“Matt. Finally awake. You can’t keep doing this to yourself!” Foggy was clenching two fistfuls of his own collar-length hair as he spun around to face the battered man laid out on the couch.
His eyes trailed slowly down Matt’s beaten and scarred body, dressed only in a pair of plain black boxers. He actually flinched, and not for the first time, when his critical gaze landed on the thick scar to the right of the man’s navel. It stood out in stark relief to the deep purple and black bruising of the surrounding skin.
Raking his fingers through his hair, he marveled at the appalling rainbow that marred his friend’s body—from the sickly yellowish-green blotches on his feet and ankles up to the dried, crusty blood smeared across his face. Each slash and cut drew a sympathetic wince, and Foggy could have sworn there were a few new ones.
Matt just groaned as he shifted his position slightly, searching for the glass of water on the coffee table. “Look, Foggy, you know why—”
Snatching up the glass, Foggy thrust it into Matt’s reaching hand. “I don’t know whether to be terrified that you’re going to get yourself killed or disgusted that you keep doing this to yourself. I keep finding you beaten half to death—”
“At least it’s only half.”
“It’s not funny, Matt, and I don’t want to hear it anymore.” Foggy backed away and dropped into one of the chairs across from the couch. “Even with the supposedly bullet- and slice-proof super suit, it doesn’t protect you from impacts from blunt instruments and fists. I mean, look at yourself!”
Matt sipped at the water and tried to give his law partner a grin that came out as more of a grimace. “You know I can’t.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Foggy propped his elbows on his knees and dropped his head into his hands. “Legally blind … all you can see is world on fire. Whatever the hell that means.” He slumped back on the cushions and stared up at the ceiling. “Okay, so maybe you can’t see the all the colors, but you can sure as hell feel them.”
After a moment, he scrambled up from the chair and paced around the room. “You keep this up and one of these days, one of the bad guys, or ninjas, or whatever, is going to drop kick you off a roof again and you won’t end up in a nice comfy dumpster, you’ll land right on your head on the concrete, and your cute little demon horns aren’t going to save you from breaking your damn neck!” He slammed both hands down on the back of the couch. “Let the cops do their job! That’s what they’re there for!”
“The cops can’t do what I do for my city. They can’t—”
“Matt!” Foggy shouted, completely exasperated. “So you got super-mega hearing and some kind of mutant sonar thing going on where you feel the beat of a butterfly’s wings from halfway around the world. I don’t care! None of that is going to keep you from getting killed!”
He spun away and stomped over to the bar dividing the living area from the small kitchen. “And it’s not just your city,” he whispered, leaning heavily on the counter, defeat showing in every line of his body. “It’s my city, and Karen’s, and everybody else’s that lives here and loves this wacky place.” Wearily, he shook his head. “What happened to the dream we had? Nelson and Murdock, righting wrongs and defending the innocent of Hell’s Kitchen through use of the law? I thought we were a team.”
Dropping onto the nearby stool, he turned back to study his partner on the couch, sadness overtaking the anger. “Karen came to work for us—not for us but with us. My God, can that woman research. It’s almost like she has this sixth sense that helps her put clues together. She’s part of the team, but she doesn’t know anything about all this.” He gestured wildly at the rumpled, blood-stained red and black suit lying on the floor. “I hate having to lie to her all the time for you. You know she knows something is going on and we’re keeping things from her. Hell! I wouldn’t even know about your extracurricular crime-fighting activities if I didn’t happen to find you unconscious and near death. Oh, ho!” He waggled his head and deepened his voice. “Matt Murdock looks like he’s been shoved through an industrial meat grinder and is suffering from massive blood loss. It must be Tuesday.”
One of the things Matt always liked about the guy he met in law school was his off-kilter sense of humor. Trouble was it cut too close to the bone at times. “We can’t tell her, Foggy, it’s too dangerous.”
“Too dangerous? Too dangerous!?!” Voice climbing an octave, Foggy heaved himself up from the stool and dragged his feet as he made his way back toward the man he thought he’d be partners with forever. “She’s been almost killed how many times already. How can knowing about you be any more dangerous? Somebody besides me could find you beaten and bloody in an alley next time, rip off the mask, and Daredevil’s true identity is exposed. Then they go after Karen because she’s next to you every day you manage to make an appearance at the office or in court.” He retrieved his blazer from the floor where he’d absently flung it earlier. “Shouldn’t she know what she’s dealing with? Shouldn’t she have a choice in the matter? It is her life after all, and you’re putting it on the line every single day.”
He shrugged it on the jacket and settled it around his shoulders. “It’s not right, Matt—you making this kind of decision for her. It’s not right that you did it to me. I thought I was not only your partner but your friend.” Head hanging with dejection and disappointment, he turned to make his way to the door. “I think I got some stuff to think about. Like maybe I should have been a butcher like Mom wanted.”
“Foggy, wait,” Matt called through a gasp as he attempted to sit up. “You’re leaving? D-don’t tell her.”
“Yes, I’m leaving and no, I’m not gonna tell her. You’re going to do the right thing by all of us, and you’re going to tell Karen about you moonlighting as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.”
Matt let out a long sigh. “And if I don’t because I still think it’s too dangerous for her?”
With a heavy sigh of his own, Foggy grasped the door knob. “I guess we might have to burn that bridge after we cross it.”
All Matt heard then was the door clicking softly closed.