“English is coming to town!”
Matt turns away from trying to concentrate on his internship applications for the summer and smiles at Foggy, who's burst through the door with all the enthusiasm he can muster. “I'm pretty sure that's not the real Paul Revere quote.”
Early in their fourth semester of being roommates, Foggy still laughs like Matt's jokes are a hilarious surprise every single time, no matter how weak the humor. “Joke's on you, buddy, I'm pretty sure Paul Revere never actually said that. Now, do you want to meet her or not?”
“The infamous Peggy Carter? Of course.” There are mentions of her at every Nelson family gathering, and especially at the few Martinelli family gatherings Matt has been dragged to. She's something of a legend in the family, Angie's partner for a long time even when work pulled them in opposite directions and even, in some way, now that Peggy's illness made her choose a home in DC to live in. “Am I invited?”
“Of course. I just got off the phone with Aunt Angie and she said to tell you that—well, that English is looking forward to meeting you.”
It's a gentle lie, probably. More of an omission than a lie. Maybe Peggy doesn't really know or remember much about him, and Angie is insisting, or maybe something else is off. Foggy's only a little embarrassed, though, not upset, so Matt makes himself ignore it. When Foggy lies to him, it's never for a bad reason. “What is she coming back for? The way you talked about it, I didn't think she was very mobile anymore.”
“She's not, but Aunt Angie is getting some kind of lifetime contributions to theater award, and English is insisting that she's coming. Aunt Angie keeps telling her not to do it but she's secretly over the moon, and she has told me that I am supposed to present myself and you for dinner some night when she's home.”
Matt turns all the way around. People like to face him when they talk to him, and this is more important than applications that won't be due for weeks. “I don't want to—I know how important she is to you and Angie. You don't get much time with her, and I don't want to interrupt.”
“If you were interrupting, I wouldn't invite you.” Foggy drops his bags in a fumble inside the closet on his side of the room, the one place in the room that's consistently messy enough to remind Matt that “messy” is the kindest word for Foggy's natural state and that he makes an effort every day to make their room livable for Matt. “Angie says that she's mentioned you on three separate occasions when they were talking about me. If she tries to make your name stick in her head, that's a good reason to invite you around, if you ask me.”
“By why would she—” Matt cuts himself off.
“Matt.” Matt isn't sure if he loves or hates that tone of voice more. It's the one Foggy uses when he's pitying him, but it also means affection and that sometime in the next day he's going to have a beer or a coffee bought for him. “Because she and Aunt Angie shamelessly play favorites and I'm it, and since I shamelessly play favorites and you're it, some of that translates over. I'm going to see them on my own while she's here too, but I want you to meet her.”
Matt doesn't know what to say to that. There are a hundred things he could say and he doesn't know if he can manage any of the more important ones, or if Foggy would let him even start to say them. “As long as you're sure. Of course I'd like to meet the famous English, and I like Angie.”
“And she likes you, buddy. Now, I need to google this award Angie is getting so it sounds like I know what I'm talking about when I'm congratulating her.”
Foggy has been telling increasingly improbable stories about her and the people at her dinner table for the whole trip to Brooklyn, and now he's almost vibrating with excitement as he knocks on the door. Inside, Angie exclaims and goes right to the door, and opens it in a flurry of greetings and kisses to the cheek. Her perfume is strong, but as much as his nose itches he likes it, because it's one of the smells that lingers on Foggy and usually means that he's happy.
“Come in, come on in both of you, Peg has been looking forward to this all day. She's right in the living room.”
“Thank you for having me, Ms. Martinelli,” Matt says as Foggy tows him along in his wake. Matt has been to Angie's house once before, so he doesn't need much help, but he's glad for it anyway.
“Anytime, Matt. And haven't I told you to call me Angie?”
“It's just his way of flirting with you,” says Foggy, and then they're in the living room, and Matt can't get an accurate sensory impression of Peggy Carter because Foggy is hugging her gently but firmly, saying hello and that he's missed her in whispers Matt tries not to listen to. Finally, he stands up straight and steps away. “English, this is Matt Murdock, he's my roommate in law school and my best friend. Matt, this is Peggy Carter, most badass woman you'll ever meet.”
“Ms. Carter.” She's in a wheelchair, so he finds his way slowly to Foggy's voice and extends his hand when he's just a little too far and a little too high. She hasn't spoken yet. He doesn't really have an excuse to know. “I've heard so much about you.”
Foggy grabs his elbow and gently maneuvers him into a better position until his palm meets hers. The skin is thin and a little dry, but her grip is strong enough that Matt can imagine how it must have been when she was younger and stronger. “Mr. Murdock.” British. He knew that, but it's confirmed in a second by her accent, even though she's lived in the United States for her entire adult life. The accent isn't as crisp as it is when Foggy is imitating her in stories, but that might be a side effect of tiredness and her medical condition. “I can say the same, though I admit I don't remember all of it. Don't be offended if I ask you to repeat yourself.”
“Of course not.”
“Both of you sit down. Foggy, these two are just going to be polite all night, aren't they?”
Foggy laughs and guides Matt to the couch, sitting him down while Angie and Peggy settle down facing them, sitting close, an easy pattern after years and years spent together. Matt may never know why Peggy moved to DC instead of staying with Angie when the dementia started getting bad enough to impact her quality of life, but he wonders how either of them stands it, when there's so much love there.
“Did Sharon drive you up?” Foggy is asking.
“Of course. But she's out with friends, so you won't get to renew your courtship.”
That has a teasing air, and Foggy's awkward laugh proves it, and Matt grins and elbows him in the side. “What's this about a courtship?”
“Nope, you are never meeting Sharon, because she's gorgeous and almost as badass as her aunt and thus you would seduce her in about three seconds flat and my seventeen-year-old self would actually die of jealousy.”
Matt is supposed to be impressing Peggy Carter, he knows that, but he doesn't know how to impress families. The Nelsons didn't need impressing, and he tried his best with Angie but thinks she mostly felt sorry for him the first time she met him. This doesn't seem likely to be that easy. He does, however, know how to tease Foggy. “As badass as Marci?”
“Bite your tongue, man, I'm pretty sure if the two of them ever met the world would explode. Sharon works for one of the alphabet agencies down in DC—right, English?”
“Right.” Dry, amused. Matt can already tell why Foggy loves her just as much as he does Angie. “Now, my memory may be bad, but I don't believe I've ever heard of a Marci ...”
“Funny, I haven't either,” says Angie. There's an expectant silence.
“You are dead to me,” Foggy informs Matt, so happily that Matt doesn't take it seriously even for a second. “And the next time you get a crush I am throwing you under the bus.”
Angie takes over then, interrogating Foggy about Marci with all the finesse and precision of a trained investigator. Peggy is quiet, and Matt stays that way too, like he usually does when Foggy is with his family.
After an hour, Angie starts talking about making dinner, and Foggy squeezes Matt's arm and goes with her, leaving Matt to sit in awkward silence with Peggy Carter. He inhales, ready to ask some inane question that won't endear him to her at all, and to his surprise, she laughs before he can do it. “You look as though you're terrified of me. Don't worry, I no longer have the ability to put you on the ground and threaten you with everything I'll do if you hurt my favorite nephew.”
“I'm not—Foggy is my best friend. I'm not going to hurt him.” He lies to him, but that's for his own safety, for the safety of their friendship, for a hundred reasons. He hopes that if Foggy ever finds out, he'll understand those reasons, even the ones Matt can't quite articulate to himself. “And I won't let anyone else do it if I can help it.” That, he knows, is too strong. “Though I don't think—”
“I know exactly what you mean, Mr. Murdock,” she says, and Matt has the strong and uncomfortable impression that she does, that she's learned in so little time what no one but Stick has learned since the accident. “But that's a comfort to hear. Foggy sings your praises. I'm glad to hear you return the feeling.”
“He's my family.”
That seems to satisfy her. “Do you have any other family, then? I think they've said that you've been around at holidays, but perhaps your family lives elsewhere.”
“No, I've lived here my whole life. And my father … my father died. When I was a kid.”
“I'm sure someone told me that. I'm sorry to make you tell me again.” She doesn't ask about other family. That makes him like her, though Foggy's love for her already put her at an advantage there. “You attend law school with Foggy, though, don't you? He seems to be enjoying himself. Though his hair has gotten very long.”
Matt breathes out. He's not sure she likes him, not when he has the feeling that she notices more than she lets on no matter what her memories are like, but she's at least accepted him enough to ask polite questions that he can answer, and he does answer them until Angie comes back to rescue him, complaining that she's been kicked out of her own kitchen.
“Doing okay in here?” she asks, a little too bright, and Matt hopes he doesn't look too relieved when Peggy says that everything is fine and Matt is just telling her about his class schedule.
Matt frowns. Angie unsubtly dragged Matt off to keep her company so Foggy could have some private time with Peggy, and was distracting enough that he wasn't listening, but usually he tunes in to mentions of his own name. “Who?” he asks, mostly because Foggy's statement begs the question.
“She didn't say. She … she gets most confused when she's talking about things like that. Reminiscing. Usually it means she's talking about something from the war or the years right after it.” He nudges Matt a little. “So hey, it could be Captain America, I think they met a time or two, the family has all kinds of wild theories.”
That's meant to be funny, Matt thinks, so he laughs and knows it comes out awkward. “I don't think I'm much like Captain America.”
“I don't know, buddy, you're weirdly buff. Maybe you've got a whole secret identity going on. Gonna join Iron Man blowing shit up?”
This time, Matt's laugh feels real. “I don't think that would work when I can't tell what I would be aiming at.”
Foggy laughs, but it fades away a second later. “She really did like you. In case you were worried.”
“I'm glad. I know how much you respect her opinion.”
“God, I wish you could have known her when we were kids. She was … she was great. She was smart, and it seemed like she knew everything about everything and everyone. And she's still smart and she can still read people, but … it's different. I don't know. It's tough.”
Matt hasn't ever lost someone like that. People get ripped out of his life, everyone he's cared about so far (he tries not to extrapolate that forward, tries not to think about what could rip Foggy away from him). It's never been slow. He's never known it was coming. He doesn't know which one is worse. “I felt like she knew everything about me right away,” he offers.
“It's very possible she's psychic. But like I said, she liked you. You can rest easy, buddy.”
He's still not sure of that, not with the force of the “Keep him safe” she whispered in his ear when they were saying goodbye, fierce like she has no doubt Matt can. “I'm glad,” he says instead of voicing his worry. “I liked her too.”
“Damn straight you did, I have the best aunts. Now, I have to tell you about Nick, Angie was saying that English had a great story about him when she and Sharon came up this morning.”
Matt lets Foggy's story float over him and soothe away both of their worries from the night.