1. The first time Foggy Nelson ever stayed up all night was his first night at Columbia. He met Matt at four o'clock in the afternoon. Matt was already unpacked, with his bed made, and Foggy--after stumbling up the stairs with an enormous suitcase and two cardboard cartons--lost his battle with the top box and spilled books all over the rug. For about a thirty seconds, after he'd noticed Matt was blind and saw how good-looking he was, not to mention organized (Matt's books were already lined up neatly on one of the room's two bookshelves), Foggy thought his luck could not possibly have been worse. But when Matt gave him a sympathetic grin and got down on his hands and knees to help pick up the mess, despite his pressed khakis, Foggy started thinking he might be okay.
By six-thirty, they were out looking for a "really college" place to get dinner. By eight, they were full on Cokes and hamburgers, and Matt's hand was companionably on Foggy's elbow, and Foggy was describing the campus in detail as they walked. At ten, they were dressed in pajamas and socks, sitting on the floor and leaning against Matt's bed, discussing class schedules. Midnight, in their beds with the lights out, talking about their hobbies. Later than that, about high school, how Matt had been valedictorian and Foggy played in the band. Four AM, and Foggy admitted he'd never had a good friend before. Then they talked about their families. Later still, getting light outside, and Foggy was silent as Matt told him how he'd lost his sight.
They were both quiet at breakfast. Foggy slumped over coffee, and Matt was a little pale as he gulped orange juice. But after that, without really talking about it first, they went to the registrar's office and arranged to have all their classes together, that semester.
2. Their final year in law school, towards the end of April, Matt got the flu and missed his first class since Foggy had known him. The whole lecture, Foggy kept glancing to his right, feeling off balance.
3. Even now that they have their own offices, years later, Foggy sometimes finds his eyes drifting sideways, to the right. He doesn't realize what he's looking for and instead just thinks he's forgotten something important.
4. Matt remembers, but he was careful to situate his desk so that Foggy is on his left, though through a couple of walls and the bathroom, and at an angle. Still, if it's quiet, and if he concentrates, it's almost as if Foggy's heartbeat is where it's supposed to be.
5. A lot of nights after work, Matt and Foggy go out and get a beer. A lot of beers, sometimes, if they've been paid in gift certificates to Rita's Cut Above hair salon, or fish, or if a verdict doesn't go their way. A lot of beers when Matt has been dumped (again) or when Foggy thinks about actually calling a number scrawled on a napkin or business card and doesn't (again). Sometimes, after work, they just turn out most of the lights and sit in Matt's office, or Foggy's, talking while they finish the last pot of coffee.
6. Back in college, Foggy used to think Matt was kidding when he suggested going bowling, or roller-skating, or playing pool, or any other thing you wouldn't expect a blind guy to want to do. The first time he realized Matt wasn't kidding was at Charlie's, celebrating the end of midterms. Half a beer in his hand, shirt sleeves rolled up, Matt gave him that crooked grin across the table and challenged him to a game of high-stakes pool: winner had to clean their entire dorm room (both sides, with dusting and vacuuming) before fall break. Foggy had tried to duck out of it by going to the men's room, but Matt wouldn't let him off the hook. And there was something in his expression--maybe it was just the beer, but somewhere between a plea and a challenge--that made Foggy finally shrug, drain his glass, and say, "You're on."
He insisted on Matt going first, though. Figured he'd gauge how bad his best friend was so he could see just how much he'd have to drink--and fast--to be believable when he lost on purpose. They couldn't call stripes or solids, of course, so instead, the game was just to see how many balls you could sink in a row.
Foggy never did get a turn.
7. The night Matt finally told Foggy about his abilities, Daredevil, everything, they were in Matt's office, working late over Chinese delivery. Foggy was perched on the edge of Matt's desk, digging into a carton of pork lo mein, when Matt--without having really thought this through yet--looked up and said, "We have to talk."
Foggy had chuckled, tossed over a set of chopsticks, and asked if Matt was breaking up with him. He always joked preemptively, if he thought the conversation was going to be serious. Always had.
By the time Matt finished, Foggy was over by the window with his back to the room. Too quiet. Matt made some lame joke about still not being able to see his expression, but Foggy didn't say a word. Purposely, Matt was sure. And Foggy stayed quiet as he set the Chinese food carton back on Matt's desk and headed for the door, even though, now, he knew that his attempt at silence didn't make a difference, as far as Matt was concerned.
Except, of course, that it did. And they both knew it.
Foggy made it as far as the doorway before he heaved a sigh and turned back. "God," he said, and Matt was startled to hear that his fast breathing didn't mean he was angry, but crying. "My God, Matt, all those times. In cabs with air fresheners that bugged me. That Bruce Springsteen concert I dragged you to. The basketball games. The way I never emptied the trash when you asked me to in college. And I know I tap my pen on my desk when I'm thinking. Why didn't you just tell me?"
Matt had earned a reputation for having a smart mouth when he was a kid. Earned a reputation for always having the right answer his freshman year of college. Was known for being a damned good lawyer when the ink was barely dry on his law school diploma.
And yet, in that moment, he could not find any words at all to express what he was feeling. He stood and went around the desk instead, and held his arms out, and hoped Foggy would somehow hear all the things he couldn't say.
8. A week after Matt told Foggy the truth, Foggy finished making the morning coffee and went to Matt's office to wait until there was enough brewed to have a cup. Leaned against Matt's desk and asked, very casually, if he could be Daredevil's sidekick. Went on, as Matt sat there too stunned to finish taking his shades off, to describe the costume he had in mind. And his superhero name, and what his fighting style could be like, and then trailed off and looked at his lap when Matt started to laugh.
Foggy knew he didn't mean it in a mean way. He was very deadpan, sometimes, after all. Matt just thought he was joking.
9. Foggy is a big guy, a chunky guy, but he was a fat kid. With curly hair. And zits. Fat and short until he hit his twenties and gained a few inches vertically without gaining any weight. When he and Matt were tapped for a fraternity freshman year, Matt seemed surprised and pleased, but Foggy could only stare at his invitation (which arrived under the door a few hours after Matt's) in disbelief. After a moment, he'd crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash without a word.
Matt had looked up, fingers paused in a textbook, and asked what was the matter.
"They asked me, too," Foggy said dully.
"We can join together, then. Or not. But that's great, right?"
Foggy had looked at him for a minute, then sighed and sank down on Matt's bed. "You don't know why, do you," he'd said. "Why they asked me."
Matt grinned. "What, you want a list? You're fun. You're smart, and nice, and funny, and a great conversation, good taste in music--"
"Because of you," Foggy interrupted. "They asked me because of you." He sighed again and looked at his hands. "Because you are all of those things, plus incredibly good-looking and really smart, and they know you won't join if I'm not tapped, because on top of everything else, you're loyal, too."
Matt had turned sideways in the chair, by then, head tilted the way he did when he was really paying attention. "But Foggy, you're--"
"Matt. You probably don't know this, but." Foggy paused, knowing that being honest could cost him the best friend he'd ever had. The thing was, pretty soon after they'd met, Foggy had realized how lucky he was to have a roommate who couldn.t see what a loser he was stuck with. In junior high, the guys who'd looked like Matt had pantsed him in the locker room and called him Porky. By high school, Foggy had developed a thicker skin and a lightning-quick wit in order to survive, and the jerks from junior high had become jocks who tolerated him because he could make them laugh.
That first night, with Matt, Foggy had felt so.different. Like Matt really wanted to go for a burger with him. Like Matt actually thought he might have a girlfriend at home. Like Foggy was the kind of guy who might've been voted prom king instead of class clown.
Foggy shook his head and kissed being cool goodbye. "Matt, I'm.heavyset. And short. And I've got some pimples, and.well. I'm not like you." He knew he sounded bitter, but he didn't care. "If they asked me to join because of anything except you, then their token funny fat guy must've graduated," he muttered.
Matt had just sat there for a minute, eyebrows climbing above his sunglasses. But then, to Foggy's horror, he'd buried his face in his hands and started to laugh helplessly.
"Great," Foggy spat, annoyed. "Just great. Now I'm funny when I'm not even trying to be funny! I'm funny by mere existence! I'm--"
"Jesus Christ, Foggy!" Matt gasped. He sat up straight and shook his head, still red-faced. "First of all, you goof, I'm blind, not stupid. I know you're not a skinny guy, and I can tell when we're walking fucking next to each other that you're shorter than me."
Matt stood, found the foot of the bed with one hand, and sat next to Foggy on the edge of the mattress. "And would you listen to yourself? Has it never occurred to you that maybe they just like you? That maybe I just like you?" Without waiting for an answer, he reached over and gave Foggy a gentle punch on the shoulder. "Also, you do realize that you're talking to the blind guy they just asked to join, right? Blind. You know? Maybe I'm their token guy with a handicap."
Foggy shut his mouth with an effort, then swallowed hard and stared at his lap again. "See?" he said after a second, trying hard to sound casual, "I told you you were smarter than me."
"Maybe. This time." Matt smiled a little. "But since I do seem to be savvier than you about this whole fraternity thing.do you want to just not join?" he asked. "I don't know about you, but I don't really feel like drinking every weekend or streaking across campus--I wonder if they'd let me bring my cane?--or swallowing goldfish live, or whatever you do in those things."
Once that decision was made, three other things happened that night.
There was a fire drill.
When they got back to their room, Matt took his sunglasses off in front of Foggy. He hadn't done that before except for bed, and always after the lights were out.
And, before the fire drill, when they were still sitting on Matt's bed, Matt had lifted one hand to hover by Foggy's cheek, matter-of-factly, and asked a question Foggy was totally unprepared for.
Of course he'd said yes.
10. Matt keeps his Daredevil costume in a trunk in the basement of his brownstone. Beneath the costume, under a false bottom, there is an old, empty Heineken bottle, a scrap of bloody cloth, a red silk scarf, a sliver of wood, a scuffed hollow rubber cylinder, a ticket stub from Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the U.S.A.' tour, an empty sugar packet, and a men's t-shirt, size extra-large.
11. Matt offered to teach Foggy how to box, but it was Foggy's idea to turn the overhead lights off in the gym when they snuck in after hours. The first few nights, Foggy talked while flipping the light switch, and Matt didn't notice. When he finally did, and mentioned it, Foggy said he did it so they wouldn't get caught if someone saw the place all lit up.
12. Matt has never told Foggy that he was in this gym as a kid and knows for a fact that there are no windows.
13. The first time they went a round with the lights on, at Matt's insistence, Foggy surprised them both by landing a punch on Matt's jaw that knocked him flat. Of course he fell all over himself apologizing, but Matt was laughing so hard, delighted, that he couldn't muster the breath to sit up.
14. Foggy purchased his first car five years ago. His only car ever, actually. It's a little blue Toyota that was four years old when he bought it from his mother. The mileage is high, the brakes are touchy, and it smelled, when he got it, like Estee Lauder perfume. Nevertheless, he has loved that car since the moment he signed his name on the title. He gets the oil changed like clockwork. He named it Babette.
The first thing he did, after naming Babette, was to take her for a spin with the windows down and the air conditioner on high in hopes of making her smell less like his mother. The second was to call Matt and say, "Meet me outside your apartment in twenty minutes." The third thing was to honk and say, "Hey! Hop in!" The fourth was to drive to the first empty, secluded parking lot he could find.
After that, he turned Babette off, took the keys, and went around to the passenger's side. Opened the door, pressed the keys into Matt's palm, and said, "Scoot over. Welcome to Driver's Ed."
15. Matt and Foggy have an agreement. Under penalty of death, Foggy will never reveal that Matt taught him to slow dance, and Matt will carry the secret of who taught him to drive to the grave.
16. The first time Foggy sees Matt in costume, it's by accident. He happens to look out his office window late one night when a car alarm goes off across the street. And as he watches, Matt--no, Daredevil--leaps down from the sky, it looks like, and drags the would-be carjacker out onto the sidewalk. Shoves him up against the wall, fists flying, and Foggy's on his feet with thoughts of dialing 911 when he remembers it's Matt in there.
Foggy's hands are shaking when he sits back down, and as he gazes at his pudgy fingers splayed on the desk and chews his lip, he is suddenly very grateful that Matt thought he was kidding, back when he offered to be his sidekick.
17. Foggy keeps three pictures on his desk, in frames, under glass. The photos are printed on glossy paper at his request, though it makes them glare when the desk lamp is on, and he doesn't really think the finish makes a difference. Matt asked once, and Foggy said that one was of his mother, one was an old family Christmas photo, and one was a framed Far Side cartoon about lawyers in Hell that he thought was funny and wanted to save.
The truth is that the first picture is of Matt and Foggy at college graduation with their arms around one another's shoulders, free hands raised in victory. They both look impossibly young, grinning as they hold up their diplomas. The only thing not making them mirror images of one another (other than the weight difference, height difference, hair color, and general attractiveness level) is Matt's cane dangling from his wrist.
The second picture actually is an old family Christmas photo, the from last year before Foggy's dad split, and the third frame actually does hold an old Far Side cartoon that is, in fact, about lawyers in Hell.
Foggy's not sure why he lied to Matt about the one shot. Maybe it's because Elektra took it. Maybe it's because it might seem weird, to have a picture of your best friend where you'd expect to have pictures of your kids, which Foggy is starting to doubt he'll ever have. Probably, though, it's because he doesn't want Matt to ask why, or to wonder why. To wonder if Foggy liked him better when he thought he was really blind and didn't know about his super-nose, or built-in bullshit detector, or any of the other stuff. And that's not the case, really. It's just that things were so much simpler, back then.
18. Daredevil once paid Power Man fifty dollars to pretend to steal Iron Fist's car. The three of them had a beer on the roof of Josie's, afterwards, and ended up shooting the shit until after midnight. Sixty-two bucks (he bought the beers) made him two good friends and allowed him to keep his best one. Matt considers it the best investment he's ever made.
19. Foggy doesn't care much about clothes, and he never has. Not like Matt, who can tell the difference between the softer side of Sears and Armani with the barest brush of his fingertips. (By scent alone, if he feels like showing off.) Foggy did have a favorite t-shirt once, though. Nothing special about it. It was black and said 'WASHINGTON, D.C.' in big white letters across the chest. Foggy got it on a band trip in high school. He used to play the tuba.
For whatever reason, he wore it to sleep in a lot, when he was a teenager. The more his mom washed it, the softer it got, and the more he liked it. Eventually, the black faded to bluish grayish, and it got a hole in one armpit, but he refused to throw it out. Instead, he took it to Columbia and slept in it there, too.
Recently, Foggy had to go to D.C. on business and thought of that shirt for the first time in years. Looked for it when he got home and wonders when the hell he lost it.
20. Daredevil is crouched on a ledge a few stories up. His life has gone to shit, and in a moment of something--weakness? anger? defiance? gut-wrenching terror?--the Man Without Fear peels off his mask and turns his bare face towards where he can hear reporters squawking like so many vultures and thinks, I am not afraid of you. If he weren't so torn up right now, he might think it's funny that even if he could see, he'd be blind, right here, right now, between his tears and the downpour.
If he weren't so torn up right now, listening to them make his best friend's life hell, too, he might think it's funny (not in the 'haha' way) that Foggy ever considered himself lucky to be his friend.
Instead, for some reason, the rain makes him think of fire drills.