“Do you actually know what this says?”
“Yeah, totally.” Foggy says smugly. “Pretty cool, right?” Matt blinks at him, running his fingers over the words again.
Roses are red, violets are blue. My favorite Valentine will always be you!
“Are you sure you know what this says?” Matt checks slowly. Foggy huffs.
“Yes, Matt.” He repeats dutifully. “You’ve been teaching me Braille for a year. I think I can read two sentences.” He laughs. “Two sentences that comprise the most beautiful poem ever created.”
Matt can’t help but snort at that.
“Yes, I’m sure that somewhere in the afterlife Shakespeare is weeping.” Matt replies dryly. Foggy hums sagely.
“Poor guy. He and Poe can have a pity party. Poe’s probably pretty miserable in heaven, right?” Foggy wonders thoughtfully. Matt laughs.
“Probably.” He agrees. “So, this is…what is this?” He shakes the paper gently.
“It’s a Valentine, duh.” Foggy tells him, and Matt gets the feeling that Foggy’s rolling his eyes. “For you.”
“You bought me a Valentine.” Matt asks, a little confused. “They don’t have Braille Valentines in stores.”
“I know.” Foggy groans. “I had to order them online, and the shipping and handling was brutal. They always get you with the shipping and handling. You think hey, what a nice deal, totally affordable, and then you get to checkout and bam! You’re living in that cardboard box your stuff came in for the rest of your life.”
Matt blinks in the face of this onslaught of information. He’s used to Foggy’s rants, mostly, but every so often it takes him a minute to pick them apart. Matt works backwards like he’s making his way through a maze. Cardboard, checkout, shipping and handling, online.
“You got me more than one?” He’s a little incredulous at the thought.
Foggy hates wasting money. He uses coupons. He has a piggy bank for loose change. He stuffs free samples in his pockets when they’re at the store and pulls them out later, squished but still delicious when they split them for dinner.
Foggy probably eats more free samples than actual meals, and after a year of living with him? So does Matt.
“They had a sale.” Foggy tells him cheerfully. “Buy ninety-nine, get one free.”
Even with Matt’s advanced hearing, he’s still certain that he misheard Foggy for a moment.
“A hundred?” Matt repeats faintly. “You bought me a hundred Valentines?”
Matt hasn’t gotten a hundred Valentines in his life. Before he was blind, girls still had cooties—Matt wouldn’t have touched a card from one without a HAZMAT suit and a booster shot. Afterwards…
There’s not much point in buying a blind boy a pretty Valentine.
“No.” Foggy corrects him patiently. “I bought you ninety-nine. The last one was a freebie, remember?”
Ninety-nine and a freebie.
“Are they all as bad as this one?” Matt teases to cover up the fact that his chest suddenly feels too tight.
Ninety-nine and a freebie. How much did that cost? How much did Foggy have to take from his piggy bank to pay for this? How much from his emergency piggy bank, the one he tells Matt solemnly that he only uses for the most important things in the world?
“They’re worse.” Foggy enthuses, sounding gleeful at the thought. “Oh, man, you’ll love them.” Matt holds out an expectant hand. “Nope. You already got one. Don’t be greedy—you have to wait now.”
“Wait until when?” Matt asks, exasperated. He has no idea what Foggy’s thinking, buying him Valentines, but now that he knows there are ninety-nine more to read, he wants to get started.
“Until the right holiday.” Foggy informs him primly. “Honestly, do you open Christmas presents on Halloween? No.”
Holidays, right. Matt considers him for a moment, apprehensive.
“You…do know that Valentine’s Day isn’t for another month?”
Even as he says it, he holds the Valentine a little tighter and towards his chest, away from Foggy. It’s irrational. Foggy must know it’s the wrong day, but Matt’s afraid that if he says it out loud, Foggy will change his mind. ‘Oops, you’re right. Give it back, it was a mistake.’
Matt’s never giving the Valentine back.
He likes it. The cardstock is smooth and silky, a heavy glossed material that doesn’t rasp on his fingers. The edges are crisp but not too sharp, and it’s still warm from where Foggy was holding it before handing it to him.
There’s a little note at the bottom. It’s in pen, and the letters are clean and careful under Matt’s touch. The ink has seeped into the paper a little, so it’s easier to read. The indents are impressive too—when Foggy was writing it, he was pressing hard with the pen, the way people do when they’re concentrating very hard on making it perfect. Foggy didn’t just scribble down something silly. He took his time, thought it out—he wanted it to matter.
You’re my best friend.
“Uh-huh, but this isn’t a Valentine for Valentine’s Day.” Foggy explains like this makes any sense. “This is a Valentine for a completely different holiday.”
“What holiday?” Matt asks a little hoarsely, running his fingers again over the penned message.
Foggy doesn’t know he can read it. Foggy doesn’t know about Matt’s senses at all, not yet, and Matt’s too terrified to tell him. So Foggy doesn’t know, but he wrote it down anyway. You’re my best friend.
He wrote it so carefully, every loop and line perfect. Even though he thought Matt wouldn’t know, he still wanted to say it. Just to say it, just to write it down.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” Foggy asks with exaggerated surprise. “Today, my friend, is Devil’s Day.”
“Devil’s Day?” He repeats blankly. He has no idea what that is. It’s not any holiday he’s ever heard of. Foggy hums happily.
“Yup.” He says lightly. “It’s a very special holiday, celebrated by only a few very special people. Just you and me, actually.”
“We celebrate Devil’s Day?” Matt asks, bewildered. He’s never even heard of it before. How can he be celebrating it? Foggy makes an agreeable noise. “And what exactly are we celebrating on Devil’s Day?” Matt wonders warily.
Foggy’s not a secret Satanist, is he?
“We are celebrating the fact that you are you.” Foggy explains. When Matt just stares, silent and baffled, he continues. “We’re celebrating that you are a wonderful, incredible person who needs to stop being sad and be happy instead. Because wonderful, incredible people should always be happy.”
Matt’s even more confused.
“I’m not sad.” He denies earnestly, and Foggy huffs.
“No, you are.” He argues. “You do that sometimes. I know the signs. Distracted, dazed, kind of shaky. You get really quiet, and you go to the gym more often, and you go to church a lot too.”
Matt has gone to the gym every night and morning this week, but he’d tried to go when Foggy was asleep. He’d gone to church every day too, and he knows he’s been quiet. He’s quiet when he’s not quiet, when he’s dizzy and he can’t hear the world over his own deafening thoughts.
Foggy’s wrong. Matt’s not sad. Matt’s mad. Matt gets mad a lot, and then he gets mad that he’s mad. The world gets too loud and rough and cruel, and it's even worse than when he was a kid because now he understands. That's what makes him mad.
Matt doesn’t want Foggy to know how mad Matt is. Angry-mad or crazy-mad, Matt’s not sure. Both. He doesn’t want Foggy to know at all.
“Why ‘Devil’?” Matt whispers, and Foggy sighs, reaching out to squeeze his shoulder.
“You told me once that the Murdock men have the Devil in them, and that was the first time you got quiet.” Foggy says softly, and he’s not joking anymore. “So, this is to remind you that you might be a Devil, but you’re the best Devil in the world and you deserve to be happy anyway.”
Matt can’t breathe. Everything feels too loud and too quiet all at once, fuzzy like static in his mind. He needs to breathe. He needs…
Foggy yelps when Matt yanks him closer into a too-tight hug. He’s careful to keep the card away and not crush it, and he knows he should do the same with Foggy but Foggy’s strong, he can take it. Matt can’t let go.
“Thank you.” He murmurs, voice thick. “I love it.”
Foggy hugs him back, easy and warm.
“Good.” He tells Matt. “Because there are ninety-nine more where that came from.”
“Why can’t I have them now?” Matt presses, shamelessly giving his most charming smile. He did the same thing with Christmas presents, but his dad never gave in. Neither does Foggy.
“Because you only get one Valentine per Devil’s Day.” He explains, long-sufferingly amused. “Just the one. We need to save them.” Matt frowns.
“I have to wait ninety-nine years to get all of my Valentines?” He asks disbelievingly.
This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Matt’s not patient and ninety-nine years is a long time to wait. On the other hand, this means Foggy expects them to be friends ninety-nine years from now.
Matt’s pretty sure he’s not going to make it past forty. One hundred and twenty-two seems a bit optimistic.
If Matt does live until he’s one hundred and twenty-two though, he’s still going to be friends with Foggy. He knows that, knows it in his bones.
“I doubt it.” Foggy muses thoughtfully. “You tend to get really sad maybe once every two months, so six Devil’s Days a year…ugh, I suck at math. Hold on.” Foggy pulls away a little, and Matt hears him counting under his breath. Matt blinks when he feels absent tapping on his shoulders. He thinks Foggy might be counting using his fingers. “Okay. So about sixteen and a half years.”
It’s not ninety-nine, but it’s still pretty impressive.
“We can have more than one Devil’s Day a year?” Matt wonders, and Foggy moves his hands to rest them on Matt’s back again.
They should probably let go. They’ve been hugging for at least two minutes and talking about Valentines. Matt thinks that’s probably not normal for two straight male roommates.
Of course, the straight part’s negotiable depending on the person and the level of alcohol in Matt’s bloodstream. Matt wonders if that makes a difference.
“We can have as many Devil’s Days as it takes to keep you happy.” Foggy promises firmly. “But let’s aim for it being an annual thing, okay? No, a centennial thing. Let’s have you be happy for a hundred years.”
It’s not likely. Matt knows himself—he’s not sure he’s built to be happy. He’s not sure he’s got the right pieces.
But he’s happy now. He’s got Foggy and a Valentine and a secret message. He’s not mad anymore, and the world is quiet. He didn’t think that was possible.
“Happy Devil’s Day, Foggy.” Foggy sighs and squeezes him a little tighter.
“Happy Holidays, Matt.”
It’s like asking for medicine when you’re sick.
When everything gets too loud, he goes to the gym, he goes to church, and then he goes to Foggy. He doesn’t get a Valentine every time. Often, Foggy just sits and listens, brings him warm, soft blankets to hide under and plays quiet music until Matt can hear it over his racing thoughts. He gives Matt snacks too, all the little free sample packets that he was saving for a special occasion.
If it gets bad though, if it gets really bad, Matt needs more.
It’s a code. No matter where they are, in class or at the store or across town, if Matt says the words, Foggy whispers back ‘Happy Holidays’. He turns them right around, takes Matt home and sits him on the bed. Then he goes to his dresser and takes out the box of Valentines.
Matt’s thought more than once about stealing the box. He could take it when Foggy was out of the room, read every single card and have the box tucked away by the time Foggy got back. Foggy wouldn’t know, and Matt would know.
He doesn’t steal it. Foggy only writes one secret message at a time. Matt hears the scribble of a pen sometimes, when Foggy thinks he’s asleep. Just the one, and Foggy tucks it back into the box until Matt needs it. If Matt steals the Valentines, he’ll have the Braille messages but not the pen ones, and the pen is the important part.
And Foggy hugs him. When he gives Matt a Valentine, they sit on the bed together and Foggy hugs him while Matt reads it. If Matt stole the Valentines, he wouldn’t get to hold Foggy while he was reading them, and there would be no point otherwise. The paper of the Valentine would be thin and frail and dry without Foggy.
Matt needs the paper, the pen, and Foggy. He needs all of them together, or the medicine won’t work.
Foggy’s right, the messages do get worse.
There's nothing I would rather do than walk through Lovers Land with you!
The sunbeams of my heart shall shine this day on you.
They’re cringe-worthy, really. But they actually manage to make him smile when he hasn’t for days, and Foggy is always shaking with laughter against him while Matt is reading. Matt will read them out loud sometimes, and that makes Foggy laugh even harder, helpless and warm and almost falling off the bed unless Matt catches him.
The Braille messages get worse. The ones that Foggy writes, those just keep getting better. Those are the parts that Matt reads again and again when Foggy’s not there, running his fingers over the words so he doesn’t forget what they feel like. Not ever.
The Braille makes Matt smile, but Foggy’s notes? Those make him cry.
You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.
You have the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. Let me see it more.
And Foggy never says a word about the messages. He just laughs and hugs Matt until Matt tells him it’s okay to let go. It’s never okay for Foggy to let go, but Matt doesn’t tell him that. He times it in his head. Five minutes, no more. Don’t make Foggy uncomfortable. It should be one minute, that’s all the time it takes to read the card, but Matt can’t do one minute.
On the late nights, the nights with the nightmares, Matt shakes Foggy awake and whispers Devil’s Day. And Foggy’s only half awake. He’s spent all day studying and he must be exhausted, but he just gets the box and settles down on Matt’s bed anyway. He never complains.
He does fall asleep though, those nights. Foggy can sleep anywhere—in a cab, sitting in class, and on one memorable occasion at lunch, face-planting into his mashed potatoes. In bed at two o’clock in the morning? Easy. He falls right back asleep after a minute or two, slumps in Matt’s arms, his head on Matt’s shoulder and his even breaths in Matt’s ear.
Matt should let go. Matt’s got the card and Foggy’s clearly tired. Sleeping sitting up can’t feel good—Foggy will feel sore in the morning. Matt should let go, let Foggy go back to bed.
Instead Matt leans back carefully until he can lie down on the pillows, pulls Foggy with him and rests him against his chest. Foggy sometimes makes a sleepy noise and snuggles closer, but he never wakes up. Foggy’s a heavy sleeper.
Matt gets five hours instead of five minutes, these nights. He stays awake and rereads the Valentine, and when Foggy finally wakes up, Matt yawns and says that sorry, he fell asleep right before Foggy did and didn’t wake up until right now.
‘Good, you need more sleep.’ Foggy mumbles, and he just goes right back to sleep until they need to leave for class. Foggy’s right, but Matt doesn’t sleep at all on those nights. He doesn’t want to miss a second, and he feels lighter and happier than he ever does after a good night’s rest anyway.
Matt tucks one of the Valentines into his pillowcase and uses it when he feels too guilty to wake Foggy up. It’s one of his favorite cards—it’s better than any sleeping pill, the best medicine for insomnia. Matt’s fallen asleep while reading it, sometimes, relaxed and happy. He’s not mad anymore, and the world is soft and quiet again.
You stepped out of my dreams ... and into my arms. I can't let you go.
No more nightmares. Have sweet dreams, okay? You’ve earned them.
Matt falls asleep holding the Valentine, and he has sweet dreams. He hasn’t earned them, but he still gets them anyway.
Matt doesn’t get mad on graduation day, but he gets scared. The world is spinning.
Everything’s changing. He’s just finalized his lease for his new apartment, and Foggy’s done the same for his. Different apartments, blocks away. Close enough to walk, but far enough that it will take a fair bit of effort and time. Not like two beds a few feet away from each other.
Matt will have to call. He’ll have to call or pull Foggy aside at work and tell him it’s a Devil’s Day, and they can’t just walk out of Landman and Zack like they do in class. Matt will have to wait, simmering all day and getting worse and worse, scream building in his throat.
And they’ll have the world pressing in on them, responsibilities and obligations they haven’t had before. They won’t be able to hide in their own little bubble like they do at Columbia, every moment together. They’ll go to work, they’ll go home, and they won’t fall asleep together. Foggy won’t forget about him, Matt knows, but it will be harder. There might be more distance, emotionally as well as physically.
“Devil’s Day.” Matt tells him quietly. They’re both still clutching their diplomas, still dressed in their gowns and caps. They’ve been invited to several different after-parties and Matt knows Foggy was excited about them.
“Happy Holidays.” Foggy murmurs back, squeezing his hand, and he skips every single party and takes Matt back to their dorm instead. Matt knows there are boxes, all of their possessions—their lives—packed away in flimsy cardboard. Foggy opens one, pulls out Matt’s silk sheets and puts them back on the bare mattress, and gets the Valentines.
We always share the blankets dear, we always share the TV. We always share our midnight snacks, we share a shopping spree. We always share the family car, we share the bathroom too. But nothing, Honey, is half as great as sharing my life with you!
You’re the best roommate in the world. You’ll be the best lawyer too. Best lawyer, best partner, best everything.
Matt takes a shaky breath, and he finally feels the joy building, the medicine working through his system.
He’s just finished three years of hard work, blood sweat and tears, and he’s gotten an internship at one of the best law firms in the country. Foggy’s coming with him, and they’re still going to talk every day and have lunch together and have jokes and hugs. Foggy’s still going to lead him.
Matt’s got dozens and dozens of Valentines left.
Matt had considered wearing his wool gloves to cover his battered hands, but Foggy would be suspicious. Besides, Matt needs to feel the gloss of the Valentine, and he can’t do that through wool. He needs to feel out the words.
“Happy Holidays. Come on in. Take off your shoes—wow, they’re muddy. Did you walk here through the park?”
Matt nods mutely. He’d run through the park, desperate to work off some of the residual adrenaline sparking through his blood. He’d done it. He’d finally acted instead of just listening.
Sound is everything. The sound of fist against flesh, teaching someone a lesson that their body won’t let them forget for a very long time—it’s an amazing sound. One of the best ones Matt’s ever heard. He’s just heard it for the first time, but he already loves it. He knows he’s going to hear it again, and he wants to. He can’t forget.
It’s a catchy tune that you can never quite get out of your head.
“And what’s up with your hands, man? Did you punch a wall?” Foggy asks, concerned, running his fingers over them lightly enough that Matt doesn’t flinch.
“I tried boxing first.” Matt lies. “It didn’t work, and I punched a little too hard.”
“Are they okay?” Foggy checks, unsure. “I can get you some ice…”
“I already iced them.” Matt lies again. If Foggy makes him hold ice, he won’t be able to feel the letter as well. His fingers will be too cold. “They should be fine, they don’t even hurt. Can I have…?” He reaches out meaningfully.
“Right. Okay, I didn’t have one picked out.” Foggy apologizes, moving away for a second. “I thought we were…” I thought we were doing better. Foggy doesn’t say it, but Matt hears it anyway. It’s been months since his last Devil’s Day. It’s been building up under his skin, every night he started hearing the crying. He’d tried solving it the right way first, and it hadn’t worked.
Sometimes the Devil is right instead.
“Sorry.” Matt rasps. Foggy’s doesn't seem disappointed, exactly, but he sounds melancholy. Matt hadn’t told him about the girl, because he knew that Foggy would have acted and put himself in danger. He’d have been crushed that the law failed to save someone from getting hurt. It’s better this way.
“Hey, no.” Foggy soothes, pressing something against Matt’s face. A little rough, fibered and worn—a dishcloth. “Here, you clean up and I’ll grab one, okay?”
Clean up? Matt had been careful. He’d washed his lip and pressed down hard until no more blood welled up, and he’d carefully felt out the bruise on his cheek until he knew how bad it was. To bad to pass off as a silly accident.
So he’d stopped at the store for a tube of concealer. He’d had to ask the clerk to match his skin tone—apparently Matt is an alabaster with just a hint of ivory. Of course, the clerk might just have been saying that to persuade Matt to buy two tubes instead of one, but Matt had wanted to be careful.
He’d blended them together right at the counter, carefully rubbing them into his skin until the clerk told him it looked alright. She’d been worried too, asked if Matt needed help, but Matt had just smiled and shaken his head. Then he’d bought ten more tubes of each shade. He’s going to need them.
So Matt must look clean. He was careful. Was the clerk lying? Did Matt just waste close to fifty dollars on something that won’t even work?
Matt tastes salt on his lips. He’s crying.
He smiles weakly and takes off his glasses to dab at his eyes. He’s careful to keep the towel away from the makeup on his cheek—the clerk had told him that it was waterproof and wear-resistant, but Matt’s not taking any chances. Crying is bad enough.
“Thanks.” Matt says faintly, and sits down on the couch. Foggy’s footsteps get quieter, and then Matt hears the light click of the box opening, the rustle of paper and the frantic scribbling of pen. The shuffle of socked feet signals Foggy coming back into the room.
“Sorry, had to find a funny one.” Foggy tells him with a slightly forced laugh. “Rainbows, totally gay. But you look like you could use it.”
Matt puts down the towel and takes the card.
I'll bring you the sunshine to comfort your tears. I'll gather up rainbows and chase all your fears. As long as forever my love will be true. For as long as I live ... I'll love only you!
You don’t need to cry, Matt. We can fix it together.
They can’t fix it, because there’s nothing to fix. Matt wants to keep doing it, and he’s going to. It’s the right thing to do. Foggy might not think the same way though. Matt can’t tell him. He’ll have to budget for bandages and concealer and pretend that he’s wasting it on something silly. Foggy will be so disappointed after all of his lessons with Matt on hardcore economizing. It will be hard, but he can do it. It’s not telling a lie, it’s just keeping a secret.
Matt’s good at keeping secrets.
“So, as long as forever, huh?” He chuckles wetly. “That’s a lot of rainbows.” Foggy laughs again and ruffles his hair before he hugs him.
“Oh, tons.” He agrees cheerfully, and he sounds a little relieved that Matt’s still up for teasing him. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and one of them will actually have a pot of gold at the end. We could use the money. Interns don't even get paid peanuts.”
“You’re allergic to peanuts.” Matt reminds him gently, and Foggy snorts.
“Only a little.” He argues. “And peanut butter is cheap and nutritious.” Matt rolls his eyes, smile pulling at his lips.
This is what he needed. The fighting, he wants it, and he’s selfish. He’s going to keep doing it. But this? Arguing about peanut butter and rainbows? He needs it.
“I’ll buy you almond butter instead, okay?” Matt tempts. “And cashew. Do they have pistachio?”
“Ick, pistachio would taste weird.” Foggy complains. He pauses. “But we could get Nutella. Chocolately nutty goodness.” Matt nods eagerly.
“As much as you can eat.” He promises. He needs to give Foggy something back for this, for the Valentines and the secret messages and dealing with Matt’s…Matt. He’ll add Nutella to the budget.
Bandages, concealer and Nutella.
“Okay, sure.” Foggy says, and he sounds indulgently amused. He thinks it’s a joke, but Matt’s going to buy him Nutella. So much Nutella.
Matt’s opened an account at the store. If you have a membership card, you get a discount. He can buy all of them at the same time. Foggy would be proud if he knew about Matt's thriftiness, but Foggy is never, never going to know. Matt will just buy a jar of Nutella with the bandages and concealer, and he'll tell Foggy that Nutella is expensive and that's why he spends so much money. It'll be okay.
The clerk will think he’s crazy.
He’s just quit Landman and Zack. Matt had lasted as long as he could, because he knew that Foggy liked the free bagels. He didn’t want to take the free bagels away from Foggy, especially the ones with the little blueberries in them that Foggy loves so much.
Matt promises to buy him bagels, right after he tells Foggy that he’s just given his two-weeks notice and essentially ruined his chances of ever getting hired at another firm anywhere in New York. It’s probably a bit of a weak bribe, but Foggy just puts away the file he was working on and takes Matt home.
“Happy Holidays. I’ll buy the coffee.”
So they buy bagels and coffee after Foggy tells their supervisor quite politely that he quits too, and by the way you’re a bastard and everyone knows it’s a toupee. Then they go back to Foggy’s apartment and read a Valentine.
“I had this one for a while.” Foggy tells him, putting it in Matt’s hand and settling down next to him to munch on a bagel. Matt immediately wraps an arm around his shoulders and Foggy does the same. “I was waiting for you to ask.”
“Yeah?” Matt wonders. He thought he’d been convincing, but Foggy seems like he knew this was coming for a long time. Come to think of it, he’d had the paperwork. He’d already written his two-weeks notice—the only thing he’d left blank was the date. “And it’s alright?”
“Sure.” Foggy says easily. “We’re better off, actually. I mean, we’ll be poor as dirt, but we’re used to that. I didn’t want their blood money anyway.”
There's a soft slurp as he takes a sip of his coffee, and an awkward motion against Matt's shoulders as Foggy juggles it carefully with the bagel so that he can keep one arm around Matt at all times. Matt’s given up on his bagel, already putting it on the table. He’ll eat later. He’s not hungry, he just needs to read.
When we're together, there is no need for words. The gift of your love is greater than any riches.
I think we’re going to live on free samples for the rest of our lives. I can’t wait.
Foggy had free bagels and a bright future, and he chose Matt instead.
“What do you think the exchange rate is between the gift of my love and dollars?” Matt wonders, voice choked. Foggy laughs.
“Not enough dollars in the world, buddy.” He says cheerfully, and he doesn’t even sound like he’s kidding. “Hey, finish your bagel, okay? You’re too skinny.” Matt shrugs. He’s been working out more when he goes out at night, burning calories. He’s going to be working out a lot more in the future. “Nope, uh-uh. No pouting. You’re getting Nutella on your bagel.” He snorts. “You bought me enough to feed an army—might as well use it.”
He goes to stand, and Matt’s arm tightens before he can stop himself.
“I’ll eat later.” He promises. He doesn’t want Foggy to get up yet. It hasn’t been five minutes. Foggy sighs.
“Hey, I’ll be right back. I’ll get spoons. We can eat it right out the jar—a feast to celebrate our independence.” Matt doesn’t move. “Matt. I’ll be right back.”
He kisses Matt’s forehead, and the shock makes Matt lose his grip for a second. Foggy darts away with a triumphant laugh, and there’s the rummaging of silverware clinking together. Matt stares into space for a moment, stunned.
Foggy’s never kissed him when he was sober. There have been a few times when they were incredibly drunk, and Foggy was singing songs about the wonders of life and friendship. Matt’s gotten a few wet smacks on his cheek, beer-tinged and joking.
Once Foggy was aiming for his cheek and missed, getting Matt’s mouth instead. He hadn’t pulled away immediately, instead licking at Matt’s lips for a second before leaning back. ‘You’re right, mimosas are tasty.’ Foggy had admitted cheerfully. ‘I want one now.’
And he’d chugged Matt’s mimosa and ordered three more.
Foggy had not remembered this exchange in the morning. Matt had.
He thanks god that Foggy didn’t miss this time. Matt wouldn’t taste like mimosas, he’d taste like blood. He’d bitten his lip hard enough to bleed, pacing back and forth in front of Foggy’s office trying to get up the courage to tell him about quitting.
Of course, Matt tastes like blood a lot. He doesn’t think Foggy would like it. Foggy likes sweet mimosas, not bitter blood.
Matt’s going to take him out for mimosas again. Matt’s going to get drunk enough that Foggy will be fooled into thinking it's an accident, but not drunk enough to forget. Then he’s going to kiss Foggy back.
Matt’s been planning to ask Foggy out for mimosas for years. One day he’ll actually do it.
“Okay, Nutella and the beginning of a beautiful partnership. Cheers.” Foggy cheers, the couch dipping under his weight. He doesn’t immediately wrap his arm around Matt’s shoulders again, so Matt does it for him. “How you feeling?” Foggy asks quietly, voice a little more solemn as he offers Matt a spoon.
“Perfect.” Matt tells him, and eats Nutella until he can’t taste the blood anymore. It doesn’t matter what Matt tastes like. Foggy’s not drunk enough to kiss Matt, and Matt’s not daring enough to kiss Foggy.
He eats another spoonful of Nutella.
Just in case.
Karen Paige doesn’t need a savior, but she needs a friend.
Matt’s not a hero, but he’s a fighter.
It works out well that way.
Karen goes home for the night, and Matt goes home with Foggy to celebrate with awful Chinese. They’ve already eaten with Karen, but Matt’s still hungry. He’s been burning through a lot of energy, beating up hitmen in the rain. He needs his strength.
He also needs to get Foggy alone and near the box.
“Oh.” Foggy was chewing on a mouthful of dumpling, but as soon as Matt speaks he hears him swallowing hastily. “Happy Holidays. Hold on.”
Foggy sounds surprised. Well, no wonder. They’ve just solved their first case, made a new friend, and gotten a secretary who’s offered to start work for free. Matt should be happy.
He is, but not for the right reasons. It was the hardest fight of his life so far, and his blood is still buzzing. Things are speeding up, he can tell. There’s something brewing in Hell’s Kitchen. There are more fights ahead.
He’s happy, but he’s also afraid because he’s so happy. He shouldn’t be this excited about putting his life in danger. He knows that. Foggy would be terrified and furious if he knew what Matt was doing.
If there are more fights—and there are going to be—it’s going to harder to hide it from Foggy. Foggy might find out. That scares Matt more than the Devil ever could.
“Okay, bit gooey, but today is a special day.” Foggy warns him, pushing the card into his hand. The ink’s still a little wet. Foggy doesn’t write the secret messages ahead of time anymore. He listens to Matt, finds out what he thinks Matt needs, and then he painstakingly creates the perfect message. The perfect medicine.
And he never tells Matt.
Matt can understand why. Foggy’s affectionate. He plays fast and loose with compliments, but there’s always a certain lightness to them, a levity that makes them sound honest but also playful. These messages aren’t playful. They’re the sort of thing that would be hard to say out loud, the kind of words that stick in Matt’s throat every time he tries to say them to Foggy.
But Foggy finds a way to say them anyway.
This comes with love to hope you'll have a happy day, the kind that you'll remember in a very special way. And with that very special wish come far more wishes too, that the year ahead is filled with joy and happiness for you.
You’re a hero. You saved a life, and you’re going to save so many more.
Matt hugs Foggy and doesn’t let go for a very long time. Five minutes come and go. They finish their dinner, passing the cartons back and forth. Matt tries for the millionth time to teach Foggy how to use chopsticks, and Foggy ends up using them for the millionth time as drumsticks instead, playing light songs on Matt’s head and shoulders.
Matt’s happy. This time he doesn’t need to feel guilty about it.
Mrs. Cardenas is one of the sweetest people Matt’s ever met. She doesn’t deserve to be in trouble.
Foggy is lighthearted during the interview, helping make Mrs. Cardenas comfortable, but Matt knows he’s more serious than he lets on. He’s going to go after this case hard. Some people at school called Foggy a pit bull. Foggy had jokingly told him it was because of his ugly mug, but Matt knows Foggy is beautiful. No, people called Foggy a pit bull because once he sinks his teeth into a challenge, he doesn’t stop until he wins. Never, not for anything.
Matt wishes he could help more, but he has to honor all of his responsibilities and there are some things that Foggy can never, never help him with. He’s going to go to the station, talk to the police, and then go do what the police can’t.
So he gives a vague excuse and lets Foggy face the demons of Landman and Zack on his own.
This is a mistake.
The bombs go off. Matt’s not sure where Foggy is—stuck at Landman and Zack, at home, finishing up paperwork at the office, letting himself into Matt’s apartment to wait for him, at the store stealing free samples, somewhere under the rubble of the bombs, hurting and bleeding and alone—and it kills him every moment.
He finally gets out by the skin of his teeth, aching and battered, and he checks his phone—not the burner, the one with the silly little ringtones and the wallpapers that Foggy programs in and giggles about without ever telling Matt what they actually are.
Twenty missed calls.
Matt gets Claire to let him in. She’s worried and upset and a little tense around him, but she still cares. She must see how much Matt cares too, how he’s completely still, face turned up and to the left the whole time he’s talking.
Foggy is three floors up and ten feet to the left. Matt can hear his heartbeat, and it’s steady. Thank god.
Claire finally sighs and says yes, and then huffs in resigned annoyance when Matt immediate ducks into the stairwell and starts running. Claire will take care of the details down here. He knows where Foggy is.
“Hey, buddy. I was afraid you’d fallen into a ditch somewhere.” Foggy’s voice is as steady as his heart, only a little too quiet. Tired. Matt sighs in relief, every inch of tension easing out of him.
“Sorry, it took longer than I thought it would with Brett.” Matt lies. “And then things were a little hectic. I wanted to change before I came to see you.” This part is true. Matt was covered in dust and blood.
“As long as you’re okay.” Foggy assures him. “I was worried. Did you hear anything about what happened?”
Matt has heard hundreds of anythings about what happened. Everyone is talking about it, a flood of voices and words in his head. He can barely hear himself think over the noise.
“Nothing.” He tells Foggy sheepishly. “How about you?” Foggy grumbles, pillows rustling as he shifts.
“There was a video on the news.” He tells Matt. Matt hides a wince. Video. That could be problematic. “Some guy like a ninja, I swear Matt, so weird, beating up cops. They say he set the bombs, took some hostages too.”
That’s a lie. Matt wants to hiss. Every word of it. Mostly.
“Do they have any evidence to corroborate those charges?” Matt asks, a little too stiffly. There is a brief pause.
“Uh, more video.” Foggy offers, sounding confused. “Lots of it. Like Hollywood movie length. Also some sniping, seriously bad news.”
Sniping. The idea is laughable. A blind man sniping people.
Matt’s a crack shot, but not because he’s blind.
“Right.” Matt says flatly. “Of course.” Foggy hesitates.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You seem kind of…weird. Twitchy, off, I don’t know. Just—weird.” He considers. “You’re not a pod person, are you?”
Matt’s feeling a little weird. His ears are still ringing from the explosion and the people talking about it—from Foggy talking about it. He doesn’t sound happy about it either, and why would he? He’s here laid up in the hospital, and the only things he’s heard are rumors that a masked man is responsible for putting him there.
That Matt’s responsible.
“Is it completely selfish of me to say Devil’s Day?” Matt wonders hoarsely, and Foggy laughs.
“I think this is a Devil’s Day for all of Hell’s Kitchen.” He points out. “But I only have a Valentine for you. On that weird lap tray thing they put your Jell-O on.” Foggy tells him. “Happy Holidays.”
Foggy has such a way with words, Matt thinks wryly, his dark mood lifting a fraction. Weird lap tray thing. He’d tease Foggy about it, but he wants his Valentine.
“You didn’t go home, did you?” Matt asks, searching until his fingers brush against paper. He grabs the card, walking over to sit on Foggy’s bed and take his hand. “How did you get one here?” Foggy sighs and shifts closer.
“I asked Karen to grab the one I keep in my desk for emergencies, right next to my piggy bank. I thought you might need one when you finally crawled out of the ditch you fell into.” Foggy explains. “She was really good about it. Oh, and she says hi. Call her later, okay?”
Matt stiffens. Karen.
Matt likes Karen. He thinks she’s wonderful, but he doesn’t want her to know about the Valentines. They’re his, his and Foggy’s and no one else’s. The thought that someone else knows now, that it’s not a secret, it makes his chest tight and his head ache.
“Oh? What did she think about your card?” Matt asks, going for teasing but falling about a mile short. Foggy doesn’t seem to notice.
“Ha, as if. I hid that thing in a case file envelope when I brought it in. She thinks I’ve just got the best work ethic in the world, doing paperwork from the hospital.” He laughs. “She’d probably have thought I was nuts, sending you love letters from my deathbed.”
Matt relaxes. She doesn’t know. It’s still just his and Foggy’s. Thank god.
“Stop being dramatic. You’re not on your deathbed. I bet you barely got a scratch.”
It’s not a scratch. Matt can smell the blood, and Claire had told him Foggy had needed stitches. Foggy hates stitches. He still moans and groans about falling off his bike when he was six and getting three on his arm. Claire had said he needed ten this time.
Matt should have been there.
He moves the card gingerly so he can open it with one hand. He doesn’t want to let go of Foggy with his other one.
This is a Valentine from a secret admirer.
I know you can read these, you bastard. I’m glad you’re okay.
Matt runs his fingers over it ten times before he actually considers he might have read it right.
“You knew?” He whispers, stunned. Foggy snorts.
“Matt, you have more pens than I do. I’ve been poaching them for years.” He admits cheerfully. “Really cool trick by the way, although not as cool as the hearing.”
Matt runs this through his head ten times before he actually considers he might have heard it right.
“What about my hearing?” He hedges warily.
“You know, bat ears.” Foggy explains. “I used to sing in the shower, and when I back to our room you’d be humming the same song. So, either you were perving on me in the shower every day for years, or you’ve got super hearing. I know which one I’d like it to be.”
“Super hearing.” Matt assures him quickly. “Not perving.”
Foggy’s right that Matt could hear him in the shower. He hadn’t tried to, it had just happened. And Foggy’s a good singer—it’s not like listening to him was a hardship.
There had been a few interesting incidents when Foggy had moaned instead of singing, little staccato gasps of breath and the slick sound of wet skin on skin. Eventually he’d whimpered and stilled, panting in time to the steady drum of the water on the tile. Then he’d hummed a particularly happy song while toweling off, one that Matt always got stuck in his head for days. He just couldn’t stop thinking about it.
These interesting incidents must have taken place before Foggy knew Matt could hear him.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Foggy mutters under his breath. “Thanks for telling me, by the way, and not making me confront you about it through a Valentine, in a hospital, eight years later. God, that would have been awkward, right buddy?” His voice is terrifyingly, pointedly jovial.
“I was going to.” He offers weakly. “Were you mad?”
“Furious.” Foggy assures him easily. “I sang the trashiest pop songs I could think of for months just so you’d have them stuck in your head. I also replaced your black pens with pink ones.”
“That’s not too bad.” Matt makes the mistake of pointing out.
“Right, good to know. I’ll start stage two of my punishment when I get out, since apparently my devious sabotages went unappreciated.” Foggy grumbles. Matt grins. “Any other big secrets I should be planning bitter revenge for?” Foggy asks, and he’s joking, but Matt freezes anyway.
Foggy burns hot when he’s angry. His body flares in Matt’s senses from orange-red to bright yellow, feverish in his fury. And he does get furious, almost as angry as Matt does sometimes. The thing he gets angriest about in the world? Keeping secrets.
Matt can handle anger. He knows anger, he understands it. But the anger doesn’t last. Foggy burns hot but quick. He’s got flash fire fury, and it’s gone as quickly as it comes. And what comes after the anger is a million times worse.
Foggy’s told Matt about kids from his kindergarten class that bullied him, and Foggy remembers their names and faces and every cruel word they ever said to him. It’s been twenty years, and Foggy still remembers what he had for breakfast the day Jimmy Greene called him a scaredy-cat.
Foggy never forgets.
If Foggy finds out that Matt lied to him again, he will never forget. Even if Matt somehow manages to make him understand, even if he gets Foggy to forgive him, Foggy will always have that bit in the back of his mind that remembers that Matt hurt him.
Twenty years from now, Foggy will still remember what he had for breakfast the day Matt broke his heart.
“What happens if you have a Devil’s Day?” Matt asks quietly. What if I'm the reason you have one? Foggy laughs.
“I don’t really have much of a ‘devil within’ thing going on.” He reminds Matt teasingly. “I’m just Foggy, you know?”
Matt does know. That’s the problem. Foggy never forgets.
“But if you do?” Matt presses, trying not to sound too desperate. “What should I do?”
He doesn’t have Valentines. He’ll have to go out and buy some. Bandages, concealer, Nutella and Valentines. Matt’s shopping list for the next twenty years.
“This is good.” Foggy assures him, squeezing Matt’s hand again. “I’m a pretty simple guy. A little affection and I’m good to go.”
Matt considers this for a moment, carefully keeping his features mildly interested, but nothing else.
Affection. Foggy likes affection when he’s upset.
Matt knew this, obviously. He and Foggy are close even for best friends, almost always touching even when Foggy’s not leading him somewhere. Foggy likes affection all the time, but especially when he’s stressed. Matt can’t count how many times he’s ended up rubbing Foggy’s shoulders while they studied just to get Foggy to relax a little and make it through the night. Matt probably enjoyed those nights a little too much, especially since Foggy would always return the favor.
But that was just for studying. That was for a little bit of distress. This will be huge, possibly the most upset Foggy has ever been in his life.
Exactly how much affection will it take to make this okay?
Hugs, definitely. Long ones, rocking gently side-to-side because the motion calms Foggy down. Foggy likes having his hair played with, so that will be a must. Foggy sleeps better on silk, Matt remembers that from their Devil’s Days in law school—letting him take a quick nap in Matt’s bed will probably go a long way in making him relaxed. Of course, Foggy will be really distressed, so it might be better to keep him there longer. A good night’s rest would help.
Matt had liked the kiss on the forehead Foggy gave him on one of his Devil’s Day. If Foggy likes affection, he’ll probably enjoy one of those too. But he’ll be very upset, so maybe two or three or ten or twenty or a hundred. Just to be sure.
But what if that’s not enough? Definitely a hundred kisses for the forehead, but there are so many other places Matt can work with. It’s better to be safe than sorry. So maybe a few on the cheek, that will be nice. Just like Foggy used to do when they went barhopping.
Of course, Foggy also kissed his mouth when they were barhopping. He seemed to like it just fine at the time, although that might have been because he wanted Matt’s mimosa.
So Matt will make mimosas first, drink just enough that he’ll taste like them when he kisses Foggy. That way if it’s the mimosas, Foggy will be happy. If it’s Matt, then he’ll still be happy. Win-win.
If it’s Matt and the mimosas, Matt has a plan.
Sex makes people happy. Fact of life, endorphins and dopamine and salt and sweat. People also tend to be tired after sex, and much more open to reason. If Foggy’s sleepy enough, he’ll probably just hum and nod along and agree with whatever Matt says. So when Matt mentions that Foggy should really forgive him, Foggy will just mumble ‘Mm-hmm, okay, sure.’ And if Matt says it enough, it might stick, and when Foggy wakes up he’ll be filled with the warm light of mercy.
Pillow talk is a blessing. Matt plans to use it well.
And if Foggy’s open to reason, it would be a shame to waste the opportunity. Matt can say a few other things too. ‘You know, you’re tired. You should probably just stay here tonight.’ ‘You know, you might as well stay the weekend too, it’ll be easier.’ ‘You know, my apartment is much closer to the office. It makes sense for you to move in.’
‘You know I love you, right?’
And Foggy will probably grumble and say ‘Yeah, yup, uh-huh, yes. Love you too, go to sleep.’
Grumbling means he’s still a little upset though, so Matt will slip under the covers and make sure that Foggy is very happy when he finally falls asleep.
“—And then I thought we’d adopt the elephant and pay his way through medical school—“
Matt blinks, the fantasy popping like a soap bubble.
“What?” Foggy snorts and flicks Matt’s forehead gently.
“There you are.” He teases fondly. “I just want you to know that you nod along when you’re distracted and I’m talking. So you’ve just agreed to buy me a zoo, build me a magical fairy castle made of cotton candy, let me use your cane as a lightsaber, and adopt a troubled young elephant and teach him the true meaning of family.”
Matt considers this for a moment.
“I can do the cane thing.” He admits. “And the elephant’s going to law school. He’ll want to be like his dads.” It can be fun, indulging Foggy’s strange daydreams. It’s never boring, at least. Foggy laughs.
“He will.” He giggles. “We’re such awesome role models. I can teach him to fight criminals with the cane.”
“Hmm.” Matt agrees, a little strained. This hypothetical elephant will want to be a lot like his dads, apparently.
“Oh my god.” Foggy gasps. “I know that face. That is the guilty face. You know how to sword-fight with your cane, don’t you?” Sort of. Matt shrugs helplessly, and Foggy groans. “No, Matt. You’re going to be the cool dad. I want to be the cool dad.”
Matt has no idea what to say to this, so he just pats at Foggy’s hand comfortingly.
“No, I’ll practice. I can be cool.” Foggy continues determinedly. “Do you have your cane? No, of course you have it—how would have even got here otherwise? Duh.” Foggy mutters self-deprecatingly. “Gimme.”
He pokes Matt, and when Matt doesn’t immediately respond, still trying to figure out where this conversation is going, Foggy starts patting Matt down trying to find the cane. Finally he pulls away with an ‘aha’ sound.
Matt ducks a rather enthusiastic blow from the newly claimed cane. Foggy makes an interested noise, and Matt dodges five more swipes in rapid succession.
“Is this part of your revenge?” Matt asks, alarmed. Foggy finally stops.
“I knew it.” Foggy says triumphantly. “You’re psychic.” Matt blinks.
“No.” He replies slowly. “I can just sort of…” He wiggles his fingers. Foggy huffs.
“That sounds pretty psychic.” He points out bluntly. Matt shrugs. “Okay, can you guess what number I’m thinking of? No, wait, lottery numbers. Why haven’t you won the lottery yet?” Matt sighs.
“I’m not psychic.” He repeats patiently. “I just work a little differently than you do.” Foggy considers this, and then huffs.
“So you’re a pseudo-psychic. That’ll still make you the cool dad.” He mutters petulantly. “I don’t want to be the uncool dad nagging our elephant to do his homework. You nag, okay? And I can make sure he eats a healthy, peanut-free breakfast.” Foggy pauses. “Is that cruel, denying our elephant peanuts?”
It is at this point that Matt realizes Foggy is high on pain medication.
He probably should have realized it sooner, what with the elephants and cotton candy castles, but he’s used to going along with Foggy’s flights of fancy and he’d been a little distracted imagining their first time in bed together.
Foggy must have written the Valentine in between doses, because the writing’s only a little shaky. Matt wonders if Foggy will remember writing it. Probably not. Foggy probably won’t remember any of this conversation. Matt licks his lips.
“Would you say yes if I asked you out for mimosas?” He whispers urgently, and Foggy hums happily.
“Love mimosas.” He mumbles. “Love you.”
Matt grins. It’s a good sign. Foggy tells Matt that he loves him a lot, in a friendly way. That part’s normal, but Foggy’s never said it after Matt asked him out for mimosas.
Foggy loves mimosas, Foggy loves Matt, and Foggy wants to adopt an elephant together. The future looks bright.
Matt has to make sure Foggy means the ‘I love you’ in a more than friendly way, of course. He still has to explain his senses in more detail, and he also has to explain everything else, every other secret he’s been keeping. Once he does that though, it should be okay. Foggy took the hearing and touch well, and also Matt’s ‘pseudo-psychic’ abilities. A few more shared secrets won’t hurt, right?
So Matt will take him out for mimosas, and when Foggy’s just tipsy enough to be in a good mood, Matt will casually mention the fact that he’s a masked street fighter with rage issues. Then he can take Foggy home and start the plan to make Foggy forgive him. Matt can do this.
“Love you too.”
Matt frowns, looking up from the file.
“It’s not a holiday.” He reminds Foggy gently. “I’m okay.”
It’s not a Devil’s Day. He’s been feeling good today, more stable. After that night in the hospital, he’s been thinking about mimosas. Should they go out first, or would it be easier to just make them at home and skip the extra step? How many mimosas are too many? Should Matt pay for all of the mimosas, or would Foggy rather split the costs? Matt’s got a coupon for orange juice—Foggy will like that. He appreciates saving money. He’ll probably think it’s romantic.
The coupon expires today. Is today too soon to ask?
“No, no. It’s definitely a Devil’s Day.” Foggy says slowly. “A bad one, worst we’ve ever had.”
“I’m really fine.” Matt assures him with a bemused smile. He’s so fine that he’s going to do it. He’s going to ask. He opens his mouth—
“You’re really not.” Foggy tells him pleasantly. Matt stiffens at the tone. That’s the calm tone Foggy gets when he wants to punch something. That’s the tone Foggy gets with the flash fire fury. That’s the tone Foggy gets when he’s just found the missing piece to a case, and he doesn’t like what he found.
What did Foggy find?
“Foggy, what’s wrong?” Matt asks, and he tries to sound offhandedly concerned, but his voice comes out too tight. Foggy laughs, and it’s not a happy sound.
“Pretty much everything, Matt.” Foggy says in that same balmy tone. “Thanks for asking.”
His footsteps sound too loud in the suddenly too-quiet room. Only their heartbeats—Karen went home. Karen wasn’t supposed to go home for hours. Did Foggy send her home? Did he want her out of the way for this conversation?
What did Foggy find?
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Matt offers, keeping his voice as mild as possible, not letting the panic show. Another harsh laugh.
“Hmm, don’t think so.” Foggy muses with exaggerated nonchalance. “Say, Matt. Did you happen to read the news today?” Matt shakes his head.
“No, I was—“ Too busy thinking about mimosas. “A bit lost in thought. Why?”
“Oh, there’s a great headline.” Foggy informs him cheerfully, and he’s standing much too close, hands on the back of Matt’s chair, fingers just barely brushing Matt’s shoulders. Looming.
“Is there?” Matt wonders weakly. “What kind of headline?” He tries to turn, but Foggy’s fingers dig with sudden force into his shoulders until he goes still again. Matt stares ahead into space, mind racing.
“One about the bombs, actually, and the man they’re saying set them.” Foggy explains lightly. “They came up with a cute little nickname for him. Adorable, actually. A little cliché, but fitting.” Foggy chuckles darkly. “So very fitting.”
“What’s the name?” Matt asks cautiously. He knows he’s headed into a trap, he just doesn’t know what the trigger is to set it off.
Foggy hums, moving his hands down a little more so that he can rub at Matt’s shoulders. It feels familiar, Foggy doing it a million times in school, but as good as it feels Matt can’t quite relax. This isn’t like before, when Foggy would quiz him on appellate court procedure while he was working and ruffle Matt’s hair when he got a difficult question right.
This isn’t a reward. This is a threat.
“Mm, you’ll love it.” He muses idly. Matt highly doubts that. “I thought of you the second I saw it.”
“Why would you think of me?” Matt rasps. Foggy’s hands go still on his shoulders, and Matt swallows when Foggy uses the position to pull Matt’s chair back just an inch closer to him. That’s the trigger, that’s the trap snapping shut.
“Because they’re calling him the Devil, of course.” Foggy explains, voice sunny. “And you know a lot about Devils, don’t you?”
No. No. No.
“Not really.” Matt denies, but it’s hollow and hoarse. Foggy ignores him.
“Now, don’t be modest.” He chides Matt. “You know more about Devils than anyone I’ve ever met. In fact, we just celebrated how much you know about Devils. Didn’t we?” Matt swallows.
“We’ve done that for years.” He points out. “Long before this ‘Devil’ appeared.” Foggy fingers clench.
“No.” He corrects Matt quietly. “No, we’ve done it for years before this ‘Devil’ appeared in the newspapers.” He pauses, like he needs to gather up the will to continue. “You come into work and you’re all bruised up. And I thought ‘okay, he must be feeling kind of down, maybe he was sparring or something to feel better.’ And now I know you were sparring, just not in the way I thought.”
“I…” Matt can’t think of what to say. He doesn’t want to lie, not when it’s obvious Foggy would catch him doing it. He doesn’t want to tell the truth, because he doesn’t want to be caught doing that either. Trap.
Foggy takes a shaky breath, and his fingers relax again. Not because he’s relaxed. He just seems weak, beaten-down. He takes another shaky breath, and Matt knows that sound. That’s the sound that means Foggy’s trying not to cry.
“And I was always so grateful that you came to me when you were hurting.” Foggy tells him, and it’s not bitter, too choked with tears. “I was so grateful that you trusted me enough to let me see that part of you.” He spits out the word, ‘trusted’, like it’s burning his mouth just by being there. “I was so fucking grateful that you trusted me with everything.”
“I do trust you.” Matt promises desperately, trying to turn around again.
He’s not sure what he’s planning to do once he’s turned. Run, maybe, get as far away from here as he can and then keep running anyway. Or maybe just grab Foggy, hold him until he’s not crying anymore.
Foggy doesn’t let him. Matt strong enough that he could turn anyway, but that would mean fighting Foggy and Matt can’t do that.
“You don’t trust me enough to tell me when you're in danger, when you're risking your life and getting beaten half to death doing it. You didn't see yourself in those news videos. It was awful. You were limping and bleeding and running and you didn't tell me.” Foggy whispers, wrecked. “I thought we were partners, Matt.”
Were. I thought we were partners. Past tense. Were. Foggy’s leaving him.
“No.” Foggy says, low and a little alarmed. “No, you don’t get to do that. Not now.”
“Devil’s Day.” Matt repeats, a little more forcefully. “You promised. Devil’s Day means you help me be happy. You promised. Devil’s Day.”
“Stop saying that.” Foggy hisses, hands falling away from Matt’s shoulders like they’ve been scalded. “Don’t you dare.”
Now that he’s free, Matt stumbles to his feet, turning to face Foggy. Not yellow. Orange-red. Foggy’s past the flash fire, and now he’s just burned-out ash.
“Devil’s Day.” Matt says again, and it’s cruel. He’s never used the days like that, as a weapon. They’re supposed to be medicine when he’s sick, not this. Never this. “Devil’s Day. You have to hug me. You have to lead me home. You have to. You promised.” He swallows. “You have to give me a Valentine.”
He reaches out, but the flame flickers and moves out of reach, Foggy flinching away.
“I don’t have one.”
“No, you do.” Matt denies desperately, reaching out again. Foggy flinches away again, back falling against the wall with a light thump. “You always do.”
Does he? Matt’s whole body goes cold. How many Valentines has he used up? Foggy bought him a hundred—no, ninety-nine and a freebie—but it’s been years. Matt’s been burning through them like wildfire lately, one a week at least. He used to save them, but he’s been desperate.
Every day is a Devil’s Day.
He hadn’t been keeping track. He’d just always assumed that Foggy would have one ready for him. But Matt’s used so many—what if Foggy’s telling the truth? What if he doesn’t have one? What if there aren’t any left?
What happens if Matt doesn’t take his medicine?
“I don't have one with me. There are more.” Foggy tells him quietly, guessing where Matt’s thoughts are headed, dark and panicked. “They’re at my apartment, but I’m not…” He exhales slowly. “I don’t what to write.”
Foggy matches his Valentines to what kind of medicine Matt needs. Apparently he’s been doing it the whole time, knowing that Matt would understand. All of those carefully written messages, and Foggy knew that Matt could read them. He’d meant every single one, and he’d been so perfect in finding the right words to make Matt smile again. He’d always known what Matt needed.
Foggy doesn’t know what to write this time.
“Please?” Matt begs. “Any of them, I’ll take any of them.” Anything Foggy can give. Foggy hesitates.
“It’s not…“ Possible. Foggy doesn’t say that though, instead taking a carefully measured breath. “I can try. I’ll just—I need some time. I’ll try.” He pauses, gives a weak laugh. “I’m sure I’ll think of something. It just might take a little bit of time, okay?”
Time. Foggy’s saying that it might be okay, but he needs time. That’s more than Matt hoped for.
“Okay.” He agrees, even though he doesn’t want to wait. He wants Foggy to take him home right now, settle him down and go to scribble something on a Valentine. ‘I forgive you.’ ‘I trust you.’ ‘I love you.’ Anything.
“We can—“ Foggy stops, then sighs. “We can do the hug part.”
He sounds a little defeated. Matt should probably ask if he’s sure, tell him it’s okay. Matt should promise to give him space, leave him alone until Foggy’s ready.
Instead Matt keeps him backed against the wall while he’s hugging him so Foggy can’t escape.
“I do trust you.” Matt promises fiercely. “I was scared, but I trust you. I’ll tell you everything.” Foggy stiffens a little in his arms, but he doesn’t try to pull away.
“A little late, but I appreciate the sentiment.” He offers, wry but a little wet with tears. “Thanks.”
They stay there for a minute, and Matt carefully, carefully starts the swaying, slight enough that Foggy won’t be able to realize he’s doing it. It works, Foggy slowly relaxing and hugging him back.
After Foggy seems more relaxed, Matt cautiously runs a hand through his hair, just the once. When Foggy sighs and doesn’t tell him to stop, Matt does it again. It works too, Foggy’s head falling forward to rest on Matt’s shoulder to get closer. Everything's working just like Matt hoped.
Matt wonders if he should go for the kiss like he planned, but he didn’t drink mimosas. Foggy might not like it otherwise. Matt doesn’t dare try it, because the kiss has to be perfect. Foggy has to like it.
“I won’t need too much time.” Foggy tells him quietly. “I still trust you.” He hesitates, tugging Matt a little closer. He’s swaying too, and Matt’s not sure if he realizes he’s doing it. “Start talking, and I’ll start thinking of something good to write.”
Matt hopes so, more than anything in the world. He takes a deep breath and starts talking. The sooner he talks, the sooner Foggy starts writing.
“I became a lawyer to help people. I put on a mask to help the people that the lawyer couldn’t.”
Matt hears Foggy coming from a literal mile away.
He rolls out of bed like it’s on fire, strips off his ratty pajama pants and goes for the nice ones—he’d wear dress pants, but he wants to look casual. He should probably add a shirt, because he doesn’t want to look too enthusiastic. So, his nicest shirt, his nicest pants—should he wear shoes? No, shoes would be too formal with pajamas.
He runs to the bathroom to run a comb through his hair and brush his teeth, cursing when he realizes he doesn’t have time to shave. Hopefully Foggy will be alright with the scruffy look.
Matt hesitates, reaching for his glasses. They’re a comfort item, a wall between him and the rest of the world, but he doesn’t want any more walls between him and Foggy. He lowers his hand slowly and leaves them on the bedside table. No more walls.
Thank god he didn’t go out tonight. If Foggy forgives him, if Matt says and does and is the right things, Foggy might kiss him. Matt doesn’t want to taste like blood. He tastes like mint, and that’s better, but the absolute best would be…
Matt gargles as much of the mint flavor out of his mouth as he can, goes to the fridge and finishes the half-full carton of orange juice in one long gulp. He doesn’t have sparkling wine, but he has vodka so he takes a steadying sip or three of that too. It’s almost a mimosa.
Foggy knocks on the door.
Matt takes one more sip of vodka to calm down, realizes that he’ll taste like an alcoholic if Foggy kisses him, and upturns the orange juice carton to chase any last drops of juice in order to hide the vodka flavor. Better.
Foggy knocks again, a little more loudly.
Matt throws the empty orange juice carton in the trash, takes a deep breath, and opens the door.
“Foggy.” He leans casually against the doorway, shifting just enough to make his shirt stretch enticingly across his chest and biceps. He does the smirk too, the one that tends to get people’s hearts beating a little faster. “Hello.”
“You have toothpaste on your shirt, orange pulp on your teeth, and your pants are inside out.” Matt freezes. “Yeah. Stand aside, stud.”
Matt shuffles sheepishly to the side, licking away the orange pulp from his teeth.
“Why are you even drinking orange juice at three o’clock in the morning?” Foggy wonders, amused. “And is that vodka? Were you having a party without me?” Matt shrugs.
“I was thirsty.” He explains. It’s not a lie. “What are you doing knocking on my door at three o’clock in the morning?” It’s a bit petty, turning the question around, but Matt’s a bit desperate for time to recover from the toothpaste-orange-pulp disaster.
“Right, sorry.” Foggy chuckles, sounding embarrassed. “I would have waited until tomorrow, but I just—I thought of what I wanted to write, and I needed you to read it.” When Matt remains patiently silent, he clears his throat. “But I can come back tomorrow if this isn’t a good time.” There’s already the retreating shuffle of shoes.
“No, no.” Matt assures him hastily, probably looking a little too eager. “This is a good time. I was up anyway.” Foggy hums, and there’s the sound of sloshing liquid as he checks the vodka bottle. Probably to guess how much Matt’s had. “I’m not drunk.” He adds urgently.
“Good to know.” Foggy says slowly, a little bemused. “Neither am I.”
“Good.” Matt assures him. After a moment of stretching silence, he smiles a little awkwardly. “So, you thought of something to write?” He urges softly. Foggy hums in agreement.
“Yeah. It’s…It’s.” He stops, making a frustrated sound. “There’s something I need to do first. I need us to do first.”
“Of course.” Matt answers without hesitation. If Foggy’s here and he’s written something, that means he’s here to stay. He’s not going to leave. They are partners, not were partners. “Anything.”
“I don’t think you’ll like it.” Foggy warns him. It’s a little worrying, but Matt’s resolve isn’t shaken. He can handle it.
“Anything.” He repeats gently. Foggy takes a shaky breath.
“I need you to put on the mask. Right now.”
Matt freezes. Foggy’s right, he doesn’t like it. It’s possibly the worst idea in existence.
Matt had promised himself that he would never force Foggy to be a part of that life. He would keep it separate, keep Foggy safe. Foggy’s seen the Devil, but only on Devil’s Days. He’s seen the Devil weak and tame, huddling under blankets and reading Valentines.
He’s never seen the Devil in the mask.
Matt had nightmares about it, even before Foggy found out. He’d imagined Foggy hating it, the ugly parts of Matt that it represents. It’s all of the rage and the violence and the desperately despairing urge to make a difference even if it means breaking every law he’s promised to uphold.
Foggy will hate it.
“Yes.” Matt says, and goes to get the mask.
Foggy’s breath catches when he sees it, and his hands are shaking when he takes it from Matt.
There’s the rustle of cloth as Foggy turns the mask over in his hands. Matt had made sure to take the most battered, torn one he could find. If Foggy’s going to understand, if he’s going to know, he needs to know all of it. Battle scars and all.
Foggy is quiet for a very long time. The sound of cloth never quiets, Foggy never putting down the mask, feeling out all the rips and tears.
Matt wants to beg him to stop, to say something, but he doesn’t. There must be a reason Foggy’s doing this. He stays as still as he can in the excruciating quiet, forcing himself not to speak.
Finally, Foggy sighs.
“You know, I’ve met the Devil every day for years and I’ve never gotten a chance to say hi?” Foggy muses idly. Matt blinks, and then goes still as stone when he feels the soft cloth of the mask slipping down to cover his eyes. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Matt whispers, and he wants to say something, anything more to show how grateful he is, but he can’t find a single word.
“You look nice. A little dramatic, but it suits you. I like it.” Foggy tells him quietly, and Matt can’t help but kiss him.
It takes Matt a moment to realize what a colossally stupid idea this is, and less than a moment for Foggy to start kissing him back.
All of Matt’s dreams about Foggy seeing the mask were nightmares. He’d never even considered that Foggy would like it.
But he does, humming happily and leaning into the kiss, enthusiastic but affectionate. His fingers are never still, brushing against the edges of the mask curiously, slipping just over and under to understand where it fits with everything else. Where the Devil meets Matt Murdock.
Foggy’s fingers finally still and fall away. Matt makes a disappointed sound, tugging Foggy closer and deepening the kiss, licking into Foggy's mouth. Foggy indulges him for another minute or two before pulling away.
“No, again.” Matt orders. “One more.” Foggy doesn’t answer, instead pressing something into his hand.
Matt had forgotten about it completely for a second. Kissing Foggy is distracting, intoxicating. The Valentines are medicine, known and worn and kind. They’re a dose he’s used to. Kissing Foggy is like having all one hundred Valentines at once, easy and electrifying.
Addictive. Matt wonders if he can overdose.
“I wanted to make sure you were in the mask when you read it, because otherwise you wouldn’t believe I meant it.” Foggy explains. “And I do. I mean it for every part of you, even the parts that like to wear dramatic black masks and drink orange juice at three o’clock in the morning.”
Matt opens the Valentine with shaking fingers.
Love is a flame that burns bright eternally. Always and forever yours.
If you’re a Devil, then I want to go to Hell.
“Pretty corny, right?” Foggy laughs weakly, and his voice is just as shaky as Matt’s hands.
Matt runs his fingers along the message again and again until he can feel the ink heavy on his skin. It must be smudged on the paper, completely illegible—Foggy will need to write it again.
And again. And again. And again.
“How would you feel about adding another tradition to our Devil’s Day celebration?” Matt wonders absently, and Foggy laughs.
“Well, ‘tis the season.” He muses. “Why, what kind of tradition?” Matt grins and starts leading him towards the bedroom, Valentine held tightly in one hand and Foggy held tightly in the other one.
“Oh, all kinds.” He tells Foggy casually. “I plan to make this a very good Devil’s Day for both of us.”
“Finally getting in the holiday spirit.” Foggy approves. “I like it.” Matt kisses him.
“Happy Holidays.” He whispers, and Foggy laughs again.
“Happy Devil’s Day, Devil.”
“Let me guess. Bandages, concealer, and Nutella.” The clerk sighs wearily. She’s used to Matt by now, setting aside his usual order beforehand to save time. They both know how much it’s going to cost every time, down to the penny. It’s a routine, a ritual—one Matt thought he’d be doing for the rest of his life.
“Sparking wine and orange juice. I'm making mimosas.” Matt corrects her, grinning so hard it hurts. “And I need Valentines. As many as you have.”
“Valentines?” The girl repeats, sounding bewildered. Matt nods.
“All of them.” He tells her firmly. “And birthday cards too. Christmas cards, Easter cards, Halloween cards. Anything that says ‘I love you’.”
“You do know that it’s November, right?” The girl checks, puzzled. Matt nods again. She hesitates. “Are you sure? That’s a lot of cards. Why do you need so many?” Matt smiles at her, already planning what he’s going to write in his first Valentine. Foggy’s waiting at home—they can write them together, lying in bed and sipping mimosas.
“I need enough to say ‘I love you’ for a lifetime.”