Characters: Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Wilson Fisk, Peter Parker
Genre(s): Hurt/Comfort, Action, Angst, Drama
Spoilers: Man Without Fear #1, Daredevil Vol. 1, Nos. 16, 17, 226, 227, 228
Warnings: None, this chapter
Word Count: 3045
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 finds out that not all of Matt's friends have abandoned him. Some have just been out of the loop.
A/N: Thanks to the folks at Livejournal's Little_Details community for advice on medical treatment for falling into polluted water and hypothermia. Although I have, for the most part, been trying to keep this story set in 1986 with regard to technology (Kingpin's goons calling from pay phones instead of carrying cells, for example), I'm introducing one bit of anachronistic detail here. Today, many advance-practice nurses can prescribe medication (Source: "The Only Thing that Truly Separates Doctors from Nurses" by Shirie Leng, MD, appearing on Medpage Today's KevinMD blog for April 3, 2013). I do not believe that this was true in 1986, when Frank Miller wrote Born Again. It may have been true in 2004, when the Night Nurse made her first appearance in Daredevil canon (Volume 2, #58) in Bendis's King of Hell's Kitchen arc. However, as there has never been any indication that there is a doctor making rounds at the Night Nurse's clinic, and as we have canon support for Matt being given prescription-strength painkillers by the Night Nurse (Volume 2, #58 again!), I'm using it.
Foggy felt the cold December night air whistle past him as he plunged toward the East River. The wind ripped into him like an icy blade and the odors of rotting fish and sewage rose to assault him. The surface of the water felt like concrete when he hit and then the water accepted him, wrapped around him, poured over him, into his coat sleeves, down his collar, into his boots, numbing him, freezing him. He was dead. He was dead, he was dead, he was...
...Jerked abruptly upwards by something snagged on the back of his coat. His stomach lurched as his feet stopped treading water and started churning air. He thought something might have wrapped around his waist, but it was night and his vision was blurry from the water and he was cold and soaked to the skin, so maybe he wasn't thinking all that clearly. The wind tore at him again. He gasped and started to cough. And then, he was sitting on hard ground and someone bending over him in... Was that a wet-suit? He blinked his bleary eyes and tried to focus, even as he started to shiver. No. The suit was black and form-fitting, but its white eyes and the spider symbol on its chest told him that it was no wet-suit.
"Are you all right?" his rescuer asked. "Here's a tip for you: next time you want to go swimming in the dead of winter, try an indoor pool."
Foggy started to reply, but was seized by another coughing fit.
"Hey," Spider-Man said, sounding a good deal more concerned than he had a second ago. "Hey, are you okay?" He slapped a hand to his forehead. "No, of course you're not okay. You just took a dive into the East River in the middle of an Arctic cold snap. I'd better get you to a hospital."
"N-no!" Foggy gasped. "N-no, you've g-g-gotta save M-M-Matt!" His arms felt like they weighed a ton, but he struggled to clap his hands to Spider-Man's shoulders. "K-Kingpin," he said, struggling to make himself understood.
Spider-Man tensed. "What? Wait..." He drew marginally closer. "You look familiar. Did I ever...?" He sucked in his breath. "I remember. I yanked you out a window once, because I thought you were..." He took another breath. "You just said 'Matt'. Matt... Murdock?"
Foggy nodded emphatically. "Down there," he jerked his head toward the water and hoping that Spider-Man could still understand him through his chattering teeth. "In a taxi. Kingpin had it dumped off the pier. He... he knows."
Spider-Man flinched. "Knows? You mean...?" He took a deep breath. "Okay. You said he was in a taxi. Were the windows rolled up?"
"What?" Foggy couldn't believe this. "Why are you asking me all this? Why aren't you going after him?"
"Listen to me," Spider-Man said, his voice cutting through Foggy's anger like a whip. "I just fished you out of an ice bath. You need to get warm fast. If the taxi's windows were up, that buys us some time and I can get you to a hospital and then come back here with a flashlight, blankets... maybe some other stuff. If they weren't..." He hesitated.
Foggy dug his fingernails into the black costume. "If. They. Weren't?"
Spider-Man shook his head. "Nothing. I still get you to the nearest hospital now and... And I come back to see if I can... but... Look. You... you were just in that water. I'm not going to risk leaving you out here—not when it might kill you—not if there's a good chance that..."
...That Matt was already dead.
Foggy closed his eyes. "I wasn't close enough to see the windows," he admitted. "But..."
Spider-Man gripped Foggy's arms with both hands. "Let me get you to a medical center; there's one close by that won't ask you a bunch of hard questions and will give me those supplies. He's my friend, too, you know. I won't give up until I know for sure. "
Spider-Man slid an arm around his torso. "Are you okay with heights?"
Hang on a minute, Foggy thought. "Wh-what?"
"You don't see me cruising around the city in a car, do you? If you get dizzy, close your eyes."
Foggy sighed. "Th-that photographer who always snaps your picture for the Bugle isn't anywhere around right now, is he? Because if I see any photos of this in the paper tomorrow, I'll..."
"Yeah, you're a lawyer, right? Guess you'd know if you could make a case stick. Anyway," he said, lifting Foggy effortlessly over one shoulder, "don't worry." There was an odd note in his voice that sounded almost like amusement to Foggy. "If Peter Parker's out there tonight, I'll talk to him," he said. "Because," he went on, "as much as I'd like to see someone sue the pants off of Jameson, it'd probably end up costing the guy his job and I know he needs the money."
He kept his eyes closed for most of the trip, although there wasn't much he could do about his stomach feeling every rise and dip. He tried to convince himself that he was on a roller coaster—no, that he was safer than being on a roller coaster. He was trembling because he was freezing, not because he was terrified. He was... He was so glad that he hadn't had supper before he'd driven off in search of Matt.
"We're here," Spider-Man announced finally. "Just put your feet down." And Foggy realized that Spidey was bending forward, that his legs were currently gripping Spidey's torso, and complied. Almost immediately, his knees buckled, but Spidey was holding on to him and keeping him upright. He opened his eyes and looked around. He was standing in some kind of waiting room, in front of a large desk with a woman in a white nurse's uniform seated behind it. There was nobody else in the room, which was odd. Emergency rooms were never this empty.
The nurse gave them a once-over and her hand moved to the edge of her desk. A tone sounded once. "We can take it from here, Spider-Man," she said. "From the looks of things, the paperwork can wait. I'll assume you have a good reason for bringing him to us?"
"I'll fill in the blanks when I get back, Nurse," he said. "For right now, I need the best flashlight you've got and a bunch of blankets. Stick 'em in a garbage bag or something so they stay dry."
The door behind the desk opened and another nurse approached pushing a wheelchair. "Sir?"
"Looks like your carriage waits," Spidey said, helping the nurse to bundle him in.
"Find Matt," Foggy mumbled. His tongue was feeling heavy and his words were slurring, so he wasn't sure if he was making sense, but Spidey nodded.
"I will. Stay warm."
As the second nurse wheeled him off, Foggy could hear Spider-Man reiterating his need for the supplies.
They undressed him and wrapped him in an electric blanket until his teeth stopped chattering and his heart stopped pounding. Then, while he downed a cup of far-too-sweet hot chocolate, one of the nurses finally got around to asking him his name and why Spider-Man had brought him here.
As soon as he told them that Spidey had fished him out of the East River, they practically threw him into a decontamination shower. The cascading water stung, but the caustic soap was worse. About the only thing that kept him from running away screaming was that they had his clothes and, as bad as swimming in the East River was, streaking through Lower Manhattan in the dead of winter couldn't be all that much better. After the shower, they pumped his stomach. By then, he was beginning to understand what people meant when they talked about the cure being worse than the disease. His understanding deepened after they stabbed a needle into his thigh that felt like a kick from a horse.
"You don't know how lucky you are," one of the nurses said when he was finally permitted to put on a set of surgical scrubs and a bathrobe and wheeled to a cot. "A fall from the pier could have broken a few bones if it didn't kill you. And if you'd gone into that water with any cuts or abrasions..." She let her voice trail off ominously. "But, as I said, Mr. Nelson," her voice turned gentle, "you were lucky. Now rest. You've been through a lot tonight, but I think you're past the worst."
Sleep wasn't going to be hard. He was exhausted from his ordeal. But... "Did... Did Spider-Man come back?"
The nurse frowned. "I'm sorry. I don't know. I can try to find out for you."
"Do you know if anyone else has been brought in?"
"I'm sorry," the nurse said again. "That would be confidential. Rest."
"I'll ask. You rest."
Rest. They must have given him something to make him drowsy, or else he was finally crashing from an adrenaline high, because even though he tried to stay awake until the nurse returned, his eyelids lowered and he sank into a dreamless sleep.
When he opened his eyes, it was morning and he ached everywhere. When he turned his head, he found that he wasn't alone. Spider-Man, looking somewhat comical in a hospital-issue bathrobe sat in a corner chair, reading a magazine.
Foggy cleared his throat. "New costume?"
Spidey set the magazine down. "I've had it for a little while. Usually, I just wear it at ni—" He glanced down as though suddenly aware of what he was wearing. "Oh! You mean the... no," He chuckled. "No, it..." He paused. "It seems that if you dive into the East River, even if it's for a good reason, the nice ladies here insist on treating you for possible shock, hypothermia, bubonic plague... but I guess you know all that, huh?"
Foggy's lips twitched. Spider-Man seemed far too relaxed to be the bearer of bad news, but he still needed to hear what had happened. He struggled to sit up. "Is Matt...?"
"He's here. They were working on him, but he was in pretty bad shape when I found him." He shook his head. "He looked like he'd been run over by a Mack truck. What happened?"
"Um..." How much had Matt told him? "I..."
Spider-Man sighed. "Okay. Last night, you said that Kingpin knows. Just to make sure we're on the same page, I'm guessing he knows that Matt Murdock has a thing for red leather and billy clubs?"
"Oh, jeez. Fine. What can you tell me? I heard about his house blowing up a few weeks ago. I thought it might have been a gas main, but I'm guessing now it wasn't?"
"No," Foggy let out a long breath. "We don't... Matt's been trying to figure out how he got the information, but a few months ago, he—Matt—got a summons to appear before a grand jury on a charge of bribing a witness to perjure himself. This is public record; it was in the papers, so I'm pretty comfortable sharing that part. It's also completely untrue. Almost at the same time, his bank notified him that he'd missed two mortgage payments. That was also untrue."
"Uh... Reverend?" Spidey said, sounding embarrassed, "I'm the choir. The congregation's thataway." He waved toward the opposite wall.
Foggy gave him a pained smile. Then he took another breath and let it out. "By the time Matt called me about helping him with the grand jury," he continued, "which he did the next morning, it was from a pay phone. His own had been disconnected. As was his power. More missing payments he knew he'd made. Oh, and the IRS was investigating him for tax fraud. It still is, which means that his assets are currently frozen. It was a bunch of things, all of them adding up, wearing him down. It made it hard for him to focus on the upcoming hearing. I did my best—which was good enough to keep him out of prison, but not good enough to keep him from getting disbarred."
"Oh... sheesh." Spider-Man shook his head. "That's..."
"Yeah. On the one hand, I know I did everything I could, but on the other hand... anyway, after a day like that, I just... I couldn't bring myself to go home and see what was on TV and put the hearing out of my mind, you know?" It felt good to talk about this, but he knew he had to be careful. Just because Spidey happened to know that Matt was Daredevil didn't mean that he knew about Matt's enhanced senses. Matt definitely hadn't confided to him what had been going on, which made him wonder just how much Matt would want Foggy to disclose. "While I was on my way over with the pizzas, Matt's house blew up. I found him next to the rubble holding the remains of his costume. He's been staying with me ever since."
"Wow. And Kingpin...?"
Foggy sighed. "Look, don't get upset, but maybe you should talk to Matt about that one." He frowned. "You said he was in bad shape. What does that mean?"
Spidey sighed. "I'm not exactly a medical expert, but I guess I don't need to be to recognize when someone's been beaten to a pulp. I can't believe he lasted as long as he did."
Foggy's frown deepened. "Wait. You led me to believe he'd have enough air in there for you to chance getting me here and going back. Or was that just a trick to get me to go quietly?"
Spider-Man shook his head. "No, it wasn't a trick. It's just that when I took that dive—and I'm glad you told me that the car had just been run off the pier; it meant I had a pretty good idea of where to start searching—I found the taxi pretty fast. There was a hole in the window big enough to paddle a canoe through."
"Oh my G..." His mouth was suddenly dry. "B-but you said..."
"It was smashed from the inside. From what I could tell, it looked like he was strapped into the driver's seat and couldn't get the belt open. He smashed the window, cut himself free with a glass shard, and started swimming. If I'd waited about a minute more, I probably would've been there to see him surface and I could have saved myself an ice bath. And a decon shower."
"Sorry. If I'd known he could get out on his own, I..."
Spidey half rose from the chair. "Hey. Whoa, whoa, whoa! First of all, unlike you or me, he was bleeding, whether from that Mack truck or reasonable facsimile thereof, or from the glass, or both. Swimming in the East River with an open cut just about guarantees some kind of infection. Second of all, he probably swallowed some of that water on his way up. Third of all, he was injured, disoriented, and freezing. Fourth of all? Given the all the stuff he can normally do, I don't know if his little vision problem would interfere with his ability to find the shore under normal circumstances, but with everything else? I am very glad that I happened to be patrolling by the waterfront last night."
"Uh...yeah." He felt his face grow hot. "I... I didn't thank you for saving my life yet, did I?"
There was a pause. "First time or second time?"
"Well, there was that time I yanked you out of a window and didn't let you go 'splat'—even though I thought I was mad at you. Well, I was really mad at Daredevil. At least... I thought it was Daredevil, but it turned out to be some crook disguised as Daredevil who attacked me and then I found the real Daredevil and attacked him and then I tracked him back to your office where I... seriously underestimated the blind guy. But technically speaking, I did save your life."
"Technically speaking, it wouldn't have needed saving if you hadn't yanked me out the frigging window!" Foggy snapped.
"Details, details. And..." he let out a long breath, "...one very long overdue apology. I was way out of line. I would have been way out of line, even I'd been right about your being Daredevil."
"Yeah. Well, it was a long time ago." And he'd been scared stiff. "Out of curiosity, how old were you?"
"Then?" The question seemed to surprise him. "Seventeen, maybe eighteen. It was my senior year; that's one thing I'm sure of."
"Ah. Well," Foggy managed a tired smile, "I guess teenagers are allowed to be a little irresponsible sometimes." He frowned. Had he just seen the masked man flinch? "What did I say?"
"N-nothing. Sorry." He got up hastily. "I just... need some coffee. I'll..."
Foggy leaned toward him. "No. Wait. I did say something, didn't I?"
Spider-Man hesitated. "Not really," he replied, but his good cheer sounded forced. "Hey, you want me to grab you a cup, too?"
"Sure. Uh... Spidey?"
"Thanks. For telling me about Matt. And... thanks for saving my life. The second time."
Some of the tension seemed to leave the masked hero. "Any time."
Then he was gone, leaving Foggy to puzzle out exactly what had been going on beneath the surface of the conversation.
He returned empty-handed less than five minutes later, seeming a good deal more agitated. Foggy felt his heart sink. "What's happened?"
Spider-Man closed the door gently behind him. "I was walking by the nurse's station. They were talking among themselves. I don't think they knew I was there or knew they were talking loud enough for me to overhear, but..."
Spider-Man hesitated. "From what I could overhear, when I brought him in, he had a couple of broken ribs. One of them punctured a lung. They... they're giving him oxygen now and waiting to see if he'll need a chest tube."
Foggy let out a long breath. "Oh... golly."
Spider-Man sank back down to the chair where he'd been sitting earlier. "Yeah."