When they’d set off for the first one, Karen with them, they had both already read the allegations that the previous one had been crashed by the forerunner of the robots that had busted up the capital of Sokovia something awful the following week, and they’d ended up going in with a British-accented woman who had attended that one, but left early, so couldn’t confirm it. “Of course,” she said, “Ms. Potts wasn’t at that party; she had actual business to do. She is at this one.”
“So when Ms. Potts is here, these sorts of events happen less?” Matt had asked.
The British woman had grinned and said, “Yes, and no. Yes, events that are completely out of the control of our hosts happen less. But no, in fact, I would say when Ms. Potts is here…things get even more wild.”
That was not the impression they would have gotten of Virginia Potts, certainly, when she had come to their office to advocate for her retainer offer in person, during which she’d certainly impressed all three of them. But by the end of the night, they had all agreed: the British woman had been right.
Ms. Potts was not at this night’s party. Nor was Karen; she had been feeling a bit under the weather, and had gone home after getting their promise to tell her everything the next day. For the first hour the only unusual thing that had happened was that Foggy had the longest conversation he had managed so far with Tony Stark. Although it was still mostly him and Matt doing the talking, Matt asking questions about obscure pieces of technology where Foggy wasn’t even sure if they really existed, or if the two of them were talking in code. Though he had cued Foggy to tell their host the story of his printer, the extra-heavy paper, and the accident with the handheld braille labeler that had happened during their first semester at Columbia, which Stark seemed to love.
“At least he’s stopped gratuitously waving his hands in front of me when talking to me,” Matt had murmured to Foggy afterwards. “I’m not sure whether or not he knew I could tell when he started, although given how loudly he was moving them then, he should’ve figured I could anyway.”
“Wow,” Foggy had said. “Dude really is an asshole.” But of course, that had not been news.
The real moment when things had started to take their bizarre turn happened a little bit after that. The two of them had been chatting with some famous engineer about the tower’s history when Natasha Romanov(who still scared Foggy) and Sam Wilson had all but run up to them and asked Matt if they could talk to him for a minute. A “minute” had been more like ten, the three of them crowded together in a corner while Foggy tried in vain to get a good glimpse of any of their faces.
Then Matt had come back, and excused himself. “Have to clear out early,” he’d said apologetically to the engineer. “Just got a call from my neighbor; she thinks my bathroom’s flooded.”
“Don’t suppose you can tell me what’s going on?” Foggy had asked him quietly as he’d walked Matt out.
“Not entirely sure myself,” Matt had said. “Though Rogers insists there’s not going to be any actual fighting in this one. I think he’s even leaving his shield here; Thor might not even grab his hammer, since that would attract attention. He said I had to come though. They might need my nose.”
“Attract attention?” Foggy had hissed. “So they don’t want the people at this party to know they’ve all gone off somewhere?” It was one thing for Matt to have to clear out separately from them, since his identity wasn’t public, but that was very alarming.
“I don’t know, that’s just what he said.” And he’d left Foggy with that and a half-hearted apology.
It was now over an hour later, and nearly as long since Foggy had last spied an Avenger, or even the officially retired one, and he was mostly wandering around, not talking to anyone for more than a couple of minutes at a time, probably making everyone wonder about the bug up his butt. Times like these, Foggy even wished just a little bit that people knew Matt was the Daredevil, so at least he could tell everyone this was Matt’s crowd, not his. His heroics were limited to whatever little guys he could find whose interests he could advocate for in court, and sometimes he resented how inadequate this group of superheroes could make him feel. He was doing good work in the world, dammit.
A woman with big diamond earrings and a smile that reminded him way too much of Marci when she’d been at her worst managed to pin him between herself and a glass wall. “So, Mr. Nelson,” she said. “I hope you will view it as a compliment if I tell you you are unlike most lawyers I have ever met.”
He wanted pretty badly to tell her of how many lawyers she reminded him of, but she might have too much money for that to be a safe proposition. “How so?” he asked. “Is my hair too long, is my suit not expensive enough…”
She cut him off with her laughter. “Well, you could do with a haircut, honestly, Mr. Nelson. But, no, what I mean is-”
When Foggy first saw the guy run into the room yelling, “Everyone!” he was initially relieved to be spared the rest of that.
Then he yelled, “Turn on the news! A gang of guys in black have captured the Daredevil!”
“Oh my God!” wailed the woman next to him, and tried to swoon into his arms, and Foggy narrowly refrained from giving her a real piece of his mind as he deliberately failed to catch her. Someone clicked on the nearest screen and they all crowded around it, Foggy carefully keeping himself apart from the others. He shouldn’t look any more concerned than anyone else, he reminded himself; it would be suspicious if anyone noticed he was absolutely dying inside right now.
CNN was showing a live webcam the kidnappers had set up. Matt, in costume and looking way too beat up, was tied hands and feet and held at gunpoint. It was in Hell’s Kitchen; Foggy recognized the location as the old warehouse by the docks, whose ownership had gone in dispute after they’d brought Fisk down, and was still sitting there bearing, still unrepaired damage from the Incident, because of that.
“We believe right now,” said a reporter, “that the Avengers are up north of the city; a viewer sent us in photos they say were taken less than twenty minutes ago of what they believe are the Avengers headed further north.” The photo appeared; those were definitely Sam Wilson’s wings. “We are unsure if they are aware of the current situation.” There were some reactions from the crowd upon learning their hosts had left without them noticing, but not as many as Foggy thought there maybe should've been.
Matt would’ve had to go back to his apartment to get his costume, Foggy thought. They might currently be heading for a rendezvous point. For all he knew, they might even be on radio silence, especially if this was supposed to be some supersecret mission. Who knew how long it might take them to find out Matt had been captured and get to Hell’s Kitchen from there.
Back on the webcam, one of the kidnappers was trying to get Matt’s mask off. It wouldn’t come off; Foggy supposed there might be something pretty clever in the design there. But how long would it hold?
“Will we finally find out who he is?” asked an excited someone way too near him, almost near enough to punch, and Foggy knew he could not deal with this, standing here in this crowd with these often too rich and/or too stupid people, while he best friend might be exposed, or killed, or who knew what on live television.
He tried to be quiet as he began to move away. Everyone in the tower was now gathered around the screens, especially because a spokesman for the kidnappers was now speaking into the webcam. Foggy didn’t hear any of his words. He just walked fast, down stairs when he found them and across rooms when he came into them, heading vaguely for the coat racks, although the state he was in, he wasn’t sure he wanted to linger by them long enough to track down his coat.
There was a large cluster of coat racks near the entrance that led out into the tower’s private parking garage. It hadn’t been empty for the entire party; he nearly tripped over an expensive-looking shirt, an even more expensive-looking blouse, and a very soft thick black scarf as he trudged towards them. But he was the only one there now.
He glanced over them, and was brought up short by the sight of what he was pretty sure was Thor’s hammer hanging from one of them.
From the room he’d just left, he heard the CNN reporter announce the webcam had fritzed off. He looked at the hammer, at the scarf, and at his own coat, hanging a few racks away. The memory flashed into his head of telling Matt as they’d walked in about the motorcycle parked right by the door, that he thought might be Steve Rogers’.
Foggy Nelson realized then he was about to do the stupidest thing he had ever done in his life.
He grabbed his coat first. Then he took the scarf, wound it round his head. Unlike Matt he couldn’t afford to block his eyes, but it was dark enough out it would hopefully cover enough to do the job. He picked up the hammer off the rack; he’d expected it to be a hell of a lot heavier than it was, but these were advanced aliens/gods; they probably designed everything to be super-light and convenient.
It had been a few years since he’d last driven a motorcycle, but sitting down on the motorbike felt familiar. Hoping he was right, he tapped the ignition with the hammer. The crackle of electricity that shot out into the air was scary, but the motorbike came to life. He hoped he hadn’t damaged it. And that it did belong to Steve Rogers, who would probably understand. Also that Thor would understand too, though Foggy had no idea what he’d think; apparently even Matt had only met him once before tonight, and he wasn’t on Earth very much at the moment. But ultimately he didn’t care. If they hadn’t wanted him borrowing their things, they shouldn’t have caused Matt to get captured.
In fact, it had been so long since he’d driven anything at all he had trouble steering at first; it was a miracle he didn’t hit anything on his way out of the garage. The bike was going fast, too, to the point he felt like he was careening out of control even when he stopped turning in directions he hadn’t wanted to turn in. But if it got him to Matt faster he could bear it.
He burst out onto the streets of New York to screams and car horns, and then found himself shooting into the air, soaring above the cars, and landing hard on the pavement on the other side of the road. Was that something else the hammer did, making the bike able to do that? Whatever; the important part was it had happened. He tore past pedestrians on the sidewalks, shot straight through an intersection in the moment before one light turned red and another turned green, tried to form a mental map of where he was and where that warehouse was. He remembered Matt commenting the tower was close enough to the Hudson that he could still smell the water, but that was Matt; he was probably the only person in the city who could filter the pure scent of water out.
Still, after a few minutes headed vaguely in the right direction, he thought the smell of the river came to him in the night, and he drove towards it, finding narrow alleys that were usefully empty, streets he could zip across without having to leap over any more cars, shadows caused by buildings where even if there was anyone to see him, they wouldn’t be able to see much. The bike slowed down a little, and when he finally reached the river, he was even able to pull it to a halt with a minimum of skidding. He looked in the direction of Hell’s Kitchen; the warehouse was in sight. He just hoped he could get there in time.
The police had gotten there first, of course. But their ranks were still reduced after so many of them had been arrested, and what officers there had been to send to the warehouse were spread very thin. At one of the corners by the water, only two cops stood between Foggy and a broken window on the upper floor. He sped up as he approached, and when they turned to see him and drew their guns, acting on impulse he raised the hammer and hit the ground with it. Another burst of lightning, but the force of the blow had sent him airborne again, shocking the cops too much for them to fire before he had gone through the window and was in the building.
The upper level was completely deserted, but he could hear voices downstairs. Foggy tried to slow down again as the motorbike found the staircase and began its descent, a rough ride that with each step sent him bouncing high up into the air as he held onto the handlebars for dear life, pressing the handle of the hammer into them. It also made more than enough of a commotion that by the time he was approaching the bottom, plenty of guys in black had gathered with guns drawn, but they all seemed to be looking at that hammer. He forced himself to let go of the right handlebar and curl his fingers around the hammer only, then raised it and yell, “Back! Back! I’ve got a magic Norse god hammer and I’m not afraid to use it!”
Near the bottom step he brought it down. Wood was sent flying; the stairs, the floor, the bannister all breaking up and around him. Might not have been the smartest idea, actually, since it promptly surrounded Foggy and left him unable to see a thing even before the dust in his face forced his eyes shut. But through the dust, he heard someone yell, “Run, it must be Thor!”
“That’s not Thor!” someone else protested.
“No, it has to be; no one else can use that hammer!” Foggy could hear footsteps heading away from him. Well, this was working out fine. People believing anything they heard could sometimes.
The dust finally cleared enough he was able to open his eyes. He’d successfully cowed this group of thugs, who had scattered to the ends of the room and made no attempt to block or even shoot him as he sailed into the next one. But he was pretty sure the guys closer to Matt weren’t going to be as easy to deal with.
Though trying to convince them he was the God of Thunder seemed a pretty good idea, both because it might actually scare then and so they wouldn’t speculate on who else he might be. So as he barreled into the next room, and was brought face to face with half a dozen more men, and Matt sitting all too limply behind them, he raised the hammer high, and yelled, with as much menace as he could muster, “I am Thor, God of Thunder! Release this man or I will lay devastation to you as I laid it to your men!”
One of the guys actually backed away, but the other five held their ground. Matt’s head had been turned down; now he lifted it, but slowly and clumsily; Foggy was pretty sure he’d been drugged. Seeing him helpless like that sent a surge of hot anger through him, and while he vaguely thought he should be afraid, seeing these guys not only all had guns and but looked like weren’t going to be freaked out of using them, he was beyond that. He couldn’t take all of them down at once with the hammer, though, so instead once again he hit the floor with it, pushing the bike forward as he did.
He snapped his eyes shut automatically against the dust, as gunfire filled his ears; as he’d hoped, there was too much dust in the air for them to aim properly, and he was going so fast most of them sailed harmlessly behind him. “Daredevil, grab me!” he yelled, and with those crazy abilities of his, Matt’s arms came up and locked themselves around his neck. The hammer broke through the back wall easily, although Foggy was starting to worry about how much he could do before the whole building collapsed.
Matt, on his knees, was being dragged on the ground beside the motorcycle, and Foggy said, “Grab the hammer; I need an arm free to get you up here. I'll try to get it your hands-”
“No!” yelled Matt, surprisingly loudly for someone still limp and now being roughly bumped along an uneven surface. “I can’t take the hammer, you have to keep hold of it. I’ll explain later.”
“Really,” Foggy protested, “trust me, it’s not that heavy!” He bought the bike to a full stop, then felt two bullets graze him as shots ran out; it was a good thing they’d left so much dust behind them. “Okay, bad idea,” he said, but somehow Matt pushed himself up, until he was hanging off Foggy’s back, and he just said, “Hold on,” and hit the ignition with the hammer again. That sent them going too fast, and for one scary moment Foggy thought Matt was going to fly off. But instead they burst through two more walls and finally out into the night, going so fast what cops saw them didn’t even have time to respond before Foggy found an alley and they were speeding away, having to hope that any camera that might have caught them ended up with only a blur, though if anyone managed to discern enough of Matt’s Daredevil outfit, at least they’d know he’d been rescued.
He drove back to the water, letting the bike slow down and then stopped it in a deserted parking lot. He tried to dismount without dislodging Matt, but his friend slipped off and tumbled down to the asphalt. He took stock of himself best he could; a bit cut up, and he'd be bruised to hell tomorrow, but nothing serious. “Wish I’d thought to bring something sharp,” Foggy sighed. “What’d they put in you? Do you know?”
“Not sure,” Matt groaned. “The Avengers might be able to tell…suppose I’ll have to let them take a look.” He didn’t sound very happy about that, but if he was willing to actually let himself be treated in a proper medical facility, Foggy was all for that.
“But you said you couldn’t lift the hammer.” Foggy was actually glad to put it down, carefully placing it next to Matt, though it settled at a weird angle. “Or is that from blood loss? You seemed pretty certain about it…”
“Well, let me see then,” he said, and tried to pull himself up. Foggy knelt to help him and he grasped the handle in both hands, and even in the limited light Foggy could see his arms strain. “Nope,” he said. “Ah, here come the Avengers; that’s definitely their plane. Another minute or so and you should be able to see it.”
He was sagging, probably too much to sit on his own, so Foggy gently set him back down on the ground and went to the edge of the river, shifting the scarf on his head so his face would be visible. He could see a black shape in the sky after a minute or so of looking. “Am I allowed to know what you guys were supposed to do tonight?” he asked.
“Doubt it, since they still haven’t really told me. Sorry. At least they came back for me.”
“So they would’ve rescued you anyway?”
“Actually,” said Matt. “I think they might not have gotten there in time; another few minutes and I’m afraid they probably would’ve managed to get my mask off. So yeah, Foggy, you saved the day. Or night, I suppose.” He was able to chuckle at that, but Foggy found himself reeling from the thought.
The plane was pretty rapid; it was only another couple of minutes before it was landed. Captain America was the first down the ramp when the hatch opened, although without his shield, flanked on one side by Natasha Romanov, and on the other by a big blonde man in armor and cloak who could only be Thor. Foggy could spot Tony Stark, Sam Wilson, and the other woman, whose name he couldn’t remember, gathered at the ramp’s top; the last appeared to be talking to someone out of his line of sight. “How he is?” asked Captain America.
“I’ll be fine,” said Matt from the ground. “Could someone please get these bonds off me?”
“I got it,” said Romanov, approaching him while pulling a knife out, which was not something Foggy had previously believed he’d ever want her to do to any friend of his.
“You really should take a look at him back at your base,” he said. Then he saw the man’s eyes had fallen on the motorcycle. “Look, guys,” he said, “I hope you’re not too mad I borrowed your bike and hammer, but I…” As he was speaking, Foggy had taken hold of the hammer to offer it back to Thor, but as he picked it up he was interrupted by a shocked murmur that passed through the Avengers. “What?” he asked.
And why, damn him, was Matt suddenly laughing his head off behind him?
“That’s not the real hammer,” said Stark. “It’s a fake, right?”
“Is it?” Foggy asked. “I mean, I found it on the coat racks. Although quite frankly, if it’s not your hammer, sir, I’d hate to see what your actual hammer can do.”
“It is Mjolnir,” said Thor. “And though I understand you have not chosen the life of a warrior, it seems you are worthy to wield it, Son of Nel.”
“So he gets to rule over Asgard now?” asked Stark.
“Um, no!” said Foggy hastily. “Look, I don’t know what any of you are talking about here, but totally not interested in ruling over…anything really, so here, have your hammer back!”
He held it out to Thor, who smiled as he took it. “Did you not know?” he asked. “Mjolnir is enchanted so that only the worthy may wield it.”
“We all tried to lift it once,” said Captain America. “There’s only one other person we know about besides the two of you who can.”
“And he’s a robot,” added Stark. “So it might just be the hammer’s confused over that.”
“You want that to be true,” growled the woman on the ramp, which sounded like a longtime argument.
Fortunately Romanov kept it from starting by saying loudly, “There. Can you stand, Murdock?”
He couldn’t; Foggy moved over to him as he clung to her arm; with his other arm Matt took hold of his. “Thanks,” he said. “I think I can probably walk like this.”
“You know,” Romanov commented to him as they followed everyone back up the ramp, except Captain America, who bent to examine his motorcycle, “you don’t seem that shocked about your friend being able to do something most of the people in the universe can’t.”
“Most people in the universe aren’t Foggy,” said Matt, and he still sounded more amused than anything else. “Nah, I wasn’t surprised.”
Captain America joined them, rolling his bike with him. “I, uh, I suppose you’ll want me to pay for damages,” said Foggy.
“He shouldn’t,” said Matt. “You know that. Not when your actions set all of tonight's events off.”
“You lawyers,” sighed Captain America. “But yeah, don’t worry about it.”
“Good. You think we should call Karen, Foggy? Or should we wait until morning, since she’s probably asleep right now?”
“Let’s get a prognosis on you first. Though wow, are we going to have a story to tell her tomorrow. And no,” because he saw the look on Romanov’s face, “we do not care if it’s supposed to be top secret or whatever, because we promised her we’d tell her everything that happened tonight, and that’s what I’m going to do and you can’t stop me.”
“Trust me, you can’t,” Matt added.
“Hey,” grinned Captain America. “Not going to argue with the guy who can wield Thor’s hammer.”