him outside anyways, after he healed some more.
But Foggy, after doing his business, seems to sulk for a while afterwards. Like he’s embarrassed.
He’ll have to see if dogs can feel embarrassment, though it’s kinda funny, and Matt teased him yesterday about it, which led to him getting the cold-shoulder from his animal companion for the rest of the afternoon.
The bustling and whipping of the wind outside breaks through to the forefront of Matt’s senses for a moment and frowns.
He’ll have to express-ship Foggy his own sweaters – at least to wear outside until his fur grows back in. Matt misses Foggy’s fur, and he bets it’ll be even silkier and softer when it’s cleaned regularly and with out the dirt and grime from alleyways.
Matt looks up from where he was staring blankly at the floor to move over to the bathroom door and opens it. He stands there and watches as Foggy slinks out. His head down and tail tucked between his legs as the dog sheepishly makes his way over to the floor behind his desk chair and then lays down, facing the wall.
He can’t help but smirk.
Foggy was so weird.
But Matt needs weird.
Matt needs Foggy’s weirdness.
Chapter 10: Feeling the Spirit
Okay. So this chapter took hours to write - none stop. I kept re-writing some parts, and then taking those parts and saving them for later because they were awesome, but wouldn't fit NOW and... I'm still wanting to add to it, but this is one of those chapters where it's hard to be one hundred percent happy with it, and if I don't post what I have, it'll be awhile until I do, and then I'm afraid of losing my groove.
So here is a very wintery, happy and fluffy chapter. And Foggy is so fun to write, seriously. Love it. So this chapter is mostly from his POV, because so far we've mostly only 'heard' from Matt.
Let me know what you think...
Matt’s never really cared much about the holidays since his father passed away; and even before that it was always a very small affair.
Still. There were some things that Matt liked about the season. He did enjoy the softness of the snow, although it added extra noise to his already overwhelmed hearing with the way it crunches beneath boots and tires. Matt also liked the smell of pine from the Christmas trees that seemed to be crammed into every house or apartment all over New York. While he typically ordered as organic as he could get his coffee, he liked to indulge in some of the winter-only specialty drinks – like eggnog and peppermint mocha (not from Starbucks, never from there, but his little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop sold them only in December).
Getting the occasional wintery, specialty drink was usually as festive as Matt cared to get – other than going to church on Christmas morning. It was really the only mass he’s attended since he started college. – Well, he used to go about once a month to Sunday mass, but since knowing Foggy, he hasn’t felt like he needed the distraction and calms the routine sermons and hymns tended to bring him.
While Matt was not festive, and didn’t really care for the holidays…
He wasn’t alone this year.
And Foggy seemed to love Christmas.
The dog loves to look up at the sky and watch the snowfall, and his tail wags happily when he presses his paws into freshly fallen snow. He yips and wiggles at jingle bells, and he steals candy-canes and plastic ornaments from decorated trees on campus. Foggy even stole a gingerbread cookie, right off the plate of an unsuspecting freshman; Matt had to reward the stinker for that one. He maybe shouldn't reinforce his budding kleptomania... but it's just too funny!
It came to Matt’s realization, however, this past Monday that Foggy loves Christmas Lights. He figured it out when he took Foggy for their nightly walk, when Foggy started to pull the leash down the paths where Matt could hear the faint electric hum he's recently come to associate with strands of small, Christmas tree lights. The retreiver kept trying to turn Matt around, so they’d keep walking by the decorated quad. Matt only knows the lights are there from their small, decorative electric hums and the tiny, pinpricks of warmth that peppers his world on fire.
Matt heard his companion’s even breaths turning to soft pants as his heart beat happily. His long mouth turned up in a dog’s version of a smile. So on Tuesday, Foggy didn’t have to coerce Matt to taking the long away around – Matt even extended that walk an extra hour to explore some lights in the city centers.
And then, towards the end of their walk on Wednesday, Matt had stopped for a coffee at the campus café near his dorm, and Foggy had leaned into Matt’s legs as he stood there to order – body slightly contorted to look off at something with rapt attention. The blind college student was too busy trying to focus on paying the vendor, as he tuned-in to Foggy’s presence beside him. From the warmth of his side, pressed to Matt’s lower legs, to his happy, steady heartbeat, and to the soft movements of his fluffy ears as they rose and twitched in intervals.
He had been so caught up in Foggy and in trying to complete his order, that he didn’t know what had his dog’s attention until it was pointed out to him.
“Wow. Your dog really likes our Christmas tree!”
Matt had tilted his face down to Foggy, having felt his friend look up at the cashier to make a small, affirming noise.
He had kept silent during the rest of the walk to the dorm, and just observed Foggy more closely.
After Foggy had fallen asleep, Matt had gone online to order small, Christmas decorations and ugly Christmas sweaters for him and Foggy.
Matt even paid extra for next-day delivery.
It was totally worth it.
Matt is up to something.
It’s the Friday before final’s week (Foggy knows, because his awesome doggy-ears can pick up the moans and groans all over campus), and Foggy wonders just what has had Matt grinning like a lunatic all day – well, he’s assuming it’s been slapped on his face all day, because it’s the same grin each time he drops by his dorm to take Foggy out between classes and hell-week preparations.
He doesn’t mind. It’s nice to see the guy smile, and this one is a truly dorky smile.
One of Matt’s best, honestly.
Yes. Foggy has a lot of time on his hands… paws… so there’s plenty of headspace for Foggy to catalogue every one of the blind man’s expressions. From the ‘wounded duck’ look to this… giddy-and-expectant look he’s had on his face all day.
And right now they are meant to be eating dinner, but Matt’s trying to rush through it by quickly shoving it all in his mouth.
First, Foggy is truly baffled by how deftly his blind friend could handle chopsticks.
Second, Foggy thinks that Matt is a hypocrite when he teases Foggy about inhaling his food, because good lord.
He really wonders what kind of expression is on his ‘dog face’ when he feels like smirking on the inside, because can’t help but think Matt would never eat like this in public.
Foggy really hasn’t seen much of Matt outside of when he’s not in classes. Even though Matt can bring him to classes, to the store… he doesn’t. But Foggy is still healing, so he doesn’t really mind that much – but he’d love to be with Matt all the time, because being with Matt is awesome. He’s never boring, and even when he’s studying he’s not tired or bored around him. It’s just nice and comfortable.
From the frowns and some-times-regretful looks he catches Matt with (they aren’t always directed at Foggy… usually somewhere just beyond Foggy… but he gets the sentiment) that he feels the same way.
But Foggy can’t help feeling part of Matt’s excitement, because now he wants to know what’s got Matt so happy.
He finds himself wagging his tail as he sits down in front of Matt where he’s kneeling, trying to face him – suddenly Matt’s large hands come up.
“Ah. Yea man. Just grab my face…” The eye-roll and exasperation is implied.
“I’ve got a surprise for you. A few, actually.” Foggy’s doggie-brow raises, and Matt must feel the muscle in his face move as he holds it (not that he minds, at all), because he smirks and his sightless eyes seem to twinkle – but that last part is probably all in Foggy’s imagination, but point is, he looks much younger with a smile and no glasses.
“Yes, I do.” There’s a little waver to his voice, and it’s laughter or nerves or something, but Foggy can’t tell because he’s too busy trying to listen to Matt and not let his stomach eat itself at wanting to get ahold of that Pad Thai. There’s some leftover somewhere, because he can smell it and it’s strong. He hopes he can get to it and hide it before Matt finds out.
Foggy hears an intake of breath and sees Matt smile and it makes all other idle thoughts cut off, because whatever this is, it’s important to Matt.
He knows it, because it’s written all over the blind man’s face as he exhales softly and rubs circles into his cheeks with his thumbs as he talks in a bright tone that needs to find it’s way into Matt’s voice more often, along with this smile -
“So! That guy totally ratted on you oogling the Christmas tree in the shop, and then Vanessa caught you with an ornament when you snuck off your leash. I don’t know if it’s the lights or the smell or you just wanted to play catch…” Matt teases.
“Oh you think you’re clever –“
“but… I thought we’d go pick one out, yea?” Matt’s voice is excited and cooing and kinda-not like him but cute and good at the same time. Even if he knows that Matt’s being silly, he finds himself wagging his tail at the higher tones in his friend’s voice on instinct anyways.
Also because okay he is excited! He loves Christmas trees. They are his favorite part of the holiday, and he can appreciate the scent even more as a dog – he’s so okay with this, and he attempts to tell Matt so, by yapping and yipping right in his face.
Matt lets out a laugh and pulls back, “Yea. I thought you’d like that. So stop wiggling, we’re gunna get going.” He rubs Foggy’s head as he stands and moves to the hooks and shelf where Matt keeps his coats and Foggy’s dog-sweaters.
Which bee-tee-dubs, just proves to Foggy that Matt really must be blind.
The first two he bought Foggy, were horrible. Thank god for Vanessa and her friend because not only did they point out the atrocity to Matt, but also made him return one of them to get a slightly less-awful one. (But then they must have turned around and helped Matt buy some god awful Christmas sweaters. He’s got a knitted snowflake one that’s red and white and black, and one that’s green with a cartoonish reindeer-face on the back.)
Right now though, Matt bundles him up in the original ugly one that he didn’t return, and Foggy thinks it’s because the guy likes how soft it is – and as Matt bundles him into that sweater now, Foggy can’t help but agree that it is the most comfortable out of all of them so far. And Matt makes it even better by adding one of his own scarfs to the ensemble by tying it warmly around Foggy’s neck. Matt brushes under his eye with a thumb, smiling at him all soppily before he pulls away and then stands to get his cane and the leash.
The action makes Foggy feel all warm and fuzzy inside, that part of him just wants to cuddle under blankets and watch Netflix – but when Matt opens the door he darts out ahead of Matt as soon as he has clearance, just to startle the blind man and make him bark out a laugh.
“Foggy! Get back here!” Matt shouts, but there’s a big grin in his voice, and so Foggy trots back happily and meets up again, right by Matt’s side.
It’s a pretty cool place to be.
As they leisurely walk through campus and make their way further into the city – just four blocks north and three east, to a small nursery that happens to sell dwarf Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias.
Foggy watches as Matt thumbs the soft, velvety leaves on the poinsettia flower and wags his tail at the little wistful look on his face – eyebrows scrunched just a tad, and Foggy thinks he’s trying to remember what they looked like.
“Oh, sweetheart,” an elderly woman with a grandma-voice that shakes a little, “I wouldn’t let your sweet dog get too close, those are very poisonous to animals!”
A little dramatic, but she’s not wrong – but Matt looks stricken and hastily thanks the lady and moves Foggy closer to-and-behind him. Making himself a shield to protect Foggy from the monstrous flowers.
In a ridiculous way, Foggy thinks it’s kinda sweet. His little heart would probably swoon if the enemy wasn’t plants.
“Are pine trees or bonsai dangerous to animals, too? I… I just wanted to get a tree for the room. A… friend of mine said that Foggy seems to like looking at them when we go on walks or sit in the campus quad. I don’t know if it’s the lights or –“
If Matt must know… it’s all of it: decorations, candy-canes, tinsel and lights, to the star at the top.
But thank god the woman’s endeared chuckling cuts Matt’s rant off. It was getting a little embarrassing – Foggy presses his face against the back of Matt’s right knee anyways.
His tail automatically wags when he feels a large, warm palm reach back to settle on his head.
“Oh no, dear. Trees are okay. Just don’t let him eat the holly or mistletoe – they are beautiful plants but not very pet-friendly.”
Matt laughs good-naturedly, “Oh, I wouldn’t normally get decorations – but I do like the scent of pine trees, and I’m thinking of at least getting a friend or two to string some lights on it for Foggy.”
Foggy snickers in his head.
Matt’s being polite about it, so Foggy can be a little shit – it’s not like he’s gunna appear to be rude.
“Oh! Dear, I’m sorry!” She laughs loudly and gestures worthlessly at the thick frames draped around her wrinkly neck. “I’m afraid I don’t see too well either, my dear – so I apologize for not noticing.”
“It’s quite alright, M’am.” Matt says – all charm and politeness. Not unlike a Disney prince, Foggy thinks. Though he doesn’t remember any of them that had the potential to be as dorky as Matt in their ‘down time’.
The old woman preens happily, and Foggy smiles goofily, “Well, dear. You are a very nice young man, and your pooch is so well behaved, too!” And Matt laughs genially and agrees, and Foggy takes that as his cue to step up to the woman and then sit nicely.
Sure, Matt’s handsome and charming – but Foggy’s got charm in spades.
The fluff, the cute ears, blue eyes and adorably dorky sweater are instant K-O material.
“Oh, such a sweetie!” The woman reaches down to pet him kindly, and she smells of plants and soil and that old-person scent every grandma and grandpa has. Foggy doesn’t remember the last time he’s smelled that. The older woman… Foggy sees her name tag, Edith, gasps dramatically – the way all the super-kind and super-friendly nice, old ladies do, “Those eyes! They are gorgeous!”
Foggy feels smug. Yea. His eyes were always his favorite feature too – not much else on him was impressive, except maybe his hair.
“What kind of dog is he?”
Matt laughs a little nervously and politely, Foggy can tell he’s getting a little antsy, and he’s doing that funny face-thing he does sometimes. He still hasn’t really put together what it means yet.
“I’m not sure, I was told he was a retriever, but the eyes they couldn’t explain.”
“That’s cuz I’m one-of-a-kind, buddy!”
They both (Matt) talk with Edith for a few more minutes, and then eventually they are being directed towards the back of the shop and the old woman pushes open a door that leads into a small yard that looks to be filled with small trees and shrubs.
Foggy leads Matt outside and starts looking for the right tree.
“Would you like me to help pick one out for you, dear?”
“No thank you, ma’am. I promised Foggy he could pick it out.” He can hear the smile and the fondness in Matt’s voice, and although he’s currently sniffing at a promising tree he knows Matt’s ‘looking’ in his direction (he has an uncanny ability to do that, sometimes it feels like he can look right at him).
Foggy tries to discretely peer over his shoulder to watch the woman and kinda wants to laugh at the look on her face. It’s the polite look strangers give people who they think are a bit strange, but sweet – but mostly they think they are a little crazy, so they try not to act awkward in case they offend.
“Geez, Matt. Sound more like a crazy-cat-lady, why don’t you?” He quips in his own head, before trying to corral Matt over to a small row of dwarf-trees in the back.
The woman laughs a little awkwardly, but kindly, and when there’s a tinkling of the front door bell, Edith is off to help another customer.
He hears Matt laugh quietly under his breath as he lets Foggy push at his legs, directing him where he wants him to go, while murmuring and babbling at him. When Matt stands back a little to let Foggy inspect the trees, the retriever turns around and looks up at Matt – he has to stop a moment, because Matt looks so happy that it reminds Foggy of the look kids get at Christmas time, or when they are laughing with friends on the playground. Foggy didn’t have the best childhood, but at least he had his parents for a little while before things started going downhill.
But Matt just looks so good, and handsome and happy. So happy, that Foggy wonders how such a wonderful man could be so alone.
“Foggy? You okay, buddy?”
He blinks out of his thoughts and instead of turning back around he takes the few steps up to Matt, and then pushes up on his hind legs, getting his paws to Matt’s chest – and Foggy’s too short, so he can’t get to his face. Not even his chin so he whines and gives him a look that is totally worthless on Matt but –
Then Matt’s gently pushing Foggy to sit on his hind legs, his front paws are still on Matt as he sinks to his knees. Before Foggy can put his paws back to the ground, Matt’s gently pulling them over his shoulders and leaning forward – wrapping long, strong arms around him.
It’s… totally awkward for Foggy, but he does what he can by tucking his head around Matt’s as his forelegs hang uselessly. And although it’s totally strange for him, it’s also a little sad, because when was the last time this man had loving arms around him?
Foggy’s own arms are useless, and he whines and wiggles to break out of the hold, only to see Matt have a soft smile – and though his eyes are hidden by glasses, Foggy smells the slightest bit of sadness on him…
Suddenly, Foggy’s heart drops to his stomach, because he just ruined Matt’s good mood because he was being soppy and stupid. So Foggy panics and does the first thing he can think of to fix it –
By darting forwards and licking an obnoxious stripe up the center of Matt’s face.
When Foggy pulls back to look, Matt’s got a confused and speechless expression on his face, and things are deadly silent for a beat and then –
Matt bursts out with a full-bellied laugh, and the welled tears fall; and even though they may have started out from sadness, they were released by joy, and Foggy is glad that he’s sharing these moments with Matt.
He goes all out to keep Matt’s joy up – he barks and yips and wiggles and hops – all the embarrassing dumb dog things that make him feel stupid.
But he’ll do them all for Matt.
They quickly wind down a little, and Matt snips at him with a sharp grin to “Pick the tree already, so I can break my back carrying it home while you tangle my legs with the leash like the little shit you can be.”
Matt can’t see it, hell, he doesn’t even know how it looks on his face –
But there’s a mischievous pull to his mouth and there’s a jokesters glint in his eyes.
He hopes Matt knows that Foggy is going to pick out the ugliest tree he can.
‘Cuz Matt’s right.
Foggy is a little shit.
Chapter 11: Finals, Cuddles and Netflix
It was nearly final’s week, and Matt was exhausted. He has only one more semester before graduation, and he’s afraid he’ll not make Summa Cum Laude.
But he’s not too bent out of shape about it, because even though that month Foggy was missing was hard, and the two week recovery was slow – it was for a good reason, that he struggled in his classes.
He had other priorities.
Matt can’t remember when he’s ever had priorities other than school or church, before; and it feels good.
It’s not hard, taking care of Foggy. In fact, he’s having more fun than he remembers ever having in his life.
For the first time since his father died, Matt is decorating a Christmas tree. Matt closes his eyes and feels the comfortable smile on his face as he picks up his surroundings. The soft resonance of holiday music from the portable radio Vanessa brought, and the gentle clicks of the plastic ornaments. Inhaling slowly, Matt lets himself truly become absorbed in the cheerful energy of his dorm-room studio.
His eyes open behind his tinted glasses at Foggy’s grumble and huff that makes the Vanessa and her friends giggle.
It really doesn’t take four college students to decorate the four-foot tree Matt bought, but when he was getting coffee before class this morning, he asked Vanessa in passing if she could help him decorate it. She cheerfully said ‘yes’, and asked if she could bring a friend.
Somehow hours later it has turned into a small holiday party, and Matt can’t find it in him to care, because Foggy’s little heart is beating so happily and his tail hasn’t stopped wagging since they started taking out the decorations from the plastic grocery bags.
Matt is jolted back into the present with a gentle nudge to his hand with a wet nose and smooth, silky fur.
“His coat is growing back out, and he’s looking much healthier.” Vanessa says kindly from where she stands just on the other side of Foggy. Matt tilts his head a little towards her and he doesn’t have to fake any smiles today.
“Yea, he’s been doing very well.” Matt drops to his knees and runs his hands through Foggy’s soft fur as he looks up towards the girl. “So I smell gingersnaps, and they aren’t burnt…” Some of the girls laugh and he continues with a playful grin, “I take it Emily didn’t burn this batch?”
“I saved them. You are welcome.” A strong, female voice snarks, and Matt imagines it was said with a smirk.
“Oh shut up Marci, you can’t cook for shit.” A girl’s voice retorts in mock offense; Janet or Jessie, was her name. He really can’t distinguish them well, but he hasn’t been paying too much attention to the girls in the room.
Matt chuckles with the girls and the banter quickly stops in favor of complaining about exams, talking about the upcoming holiday, and eating too many holiday sweets while Vanessa and Janet attempt to hang some lights on the leaning tree.
Time goes by but Matt can hardly notice. He finds himself in a light-hearted but fun debate when he can’t help but overhear a sharp laugh that follows a mouthful of sassy noises coming from his animal companion.
“You. Foggy, are a very weird dog.” The same confident female voice that Matt has been able to attribute to a girl named Marci says from where she’s squatting in front of his retriever.
Matt didn’t know he turned his head towards the pair until he feels it swivel back to his conversational partner, Emily, when she scoffs and flips her long hair over her shoulder in an overly punctuated gesture.
“He’s not weird, Marci. Don’t be rude to him.” And Matt just raises an eyebrow incredulously as he hears and feels Emily brush by him and make her way over to squat by Foggy’s side. Matt hears his dog make an inquisitive sound and the jingle of the bell one of the girls insisted on him wearing when he tilts his head to the side at them.
“He’s cute, and sweet.” Emily is cooing and petting at Foggy and his heartbeat speeds up happily at the attention on him.
Wow. Matt is sure he can hear the eye-roll in Marci’s voice, “Please. Sure, he’s adorable.” She says it sardonically, like she doesn’t think so, but Foggy is undoubtedly adorable, so it’s probably just Marci’s voice. “But he brought me my coat. Dogs don’t normally do that.” Marci’s nose crinkles when she meets Foggy’s eyes.
Matt decides to cut in. “Foggy is very smart. He picks up clothes on the floor and brings them to the hamper, and he brings me my shoes and my cane.”
Marci turns to look up at him curiously, he can tell from the shift of her clothes and the heat as her muscles shift. “Yea, but I wasn’t talking to him, or giving him a command. I just mentioned to V that I was thinking about going home to change before the bar tonight, and as I’m saying goodbye I turn around and he has my coat.”
The room is silent and Matt can feel all eyes on them. His brow furrows and he really doesn’t know what she’s getting at. He’s about to retort or defend (he doesn’t really know) when Vanessa, bless her, saves him the trouble.
“Some dogs are incredibly intelligent. And Foggy assists Matt in his daily life. He probably heard from some kind of inflection in your voice, or maybe one of the words you said and he just responded.”
He hears the wet sound of a mouth opening to respond, but it’s cut off.
“And he knew it was your coat, because it smells like you.”
Matt can barely restrain the smirk from his face. Vanessa just earned major points for defending Foggy. And Matt’s proud of how smart Foggy is. He’s unique and special and he’s Matt’s.
Marci sighs, giving up the argument, obviously.
Matt doesn’t like her much, “Yea, I can see that… he’s just pretty human… you know?”
Foggy lets out a confirming ruff in Marci’s face. Making her blink in surprise and smile. “Yea. You are kind of a freak, but you’re cool.”
Matt rolls his eyes fondly at the preening Foggy does for the next five minutes at being cooed and awed and complimented.
Now. Foggy was never a straight A student, but he was a very good one. Like if he were to ballpark-it, he was probably like, top ten percent in his class. A’s in the classes he liked, B’s in the classes he didn’t, and last year he got his first C since elementary in Pre-Algebra.
But to be fair, he was kinda spending more time watching TV with his dad in his more lucid moments and worrying about whether or not the system would make him move out of Hell’s Kitchen.
So when Foggy says he was overall was a good student, he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to do any of this.
It’s apparently final’s week, and the entire campus reeks of anxiety, body odor and coffee. As Matt walks in a daze down to the corner campus coffee shop, Foggy trails behind him to see other students with similar looks, and some with a crazed intensity in their eyes (which is pretty scary, but at least they don’t look like the Walking Dead).
Not for the first time, he kinda wishes that he could talk with Matt – or that Matt could understand him, because he thinks he’d be able to take the edge off of him.
He’d also tease him about his T-shirt being inside out – because this handsome duck is always so put together. But the teen has to begrudgingly admit that even Zombie-Matt is kinda good-looking in a rumpled, tired and cuddly kinda way.
That’s something they haven’t done since… well. Since before he lost himself. To be fair, it has been snowing, and Foggy had been healing and he had just assumed after two weeks of his recovery that if there were two beds, why would Foggy try to cram himself into Matt’s? Now it’s almost been a month since he had been found and nurtured back to health and cared for by Matt, and it has gone by so quickly.
Foggy is excited for the Christmas break, because then he and Matt will have so much time to spend together! He’s seriously going to see if he can get Matt to download Netflix or something, because he really wants to get caught up on his shows, and he misses his Disney movie nights.
The trick is how to tell Matt when he couldn’t tell him.
This is what he’s thinking about when he feels a careful touch, gingerly rubbing his floppy ear between two fingers. He makes a pleased hum that kinda sounds a little like a groan when it comes out. His doggie-vocals aren’t very well rounded or variant. Not for all the things Foggy has to say.
“You okay, Foggy?” Matt’s voice is tired, but there’s still the little lilt in his voice. It’s a tone that he only uses with him, and it makes Foggy feel special.
But Matt should be worrying about himself, not Foggy.
He hums again and hears a little, soft whine of sympathy comes out as he scoots closer to Matt’s seat and lays his head on his knee. Matt hums back and moves the hand from his ear to his head where it stays while Matt turns on his recorder and replaces an ear bud. They both listen to his review notes for his American Law and Ethics class while Matt sips his coffee and runs his fingers through the soft fur a the top of Foggy’s head.
Foggy can see and feel how exhausted Matt is, and he plans to help Matt sleep and recuperate properly after the week is done.
Matt takes care of Foggy, but Foggy can also take care of Matt in the ways he knows he can.
This is his last final of the semester.
He feels too much relief, it’s like his body is already rejoicing and wants to fall into bed and curl up under the covers for a week.
But he still has one more. Just one more, and then he can have it. His bed will be there in three hours.
And so will Foggy.
Matt smiles and finishes the cup of coffee in his hand as he leans against the wall outside the exam room. He can smell Vanessa approach him.
“Whatever you are on, can I have some?” She drawls jokingly, and Matt’s smile widens (he didn’t even know he was smiling, so her comment makes sense now).
Still, he raises a brow and turns his head in her direction. “What do you mean?”
Vanessa sighs and he hears the slight creak of her jawbone as she slightly ticks her head to the side when she rolls her eyes. It’s like her whole head wants to roll with her eyes, but she stops it at the last second.
“No one should smile like that before an exam, not to mention this final exam.”
Matt’s smirk grows a sheepish and he ducks his head a little and clears his throat. “I guess I’m looking forward to the end of this semester and Christmas break.”
“And spending more time with ‘your Foggy’, huh?” Vanessa twists side to side a little, and a smile is clear in her voice. She said it quiet enough that no one else could hear, as it was clearly only meant for Matt.
He lets himself smile back at her, “Yea… yea… I am.” Matt straightens when the professor comes and unlocks the door, all the students in the hall start to stumble through the door like cattle to the slaughter.
“You ready for this?” Vanessa asks wearily.
“No way. But were we ever going to truly be ready?” Matt quips, and he’s not startled by the sharp laugh behind them, because he could smell Marci’s strong perfume and the click of her healed boots, but Vanessa is.
“Couldn’t have said it better myself, Murdock.”
“Let’s kick this final in the ass!” Trevor, a guy that Matt has had lunch with a few times the past two months Vanessa has invited him out with her and her roommate, shouts.
Matt rolls his eyes, “Language.” He chastises with no heat whatsoever.
So they all go in, take their seats, and try not to weep or have a mental breakdown in the middle of the test.
Foggy watches the stupid clock over the door of the room, and he must have been there for a while, because when it feels like seconds later he is opening his eyes and yawning.
“Hey, Fogs. Scoot over.”
Foggy blearily blinks into awareness when he feels the bed beneath him shift and warmth over his back for a few seconds as Matt crawls over him. The bed moves and jostles some more, and Foggy is about to make a grumbling noise so Matt can just settle down already, jeez.
But then Matt’s finally situated on his back, with his side nearly flush against him. Foggy looks down to his side and sees Matt’s tired face, but his glasses are on. He licks the side of Matt’s face until he takes them off, groaning at having to move, so instead of putting them away he just tosses them off the bed, and Foggy watches where it lands on the carpet, and resolves to pick them up before Matt steps on them later.
Foggy huffs and lays his head down on his extended fore arms and starts to close his eyes. Matt resettles and sighs, before turning into Foggy; and then Foggy is being manhandled but this man-child into being his little spoon, which, okay… Foggy is totally okay with that. He’s been wanting to cuddle, and he can’t deny that something inside him settles as Matt presses closer and buries his face into the scruff of silky, golden fur on his neck, and tucks his ridiculously long legs up under Foggy’s.
Even as an almost-full-grown dog (he thinks), Matt dwarfs Foggy. They lie in silence. The only sound in the dorm is the occasional echo of footfalls in the hall outside, and their calm and measured breathing. Foggy can’t help but sigh and relax even more when Matt’s strong arms flex with him in their hold.
He feels safe; and knowing that Matt finds comfort in holding Foggy like this too, is probably the best realization ever.
They both fall asleep for five hours, before they are woken up by Matt’s stupid phone shouting at them.
Matt feels like his mind is molasses as he tries to wake himself up to go shut off his phone-alarm, but he can’t find it in himself to move. His arms feel like lead and he doesn’t remember being this relaxed and warm. When he draws a long breath through his nose, the scent of Foggy’s gentle, oatmeal shampoo fills his senses and as he exhales he finds himself melt further.
But when the shrill voice of his phone’s alarm ceases to shout out at him to ‘wake up’, he groans and squeezes whatever’s in his arms and attempts to burry his face further into it. Getting more of that comforting scent in his nose. However when a mirrored groan vibrates through his ‘pillow’, his heart stops in his chest and for a moment he panics.
When his ‘pillow’ shifts a little and ‘grumbles’, Matt huffs out a surprised, breathless laugh.
So apparently this ‘pillow’ is his dog, and he’s currently wrapped around the retriever like an octopus.
“It’ll stop in a min, Fog. So shuddup.” Matt mumbles into the fur, and just after he says that, the alarm on his phone stops and he sighs out in relief, and grins when he can both feel and hear Foggy do the same. Loosening his grip on the dog a bit, he pulls back enough to press his lips to the back of Foggy’s head and just breaths.
He feels so relaxed and safe, laying here like this, and even though Matt really wants to change into more comfortable clothes, and maybe take a shower – he doesn’t want to end this… whatever this is. This moment.
Sure, back when they were at the park, Foggy would lay against his side, or lay his silky head on Matt’s lap, or Matt would use Foggy’s side to prop up his head while reading his textbook – Matt also gave Foggy frequent hugs, though not many since his injury…
But falling asleep somewhere safe with his best friend, where they both were warm and cozy… that was something completely different. Matt didn’t think he could feel so content and happy – but he was wrong.
Foggy starts to shift and Matt feels disappointment tug at his chest that the moment was over, and to try and keep his friend there he holds him tighter and Foggy freezes before letting out a long, heavy sigh, indicating to Matt that he’s giving up – for now.
“Just ten more minutes, boy. Then we’ll get dinner.”
A garbled sound is his answer, along with another doggy-sigh.
Matt hasn’t been so happy over the holidays for years, and he finds himself indulging in things he doesn’t even remember doing as a child growing up – before he lost his sight and his father.
Even though he knows he wouldn’t bother doing any of these things alone, or with anyone else, really – only Foggy. He has found himself to be quite the push-over when it comes to the canine and what he wants…
Though Matt is completely confused as to what his friend wants right now, as he sits up by Matt’s desk and paws at the laptop cord.
“I really don’t get what you want, Foggy.” Matt sighs, exasperated, and gets a garbled whine and babble in response, making him bite his lip.
He hates these miscommunications with his companion, because it always leaves Foggy whiney and depressed for the rest of the day, and he hates upsetting the dog.
Foggy, apparently frustrated and getting desperate, jumps to his feet and barks and whines as he looks up at Matt and then throws his chin up towards the desktop.
“Okay! Okay! Hold on!” Matt shouts back, startled at the dog’s sudden flurry of activity and noise. He strides quickly towards Foggy and reaches for the laptop. As he does this, Foggy’s heart rate leaps in excitement and his tail wags as he moves to give him space. Matt pauses and tilts his head towards his friend in curiosity.
Matt picks up the laptop, unplugging it and holds it in his hands, feeling a little stupid. He tilts his head down to where he can sense Foggy to his left, an eyebrow raising in question.
“Okay. Now what.”
Yea. He’s feeling a little stupid, but – Foggy barks, with a… nod?
Now Matt’s head is cocked to the side for a different reason. Curiosity.
His canine friend babbles and groans at him as he shuffles around, facing Matt, until he makes it in front of Matt’s bed and then jumps up and sits.
Then he barks at him again and pants, his heart fluttering.
Matt… is confused. But…
“You… want me to bring the laptop to bed?”
A sharp bark and a… nod…
“Okay…” Matt feels his own heart speed up a little. Could Foggy really understand what he’s saying? He’s actually telling Matt to do something?
It’s… a little exciting as well as curious.
Still, Matt stands there for a moment too long, he guesses, because he gets a gentle growl for taking his time.
Huffing out an amused sigh, Matt tucks his laptop under one arm and moves to sit on the bed beside Foggy; propping himself up against the headboard.
“Yea. I totally understood that, Foggy.” Matt deadpans and he…
Foggy sticks his tongue out at him.
Of course Matt can’t see it, but he smells the saliva and hears the slither of a smooth, flat tongue but no increase of breath – so Foggy’s mouth isn’t open.
The fact that he leaned forward as he did that just supplies evidence to support Matt’s hypothesis.
He’ll have to come back to it later, though, because Foggy tucks the slimy appendage back into his jaw and lifts a paw to tap once on the laptop in his lap.
Matt tilts his head, and hears Foggy shift to look at him expectantly.
Wordlessly, Matt opens the laptop slowly, listening for further physiological cues to confirm his actions from Foggy’s heart and lungs.
It’s like his companion is waiting with bated breath, so he thinks he’s doing something right as he powers up the laptop and pulls up an internet browser. As soon as he does that, Foggy’s heart rate spikes excitedly and his butt wiggles a little on the bed and he whines. Matt can’t help but grin, despite how weird the situation is.
“Alright, pal. I think here is where you are going to lose me.” Matt says, amused. Huffing out a laugh when Foggy groans and whines at him. Eventually, Matt feels Foggy’s body lean heavily into his side and tucking his head onto his shoulder awkwardly. He smiles a little sadly when he hears and feels Foggy sigh heavily, and can’t help but feel it’s in disappointment.
Biting his lip, Matt drums his fingertips on the laptop base as he thinks. There’s something undeniably unique about Foggy, that’s for certain – he thinks back on the moments he’s spent with Foggy over the past few months and right from the get-go, Foggy was special.
But in hopes to understand what his Foggy wants right now, he tries to think about all the times Foggy has been near or with him on his laptop – besides the times he was doing homework. Does he want to listen to music? Though Matt highly doubts that, why would a dog want to listen to music?
Why does a dog insist Matt get out his laptop?
Fair enough. But he doesn’t think that’s it.
Matt’s running ideas through his head and suddenly one memory from the past week comes to mind.
He had left Foggy with Vanessa and a friend of hers for a few hours when he went into town to get some groceries last week – Matt had planned on buying some little ‘Christmas gifts’ for Foggy, and wanted them to be a surprise (unfortunately, he was unable to keep this reason for going alone away from the girls, and since then increased their cooing over him and his friend).
When he had come back from shopping, he stopped by Vanessa’s room on the second floor to pick up Foggy and he had walked in after Vanessa to find Foggy on the bed next to her roommate, with a laptop in her lap.
They had been watching a movie, according to Vanessa, on Netflix.
Matt feels his own heartbeat pick up in excitement. That had to be it. He remembers feeling a little hurt that day, because Foggy had seemed so reluctant to leave with him – Vanessa had ended up asking if he could stay until they finished their movie. He reluctantly stayed, of course, only because Foggy had seemed so happy.
This had to be it.
He lifts his forearm up to awkwardly scratch at the back of Foggy’s ear where his companion’s muzzle was squished over his shoulder and shoved behind his ear. Since their impromptu nap on the bed, Foggy has gone back to being very tactile, and it only serves to settle Matt better into his own skin, helping him to center himself from all the extra sounds and smells his senses pick up. He finds that it is harder to overwhelm him, when he’s in Foggy’s proximity, or if he can focus on his friend’s faint heartbeat.
Matt’s screen-reader helps him to navigate to the Netflix webpage and as soon as the site is verbalized, he can’t help but grin manically as Foggy’s heart skyrockets in excitement. Matt doesn’t even care that he has to get up and grab his credit card – the way Foggy wags his tail, yipping and bounding after him across the room to his wallet is more than worth the costs.
It looks like they’ll be watching some Christmas movies on Christmas Eve.
Fifteen minutes later, Matt has a large bowl of kettle corn, the covers over his legs and the laptop plugged in and set on the bed in front of Foggy – Nightmare Before Christmas queued on the screen.
“Ready, Foggy?” Matt can’t keep the pleased and excited grin off his face at how happy he made his friend. He’s wiggling and so excited he can’t help but let out little whimpers. Matt would think he was upset or in pain if his heartbeat and tail didn’t tell him otherwise.
He laughs, “Okay, okay! Calm down, yea? Or you can’t hear it.” Matt hits play and as the credits start he has to bite his lip to not laugh at how suddenly Foggy falls completely silent.
If only he could get him to calm down this quickly when he’s trying to put Foggy to bed on time.
After the movie starts, he’s idly munching on popcorn and smiles a little as he catches Foggy trying to stick his face in the bowl without Matt noticing.
It’s in his lap.
As much as he loves Foggy, Matt doesn’t want his face in the bowl, so he grabs a handful of popcorn and nudges him until Foggy redirects his muzzle away from the bowl and towards the offered treats.
“Just ask, dummy. I don’t want your slobber all over the bowl.” Matt snorts when Foggy’s head snaps up and faces him, he just knows the dog is glaring at him.
He doesn’t need to see to know that.
“Yea, yea, glare at me. Just don’t forget who feeds you.” He snarks, his smile teasing as he doesn’t once move his head to face his friend, just staring sightlessly ahead in the general direction of the laptop screen.
When Foggy grumbles back at him quietly in retort, Matt makes an obnoxious shushing sound and gently elbows the dog in the chest. “Whatch your movie, wise-guy.”
A huff and then the bed shifts beside him, presumably Foggy moving to face the screen again. Matt smiles when he feels Foggy lean heavily on his side, his head and chin tucked on Matt’s shoulder.
Matt doesn’t care if he doesn’t know what’s going on in the movie. He doesn’t care if they watch movies all night and all day tomorrow.
As long as he has popcorn and Foggy beside him – as long as Foggy’s happy.
Foggy was having the best time of his short fifteen (almost sixteen thankyouverymuch) years of living. During the four weeks of winter break, he and Matt had the campus grounds practically to themselves.
With the break sending away practically the entire student body and its faculty (minus a small handful of students, but even they left the campus for a few days here and there), Foggy learned even more about this uber-handsome-best-friend.
For example, he was super good at boxing.
Like, amazing. It was doing bad things to poor little Foggy’s heart as he watches Matt get into his routine.
Since the semester ended and the students left, Matt has taken Foggy with him to his gym. It was a bit of a bus ride, and a few times Matt had to argue to allow ‘his dog’ (Foggy both loathed and liked that phrase, for whatever reason) onto the bus without a ‘seeing eye’ vest. Both times that happened (with the same bus driver), Matt would lay into the bag almost immediately after shedding his heavy coat in the locker room at Fogwell’s.
Yea, he saw first hand Matt’s temper. Matt had even talked about it once or twice, the few days after finals where he went out to a bar or two with some of his classmates. He’d come home to Foggy and start babbling sullenly about ‘the devil’. Part of his stories and ramblings Foggy couldn’t understand, either because Matt was slurring, or he was babbling into the back of Foggy’s neck, and into his fur, because his ‘roommate’ turns into an octopus when he’s had a few.
Granted a very adorable and talkative octopus. But still. Matt was a lot stronger than anyone gave him credit for, and he was an aggressive cuddler.
It also wasn’t helping Foggy any. He started to feel weird around Matt, especially when he decides to forgo any personal boundaries whatsoever (as he has taken to doing since that one evening after his last final).
But seriously, Foggy’s poor little heart (and hormones), were still only human. He was nearly sixteen for crying out loud.
He likes Matt’s hugs and pets and cuddles; and Foggy likes indulging him, because he thinks that Matt didn’t get enough as a kid. So he should get any cuddles and affection he wants now.
Foggy knows by now that Matt was orphaned, because he also knows that Matt’s the ‘Kid Hero of Hell’s Kitchen’, who had risked himself to save an old man.
He had heard his story when it was posted in the papers, just two years after the incident. Foggy was about four when Matt lost his sight, and nine when he heard about the boy’s heroics from his father as he was reading the paper one morning. He remembers his dad commenting on how ‘Jack’s son’ was such a brave kid, and how unfortunate it was that he was orphaned after everything he’s been through.
Foggy remembers taking the paper from his dad later and reading the complete story. He also remembers bawling and sniveling on his bed that night, because he couldn’t help but feel sad for everything that happened to the young hero.
His dad had found him that night and rolled his eyes at his ‘dramatics’ (what? he always has been an emotional soul), that was, until Frankie had told him that he’d be sad if he lost his dad, and that made his father grunt and pull him into a brutish hug, while Franklin pretended that he feel his father’s tears in his hair. Later, his dad had told him that Matt seemed like such a good kid, surely he wouldn’t be without a family for long, because everyone would want him. Franklin had agreed, because Matt was so cool. He had to be, because he was a hero, and he was obviously brave.
Franklin had an essay assignment to write about who inspired them most, and why.
Franklin wrote about Matt.
Later that summer, they learned of his father’s brain tumor, and his step-mom Rosalind had left the boys to fend for themselves, while taking Franklin’s stepsister Sophia with her.
For the first time, he found himself wanting to share this with someone – only now that he had someone he felt he could talk to, he… well…
And that was just the thing, Foggy thinks to himself as he huffs from his spot on the gym’s floor, wearily watching Matt as he takes a break from the bag to re-wrap his hands.
Foggy pretends he doesn’t smell his bleeding knuckles.
He has for whatever reason, been thinking that he was actually able to communicate mentally with Matt.
It was weird, but he just felt a tingle in his mind when tries speaking to the older boy. He has realized that lately, he has tried talking to (more like at) Matt in his head, instead of just thinking to himself, or trying to talk the ‘traditional way’ (which just came out as a garbled mess of dog-sounds), he feels that little tingle and a…
Well. A connection. He’s felt like it was working, it definitely made him feel better and more at ease, talking to Matt in his head, instead of just listening and thinking to himself
… But Matt showed no indication of understanding his internal, apparently one-sided conversations (hell, maybe he was going mental).
Seriously. It’s probably just all in his head. He’s tried it with random strangers and even one time with Vanessa, but he found he couldn’t do it – well, with Vanessa he’d asked for her to give him half of her sandwich, and she did…
He didn’t try talking to her again after that - because she showed no indication (or shock, because common) of having ‘heard him’, and if he can apparently influence people with his weird, magic-induced dog-form, then Foggy wants no part in it.
“It was probably just a fluke. No one will ever hear me.” He muses gloomily, his cerulean gaze follows Matt as he returns to the bag.
Foggy loves to watch Matt when they are at the gym, and not just because Matt is surprisingly fit and awesome, but mostly because it seems to be the only other place besides their room that he feels allowed to move about with confidence and grace.
And he never uses his cane.
Foggy knows Matt’s actually blind, but he’s obviously got some sort of ability or enhanced hearing because he’s not your average ‘blind guy’.
Well. Matt’s not your average anything. No matter how hard he sometimes tries to portray himself to be. It’s like Matt tempers himself to meet everyone’s stereotypical assumptions or expectations of a bling guy. Regardless that Matt is beyond being helpless. Honestly, Foggy thinks he’s more coordinated than the average ‘vision-abled’ guy.
He’s definitely more graceful, and talented, because he obviously knows several types of martial arts and boxing.
The boxing, Foggy can understand. His pops was a boxer. Heck, his own dad knew some Judo from when he was in the military, before he tried to help grandpa with the hardware store before he died. Foggy hopes Matt is never in a situation where he has to use all that training he so obviously has.
“Wow. I’m a pile of angst today.” Foggy thinks to himself ruefully. He doesn’t quite understand why he’s in such a slump today. It has been awesome the past three-ish weeks of winter break, and before that, too. But these last three weeks have just been him and Matt, and Foggy has been so happy.
They went outside every day for hours, and they watched Netflix at night, or Matt would read Thurgood Marshall out-loud to him before bed.
Seriously, Thurgood Marshall - he lived with a complete nerd and he doesn’t understand how someone could be so dorky and totally cool and extremely hot, to boot. It’s not natural.
He is both saddened as well as extremely glad that Matt chooses to only show these sides of himself to Foggy, he thinks, as he watches as Matt now grit his teeth and increase his tempo as he hisses breaths in and out between his teeth.
Matt had a nightmare last night.
It must have been a really bad one, too, because he had looked tortured when he woke up at 2 a.m. with a shout that got stuck in his throat, nearly choking on it. But Foggy had heard. He had tried to wake him up, too. He wanted to say something.
But he couldn’t.
He could only whimper sympathetically, nosing at his cheek, to try and get Matt to go back to sleep, but he had stayed awake to frown at the ceiling and nearly tear his sheets with the force of his grip.
Nothing Foggy did seemed to help, until he finally just crawled on top of Matt, smothering him until they were chest-to-chest. He had rested his head on the pillow beside Matt’s, and just focused on taking deep breaths. In and out.
Matt had seemed to calm as he matched his breathing to Foggy’s, and his hands came up to lay on the back of his scruffy neck, like he was afraid the dog would roll away – before finally, finally falling asleep.
But regardless of being able to get some sleep, Matt still looked a little haunted all day – and angry, if his set jaw and scowl was anything to go by.
Also with his abuse of the gym equipment, and the bloody knuckles Foggy tries to pretend he can’t smell.
Matt was definitely angry, and something must have been going through his mind because Foggy can see as the anger and tension and emotion, so strong as it suddenly reaches its’ crescendo.
Matt roars, and it echoes off the walls and reverberates through Foggy’s chest.
He saw it coming a mile away (across the gym) and it still surprises him, sending a chill down his spine. Foggy knows his heart’s beating faster because he can feel it beat in time with Matt’s fists as they pound into the bag mercilessly.
Foggy isn’t aware that he had shot up from where he was laying on the mat. All he knows is that he’s standing with his legs just a bit spread, like he’s ready to move at any second.
Honestly, he’s trying to hold himself back from going over and bothering Matt. He’s worried for him, but he’s also a bit transfixed. Matt always looks like a force of nature to reckon with, whenever he runs through his workouts… so he’s used to being awed by the man pounding into the bag.
It’s the anguish and the anger and frustration that was plastered all over Matt’s face, and how he released it all in flurries of coordinated movements. Matt looked fierce.
And it left Foggy speechless.
This was Matt’s sanctuary. Matt’s safe place. A place he can safely release the darkest parts of himself, and all the negative feelings that well up inside him, without risk of judgment or interruption.
And he invites Foggy to watch.
He wants Foggy nearby, even on days like this, when he probably doesn’t want a single living soul to see him at his weakest.
Cerulean eyes follow Matt’s movements, and they seem to quickly slow, and then stop completely before Matt leans into the bag and pants harshly.
Foggy is still watching, wide-eyed and heart still pounding inside his chest, because he can’t help but feel like this towards Matt. He may have a dog’s body for the rest of his life, but his heart and his brain were still human, and he knew now that the ‘little crush’ he joked with himself about having on Matt, was anything but platonic.
He really didn’t want to have a real crush on Matt, but geez.
He feels his heart skip a beat as he panics internally, and somewhere in his head he’s glad he’s got fur on his face, because human-Foggy would have been as red as a freaking tomato, and then would have proceeded to make a fool out of himself.
Matt sucks in a sharp breath and tenses, and this makes Foggy hold his breath, because what did his miss? He was so far into his la-la land of ‘Matt’, that he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings, were they in trouble? Matt smells anxious, and his body is all tense again and his eyes are wide.
A moment goes by and Foggy starts to relax when Matt straightens up from leaning into the bag. When he lets it go, it swings a little, the chain making a screeching sound, so Matt lists a gloved hand to steady it before turning around to face him – or in his general direction.
Foggy holds his breath and watches Matt, because Matt is looking right at him. He knows Matt is blind, but it looks right now as if he’s meeting Foggy’s eyes, and Foggy doesn’t know what Matt is looking for, so he stays as still as he can.
A second later, Matt seems to deflate with a long, silent exhale, and then turns wordlessly towards the men’s locker room to change.
He waits a little anxiously for Matt to return. The look that overcame Matt’s face before he turned away towards the locker room was chewing at his insides, and he tries not to pace in worry. What did he expect Matt to do, after that display? Definitely not look as if he was about to cry.
Twenty minutes later, Matt is walking confidently over to him. His body seems relaxed, and he looks a bit better. Foggy can smell soap and deodorant as soon as the door opens and he walks back into the gym area, so he took a shower… but something feels… off.
Foggy watches Matt intently as he gathers his things, cleaning up, and getting ready to go home. They had the gym on Sundays, Matt said before. It was always closed on Sundays, and that’s when Matt came into the gym, when he could. But right now, Matt seemed to be dragging his feet, taking his time, as if he really didn’t look forward to leaving.
So Foggy keeps watching him, even getting up to follow him as he goes to the supply cabinet to get the cleaner for the bag and the mats he used, keeping Matt in his sights at all times – so he catches the couple of times that Matt tilts his head towards Foggy a bit, and after about the first month of living with the guy, has interpreted that action as Matt’s version of ‘looking’ at him.
He was aware of Foggy’s presence, but he wasn’t acknowledging it. Normally, when Foggy follows him like this, he happily talks and teases him for being impatient to go home. Right now, though, he’s staying silent, and almost ignoring him.
This would make Foggy think that Matt was mad at him, except for the imaginary storm clouds that seem to darken over his face as the minutes tick by.
Eventually, Foggy decides to just sit and watch from the other side of the gym, because maybe Matt needs some space. He gets that. Foggy’s always around, and maybe Matt’s still sensitive from earlier.
He’s still worrying, though.
But he’ll worry in silence. For now.
When he’s done, Matt sighs and sits down on the mat Foggy was lying on before, and crosses his legs into his ‘meditation pose’. His hands are resting on his folded knees, and his head is bowed a bit, so his fringe hides his face from where Foggy’s now standing.
“Come here, Foggy.”
Matt’s tone is leveled and firm, but a little breathy at the end. Like he’s tired.
Foggy looks at Matt and can’t fight his new instinct to huff a little, scenting the air.
He doesn’t smell angry… or look angry, still. In fact, he looks a little serious and weary, maybe upset. His glasses are still off, but Foggy can see them peaking out of Matt’s overcoat that he has draped over the bag sitting beside him.
The longer Foggy watches, he can see Matt’s fists slowly starting to clench on his knees. So he’s upset, and he wants Foggy near, so he slowly walks over to Matt, leveling him with a scrutinizing stare as he leans forward as he walks, bringing his head down, which is a submissive, non-threatening gesture, as he was approaching Matt like he was the wild animal – because Matt is slowly losing whatever composure he was trying to hold on to whilst ignoring him, and he doesn’t want Matt to withdraw again because Foggy misread him.
Gingerly, he moves to lie down in front of Matt, carefully inching forward on his belly until his forepaws are tucked just under Matt’s legs. He lays his head down on them, attempting to get a look at Matt’s face under the fringe of his hair – he really needs to get a haircut, soon. School starts in like, a week.
When another moment goes by and Matt still hasn’t said anything, or touched him, he makes a small whine that comes out almost like a whimper, and that makes Matt sit up a little so that he can finally see his face and –
Matt sucks in a fortifying breath, and Foggy is frozen in shock, looking up at him.
“Foggy,” Matt breaths out, his voice sounding a little choked, “I’m so sorry…”
His voice sounds broken, and despair and regret are shinning in his eyes – shiny with tears.
What the hell did he miss? Why is Matt apologizing?
Matt sighs, and his fingers fiddle with a loose string from the whole in his jeans. His sightless gaze staring, a little lost, at Foggy’s nose.
Matt doesn’t say anything for a bit, and Foggy knows when a situation is delicate. He’s always been mature about these types of things, despite his age. He didn’t have a life like Matt’s, but he had to grow up quickly, too.
He hesitates before he reaches out and lays a long, calloused hand on Foggy’s soft, furry head.
Foggy doesn’t think Matt’s aware of how he sighs, and his shoulders relax quickly once his fingers run through his fur.
He also doesn’t think that Matt’s aware of the gentle tremble in his hands, as they shakily comb through the short fur at the top of his head, as if he’ll hurt Foggy, should he be less careful.
“Foggy… I’m sorry I scared you…” Matt swallows thickly, and the rest of his sentence comes out a little choked and wobbly, “I don’t want you to be afraid of me, please don’t – don’t be afraid... I’d never hurt you. Ever.” He says desperately, like Foggy’s going to leave him.
It probably takes him longer than it should to respond, because he’s completely shocked.
Why did Matt think he would be afraid? Did Foggy look afraid?
He makes a questioning noise and tries to scoot closer to Matt, his chin atop his crossed legs. When Matt doesn’t respond he just babbles sympathetic noises and noses and gently licks whatever area of Matt he can reach without pulling away to sit up completely. Finally he reaches Matt’s face, after a lot of babble and scooting, and he licks at his chin and cheek. Matt releases a choked sob with a sigh that sounded a little relieved.
Suddenly, Matt’s bending in half to latch on to Foggy, hugging his neck tightly and now he’s babbling a little wetly into his fur, and Foggy just lies there and occasionally tilts his head to nuzzle behind Matt’s ear.
Matt releases a heavy sigh, sounding like this episode too more out of him than his rage-session with the punching bag.
“I’m sorry, Foggy. I… I never want you to be afraid of me, hearing your heart pound like that –“
Foggy’s head jerks a little and his eyes are locked onto Matt’s sightless ones, his heart rate quickening in shock.
Instantly, he sees the change in expression on Matt’s face and Matt shuts up. He’s not quite looking at Foggy, kinda at his ear, but still…
As soon as his panic came on, it disappears and he relaxes. It’s Matt, and Foggy had already suspected he had some sort of super-ability.
So apparently Matt can hear better than a dog.
And Matt mistook his quick heartbeat for fear rather than attraction (well duh. Why would Matt think a dog was attracted to him, Idiot).
Foggy really doesn’t know which is worse.
But Matt looks like he’s about to run. Or cry. Or dig him a hole to throw himself into.
So Foggy wags his tail and just looks up at him adoringly, because this silly man was so concerned with what a dog thought of him.
Foggy tilts his head to the side, and raises his ears.
Matt looks a little shell-shocked, so Foggy’s gotta be the rational one right now.
But he’ll re-visit the whole ‘heartbeat’ thing later.
He lets out a shaky breath, and Foggy can feel it on his face. Matt brings a hand to his cheek, and to show him that everything is fine, you big baby, Foggy tilts his head into the caress and watches satisfactorily, as Matt relaxes with relief from whatever assumptions he had racked up in his head.
He lifts his ears a little to indicate that he’s listening and minutely nods his head, a movement Matt probably only catches because his hand’s on his face.
Matt’s eyes look close to bugging out of his skull and his mouth drops open just a tad in shock, and Foggy freezes.
“Can… can you understand me?” Matt says breathy, a little bit of hope in his voice. Or at least… Foggy thinks that it’s hope. It could be fear.
But he can’t hear Matt’s heart. So like he could really tell, he thinks a little bitterly, but…
Matt’s not the kind of guy to be afraid. In fact, Foggy has kind of entertained the thought of attempting to communicate with him better, but they were already getting along so well.
What if this ruined everything?
Matt means everything to him. Not just because he takes care of him, it’s just because he’s Matt.
Foggy rights himself, and it moves him away from where his head was leaning into Matt’s hand, but he’s needing to make a very important decision right now – because Matt won’t ask this again. Heck, he probably feels a little stupid for asking him (a dog) now.
Talking to him like an animal companion is one thing, but thinking that you are truly talking with an animal, is another.
He nods his head, and it feels a little awkward because, well… he’s a dog.
Matt just watches him for a moment, a little hesitant, but now Foggy sees both doubt and hope warring with each other in his deep, unfocused brown eyes. His eyes really shouldn’t be so expressive.
“Can… can you prove it?”
Okay. He expected this, kinda. But he still scowls a little, offended – of course Matt can’t see it, and Foggy really wishes he could shrug his shoulders, but it’s a really weird motion for a dog’s anatomy to make. So Foggy just sighs and nods, and he internally smirks when he hears Matt inhale sharply again, and see a shocked look on his face.
Then Matt hesitates and Foggy makes a face at him, and raises his ears, hoping that Matt will get the ‘impression’ that he’s waiting patiently.
Well. Okay. Maybe not patiently, because he’s a bit anxious, but someone has to play it cool right now.
Foggy sees when Matt has decided on something to ask.
“Where is my dad’s poster, in this gym? Show me.”
He stares at Matt for a good few moments, and maybe a moment too long, because Matt starts to look disappointed, because maybe he was wrong and Foggy really doesn’t understand him –
So Foggy moves to stand, and gently pushes Matt’s shoulder with his nose as he walks past him, making his way across the gym and past the boxing ring, to stop in front of the poster. He waits for Matt under the poster, and as he approaches, Foggy mouths at Matt’s hand and noses it up until he touches the poster in the frame.
The look on Matt’s face is… indecipherable, and as his fingers finally catch the small, engraved nameplate on the frame, Matt’s eyes fill with tears, and if Foggy didn’t know that he was blind, he would think Matt could see the poster of his father before his death.
Maybe he can. It’s probably one of the images he’ll never forget.
Suddenly, he lets out a surprised, breathy laugh and turns towards Foggy before dropping to his knees and reaching out to grasp at the fur at his chest.
“You really understand.” He says, sounding elated, and just because Foggy is so relieved, he nods, and his heart skips in happiness at the grin that brings to Matt’s face, and he feels his tail start to wag behind him.
“No, you don’t get it, Foggy! You know who I am!” Matt continues excitedly, gently shaking him and Foggy gives him a look of ‘no shit, Sherlock’ that Matt can’t see – so it is lost on him, and he continues, “I never told you about my dad! I mentioned him, but I didn’t say his name!” Matt’s sightless eyes are dancing with excitement, and Foggy is so happy, but he still doesn’t really get what Matt’s on about.
“Foggy!” Matt shuffles closer and, oh my god, his poor, puppy heart is going to explode. “That means you knew my name! You can read!” He laughs and Foggy wishes he could smile, because inside he’s beaming along with Matt.
He whines and wiggles excitedly – he can’t help himself, he’s so happy it just came out. But Matt laughs, and Foggy can smell saline before he sees a thin sheen of tears appear in Matt’s sightless brown eyes before he pulls him into a crushing embrace as he chokes out another laugh.
Foggy feels warm all over with happiness, because Matt is happy.
Then Matt sighs heavily, calming a little, and pulls back. He’s still clutching at the fur on his sides when his smile dims a little bit.
“So…” He starts hesitatingly, and Foggy is wondering how Matt isn’t exhausted from his emotional rollercoaster today, because Foggy’s having a hard time keeping up. But the look in Matt’s eyes and in his face and voice, has Foggy staying still and listening intently.
“You… aren’t, or weren’t… you weren’t afraid of me? Earlier?”
Geez. Matt’s like, twenty. He shouldn’t look like a little kid who’s afraid of disappointing their parent.
Foggy shakes his head no, emphatically – and then whines and licks Matt’s cheek once for good measure.
Matt looks relieved again, but his eyes are still a little uncertain, “Really? Because…” he trails off and chooses not to finish his sentence, but Foggy’s thinking he was going to mention his ‘heartbeat’.
Foggy, not wanting to leave Matt doubting him, but also not knowing how to explain – because they’ve established that Foggy can understand, but that didn’t change the fact that he was limited in his own communications skills – he bends down to lick at Matt’s raw knuckles, which were bleeding earlier, and then nosing at the palm of his hand.
Matt breathes. “You… smelled blood? That’s why…?” Foggy nods emphatically.
Not a lie, but not the complete truth, either. But that didn’t matter, because all he wanted Matt to know what that he could never be afraid of him, and that he doesn’t need to hide anything. Not from Foggy.
Matt’s smile is a little bashful, but pleased, and Foggy thinks he’s going to die because such a handsome and ridiculously cool guy should not also be adorable… but Matt was so many things.
“Let’s go home, shall we?” Matt stands up and smiles down at him.
Foggy thinks that home is wherever Matt is.
Foggy understands him.
Foggy understands him.
It’s a revelation that Matt cannot get over, and he can’t completely understand why it makes him so happy.
After getting home, Matt asks Foggy what he wants for dinner, he hears his friend shuffle before he says, “Bark once for pizza, twice for Chinese?” He asks with humor in his voice. Matt hears the huff of exasperation from Foggy before he ruffs quietly, just once.
Matt grins, “Once for pepperoni, two for cheese, three for supreme?” He tries not to grin any wider when he hears Foggy’s irritated grumbling before he barks three times, his face is starting to hurt from all this smiling.
But it’s a discomfort he’s totally okay with, because Foggy can understand him!
“This is a treat, so don’t go expecting human-food all the time, now.” He teases, “I’ll be back in twenty.” He calls out, and then rushes out the door, because he’s going to have pizza with his friend and Matt is so childishly happy and giddy – and Matt probably looks like a lunatic and he feels a bit foolish but he honestly doesn’t really care right now.
Foggy can understand him, more than just a dog that understands their master; and Matt loves Foggy, he truly, truly does, but the prospect of possibly holding a conversation with him?
Matt will have to find a way for Foggy to communicate with him. There has to be some kind of technology or system he could use. They have apps for everything nowadays. If Matt used some of his savings, maybe he could get one of those large tablets? Possibly put some of his reading software on there?
Of course, even if Foggy didn’t understand him like this, he still obviously cared for Matt, and Matt doesn’t care for him any more or less with this knowledge…
Matt had gotten the impression a while ago that Foggy understood as most well trained or intelligent breeds did, but there were just a few things that he did (especially lately) that were a little too quirky for your average, intelligent dog.
He remembers learning about ‘Koko the Gorilla’ who learned sign language and was able to communicate and even carry basic conversations with humans. Matt wonders just how deep Foggy’s understanding goes.
Then, as Matt places their pizza order and stands aside to wait for his number to be called, he gets a sudden thought.
If researchers had found a way to train dogs to communicate like Koko… the training for something like that would take years. Or at least continuous reinforcement and conditioning, as well as a ton of other things…
It’s something that Matt has entertained here and there, that Foggy was special and God somehow had their paths cross because maybe Matt was doing something right for once…
But there’s no way Foggy could be just a dog.
They live in the era of Captain America, Thor and The X-Men…
It’s not a stretch to think that maybe…
Matt will have to see for himself, but he’s entirely certain that Foggy is not just a dog, anymore – at the least, he could be some kind of genetic experiment that somehow escaped… or he could not be a dog at all.
Foggy could be some kind of alien animal or something – many people commented on Foggy’s eyes nearly every time they would stop for passersby (really, Matt didn’t like the interruptions, and he didn’t like the way he could sometimes smell people’s greasy hands, perfume, or pungent lotion they’d leave behind on his companion’s fur).
He snaps out of his thoughts when he hears his number called, and he takes the medium pie and starts to make his way back to the dorm. It’s dark outside, so he’s able to move a little faster than he normally allows himself, because there are less people out and about to keep up appearances for.
It doesn’t really cross his mind to be skeptical or concerned if it turns out that Foggy is an alien. If he had ever meant Matt harm, he had more than enough changes to take advantage.
No. Matt decides that no matter what Foggy is, or where he came from, he’ll still be his – he’ll still be Foggy.
Regardless, Matt really, really wants to know, and he can barely wait to ask.
But should he? It would be entirely insensitive of him to just start bombarding Foggy with questions. What if Foggy thought Matt would turn him in? Or treat him differently?
No… Matt can’t ask… but maybe he can lead the conversation…
Matt pushes his way through the doors of the dormitory and makes a beeline for the elevator.
He will need to be patient. It’s not like it will change anything, anyways. It would only help Matt to understand his friend better.
And they’ve got nothing but time.
I really appreciated all the comments on the last chapter, and I'm glad you all liked it so much! :D I haven't responded to the comments yet, but to be fair... I was writing this. Inspiration hit, and the outline for the chapter I had turned into a full piece in one sitting.
So I hope you enjoy this chapter. I worked hard on it, and I think it came out pretty good. :)
Until next time!
Foggy is kinda ecstatic that Matt is so gun-ho about talking with him, and whenever Foggy answers a ‘yes-or-no’ question, he looks so delighted. The past two days it has been questions about whether or not something happened in the last Disney movies Matt had pulled up on Netflix for him.
Which was kinda super cute of Matt to do, if you think about it.
Whenever Matt has left to do an errand since the day Foggy (very ridiculously) was able to get Matt to Netflix, Matt will choose kid movies or cartoons for him to ‘watch’ to keep Foggy ‘company’ while he was away. One of Matt’s lady-friends (he doesn’t want to call them ‘girlfriends’, cause he rarely sees or smells them around Matt again) saw Matt do this for him while she was waiting for her date, and she thought it was the ‘cutest thing’.
So Foggy can’t help but feel cared for, and felt that pleasant warmness of comfort and home whenever Matt would do things like that – almost like Foggy was his kid brother, instead of his ‘dog’ or his ‘pet’.
Though there was that one time Matt turned on Little Einsteins before leaving for a party. He had swung by the room quickly for something, a lady-friend at the door – when she saw Foggy on Matt’s bed with the laptop playing a kid’s show… let’s just say that Matt was lucky she found it ‘so sweet’.
Anyways, Foggy felt a little offended (okay, a lot. And then he immediately felt a stupid camaraderie with every misunderstood canine-companion out there, who are adult doggies like himself, being talked down to and treated their entire lives like their human’s babies. It’s a travesty, he tells you.)
When Matt didn’t come home until the early hours of the morning… and Foggy couldn’t turn it off or change it for the life of him. He never thought he’d miss thumbs or hands.
But – that won’t happen again – well, unless Matt wants to knowingly torture him with mind-numbing baby-shows – because he’ll be able to communicate with Matt!
Well. He really can’t. Not the way he’s trying, but at least now that Matt (sort of) knows he’s ‘smarter than the average dog’, the guy is trying to actively find ways for Foggy to communicate with him.
Seriously. Matt’s dedication in this endeavor is pretty humbling, and also relieves a little bit of sadness that Foggy didn’t even know he had – he still doesn’t know exactly why he feels better… happier… at this, and maybe it’s because he’ll be able to get to know Matt a bit better, or that he’ll feel just a little more human, and a little less trapped in this canine prison.
Matt never really treated him too much like a ‘dumb animal’, but still… it’ll be nice to maybe not be looked down upon? A little? (okay, not literally, jerks.)
Foggy is thinking all this while Matt is fumbling with a large box in a grocery bag, and Foggy can’t help but tilt his head to the side in curiosity when he hears a slight rattling noise inside.
He carefully sniffs the air, and he smells… wood?
Matt turns around, and with a grace a blind guy is not supposed to have, he kicks off his shoes and then drops to the floor to sit across from Foggy. Folding his legs like he’s in kindergarten.
“Oh my God, Matt! Did you get me blocks?!”
He doesn’t know whether or not to be touched, or mortified.
Maybe he’ll have to retract the happy thought that maybe Matt won’t think or treat him like a baby.
But… oh… geez. The look on Matt’s face...
Well, he looks kinda like a punch-drunk lunatic; but he also looks giddy and excited.
Foggy will see where this is going, and he’ll set his embarrassment aside for now. He’s sixteen for goodness sakes (at least, give-or-take a week or two until his birthday).
But Matt is like, twenty or twenty-one, and he’s the one that looks like he’s back to being five.
“So, Foggy. I got blocks. They are large enough for you to move with your paws or your mouth… though please try not to slobber – “ Here, Foggy childishly sticks his doggie-tongue slightly out of his mouth with a quick, irritated sound. Matt laughs, and then continues with the same, giddy smile.
“Okay. So… I got four sets, so there should be enough. And the letters are raised, so I can trace them and know what you wrote.”
While Matt was talking, he was dumbing out the boxes of letters between them, and then pushing them into two piles off to the side – leaving a space directly in front of them both (so Foggy could assemble the letters, he supposes).
Foggy’s looking down at all the blocks. They are good quality, too. Leave it to Matt to get the pricey toys. Now that he’s over the initial embarrassment and humor of the situation, Foggy can’t help but to think that Matt has proven to be ridiculously thoughtful and kind yet again.
Because Matt had mentioned getting an iPad – so that Foggy could type, but thinking about it, he’d run into the same problem as the computer.
He looks up and the collar around his neck jingles as he does so. Matt’s watching him, and somewhere between telling him proudly about the blocks, and Foggy admiring them for a moment, he’d gone a little hesitant and looking unsure of himself. Looking… almost like he’s either afraid of judgment, or he’s awaiting praise, but afraid he’ll get yelled at, instead.
Like he’s worried of what Foggy might think.
Foggy has to try not to look horrified (it’s not hard, he’s still got his dog face) as he realizes something.
Matt wouldn’t be looking like this if he still thought he was ‘just a dog’.
Now that Matt knows (or thinks) Foggy’s of ‘above intelligence’, now he’s worried that Foggy will judge him.
“Like everyone else in his life, probably.” Foggy thinks ruefully.
The guy is amazing. Matt’s smart and talented and he’s handsome and athletic and he’s a hero.
Matt’s the best kind of guy there is, and Foggy would have wanted to try being like him if he was still human. He knows that if ‘Franklin’ and Matt knew each other, he would have probably followed the guy around like a puppy (yea, some things wouldn’t change) wanting to do everything with Matt, just because Matt was so cool and awesome and he’d want to be just like him. ‘Franklin’ would look up to Matt (human Foggy wasn’t that tall, sadly) as a role model, and would want to be his friend.
Foggy’s feeling conflicted. He’s the youngest one, here. Yet there’s that handsome-duck, sitting cross-legged and wide eyed at Foggy like a child who’s desperately hoping to please.
He doesn’t want this kind of affect on someone. Not like this. Matt shouldn’t be looking like that. What happened to Matt, to make him so afraid of rejection? What happened to make him want to keep his distance from everyone but Foggy, a dog?
If he’s too human, Matt might start second-guessing everything he does or says around him.
But Foggy can’t go back as if he’s really just a dumb dog, and all the other things were just coincidence –
Foggy also doesn’t want to go back to before. He wants to tell Matt things. He wants to feel like Matt can confide in him, even if Matt will just trust him because he can’t physically tell any of his secrets.
Foggy can prove Matt wrong. He can prove to Matt that he’s a great guy, and maybe give the obviously amazing person in front of him more confidence in himself.
Matt already says how happy Foggy has made him. How he’s happy that Foggy found him in the park.
Foggy will keep making Matt happy, and then maybe help Matt be happy all on his own.
He’s been frozen too long, he thinks, and nearly curses himself when Matt’s sightless eyes start to look a little panicked.
It breaks Foggy’s heart.
So he makes a decision and finds the blocks he needs.
The grin on Matt’s face is like sunshine, and Foggy thinks he loves the guy.
It’s really too bad Matt doesn’t have any siblings. He’d be the best brother ever.
Foggy didn’t really get the chance. His step mom, Rosalind, left as soon as his dad was diagnosed, and he hadn’t gotten the chance to be a brother to his stepsiblings.
Friend, family… neither of them have any.
So they’ll be each other’s, Foggy decides.
Foggy wiggles a little, his tail wagging and he makes a happy, babbling sound at Matt (because he knows Matt love it when he does that) – then Foggy pushes the words aside and starts to assemble a new one.
It’s not the best way to communicate. There will be no monologues on Foggy’s side –but if Matt’s patient enough, they can work through it.
Q 4 ME
Matt sucks in a breath.
He had spent days trying to think up of questions for his canine friend, as well as ways for Foggy to ‘talk’ to him – besides his babbling and murmuring, that is. Though Matt was actually relieved that it seems like he’ll still make those noises, even with the blocks.
The blocks were something he remembered having as a child. After he had gone blind, and his dad was cleaning out a closet, Matt smelled the wood and paint from the blocks, and he held them in his hands and ran his thumbs and fingers over the letters and numbers – it helped him focus, in the beginning (before Stick). But he supposed it was a little odd for a ten year old to carry around a couple block letters in his pockets and back pack.
They grounded him, and he remembered how well he could feel the letters – after fumbling with the iPads and other tablets, he decided to go with the blocks for Foggy and him.
Besides, it was kind of adorable watching the fuzzy light of the golden retriever search for the right blocks with his muzzle.
Matt can hear the soft jingle of Foggy’s collar, and the whisper of his long, soft fur, and Matt feels his lips quirk at the soft, grumbling noises he makes when he got the wrong block.
The juvenile sentence is before him, finally – if Foggy sitting back and watching him expectantly is any indication, he’s done and waiting for Matt’s response. Matt takes his time running his fingers over the blocks, and he raises his eyebrows again, because Foggy had arranged them so they were facing Matt. Upside-down and backwards, from the canine’s point-of-view.
It just reinforces a few things he already knew of his Foggy. That he was considerate, and also smart.
If Matt had any doubts at all about all this. They are gone now.
There are so many questions he wants to ask, it’s hard to pick one out, and he doesn’t know which ones he should ask first.
He takes a moment to think, and listens to the fast pace of his friend’s heart in front of him.
Apparently he’s taking too long, because Foggy barks sharply at him in annoyance.
All it does is make Matt grin.
“Okay, okay, bossy.” He tries not to grin wider at Foggy’s answering grumble.
Matt quickly choses one – he had looked up ‘basic questions’ and ‘common conversation topics’, so he’d be prepared to ask some of the menial ‘friend questions’.
But suddenly he gets nervous, despite his earlier smugness and just blurts out.
“What’s your favorite color?”
There’s a silence for a moment, and Matt stares at Foggy’s fiery form and feels the dog stare right back.
After another moment, he’s quickly assembling blocks, after using his paw to swipe the others away.
That startles a laugh out of Matt; that’s right, weren’t dogs color-blind?
“Okay, okay… my bad.” The nerves are all gone now, the ice shattered.
So Foggy really is a cheeky thing. Sassy.
Matt loves it.
“Okay then, black or white?” Matt’s grinning mischievously, and feels smug with the annoyed huff that punches out of the dog.
He can’t wait to hear what retort Foggy has to that.
… what a contrary little shit.
Matt dissolves into giggles and Foggy barks and yips happily along with him.
They are sitting on the floor again. This time, Matt’s in his pajamas and he’s drinking one of his favorite craft beers while finishing his slice of mushroom pizza and failing at hiding his nervousness while Foggy noses around for the blocks he’s looking for.
This is the fourth time they’ve done this. That first afternoon didn’t last much longer. Foggy started spelling out different foods and Matt got the hint.
When he jokingly told Foggy this, he found a line of block letters in front of him after he turned to grab the boxes for the blocks.
FINALLY – it had read.
Its not like Matt stops talking to Foggy even though he can’t respond. But after the second ‘block conversation’ they had, he can better imagine what his canine friend might be thinking.
Matt finds himself laughing a little more.
The last ‘block conversation’ they had, Foggy tried asking questions of his own. They were short and Matt could tell from the physiological reactions that his canine friend was getting a little frustrated.
He had seemed to be running out of letters, and Matt couldn’t help but smile at the time, because he already knew Foggy had a lot to say.
Even before he knew that his dog-friend could spell or read or communicate… Foggy was always babbling, grumbling, murmuring, yipping, barking or whining at him.
No one has ever wanted to ‘talk’ so much with Matt before, and he finds that he always loves the attention Foggy gives him.
But this block conversation, Foggy was asking questions, too. Matt had wanted to spend their time tonight asking about Foggy – the types of questions Matt has really wanted to ask the beginning, because their first conversations were mostly about menial things, or gossip about Vanessa’s friends (in which Foggy mentioned how badass Marci was, which Matt didn’t like at all for some reason).
So far tonight’s conversation has been about Matt.
Matt had already told Foggy about his dad, before he really knew that Foggy truly understood, and he just got done answering two questions Foggy had apparently wanted to ask (but couldn’t).
So Matt just finished telling his canine companion about how his mom left when he was really small, so he doesn’t remember her. He tells Foggy that his dad’s murderer was never convicted, and it was part of the reason he had wanted to become a lawyer later on.
He had apparently let a few tears out, because Foggy climbed in his lap and licked his face, then rubbed his soft head along the crook in Matt’s neck.
Then Foggy pulled back and licked his face once more with a reassuring, cheerful yip before turning to the plate of cut up pizza Matt set aside for him. They ate and Matt changed the subject to talk about his Philosophy class, and how one girl made a really stupid argument. He laughed, and Foggy hummed and then babbled before returning to his food.
Now… Matt had just asked (after a brief, contemplative silence), if Foggy had… or has a family.
He wanted to take back that question almost immediately after asking it.
At the quiet noise Foggy makes to bring his attention back to the present, Matt moves and is surprised at the number of blocks. From the amount of time it took his friend to respond, there aren’t nearly enough blocks.
Matt frowns. He suspected as much, but he wonders what ‘gone’ entails.
The second line of blocks threatens to choke him, and squeezes his heart to the point that it hurts.
HAVE U NOW
“Yea…” Matt breathes out, shaky and a little wet with emotion, “Yea, Foggy… you have me.”
Matt’s too busy trying to compose himself, and he must be off in space or something similar, because he feels a wet nose touch the palm of his hand that he didn’t completely pull away after tracing the blocks – Foggy gently takes the sleeve of his long sleeved shirt and pulls it forward slightly to where he had assembled a new row of blocks.
AND U HAVE ME
They spent the rest of that night cuddled into Matt’s bed, Matt clinging to Foggy’s coat like a limpet – all six-foot him, while Foggy quietly watched Mulan (which he asked for, this time, thanks to the blocks).
He lets Matt sniffle and rub his snot and tears into his fur, because Matt needs this, he thinks. Matt didn’t sound like he had enough hugs or cuddling as a kid, and although Foggy didn’t really either, he at least got some from his mom before she disappeared (died, he later found out. Drug overdose).
Foggy knows he has a lot more to learn about Matt, but he has learned enough about Matt to know that he’s broken.
It’s okay, because Foggy’s a little broken too, but he’s always had ways to put himself back together – so he can be Matt’s super-glue. Whatever will make Matt happy, Foggy will do what he can.
His biggest regret right now, is that he can’t hug Matt back like he needs to be. Foggy hopes he finds himself a nice girl or guy that will love him and hold him the way he needs. Sure, Matt won’t need Foggy much after he’s found the love of his life, but he knows Matt won’t ever abandon or forget him. He’ll become a part of whatever family Matt makes –
And he’ll be happy.
Matt wakes up slow, his entire body feeling heavy with exhaustion, like it does after he pushes himself a little too far in his exercises. As awareness creeps back into him, his head is fuzzy and his nose is stuffy and his eyes feel a little swollen. He’s warm all over, almost a little too warm, but it’s so comfy, and he feels so sedated – like he’s drugged.
Taking a deep breath, that’s slightly inhibited by his stuffy nose, Matt smells salt, pizza, beer and his supposedly ‘scentless’ laundry detergent.
But the scent that dominates them all is Foggy and the oatmeal shampoo Matt bathes him in almost every week.
Matt flexes his fingers and the familiar feeling of silky fur glides through them, and he turns his head a little and it catches on a scratchy, starchy material that up-close, smells heavily of dye.
“Need to get Foggy a better collar,” Matt thinks absentmindedly.
In a daze, Matt extracts his limbs from around his canine friend and then trudges over to the bathroom, and the shower helps to clear up his mind a little, helping him feel much better.
Matt doesn’t like crying, but finds that he does cry easily, but to his disdain. Although he didn’t let it all out, last night – instead trying to hold back sobs, and whimpering into Foggy’s fur.
He had never realized just how much he needed to be given those words. Matt has someone. Matt’s not alone.
Matt has Foggy.
And Foggy has Matt, and Matt will be the best friend and family for his dog – because Foggy is good, and funny and friendly and sweet and just an amazing pers-
Foggy is not a person.
That’s what made Matt cry, last night – because if the world had more people like his dog, then it would be a much brighter place.
So. Apparently it’s almost Valentines Day – so Foggy missed his own birthday like, two weeks ago.
He ruefully thinks, as he sits primly next to Matt in his Philosophy class (he brought Foggy today because Matt’s afraid he’ll fall asleep, so he’s supposed to help keep Matt awake when he nods off).
Foggy doesn’t think people would be so rude to a blind guy, but he’s been proven wrong quite a few times already this year. It’s kind of horrible.
Anyways, it’s difficult to keep track of the days and the dates when, first of all, you live with a blind guy – which, Foggy has made a mental list of questions regarding Matt’s ability to… well… do back flips and remarkable things – but still a blind guy who has no use for menial things like calendars. It’s all on his laptop, and while Foggy can sometimes hear what’s being read to Matt through his little headphones, it’s not like he’s always checking the date.
So, Foggy (Franklin) missed his sixteenth birthday, and even though he’s given up on his entire past as ‘Franklin “Frankie” Nelson’ in his mind, little things here and there will pop into his conscious thoughts – he deals with them, and they don’t really hurt much.
He was kind of prepared to be completely alone and starting out fresh anyways.
Just didn’t know he’d be an entirely different species when he did.
Even though Foggy is not longer ‘Franklin’, and will erase most of his prior existence in his head that he can (it’s easier that way, and even as ‘Franklin’ he chose to ‘forgive and forget’) – Foggy will still be… well… him.
So he’ll let himself feel bad for a day, and then he’ll be over it, and then he’ll forget altogether.
Maybe it would be best to just… not ‘remember’ his birthday, or not to go out of his way this time next year to desperately pay attention to the dates. Just let the days wash over him.
It’s not like he’s got places to be or people to see unless he’s with Matt – and he’s kind of okay with that. Maybe if he reaches deep down, he’s upset about the life he lost, but if he is, it’s not that strong of a feeling – and isn’t that a little telling?
And… oh. Matt’s asleep.
He makes a low, grumbling noise and nudges Matt a little bit. Foggy kind of wants to let him sleep, he was up all night last night unable to rest for more than two hours here and there. Foggy had to re-deploy his tactic of basically smothering the guy before he eventually fell asleep; and that almost didn’t work.
Matt had a haunted look on his face, and his hands were twitching like he wanted to hit something, like he was fighting a battle with himself.
Yet another reason why he’s really looking forward to their next ‘block conversation’, because Foggy is really curious to learn if Matt’s hearing is better than he thinks it is. Foggy can hear certain… activities from their neighbors about three doors down, along with their absolutely ridiculous fights – then Matt will mutter something under his breath about something they said, or something along the lines of ‘really, sex at ten in the morning?’
Foggy knows that when you lose one sense the others get stronger, but hearing your neighbors three doors down (and across the hall, thank you), is a bit of a huge stretch.
His working theory is the accident from Matt’s childhood. The one Foggy wrote an essay about, The truck had toxic or nuclear waste or something like that.
Hell. Matt’s probably a real super hero!
Or he can be. At least he has super abilities.
Foggy wants to know, and he hopes Matt will tell him (and tell the truth).
Matt’s still asleep and actually making little snoring noises with his mouth, which is turned towards Foggy, his cheek plastered to his desk – the professor is walking through the rows, and she’ll be at theirs, soon.
So Foggy rises on his hind legs, enough so he licks Matt’s face.
Part of his tongue actually goes into Matt’s mouth, and they both splutter (Matt’s flailing is a tiny bit less dignified, because he nearly overbalances and falls off the chair).
Foggy does the mature thing – he lies down and immediately cover his face with his paws while almost holding back a pathetic, embarrassed whine.
It’s not the best hiding tactic, but he’s limited in his options since he’s tied to Matt’s chair.
Only the people sitting behind them notice, and they snicker quietly. He knows Matt is probably blushing and scowling at him from his seat (now that he’s not falling out of it)…
So Foggy’s just going to stay hidden under his paws and away from Matt’s probably-angry glare.
But then a wet, smacking noise catches his attention, the sound coming from Matt. So he slides his right paw just enough off his face to peek up at Matt, whose mouth smacks one more time, and then his hand presses over it and his entire face and neck are red.
Haha. That’s kinda funny, actually.
However, Matt knows now that Foggy’s not ‘just a dog’, so there’ll probably be pay-back later (even though Matt did ask for Foggy to wake him up, it’s not his fault he had to resort to a face-lick that… ugh, it was an accident!).
Foggy smacks his own lips twice, mimicking Matt, and registering the taste of bitter coffee and toothpaste.
He makes a face.
Whatever Foggy’s mouth tastes like to Matt, it’s got to be better than that. Foggy had peanut butter toast for breakfast with water.
Everyone loves peanut butter.
Foggy never really liked coffee unless it was with his milk and some kind of syrup, but he idly thinks it kind of suits Matt. It’s a strong flavor, but also tastes of coffee shops and early mornings and reminds him of a sleep-rumpled Matt with funny hair.
Well, Foggy likes the smell, anyways. Matt could do with a little sugar in his black coffee; his mouth tasted like he was chewing coffee beans before brushing his teeth.
He peeks up again and notices that Matt’s still covering his mouth, looking mortified and red in the face.
The guy is such a neat-freak, he’s probably freaking out about cuties and dog-germs, which makes sense (Foggy is a dog, he thinks ruefully) – but…
Matt’s reaction is really freaking funny, Foggy wishes he could laugh.
Suddenly Matt turns his head a little to face him and Foggy quickly hides back under his paws until class is over.
It’s a Wednesday night in early March and it’s still very cold outside. Even though the snow is nearly gone.
Next week will be the last ‘midterm week’ of his time as an undergrad, and to desperately bring up his grade from the struggles he had last semester following the absence of Foggy, he’s been up late studying over the last two weeks.
Tonight however, he had unintentionally fallen asleep with a new novel. Matt doesn’t know how much time he was asleep for when he slowly starts to rouse back into consciousness when something is removed from his hands.
He’s still floating between consciousness and sleep, too tired to open his eyes, as he hears the tinkling of Foggy’s collar and dog tag, the sound like a gentle bell. Eyes still closed and breathing deep and even, Matt relaxes to the sounds of Foggy moving about the dorm. As his mind floats comfortably, he tries to ignore the slight chill in the room, and the sudden feeling of being exposed and vulnerable. He feels himself frown in discomfort, but Matt’s too exhausted to move.
Suddenly, Matt registers a movement near the foot of his bed. A soft whine and huff of exertion that’s followed by more movement as something heavy and warm – blanket – is being pulled over his legs and up to his shoulder. Matt’s eyebrows furrow in confusion, and he wonders if he’s dreaming, because his mind is still fuzzy, despite the curl of discomfort in his belly.
But with each inch the blanket covers, Matt feels just a little bit more at ease as it offers a barrier against the chill – when the cover drops on his shoulder, his ear and cheek is instantly warmed with a soft breath. Matt’s nostrils flare as he inhales, realizing that the large, fleece blanket covering him is non-other than the one he had given to Foggy for Christmas. The one that’s been folded up in Foggy’s dog bed at the foot of Matt’s desk, and the one Foggy lies on every day while Matt does his homework, his bare toes tucked into his companion’s fur while he dozes.
Matt is a little more awake and clear-thinking now, but he dares not move. He instead listens as Foggy huffs, and feels the retriever shuffle a bit behind him, and Matt silently hopes that Foggy lies down because the blanket is warm, but Foggy is even warmer.
He still feels a little bereft and vulnerable, and it’s silly, but doesn’t make the feeling any less present.
Then Matt’s breath hitches in his throat when he feels Foggy behind him, kneading at the blanket with his paws behind his back.
For the second time tonight, he furrows his brows, wondering what on earth the weird dog is doing. Matt’s wide-awake now, but he feigns unconsciousness because he’s curious as to what his dog is doing.
As Foggy continues, starting just behind Matt’s shoulders to the small of his back, and then, when Matt feels Foggy squeeze against the wall to step around him – he blushes furiously when he feels Foggy’s paws move to knead the blanket under his backside.
Unconsciously, one of his hands had come up to cover his mouth as his face warms in embarrassment, though thankfully, Foggy doesn’t linger there. In fact, the retriever seems to quickly move on to pawing at the back of Matt’s knees, and then his feet.
Matt feels the retriever stand over him, and gingerly step up and down on the large blanket in front of Matt; this time starting at his feet and then at his waist and then he quickly and carefully steps twice on the blanket in front of Matt’s chest, where his arms are already tucked tight against him.
Matt just now figures out what Foggy is doing.
He’s tucking him in.
Matt feels choked at the realization, and he swallows thickly around the lump in his throat and the stinging in his eyes. He hates how easily he is moved to tears these days, but he just can’t help himself. Somehow, Foggy just knows exactly what Matt needs.
Foggy is too sweet. So good.
Matt feels not unlike a child again, when he felt small and scared, and like the world was too big. When he felt weightless and adrift in his newfound darkness, only feeling tethered when his dad pulled him against his chest and held him there while Matt caught his breath before getting up again to tuck Matt securely into bed.
It felt like a warm embrace: safe and secure.
He has that feeling now, tucked in tightly by the blanket his dog had kneaded under him. Matt holds his breath as Foggy steps over him again, squeezing himself between Matt’s back and the wall.
Matt hears Foggy move, and then there’s a soft breath at the back of his neck, and the warm flick of Foggy’s tongue. A near-silent murmur from the retriever, that Matt chooses to interpret as ‘good night’.
Then Foggy’s breathing evens out into sleep.
He takes a few, shaky breaths, then smiles through his unshed tears. Matt wants to turn around to pull Foggy into his arms, because while he feels more secure and delightfully warm, his arms feel empty now, having gotten used to Foggy being there since the holidays.
Matt carefully slips his arms out from the blanket, just enough to tuck his extra pillow underneath. Then he pulls the blanket back in, effectively redoing Foggy’s work, but now at least he has something to hold on to.
He doesn’t know why he feels so small tonight.
The pillow doesn’t work.
So Matt carefully turns in place, and pulls at the part of the blanket that’s separating him from Foggy.
With the blanket in his right hand, and his left is holding onto the part of the blanket that’s tucked behind him, he reaches over and around Foggy, and then manhandles the canine into his arms.
Foggy wiggles a little and grumbles, but he lets Matt move him. Once Matt is satisfied, he sighs and nuzzles the softest of Foggy’s fur, just behind his fluffy ear. He places two kisses on the back of Foggy’s head and then lets himself settle once more, and fall into a dreamless sleep.
It’s Saturday and Matt is allowing himself to take the day off in preparation for midterms that start on Monday. He’s attempting to finish the novel he had started Wednesday night, when Foggy yawns loudly as he drapes himself further into Matt’s blanket-covered lap, and shoving the book in his grasp out of the way.
Matt can’t help but smile as he readjusts his book to be propped up by the body in his lap, using his free hand to thread long fingers through Foggy’s fur while reading with the other.
Foggy wasn’t prone to taking afternoon naps, but Matt had been feeling energetic that morning, wanting to spend some one-on-one time with Fog after realizing that he hadn’t really had the opportunity to do anything with his canine friend for a few days (and will most likely be too busy all week next week with midterms).
So he dragged the yawning golden retriever down to Fogwell’s, where he listened to Foggy slowly wake up while blearily watching Matt go through his workout regimen.
Then, Matt had stopped by their usual café for breakfast, and left with an extra order of turkey bacon and sausage for Foggy and fed him a few pieces while they walked back to the dorm. After Matt showered and changed, Foggy coerced Matt into taking him to the park via block-messaging.
Once there, Matt spent nearly an hour chasing the bouncy retriever around until the park got too crowded, so he had to take his cane back out and re-hook the golden retriever to his leash before taking the long way back to the dorm. Matt smiles when he recalls the mental image of Foggy bounding through the freshly-cut grass of the park, and tail wagging like mad, mirroring his fluttering heartbeat, after darting through a flock of pigeons.
He chuckles quietly to himself at the memory. It was quite cute, how excited Foggy had gotten, and how he barked hysterically at the birds that were just a tad too brave to flee from him.
Matt realizes quickly that he’s really only skimming the material, his mind too calm and his body too relaxed to muster up any more brainpower for concentration. Matt gives up on his homework and sets the offending book aside. Instead, he sighs and pulls up another pillow to lean back comfortably, trying his best not to disturb the retriever in his lap. He slides a forearm under Foggy’s head and buries itself into the soft, thick fluff of fur on his chest.
He closes his eyes, relaxing slowly into the pillows behind him. Warm and comfortable, Matt decides he’ll just rest a bit until Foggy wakes up.
It’s the first day of Matt’s spring break and they are at the park, because what else can a blind man and his adorably fluffy dog do?
Foggy pants and yips happily as he bounds through the fresh grass after the stupidly squeaky ball Matt threw ridiculously far.
A part of him can’t help but to find it curious how, while throwing blind, Matt still manages to not hit any unsuspecting bystanders, or from throwing it up into a tree.
It’s a thought he has here and there, because he’s realized Matt’s pretty awesome anyways and probably has super powers because no one is that cool.
But then Matt’s also kind of (completely) a dork, too – so Foggy thinks that balances Matt out.
As he slows to an abrupt stop, putting his nose to the ground to find the stupid rubber ball, Foggy looks over his shoulder and sees Matt in the distance, walking slowly in his direction, face eerily facing him where he’s sniffing around for the ball.
He remembers learning back in middle school about ‘echolocation’ and how some mammals can click their tongue or shout and pick up a picture of their surroundings. So basically, Foggy thinks that Matt is kinda like a dolphin or bat… or whatever.
Foggy mentally sighs. If only Matt heard some of the funny things that his ‘dog’ thought about him… then maybe he’d be able to get the older boy to laugh more often.
Ah-HA! Found you, you little dickens!
Foggy grins, letting his fluffy tail sway happily behind him as he leans down to pick up his ball.
Foggy doesn’t race back to Matt, because he’s got his ball in his mouth and he’s not about to drool all over it (or accidently choke on it) – instead he slows to a happy trot, already knowing that Matt is patiently waiting for him not too far away.
Well, maybe not so patiently. He gets the feeling that Matt’s still afraid that one day he’ll keep running and never come back (as if), but Matt doesn’t know that (he should).
Maybe that’s something he can tell Matt in their next toy-block conversation.
Foggy now has Matt in his sights, and he realizes that his tail is wagging faster when he sees him. Matt must notice, because Matt gives him a stupidly adorable, boyish smile, and it lights up the guy's face like the sun.
Gawd. My poor, little doggie-heart can't take this, dammit!
So he's giddy and happy and decides to just go with the feeling, whining happily and wagging his tail faster, wiggling impatiently as Matt drops to his knees and reaches out for Foggy, laughing.
"Good boy, Foggy."
His voice is soft and quiet and so fond, that Foggy's heart balloons inside his chest as he babbles at Matt after surrendering the semi-dry bouncy ball. (He did try not to drool too much, but it was kinda warm outside).
Foggy is so focused on entertaining Matt with his doggy-antics (which he knows are absolutely adorable and distracting to everyone), that he doesn't notice that they are being approached.
Matt is grinning and laughing at Foggy, whom he can tell is wiggling happily as he whines and makes a bunch of nonsensical noises at him. The dog is so expressive, and Matt's grateful for it, because it means he makes enough noise and movements that he's able to build a pretty good image of his canine friend.
That, and because it’s absolutely adorable, and Matt never thought he’d think that about anything.
Unfortunately, he's so focused on Foggy's noises, the sharp scents of new grass and the feel of Foggy's soft, sun-warmed fur, that he jerks when a hesitant, female voice speaks from above them.
Matt removes his hands from Foggy's shoulders and straightens from his crouch.
"Yes? Can I help you?"
He can't help but notice how his voice is genuinely happy and polite, even though he's often bothered when people (mostly girls) stop him and Foggy when they are out in public.
But Matt is relaxed, and he doesn't have Foggy on his leash, and they don't have anywhere to be the rest of the day, so he's in a good mood to indulge.
"Do you want to pet him?" Matt offers, because the girl has fallen quiet. The wind blows, and Matt pays attention this time to his surroundings, taking advantage of the extra input from the chilly spring air. He senses another female approaching them, about thirty or so feet away, seemingly chasing after the girl.
"Sammy! Why'd you run off? We were waiting for you!" The girl by him, 'Sammy', carelessly throws a hand over her shoulder, waving her friend off, not taking her eyes off of Foggy.
"Um... Are you okay?" Matt asks wearily, because despite all his abilities, he still can't get a decent indication of the girl's facial expression.
He can only hear her heartbeat, and it's anxious.
Wordlessly, the girl falls to her knees, and Matt's not supposed to know that, he's blind. But he reacts anyways, because she reaches right for Foggy's face. Matt's already a little anxious now, and when he hones in on the girl and his dog, and he hears Foggy's heart speed up, his anxiety triples.
She’s not hurting Foggy, but Matt really doesn’t like other people reaching for his friend without some kind of permission or warning. It always makes Foggy nervous, and by proxy, Matt.
His grip tightens on the folded up cane in his hand. "Excuse me, but..." Matt stops when he hears the girl's friend approach.
"Hi, hi..." He thinks the girls talking to him, and he opens his mouth to say something, but she continues, "Oh... um, sorry. I..." Matt gets the feeling she's biting her lip. A normal reaction when people suddenly realize he's blind after they've already spoken or approached him.
"It's fine... your friend...?" Matt gestures to the girl still holding Foggy's face captive in her hands. He thinks he’s scowling, but then he doesn’t care much, because he’s irritated.
"Ah! Yes, yes... I'm... I'm sorry, um... Sam." The nameless girl stresses her friend's name, obviously trying to get her attention. But a second later she makes a breathless sound and whispers.
"Sam...? What's -"
The girl moves one hand from holding Foggy's face, and moves it forward, along Foggy's flank, and the retriever Matt tilts his head to ‘glance’ at Foggy, so he sees how all the muscles in his canine body tense at once, and his heart trips. Matt bites his lip and a small, frustrated growl rumbles in his throat when Foggy shuffles a little, gently moving away from the probing hand at his side.
She sucks in a sharp breath of surprise when her fingers find and trace along the raised skin under Foggy's fur.
Foggy whines softly. Just once.
It's short, quick, and it sounds lodged in his throat. For the first time in a while, he's genuinely irritated that he can't read the situation right now. Then he's able to pick up a watery sniffle and a sharp breath from the girl kneeling in front of Foggy. He can't smell the saline, but he believes she's tearing up...
A horrible thought grips his heart and steals his breath away.
No... what if -
Matt nearly misses what happens next, because his heart seizes in his chest, and everything is suddenly too much.
"Sam!" The friend's voice is firmer and louder, but Matt is struggling to 'see' what's around him over the sound of his own heart pounding away in his chest.
"It's you." The girl leans forward and hugs Foggy, wrapping her thin arms around his neck and Foggy is no longer tense and nervous, but his heartbeat is still anxious.
Matt struggles to breath around the emotions choking him.
Hair brushes against cloth as she turns her head to look up at her friend at her side. "Hannah, it's him!"
Her voice is happy, a little excited and breathless, and Matt feels like he's going to be sick. Dread and sadness and fear slam into him and he feels his eyes burning, and he is distantly aware that his hands are shaking.
Foggy said he had no family. Foggy couldn’t have had someone before Matt. Foggy said Matt is the only one. Matt’s his family…
But then… Foggy is such a good dog, always friendly and never once had an accident and oh god he must have been with someone before Matt –
"That's... shit, Sam, stand up. You're freaking him out! Poor guy!" The girl's voice sounds a little rushed and panicked, but Matt can't pick up anything other than that as he tries to pull himself together.
Matt hears the girls' voices but they sound distant, like he's hearing them at the end of a tunnel, and he can't register the words.
Foggy makes a sharp, alarmed sound, and it pierces through his muddled senses and the blurring of his mind because no matter how distressed, he's become so in tune with Foggy and oh god his owner has come for him. Matt feels his body tremble all over and he’s going to leave me and I'll be alone -
Suddenly a warm tongue licks at his trembling hand, and Matt jerks in surprise and gasps like he just emerged from underwater. It takes a moment, but with the solid feel of Foggy pressing against his legs, and a wet nose nudging his hand until it unconsciously threads through the scruff at the back of the dog's neck and anchors itself there.
Matt starts to come back to himself, pulling away from the edge of hysteria. In mere seconds, he's able to start picking apart his surroundings as he settles back into himself.
He can't remove his fist from Foggy's fur. Foggy whines sadly and presses himself closer to Matt's legs, paws nearly on top of Matt's feet.
It's the worried whine and Foggy's physical proximity to him that draws Matt completely back, and makes him square his shoulders, and he quickly tries to rationalize the thoughts charging through his head to get himself back in check.
When Matt’s thoughts get like this, he tries to summon his inner lawyer, and starts working out the facts through his head.
Foggy is a smart dog. If he had wanted to go back to this girl, he would have found a way to do it by now. If he's choosing to stay with Matt over this girl, there's a reason, and Matt will fight her tooth-and-nail for Foggy.
If there’s any question as to the ownership of Foggy, Matt already had him chipped and registered.
Even though he got Foggy from the streets, even if he belonged to someone else, there was no proof of that.
She can’t take Foggy away. Foggy’s his now, by law.
Lastly, and the most important (to Matt), was that even if Foggy belonged to someone else first, he's Matt's now.
Foggy chose Matt.
He has nothing to be afraid of, and his anxiety attack was not warranted.
Panic gone, rationalized away by his innate lawyer and the comfort of Foggy leaning against him, Matt's about to speak up when he realizes that both girls are apologizing profusely to him, and both seem panicked.
"Shit… Are you okay? Can you hear us now?" Matt is vaguely aware that he's nods, a little jerkily.
Still rattled and stressed.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't - I didn't mean to do that! I didn't realize you were blind and that he was working and – ”
The girl... Sam, the one that had touched Foggy, sounds panicked and remorseful and sincere.
Matt can't really hear or distinguish her heartbeat over his own - he's too rattled and unsettled, still - dammit! Matt hisses at himself in his mind, his grip in Foggy's fur tightening.
"What do you want."
His words are sharp, and he doesn't bother to hide his anger, but it doesn't do anything to dissuade the two females before him, so he thinks he still looks shaken.
"Shit. Nothing, I... I just..." She takes a fortifying breath, and Matt braces himself for the worst. "I had been looking for him... I... I had been worried because -"
Matt purses his lips and tries not to grind his teeth. Even though Matt's prepared for it, doesn't mean it hurts less to think that there’s a slim chance Foggy will be taken from him, and he feels his heart grow heavy and his throat start to close.
" Sam, you are worrying him." Matt breathes and steadies himself. Cursing himself mentally at being so obvious. Stick would be kicking his ass and laughing cruelly at him if he saw Matt right now.
He can hear her hair, like a whip when she turns sharply to face him (ponytail), his mind automatically supplies.
"Right. Again... sorry... it's just... your dog... he... well... he got hurt, a while ago.” Matt blinks, startled out of his swirling thoughts.
“It was bad, and - I just thought." Matt's breath catches for a different reason now, but part of him has hope that he completely misread the situation.
Matt purses his lips and waits patiently for her to continue, still allowing Foggy to anchor him.
She takes a fortifying breath and exhales a little shakily. He hears her friend drop a supportive hand on her shoulder.
"Your dog," Matt senses her jerking her chin down at Foggy, who lifts his head to watch her, "he... I was..." Her voice starts to shake, but he can't help it when his entire body relaxes and relief floods him at her repetition of your dog.
Foggy's his dog.
Foggy is his. He’s Matt’s.
She's not taking Foggy away.
Matt wants to cry for a completely different reason now. The relief after that surge of panic is overwhelming.
He wants to go home with Foggy.
But he still has an audience.
So he stays to listen.
"Sam, you don't have to -"
"No. I do." Her voice is firm and decisive, and Foggy makes a whining noise at his feet and then murmurs. The dog leans forward, towards the girl for a moment, but only slightly, because Matt's hand on his scruff tightens again.
"What do you need to say?" Matt tries to keep his tone level. A little distressed at how Foggy seemed concerned about the girl.
“Your dog saved my life.”
He shakily agrees to coffee with the two girls so that Sam could tell him her story.
Foggy is oddly silent and subdued the rest of the afternoon.
Matt closes the door behind him after Foggy trots into the room, and leans against it for a moment.
He had never thought he would ever know what happened to Foggy that day he jogged up to Matt in the park with a limp, and with blood and dirt caked on his side.
The wound that, despite Matt’s best care and efforts at the time, was never properly cleaned and treated because he hadn’t tried to bring Foggy home sooner.
It will always be something that he regrets.
That wound had gotten infected, and then Foggy got sick. Then he got sicker and then he almost died.
Matt will never forgive himself for allowing that to happen, but knowing the story behind the wound that had almost sealed his friend’s fate was nothing short of disconcerting.
From what she had solemnly recounted to Matt, she had been upset and not paying attention when two men dragged her into an alley. Foggy’s intervention gave her the opportunity to run, but not before she saw Foggy growl and bleed, blue eyes fierce and flashing.
“I will never forget it.”
There was such reverence and awe in her voice, that he could no longer feel threatened by her taking his friend away, or be upset by the way her hands kept finding their way to Foggy’s fur as they spoke.
It was humbling to realize that Foggy had that affect on someone other than him, but he felt comforted and secure in his place each time the retriever nudged or licked his hand in reassurance. Foggy gravitated towards him, despite turning his head to occasionally allow the girls to pet him.
Still, Matt avoided making plans to meet up with them in the future. He didn’t like the way he sensed Sam eyeing Foggy, and Matt knows he’s being selfish, but he doesn’t want to share Foggy with anyone.
Not even a little.
He just wants to curl up with his friend and hold him until he’s certain Foggy’s never going to leave him, or get himself in a dangerous situation like that, ever again.
Forcing a calming breath out through his nose, he decides a warm shower is just what he needs to clear his head.
Matt doesn’t sense the retriever’s concerned gaze as he walks across the room, disrobing before shutting the bathroom door behind him.
Foggy’s a little worried about Matt.
Once they reach the dorm room (home, Foggy’s mind supplies), Matt carelessly strips down, leaving his clothes where they fall on the carpet as he trudges into the bathroom and shuts the door.
He’s been eerily quiet (even for Matt) during their walk back from coffee with the girl Foggy saved months ago; Sam, was her name. Foggy was only half paying attention to the conversation, too busy worrying about Matt.
Besides, it’s not like he really needed to hear the details.
He had been there.
Honestly? He didn’t even really realize who the girl was while she had been holding his face and staring at him like he was her hero (which, well … huh. how about that?) – that is, until she ran her hand along the knife-scar at his side.
Foggy had never attached a scent to her because she had reeked of fear and adrenaline (and he still thought it was weird how he could smell emotions sometimes).
Part of him feels that he’s being too presumptuous, thinking Matt was worried about Foggy being taken away from him. But that’s just silly.
He tries to see things from Matt’s point of view, and thinks he fails. Whatever it was that freaked Matt out, though, was bad.
Damn. Matt needs so many hugs. It’s not even funny.
Foggy frowns mentally, and grunts a little in exasperation before he moves to pick up Matt’s clothes from the floor to put them in the hamper.
Then he waits patiently for Matt to come out of the shower. The guy will get into the PJs Foggy set on the bed for him, and then Foggy will make him sit his ass on the floor like he’s in kindergarten while Foggy plays with his blocks.
He drags the large bin into the center of the room and plops his furry ass down beside it.
Foggy starts to sort some of the letters when he realizes that Matt’s going to take longer than usual.
Matt can hear Foggy in the bedroom moving about as he picks up after Matt, and it makes him smile a little bit, because how many people get mothered by their dog. He huffs out an amused breath and scrubs his scentless shampoo through his hair.
He bites his lip when he hears Foggy dragging the box of blocks across the carpet.
Smiling ruefully, Matt shakes his head and finishes his shower, trying not to linger more than necessary.
After brushing his teeth and wrapping a towel around his waist, he re-enters the bedroom.
Foggy is still sitting on the ground with his back to Matt, so when he hears him open the door Foggy twists around to see him. His friend makes a murmuring noise and jerks his head over to Matt’s bed, the motion making his ears flop a little.
He smiles and makes his way across the room and over to his bed. Matt’s assuming there is a set of clean night clothes near the end of the mattress, because he can smell the gentle scent of detergent and pick up the slight lump that the clothing makes apart from the neatly-made bed from air coming through the slightly cracked window.
Matt tentatively feels around for them and smiles when he finds them.
“Taking care of me, Foggy?” He murmurs softly to himself, but knows that Foggy hears him because he’s answered with a happy, affirmative yip.
Matt hears Foggy turn around while he changes, going over to drink from his water bowl, and Matt hears as his canine companion tries to sneak a piece of jerky from the bag Matt has in his back pack.
He grins to himself, and bites his lip to stop from laughing when he hears Foggy try to move carefully so his collar won’t jingle, nearly crawling across the floor. Matt leaves his shirt on the bed after pulling on his briefs and pants (seriously, Foggy is too cute sometimes), and instead decides to sneak up on his friend.
Matt knows he’s got to be grinning boyishly when he carefully gets on his hands and knees and crawls closer to the crouched dog, who’s trying to pull the jerky from his open backpack without making the bag crinkle.
He’s actually doing a pretty good job at it, and Matt’s more than a bit impressed. Foggy would probably have been able to get away with it, if Matt didn’t have such enhanced hearing.
Matt’s giddy when he shuffles under the desk just a little, so his head’s close to Foggy’s, but not close enough for the canine to hear him (or accidently hit him) should he startle in surprise.
Matt knows the moment Foggy has caught on, because he freezes with the bag about a quarter of the way out of his backpack, his ears perking up along with his heartbeat.
“You think you’re being sneaky, don’t you.” Matt’s voice is low and teasing, and he accidentally snorts gently as he fails to hold back a laugh when Foggy’s shoulders hunch forward a bit, and his ears pin against his skull.
He loses himself to giggles (manly giggles, thank you), when Foggy lets out a really pathetic, disappointed whine, and lets go of the jerky bag.
Matt’s shaking with laughter when Foggy shuffles backwards on his stomach out from under the desk. Grumbling the entire way at Matt. Matt grins after catching his breath and pulling himself out from under the desk, but not before grabbing the bag of jerky.
“For your efforts, you little thief.” Matt teases, and picks out the biggest piece of jerky from the bag and holds it out to Foggy. His grin widens when he can sense Foggy looking at him dubiously.
Foggy’s suspicious, because last time Matt did this, he caught the retriever in a headlock and gave him a noogie.
He’s so planning on doing it again, but he’s trying to send a bunch of non-threatening, innocent vibes out to his adorable dog.
But the dog’s faster (and smarter) than Matt gives him credit for, because a split-second later, The jerky is out of his hands and Foggy’s already walking away from him.
Matt sits back on his heels for a second, stunned.
Foggy stops chewing to wag his tail, and Matt hears the familiar wet sound that Foggy’s mouth makes whenever he sticks out his tongue, only this time the scent in the air is tinged with teriyaki and jerky.
Matt struggles to his feet and takes the five steps across the room to kneel down beside his dog. He pushes himself back a little and leans against his bed, crossing his arms across his chest.
“You are such a little shit, you know that?” It’s a caustic line, but Matt always says if with such fondness and amusement, that it’s turned into an endearment at this point – also he can’t keep the grin and the laughter out of his voice, dammit.
Foggy’s response is making a humming noise and continuing to wag his tail as he finishes gnawing on his treat.
Matt huffs a laugh and watches the retriever in front of him fondly, the increasingly familiar, happy feeling back in his chest, replacing the concern and uncertainty caused by the afternoon.
He still smiles when the realization comes to him. Matt knows that Foggy knows, that he could just have asked for the jerky from Matt’s bag using the blocks… and that he would have given some to him.
This comprehension comes to him after the fact, but it only makes Matt feel more settled and warmer, because Foggy had done it, hoping that he’d get Matt to loosen up.
He grins when a teriyaki-scented breath huffs over his face, and licks his cheek.
Matt laughs and gently pushes Foggy away when he starts to push back against Matt to dart more licks to his face. In seconds, Matt feels completely better. Happier. Lighter.
When Foggy backs away, yipping happily at him and wagginf his tail, Matt moves to his knees, intent on roughhousing some more with Foggy, when he accidently nudges the box of blocks.
Both instinctively turn at the clacking sound of the wooden blocks, as some fall out of the bin. Then Matt is able to sense that his friend had already sorted a few blocks away from the collective bin, and Matt sobers just a little.
When he turns his face towards his friend, Foggy’s heat is settled in a sitting position. His muscles are relaxed, but he’s sitting up and his heart is still a tiny bit accelerated from the excitement.
Matt ‘watches’ Foggy, as the dog carefully observes him. Then, as if Foggy thinks Matt can see him, his friend comically tilts his head to the side. Matt mimics the motion, because he’s just happy, and it’s fun to mess with Foggy sometimes. Even though he’s expecting the affronted bark, Matt still has a laugh startled out of him.
Foggy sees Matt take a calming breath and relax back against the bed, stretching out his ridiculously long legs in front of him. The dork then nudges Foggy’s chest with his foot, and he wishes Matt could see the unimpressed look on his face. Nevertheless, he moves to the side a little bit, so that Matt and his gangly (strong, lean and lovely) legs can settle more comfortably.
He watches as Matt sighs and thumps his head back against the bed behind him, his sightless chocolate brown eyes staring at nothing. Foggy waits for Matt to break the silence (for obvious reasons). He must have gotten the impression that Foggy wanted to ‘talk’ about that afternoon.
Foggy will call Matt Murdock on his bullshit if he insists otherwise.
Which he will, because it’s Matt.
Stupid, beautiful, handsome wounded-duck Matt.
After what feels like a while, which was probably just two minutes, Matt finally speaks.
“So. That’s how you got hurt?”
Foggy looks at Matt for a moment before pawing at a block with the letter “Y”, and rolling it towards Matt. He doesn’t bother with the other two letters.
Matt just nods his head because he already knew the answer. Matt sheepishly picks up the block and fumbles it in his hands.
He makes a whining noise in the back of his throat when Matt doesn’t say or do anything other thank looking more and more stormy.
Foggy sighs through his nose when he sees Matt’s face scrunch even further. He pulls out a few of the blocks from the pile he had set aside, and using his mouth he organizes the blocks in order.
When he’s done, Foggy looks up at Matt and sees that his large, brown eyes are fixed just off of the wooden block he’s toying with nervously. He’s already standing in front of Matt, and Foggy doesn’t really know what’s bothering his handsome duck, though he doesn’t think that Matt even knows what’s wrong, either.
Carefully, Foggy leans forward and licks once at the back of Matt’s hand, effectively stopping their fidgeting for a moment so he can gently take the block from the Matt’s hand. He has his eyes on Matt the whole time, and even though he’s blind, Foggy finds that Matt’s eyes are still terribly expressive.
He gently takes Matt’s wrist and steps backwards carefully and letting go before he sits down. Matt pulls in his legs back and sitting forward, he tucks them under himself and runs his long fingers over the letters.
Matt doesn’t answer as he sits back and shuffles around for a moment, and Foggy watches him carefully.
“Yes, Foggy. I’m okay.”
Oh my god, that smile is a train-wreck.
And Foggy’s gotta fix it.
So he moves around for some more blocks and re-assembles them.
AND IM A CAT
That startles a half-hearted laugh out of Matt.
It’s super sad how easily Matt can drag himself down.
Good thing he has Franklin, now – well, Foggy… but… yea.
Matt collects the blocks and sets them aside to scoot himself closer to Foggy, who stays still and just continues to watch Matt closely.
Even though he sees it coming, he still blinks at the blind man in surprise when Matt carefully traces his face through Foggy’s fur up to his ears. Foggy sits patiently while Matt does this, knowing that this is something that Matt needs, for whatever reason.
Besides, the serene look that falls over Matt’s face takes his breath away. Matt’s holding his face again and is now rubbing his palms in circles over his cheeks, long fingers gently scratching just behind Foggy’s ears and he’s in heaven.
After a moment, Matt stops his ministrations but still holds Foggy's face captive.
If he weren’t a dog this would be very awkward, he imagines.
Regardless, he keeps his blue eyes trained on Matt’s deep, hazel-brown ones… and away from his very toned and naked chest (yes, this is a moment, but Franklin is a dog, not dead).
Foggy inhales quickly when he hears Matt's tentative voice. His tone is soft and concerned, when he speaks.
"Were you scared?"
Foggy looks at Matt's eyes again and he thinks back to that night. How he hadn't felt his fear, at first. It was just fight or flight, and when Foggy felt he could no longer fight, he ran.
Honestly, he wished he could have run to Matt.
He doesn't know what else Matt expects him to say. Of course he was afraid. But he wasn't going to let anyone get hurt if he could help. All he needed was to distract them, but he had been stupid.
If he hadn't been a dog... the entire night would have turned out completely different.
Sure, Foggy wouldn't have had blood and flesh in his mouth that wasn't his, but he also wouldn't have been able to fight and get away as easily. He wouldn't have had sharp teeth, better agility, or have had a size advantage for dodging.
He could have ended up gutted and possibly raped right along next to the girl... to Sam.
Foggy isn't aware that he whines in the back of his throat before leaning forward to lick at Matt's cheek.
Yea. He was scared.
"Oh Foggy." Matt sighs and pulls him closer.
He lets the man coo and pet him, even though he already did that for him months ago - but Foggy knows that Matt needs this, for whatever reason.
And maybe he needs it, too.
Because Foggy doesn't think anyone other than Señora Cardenas or his father (before he started losing his mind to cancer) would have ever cared this much about what happened to him.
Even with Señora Cardenas and his father, Franklin never felt this safe. This loved and protected.
And isn't that a just little sad?
Please let me know what you think!
Also, I really, really REALLY wish for fanart of the first scene in this chapter, of Foggy tucking Matt into bed. I need it like, BURNING. I attempted to sketch it, but I am sorely out of practice and it looks terrible.
The first scene was actually inspired by my cat Mew, who does this in the curve of my legs when I lie on my side. She tucks in the blanket and then curls herself up in that spot, when she's not shoving her face under my chin and purring in my ear. x3
Next chapter will have a little, tiny bit of conflict, but some more super cute scenes I felt I needed to toss in here before things get a little more serious for a chapter or two until they lighten up again. ^^
Please review! Let me know what you think! (Also, I'm aware of some typos and such in some of the earlier chapters, and will periodically go back and edit/fix them, :) )
Until next time! <3
I am so sorry for the delay. I probably re-wrote this chapter like 5 times... I still feel like I want to fix some things, but it has been too long since I've posted, and I want to get to posting chapter sixteen... because that's when things will start to move forward with the plot.
Anyways, I hope you like it. I promise it's equally funny and cute. :)
It's the third day of spring break, and Matt has Foggy with him at some fraternity’s barbecue just off the campus. It’s about four or five in the afternoon, and the air is still warm, but is tempered with a nice, cool breeze.
Normally, he'd love this. Even though he was friendly and social in high school, he still had a little difficulty fitting in - so his friend status had never really reflected his true, social nature.
But that was when Foggy was human, and could talk.
Right now, he's a human-trapped-in-a-dog's-body, trying to sheepishly avoid the other dogs at the party so they stop trying to sniff his backside. He’s kind of stuck on a leash, keeping to Matt’s side while he talks with his date and her friends.
And the food smells delicious. Matt never gives him barbeque. Just tells him it’s ‘probably bad for dogs’.
So anyways, instead of enjoying himself, he's standing awkwardly by Matt with his tail tucked between his legs; and since his pleading looks are completely lost on Matt and his date, he tries shooting some pathetic puppy-eyes at Vanessa and Marci whenever they are nearby, in hopes that they'll save him from this hell.
Or feed him.
He’s not entirely picky at the moment.
He bites back an annoyed whine when a scruffy terrier trots up and tries to walk under him, and carefully using his front paw, Foggy gently pushes the stupid thing away.
Please leave me alone. I don't like that.
Foggy finds that when he needs to communicate with other animals, it’s best to keep thoughts and as direct as possible.
It’s not like there’s a manual, you know.
He’s had more than a few screw-ups in communicating with other animals before – one would think these things wouldn’t be so difficult, although he thinks it’s his human mind fighting with whatever innate canine instincts that came with his furry, four-legged body (though he has been getting much better at listening to them).
Animal communication is mostly all physical, with a large handful of different sounds and pitches. There’s also scent and… well… let’s just say Franklin hasn’t ever had to focus so much on his ‘vibes’ before this lovely make-over.
The human-turned-dog does his best to look fully exasperated, accenting it with a huff and movement of his shoulders. This is the fourth dog at this stupid barbeque to bug him; all of them off their leashes, just wandering about, eating leftovers off the ground and chasing each other under the legs of tipsy college students.
Lucky lil’ bastards.
The smaller dog just gives him a look of disgust like he's a complete failure as a member of 'their species' (well duh, but he thinks he still makes a pretty awesome dog, thank you).
Foggy absorbs the sentiments (internally rolling his eyes), and interprets the annoyed and offended growl from the other dog before it turns away and stalks off.
Yea. Fuck you too, pal.
He feels Marci's stare, and he hears her just snickering at his misfortune with mirth instead of sympathy (like Vanessa and another of her lady friends), so he whips his head around to grumble and shoot her a pointed glare, along with a big of tongue. Just to add that extra pizzazz.
She stops laughing and instead regards him with mild shock and interest. He’d laugh if he could.
Foggy looks away from her and tries to find another friendly set of eyes but she walked away already.
Matt must sense his distress, or somehow heard his quiet grumbling over the noise of the party (the guy seems to hear everything), because he feels Matt’s large hand on his head before it scratches behind his ear idly. Foggy looks up quickly and sees Matt quirk a quick smile, head tilted just slightly down (smile meant for him), before returning to charming Miss Veronica and her friends.
Now, Matt doesn’t really get out and date too often, but from what Foggy has overheard (and observed), he’s quite the charmer… which he already knew, because... well…
He’s handsome and smooth and very caring and definitely trustworthy, as well as incredibly smart (smartest in his class, Foggy’s super proud of him) – any girl or guy, (but he hasn’t seen Matt flirt with any) would be extremely lucky to have him as a date or a boyfriend.
So he’s trying his best to behave, because this is the third time Matt has been out with this Veronica girl and Foggy doesn’t want to ruin it for him, even though he’s not quite a fan of her… she, like some of Matt’s other conquests, seem to only like him for his appearance and rumored prowess (Franklin really tries not to think of that last one - like ever).
She’s not bad… Veronica is very hot (even blind, Matt seems to have a knack for hunting down the pretty ones, Foggy’s noticed wryly)… but the girl is a tad obvious with her flirting, and Foggy really doesn’t get what Matt sees in her.
In Foggy’s opinion, she’s a bit…fake.
The world is just a tad more cynical when you can smell intentions and ‘vibes’ from someone. Foggy never really believed the claim that animals are a ‘good judge of character’ until… you know… he became one.
There’s just an off feeling about her, so it’s a good thing that it doesn’t seem as if Matt’s got ‘feelings’ for her.
But regardless, Matt obviously enjoys being able to go out, and he’s ridiculously awesome at flirting (and clearly enjoys it, smug bastard). Foggy would have looked at him as a god, were he his human friend. He would also demand wingman lessons, if they were friends, or just try and study his methods from afar, if they weren’t (let’s face it, Matt’s too cool for a dorky guy like Frankie).
As charming and as suave as Matt is, though… Foggy’s not sensing any true sincerity from him in his flirting, at least when he’s chatting up girls.
Honestly? Matt seems to be a regular Casanova… but he has a feeling that when Matt ends up really crushing on someone (hasn’t happened yet, thankfully), he’ll be one very awkward duck – still a handsome one, though.
An awkward, handsome duck.
Foggy sighs despondently as he narrowly avoids stepping in something rather gross as Matt moves to follow Veronica and her friend, only to get gently smacked on the muzzle by a swinging hand from some guy who really needs to wash them, because ew, gross.
The sooner Matt gets it out of his system the sooner he can move on to someone better. Foggy thinks with a sniff when Veronica gives another coquettish laugh, trailing a hand down Matt’s toned arm and giving it a grope.
Foggy internally rolls his eyes.
Dear god, I hope the sex is worth it, Matt.
Seriously. The girl’s flirting is cringe-worthy, and he’s supposed to be a ‘horny teenager’, so that’s saying something.
It’s obvious she wants in his pants, just because Matt’s blind doesn’t mean he’s… oblivious.
Another couple excruciating hours have gone by, and it’s now completely dark outside, and they are thankfully out in the yard instead of in the house. Far too many smells, made worse by all that body heat.
He’s trying his best to stay close to Matt, because the party is starting to get very crowded, and he smells three more dogs added to the party.
Suddenly, Foggy startles, barely avoiding getting his paw stepped on, again.
Sucking in a sharp breath, he internally screams in frustration.
Okay. He’s had enough. He feels on-edge and irritated and he really, really just wants to dart out of here.
He smells food he can’t have, the noise of conversations and drunken laughter become a background buzzing that heightens his irritation, and then lastly, he’s growing more and more uncomfortable with the barking and energy of the five other dogs at this stupid frat house, none of them on a fucking leash and all keep trying to sniff and lick his balls!
Foggy’s really trying to calm himself down, for Matt’s sake, but for whatever reason can’t seem to shake his agitation as he stands rigid at Matt’s side, not wanting to lie down because there’s a greater chance of getting stepped on, but standing leaves him vulnerable to the unwanted attentions from the other canines.
He’s also kinda pissed that Matt’s not noticing, or is just flat-out ignoring him - he’s super-mad.
Super-duper mad, so mad, that he entertains revenge plans to steal all of Matt’s precious Thai leftovers and that bag of jerky he thinks Foggy doesn’t know about. Foggy doesn’t care if he gets sick like last time. He’ll just throw up on one of Matt’s sweaters or something. Or maybe even his precious gym bag.
Who is he kidding, he’ll just hide under the bed and pout and maybe make grumbling noises. Then, he’ll give up and act super silly and cute when Matt gets that stupid kicked puppy frown (which, totally ironic, bee-tee-dubs).
He’s just got himself to relax a tad bit, but the itching is just under the surface –
Suddenly, a stumbling guy brushes close by him and he’s unable to hold back a low grumble of irritation, and Foggy is really trying to block out everything and wait patiently. He was close, too. Foggy looks up quickly and sees that Matt didn’t notice or hear his growl, and he scowls down at his paws. He stands for a moment as Matt moves to another group of his date’s ‘friends’. He’s trying again to calm down, but he can’t help but stand stiffly.
Unexpectedly he twitches, startled by something nudging his backside where his tail is tucked between his legs. Behind him is a stupid corgi, and when Foggy growls a warning, it darts forward and bites his foot. It’s the same dog that has been trying to get under his tail for the past hour!
Foggy doesn’t even think, just reacts when he jerks around, snapping his jaws twice as another warning, and barking once - loud and angry, right in the stupid, stumpy dog’s face when it doesn’t move away and instead tries again.
Corgis are actually Franklin's favorite dogs (he thinks they are dorky and absolutely adorable), but this one just catches him on a bad day and goddammit he hates being a dog right now!
So… maybe he’s a little meaner than he needs to be, as he snarls menacingly until the stupid thing darts off.
"Foggy!" Matt startles, and tightens his hold on the lead as he spins to face Foggy, so he quickly plops his butt down to sit, while he continues glaring after the stupid animal that’s now pathetically yipping and whining, acting like what Foggy did was ‘uncalled for’.
Making him into the bad guy, and now Matt’s getting shit for it from the crowd that now has their attention all on the two of them.
“What is wrong with your dog!”
The dumb corgi’s bitch of an owner (Foggy really doesn’t like her voice. It’s high and whiny and just… ugh) snaps at Matt, no matter she can obviously tell that Matt’s blind, and that just maaaaybe her stupid, dumb, whimpy-ass dog was the one causing trouble and starting shit, because obviously Foggy is on a leash and is being good.
Or well… he was trying to be.
“Yea, he growled at my dog too, you should put a muzzle on him!” Another girl shouts at Matt.
By now Foggy can feel multiple stares on him - and Matt, by proxy.
Shit. Matt doesn’t deserve this, and all of this is his fault. He ruined Matt’s night, and he can smell the anger and stress radiating off of everyone around him, making his hackles rise again, but Matt’s standing firm and strong beside him, so he knows he’ll be okay for the moment.
He thinks he’s doing a pretty good job of staying still and behaving, until one chick that was chastising Matt marches up to him with a purpose, obviously angry, and Foggy can smell the aggression on her, and just knows she is planning on slapping Matt in the face and he just… reacts…
He lunges forward so he’s now occupying the space between Matt and the angry chick and he barks once at her and tapers it off with a low, warning growl. He barely refrains from showing his teeth, because he’s starting to get back a little more of his common sense and control, but he still feels the hair on the back of his neck rise.
The bitch’s friends gasp dramatically in ‘shock’, and Foggy really wants to bite them, and wishes he could show his exasperation at this entire shit-storm better.
He won’t, but he wants to.
Foggy feels a sharp tug on the back of his collar. It’s firm and tight and it makes him freeze immediately.
“Foggy!” Matt hisses a warning at him, his tone sounding angry, but Foggy doesn’t think it’s with him.
He sits down in front of Matt, still keeping himself between him and that stupid bitch. Calmer now that he can feel the heat of Matt’s hand on his collar.
“I should call campus security! That dog shouldn’t be allowed close to anyone! He should be in the pound and in a cage!”
Well. That’s an over-reaction.
Seriously, these bitches are really drunk. Foggy can smell the cosmopolitans and jungle juice on their lipsticked mouths from across the yard.
That was also the wrong thing to say in front of Matt. If Matt was going to apologize for his actions, he won’t now.
He feels Matt’s grip tighten on the back of his collar that it’s starting to constrict his throat a little – but he’s not going to budge. Foggy hears a low growl start in the back of Matt’s throat, quiet enough that only he can hear, and Foggy prays Matt doesn’t do or say something stupid to get them in trouble –
Uh… more trouble.
“Now Miss Stanton,” A cool, feminine voice purrs, “are you certain that you’d want campus police to get involved here? Because where we all stand right now, it’s you that will be slapped with a fine, for having an unleashed animal and being intoxicated while underage.”
The woman scoffs, offended at the chilly, patronizing rebuke. “Excuse me, but I think you must be drunk, Marci, because we’re in a yard.” She spits.
Foggy’s blue eyes slide to the side, where Marci has stepped into his view.
She looks like a shark. Her smile is all teeth.
Marci tuts condescendingly at the girl and her four sorority sisters that stand behind her.
“Really.” It’s not a question.
Foggy would have his tail between his legs, and bowing in surrender if that voice was directed at him.
“Because where I’m standing, I see that this is not an enclosed yard, so the leash-law of New York still applies. Also,” Marci’s tone freezes over and turns to ice.
Franklin’s very impressed, to be honest. He can feel the temperature drop.
“You are under the legal drinking age, do you really want to be slapped with two fines and possible jail time? How will that look on your job applications, Misty?” she tuts, “Your daddy would be so disappointed!”
“Oh my god. The chick’s name is Misty. This is awesome.” His inner schoolboy drama-queen is loving this.
“It’s like Mean Girls!” Which was young Franklin’s fav chick flick of all-time (still is).
So Foggy wiggles a little, then leans back into Matt a bit to relieve the pressure against his throat, because Matt still has a death-grip on his collar - Geezes, he’s not gunna really bite the bitch, honestly.
“That dog is aggressive! He snapped at the other dogs, and nearly bit her! He should be put down –“
Foggy feels his doggie brows raise in surprise at the vehemence in the chick’s voice, but it’s quickly dispelled by worry at how he can basically feel Matt shaking in anger behind him, and smell his adrenaline spike.
But what surprises (and delights) him the most, is when Marci suddenly takes two steps and is now nearly in the girl’s face.
All his previous anger and irritation vanishes.
“Go Marci!” Foggy cheers internally.
“Now listen here, you bitch.” Marci spits, “You are the one who was irresponsible, and wasn’t watching your pathetic animal.” She straightens up from looming over the girl and raises her voice so more can hear.
“Foggy here, was on his leash and by his owner the entire time. Jack,” She barks, “do you know where your mangy terrier-mutt is right now? I bet you don’t, do you?” She demurs coyly, and ‘Jack’ (a beefy, sporty-looking guy) gapes like a fish out of water.
So the asshole terrier belongs to the dumb jock. Good to know, because his dog is dumb too, eating poop in the back left corner of the yard (so gross but so funny).
“That doesn’t change the fact that he nearly bit her, or that he’s totally misbehaved!”
Foggy looks back at Marci, who’s as cool as a cucumber.
Or an icicle.
A sharp, pointy, deadly icicle.
The perfect murder weapon
And she’s defending him.
“Actually, Foggy has been the most well behaved dog here.” She responds coolly, and announces to everyone, “He was just protecting Murdock, his master, who’s blind by the way, from a drunken, aggressive harpy.”
Oh, god. If he could laugh, he’d be cackling right now, and maybe rolling on the floor in tears.
The ‘harpy’ scoffs, offended, and Foggy snickers, but it comes out as a half-wheeze from the restricting vice-grip Matt still has on his collar; Matt immediately stops pulling, but doesn’t let go and instead kneels just behind him.
Foggy’s brain screeches to a halt.
Matt isn’t actually kneeling behind him.
He’s on his knees, straddling his back where Foggy sits, now frozen as his heart trips and stutters. Matt’s still got one hand clasped around his collar, and the other wraps around his chest, and he feels Matt lean forward; if Matt wasn’t resting his own weight on the balls of his feet, he’d be sitting on him.
Foggy forces himself to take a steady breath, because this is so not the time right now.
Then, he feels the prickle of fur on the back of his neck, reacting to the tenseness in Matt’s frame.
Any fluffy, heart-skippy feelings evaporate.
He realizes Matt’s got him in a protective hold, and Foggy feels the heat of Matt’s chest against the back of his head where the guy is practically draped over him.
Does he think Foggy’s going to go ape-shit on everyone? Or does he really think that that hoe-bag actually has enough pull to ‘put him down’? – because both are absolutely ridiculous thoughts for Matt to be having.
But then, this is Matt.
The guy who nearly had a conniption fit when he thought Foggy belonged to that girl, Sam, and thought he would be taken from him. Foggy can’t even imagine being taken away from Matt, or leaving the guy for any reason ever -
He… doesn’t really know how to deal with that thought right now - Table it.
Thankfully, Marci relentlessly tearing into those chicks is a good distraction - though despite his initial surprise, Foggy’s finding himself relaxing back into Matt’s hold. Anxiety and irritation melting away with his touch and his scent, and if he were more honest with himself, basking in the feeling of safety that Matt provides.
“He perceived you as a threat to his master, and he acted accordingly. Also, Foggy was not even close to biting you, but had you laid a harmful hand on Matt, you bet your skinny, anorexic ass that Foggy-Bear would have chomped off your fake, manicured nails.”
The crowd is silent, save for a few jocks and Vanessa-and-company, who ‘whoop’ and applaud, cheering her on.
“Foggy has been on his lead, by Matt’s side this entire time, and cannot be accused of being aggressive, if he was just defending his limited personal space. He was unable to avoid the situation otherwise, having been restrained on a lead, while your dogs, yes, I said your dogs, I’ve seen a total of five animals without leashes this evening, approach Foggy while he’s trying to work faithfully at Murdock’s side.”
Ok. Foggy thinks she’s laying it on a little thick, but he smells a martini on her breath from here, so maybe that’s it.
Also, if she noticed all this going on, why the hell didn’t she try to help him?
Crickets can be heard in the yard. Everyone is struck silent, and Foggy wants to kiss Marci Stahl.
He’d possibly risk losing his doggy-tongue, but he thinks it might just be worth it. He feels his tail thump on the ground, pleased and a little happy at Marci’s praise.
Then he feels Matt tighten his hold on him and he fights the urge to wiggle.
Foggy feels vindicated and super-safe and warm. So the night’s turning out better than it started, thankfully… although he’s still getting ‘stressed’ and ‘angry’ vibes from Matt... he’ll have to do damage-control later.
“Now. I believe we were all having a lovely time, before this ridiculous misinterpretation of events, so why don’t we turn back on the music, and continue the party now, hm?” Marci’s voice is cheery and bright, but still has that coolness to it that Foggy can’t help but to be impressed by.
The crowd of students at the frat house cheer, and the offenders leave the party scoffing and cursing the blonde.
Foggy is now being praised, and he and Matt are being apologized to.
That bitch is awesome.
She’s going to be a terrifying lawyer, and if he wasn’t already halfway in love with Matt (and a dog, dammit), he’d totally have the fattest crush on her. Oh, he’d be terrified she’d eat him alive, but then he has always been drawn to fighters.
“So, Murdock. I hope you aren’t going to be mad at Foggy, because he’s been a very good dog tonight.”
… Okay. That sounded a bit too suggestive (and patronizing), or it would have, were he a few years older and, you know, human.
Foggy startles a bit when Matt growls quietly, because he can feel it against his back where Matt has himself plastered to it like one of his doggy-sweaters.
“Of course I’m not mad at him.” Matt snaps at Marci from behind him, and hugs him closer for a moment, as if to emphasize his point (which he’s totally okay with, but he’s kinda worried about Matt now).
At first, Foggy thinks she will tear into Matt next (which he will not be okay with), but Marci surprises him when she completely ignores his friend’s rude comment.
Instead, Marci kneels down in front of him, in a skirt and heels with a smirk on her lips and a sharp glint in her eye, “I’ve got your back, Foggy Bear.” She winks at him and smacks a loud kiss on his nose before standing up and moving away.
Matt tenses behind him, and Foggy furrows his brow and whines quietly in concern.
At least Matt’s not angry with him (he hopes). But Matt’s gunna be worked up all night now, and will probably be all mopey and grumpy all day tomorrow, too. He’ll want to go to the gym in town or in the rec center, or he’ll put them on the bus to Fogwell’s in Hell’s Kitchen.
Great. He really wanted to go to the park, too.
“No one’s taking Foggy-Bear away from you Murdock, you can stand up and let go of your ‘angry-face’.” Marci chuckles mockingly before disappearing into the crowd of bodies.
He feels his face scrunch in anger, and he is thankful that his glasses hide the worst of it, but he suddenly wants nothing more than to stomp out of this stupid party.
More importantly, he wants to get Foggy away from this party, and away from Marci.
After that entire episode of ridiculous drama, he completely forgot about his ‘date’, the entire reason he were here in the first place.
“Matthew? Are you okay? That girl was quite the bitch, huh?” Veronica’s voice cuts loud into his senses and brings him out of the haze of anger. He grimaces, and once standing, he idly brushes at his knees after stepping back so that Foggy is no longer trapped between them.
His canine companion immediately stands at attention once Matt frees him, and he curls the leash around a fist, shortening the lead to keep Foggy closer.
“I’m okay, but I think I’m calling it a night.” He tries to keep the anger out of his tone, and tries not to sound rude, but honestly? Going ‘home’ with Veronica is the last thing on his mind at the moment.
“Oh, common, the party’s not even started!” She protests, and Matt shakes his head and tries his hand at a bashful smile, one that usually gets him his way.
“I’d like to get Foggy home,” Matt demurs, “I think he’s had enough excitement for one day.”
He can hear the annoyed huff of breath as she counters, “Then drop your dog off at your dorm, and come back after?” Then she sidles up closer to him, coquettishly trailing a manicured hand down his chest, “Besides, I was hoping we’d get a little alone time anyways; and I’ll make it worth your while.”
Veronica doesn’t wait for a response from Matt, she just pulls away and giggles. He can sense a flirtatious wave in his direction before she turns around and makes a beeline for the drink table.
Matt tries to avoid grinding his teeth in annoyance before muttering under his breath to no one, “Not a chance.” Even though earlier he had been hoping for exactly that, now the thought of any sort of physical intimacy with her was an instant turn-off.
No one dismisses his friend like he’s some nameless animal.
“Common Foggy, let’s go home.”
His friend barks affirmatively and wags his tail happily, keeping close to Matt’s side; and the further they both get from the party, the better Matt feels. He even finds himself smiling on the walk back, as Foggy starts babbling happily about whatever is on his little doggie mind.
Matt may not have to hit something after all.
Well, that is until he remembers how happy Foggy had seemed when Marci was defending him. How Matt had heard and then felt his sweet, little heart pick up.
Matt didn’t need her help in defending or protecting Foggy. He had the situation completely under control, and he would have handled it without causing a scene - Foggy would have been happy with Matt, instead of thinking Matt was angry with him - fucking Marci.
About two hours later, after a snack, a shower, and a short ‘block conversation’, Matt’s sitting up in his bed with Foggy beside him as the canine watches a Disney movie.
This time, Matt was the one to start the session with the blocks. He wanted to make sure Foggy knew that Matt wasn’t angry with him, but with the girls. The relief he felt after his friend’s assemble of ‘I KNOW’ was nearly tangible.
After that, the dam broke, and he found himself venting to his friend - hearing the dog nod in understanding, and periodically making noises of encouragement or agreement. He doesn’t really remember everything he vented about, and it felt good, but left him feeling tired.
The calm, happy skipping of Foggy’s heart as he watches the movie beside him makes Matt feel content, and helps him to unwind further. As the movie continues playing, and he hears Foggy whine sympathetically at a particular scene, Matt can’t help but smile boyishly as he shushes his friend’s whimper and scratches lightly behind his ears.
Foggy was just too cute sometimes.
So what if Foggy has a little doggy-crush on Marci? Matt can fix that, no problem. Foggy already likes him best; Matt will just have to make sure that situation never happens again, and if it does, Matt will be the one to fix it.
Foggy is his dog, and is his responsibility. Marci shouldn’t get in the way and interfere.
Though none of that should matter, anyways; because Foggy is an adorable, sweet, sweet animal that is always happy and so sweet and he has plenty of love to go around.
The only problem is that Matt doesn’t want to share Foggy. With anyone.
Matt’s just about to work himself back up again, when Foggy yips and whines at a sad scene in the movie, leaning into Matt’s side a little.
So Matt uses the arm he has slung around Foggy’s shoulders to pull him closer and peck him quickly on his soft, furry cheek. Foggy is just too damn cute, sometimes, and Matt can’t help himself.
Immediately the noises from Foggy fall silent, and though this isn’t the first ‘kiss’ he’s given his canine friend, it’s the first time Matt notices something.
So he pulls back he frowns curiously, tilting his head to the side for a moment - listening - before leaning back in to peck at Foggy’s face again and then quickly pulling away as if to see the canine’s reaction.
Matt does it one more time, two quick pecks just below the dog’s eye, and this time he grins impishly when he pulls back to stare gleefully at the warm outline of his companion.
Foggy’s heart is tripping over itself happily.
Except his heart is beating faster than it did with Marci’s kiss to his nose, and he notices how Foggy is trying not to squirm as he makes a murmuring noise, keeping his complete attention on the screen.
Grinning, Matt yanks the bashful dog closer again – because the sly dog was trying to wriggle away - to plant another kiss to his cheek. This time Matt holds him there, smiling against Foggy’s fur even as he wiggles and whines, trying to pull away from Matt.
But Matt’s too happy, so instead he squeezes Foggy closer and tries to fight a grin as he presses his lips atop the dog’s head, making a loud kissing noise, holding him there until Foggy starts to squirm and grumble at him.
“ – mmmuuu-AH!”
Foggy successfully pulls away, leaping to the other end of the bed before swinging his head around to bark once in protest, giving Matt the impression that he’s telling him off.
The sassy bark bounces off the walls and he’s briefly able to see more details of his canine friend –Foggy’s ears are pulled back and he appears to be scowling – it all just makes Matt burst into a fit of laughter, only getting louder when Foggy grumbles under his breath back at him, letting out an annoyed huff when he’s up against the wall and trapped.
Catching his breath, Matt reaches to close the laptop and shove it off his lap before turning back to Foggy, who is no doubt watching him wearily, if his quirked head and ear is any indication –the look only makes Matt grin more soppily at the adorably expressive animal.
None of Foggy’s dismissive actions temper his giddiness, because despite Foggy’s grumbling and wiggling, Matt hears his heart – light and quick like a butterfly.
The conflicting messages that Foggy gives off just make Matt launch into teasing the squirming, grumbling retriever with loud kisses and constricting hugs.
How did Foggy ever think that Matt was cool?
This guy is a complete and utter freaking dork.
He throws his head to the side, trying to dodge another of Matt’s ‘kisses’ – they were sweet at first, and made his heart patter like a teenage girl (super embarrassing, even if he was a doggie), but now the weirdo is giggling in-between his assaults to his face; an assault that should not be taking place when he is trying to watch Tangled.
Now. Don’t think he hasn’t already tried to retaliate, because he has… well… after the first handful of kisses… because Foggy’s a sucker for attention, and Matt’s attention is the best. The guy’s done this before, but this time he’s almost kinda manic with his glee, and it’s a tad-bit concerning.
But now that he wants to get Matt back, he’s severely impaired. The guy’s got a grip like a freaking boa constrictor, and Foggy can’t fight against the hold too hard, or risk the train-wreck of a disappointed frown that never fails to crush his poor, squishy little heart like a tiny, squishy grape.
At least, that’s what he tells himself to justify the reason he succumbs to another ‘attack’, huffing out a put-upon sigh when Matt presses a smile into the fur behind his ear and snickers impishly at Foggy’s misfortune – like a sadist.
Seriously. Freaking dork!
Matt sighs happily and starts to pull away – Foggy can hear the man inhale deeply through a smile, and he knows there’s going to be another round of torture, or he’ll cage Foggy in those stupidly-strong arms of his and manhandle him into a wrestling play-fight.
So he takes the moment when Matt’s hold loosens a bit and he jerks away and gets to his feet, facing Matt and watching him like he’s about to explode.
Foggy sees Matt’s sightless eyes blink in surprise, and the look on his face is a mixture of baffled surprise and god, he’s still smiling, but it falls just a little and he looks a little bereft (but also adorably fluffy, and how is that possible?).
He waits just a moment, but doesn’t let that smile fall too far before he’s lunging at the older boy and pinning him to the bed.
Then he finally launches his attack on Matt’s face.
Foggy makes sure to put as much weight as he can on his front paws and sits on Matt’s torso as he sputters in shock and tries to squirm away after Foggy delivers a deliberately slobbery ‘kiss’, dragging his long tongue up from Matt’s scratchy jaw to his hairline, then finishing with a purposefully obnoxious slurping noise that gets him a really funny face outta Matt.
“Definitely doing that again!” Foggy snickers playfully in his head.
He continues his own ‘attack’, making sure some of the licks are nice and slobbery (he’s usually mindful about it, but Matt deserves payback for nearly giving him a heart attack) – he succeeds in making the older boy squirm and beg for Foggy to stop between fits of giggles and half-hearted pushes at his face.
Once he’s satisfied that Matt’s had ‘enough’, he backs off and realizes his tail is wagging frantically back and forth when he sees the exasperated, dopey grin on Matt’s face and takes in his ruffled hair.
Matt has a few cowlicks in the front, courtesy of Foggy (thank you very much), and his face is a little wet and red and he chuckles breathily before leaning forward and making adorable ‘grabby-hands’ at Foggy. His unfocused, chocolate-brown eyes wide and grinning over Foggy’s right shoulder.
He sighs, like giving in is such a burden, and steps closer to Matt, letting himself be man-handled (as per usual, these days) into laying on his side so the oversized man-child he adores can wrap himself around his doggie-form like a limpet.
After Matt situates them to his liking, a minute or two passes before Matt is extracting his limbs from around Foggy to move into the bathroom, grumbling about dog-breath and sticky slobber on his face.
Foggy internally grins to himself in triumph before jumping down to the floor and moving over to the blocks with the intent to ask Matt to restart his movie, because seriously – Tangled is not to be interrupted!
It’s the next day, and Matt is walking with Foggy through their usual park before they head somewhere for lunch. He lets his companion lead him down some path that Matt can’t properly sense; only knowing it’s a path due to the semi-even gravel crunching beneath his sneakers as he walks, and the light scent of loose dirt in the air mixing with grass and shrubbery.
Lately, Matt’s been letting himself drift off while out walking with Foggy, trusting his canine companion to take the lead while he pulls himself into his mind – it’s a path the retriever has taken him down before, and Matt knows he has learned it by heart already.
As he’s walking, Matt can’t help but to think back on their conversation last night; there was one part that he didn’t address then (choosing instead to lose himself in a rant on stupid people and stupid parties), and in the morning he couldn’t get his mind off of it, so he asked Foggy for a ‘block conversation’.
Matt purses his lips in agitation as he recalls their ‘chat’ earlier that morning.
He asked why Foggy hadn’t tried to get his attention if he was uncomfortable, or if he wanted to go home – that he would have taken Foggy aside and try to work out what was wrong.
The canine’s answer both touched and broke Matt’s heart.
Foggy had thought he’d be bothering Matt, if he tried to take his attention away from his date and from the party. When Matt told him that was nonsense, Foggy heaved a little doggy-sigh and wrote out ‘FUN WITH FRIENDS’, like Matt doesn’t have fun with Foggy, and that Foggy’s not his best friend.
He knows that that wasn’t exactly what Foggy had meant (probably), but it still made him upset, and then even more-so when Foggy apologized for making Matt upset.
Matt got them both outside and to the park before he screamed in frustration and yanked all his hair out (which would just upset Foggy even more), because Matt’s supposed to be taking care of Foggy, not the other way around.
Breaking out of his musings, Matt tilts his head, sensing out Foggy as they continue on the well-worn path. The sounds of traffic and the public start to fade a little as they make their way further into the park. Matt hears the fluttering of silky wings and the jingle of Foggy’s collar as he jerks his head this way and that.
Smiling tenderly over towards his dog, Matt feels his heart swell with affection as he senses Foggy trying to follow the butterfly with his eyes. He hears Foggy’s ears rise to attention before he slows to a stop and the insect’s fluttering settles gently. Matt hears a quiet, questioning sound coming from his friend and he grins soppily when the butterfly settles on Foggy’s nose, making the canine freeze, save for his swishing tail.
Matt stops walking and just stands there, waiting, patient and content, while Foggy interacts happily with one of the frailest, most delicate creatures Matt remembers.
He hears Foggy’s heart give a light little flutter before the winged insect flies off, and Matt stops tracking its position to instead focus on his immediate surroundings – more importantly Foggy, who’s turned back towards Matt and tilting his head curiously at him. He just teases the adorable dog before they continue on their way.
As they near the end of their walk, Matt talking at Foggy about lunch, they pass by a cat that starts hissing once it sees the retriever.
Their somber, lazy afternoon didn’t last long after that.
For all the intelligence Foggy seems to have for a dog… Matt finds he’s still very much a dog. He sighs before trying to coax his overly excited friend into moving away from the unfriendly, filthy creature.
It’s nearing the end of spring break, and Matt’s struggling with sleep.
Foggy sits up in Matt’s bed and watches as the man’s brow furrows miserably in his restless sleep. Soon, Matt will wake up with a start, chest heaving as he tries to calm himself down. Then, he will either mumble and reach for Foggy, or kick off the remaining covers and lock himself in the bathroom to turn on all the faucets, leaving them to run for close to an hour before shutting them off and returning to bed.
Foggy really wants to know what keeps Matt up at night, what gives him that haunted look in his eyes. That look finds its way far too easily on Matt, which Foggy can’t help but to fret and worry over the older boy.
He could try asking, but past experience tells him it won’t go over too well.
Not like this. Not when Foggy can too easily be brushed aside or ignored. Not when it’s too easy for him to be misunderstood, or accidently say the wrong thing, or not be able to say enough…
… because he’s just a dog.
Matt whimpers in his sleep, and Foggy quickly wiggles himself close, so Matt can hold on if he needs to.
Once he’s back in Matt’s reach, the older boy immediately wraps his lithe arms around him and pulls Foggy close, crushing him into his chest. Foggy’s heart sinks and he fights an instinctive whine when Matt’s breath hitches before burying his face into the back of Foggy’s neck.
“Foggy…” Matt’s voice sounds pleading, and Foggy doesn’t know what to give him.
These nights, Foggy feels helpless.
He’s stopped wishing to be human again because he loves his life with Matt right now. He’s the happiest he’s ever been. Franklin can be satisfied being ‘Foggy’ for Matt, being his companion and loving Matt while staying faithfully at his side.
But nights like this, when he can’t give Matt what he needs – and Matt needs to be held – Franklin can’t help but hope for his human form back, even temporarily.
His Matt needs loving arms wrapped around him, and careful fingers running through his hair at night when he has trouble falling asleep. He needs kind, gentle words telling him that everything will be okay, and that he’s not alone, and never will be ever again, as long as Foggy’s alive.
Franklin desperately wants to be the one to give Matt these things, but knows it’s not his place, and that it probably never will be.
Matt sighs against his fur, and a large, warm palm fits itself firmly over Foggy’s side, just above his heart. He focuses on staying still and breathing slow and deep, knowing Matt will start to match it.
Soon the older boy is fast asleep, and Foggy lies awake until the sun comes up, because the giant hole in his chest won’t let him sleep.
It’s nights like these that have Franklin wishing for more.
Okay. This is a disclaimer - in this part of the story, I have a character that wouldn't technically be in the timeline yet.
But this is an AU so... yea. :)
It happens on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in the middle of April.
A giant, gaping hole opens over Stark Tower, and New York starts falling apart.
Matt is tapping his cane in front of him aimlessly while making his way back from a café. Vanessa had set him up on a blind date (the girls giggled, finding it cute), and offered to watch Foggy for the afternoon, chastising him for being a ‘shut-in’, and insisting he go out more.
He was all set to argue, but at Foggy’s bark of agreement (he’s more than familiar with his canine’s noises by now) and sharp nod of his head (telegraphed enough that Matt could sense it easily, and it makes him wonder…), Matt knew he wasn’t going to be able to get out of it.
He remembers the sound of Vanessa and her roommate, April, grinning victoriously, and Matt swore that Foggy was grinning beside them like the little brat he is.
“See? Foggy thinks you need to get out more, too!” Vanessa crows in excitement, and Foggy gives another affirmative bark and wags his tail happily despite Matt glaring at him for the betrayal.
So, here he is.
Walking back to his dorm after what was a semi-successful date. The girl was nice enough, though a little too bland for Matt’s tastes. She sounded very pretty, and her voice had a pleasant register to it. They didn’t have much in common, and conversation was incredibly awkward until they got on the topic of pets (Matt knows exactly how that sounds, and just how lame he has become, but he doesn’t give a rat’s ass).
So for the rest of their ‘date’, they proceeded to trade stories of funny or adorable things their dogs do, and Matt actually enjoyed himself.
Normally, people feigned interest whenever Matt spoke about Foggy for too long, most of his dates wanting something more carnal from him, and others finding him a little too obsessive (he is, and he knows it, but also doesn’t care what they think).
So talking about Foggy and receiving no judgment from someone who was equally enthused about her own dog was kind of nice. It sounded like Laura felt the same way, and they parted without exchanging numbers or vague promises to meet up in the future.
They finished earlier than anticipated, so it was still early afternoon and Matt finds himself enjoying his walk through the city. Swiping a finger over his tactile watch, he realizes that the girls (and Foggy) won’t be expecting him back for a few more hours, and decides to re-direct himself towards Fogwell's - he's half-way between there and his dorm, but it has been over a week since he's been to the gym, and Foggy is probably watching some Netflix movie with the girls and will insist Matt stays until the movie's over.
Matt figures he’ll take advantage of his personal time and go through a few circuits with the bag, and then maybe brush up on his Aikido forms while he’s at it.
Since that first time Foggy’s heartbeat spiked, (even though Foggy denied that he was scared of Matt, he doesn’t know how to tell if an animal is lying or not – or if animals can lie) Matt’s been tempering some of his workouts and training sessions, because Foggy’s heartbeat will still spike or trip on occasion when he loses himself in his routines. Even though Foggy’s most likely just concerned for his safety, and is genuinely not afraid of Matt, he still doesn’t like to worry his canine companion unnecessarily.
Besides, Foggy shouldn’t ever see any kind of violence. He’s too good of a dog for that, and he’s already seen more than he should already.
That makes Matt hit the bag a little harder, a little faster, when he thinks of everything his friend had gone through, those weeks he wasn't with Matt. He tries to fill in what he doesn't know for certain, but could have happened, and he imagines the worst possible things, and where would he be, if he didn't happen to find Foggy?
It's good that Foggy's not here, today. He didn't come here angry - actually he's been so happy, that it almost feels weird - but he pulls up the hurt and the feelings he felt that he didn't completely get out.
It's good, that Foggy's not here. He's with the girls and he's probably happily watching a Disney movie while they coo at how cute he is - Matt grits his teeth and tries to get back on track. It's silly to be jealous, because Foggy is his and likes him better - and Matt's truly glad that he has some people he can trust to keep his friend company on the rare occasions Matt can't take Foggy with him. Foggy once spelled out 'NOT BABY' to him, the one time Foggy heard him ask April to 'babysit'. Matt laughed, and then tried to coax a pouting Foggy out of the corner of the room.
It makes Matt feel better to know that Foggy's not lonely when he's gone for more than an hour or so.
So Foggy is back at the dorm and happy, and Matt can roar and let out all the anger that's locked up inside without worrying about upsetting Foggy (or scaring him). Matt will feel lighter, without the weight, and he'll go back to Foggy, who will notice that Matt's in a great mood, and then they'll play and laugh and Foggy will do his cute little wiggle he does - like he's so full of happiness that he can't contain it.
It's a win-win.
It takes Matt a few minutes to call back up that anger, because it cooled off when thinking about his canine companion. Foggy apparently doesn't even need to be near Matt, to calm him. It's a new realization that he feels a spark of but shoves it back down quickly. He normally waits until the anger comes naturally, but he might not get this chance again for a while, and he needs to take it.
If he doesn't, and he lets it build too much, it might burst when he's around Foggy and he doesn't want him to see the Devil that comes out; Matt doesn't know what he'd do if Foggy was afraid of him.
That thought, definitely helps him get in the zone, and Matt welcomes the red haze - the Devil he usually pushes down, but now he lets it consume him, completely losing himself in the bag and purging the thoughts from his mind…
...which is probably why it takes him much longer than normal to realize that something is terribly, terribly wrong.
Through the thundering of his pulse in his ears, his labored breaths, and the smack of his fists as they connect with the bag, the sound of terrified screaming slithers through his trance-like state. He stops so abruptly in shock, that he doesn’t dodge the bag as it swings back and knocks him on his ass.
When he pushes himself to his feet, he’s trying to reconstruct his surroundings before stretching his senses to get a better idea of what is happening - but whatever it is, is too far and there's too much noise interference. He feels the beginning of a headache, but he's about to pick up a group of people breaking into the gym where he’s standing alone in his corner. Their heartbeats are beating frantically and their breaths are quick and shallow – Matt doesn’t pick apart what they are saying, only that the city is being attacked by aliens, and that there’s a giant hole in the sky.
The moment stretches as Matt tries to kick the feeling that he’s dreaming, but on the edges of his perception, he’s able to pick up the sound of an unearthly screeching – cracking pavement, shattering glass, car alarms, and the screams of terror. He can feel the vibrations of sound and the trembling of the ground as foundations are disrupted –
The noise is too much, so much – my god, the screaming.
Glass shatters to his right, and it help him to pull back his senses.
Suddenly Matt is frantic, diving for his bag and nearly tearing it apart as he looks for his stupid phone –
“Vanessa. Vanessa. Vanessa.”
“What’s happening? Vanessa? Is Foggy okay?” Matt tries not to shout into the phone, but his adrenaline was already heightened with his workout, and now with the chaos his senses are being overwhelmed with – everything. Everything is lighting up but shaking, and he’s seeing so much.
He holds his breath and swallows a growl of frustration, pain and worry while he pulls on his jacket, grabs his cane, and then books it out of the gym and onto the street; all before Vanessa can even finish her reply.
“Matt! Matt, it’s… there’s a hole in the sky! Everyone’s running everywhere, Matt! Where are you?!” Vanessa sounds reasonably freaked out and worried, so Matt tries not to snap when she doesn’t answer the most important question.
“I’m fine. Is Foggy with you?” Matt knows he should be asking after her health first, but he can deduce she’s fine, other than her labored breathing – and it sounds like she’s running. Foggy better be with her. He needs to be –
“Yea… yea he’s right here – ” Matt hears a loud barking, and even though it sounds a little frantic over the phone, he’s immediately relieved.
“That’s good, good – how close are you to the fight? Run away, and keep inside if you can!” He shouts out the last part, trying to make sure he's heard over the noise. Then Matt hears a thundering boom, and it’s nowhere around where he is. He hears the huge sound echo into his ear.
It is coming through the phone.
His heart picks up again. “What was that? Where are you?!”
There’s a bunch of loud, crackling noises over the phone, and Matt is shoving his way against the crowd, trying his best to make his way towards campus.
“Matt?! I can’t – can’t hear – cut-ting out!”
Matt curses colorfully under his breath and he grunts when he’s violently shoved into a wall by a frantic citizen. He's dizzy for a moment, but continues to push forward. He hears other phone conversations, and picks up that several communication towers are down, and cell service is backed up from all the calls. He’ll need to get their location before he loses his connection to Foggy.
He will not lose Foggy again!
“Where are you! Tell me!” He demands, nearly yelling over the phone, because now is not the time for politeness. He needs to know now.
“Matt. I can’t give you – a play-by-play – I need to – shit!” There’s a high-pitched yelp that makes it over the line, and he knows that sound.
All too well.
A growl rips through his chest, and as soon as he sees an opening, he starts running.
“Where are you! WHERE IS FOGGY!”
“Campus – ark. Going to – quad – gy! Fog – Stop! Fog-gy, wait! – Shit!” There’s nothing but static after a loud crashing noise, and Matt feels almost high with adrenaline from his fear.
“Vanessa! What’s going on – Vanessa! What’s hap – fuck!” He growls when the line is cut, and he doesn’t even bother redialing, because it’ll just take precious time, and she probably can’t answer anyways.
Matt can barely feel the burning in his legs and in his lungs as he charges against the crowd and makes his way onto campus grounds. His head feels like it’s splitting in two from all the extra-sensory feedback, and there’s no way he can pick out a heartbeat with all the chaos, none-the-less Foggy’s.
Suddenly there’s a loud screeching noise, and it echoes through Matt’s head, making him fall to his knees with a pained shout. His eyes are watering, and it feels like his ear is bleeding, but he forces himself up and his world is nearly Technicolor – the reverberating sounds picking up everything on the campus. Matt can probably see far more than a sighted person, but right now he’s seeing too much. So much, that he can’t find what he needs – what matters.
“-gy. Foggy! Fuck.”
He hones in on that voice, not caring who it belongs to, only that his dog might be near it. Matt’s world is showing him too much detail, so much, that if he wasn’t trained, he’d probably have passed out by now. But he pushes forward, not really knowing what part of campus he’s heading towards, only that he’s getting closer to that voice and that heartbeat, calling his friend’s name – Vanessa.
“Shit. Shit. Shit!”
“Don’t worry about him, Vanessa! He ran off! Get inside! You’re not gunna find him!”
“I know, I know! But – shit! That dog is Matt’s everything! God, I hope –”
Matt skids to a stop for a moment to catch his breath. He’s about fifteen feet from the voices – Vanessa, April and Marci – There’s a small voice in the back of his head, yelling at him that a ‘normal blind guy’ shouldn’t have been able to find anyone through all this chaos; but he doesn’t want to waste precious time away from Foggy, who’s not here.
“Matt! Matt! Over here!” It’s April’s voice, the girl having spotted him first. Matt quickly makes his way towards her voice and tries to keep his heart from leaping out of his chest in panic.
“Where’s Foggy!” In any other situation, when the world didn’t sound like it was on the verge of collapsing around him, he’d be appalled by the desperation and panic in his voice, but he doesn’t give a shit.
Foggy is his dog, his friend... Matt's responsible for Foggy, and he’s not here so he’s not safe –
“Matt! Foggy! He… Fuck, Matt – I’m sorry!”
He barely registers the tears in Vanessa’s voice when he’s trying to keep a lid on his own emotions, and failing.
“What. Happened?! Where is he? TELL ME!” Matt roars the last part, frantic and scared and angry. Oh-so angry, because Foggy is in danger again and Matt isn’t with him. He needs Matt, and he’s not there.
“Matt, calm down.”
“DON’T tell me to FUCKING CALM DOWN!” He feels heat in his face and he’s chocking down tears and he feels wild and feral and he needs Foggy now! “Where is he?!”
“He ran off, Matt! We tried to chase after him, but he just took off!”
“Thor dropped down here, and flung this giant alien thing away from the school – the second it was gone, Foggy took off.”
Matt doesn’t know whose shoulders he has in a death grip, but he doesn’t care. He’s desperate, and they should have already told him where he needs to be to find Foggy – they are wasting his time!
“Fuck! Murdock! Let her go!”
“WHERE IS HE?!” Matt’s shout cuts off into a sob, and he’s unaware how his shoulders shake and how his frame trembles.
“Towards that park! Matt! He ran towards Central Park! But there’s – " Matt doesn’t wait for her to finish, because he’s already taking off towards the direction he’s certain the park is. He feels himself stumble more than once, and if he wasn’t desperate and shouting, he’d probably be concerned about losing his bearings – but Matt just keeps running forward.
He needs to find Foggy.
No matter what.
Matt doesn't quite know how far he gets before there’s a loud crash and the earth moves beneath his feet. Matt doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down as he’s thrown through the air, a beastly roar so loud he feels it – briefly, Matt ‘sees’ The Hulk.
When he finally hits the ground, he’s on grass – he smells copper and iron and he’s dizzy. The lines from sound that makes up the frame and pictures of his world start to twist and run together. As his headache grows, the more the lines blur and start to disappear.
Hands are pulling at him, but he can’t fight them off. He’s losing strength – and Matt knows he’s calling out for Foggy, even though he can’t make sense of anything, because it’s all suddenly too much.
For the first time in a long time, his world starts narrowing to black, and Matt feels grief and hopelessness tear at his heart before everything stops and he passes out – forcing him to surrender to the helping hands.
Franklin never learns.
He couldn’t shake the weird energy that was in the air, not minutes before the giant, gaping hole in the sky opened up over near Avenger’s Tower to vomit aliens and space whales all over New York.
When screams and roars and all sorts of other terrifying sounds started to rip through the air, the first thing Foggy thought about was Matt, and hoping he was far enough away from the fight, and that he won’t be an idiot and do something stupid.
Vanessa called Matt, and Foggy could hear parts of the conversation despite the noise around them – Matt was trying to head here.
Of-fucking course he is.
Once Foggy’s able to determine where Matt will be coming from, he takes off – only after ensuring that the girls are safe, of course. So almost immediately after they return to campus, and Thor tossed the giant space-thing approaching campus, Foggy’s turning himself around and darting off to find his friend before he gets himself hurt.
He is running and jumping over debris, adrenaline high… and as he rounds a corner he breathes a breath of relief when he notices the street ahead is mostly clear… except for whatever the fuck is happening over of to the side.
Foggy skids to a stop when a girl in a long, red leather coat and black boots lands on the ground about twenty feet in front of him. Foggy quickly darts behind a (surprisingly) un-uprooted mailbox and watches in fascination as a bright, red glowing energy emits from her eyes as she battles the monstrous looking aliens before her. Hands an eyes glowing an unnatural red that’s both fascinating and terrifying.
Foggy would be lying if he said he wasn’t impressed, even though he feels a little weary. Those alien-things were like three times her size, and she’s throwing them about like ragdolls.
Hey, wasn’t she one of the ‘honorary Avengers’? Red Witch or something. Maybe...
It’s only chance that he catches on to the fact that the kick-ass witch-chick is going to get blown to pieces if she doesn’t move – but she’s too distracted by the aliens left in front of her, that she doesn’t see the creepy-looking flying thing revving up for a shot at her.
So what does he do?
Something probably stupid.
He charges into the fray, full-speed ahead, and brings the magic-girl down to the ground with less than a second to spare, as he feels the heat of the blast feet behind him that thankfully took out the remaining alien ninjas.
Foggy hears a man roar before taking down the flying, death-scooter... thing.
He’d probably think it was the shit if he wasn’t so goddamn scared (and he wasn't, you know, being attacked).
Foggy remains poised over the girl and he feels her clutch at the fur on his chest like Matt does sometimes – until the coast is clear of aliens... aliens?!?! How the fuck is this their life now?
“Thank you – ” the girl says as she stands, her voice a little shaky and when – holy shit, Captain America approaches them, asking if she’s okay. Then he looks at her like she’s saying something, and then just leaves with a nod.
Foggy looks the girl up and down, not wanting to leave her, but she’s like, a part-time Avenger, and Foggy needs to find Matt. So he turns to leave after accessing that she’s okay.
“I can help you, you are looking for someone… right?”
… Right. Witch. She’s creeping on his mind – he sees a brief flash of hurt in her eyes and he immediately steps forward and licks her hand apologetically.
She smiles hesitantly at him, it’s a tiny anemic thing, but still enough to set Foggy at ease.
This girl kinda reminds him of Matt, in a way – when he first met him (gorgeous, kind, broody and a tad bit terrifying).
Foggy then feels the urge to try something he has doing with Matt, even though it never seems to work, and Matt never ‘hears’ him.
“I’m assuming you can hear me? "
“Yes. I can… I’m Wanda.” The girl – Wanda – smiles, and it’s a little more genuine and less forced.
“I’m sorry, but… who are you looking for?” She seems a little hesitant, like she expects him to freak because she skimmed Foggy's surface thoughts. Seriously – aliens fell out of a whole in the sky, this isn’t gunna phase him (though he might freak later).
She’s also the one talking to a dog... so... yea.
“I’m Foggy, and I’m looking for... for my Matt.”
Foggy has been able to hold himself together up until this point, but right now the adrenaline is morphing to fear and worry, because Matt needs him – they need each other. But he doesn't know what to do, he is struck with another feeling of helplessness, because he's a dog.
She kneels before him and gingerly rests her hand on his head.
“Foggy.” He pulls out of his inner turmoil for a moment at the confident and sturdy tone of her voice. Matt makes that voice when he’s promising him something.
Usually something to make Foggy happy and safe.
God… Matt has to be okay.
The look on the girl’s face is pitying, but he doesn’t need pity.
He just needs Matt.
“I’ll find him for you.” Her voice is choked, but determined. Wanda bites her lip and closes her eyes.
Foggy closes his eyes too and mentally runs through the last two months he’s spent with Matt and wishing and hoping with everything he has, and he knows that it’s stupid – that it won’t make a difference, but he can’t help himself.
Foggy’s worried about him – even if he’s unharmed; because Matt needs Foggy, and he needs Matt.
Matt protects and cares for Foggy. Makes sure Foggy is happy and healthy.
Foggy makes sure Matt is never lonely.
He thinks of Matt’s secure, warm hugs and goofy smile and –
Wanda quickly jerks her hand back as if shocked, and when Foggy snaps his eyes open he catches a wince on her face before she stands and takes a few steps away from him.
“I have enough,” She says, and her voice sounds a little choked. She mumbles something to herself that Foggy can’t hear before she lifts her hands to her temples.
Without being told, Foggy just stands by her and looks out for any possible danger in the area, it sounds like the fight is about over – at least over here – because it’s kinda quiet, at least compared to the noise from earlier.
He’s itching to run and look for Matt, but he knows he’d have less likely of a chance to find him that way.
This has to work.
Even if this doesn’t. He’ll find Matt – because Matt has to be okay. The guy is capable of taking care of himself, because Matt is strong and stubborn - this, he knows. Just like he knows Matt has some cool, Sci-Fi echolocation thing, so he'll be okay...
He has to be okay.
Matt will be okay.
Foggy just needs to find him.
When he wakes up, Matt feels ridiculously drowsy and achy - making him, for just a moment, wonder why the hell he drank so much after the last time…but then he feels unfamiliar, cheap, sandpaper-rough cotton beneath his fingers and he feels his stomach drop. He sits up quickly, and the movement sends a rolling wave of nausea through his stomach that he stubbornly endures and instead, focuses on fighting to keep his heavy head upright.
It takes Matt a moment to remember why he’s… wherever he is. There’s the distant, annoying beeping of machines and hushed voices and whispers and the piercing scent of rubbing alcohol that burns his nostrils - so the soreness of his body and the resonance of pain through his head makes more sense. With all his senses aching, his thoughts are sluggish and hazy. Unclear and uncertain, like a fog over his -
Matt’s body jerks in alarm, and suddenly everything’s coming back to him - the explosions, the screaming... the cacophony of sounds thundering and ricocheting through the city’s streets.
He remembers darting through the ever-changing topography of his city, through the throngs of frightened New Yorkers, shouting into the phone - desperate and afraid.
It all replays through his mind like a psychedelic movie-reel, flickers of bright lines of sound as the city had lit up to his senses like never before.
He remembers looking for Foggy - and that he didn’t find him.
It’s blaringly obvious, because the bright and bubbly canine would be beside him if he did; whimpering and nosing at Matt’s hand until he woke up.
But Foggy’s not here, because Matt didn’t find him; and Foggy didn’t find Matt.
He takes a moment to clear his mind and just focuses on breathing in an effort to hold back his panic and properly get ahold of his surroundings. His head is still aching, and he can feel his own pulse as it whooshes through his head.
Matt reaches up to prod at the bandage on his head and winces when he accidently pushes too hard on the wound underneath it - stitches, about five - maybe.
Regardless, overall his pain is distant and Matt continues to push it to the backseat once he determines that he’s still more-or-less fully intact, and therefore capable of going out after Foggy. Matt’s determination renewed, he tosses the thin sheet off of him and swings his legs to the side of the gurney.
Everyone around is too busy to notice him quickly leave the tent, and if once or twice he seems to stumble or sway with disorientation - nobody seems to suspect anything.
The world around him is still buzzing with sound, and Matt’s discounting all of them except the bare minimum he needs to navigate the rubble-filled streets. He’s taking careful, sure strides - gritting his teeth against the throbbing assaulting his temples and the agitation of not quite knowing where to start. In his current state he’s of no use to Foggy.
After about half an hour of wandering aimlessly, he’s more awake and his thoughts are a little clearer - however, the painful throb of his pulse in his temples still hasn’t gone away.
Matt stumbles into a brick wall and has to stay there for a moment to catch his breath and compose himself. Exhausted and frustrated, Matt drops his head back against the wall and closes his sightless eyes.
He measures his breathing and tries to wrangle back control of his emotions, because he can’t afford to panic or he’ll be unable to focus enough to find Foggy.
So Matt tries to push back precious memories of Foggy’s soft fur, his happy yips, his playful wiggles, his swishing tail, his sympathetic whines, his wet nose, his warm -
Suddenly, a chilling, numbing sensation dances across his skin. Matt barely has a chance to react before it’s gone. He’s about to write the odd feeling off, when his stomach drops.
Like the flip of a switch, everything is clear and his focus is back and the vicious hammering behind his temples fades until he can no longer feel it. The abrupt absence of pain is startling and definitely not normal. To test, he viciously pinches himself and the same thing happens.
It takes him only a short moment to process and get over the strange sensation before another one tugs at his chest and Matt is jumping into action. Quickly, he makes his way down the street to make a right at the second block over - because suddenly he can sense everything . Matt is a skeptic by nature, and questions everything - but this time, he just goes with it.
Some kind of… something is guiding him, the tugging feels not unlike a firm hand pulling him forward by the front of his shirt. And yea - Matt should be more suspicious… but the gentle tug is steady and sure, and it gives him a sense of reassurance because for some bizarre reason, he’s suddenly confident that Foggy’s unharmed. Matt needs to find Foggy now , and he’s not about to ‘look’ a gift horse in the mouth.
Wanda follows the golden canine with her sharp, brown eyes as he paces back and forth, impatiently waiting for his… his ‘Matt’.
The dog had come out of nowhere and probably saved her life - it was only fitting to repay it.
Whatever ‘it’ is.
Immediately she knew that the soul in this canine was different. Wanda would be quick to name it human , but the soul is strongly attached to the body it’s in; suggesting that the soul was born at the same time as the body… and not ‘transplanted,’ nor artificial.
Still. The soul within… who seems to call himself ‘Foggy’, is far too vibrant, emotional and complex to be anything other than human . Something definitely happened here, that’s for certain; and from the sudden jolt of fear the canine’s subconscious had when she brushed along the edges of his mind… it most likely has something to do with magic.
“... Wanda? Did you find Matt?”
Wanda blinks a few times before looking down into bright, worried blue eyes. “Not yet, but I think I’m close…”
Foggy scowls up at her, “What does that mean?”
The witch jerks her gaze away from the canine and closes her eyes, feigning indifference to hide her amusement. Okay. She’s pretty confident now that ‘Foggy’ is (or was) human, because an expression like that is completely un-natural and out of place on a canine’s face.
“It means that I’ve narrowed down the areas of New York that your friend could possibly be - but I still have never met him so…” She trails off as an idea comes to her, taking a steady breath, the witch furrows her brows and concentrates.
Foggy’s memories of Matt may not be helpful enough to seek out this unfamiliar person, but Matt’s probably thinking or worrying frantically over Foggy’s whereabouts.
Wanda hums under her breath for a moment, and pretty quickly, she’s certain she’s picked out a soul that might be Matt. There’s a lot of desperation and pain, and the witch grits her teeth and locks her jaw to fight a physical and mental flinch from the insane amount of stimulus that’s running through the young man’s mind.
Just when she’s about to pull back to regroup, she hears Foggy’s name in the man’s thoughts… but his mind is already working overtime - Wanda cannot enter his mind, at least not without falling into a coma. Side-barring her curiosity for now, the witch feels a wave of determination build up in her and when she pushes her awareness towards Matt again, she immediately masks his physical pains and tries to emit calm and assurance. She cannot talk to him, but hopefully he’ll follow her influence anyways - counting on his desperation to reunite with his canine companion will override his suspicion…
The young, blind man seems to take the bait, and Wanda feels the echoes of hope and anxiety before she lets her spell do it’s job and pulls her awareness back into herself. She opens her eyes and notices that at some point she had lowered herself into a crouch. In a second, her new canine friend is beside her, soundlessly offering her support. Giving the dog beside her a thankful smile, she answers his unspoken question.
“I’m fine - Matt’s on his way, Foggy.” Too tired to suppress it, the normally stoic witch dissolves into quiet giggles when she gets a careful kiss to her cheek as thanks.
“Thank you - It means a lot. Is he okay?”
“I didn’t sense anything from him other than a very bad headache.” Wanda hesitates before she continues, “He’s anxious to find you - I masked his awareness of the pain to make it easier for him to focus. I can’t communicate with him like I do with you, as least not now. His mind is too preoccupied, and even if I pushed harder, I’d just risk giving him a worse headache and he probably still wouldn’t hear me anyways.”
The dog nods firmly, indicating his understanding and Wanda can’t stop the easy smile.
There’s a beat of silence before either of them say anything.
“So… he’s on his way?”
“He’ll be here shortly.”
Silence falls between them again, and Wanda leans back on her hands so she can observe the anxious canine while he waits patiently for this companion.
Wanda wonders at how Foggy was able to communicate mentally with her of his own ability. He reached out to her mind, almost on instinct; or… maybe it was a human habit? The longer she sits in silence with the golden animal, the more impressions she’s receiving of this soul.
Wanda’s certain that there’s something going on. That something happened to this soul, but she’s weary to just break in and start reading everything. She’s getting better at keeping a distance… but she wants to offer her help.
She throws the idea around in her head for a few seconds, before deciding that she’ll try - but before she does, she reaches out to see how far away ‘Matt’ is. Four blocks, with obstacles.
Wanda had a sample of the guy’s hearing sense, and she has a feeling this Foggy doesn’t want ‘Matt’ to ‘overhear’ this conversation.
“Foggy? Can I ask you something?” The retriever mix had turned around and laid down at some point in the last five minutes. So the young witch waits for the canine to lift his head from his forepaws.
“Yea… sure. Go ahead.” The words are nonchalant, but the tense and tone behind it are hesitant. So he already has a good idea of what she wants to ask.
Wanda shuffles closer to the canine and resettles herself on the ground beside his prone form and purses her lips for a moment.
“... I have a feeling you weren’t always…”
She hesitates as she has a problem finding the right word...
“An adorkable four-legged member of the canine species?” There’s amusement underlying his tone and his canine features quirk comically to punctuate his question.
Wanda feels the unease unfurl from her chest and even finds herself smiling.
“Not the exact wording I would use - but yes. It’s… not normal, for animals to… to talk, even telepathically.”
“Then you’ve never read Harry Potter , have you?”
She bites her lip in an effort to keep her smile from widening, but after a moment of deliberation it’s quick to disappear. Wanda senses that Foggy is not above using humor to avoid a difficult subject - and they are running out of time for privacy to ‘talk’ about it. Matt’s only three blocks away now.
“You are… or ‘were’ a human.” Wanda chooses to state when she now knows is a fact . Wanda receives (probably by mistake) a flicker of an image in her mind of a teenage boy with sun-colored locks and bright blue eyes, almost mirroring those of the canine’s in front of her.
“That’s really not a question.” Foggy’s voice is reluctant and flat, but Wanda perserviers.
“I understand if this is not something you want to talk about - ” Wanda lets herself trail off there, because she can feel the other wanting to cut in.
“It’s not something that I like to think about.” The blue-eyed canine corrects, a little snappy and defensive. She senses him closing off a little, partially out of fear - of exposure? Of possible harm? Wanda doesn’t know, and it’s not something she can do anything about.
Wanda lets the silence hang in the air until Foggy starts to move;
“I want to give you a gift - as a ‘thank you’ for saving me.”
“You’re bringing Matt to me; that’s plenty, and I really appreciate it.” The genuine gratitude from the canine had Wanda fighting a blush.
“What if I can help you talk to him?”
Wanda stands up in sync with the canine as he scrambles to stand up on his four legs to stare at her in shock. She gets a strong burst of excitement and trepidation. He’s hesitating, and Wanda’s not sure why -
The witch pivots around to stare at the man standing not too far behind her, getting a good look at the infamous ‘Matt.’ Too many emotions get stuck in her throat, and she doesn’t know if they are hers, or not - and she’s so consumed with sharing shock and a wave of relief with the new presence, that she barely registers the flurry of movement as a four-legged, golden blur shoots by her - only coming to a stop in the blind man’s strong embrace.
I'm sorry this took so long - I wrapped the chapter up here, because I'm not satisfied with the next scene quite yet.
(Updated End Note: July 2017)
I've recently quit my second job - it was taking way too much out of me, and it got to the point that I had to really ask myself if the extra money was really worth it. While it was definitely helping me (financially), I can live without it for a bit. And although money will be tight, I need to get back my mental and physical health - you only get one life, right?
Since writing really helps me emotionally and mentally, and it's something I've missed doing for so long now... my adoptive mom, after seeing me and how I was doing... suggested that I consider selling some of my writing and my original short stories, and taking a part in editing and submitting for writing contests.
She's an author herself, and has given me an idea of where I can start. It's not something I can make a living off of... but if I can have something that I do for me, something that makes me happy and feel fulfilled help make me some pocket money for things other than bills and necessities (which 98% of my paycheck goes to now)... let's just say I'm excited to give it a try! :)
So, I've been back on the writing horse for a few days now and... I just feel so much better already.
I thank you, for still reading, re-reading, and being encouraging and patient through all of this - with love, Kallen
Finally, the next chapter. I'm sincerely sorry for the long wait - but I hope you still enjoy. This was a difficult chapter to write.
Foggy couldn’t contain his relief at finally seeing Matt after everything that had happened - he was so worried! He barely notices how his doggie-form is wiggling, whining and whimpering, because he’s too busy melting into Matt embrace.
Matt’s squeezing him so tight, that Foggy can feel him shaking; or it could be him. He barely gives himself a two seconds to contemplate that before he just lets everything wash over him. Foggy can’t hear or even register his own whining and babbling; not over the sound of the older boy’s hitching, shaky breaths and choked off sobs.
He’s so damn relieved , that he hardly notices the faint tang of copper and iron that begins to bloom in the back of his mouth, brought in by his snuffling nose and the unconscious, uncontrollable flicks of his tongue.
Until he does.
Like the flip of a switch, his muscles lock up tight and his doggie-stomach drops out of his body when everything finally registers.
And suddenly, that’s all he smells, all Foggy senses .
Matt. Blood. Matt and Blood. Matt’s hurt. Matt’s bleeding. Matt’s hurt and bleeding.
“Ohmygod, Ohmygod, Ohmygod! No. Nononono - no! Matt .”
“Foggy… sweetie, Matt’s okay. He’s fine. Breathe , Foggy.”
The gentle, recently familiar female voice pushes to the front of his mind with the order, and Foggy jerks backwards, sucking in a quick breath. One breath. Then another, and another, until the haze of fear clears from his mind and he can begin think straight again.
Large, warm hands - tainted with the scent of blood, dirt and antiseptic - move from clutching the scruff at his neck and flank, to gently cradle his face. Matt leans back as if he’s trying to get Foggy to look directly at him, regardless of his blindness.
With the space now between them, Foggy’s finally able to visually assess Matt’s physical state and his heart gets caught in his throat, and with his next breath he nearly chokes on it.
“Foggy? Are you okay?” Matt’s words are hesitant and quietly spoken. He feels his heart trip in his chest and his eyes are now stuck on the large bandage wrapped around Matt’s head, skewing up his hair awkwardly.
His mind goes blank, and he feels speechless with disbelief.
Whatever vibe he’s giving off seems to have triggered something in his friend, because the next moment Matt’s lunging forward, trailing frantic hands all over Foggy and the poor canine-boy doesn't know what to do with this reaction. All he knows is that Matt’s chest is pressed to his own as the blind man reaches around to grope down his back, checking for injuries. He breathes in sharply at Matt’s sudden proximity - then in the next breath, he’s flinching away, because Foggy suddenly catches a hint of fresh blood, and it’s like a slap across the face to his super-doggie nose.
Matt’s hurting - bleeding - and the stupid, handsome idiot doesn’t even seem to notice!
“Foggy! Stop! Tell me what’s wrong?! Please, I can’t feel anything, buddy - where are you hurt?”
Adrenaline suddenly flares through his dog body like liquid fire, ending his paralysis and igniting his fear and concern into action. He starts trying to gently extract himself from Matt’s octopus arms, because he needs to set this idiot straight.
“No No No! Stop touching me you idiot! I’m fine! You’re the one that’s bleeding for God’s sake! Can’t you feel it you stupid neanderthal?! What’s the matter with you?!”
Matt finally allows Foggy to pull out of his arms, and the guy gives him a look which under normal circumstances, the teenager would find adorably sweet and a maybe a little sad on the older boy, but he’s far too riled up right now - because his ‘handsome wounded duck’ is actually wounded !
The canine growls and grumbles in frustration - throwing in a few sharp, punctuated barks int here for good measure.
“ I swear you are like a child! Do you have ANY Self preservation instinct?! YOU’RE worried about ME?! Take care of yourself, dumbass! You can’t care for me if you’re dead, asshole!”
He barely registers that he’s now whining and keening at Matt. The new space between them allows Foggy to quickly scan Matt head-to-toe, and after he lunges forward suddenly, knocking the crouching blind man on his ass as he shoves his nose into his stomach. A few quick sniffs there, and he pulls back again; the icy grip on his heart melts when he realizes that Matt’s not seriously injured. He can smell antiseptic and ointment, so at least the idiot got medical attention beforehand.
After his frantic assessment of Matt’s condition, Foggy concludes that the blood he had smelled was just a small, picked scab that he had accidently bumped with his nose when his lanky blind friend had embraced him. Despite the bandage around Matt’s head, he seemed to be okay.
But there was a ton of old , dried blood that was all over him, and Foggy knows Matt’s scent, better than he knows his own, and he knows that all that blood is Matt’s . Foggy keens and whines, unable to contain his fear and worry.
After seeing and determining for himself that Matt’s okay (and Wanda’s gentle, mental reassurance confirms this) he lets loose his frustration and fear - because if he doesn’t, he feels like he’ll explode.
So he finds himself standing up on all fours to turn around and take a few steps away from his self-sacrificing idiot best bud before pacing manically and letting the older boy know just how concerned and frightened he was, and how the idiot needs to be more careful .
Because Matt is his everything . He’s the most important person in his life, and he’s never felt as loved by anyone as he knows he’s loved by Matt. The thought of losing him because the idiot didn’t care about himself just… just pisses him off!
Foggy makes sure to let Matt hear what he’s feeling - because how else is the idiot going to know?!
Sprawled on the concrete, Matt’s fingers unconsciously dig into the gravel behind him for purchase only to find none. Because he’s not falling, but he thinks he feels his heart is breaking as Foggy pulls away in a flurry of babbles - interspersed with short growls, grumbles and sharp, pointed barks, and it all gives Matt the impression that Foggy’s currently telling him off.
What makes his heart drop into his stomach which starts swirling with guilt, are the interspersed whimpers and whines that pepper his canine’s monologue.
Oh God. He did it again. He left Foggy behind to indulge himself selfishly - Matt could have gone home, picked up Foggy and then went to the gym. At least then, Foggy would have been right there with Matt from the start of this whole mess. Instead, Foggy had been left with others, and then got lost trying to find him. Matt’s broken Foggy’s trust, he knows it. That has to be why his friend is so upset. Matt hurt Foggy’s feelings, and Matt is a terrible, terrible selfish person who doesn’t deserve Foggy’s love -
Suddenly a female voice breaks through his chaotic thoughts, but it’s not him that she’s addressing.
“Fr- Foggy! Stop!” The woman - standing across from where Matt’s still sprawled on the ground, smothers a laugh, clearing her throat before she continues. “Calm down. Look at me.”
The canine pauses mid-pace before following the gentle command to look at her over his shoulder and Matt feels a wave of despair wash over him and he’s struggling to swallow around the lump rising in his throat.
“... Foggy… sweetheart… Matt can’t hear you.” At this, Matt’s heart misses a beat in his chest in the same moment that his… his! Foggy is his! Canine companion tilts his head to the side, something Matt’s sensed him do many times before; to him. But right now, Foggy’s not looking at him, but at this woman.
There’s a pause, as if she was waiting for some kind of input or response before continuing.
“Foggy - Matt doesn’t understand what you’re saying. He thinks you’re mad at him.” Matt’s hurt, upset and jealous anger are being pushed aside as he contemplates the exchange before him as if he’s just a bystander, and not the topic of the (seemingly) one-sided conversation - but a high, pointed bark from Foggy tells Matt otherwise. The woman’s monotonous voice breaks as a short laugh escapes her, “Okay. Point taken. You are mad at him.” Matt’s heart drops out of his stomach and to the floor. “But he thinks it’s for a different reason. And he thinks you’re seriously mad at him.”
A curious whine comes from Foggy’s throat, but now Matt’s feeling unsettled and even more confused because how could this random stranger possibly know anything - but then it slaps him in the face, and he remembers the gentle voice in his head, the other… feeling in his mind offering him guidance to where he’s at now.
Outside of his mind, he hears the woman sigh. “Your Matt thinks you’re upset because he left you, and that you might not trust him anymore. That he let you down -” The mysterious witch doesn’t get to finish because suddenly Foggy’s rushing over, closing the distance between them and whining apologetically while licking at Matt’s jaw and cheeks.
Matt chokes on a sob of relief, because now Foggy’s gently pressing into him and comforting him - just like he always does. Matt wraps his arms protectively around his canine companion and sits up straighter - moving to tuck his legs underneath him as he now tries to reassure his friend that he’s really okay.
Instinctively, Matt’s hushing Foggy and running his large hands soothingly down the canine’s back while simultaneously tracking the presence of the mysterious woman - witch - in front of them as she slowly closes the distance until she’s standing about three feet away and looking down on them.
Wary, Matt lifts his head in her direction and asks bluntly. “Who are you?”
Foggy makes an admonishing yip and grumble at him, probably for his rudeness - but Foggy’s always been too trusting. Just because she helped Matt find him, doesn’t mean she might not have alternative motives.
“My name is Wanda. I am an associate of The Avengers .”
Matt pauses to think for a moment, running through his head what he knows about the well-known super-hero team. “You’re the... ?”
“Scarlet Witch. Yes.”
His brow scrunches in contemplation, and before he can ask another question the witch beats him to it.
“Foggy saved me. He was lost. I agreed to help him find you.”
Matt lets this information sink in. “But… you helped me find him...?” He trails off because he knows he’s right - as bizarre as that sounds out-loud, he senses her nod and her heartbeat doesn’t betray her.
“It was difficult to do so without entering your mind - you have a lot going on in there, and I’m beginning to think that it’s a usual thing for you,” Matt scowls and feels his hackles rise. Foggy stills in his arms and seems to hold his breath, waiting on Matt.
Despite the tension that’s no doubt coming off in waves from him (that Matt’s now thinking that the witch can feel), the woman doesn’t sound at all phased or threatened as she continues. “It’s probably why you can’t hear him.”
All the suspicions and theories and thoughts and everything that had been pinballing inside his head all come to a screeching halt at that sentence.
“... what did you say?”
There’s a brief moment of silence.
“You heard what I said.” The witch answers in a deadpan voice, but Matt can sense a hint of smug amusement coming off the words as well. He must have loosened his grip on Foggy during the exchange, because he feels the canine pull back a little to whine and lick at his jaw.
Dazed, Matt lifts his hands and resumes running his fingers through Foggy’s fur on his head, and absently scratches at his ears.
“... so that means… that you can hear him?”
“Yes. Foggy is… unique -” There’s another pause, long enough for Matt to get the impression that either the witch is talking to Foggy, or that Foggy is speaking to the witch in their minds.
“ - he’s actually the one that ‘spoke’ to me, first.”
Matt’s holds his breath for a moment, trying to push down the desperate hope he can feel trying to creep up. Foggy might be able to talk with the witch, but -
“You said you couldn’t… enter my mind, because -” Matt’s kinda put the pieces together already, but he’s still hesitant to voice his thoughts, because he’s never once (since Stick) spoken about his special abilities.
“-because of all the extra sensory data that you’re receiving. I’ve never entered a blind man’s mind before, but I have a feeling that even if I had, it wouldn’t be a comparable experience to yours.” The Scarlet Witch pauses another moment before continuing, “I can only speculate that you have extra-sensory abilities, enough for you to traverse and maneuver your way through the city to get here. Even with my suggestion and guidance, I wouldn’t be able to help you avoid tripping over, or running into anything.”
Matt only nods his head in acknowledgement, still on the defensive. Still wary.
“I have a suspicion that this wasn’t something you were born with.” She pauses for a long moment. Too long to be contemplation.
He feels Foggy shift slightly in his embrace.
“Foggy says there was an accident with a truck of chemical waste?” Matt jerks as if he’s shocked and he hears Foggy’s heart skip a beat in reaction to his panic.
“From the look on your face, I take it he is correct.”
Matt suddenly feels dizzy, and he’s thankful for the grounding hold he has on his friend’s coat. Even if he’s a minor reason for his panic right now.
He had told Foggy about the accident he was in when he was nine, that he had saved the man’s life and in return ended up blind. But he doesn’t remember telling Foggy about ‘chemical waste’ -
A concerned, curious whine interrupts his racing thoughts and at the gentle, inquiring nudge of Foggy’s wet nose the tension starts to drain from Matt’s shoulders.
There’s a long silence between the three of them before it’s broken by the witch’s voice, now soft with an apology, “... Foggy says he’s sorry. He didn’t know it was such a sensitive topic for you.” A pause. “And I’m sorry too.”
Unconsciously he shakes his head, a learned response to the stimulus of pity and apology from others, “It’s fine. I’m fine.” He mumbles. Then asks, “So - because of… my abilities…”
Thankfully, the witch was able to deduce what he was really asking before he had to try to voice it.
“ - you aren’t able to hear him when he projects to you.”
Matt sucks in a sharp breath and the tension is back in his body. “... What?” He replied, dumbfounded. His grip tightens in Foggy’s fur and the canine leans more heavily into him and Matt’s soaking up all the comfort his friend is offering him like a dehydrated sponge.
“You’re receiving so much extra-sensory data, that his…’voice’ is unable to reach you. Foggy’s weak projection towards you is being drowned out by everything else.”
Matt struggles to swallow the lump of disappointment in his throat. Glad he didn’t allow his hope to flood his system, because he’d be bleeding out by now.
But because Matt’s a masochist (apparently), he has to ask - even knowing that it might twist that knife of disappointment deeper. “So… others can… could hear him?”
The witch is silent for a few moments, and Matt doesn’t know what she’s doing. If she’s just trying to really give her response some thought or -
Or communicating with Foggy.
That thought hurts way more than he thinks it should.
“He… says he’s tried it with others, but that it’s never worked.” The woman laughs after another pause. “Apparently, he was able to persuade a girl one time to give him her sandwich, despite her previous objections and reluctance to feed him. He said he concentrated really hard, mentally telling and eventually she caved and gave him the sandwich, but he doesn’t know if that was his ‘voice’ or his ‘patented puppy eyes’.”
That startles a laugh out of Matt and he senses Foggy happily wagging his tail. Matt hugs Foggy to him and shoves his face into the soft, downy fur behind his ear at the side of his neck. A few breaths and he’s now holding back tears of sadness and disappointment. He squeezes Foggy briefly before relaxing his hold again, jealousy making him want to grind his teeth together to stave off a tantrum.
His Foggy - he has as much personality as Matt always thought. Of course he would. Even without Foggy’s inner voice and he words, his canine friend has displayed his sense of humor more times than Matt could count.
But Matt’s greedy.
He wants more .
Lost in his thoughts (again), Matt jerks back in surprise when he can feel and hear a short growl coming from Foggy.
For a terrifying moment, Matt thinks it’s directed toward him, and he’s about to release a dam of apologies before he’s interrupted.
“Sorry - that was directed at me, Matthew.” Another pause, “Foggy’s mighty protective of you.” Matt can hear the tone of fondness in her voice and his mind clears. “I told him I might… have a way to help him be heard by you.”
Matt’s heart skips in anticipation, but there’s confusion on his brow because why would that make Foggy… angry?
“Foggy says it’s up to you, Matthew. I can’t alter your senses in any way without risking their effectiveness… or your mind.” She relays cautiously.
Matt shivers involuntarily. The thought of such a thing sent chills down his spine. While he’d probably like to have his senses be just a ‘tad’ less… sensitive; because he could really do without hearing a hobo pissing in an alley three blocks away in the middle of the night - Matt didn’t want to lose his extensive awareness completely. Sensing heartbeats, being able to see through people’s lies and deceptions… being able to hear and in a way feel Foggy’s happiness as if it was his own…
Clearing his throat, Matt nods. “Okay, so what can you do then?” He squares his shoulders, bracing himself for the news.
“Well…” She pauses, sounding uncertain for a moment. Maybe she’s talking with Foggy?
Matt hates not knowing.
“... I’d essentially be boosting Foggy’s current ability. Just a little bit. Slightly. Enough so that he can ‘speak’ to you. It’ll essentially help him to use the link he’s already made with you.”
Matt feels Foggy move in his arms to stare at the woman now kneeling in front of them. “What do you mean a ‘link’?”
The woman makes a wincing sound, “Sorry… bad word choice. I’m… an empath. I am also a witch. So I can sense these things. The ‘link’ is more of an… emotional attachment? They are found between lovers, close friends, pets, family members… the more affection and trust, the stronger and brighter the ‘link’.”
“So… if you… ‘boost’ this… ‘link’ that Foggy has to me, we’d be able to speak with each other?” Matt’s an odd combination of hopeful and sceptical. It all still sounds very ‘Sci-Fi’ to him.
But then, New York just experienced an alien invasion, so…
“Yes and no. Foggy will be able to talk to you , but you do not have the ability to communicate that way. You’d have to speak aloud to respond to him. As Foggy has already shown me, you are aware that he understands what you say - what everyone says.”
“So you can hear him because of your own abilities, or can you… read his mind?”
She doesn’t offer any more explanation, and Matt senses the tension mount in her body so he decides to steer away from talking the subject. He can sympathize with her.
“Okay… so he’d only be able to talk to me? Mentally, I mean.”
The tension eases out of her frame. “Technically, Foggy would be able to ‘talk’ to anyone he has a strong, emotional attachment to. Or to someone with abilities like my own. But that’s about it.”
Matt feels excitement and anticipation pulsing through his veins, but there’s still one concern he has before he lets himself truly hope for this.
“This won’t hurt Foggy, will it?” His frame doesn’t even have the time to tense up before the Avenger shakes her head.
“No. I’ll make sure it’s painless, but he might get dizzy, and he’ll definitely be exhausted afterwards, so it’s not something I can do right now. We’d need to be somewhere he can sleep afterwards, and have a trashcan nearby in case he gets sick.” After hearing all this, Matt knows that if could be worse, but the idea of Foggy being incapacitated or sick at all isn’t something he’s comfortable with.
It’s something Matt wants, really wants, but he won’t put Foggy in potential danger to do it. Matt won’t allow Foggy to be in pain just so he can hear him. They’ve been managing well this far, they can continue as is. So long as Foggy doesn’t get hurt.
He’s been through enough already.
Matt shakes his head. “No. Thank you, but I don’t want to -” Matt’s interrupted by a sharp bark and suddenly Foggy’s jerking roughly out of his arms to face him. His friend starts babbling and barking at him, clearly agitated, but Matt will love Foggy whether he can hear him or not.
Foggy’s frantic babbles start turning into whines and Matt reaches forward to try and pull Foggy back to him.
He doesn’t need to tell Matt with words in his head that he loves him, or that he wants more peanut butter. Matt already knows. Foggy’s been telling Matt all along in his own ways - he doesn’t need to -
The frustrated sounds from his best friend stop abruptly and he immediately falls still.
“... Foggy wants to do this, Matt. He… he wants to talk to you, he wants…” Matt holds his breath in shock, because her voice sounds choked and wet with emotion.
Could this be what Foggy’s trying to show? Could these be Foggy’s emotions?
It’s enough to shock Matt into complete silence.
With a watery exhale, the witch composes herself and continues, “He wants to be heard . To be understood. He wants… desperately, to talk to you. To have you hear what he has to say verbatim.” She pauses for a breath, and now Matt’s the one with tears welling in his eyes and Matt has to bite his lip and steel himself against reacting too soon, because she’s not finished.
Matt will hear Foggy out.
“Foggy only wanted me to check with you, because if you didn’t want -”
Okay, Matt can’t hear Foggy out - because Matt doesn’t ever want Foggy to go down that train of thought. He lunges forward and pulls his best friend into a strong embrace.
He takes a deep, steadying breath. “Foggy - I want… I want to hear you, to hear everything you have to say.” Matt swallows down the lump that was in his throat and smiles at the keening noise Foggy makes as he leans heavily into Matt, and the canine’s relief is nearly tangible.
He’s so stupid, so blind (heh), for not seeing it before.
Of course Foggy wants this. He probably wants this worse than Matt.
“If Foggy wants this… I don’t like the thought of him going through all that, but if this is something Foggy wants…” Matt pulls back further to gently hold Foggy’s face in his hands, and brings it close to his own, regardless of the fact that Matt can’t look back at him; Matt wants Foggy to see the sincerity on his face as well as hear it in his words.
“If this is something you want to do, then I’ll be right by your side to keep you safe, and to care for you when you wake up.” Matt can’t help the smile that he feels blooming on his face.
“I can’t wait to hear everything you have to say.”