You Know My Name

September 06, 2018:

Wilson Fisk and Matthew Murdock finally meet — face to face.

The open sea.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Kinsey Sheridan, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, Owen Mercer, Claire Temple, Foggy Nelson, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Wanda Maximoff, Pietro Maximoff

Mood Music: It's sort of obligatory.


Fade In…

Matt Murdock awakens tied to a chair bolted down on a floor. A floor that seems to be moving in tossing, turning, dizzying cadence, mingled with a smell of dirty ocean and gasoline. The yacht seems massive, simply by the sound of the wake it leaves in the water. It's coming to a stop, and perhaps that's what wakes him; the lurch of acceleration ending.

There's a thunk, clunk, splash, gurgle, muted-thump. Anchor.

He was not treated too kindly. Not when they took him, not terribly long after the smell of Jess' blood had filled the air as she took a shot that threatened to make her bleed out hard and fast, from a bullet that had come from almost a mile away. Not when they had him in the car, where Ikari had slammed his fist into Daredevil's mouth two or three times before a laconic man called Claude had simply jabbed a needle of sedative into his neck, even as Ikari had started relieving him of his possessions.

From the feel of Matt's neck, with several throbbing little bruises dancing along the skin, this process has been repeated several times.

And yet is any of this the most alarming part of what he experiences when he wakes? For there are other things to choose from. The faint ruffle of the boat's interior AC against his hair, for example, might provide one source of it: someone has removed his mask for him, though they've left him in the body armor.

Or how about the booming heartbeat of one Wilson Fisk, right there in the room with him?


Pain is the first thing thing Matt registers through the lingering hangover haze of sedatives. It's not that everything hurts. His sense of touch is too specific for that kind of generalized ache. No, he feels every inch of damage done to his body with precision, from his cracked third rib to his dislocated shoulder to the large welt along his left side. He feels the tendons on his neck, strained and weary and seemingly unable to support his subtly swaying head. He feels the ropes at his chest, his ankles, the cords pulled tight around the gauntleted wrists bound behind his lower back. He feels both of his lips, split and swollen. A tooth is loose, and he can taste the coppery tang of blood in his mou —

The blood. It brings back other associations and sense memories through the fog of drugged-up hangover. The smell of blood, Jessica Jones' blood, filling the air as it pulsed and spurted out of the gunshot wound. She was minutes away from dying and he couldn't, didn't save her.

Failure upon failure. He shuts his eyes tight as if to blot out the memory. It's the most useless gesture you can imagine, and it makes his whole battered skull ache. A skull which, he realizes as the drift of artificial breeze from the AC unit feathers his disheveled hair, is currently unencased. Exposed.

It's only after that realization, accompanied by a sinking feeling, that he hears the singular, percussive heartbeat of Wilson Fisk.

He's only heard it once before, but he'd know it anywhere. Fisk is there, just a few feet away from him. Face, as it were, to face.

Adrenaline threads through him, and his heart wants to hammer out of his chest. A shocked snort of denial and anger flares his nostrils, like a bull before it charges. But he can't charge. He struggles against his bonds, his whole body surging and straining — to little or no effect.


"Good evening, Mr. Murdock. So kind of you to join us."

The seething quality of Wilson Fisk's voice has only ramped up as the pitched battle for the heart, soul, and real estate of Hell's Kitchen has continued to rage. The various efforts of Matt and his compatriots to disassemble bits and pieces of his operation out from under him have certainly angered him, and that pervasive fury is there for anyone to read under the seemingly urbane words.

He lets it hang in the air though. Matt's name.

And then, the rumble of his voice drops from a seethe to something as cold as the hard something he presses under Matt's jaw to force his head up. Some sort of gemstone, as odorless as anything really gets, but with the hard planes of a professional cut. The thing is about as large as a baby's fist, at the tip of what the world on fire registers as a cane.

"We have much to discuss, you and I."


Good evening, Mr. Murdock, says Wilson Fisk.

And with those four words, the oversized and urbane gangster upends the twin-towered house of cards that is Matt Murdock's life. Matt already knew Fisk would likely him, either from the Winter Soldier trial, or from his work with Jessica Jones or Danny Rand. But Fisk puts it right out there between them: I know your name.

Fisk's rage is an undercurrent, hidden under genteel words and the rough semblance of composure. Matt makes no attempt to hide his own anger, face still contorted from his fruitless strain against his bonds. "I don't make a habit of chatting with mass murderers," he says with a sneer. And when Fisk props up Matt's bruised jawline with a jeweled cane, he'll find transparent contempt glinting in those aimless hazel eyes. "Just do whatever you're going to do."

He dares Fisk to make an end, like a man who has given up on any kind of reprieve from on high. But see him still struggling against the ropes, arms squirming.


It's likely Fisk has some idea of the protection that red suit of Matt's offers. The gemstone disappears from beneath Matt's chin, leaving a slight scrape behind. There's a spike in adrenaline, in anger, from the man who smells of expensive fabric and cologne. The thunderous heartbeat kicks up a notch. But it's Matt's sense of proprioception that probably gives the warning.

The huge man takes one half-step back, flips the cane around into a two-handed grip, and rams it right into the struggling man's solar plexus, ironically both counting on the suit to keep this blow from being anything like lethal damage and feeling he needs that extra bit from the gem-topped cane to actually get past that armor enough to hurt the man.

He will give Matt a few moments to respond to that bit of cruelty before he leans down and speaks right in Matt's ear, his massive body just casting a cold shadow over every part of Matt's own. He enunciates each word with icy clarity.

"If you know how little concern I have over wiping out the human-shaped rodents which occupied our shabby neighborhood, Mr. Murdock, then you should know provoking me is most unwise. I have questions. You have answers. We can have a civil conversation, or we can have one that gets progressively uglier. The choice is yours."


The blow does get past the armor, and it does hurt. Matt's nervous system — already a strange beast — lights up like the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center when Fisk lands that blow. The vigilante's head arcs back, tendons of his neck taut as bowstrings, while his whole torso is roiled by spasms and mini-convulsions.

Matt is more open to the world than most, battered every minute by an endless stream of sensory data. But for a full-on thirty seconds, the only thing he knows or senses is pain. And it takes at least that long for air to fill his burning lungs, for his stuttering heartbeat to even out, for his synapses to focus on anything other than agony.

I'm going to die here, is the first thought that flits through his mind after that. The people he knows and love follow, not as images but as the strange packages of sensation and memory he makes of them: Kinsey, Foggy, Bucky & Jane, Luke & Danny… Jess.

He swallows hard, pushing the bile back down his throat. "Provoking you is my full time job these days," Matt says through a pained smile of red-tinted teeth. It's empty bravado and he knows it, but he will be damned if he's going to be cowed by this petulant, overgrown man-child.

"You want to ask me something, Fisk? Go ahead and ask. I'll decide if I want to answer."


"Yes, it rather has been, hasn't it? Two long years of sparring through proxies, and now we two finally truly meet face-to-face. I don't think Stark's gala really counts, do you?"

As if he'd never lost his temper, never issued a threat at all, Fisk crosses over to another part of the room. The cane isn't really used or leaned upon. An affectation. A weapon he carries that can get past any airport security station in the world, or any other type of security station. He might lean upon it when it suits him, but for now he just carries it.

The sharp smell of some top shelf Scotch fills the air, accompanied by the clink of a stopper being uncapped. The slight tink of a crystal decanter on glass. The gurgle of the pour. The clinks of things being capped and returned to their place, all before he takes up his drink and has a sip, coming to face Matt once more.

"I need to know the full extent of whom you've given information about my organization to. Have you confined it to your little circle? I already know about Mr. Franklin Nelson. Rand and Cage, the Winter Soldier and his woman, the butler, the addict, the robotic woman, the little nurse."

A slow sip of his scotch.

"The dead detective."

He lets that one hang in the air too before adding, "Anyone else, Mr. Murdock?"


While Wilson Fisk calmly pours himself what smells like some very fine single malt, Matt Murdock struggles mightily to regain his composure. For all his brave words, he's still winded minutes after the blow. His lungs are two furnaces, his chest and rib cage are gripped by writhing tendrils of agony.

But he's finding that white-hot hate is a powerful meditative focal point, and right now it rests on the mountain of a man standing before him with his good scotch and his gaudy cane.

Fisk asks his first question. Matt's first reply is a smirk: weary, long-suffering, borderline incredulous. But Wilson manages to wipe that off his face with the last person on that list of people who know too much about the Kingpin's business. The dead detective. Not Coulson. Who?

"You killed Decontreau?" Matt asks of the F.B.I agent Fisk had set on his case, genuinely surprised, though at this point no action of Wilson Fisk's should shock.

He doesn't wait for Fisk to answer, though, because no matter what his answer would be, Matt's reply will be the same. "If you think I'm going to add any more people to your goddamn kill list just to save myself some torture," he says with withering contempt, "then you don't know know me at all."


"I meant Jones, but the little agent's on the list as well."

He takes a long sip on that expensive whiskey, and sure enough there's another slam of the cane into Matt's gut.

But he doesn't raise his voice. He doesn't even seem to get angry this time.

In fact, he chuckles.

"Yes, you're a tough fellow, Mr. Murdock. Son of Battlin' Jack. Takes a licking and keeps on holding out, isn't that right? I don't doubt you really could avoid telling me one thing until the damage ended your life."

He runs the tip of that cane along Matt's cheekbone, and rumbles, "You're not worried about yourself. So let me just give you this to think on. So when I get bored torturing you, which I might just do for the fun of it, I'll just have to pick up someone else. One of the other women, I think. Robot-lady's as slippery as ten greased eels, but Temple? She's awfully vulnerable. I'll have her dragged up here, and I'll start in on her instead. I'll make sure you hear every crunch. Every pop. Every squish. Every scream."


She's dead she's dead she's dead she's dead. The words echo in Matt's head on repeat, crowding out all his focus and awareness. The wave of grief even goes some way towards numbing the searing pain from that second blow Wilson Fisk delivers to his gut.

He figured it, the second that bullet struck. It looked like a mortal wound and she was bleeding so fast…

Between the blow and the revelation his stony expression falters. And has little reason to reassert itself when Fisk goes on to describe what he'll do to Claire Temple. It's like the nine women Fisk murdered for his benefit, except ten times worse. Because these aren't nameless, faceless women he saved, they are people he knows and cares for.

One sliver of certitude keeps him going despite the promised horror. All those women? They're already on Fisk's list. And what Fisk wants is for Matt to put even more women in harm's way.

So, he doesn't answer. Instead, he asks: "What is the point of all this, Fisk? All this plotting, and all this scheming. The drugs and the murder and the torture. All for some glitzy condos? A new Apple store?" The question is both honest and rhetorical at once; it contains worlds of contempt and genuine curiosity.


For a long moment it seems like Fisk isn't going to answer. He drinks his Scotch. He makes a decent impression of some massive cobra staring at a trapped mouse.

At last he settles into a chair. Some massive leather swivel number that makes far more sense on a luxury boat like this than a tied up, beaten up man in body armor. It lets out some of that leather smell and squeak when Wilson settles his bulk into it.

"You think it's about the buildings, Matthew? It's not about the buildings at all. It's about the filth."

His voice crawls with distaste. With contempt that reverberates right down to his toes. The anger rises up in him again, adrenaline spiking, heart thundering.


"The filth," Matt repeats. His head cocks, almost as if he were trying to get a better vantage on the hulk seated across from him. "Wait, you're going to have to be a little clearer on that one, Wilson. Do you mean the actual, literal filth? Because I get that — more than you know." Says a man who can feel the grime on his pours, smell the pollutants in his nostrils. But he's made peace with it, because he loves the city despite itself, and, well: "It's a city of eight million people. There's gonna be some shit."

His lips twitch into a baffled smile; his fair expanse of brow knits. "Or… do you mean metaphorical filth? Because I hate to break it to you, but… the Russians, and their guns and sex slaves? The heroin and IGH shit you were pushing? You were the filth in Hell's Kitchen. You authored it, Wilson."

It's a dangerous game, goading a man like that when his is up. Especially a man who has shown all of Wilson Fisk's seemingly endless capacity for violence. But he has nothing to lose — and even unmasked, he has a moniker to live up to.


"Yes, yes, you're the saint, I'm the sinner, Matthew," Wilson rumbles, draining the rest of his scotch. "A perfectly sane worldview for you to hold because you are only paying attention to the little picture. Though perhaps that's all you're capable of seeing. You see all lives as equally meaningful. In reality, most of the people crawling through that cesspool were little better than the Russians. You did me a favor clearing them out by the way."

He stands up. Pours another drink. He also seems to stop and fix himself a snack. The salty-fish smell of caviar hits the room. So does the buttery-rich smell of foie gras, made all the more horrific when one juxtaposes how very lovely it can smell and taste versus how the stuff is actually made. Crackers. He spreads a little of the caviar on some of them, a little of the foie gras on others.

"Drunken, drug-addled subhuman morons, most of them. People who don't know how to dig themselves out of their mire and do not care to. Yes, I scourged our little neighborhood with the fires, as God scourged Sodom and Gommorah. Now what remains will be clean. Beautiful. Safe. Full of opportunity for the people who have enough drive, ambition, and intelligence to take it. People like yourself, in fact, had you not made it your mission to get in my way. Still. I admire your conviction, even if the endgame, for you, was always inevitable. It was always going to lead you right here."


It was inevitable, Fisk says, that Matt ended up here, tied to this chair, beaten bloody, with the 'Kingpin' lording over him in his final allotted hours. In doing so, he casts himself as some kind of unstoppable force of nature. He wanted Daredevil captured and ummasked. If Owen Mercer won't do it for high-grade heroin, Ikari would serve just as well. In the end, Wilson Fisk always gets what he wants.

And as Matt sits there in his bindings, listening to this urbane and vicious man make his decadent snack and pour himself another glass of single malt, the vigilante isn't sure he's entirely wrong. It maybe not be for the reasons Fisk has in mind, but Matt suddenly feels deep in his battered bones that there was always going to be some point where these two sons of Hell's Kitchen were going to share the same room, and meet face to face.

Certainly there was no other way for Matt to hear Fisk lay out his reasons for the parade of horrors he's created. That the Russians and other assorted underworld gangs he's conscripted were merely tools to the end of a more perfect New York City. That he viewed the bombings as cleansing, holy fire. That he was creating a place for people like Matt and Foggy: the ambitious and deserving.

Matt has been trying to put himself in the mind of this man for months, and now that he's hearing the contents of Fisk's thoughts unfiltered, he'd rather be almost anywhere else. See how his arms briefly twist and strain against their bindings again, as if he might really be making another run at breaking loose.

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about," Matt says, and they are surely words that have never been thrown at Wilson Fisk. "You may have grown up in Hell's Kitchen, had some kind of fucked up childhood there. Join the club. But you haven't lived on those streets with those people for a long time. So you don't even know who you murdered."

Matt angles his bruised and bloodied face towards the sound of Fisk's voice, sends a baleful if unfocused look his way. "But we do. That's why we're coming for you."


The words about his childhood produce an elevated heartbeat, a rush of adrenaline, a sharp intake of breath as sudden fury pounds over him in waves. Suddenly Wilson Fisk is very much in a killing rage.

Here's this chair. Bolted to the floor. In his fury, he literally rips it out with all 500 pounds of his strength, not quite peak human but not at all as weak and as flabby as people tend to believe he is. He hurls, bodily hurls, Matt and that chair across the floor.

It's one of those good news bad news things. On one hand, Matt just got hurled in his chair all the way across the floor of the boat. On the other, well. That might make certain maneuvers a lot easier for him. Bits of the chair certainly splinter and shatter.

In the meantime though, the massive man is following the trajectory of that chair, and one massive hand curls tightly around Matt's throat. He doesn't quite start choking the life out of him, but the grip is tight. "You don't know a damn thing about my childhood, Murdock," he seethes.

Genial talking time might be over.

"Last chance. Who else knows about my operations? For that matter," his grip tightens, "What is the identity of the woman, Six? I'm done screwing around, Daredevil."


It's a good way to break your neck, hurtling across the room in a chair like that. Matt and his seat fly through the air and hit the ground hard, rolling like nothing so much a crash test dummy and his car seat. A body that's already taken a legendary beating wins a few more bruises, and his whole shoulder lights up like it was doused with kerosene.

Matt barely has time to recover his wits before the Kingpin's on him with his wild strength. He wants answers, even while he's cutting off the air Matt needs to provide them.

For all the truly stupid things he does on a nightly basis, Matt Murdock doesn't have a death wish. He doesn't want to die here, in this clammy cell on Wilson Fisk's ridiculous boat. But it would be fitting, and in keeping with his arc. He dies to protect the identities of his friends and associates. To protect her. It's a martyr's end. Maybe even a hero's.

And it would be so easy, too. To sneer one more sneer, or throw over one more volley — something about Fisk's father would do it — and provoke the crime lord into snapping his neck, putting all the answers in his head forever out of reach.

But now that Matt has seen this man for what he is. He has seen the insatiable hunger and drive at the core of him, and he knows that letting Fisk kill him wouldn't fix anything. This man can't stop, won't stop, no matter how perfect the 'Clinton' he rebuilds atop the ruins of Hell's Kitchen will be. Nothing will fill the black hole at this man's center, or sate his fury at people long-since dead. He will find those Matt would die here to protect anyway, and destroy them like he did Jessica Jones, along with hundreds or thousands more, if history is any guide.

And so Matt Murdock makes his choice. He chooses to live, even if it means doing the unthinkable.

"Alright… alright….!" His face is blotching red, every muscle in his contorted body is a picture of tension. "I'll tell you… two of them… to start," he whispers, struggling to get the words through a cramped windpipe.

"But first, you have to answer another one of my questions."


Fisk lets him go abruptly. His infuriated breathing doesn't slow down. His heart keeps booming like a war drum. He remains crouched over Matt, seconds away from doling out more pain and misery, of calling in an order that might put someone else at risk, of doing something else…

Well.

Insane.

Beneath them, the boat rocks harder and faster. The smell of rain hits the air; a storm threatening. The skies are hours away from opening up already, but the signs and symptoms show up beneath the boat. Waves which slap and lap a little harder. Currents which subtly shift and tug, however ineffectually, at the anchor's chain.

And here and now, the storm that is Wilson Fisk, already ramped up to hurricane levels of danger.

"I have answered quite a few of your questions already this evening. The games are growing tiresome. But ask."

A humorless snort. "If only because my noblesse oblige will bear the asking."


Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk share certain things in common. They are both self-made men from the same broken neighborhood. They were each slaves to their fathers' dreams and victims of their foibles. They each hold the anger at their cores closely, until it burns too bright and too hot and has to be let out. They are both inveterate liars, especially to themselves.

But more than than that, they both believe in destiny: that some things are appointed, or meant to be. Matt believes fate is set by a jealous and unforgiving God, one who is willing to author or permit all kinds of hurts while demanding obedience and obeisance of the sufferers. Fisk casts himself in that role, believing that he exerts his own kind of gravitational pull that bends the world to his will as he makes his way through it. The casualties of his ambitions are just victims of fate; you might as well blame a hurricane.

Which of them is right, if either, could be put to the test momentarily.

Matt struggles to his knees, broken chair still tied behind him and forcing his back into a bow. He listens to the approaching storm, feels the floor beneath him shift and sway with the roiling waters, hears the blood surge and sound in his ears. He makes the decision he'd been wrestling with since he first woke up from that heavy, drug-induced sleep. It was the throw across the room that did it, ironically enough, not his vain struggling against his bonds. The roll across the floor and cracking of the chair gave his arms and hands just enough freedom to pry free a slight, slender trinket embedded in the lining of one red gauntlet.

Ask, Fisk commands in his baritone rumble.

And seemingly supplicant, in fact literally on his knees, a bruised and battered Matt Murdock raises his head towards the man towering over him and complies:

"Heads," he rasps, "or tails?"

With that question lingering in the air between them, Matt flips the coin in his palm, the one given to him months ago by people he had no business consorting with, the one that has been burning a hole in his pocket for months now, and sends it arcing behind his back.

The coin spins in the air, reflecting winking light back at Wilson Fisk as it reaches the apex, and then it's glowing, smoking, on its way down, before it even hits the floor and begins to do its ungodly work…

CONTINUED IN "REAPING THE WHIRLWIND."

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