Matt chooses a bar where delicate strains of piano music spill from the rooftop into the night. There’s the tinkle of crystal glasses and the delicate perfume of orchids floating from the open doorway. Matt rides the elevator up and when it arrives on the floor he moves confidently towards the bar and leans against it, angles himself so that he will be visible from the entrance. He orders a scotch. He’s wearing a crisp shirt with the top button undone and sleeves rolled up, matched with a pair of trousers he’s been reliably informed show his ass to great effect. It’s not long before he attracts friendly attention. He’s charming and polite, but he gently rebuffs them all - too young, too sweet. Matt’s after something particular tonight, and he’s willing to wait.
It’s later, maybe 11:30, and Matt’s been propping up the bar and slowly sipping for an hour or so when a cloud of musky perfume slides onto a stool near him. It’s not the scent of a young thing. The woman orders a glass of red wine, her voice low and slightly husky. Matt tilts his head in her direction and nods at her, raises his glass. “Nice evening.”
There’s a pause, in which Matt assumes she’s sizing him up. Eventually she responds with, “It is,” and clinks her glass to his. Matt gives a half-smile that might be called a smirk. She laughs, low and throaty. “Are you flirting with me?”
“Yes.” Matt takes another sip. Flicks out the tip of his tongue to capture a drop from his lower lip.
She lifts her glass, silky fabric slipping over her shoulders. Her bag is leather. She smells expensive. She places the glass delicately on the bar and puts her hands primly in her lap. “I’m old enough to be your mother.”
It’s Matt’s turn to laugh, then he tilts his head and lifts an eyebrow. “In that case, I’m sure you have plenty of things you could teach me.” He places his glass on the bartop and runs a finger around the rim.
She hums, contemplative. “It’s been a long week. I missed my spin class this morning.”
“I’m an excellent workout partner,” Matt tells her.
She’s quiet again. Then, “You know, I don’t doubt that. Mr..?”
“Murdock, Matt Murdock.” Matt holds his hand out and she takes it, her grip firm.
“Rosalind Sharpe.” She releases him, and each of them pick up their glasses. She knocks hers lightly against his. “It’s prudent to hydrate before exercise. Buy me another drink and then I’ll take you back to mine.”
Matt is happy to oblige.
Rosalind is commanding and Matt enjoys it. She slips soft cuffs around his wrists and ankles, spreadeagling him naked on the bed so he can only just slide against her silk sheets. She doesn’t let him speak, and all he can do is whimper, until she change her mind and orders him to beg. Later, he spanks her.
There’s no comfortable breakfast the next morning. She presents him with a black coffee as and tells him she has work to do. Matt shrugs, downs the coffee and digs out a business card, “In case you need another workout. Or a lawyer.”
There’s a very slight intake of breath, which Matt can’t parse. “Nelson and Murdock.” She pats him on the cheek. “Maybe, Matthew,” and shows him out.
The next time Matt notices Rosalind, it’s at the Courthouse. Matt feels Foggy stiffen at his side as she walks up to them in the hall and says, “Franklin.” She doesn't identify herself to Matt, so he plays along.
“Rosalind.” Foggy almost never sounds this unfriendly. Beneath it, though, is a faint strain of hope. His heart is racing and he’s trying to pretend it’s not, and he’s starting to sweat. Matt doesn't understand the reasons for Foggy's distress, but he gently squeezes Foggy’s elbow, trying to transmit support. Rosalind clears her throat and Foggy jumps slightly. “Oh, right. This is my partner, Matt Murdock. Matt, this is Rosalind Sharpe, of Sharpe and Associates.”
Matt lets go of Foggy’s arm and holds his hand out. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Sharpe. Your firm has quite a reputation.”
Rosalind’s handshake is still firm. “That's more than I can say for yours.” Matt drops his hand from hers, raises his eyebrows and turns slightly towards Foggy.
Foggy’s voice is uncharacteristically cold. “We have an appointment and I am not in the mood for insults from you.” His elbow bumps Matt’s arm. “Come on, Matt.”
Matt nods towards Rosalind and they move off. The two of them are quiet for several seconds. He can hear Foggy breathing unsteadily, although he relaxes when they turn down another corridor, out of Rosalind’s sight. “How do you know her, Foggy?”
Foggy sighs shakily and runs a hand through his hair. “Believe it or not, that is my biological mother.”
Matt forgets how to move in a coordinated fashion and comes to a halt. “What did you just say?”
“Don't be a dick, Mr. Spectacular Hearing.”
“Two points of order. One; you never told me you were adopted , and two; you cannot possibly be related to her.”
Foggy almost growls. “Matt, you're in no position to criticise anyone for keeping secrets. And I’m not adopted. My dad is my biological dad.”
“Sorry Fog, I didn’t mean...”
Foggy shakes his head. “Don’t worry, I know you didn’t. She just always. Ugh.” Foggy peels off off to the side, pulling Matt out of the flow of foot traffic. He runs his hand through his hair again. “Look, it’s complicated. And I know that you don’t understand complicated families, but. She sort of pops up from time to time and fires off a few toxic arrows and then she goes away for a while.” He drops down onto a bench.
Matt nods. “Okay, man. I just didn’t realise she could be like that.”
Foggy becomes very still, staring at him. “What?”
Matt’s stomach turns to ice. He takes a half step back and shakes himself slightly. “Nothing, nothing. Hey, what’s the time? Are we going to be late?”
“We’re early. Have you met her before?”
“Um.” Matt tilts his head down, catches himself fiddling with the loop on top of his cane. “Yeah, I bumped into her a few weeks ago.” He shrugs, one-shouldered.
“In a bar.”
There is a long silence, undercut by the sound of Foggy’s heart racing. Then he shakes his head, hard. “No fucking way. Nope. Fuck no.” He takes a long, shuddering breath, then mutters “My horny partner did not fuck my biological mother.” He stands up, shakes himself off and mutely offers his arm to Matt.
Matt wonders if he can see Rosalind again without Foggy realising.
He’s had a skinful, sprawling on the bar.
“Josie, Josie. We should have sex.” He slaps his open palm down, harder than planned, and has to rub it to take away the sting.
“Fuck off, Murdock.”
“No, really. Lets have sex.” He thinks this is his wounded duck face, but he’s not really sure.
She sighs and leans heavily on the bar. “I’m going to have to cut you off.”
Matt scrabbles to pull the bottle of firewater off the bar and clutch it to his chest. He realises belatedly that he’s already emptied it, and frowns down at it. Josie swoops in like the angel she is and plucks the bottle away from him. He swipes for it and nearly topples off his stool and she grabs his arm. He regains his balance and puts his other hand over hers, runs it up her arm. “Your skin is soft, Josie. I like soft skin.”
Josie sighs heavily and extracts her arm. “I’m closing.”
Matt tilts his head, scanning the bar. It’s not easy, this much alcohol diluting his blood. “Has everyone else gone?”
“Yup.” She’s moved further away loading glasses into the steam steriliser.
“The we can have sex!”
“Jesus, Murdock. You’re shitfaced. Who do you think I am?”
Matt points a finger at her, willing his hand to stay steady. “You are Josie. You are the angel of this bar and you’ve wanted to fuck me for months.”
She scoffs. “A little bit fond of yourself, are you?” But her heartbeat quickens.
Matt leans back and spreads his hands wide. “Why wouldn’t I be?” He leans in again. “Lock the door. I’ll be right here when you get back.”
“Murdock…” She’s looking at him with her hands on her hips. She’s wavering.
“I’m serious, Josie. You want me and I want you.”
The thing is, Matt finds older women very sexy. They are confident in skin and voice. They tell him what they want and don't have time or patience to pander to a fragile male ego. They’ve shucked off the harmful patriarchal messages that can so cripple younger women. He knows Josie is a tough old broad. But doesn’t everyone deserve a little comfort?
She tilts her face down, rubbing furiously at the bartop with a cloth that Matt can smell is far from clean.
“Okay, okay.” He holds his palms out towards her, placating. “I’ll go, but the offer is there. Whenever you change your mind.” He fumbles for his cane, making a show of sliding off the elastic, snapping it out and tapping it on the floor a couple of times to check it’s extended properly.
“Yes. Josie. We should have sex. I want to have sex with you, please.”
Josie pauses in her wiping, looking at him again. “If you say anything to Nelson, I’ll kill you.”
Matt laughs, loud and genuine. “Foggy does not want or need to know about my sex life, I promise you.”
“No kiss and tell.”
Matt shakes his head. “Definitely no kiss and tell. Scout’s honour.”
“Like you were ever a Boy Scout.” Josie tosses the cloth from hand to hand then turns and throws it into the sink. “Okay then, why the hell not. Come upstairs and show me your moves, Casanova.”
Josie is a generous and tender lover. She whispers quietly in Matt’s ear, and leaves a line of kisses from his hair to the point of his shoulder. He knew that she would be good but not like this. She’s utterly comfortable in her skin and it is so sexy. He tells her so. She responds with a curt, “I know. Now shut up, I have another job for your mouth.”
When Matt awakes it feels late and languid. Josie is balled up with her back towards him, and he nuzzles at the nape of her neck. She swipes ineffectually at him, then throws her arm back, draping it over his hip and patting his ass. “S’too early. Go back to sleep.” So Matt does.
When he wakes the second time, Josie is cooking bacon and eggs. He finds his boxers and makes his way to the kitchenette, and presses up behind her. “Good morning.”
She grunts. “Morning, Murdock. Hungry?”
“I’m always hungry.”
“You’re a fucking idiot. Eat up. Then we can go back to bed.” Matt’s happy with this plan.
He’s back at the bar with Foggy a few nights later, shooting the shit and celebrating a minor win. Foggy waves Josie over and orders their third round.
When she moves off, Foggy turns to Matt. “Is there something you need to tell me?”
Matt scans back through the previous week. He’s disclosed the sprained wrist - well, he had to because Foggy was going to immediately notice that he was reading one-handed. He can’t think of any other injuries. “No, I don’t think so. Why?”
“Josie just gave you a look.”
“Did she? I wouldn’t know. Didn’t she look at you?”
“Yes, of course she looked at me. But she looked at you.”
Matt shrugs. “We all know that’s wasted on me. So I have no idea. Drink up, Twinkletoes, we’ve got that early deposition tomorrow and I need you fighting fit.”
He knows Foggy isn’t satisfied, but he lets it drop. Matt can feel Josie’s eyes on him, from the other end of the bar.
Matt slips into a nice bar, close to the courthouse and often frequented by the legal fraternity. He tells himself that he’s not avoiding Josie’s - this is convenient. He taps his way over to the bar, slides into a stool and collapses his cane, stashing it in the briefcase at his feet. It’s been a long day, at the end of a long week and he needs to unwind. He’d go out on patrol, but the shoulder he dislocated last week is still too fragile. It’s frustrating.
“Murdock.” Marci has appeared, out of nowhere. She plants a kiss on his cheek as she settles into the stool beside Matt’s, and with it he gets an idea.
“Marci, hi. What can I get you? Martini?”
“Why the fuck not. Please.” She sighs deeply and rolls her shoulders. She kicks off her pumps and they fall to the floor with a hollow sound.
“You have no idea. Well, you probably do, to be fair. One of those weeks.”
Matt snorts and taps his fingers on the bartop. “I can relate.”
Marci tosses her head to the side, running her hand through her hair and shaking it out. She seems exhausted. “Remind me again why we wanted to do this?”
“I seem to remember impassioned speeches about truth and justice.”
“Yeah? When was that.”
He shrugs, one shouldered. “Too long ago. Now we all seem to self-medicate.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that.” She taps base of her martini glass against the tumbler in his hand. “Drink up before you forget why you’re here.”
“I know why I’m here. I’m after more than alcohol, tonight.” He cocks an eyebrow at her.
Marci freezes, hand halfway to her mouth. Then she deliberately takes a sip and places her glass back on the bar. She folds one hand over the other and takes a breath. “Murdock. If you think you can proposition me, you’re stupider than I thought.”
“Stupider? That’s not a word.”
“I don’t care what the fuck you think about my linguistic skills. Shut up and listen.” She speaks so sharply that Matt is taken aback. He stays silent.
“That time we had sex, back in college? It was great and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t. But you know what’s also great? The sex I’ve been having on and off with your best friend . Don’t you care about hurting him, you self-centered ass?”
Matt tilts his face towards his hands, furrows his brow. “What… What does this have to do with Foggy?”
“You have the emotional maturity of a gnat,” she spits. “You know, some people use sex as a weapon.” Matt opens his mouth to respond but she holds up a hand and keeps talking. “I’m not saying that you are, but you don’t exactly tread carefully when choosing partners, do you?” Matt shuts his mouth, tightens his grip on his glass.
“Foggy told me about Rosalind.”
Matt jerks to face her. “He what ?”
“Don’t get your panties in a twist. He’s a grown up, and he did realise that you didn’t know who she was. But it still made him sad. He’s soft, Matt. He’s so good and kind. And he’s great in the sack. And I will not do something to hurt him.” She downs the rest of her drink, pulls on her shoes and stands. “I’m out of here.” She pats him lightly on the shoulder on her way past, and Matt turns his head to listen to her go. When she reaches the street she pulls out her phone and dials. After a couple of rings Foggy answers, and Matt tears his attention away.
Matt hates blind dates. Even the term, like blindness implies a degree of naivete about the world, or an inability to make decisions without the guidance of others. And the awkwardness of sitting down to have food with a person you’ve never met in your life, like you’ll hit it off because of some nebulous sexual tension. And if there isn’t a braille menu he’ll have to trust his date - who he’s never even met before - to read the menu to him and it’s always just awkward. Matt hates blind dates.
So it’s very grudgingly that he agrees to this one. Julia is a very nice woman who Matt has done a small amount of pro bono work for, and Julia apparently has a friend called May and of course Matt and May would enjoy each other’s company. Julia is also, unfortunately for Matt, a persistent person. And, although Matt has the stubbornness of stains in shower grouting (according to Foggy), he eventually succumbs to Julia’s cheery coercion, and agrees to a blind date with May. Julia is all of 25 years old, and Matt’s unsure how she knows May but thinks it might be from college.
So here he is standing on the pavement and waiting and wondering how soon until he can politely leave. He’s jiggling his cane, attention caught by an argument in the restaurant’s kitchen. Apparently the apprentice chef doesn’t know how big a matchstick is, and this may be connected to carrots but Matt’s missed a bit. So he doesn’t notice May until she’s right in front of him, surprising him with a cautious, “Matt?”
He starts slightly, but recovers quickly and turns on the charm, smiling widely. “May? Lovely to meet you.” He puts a hand out, finds her shoulder and kisses her briefly on the cheek. She’s a small woman, and he thinks from her voice that she’s at least 20 years older than he had expected. That’s the first nice surprise.
It’s an evening of nice surprises. May is delightful and they get on far better than Matt had expected they would. She swears by accident and they both laugh, and it serves to break the ice. She doesn’t apologise for just being, she’s not trying to be something she’s not, for his benefit. Her voice is lovely and warm and she’s so animated. She gestures a lot with her hands, her hair swinging in a curtain around her face.
May is a widow and lives in Queens with her nephew Peter. He sounds like a good kid. The conversation flows so easily that Matt finds himself sharing a lot more about his life than he intends.
They leave the restaurant together, and Matt decides to write off his evening patrol. They walk, hand in hand, around the corner to get coffee. After that she offers to drive him home so he accepts, and then he invites her up for a nightcap.
They don’t have sex. But they do kiss and cuddle and it’s very nice. Too nice, probably. They kiss goodnight in Matt’s doorway, and it feels ridiculously cliche but Matt finds he doesn’t care.
The next day Matt phones her and suggests another date, and before he even realises it it’s three weeks later and they are five dates in. He doesn’t know how this is meant to work, what he’s meant to do. How long before he fucks it up.
They go for an evening of jazz music at a club in Hell’s Kitchen, and Matt invites her back to his place. This time they do make it into Matt’s bedroom for the first time and it’s different, because she’s someone he’s respectfully getting to know. It’s about more than fun. He didn’t realise it could be like this. The confidence and ease on top of growing trust? Mind blowing. Peter is staying with a friend, so May has the luxury of being able to spend the night with Matt.
They leave the bedroom, wrapping themselves in blankets, and go to the rooftop with a bottle of wine and no glasses. They push close the deckchairs that Matt keeps there and entwine their legs, passing the bottle between them. So dignified. Matt listens to the city, occasionally calling May’s attention to something he hears closer by. She rests her head on his shoulder and tells him about her childhood, about running wild on a farm with chickens and dogs. Eventually she tells him about Ben, how young they were when they married and the hopes they had for the future. “Isn’t it funny that where we end up can be so dramatically different from what we imagine for ourselves?”
Matt tells her what it was like to be the son of a boxer, waiting at home alone, seeing his dad covered in bruises, and thinking that’s the only way men were supposed to be. She touches his split lip, gently, but doesn’t say anything.
A few days later Daredevil and Spider-Man have one of their bridgetop chats, and the puzzle pieces Matt has been toying with slot into place. Matt finds this slightly alarming because families are unknown and confusing, and they way things are going May will probably want to introduce him to her nephew soon. And she does, inviting him round for dinner at her house. Matt decides the best option is leave it up to Peter - he’s a smart kid. He meets Peter and has a moment of pleasure, possibly even pride when Peter joins the dots. He knows this is unexpected and it’s not really fair to the kid, but he hadn’t planned on liking May this much. To his credit, Peter recovers well, and Matt thinks May is none the wiser - although he does feel familiar guilt at the reminder of deception. Spidey confronts him a few days afterwards, and Matt does his best to impart wisdom.
He’s back at the courthouse, alone this time, when Rosalind approaches him out of the blue. She places a hand on his arm, with a condescending “Mr. Murdock, can I help you find the right room?” He steps to the side, shakes off her hand and smiles politely, coldly.
“No, Ms. Sharpe. I’m perfectly all right. Thank you.” Then he turns and walks away from her, towards the courthouse entrance. Foggy and Marci are coming over for dinner and to meet May, and Matt would rather think about the chicken biryani he’s cooking. He has an evening of comfortable warmth ahead of him, and he’s going to let himself enjoy it. If he’s lucky he may get to lie down with a very sexy woman, and have some fun. He’ll be sure to thank Julia, when he next sees her.