Characters: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Wilson Fisk
Genre(s): Hurt/Comfort, Action
Spoilers: Man Without Fear #1, Daredevil 226, 227, 228
Warnings: Mental breakdown
Word Count: 2798
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: Foggy has a request... but he might end up getting more than he bargained for....
A/N: Special thanks to Aiyokusama for advice on self-defense techniques.
Foggy Nelson was having fun. He suspected that Matt was as well. From his seat on one of the empty benches lining the walls, he'd watched as his best friend had attacked a heavy bag, almost as a man possessed, pummeling out the frustrations of the last few months. He guessed that Matt needed the release, but it hadn't stopped him from wincing a bit at the force of the blows and being extremely grateful that he hadn't been the one to sell Matt out to the Kingpin.
After a few minutes, though, Matt had stopped whaling on the bag, done some stretches, and switched to the gymnastics equipment. Foggy looked on in awe. It was one thing to realize that Matt was Daredevil. It was another thing to see him in action, out of costume. Because even though he now knew that Matt and Daredevil were one and the same, he'd still been having a hard time picturing his closest friend in that red suit and face mask. Until now. It was plain to Foggy that Matt was in his element, moving from vaulting horse to uneven bars, to rings, to floor with an ease and fluidity the like of which he had never dreamed Matt was capable. Matt might have been careless about the extent to which his blindness handicapped him, but he'd never demonstrated any kind of athletic ability before—unless pool sharking counted.
Maybe, Foggy thought with a smile, that was the point. These acrobatics were incredible to watch, but they didn't have much to do with training for a fight, the reason that Matt had given him for coming here. No, this was more like showing off... or opening up. Matt usually maintained a certain reserve. Foggy couldn't find a vestige of it now. Matt was done with holding back. Foggy had pleaded with Matt not to shut him out. Matt was going one better. He was letting him in.
It was another twenty minutes before Matt made his way unerringly to the bench, grabbed the towel he'd left there before starting his workout, and picked up a bottle of water. He draped the towel over his shoulders, untwisted the cap with a swift motion, raised it to his lips, and drank deep.
"Not too bored?" he asked Foggy.
"Are you kidding me?"
Matt smiled. "Just checking." He sighed. "I'll ache tomorrow, but it'll be worth it."
"If you say so," Foggy said dubiously. "But you looked good out there."
"I'm out of practice," Matt admitted. "I didn't realize it until everything started going wrong, but going out at night was a relief. I haven't done that in over a week and I think the strain was starting to tell."
Foggy nodded. "I get that. When you're in costume, the only thing you really have to hide is your face. The rest of the time, you're hiding everything else."
"And," Matt sighed, "from what you implied the other day, doing a lousy job of it."
"Hey," Foggy smiled, "I noticed that stuff because of all the time we've spent hanging around each other. It's not as obvious as I might have made it sound."
"Maybe not," Matt admitted, "but Kingpin found out somehow. And if I've been careless at times, you may not be the only one who's noticed." He took another swig of water.
"Even if that's true," Foggy said, "what's the thought process here? Matt Murdock seems to just keep his cane around for show... ergo, he's Daredevil? C'mon, I had to find you holding your costume to start thinking back about all the little things that didn't fit properly."
Matt nodded. "I've been trying to figure out how it could have happened. I'm careful about listening to make sure nobody's nearby when I change. I could have missed a security camera, though." He made a face. "I try not to suit up in unfamiliar places, but sometimes, I don't have a choice. It's possible that someone down on the street could have looked up and spotted me as Daredevil, slipping through my skylight."
"Yeah," Foggy nodded back. "And if you were injured out there, maybe you wouldn't have been paying as close attention."
"It's possible." Matt sighed. "On the one hand, Kingpin knows. Learning how he found out won't change that. On the other hand, if he has found out, others might in time. If there are precautions I can take..."
Foggy let out a long breath. "You don't think Kingpin's going to tell anyone?"
Matt shook his head. "He had to have known for months. If he wanted to spread the word, he would have done it by now."
"And if he changes his mind?"
Matt's expression turned grim. "Hopefully, I'll have dealt with him before he contemplates doing so." His fingers brushed the Braille watch on his wrist. "It's getting late," he said. "We should go. Is everything the way it was when we came in? No mud or snow tracked in?"
"No tracks, no spilled water, and we didn't bring any food with us, so no crumbs," Foggy replied cheerfully. "Are we coming back tomorrow night?"
"Assuming I didn't overdo it tonight," Matt said, stretching, "that's my plan. If you have something else you'd rather be doing, though..."
"No, I'm in. Unless you'd rather I wasn't," he added belatedly.
Matt smiled. "No, I'm actually glad of the company."
On the subway ride home, Foggy's eyes slid briefly over the other passengers in the car. He tensed.
"Are you all right?" Matt asked softly.
Foggy nodded. "Yeah, I thought..." The doors opened and several passengers exited. He exhaled. "Nothing. I thought I recognized one of the guys in the car from the trip down."
Matt chewed his lower lip for a moment, as though debating what to say next. "You did," he said finally. "I told you we were being watched."
He nodded. "My guess? He got off two stops early because he's either got a car or he's going to hail a cab. He knows we're probably going back to your place—if not now, then eventually. It's less suspicious than if he were to get off at our stop. Besides," he added, "someone else got on at the last stop and sat down two seats behind us—don't turn around," he added. "I recognize that wheezing breath. He tailed me from the library yesterday. We're under surveillance, but so far, all they're doing is watching."
"So far," Foggy gulped.
"Relax. Radar sense is 360 degrees. I can see how he's sitting. From the way he's holding himself, he's not planning an attack. No gun oil smell, so he's not armed. He's just here to make sure that we get off where we're expected to. If we don't, he'll report back that I'm on to them."
"Kingpin and his... people," Matt said. "I'm pretty sure you were right about his wanting to observe his handiwork up close." He sighed. "I'll have to face him sooner, rather than later. For now, though... I think he's waiting to see if I'm truly beaten or just taking a breather."
Foggy winced. "You're handling this pretty calmly."
"It's funny," Matt said slowly. "With all the stress of the last few weeks, with the hearing and the foreclosure and everything else hanging over me... it's almost a relief to know that I'm only being watched."
Their stop was coming up and Matt rose from his seat. Foggy followed suit. The doors parted, they disembarked and made their way through the station. At the foot of the steps that led to street-level, Matt paused. "Don't turn around when we get upstairs," he cautioned. "But just so you know, the guy you spotted is about 25 feet away. I'm guessing he's standing in a doorway across the street."
"And you're sure it's safe to go up?"
Foggy swallowed hard, but he kept pace with Matt and resisted the temptation to turn around and confirm their shadow. It wasn't until they were back in the apartment and he was putting the security chain on the door that he started breathing more easily.
Three nights later, Foggy waited until Matt dismounted from the parallel bars before he slowly got up from the bench and walked over, holding a water bottle.
Matt frowned. "You didn't have to come all the way over here," he said. "I can get that myself."
Matt tilted his head. "Your heart rate is spiking," he said with concern. "Are you okay?"
Foggy took a deep breath. "Sort of," he exhaled. "I guess... Matt, I'm sorry. This whole... thing is making me jumpy. I keep tensing up every time I hear footsteps behind me... or out in the hallway. When we're walking down the street, I wonder how many of the people we pass are keeping tabs. I..."
Matt put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said. "That's one reason I didn't want to involve you until now. They're after me, not you. There's no reason that you should have to start looking over your shoulder." He smiled. "I appreciate everything you've done, but it's probably best that I move on. I'll start looking for a place tom—"
"Hold it," Foggy interrupted. "That's not was I was hinting at. If it were, I wouldn't be interrupting your practice time to dump on you."
The relief on Matt's face yielded quickly to puzzlement. "Then...?"
Foggy took another breath. "I'd like you to teach me a few moves. No," he barreled on quickly, "not acrobatics. I know you've practiced that stuff for years and it'd probably take more time than I've got to learn half of them. But there has to be something you can show me that might give me a better chance if Kingpin decides to... to have his goons grab me to get to you."
Matt was silent for a long moment. His hand tightened on Foggy's shoulder. "You understand," he said slowly, "that anything I show you now is only to be used as a last resort. Your first, best defense should always be to run. However, if you can't..." His voice trailed off.
"If I can't?" Foggy prompted when Matt didn't continue.
"Put down the water," Matt directed. "Let's move over there." He gestured to a corner of the gym that was empty, save for a large mat on the floor. "Anyone looking in from the street has a good view of the fitness equipment, but that corner should be out of their line of sight."
"And you know this, how?"
Matt smiled. "When I was in elementary school, I used to stop by on my way home to watch Dad train. He didn't want me to come in. He kept telling me I needed a quiet place to study, which the gym never was during the day. But I spent a lot of time looking in the window." His face turned serious. "You're wearing a sweater," he said, all business. "Do you have a t-shirt under it?"
"Lose the sweater. And next time, if you have track pants, you might want to bring them..."
The moves that Matt taught him were quick and brutal, designed to break holds and facilitate escapes. "Once you're free," Matt reminded him, "go. These are defensive moves. Don't stick around to finish the fight."
Foggy nodded. He wasn't usually squeamish, but... "Do I really have to shatter someone's knee?"
"It's a good way to stop them from chasing after you," Matt pointed out. "But, no. Kicking the side of your opponent's knee will make it buckle, rather than shatter. He'll recover faster, though. Or she will," he added as an afterthought. When Foggy was silent, Matt gave him a reassuring smile. "You don't have to do this, you know."
"What's the matter?" Foggy grinned back. "Afraid of a little competition?"
They shared a laugh.
"Look," Foggy said seriously, "less than a week ago, you were ready to leave, because you thought it was the best way to protect me. I think what we're doing now is better."
"Possibly," Matt allowed. "Okay. Now, if someone has you in a hammerlock, what you need to do first is turn into it... here. Try it on me." He smiled. "Again, turn into it," he demonstrated, "and then follow up with a kick to the knee. Want to try?"
Foggy paused. "What if it works? I don't want to break your knee for real."
Matt grinned. "You're going to go at half speed. I'll talk you through it."
Matt took hold of Foggy's arm and twisted it behind his back. "What's your first move?"
"Turn into it," Foggy said, moving hesitantly.
"'Slow' doesn't mean 'awkward,'" Matt said. "Try it again. Better. Okay. What next?"
"I'm going to kick the side of your knee," Foggy replied. "If I mess up and kick too hard, I don't want to put you out of commission, for real."
"I can counter," Matt pointed out, "but all right. Give it a shot. Half speed... Hold it. You feel that?"
Foggy's heart rate sped up slightly. "Yeah, I feel... something. What..."
"You're just on the verge of doing real damage," Matt smiled. "The knee can only take so much pressure in that spot. A little more force, a little bit faster, and you'll have it."
"Again," Matt reminded him, "this is just enough to break the hold, but your opponent will recover quickly. When he does, he's going to come after you and he's going to be angry."
Foggy swallowed. "You really want me to try to break someone's kneecap."
"I want you to go through the motion at half speed, yes." He twisted Foggy's arm in another hammerlock. "Go. OWW!"
"MATT!" As Foggy's arm came free he turned and knelt down next to his best friend, who was groaning and holding his leg. "Matt, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."
Matt smiled. "If I'd been a real opponent, your next objective would be to increase the distance between us, not—OW!" His hand flew to his arm. "Okay, I deserved that," he admitted.
"Damned right. I thought I'd..."
"I know. But if you ever do end up having to use these moves in a real situation, you can expect that reaction. When you get it, don't stop to admire your handiwork or check if you really hurt the guy. Get out of there, fast." He clapped a hand to Foggy's shoulder. "Enough for tonight. Tomorrow, we'll tackle escaping from multiple opponents."
The thug with the wheezing breath who smelled of bacon grease and too much Aqua Velva was following him again, Matt thought darkly as he left the library. Leaving off his glasses hadn't deterred his tail in the slightest, so after a few days, he'd gone back to wearing them. Not for the first time, he wondered what Fisk was waiting for. It had been nearly three weeks since the hearing and Fisk still hadn't made his move. Matt realized that he was tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was time to speed things along.
He ducked into an alley, walked about halfway through, and waited. Sure enough, it wasn't long before he heard the familiar footfalls. He crouched behind a dumpster and waited.
The man was swearing under his breath and his heartbeat was faster than it should have been from such minimal exertion. Matt smiled. The thug was probably under strict orders to keep him under surveillance. If so, he had to be dreading the thought of reporting back to Kingpin that he'd lost his quarry. The man drew closer. He was walking slowly, his head moving from left to right as he looked for some clue as to Matt's whereabouts. Matt waited until the thug was nearly on top of him before he sprang from his hiding place, pushed the guy against the wall, and pressed his cane horizontally against his throat. "You've been following me for weeks," he hissed. "Why?"
His only answer was a panicked wheeze and he pulled the cane away fractionally. "Why?" he demanded a second time.
"Y-you're laboring under a misapprehending, sir. I w-was just taking an alternating route to my destination. I was not cognoscente of your presence in this thoroughfare."
Matt pressed his cane harder again. "Do me one favor," he snarled. "When you make your report to Fisk, you tell him that I'm done playing his games. You tell him I've got something to settle with him and I'm coming."
He withdrew his cane and stalked off, leaving the half-dazed thug slumped against the wall and trying to catch his breath. The stench of the man's sweat nearly overpowered the Aqua Velva.