So Much For A Vacation

September 18, 2018:

Matt and Foggy reconnect after Fisk, there's talks of vacations… and then Hell comes to New York City.

Nelson & Murdock

You know it. You love it.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Wilson Fisk, Pepper Potts, Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Foggy Nelson hasn't had any downtime since the arrest of Wilson Fisk. The rest of the Defenders may be taking a breather, but their lawyer has literally thrown every waking hour into the cases that have loaded up his desk. He's been decidedly avoiding the paperwork associated with Tony Stark and Stark Industries, and the recent request from the director of Animal Control about why Asgardians need goats. He's instead working on a case that will be before a judge the next morning on getting every tenant from the still-closed-off apartment complex known as the Gardens back their homes.

The lights are on in his office while the city sits dark behind him. The receptionist and baby-faced paralegals have all been sent home, leaving Foggy with just a sandwich and cooling latte for dinner. He looks tired, fox-dotted tie loose around his neck and suit jacket thrown across the back of his chair. He is making some handwritten notes in the margins of his draft statements, frowning seriously at something before he starts to scratch it out with a deep sigh.

Foggy may be holding down the fort at the firm, but his partner's downtime has been less a matter of preference than necessity. It wasn't days after stumbling into Danny's mansion half-dead that Matt Murdock was throwing himself into the final showdown in the abandoned subway station beneath New York City Hall, taking punches, doing flips and spinning kicks and all kinds of things you really should not do when you've been beaten into something like the consistency of oatmeal and are nursing a broken rib.

He needed rest. And besides, he was a level of shitbeat that reads 'car accident' more than 'blind guy really needs a dog.' Not the best look to be sporting in the office. It's that latter reason that has him coming after hours, after their small-but-sprouting staff has all headed home and only Foggy Nelson is there to keep the lights on.

The door creaks open and it's him, walking stick in one hand, a paper bag held carefully in the other. He still hasn't replaced his lawyer's wardrobe — no court appearances for him right now — but he looks better than he did at rock bottom after the Hell's Kitchen bombings. Long-sleeved white oxford-cloth shirt and some gray chinos, serviceable brown shoes. He looks almost respectable, aside from the bruise-mottled features.

"Hey, Fog" he calls out into the foyer, quirking one of his subtler smiles as he sets the walking stick near the side of the door. "Brought coffee."

The sound of the door opening immediately freezes Foggy's pen on the paper, his paranoia at top-notch lately. He waits several long, breathless moments, heart pounding in his chest; then he catches sight of Matt's silhouette. He breathes out a slow exhale, shaking his head a bit. "Hey, Matt."

He sets down his pen on his printed sheets, and then starts to rub slowly at his face. He rolls his hands back through his hair, tugging at the blond mane before he drags himself out of his chair with a slight complaint of the old piece of furniture — something from back when they were a podunk law firm. He likes that chair.

"Coffee sounds great," he says as he steps out of his office. His eyes sweep over Matt, taking in each bruise and cut, and his voice becomes tired. "You look awful. But I'm getting used to you looking awful."

"Oh, ah, sorry, didn't mean to startle you." Foggy hadn't said anything, or given anything away except that slow exhale. The truth is he didn't need to, what with Matt having spent the last few years studying all the little involuntary tics and signals that make up the body's fight-or-flight response.

He makes his way into Foggy's office and sets down the bag on the tabletop, uncrumples the brown paper and reaches down with both hands to pluck out two white-rimmed paper cups. He plants one on Foggy's side of the desk — it's just how his partner likes it, down to the milligrams of proportion.

"Uh, thanks?" Matt says dryly on the commentary when he finally settles into that seat, his own cup of coffee in hand, and leans back against it with a sigh. "I'm on the mend. And at least it was — you know. Worth it, I guess."

Because they got him. After months — years, really, for Matt and Kinsey — they got their man in handcuffs, shipped off to the Raft awaiting trial. It's still hard for him to fathom. Some part of him always expected Wilson Fisk to pull a Kaiser Soze and just waltz away from everything if things ever got too hot. That he could — not will, but could face real accountability in the courts — is something he's still wrapping his mind around.

Among other things. "How are you holding up?" he asks before he takes a sip. It's not just small talk. Matt can sense stress the same way he can sense spiking fear — especially in those he knows well.

I'm never going to get used to that. Matt's extraordinary senses — smell, hearing — it all just sets him a bit uncertain about his world. At this point, he'd probably accept anything as reality — cupcake monsters, raining meatballs, talking raccoons (he did notice the sign at Luke's place…)

Foggy picks up the coffee cup with a smile of thanks, setting his butt down on the edge of his desk while he pops off the lid. He takes a sip of it, tasting the right proportions of sugar and cream — something he picked up from his mother despite the absolutely manliness of his father's black coffee with a hit of cinnamon. He settles into his coffee quietly, nodding at first to Matt's words. Worth it, I guess.

"Hope it sticks," he says, as if he knows what Matt is thinking — awaiting trial. Foggy has already gotten the request to speak as a witness, and if he could come up with clients that could provide statements and testimony before a jury. It has kept him busy, keeping his mind occupied, to avoid answering questions just like the one Matt just asked.

His mouth tightens and he shifts in his seat a bit on the edge of the desk. "My friends look like they started up a Fight Club, I can't seem to get on-top of all the paperwork piling up… I'm tired, but I don't want to sleep. I really am exhausted, man."

My friends look like they started up a fight club, Foggy says, and Matt smiles into his paper cup of coffee — black, with just a dash of milk to soften it. "We kinda did, I guess," he says, eyebrows lifting and dropping in the semblance of a shrug. "I — it's one of those things I'm getting used to. A real team." A beat, and then he adds a dry, deadpan: "I was, uh — you know. Never really one for team sports." Another beat: "I think we're gonna do it, though. Try and build something out of this."

The Defenders, is the name the streets gave them, and the Bugle coined. Why not? That's how 'Daredevil' was born, anyway.

Matt listens with some of his trademark empathy as Foggy talks about how tired he is. He presses his lips together and nods. "Yeah. I know you've — you've been carrying a lot of the weight off the streets," he says with regret, and a grace note of apology. For all Matt's night-life, this firm belongs to both of them, and they both share responsibility for it. "Maybe with — maybe with Fisk gone I can take up the load here. I got my vacation after Barnes and Wakanda." A beat. "Kind of." Aside from the genetically engineered sea-monsters that tried to eat him and his girlfriend. Nevermind that, though.

"Maybe it's time you took yours," he suggests, venturing a tired smile. "Go to the Bahamas, or something. What are all these bullshit billionaire retainers for, after all?"

"Yeah, I know," Foggy says dryly to Matt. Team Sports, indeed. Of course, Franklin Nelson's only experience was that stint in peewee hockey that he just never talks about except for rare, nostalgic occasions. It was a dark time for him that year stuck at his grandparents' place in Minneapolis. He takes another sip of coffee, letting it build a silence between the two. Then he finally gets to it. "Yeah, you should… it would be good to know that someone has your back…"

Because I don't know how I'm supposed to do that anymore, goes unspoken, but not unexpressed in those words.

The shade of apology from Matt draws Foggy into a lopsided, but still thin smile. "Wouldn't mind that, Matt… to be honest, I'm…" His throat tightens. "I'm not sure if we can do this the way we have been… Nelson and Murdock… it's supposed to be a shared thing, something we do together. I don't know… the last time you actually were here to work." His shoulders tighten and loosen with effort, as if he knows he's traipsing into delicate territory.

Maybe it's time you took yours, Matt suggests, and Nelson chuckles a bit. "Yeah, sure… hey, I hear Tahiti is nice this time of year."

But, of all the people in the world, Matt would hear the truth in those words, and the reality that will be Foggy toying with the idea for a couple weeks, maybe getting a tour-guide book, and even searches for tickets… and then never follows through. Because something comes up, as it always does.

Even if Foggy leaves his sentiment unspoken, it still stings. Matt's jaw tightens and his chin dips down towards the cooling cup in his hand. "I — know," he murmurs. "I mean, look, Fog, it's not as if I love the way things have been. I feel like I just went through hell and back, and was lucky to get out of the whole thing alive." He very nearly didn't, and has both visible and invisible war wounds to show for it. "And I hate having — you know. Let you down."

There's sincerity in his quiet tone, but his expression is tell to the inevitable caveat. "But this guy blew up our neighborhood, Fog," Matt continues, nodding his head out to the darkened window where the shadow of a construction crane looms. "I wish I'd done a lot of things differently over the last few months, but I know that just being Matt Murdock wouldn't have been enough. The city needed Daredevil. And that doesn't mean there's no place for Matt — it just means I need to find the balance. I can't promise I'll always maintain it, but I can promise that I'll always keep trying."

Matt's eyes close, his brow knits. "Look, you're my brother, Fog," he murmurs. "You're the only family I've got. And I'm sorry things have gotten so — so complicated. But I want a reboot. A fresh start. I want secrecy to stop being my default state of being, especially around my best friend." A smile then — rueful, wry — as he adds: "If you need time, God, take it. This firm will still be here when you get back."

His sightless eyes reopen. They can't meet Foggy's — never could — but they still convey worlds of regret and resolve, warmth and weariness.

"And so will I — promise."

When Matt tries to do the but, this is serious routine on Foggy, the Nelson half of their partnership frowns deeply. "You don't have to tell me about that, Matt… because I know. What do you think I've been doing since the bombings?" Besides eating Lucky Charms on Danny's couch, of course. "I've got about seventy clients who are just looking to get their homes back… their shitty, burned out homes that for some reason they want to go back to."

Probably for the same reasons that Nelson and Murdock have never moved out of Hell's Kitchen to a nicer place despite their retainers. Because home is home, no matter how much piss is on the floor and cockroaches in the walls. That's just the it of it.

Then Matt goes to that place that has Foggy sighing heavily, sinking into his seat for a heartbeat before he pushes forward, stepping up toward Matt so he can put his hand on the man's shoulder. He squeezes, perhaps harder than he should, but there's some purpose behind the intense grip. "We can do that, alright? But then we really got to do that… I told you that I got your back, and I meant it, man…"

Then he does something that he's sure they both need: he hugs Matt, full-bodied. For his side of it, it lets Foggy breathe out a breath he didn't realize he was holding.

Matt puts up a staying hand when Foggy communicates how very aware he is of what Wilson Fisk did to their neighborhood. Okay, I get it, I get it.

Beyond that, he just listens to his friend. Not only what the man says, but the squeak of the chair when he leans in it, the way it buckles and creaks and rolls when he shoves off of it towards Matt, and along with all the little telltale biochemical clues of Foggy Nelson's mental state.

Matt feels a hand clasp his shoulder tightly and shuts his eyes, deep furrows forming in his brow as a crest of complex emotions hit all at once. "I've got your back too," he insists in words barely more than a whisper, and then suddenly he's being embraced and returning that hug with the self-same force. There's something slightly pained in his smile, but it's not from the pressure.

Well, maybe it's a little from the pressure. Broken rib and all.

"I know you do," Foggy says in a gentle, genuine voice. "I never really doubted that, Matt."

He gives Matt one last good squeeze, because to hell with a broken rib. Then he steps back, shaking Matt's shoulder a bit before he lets him go. He runs a hand back through his hair, tugging at the roots briefly before he looks out at the city. It gives him somewhere to look while he rubs at his face, breathing deeply as his shoulders lift and then fall. It's all a way to settle himself once more.

"Jess doing okay? I haven't had a chance to go see her."

He glances to Matt.

Matt gives one of his trademark smiles: slight and rueful but genuine, when Foggy says that he never really doubted him. He doesn't quite believe it, in part because he knows that he's given his law partner and longtime friend so many reasons to doubt him over the last two years. But it's still a kindness, and all of them could use a little more of that following the crucible of Wilson Fisk.

He claps Foggy on the shoulder once as they disengage and settles back into his chair, propping his half-drunk cup of coffee against his sternum when Foggy segues to the most wounded Defender.

"She's a trooper," Matt says quietly, and with transparent fondness for the injured detective. Foggy knows as well as anyone that he and Jess have a complicated and sometimes complicated past, but lately there's nothing there but respect and affection. "She's taking her time to rest and heal, which is smart, but you can tell she's itching to get out of that bed. Get on that next case, she says."

His lip curls into a half-smile. "I think she wants to move Alias downstairs to the empty office space on the second floor. She asked us to talk to the landlord. Sort of took me by surprise — I thought she'd be working out of Luke's in Harlem."

Subtle as it is, it'd be hard for Foggy not to read the clear pleasure in his voice that she's keeping at least one foot in the Kitchen.

"Of course she is. Pretty sure it would take dropping a meteor on Jess to actually stop her." He glances back toward Matt now, a blade of blond hair already out of place. He really is in desperate need of a haircut, that leonine mane having grown quite a bit since the bombings. He doesn't have the time, particularly now that his barber's shop is rubble that is still barricaded with police tape. To get a haircut now requires him finding a new barber shop.

All of this is rolling around in his head, but comes to a complete halt when Matt mentions Jess moving Alias to their building. His eyes widen a bit in surprise. "Really?" He hesitates. "… Yeah, me too. I mean, those two are like two Armageddons from marital bliss."

He drops back into his own chair, finally taking back up his coffee cup to nurse at the cooling brew. He relaxes into it, and the chair, feeling a weight — completely metaphysical — pass down through his body and through the floor.

"I guess we could talk to Lewis about her moving in downstairs, but… I think he'll want to put a pretty hefty insurance policy on her unit. She's, uh, not exactly known for her office space intactment." Being able to casually drive your fist through a wall being the first example to pop into his mind. "We're mild-mannered lawyers. Lewis has become lulled by our sense of nothing-special-happening-here-ness." Despite the deadpan way he's delivered this, his mouth twitches with a smile. He shares in Matt's pleasure. "But, alright… if she's going to twist your arm about it, I can stop in and help get her settled in."

Matt rolls his sightless hazel eyes towards the ceiling when Foggy calls them mild-mannered lawyers, though he takes the point. "Yeah, that's what I told her," he says with a smile he doesn't need to force. "Her office was already ground zero for some crazy shit even before the bombings." He shrugs his shoulders, cocks his head, insufferably wry. "But I'm sure you'll work your Foggy Nelson magic."

His smile tempers a little, as he circles back to that his friend's throwaway quip. "Anyway, it's good," he says quietly of Luke and Jessica being one step away from wedding bells. "They've both been through hell. They deserve some happiness."

He draws in a long breath that flares his nostrils. "Stark had some kind of incapacitation memo that left Kinsey in charge of the company's cybernetics division while he's out," he adds, eyebrows lifting and dropping in the weary semblance of a shrug. "No rest for the weary there."

"So do you, Matt," Foggy says without missing a beat, as if his friend might need some encouragement there, too. He knows that there's Kinsey, but Matt can find unhappiness anywhere. Like Eeyore. He takes another sip of coffee as he listens to Matt talk about Stark.

He frowns. "Wait. Kinsey is heading up the cybernetics division of Stark Industries while Tony is comatose? Man… I know who wears the pants in your relationship now." He smiles ruefully to Matt before he settles back in his chair, looking out at the city lights. "Of course there's no rest… we can't rest. There's no time to rest. We're literally moving at a thousand miles per nanosecond. We, of course, being humanity. We're going to wake up tomorrow and there will be some other shitstorm happening that will make us question everything."

He salutes his cup briefly. "Welcome to the 21st Century."

Matt's leans his head against the back of his seat and 'looks' towards the ceiling when Foggy tells him that he, too, deserves happiness. His lips twitch, his already lined brow wrinkles further as he mulls the proposition — tries to imagine happiness as an attainable, persistent state.

Could it be possible for him in this brave, new, ostensibly Fisk-less world they've created? Maybe, as much as it ever was possible for Matt Murdock to be happy. If anything, the depths his fight with Fisk forced him to plumb have shown him that the reasons for his longstanding melancholy have deep roots, and more, that even a relationship with a genuinely good, loving person like Kinsey isn't enough to address those reasons on its own. If Matt's ever going to be happy, it'll take work of the kind he's not used to, and to which he's likely ill-suited. Is he up to it?

He tables those considerations in favor of a quiet, gentle, "Thanks, man." A smirk, slight, wry, and wicked curls his lips. "So do you. We really need to get you back on that horse. And cute as you and Pepper Potts would be, probably not with our biggest client."

A beat, and then a quiet-voiced but decisive: "…maybe you'll meet someone on the beach in Tahiti. You're totally going next week. No questions, no arguments. Don't even worry about the ticket or the hotel — I've got it. Just pack your bags and —"

He trails off, because he feels it before anyone can even see it: before the skyline outside Foggy's window starts to redden, with dense clouds turning a threatening shade of crimson, before the dragon's scream, and before demon's start falling from the sky. He can feel the inferno coming, just moments away.

"—get ready," Matt finishes, absently.

And Matt goes and mentions Pepper Potts, and Foggy Nelson chokes a bit on the sip of coffee he's taking. He wipes the back of his hand across his mouth, darting a glance toward Matt. "You're going to start trying to set me up on dates, Matt? This is how a really bad romcom starts."

Then he shakes his head ruefully. "I'm alright… I don't have time for anything else but work, and making sure you guys don't kill yourselves." Which is deflection, because truthfully, there is a sense of loneliness that lingers around Foggy — a reality that he would deny outright if anyone dares to point it out.

But then they are back on the topic of his vacation (which is never going to happen, and everyone knows it). "You trying to get rid of me, Murdock?" There's something distracted in his tone because he's staring out the window when the sky starts to turn crimson. He leans forward, frowning slightly at the alteration to the light — the way he can start to see the definition of the clouds. His chair creaks as he presses forward, getting to his feet as he steps closer to the window. "Is… that… what is that?"

Or a really good one, Matt might say to Foggy's quip about bad romcoms. Matt may be self-absorbed from time to time, but he's also attentive, attuned, and empathetic. It doesn't take supersenses to pick up on the fact that Foggy is struggling to adjust in this brave new world. He thinks he gets it, too. He's spent his life feeling like an outsider, not just disabled but freakish in a sea of 'normals.' It must be equally disorienting, he supposes, for Foggy Nelson to suddenly adrift in a sea of vigilantes and metahumans.

He might say something about it, do something about it, were it not for what's happening outside their windows. His head cants to one side, the way a cat does when it hears a sound — perceives a threat. Foggy asks what it is, and for all Matt's unusual abilities he can't begin to answer. His heart lurches in his chest. "I — I don't know," he stammers, breath quickening as he sets the cold remainder of his coffee on the desk and pushes himself to a rise.

"What do you see, Fog?" Because, for all Matt may have mislead Foggy about things he can and can't do, he still needs Foggy Nelson to be his eyes from time to time.

The question stalls Foggy for a heartbeat, because he can't even begin to find the words to describe it. He starts and stops a couple times before his mouth stretches thin. "Hell, Matt. That's what I see… it looks like the whole sky is on fire, and it's starting to stretch down to the ground." He glances toward Matt, and then steps past him. He grabs up his cell phone, tapping his Radio app that opens up some a variety of New York-based stations. He picks the news radio and finds… only static.

"Matt… something's happening out there."

"Jesus Christ," Matt whispers. Is it a curse, or a prayer? It's hard to tell, since either would be appropriate for the lawyer.

He feels instantly out of his depth. For all that he's fought aliens and dragons and evil robots, Matt is still most comfortable facing off against mobsters in back alleys, not with what sounds like literal Armageddon. What can he do?

Well, he can start by doing what he does best. He can focus. He can pay attention. He reaches out with his senses and tries to glean what he can of storm descending on Midtown. "There's voices," he says, brow deeply furrowed. "Some of them speaking in languages I don't know. Some just — screaming. None of them are… " He trails off, jaw shifting on its axes left to right, right to left. "They don't sound human, Fog. And they're getting closer."

There's a long beat. "We need to get you somewhere safe," he finally murmurs. "Stark's, or Rand's." Get you somewhere safe. From Matt's expression, turned upward towards Foggy's window, it's clear he means to go anywhere but safety.

"Voices?" Foggy turns toward Matt, his brows arched high. He looks back at the clouds that become ruddier still, and the lightning that comes from that ominous cloud cover feels malicious. He stares out the window, hoping for sense, hoping for rationality. Instead, all he can say is: "Well, shit… guess that vacation is on hold."

When Matt gives him his options of where to go, his eyes widen. "Shit, Jess… I need to get to Jess. She's at Stark's Tower. I'm going there." He doesn't even miss a beat.

"I don't know, Tahiti is sounding pretty good right now," Matt answers numbly. It's a joke, but there's no real force behind it. Not when he's so focused on the swelling cacophony outside their building. "Assuming we could get you on a plane."

He lets out a short puff of breath, shakes his shoulders like a boxer readying for a bout, psyching himself up. Okay, 'Man Without Fear.' Time to get to work.

Then Foggy has a fearless moment of his own, saying he needs to go see a laid-up Jessica Jones at Stark Tower. He feels an initial gut resistance, right there beneath his sternum. The obstinate part of him that wants to take on all the world's troubles with only his two fists. The part that wants to protect everyone while trust no one — not even those closest to him. He's aware of the sentiment building, growing inside him along with all the attendant anxiety that comes with what looks like a global apocalypse.

But he swallows it down. Someone does need to see about Jessica, and because Matt has no way of knowing that a goddamn dragon is about to make Stark Tower its personal perch, it seems like one of the safer places Foggy can be. "Do it," he says. "Try and get ahold of Pepper while you're there. She may have a way to get you two out of the city. If she does, you two should take it. Try to text me on my burner line when you're there." If cell towers are even working in the midst of this — whatever this is.

He's already unbuttoning the top buttons of his shirt, turning and making for his own office where he can pull out his suit and get changed. But he stops there in the doorway, back still turned to Foggy, head turned so that his friend can see his stubbled profile. "I love you, man," he says. "Talk soon."

"Got it… Jess, and then Pepper, and then we hole-up in Stark Tower because… you damn well know Tony has thought about what to do when Hell attacks." Foggy grabs his coat as he gets up from his chair. He slings it on over his shoulders, stalled a moment when Matt turns back his way.

"Love you too, man," he says quietly in return, and then nods. "Go get 'em."

Then he stuffs his arms into his jacket, grabs his messenger bag, and prepares to head to Stark Tower.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License