Daring The Devil













by Ryan Lindsay

The room was dark but that was not a problem. Every room was dark to Matt Murdock, had been since he was 12. That was a long time ago now. A distant memory, which each passing day was becoming.

Matt rose from his bed and opened the curtains. Though he could not see the light he still performed this ritual. It pleased the other people who entered his room and he liked the warm bath that soaked his old bones. Everything seemed so much colder now that he was old. No one had told him that there was different weather over the hill.

A leather notebook sat on the desk in the corner of the room. Using his sense of touch Matt was able to open it and find where he had written to last. He picked up a pen from the jar (order was the religion of the blind man) and recounted the dream that he had just awoken from.

She was in it again. For the last four months his dreams had contained Elektra. The government-payed therapist had told him to keep a dream journal. This would help him understand where his mind was heading and what he was really feeling on the inside. As a blind person Matt had become good at hiding his emotions, most people found it hard to read his eyes.

Matt had not thought a therapist was necessary. Everyone dreamed, and often their past was the issue at hand, but his dreams interested Dr, please call me Jean, Sommers. She had been assigned to work at this facility, this old person packing box. The government had felt better having trained psychologists keeping an eye on the mental state of their old heroes. It was all covered by the pension. The very legal document that Matt had helped draw up and sign. Dr Sommers had been chosen because she was both a trained psychologist and psychotherapist as well as being a mutant. The politicians had thought it would be nicer for the old folks to have one of their kind doing all of the brain probing and analysing. She might have more of an understanding since her parents were both of this generation.

For years the world had survived under the saving graces of their superheroes. Now that those superheroes were old and useless they needed to be housed and cared for, they were owed at least that. The care had to be thorough because no one wanted one of them to get dementia and start using their powers randomly.

When Reed Richards had entered his mid-life crises after Sue left him he had decided that he should just be who he wanted to be. The next six months were spent with a multitude of complaints being made to the authorities about the twelve foot tall man who was loping around and inadvertently scaring small children and the non-powered elderly.

The mental state of superheroes mattered just as much as their physical state.

So Matt wrote down his dream about Elektra. He had finally had the dream reach its conclusion. Bullseye had pierced her with the sai as Matt watched and screamed in agony. There could have been a chance that as he awoke from this dream he might see an intern advancing with a syringe full of the vitamins they supplied them with and he might blend his dream with reality and start using his walking stick as his old trusty billy club, but Matt doubted it. He was just an old man with a lot of full years to remember before he passed on.

Once two more pages of the journal were full, Matt was always elaborately descriptive in his journal, he got dressed for his morning walk. He met Bruce Banner by the pond. Bruce was feeding ducks pieces of leftover toast that he had not eaten at breakfast. Breakfast was an extremely early meal in Dr Banner's daily schedule. He ate with Reed Richards and they would discuss what new scientific news they had read on the web the previous day. This sort of discussion was not Matt's idea of table talk. He preferred to walk with Bruce outside where his livelier personality could take over. Breakfast for Matt would be spent with Eddie Brock debating whether they had made the right choices in their past. This was always good fun.

Bruce turned around and smiled at Matt. The mild mannered doctor had only become milder in his old age.

"What do you say, Matt?" Bruce offered as he tossed his last scrap of crust to the squabbling ducks.

"Fine day isn't it?" Matt answered. He could remember a time when all chat between the boys had been witty quips and banter. Now they were more likely to talk about the likelihood of rain than discuss matters of importance; like the whereabouts of Red Skull, the safety of Carnage's cell and the strength of She-Hulk's thighs.

The first minute of shuffling was quiet between the two. Finally Matt worded the sentence in his head the way he wanted it.

"Bruce, did you think that we would end like this?" Bruce kept walking as he silently pondered Matt's probing question. Questions of this nature did not seem to surface at this place anymore. During one group therapy session Ghost Rider, he still preferred to be addressed as such, had raised a similar line of thought. The session leader, some government flunky who probably made more money on the Sentinel scandal than they all had collectively from saving the world countless times, had said that they did not need to worry about such issues. The Marvel Retirement Base for the Super-Aged was meant to be a place where all of the superheroes could softly and easily live out the rest of their lives in peace and simplicity. Ghost Rider had not liked this answer but he was getting better at controlling his anger so he decided to let it go.

"I never really thought about it before I came here, but I guess it does make sense. We couldn't go on fighting like we did in the old days forever, it would have killed us. I know the last few times I shaped up it knocked me around. Luckily both times Logan was with me so it worked out, otherwise it could have been messy. I am glad I went out on a high note, and now I can enjoy my last years and know that the world is still safe because the next generation is completely up and running and ready to take on whatever there is. I mean, look at the Parkers' kids. They've got their head switched on and are doing the right thing. And from what we hear in here New York seems to be appreciating them." Bruce stopped and turned to look at Matt. Even though Matt was blind Bruce knew Matt could see him. "So to answer your question, no, I didn't think we would end up this way but I sure am glad that we have. What makes you ask?" Bruce added the last as an afterthought.

"I don't know, just these dreams I have been having. They are so intense, it is like I am doing it all over again. Then I wake up and I'm this decrepit old codger eating flapjacks every morning. I seem to be living two lives," Matt sighed.

"Just don't worry about it, it could all be much worse," Bruce's words fell on Matt's highly sensitive ears like a premonition. "And don't complain about those flapjacks, you know Parker loves them. Both men smiled in joint mockery of Peter Parker's crusade to have his Aunt May's recipe instated as a dining hall staple.

Matt bent down to pick up a stone and tossed it up and down repeatedly in the air.

"I guess you might be right. Just this once. But I still think lawyers are smarter than doctors, you know that right?" Bruce smiled and patted Matt on the back.

"Ah, same old Matt."

With a flick of his arm the stone came flying out and skidded across the grass.

"Where'd the pond go?" Matt quipped.

"Same old Matt."

Matt gave Bruce a little ass slap and they split paths. He would not have been able to slap him on the ass with Reed around but outside, away from his Bunsen burners and test tubes, Dr Banner was an incredibly decent guy. You just didn't want to slap him too hard and make him angry.

The dining hall was mildly full. The usual groups sat at tables. Steve bossed around his old Avenger buddies as they made lawn bowl teams, Peter and Mary-Jane ate his beloved flapjacks together in contented silence and Johnny poured honey onto the table in front of Ben and laughed as Ben tore up napkin after napkin trying to remove the sticky substance from his rocky exterior.

Alone at a table was Eddie. Matt grabbed his usual bowl of oatmeal and decided to cover it in strawberries. He sat down across from the brooding old man.

"Strawberries, Murdock," Eddie Brock exclaimed in shock. "Something different for the old timer for once." Matt spooned in a combination mouthful of oatmeal and strawberry.

"Gotta live some days. Today's the day," Matt shuffled his words around the food and projected them out coherently. Eddie was tucking into a solid plate of bacon and eggs, with a side of more bacon. He was probably about the only guy who could still be considered in shape in the entire base. He still used the gym daily and went running. Most others needed a Zimmer frame and an attendant to get to the crapper in time.

"What makes today the day?" Eddie asked.

"I'm not sure, but I've got a feeling it should continue like this for a while. A change of pace might be just what is needed."

Eddie looked around the room as he spoke, making sure no one was hearing, or that there was no one in the dining hall who could hear from far away.

"So you're finally gonna get the old rig back into a gear, glad to hear it. You can coming running with me soon," Eddie smiled and sucked a piece of bacon sauced with honey into his grinning maw.

"I don't know about that, perhaps Dr Banner is more my speed for now, but thanks for the offer," Matt smiled and took another mouthful of his meal. He couldn't believe that he had been eating plain oatmeal for so long, the strawberries were deliciously sweet. His super-sense of taste did make some things even better.

"So is this a result of the dreams, or are you finally going to get up the nerve to have a crack at Psylocke. You know she likes the brooding bad boy types, that could be you with your chequered past and unshaven dashing looks," Eddie chuckled.

"Yeah I know what she likes, you told me, remember?" Eddie smiled and chewed his bacon in front of Matt but in his mind he was back ten years prior seducing Psylocke. Matt's clicking fingers brought him back to the present. "No, I just thought I should try to go out gracefully perhaps." Matt stuck his stubbly chin into the air and looked into the distance with heroism in his blank eyes.

Eddie knocked Matt's shoulder with his knuckles and pointed towards the servery. The man behind the counter had been about to place the wrong dish on Jean Grey's plate so she had knocked the food off his spoon and placed what she wanted onto her plate using her telepathic powers. The man had thrown down his spoon with a clatter. An argument was about to erupt when Jean just turned and walked to a chair to sit with Storm. They audibly started their criticisms for everyone to hear as soon as she sat down.

"Man those X-Chicks crack me up. Nothing around here pleases them, it must have been pretty sweet in the X-Mansion for this to annoy them so consistently and perfectly," Eddie turned his face back to Matt as he shook his head in contempt and disdain. Matt had not looked over at the ordeal. He had not needed to seeing as his sense went 360 degrees around him and looking in the direction that he was focusing on was a mere formality. He had also seen Jean Grey complain enough to know what was going to happen. She would have a meeting with the board later today and she would say that she would not use her powers again in such a fashion and then Storm would pelt hailstones at the man's car or Jean would organise an ‘accident' in the kitchen with some precariously stacked pots.

Bigger thoughts and problems were circling in Matt's mind, though his eyes did not show it.

"Eddie," he began, "You always say that we have to stay in shape in here."

Eddie stopped acting like a high school jock in the cafeteria and put his serious face on. He nodded to Matt; he hated using non-verbal gestures to Matt but he had come to understand that Matt still got them and he had not wanted to interrupt Matt's train of thought. He seemed to be going somewhere.

"Well, I think that I might have to start getting back into a bit of training and I was wondering if you could help me with that?" Matt picked up a strawberry and flicked it into the air and caught it in his mouth. Eddie took all of the seven milliseconds he needed to make his decision.

"Sure, Matt. You know I would love the company in the sparring room. Might even be able to get you up to speed for when Logan visits again soon. So, what's it for," Eddie probed. Matt shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm honestly not that sure right now. Just call it part of my super sense flaring up," Matt honestly replied.

"Well, I'm not getting anything on my spider sense just yet, but I'll keep you posted," Eddie half-joked as he placed his cutlery on his plate. He stood up and looked down at Matt. "You know I got your back."

"Yeah, thanks."

Two big black thumbs up, with small white marks on the back of the black hands, hovered in front of Matt's face.

"And I know you've got mine, too," Eddie winked.

Matt smiled to himself. He had become instant friends with Eddie Brock when he had come to the home. He was surprised that they had never crossed paths in the past. He was a good friend to him in this new place.

Once his own meal was finished Matt went back to his room, grabbed his leather journal and headed off to Dr Sommers' office. Matt entered straight away as he knew she was alone by there only being one beating heart in the room that he could detect.

"Hi, Jean," Matt said as he sat down in the chair by the window. The only chair in the sun.

"Right on time Matt, and without a watch. You really know how to keep your timetable running smoothly," Jean complimented as she crossed her legs in her chair and spun to face where Matt was sitting. "So what was your dream last night?"

"The last one," Matt said. Jean looked at Matt curiously. For a blind man to always be so certain about things was such a curiosity, and a turn on. Jean herself was not attracted to Matt Murdock, he was her mother's age, but she knew that most of the other females in the home had feelings for him. He often turned up as a point of discussion in her sessions with the other ladies.

"If that's so then what do you think will come tonight?" Jean asked.

"I'm not sure, but I know I don't fear what it might be," Matt admitted.

"Of course you don't, you're our only Man Without Fear in here," Jean stated.

"But I have a feeling that perhaps I should be fearing it," Matt confessed.