Greeting Cards for the Blind

June 16, 2018:

Luke is the next in line to try and get through to Matt Murdock and his self destructive ways.

Matt Murdock's Apartment

Hella sweet pad for a blind guy. Not so bad for a sighted one. If you don't mind the giant electronic billboard.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Danny Rand, Jessica Jones, Trish Walker, Azalea, Owen Mercer

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Whatever Luke Cage may or may not have heard about Matt Murdock's current state, he'll find the little-seen attorney responsive enough. It won't be more than a few hours after he sends that initial text that he gets a reply in kind saying, yes, he's free to come up to Matt's loft.

The apartment is on the eight floor of an industrial looking building in the kitchen, an old warehouse repurposed into condos in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood. A rap on the door will summon Matt's voice first, a short, distant, "Yeah, one sec," which translates into another minute before the door itself opens.

Say what you will about Matt Murdock. As accomplished as he may be about repressing his emotions, he's wearing this particular free-fall on his sleeve. Or rather, on his face. Which is a mess that his round-rimmed spectacles only partly obscure. A black eye on his left, a swollen cheekbone on his right, a knife-knick along the stubbled line of his jaw. He's dressed down from his workday clothes: just a black t-shirt and navy sweats.

Which is just as well. There's no way he could pass off these injuries at work short of saying he was hit by a bus. "Hey, Luke," he says with a lift of his chin. No kabuki-theater here, no need to hide the fact that he knew who was at his door before the man even knocked. Luke knows what he's capable of.

"Come on in," he adds, stepping back to allow the taller man entry into the foyer. "Want a beer?"


There is a distinctive clink of glass as Luke lifts his arm at the greeting, the bottles of a six pack making their presence known before the big man even has to bother with saying, "I brought my own. If you had been a chick it would've been ice cream." He plucks one out and passes it to Matt so the other man doesn't have to detour to the kitchen to raid the fridge. It gets sort of tapped into Matt's chest so there is no awkward trying to find the hand with the bottle song and dance. "You look like you've been hit by a bus." He says dryly, taking in the man's visage long enough as he walks by to deduce that it wasn't, in fact, a bus unless that bus has a mean right hook.


Matt puffs out air out of his crooked nose at that crack about ice-cream; it's short of a chuckle but shares some of the sentiment. He accepts the beer thrust into his chest with one hand. "Yeah, I've been keeping busy," he says of buses as he closes his front door and follows Luke deeper into the space.

Which reveals a spacious loft dominated by three large windows that overlook the neighborhood he guards so jealously — though the view is dominated by one particularly garish electronic billboard. The kitchen/living room is neatly kept enough, there's none of the classic telltale messes that are a hallmark of emotional tailspins. Truth be told, he hasn't stayed in the place in more than a month. "Take a seat wherever," the blind man says while he deftly uncaps the beer and makes his own way towards the small array of cushioned chairs in the space. "So what brings you, Cage?" Matt says, forthright and casually enough. "Talked with Jess, I guess?"


Luke sucks a whistle through this teeth at the space, taking it in with a vague nosiness that has him leaning this way and that to get a glance without physically invading the kitchen or the bedroom. And of course the glaring reason why Matt can even afford this place. He finally settles on a chair facing away from the billboard, setting the six pack down by his feet and plucking his own out from among the frosty brethren. He pops the top off with his thumbnail, one of those easy party tricks to do when you have super strength and bulletproof skin. "I did." He rumbles before he takes the first icy sip, then settle the bottle down to rest on his knee where it leaves a ring of condensation, darkening his jeans. "She's rubbing off on me, when my first instinct was to stake out your home and office instead of just sending you a text."


"Jesus," Matt murmurs, sightless eyes rolling behind his glasses. He falls into his seat, boneless. "That stakeout would have been boring as hell, Cage. I haven't been spending much time here or there lately." He drags the bottle to his lips for a slow swig, savoring the taste of something he's denied himself for the better part of the last month — one shared beer with Foggy aside.

There's no particular use dancing around it all, Matt decides. Luke Cage has come to 'talk,' and Matt Murdock has allowed him in with full knowledge of that fact. So, he talks. "Look, Luke, I appreciate the concern from Jess, and you, and the Aztec pantheon," the man allows in that quiet tone he favors. "And I'm the first to admit I'm not at my best right now. Things are shitty. But I'm not sitting around just… wallowing in that shit, you know? I'm trying to handle it the best way I know how."

Which probably says a good deal about his coping skills, or lack thereof.


"No, I wallow. Wallowing is my deal. But then again I didn't really have anything to lash out against, which you clearly do." He tips the mouth of his bottle towards Matt's face, even if the subtle nuances of his gestures are missed, it was at least alluded to with his voice. "So we'll sit, have a beer, you'll tell me everything is fine and give me a nice dog and pony show until I'm appeased, then I'll go home to Jessica, tell her everything is just fine and then probably get something thrown at my head. And she has a hell of an arm, Matt."


"You're actually telling me I need to confide my deep, dark secrets to you so your girlfriend won't beat you up, Cage?" Matt says, and now he does laugh, even if it's suffused with gallows humor. He tips his head backwards; were he anyone else, you'd say he was looking at the ceiling. The truth is, he's mulling, doing what Matt does — choosing with care the words and sentiments he means to show the world outside.

"Yeah, I've been lashing out," he admits with a little shrug of one shoulder. "Against some people who deserve it, like the Russian mob." A beat, a jut of his jaw. "Some others who didn't deserve it." He takes a long swallow of his beer before adding, "But the two I'm really after — the asshole who went after Trish and the… other women… and Fisk — they're in the wind. I haven't been able to find either of them, and not for lack of trying."


Of course, deep down Luke knows that Jessica would never raise a hand to him in actual anger, but the words seem to have their desired effect, and a bit of tension goes out of Luke's shoulders while he takes another sip of beer while Matt talks. "I guess the common concern is the ones that aren't deserving of it, and the fact that you're doing all of this solo. Your rolodex is full of specially powered friends who could help you…and keep you in check."


"Is that what you've come to do, Luke?" Matt says as he brings his head back upward and look his sometime companion in the eye, so to speak. "Keep me in check?" His lips twitch at the corners, and for all Luke may have relaxed, Matt's tone has a note of a challenge.

The moment passes quickly enough though, the coiled sentiment slowly exhaled. "I've kept people at a distance for a couple of reasons," he explains, finally. "For one, it limits the universe of people Fisk can go after in payback. He attacked the people I've saved because those are the only people he can link to me. That's not true of you, or of Jess, or Danny. Last time you went after him he blew up your bar. What happens if you do it again?"

He holds up a second finger. "Two. Fisk went after me through those women, and he somehow put a bug in Jonah Jameson's ear to make sure New York knew it. I had to take on the Russians, and I had to make clear it was me doing it, to send my own signal about what happens if anyone does something like that again. And that doing it right meant getting my hands dirty; I didn't see a need to dirty anyone else's."

His jaw sets and resets before he sets those two fingers down. "But," he admits quietly, "I get that this — he — isn't something I can tackle all alone. Or at least I do now."


Luke notes the different inflection in Matt's voice and in response he just sinks back into the chair he's occupying like he's weighing it down with the anchor that is Luke Cage. "I wish I could say I knew you better, man. But everyone's compass gets out of whack now and then, and it's good to have some reason to reevaluate whether or not your needle is on true north. But more importantly, whether or not you care that it is or isn't. For a long time I sat in the dark at Danny's house after the bar went up in flames. Blaming myself for putting those people in danger. Blaming myself for trusting people I never should have trusted. Believing. And some jerk lawyer told me I had no recourse. /And/ managed to convince me that I couldn't let this asshole get away with it. Practically in the same breath." He looks down to the bottle of beer that looks dwarfed in his hand, working his thumbnail under the corner of the label and starting to worry it off. "People are worried about you. Not so much that you can't handle yourself out there, but that when you're done scorching the earth? There's not going to be any of Matt Murdock left. So let me carry some of that burden, man. That's all I'm saying."


Whether anyone really knows Matt Murdock — whether the man's let himself be known by anyone — is very much a salient point in this whole conversation. "No legal recourse," is his answer on the matter of the advice Luke got from that 'jerk lawyer.' "There are always others. Owen thinks he could make 'Luke Cage' a real identity. Six does too, and I think she could probably deliver."

To the rest of Luke's speech? Matt dips his head downward as he rolls his beer back and forth in his hands. "Luke, I won't lie. I'm worried about losing myself, too. I'm a Catholic. Of course I worry about my soul. But…"

His jaw tightens. "This guy. He's gotta be stopped. And after all we've been through with him, a big part of me thinks that it's kind of like your problem of identity, Cage. There's no legal recourse. No path that doesn't end in his blood. Can you really blame me for not wanting to damn others along with me, if that turns out to be true?"


"No legal recourse." Luke repeats, dragging his hand down his goatee with a sigh. "Luke Cage becoming a real boy is all fine and well, but Fisk still knows about Carl Lucas. It's not so much to make Luke real as it is to make Carl disappear." His empty beer bottle is slipped back into the cardboard divider and another is slipped out. "Just like ending in blood is one thing. Ending in body bags is another." His foot catches the edge of the six pack holder and scoots it over in Matt's direction.


"That's what I said to Owen at the time," Matt says of Carl Lucas, and more importantly, Wilson Fisk's knowledge of Carl Lucas. "But if anyone could make Lucas have never existed, it's probably Six."

He reaches over to take that six-pack with some of that uncanny accuracy he displays when he's not playing up his blindness, plucking another beer up and using the corner of the table corner to pop the cap free. "You think anything short of a body bag is going to stop this guy?" he says, and there's no question to whom he's referring. The force of nature that's come to dominate their lives over the last six months. "We gave him to SHIELD tied up with a bow. His own chief scientist ready to testify. He made it disappear with a few phone calls and, I shit you not, a bag full of peanuts."


"Who /doesn't/ get out of legal ramifications with salty ballpark snacks." Luke says dryly, rewetting his tongue with a noisy gulp of beer. The problem with all of this, of course, is that Matt is a litigator, and he has an engrained knack of not only making a point but making it appealing to come to his side of an argument. "But when it's all said and done, the dust settles, the world is permanently free of one big bad guy. But also the Matt Murdock we've all come to know and love. Not to mention anyone that gets your way I imagine."


"Aww, Luke, I didn't know you cared," Matt says, cracking a smile. It's a friendly jab — Luke's presence, here, is proof enough of the sentiment. And that sentiment matters to him; he's genuinely touched, even if all sorts of basic rules of masculine protocol prohibit him from acknowledging it.

But then there's Luke's broader point. "I guess what I'd say to that," Matt says after a long, slow sip of his second beer, "is that maybe Matt Murdock dead, in jail, or damned is worth it to get rid of this particular bad guy. Do I want it to end that way? No. But maybe, just maybe, that's the smallest possible price to pay. It's certainly a lot less than what others have had to pay so far." His eyebrows lift and then drop in the vague semblance of a shrug.

He blows out a breath. "Look. What Jess said — it mattered. Az too. It helped. I'm — I'm willing to admit that I can't really do this alone. And I'm good with sharing some of the load."

Some being the operative word.


"I guess my Bromance greeting card got lost in the mail. On the front it had this epic fist bump, then on the inside was a limerick with anatomy specific rhymes." Luke jabs back, which is usually his default state with those he's close to, which alone should speak volumes to Luke himself that he does actually care beyond just on a Jones' Quest. "Not only that you can't do it alone, but that it'd be the most selfish thing I can imagine you doing. Some of us others want a piece of this guy too. So, you see, you'd be doing me a favor by dealing me in."


I guess my Bromance card was lost in the mail. Something about that prompts Matt to belt out a laugh. It's the first bonafide display of full-throated, undampened emotion he's shown this afternoon and perhaps longer — weeks? Call it the product of two beers, a month's worth of exhaustion, and more. It's half-a-minute before he can actually explain it:

"Luke," he breathes, "What the fuck am I supposed to do with a greeting card? I'm blind."

He cracks up again, so hard that he worries for a split second it'll crack into tears, that the laugh will be like a match and all the feelings he's been holding down will come bubbling up like so much kerosene.

It doesn't, but his brow does knit, and in this raw-nerved state he lets some sliver of his profound weariness and sadness show. "Aww, man," he says, to the ceiling above as much as Luke Cage. "I've made such a mess of things. With people I — I care about."


A grin is quirked when Matt starts laughing, the sort of smile that seems somewhat awkward because it's prideful that he was able to elicit such a response. Luke's head twists slightly to the side though, as if he doesn't get the joke but then it dawns on him. "The fist bump was in braille." He chuckles into his beer, the deep notes resonating off the inner glass walls that betrays to keen ears just how little liquid is left within. He exhales when Matt's amusement fades, "Nothing that can't be fixed. If you want to fix it."


Matt's brow knits into something pained when Luke says that all the damage he's done can be fixed. That expression could owe itself to a lack of confidence that it can, in fact, be fixed, or a rumination on all the things he'd have to do to fix it. Either way, he leaves that confession there, punctuating the exchange with a quiet exhale short of a sigh.

He also straightens himself up from the slouch in his sofa-chair. There's one last, mulling beat before he says: "I'll, ah, start getting the team together then," Matt says quietly, turning the empty bottle in his hands. "So everyone can get their payback."


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