Characters: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Wilson Fisk
Spoilers: Daredevil Vol 1, #228
Warnings: Mental breakdown
Word Count: 2138
Story Summary: Born Again AU. After the grand jury's ruling is handed down, Foggy can't help wondering if he could have done more. He decides to drop in on Matt and make sure that he's doing all right.
Chapter Summary: Matt reacts to Foggy's revelation last chapter.
Foggy hadn't anticipated the effect that his question would have on Matt, though given the way his best friend had been behaving, perhaps he should have. Matt lunged, closing the narrow gap between the two men, his hands extending toward Foggy's throat.
"What did you call me?" he demanded. "How did you know? How does he know?"
Unprepared, Foggy managed a single, frantic "Matt!" before the hands tightened, cutting off his air. He couldn't believe that this was happening. Gasping, he desperately brought his own hands up to Matt's arms, clawed at them, tried to pull them away. No good. The room started to fade before his eyes and all he could see was Matt's face, red with rage, barely human, filling his field of vision, then growing darker and darker as he choked, fighting desperately for oxygen...
As quickly as the attack had come, it ceased and he could breathe again. Matt had retreated back to 'his' spot against the door, holding up his hands as though he could see them. They were trembling, Foggy noted clinically, as he rubbed his neck, gulped in fresh air, and tried to ignore the voice in his head that told him that Matt had just tried to kill him.
"Foggy?" Matt's voice was a hoarse whisper, almost as though he'd been the one choking. "Are you...?"
"I'm right here, Matt," Foggy said wearily.
The tremor in Matt's hands intensified. "I thought... I almost... I could have..." He pressed himself against the door as though he would have retreated further had it not been in the way. "Oh, G-d, Foggy. I'm sorry."
For what seemed like a long time, neither man moved nor spoke. Finally, Matt took a deep breath and expelled it with an audible sigh. "How did you find out?"
Matt flinched. "I'm not going to attack you again," he said. "I can't believe I..." his voice trailed off, but the look of horror on his face was unmistakable.
"Makes two of us." It was a weak joke, but it was the best he could do at the moment. "Maybe," Foggy ventured, "I could have timed that better."
"No." Matt was shaking his head. "No. And even if you had, that doesn't excuse my reaction. I..." He took another breath. "I think I'm sick, Foggy. Something... I think there's something wrong with my mind." His face took on a probing look. It seemed to Foggy that it was almost as though Matt was trying to listen for his reaction.
Foggy inched closer, reached out, and placed a hand on Matt's arm.
Matt exhaled. "How did you know?" he asked again.
Foggy joined him against the door. "I think it really gelled for me yesterday," he admitted. "When I found you with the costume. What was left of it, I mean," he added. "You know, there were a couple of things about your twin brother that never sat right with me."
Matt tilted his head, questioning.
"After you lost your dad," Foggy continued, resting a hand on Matt's shoulder, "when you asked me to come back with you and help you pack up his things, I found some old photo albums. Obviously, I didn't think I could ask you to tell me who was in the pictures, but I admit I was curious and I leafed through. They were all of you and your dad. Nobody else."
"You don't know that," Matt's lips twitched. "If Mike and I were identical twins..."
"Then there would have been a bunch of photos of the two of you, side-by-side, in cute matching outfits."
Under his hand, Foggy felt Matt relax. "Circumstantial, but I'll concede your point."
"Not to mention that, while I was preparing your defense argument for the grand jury hearing, I had occasion to review some of your paperwork. Michael is your middle name. Now, while it's not precisely illegal to give two of your kids the same name, it's pretty unusual."
Matt expelled a short breath, almost like a laugh. "True."
"As I recall," Foggy went on, "the first time you ever mentioned Mike was when Karen and I both thought that you were Daredevil. Looks like we were right all along."
"I have to admit that faking blindness is a great cover."
"Excuse me?" His arm tensed.
"You pull it off well," Foggy continued calmly, "but every so often, you forget. Like when I got into the office early one day, noticed that one of the lights in the waiting room was burned out and decided to change it myself instead of waiting for building maintenance.
"The phone rang in my office," Foggy continued, and I thought it might be important, so I ran to answer it, leaving the stepladder in the middle of the floor. When I got off the phone and went back, it was just in time to see you walk in. You had your cane in one hand, an armload of packages in the other, and even though the stepladder was right in your path, you didn't hesitate for a second. You just detoured around it when you were more than a foot away.
Matt's fingers clenched around his cane. "So you decided my blindness was an act."
"No. Not then. But there've been other incidences. Like how you found your way back to the dorm the night your father died, even though the police drove us to the station and there was no way you could have known where we were. The times I've had to drop something in your office and found the latest Howard Journal sitting on your desk and not the Braille edition. And sometimes, when we're walking out on the street and you aren't paying that much attention, you just hold your cane, but you don't actually swing it. Little things add up."
"They do indeed," Matt whispered. "What else?"
"You told Glori that you could see."
Matt winced. "That was temporary."
Matt sighed. "Attention to detail always has been one of your strengths," he mused. Foggy watched his friend's jaw clench and unclench as he appeared to think something over. At last, Matt took a deep breath and exhaled. "Fine," he said wearily. "Yes, I'm Daredevil. And, as you correctly surmise, I created the Mike Murdock identity to allay your suspicions, when you and Karen came to that conclusion. Back in college, I told you that I lost my sight in a traffic accident and that's also true. But that wasn't the only thing that happened to me when the radioactive waste canister hit my face..."
"...And," Matt concluded, "again, I'm not trying to justify attacking you, but ever since I put it all together and realized that the Kingpin had learned that I was Daredevil, I've been trying to figure out how he found out."
Somewhere in the course of the explanation, Foggy had gone from resting his hand on Matt's arm to wrapping it around both of his shoulders. He removed it now. "So, after I confronted you just now, you decided I must have told him?" he demanded. "Boy, thanks a lot."
Matt slumped miserably. "I don't blame you for being mad," he said. "For weeks... months, now... it's felt like everyone was against me, like there was some... vendetta. I kept telling myself it was all in my head. Then when I found out that some of it wasn't, I... I started thinking that maybe I'd been right about everything. That..." His lips pressed together.
"That I might have deliberately botched your defense to ruin you," Foggy groaned.
"No!" Matt shook his head emphatically. "Foggy, I told you yesterday that you were brilliant. I meant it. You found precedents I never would have thought applied, you kept me out of prison, you did everything you could possibly have done—"
"And we still lost!" Foggy shot back, his anger dissolving in the face of yesterday's guilt.
"That wasn't your fault!" Matt gripped his forearm for emphasis. "I know that. I just... forgot."
"You forgot." Foggy took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's review. You told me that the radioactive waste enhanced your other senses."
Matt nodded. "Yes."
"Enhanced them to the point where you can tell whether someone is lying from the sound of their heartbeat."
"That's a primary indicator, yes. Sweat pheromones help too."
"All right." A hint of steel crept into his tone as he shrugged off Matt's hand. "Let's settle this, once and for all, then. Matt, I want you to listen to me and listen good, because I don't want to have to say it again. Are you ready? Okay. Now. I am not working with the Kingpin or any of your other enemies. I did not sell you out. I am on your side and, provided that you don't try to kill me again, you are welcome to stay here for as long as you need, until you're back on your feet again, for however long that takes. Meanwhile, I am going to work like hell to get your name cleared and your license restored—or die trying. How does your built-in polygraph read that?" For a moment, there was no reaction and Foggy wondered whether Matt had read some indication of falsehood, buried on a level so deep that Foggy didn't realize it was there. Then there was a tentative grip on his forearm. He smiled brought his free hand up to cover Matt's. "Well, Counselor?"
"You're telling the truth," Matt said raggedly. "I had to have known that before, too. I just..." His shoulders slumped. "Thank you. I know how badly I've messed things up, these last few months. You tried to warn me about the state of our practice. I ignored you. I... hated letting you down and..." Matt often forgot to face people when he was speaking to them, particularly when he was agitated. He turned toward Foggy now with a tired smile, "I guess I hated myself for doing it and figured you probably did, too."
"No," Foggy shook his head emphatically. "No way. I admit I was angry, but..."
"You had every right to be. And you would have had every right to... to hang up on me weeks ago, when I asked for your help after I first got the summons."
Foggy sighed. "Hey. You're still the best friend I've ever had. Even if you can be a real jerk sometimes." That got him a smile. Foggy grinned and stole a glance at his watch. "Now, is there any chance that we can have something to eat—lunch for me, breakfast for you—and hit the stores before they close?"
For answer, Matt rose to his feet. Foggy struggled to follow suit. Something poked him in the side.
With a rueful chuckle, Foggy gripped the cane and let Matt pull him up. "Thanks."
"No, Foggy. Thank you."
Wilson Fisk was a careful man, given to calm deliberation. He made no move without planning, no action without a realistic appraisal of the consequences. Now he gazed impassively at the man whom he had set to shadowing Matthew Murdock and gave a slight nod. "Report."
The lieutenant swallowed. "It is indeed behavior of the most fraternate variety that I observe while perusing Matt Murdock, as per your advisement, Kingpin. He goes with Nelson via an automotive conveyance to Columbus Circle, whereupon he enters a local establishment. Such establishment is being of the apparellous nature. Nelson facilitates Murdock's shopping experience through the use of credit cards, these being of the gold and platinum variety..."
As Kingpin listened, he pursed his lips together in a deep frown. "Continue your surveillance," he said at last. "If you see Murdock leave Nelson's apartment alone, notify me immediately. Particularly," he added, "should it appear that he is seeking lodgings elsewhere."
So. At least one of Murdock's friends was still standing by him. Steps might need to be taken, but not hastily. Nelson was a clever litigator; one whom Kingpin knew would be an asset to his organization. And Murdock might not stay with him for long. Yes, Fisk smiled, he could afford to bide his time and await further developments. And if he did indeed need to deal with Nelson, it would be unfortunate, but there were plenty of other brilliant attorneys in New York.
He smiled. If it were possible to eliminate Nelson in such a way that Murdock appeared to be at fault... yes, that might tie up the loose ends rather neatly. This would bear additional thought. His smile grew malevolent as he began to plan.