The morning had been predictable enough. Sasha had come in her mind unchanged, but at least all the day’s business related to her had been taken care of by lunch. Just after it, Jennifer Walters had called Marci to tell her she had decided to take Lang’s case, and she thought she might be able to get in contact with his girlfriend. She and Matt had both had brief conversations with her themselves, and she was much as Foggy remembered her, friendly, but very business-like, and clearly very driven and determined.
It had also been around lunchtime that the FBI had showed up at their apartment. Luckily by then Matt’s costume, escrima sticks, and billy-club had been safely stashed away in Jessica’s apartment. Matt had been at home to greet them, and he had even been able to be more truthful than not in answering their questions. After all, he genuinely did have no knowledge of exactly how Romanov has managed the break-in. His being blind had probably helped them believe him, and he’d since gotten a chance to tell Foggy that they did.
She was uncomfortably aware that had they known about his supersenses, even if some of them might have been willing to believe that Natasha Romanov could elude even his ears enough to not wake him up, they probably would have insisted otherwise, and arrested him. People with superpowers weren’t being given the benefit of the doubt anymore. Once, in the aftermath of the Incident, Foggy had hoped Matt might be willing to come out and be open with the world about his gifts. Now she was thankful he hadn’t.
They’d finally left after nearly five hours, by which time all three lawyers had multiple press interviews and similar scheduled for the next few days, but none that night. With all three habeas lawsuits now announced by the press, it had, unfortunately, been very easy for Ross to officially refuse to comment on anything; they’d have to wait for what the government’s lawyers said. Stark Industries had issued a statement talking mostly about beefing up their security, to the point that Foggy, Cheryl, and Marci had all laughed as their first reaction to reading it, the first two even more so.
So Foggy had arrived home thinking the day’s excitement was over. But then, less than an hour after the FBI’s departure according to Matt, another set of men with official power and also guns came knocking at their door, conveying the kind of request for interviews they couldn’t really refuse. They themselves were not necessarily suspected of any wrongdoing, their leader had gone so far to say, which had made clear to them that something had happened they hadn’t been briefed about yet.
Foggy’s stomach was growling as she sat down, Matt on one side and Marci on the other, in front of a large desk, their escorts remaining behind them. She hadn’t had much for lunch, or eaten a thing since then.
The man on the other side of the desk wasn’t anyone familiar. He appeared young, wore a suit so smooth and elegant Mr. Chao would’ve turned green with envy, and had very cold eyes. “Good evening,” he said, “Mr. Murdock, Ms. Nelson, Ms. Stahl. My name is John Pulworth. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask the three of you a few questions, and it is very much in the interest of national security if you are cooperative.”
His tone was so oily Foggy knew Matt wouldn’t take it, even before he said, “Sir, I believe we could waste a little less time if the three of us established a thing or two immediately, at least if Ms. Nelson and Ms. Stahl both agree with me on them. I am sure they will agree with me on the first, which is that, right now, or, in fact, ever, there is absolutely nothing you could get us to prioritize over our ethical obligations to our clients, am I right?” They both nodded their agreement; that was an easy one.
Matt allowed the sort of beat to pass that indicated he was about to go into the non-violent version of his “I am going to inflict as much pain on you as is possible and feel righteous about it” mode. Then he continued, “And while I am aware my two companions may not agree with me on this second one, I am currently extremely skeptical of any claims from you, or anyone else currently attached to the United States government, that I should just take your word for it that doing what you want is necessary for ‘national security.’ I believe we have all heard that phrase bandied about far too much in the past decade and a half. There is currently a presidential candidate threatening to do things in the name of it that would hurt this country far more than those you claim to be protecting us from ever could…”
“Well, that has to be disputed,” Pulworth semi-sneered, “given we’re now certainly in the opening stages of a war with superheroes.”
“A war?!” Foggy burst out. “Is that the excuse you’re going to use for your unlawful imprisonment of four of the Avengers? How did they get into a war with us?! One battle with a few international police officers and another one with each other does not qualify as a war, sir, especially not with us.”
But he replied, with a gleam of triumph in his eyes, “That’s not all there is now, Ms. Nelson. Hours ago, Mr. Rogers broke into a government detention facility and freed his four fellow rogue superheroes, including the ones the three of you currently purport to represent. Now they are a group that have set themselves against the United States of America, and you must admit they have always qualified as a non-state actor, that have now committed an act of war.”
Marci looked genuinely stunned. Matt betrayed no reaction. Foggy herself couldn’t help but reel a little as her mind tried to adjust to the sudden turn of events. She couldn’t say she was surprised, though. There was a reason she’d thought of their reaction to this possibility.
If he thought anything of how they had reacted to the news, Pulworth gave no sign of it. “So you see,” he said, “if you’ve had any communications with your clients, even if it only told us that they have no further hostile intent towards the United States or our allies,” meaningful tone, no doubt trying to drop a lure, “you would do a great service towards your country. Especially if they’re from Mr. Rogers, whom I believe none of you are representing. Or if their next friends have told you anything.”
“No,” said Foggy, seeing their chance there: “If you thought the escape of our clients from your custody ends the lawsuit, even though they are now forced to choose between unlawful imprisonment or dangerous exile, well, you really don’t know much about how this works, Mr. Pulworth. We can not be obligated to reveal anything that might potentially weaken our case, including our strategy, and that covers all communications with our clients and all their associates.” That might not keep them out of trouble if their communications with Stark were ever found out, but she and Matt could at least rest easy ethically.
“Of course,” Marci added, “I hope you will believe that we would have said to whoever spoke to us about jailbreaking, ‘Don’t do it.’” At least, though, she didn’t claim they would’ve meant it.
“So,” Pulworth’s tone turned dangerous, “it sounds to me like I can’t even be sure you did not know.”
"It doesn’t sound to me,” said Matt, “like you really believe we had any idea of it, but are hoping to intimidate us into breaking privilege.” Foggy knew what he was listening to, of course. And Marci, like Karen before she’d known, had gotten the impression Matt had a knack for detecting lies, and looked like she believed his words.
“So,” he said, “you refuse to cooperate?”
“Given the way you’re treating us like criminals?” said Marci. “If we weren’t invoking privilege, we’d still be justified in invoking our Fifth Amendment rights.”
Still, there was one thing Foggy really wanted to have certainty of, so she threw in, “Besides, you don’t really think Captain America is going to go attacking the country he was once all ready to die for, and for no good reason at all? You don’t have any reason to think that now that he’s got his friends freed, he’s going to do anything besides just lie low?”
“Ms. Nelson, the man is a traitor,” Pulworth sneered. “Which we certainly never thought Captain America would be. None of us can presume to have any idea of what’s going on his head, or what move he’s going to take next. His mind might have even taken a turn from sanity; who knows what seventy years in an unnatural coma might have done to it.”
Foggy didn’t really absorb most of what he said after the first sentence. The way he’d just said it, about a man who probably respected America and what it was supposed to stand for a thousand times more than he did, just felt so wrong. It brought her back to a night at Josie’s, watching Fisk on TV, shamelessly manipulating a murder he’d engineered to further his advantage. She’d had the same hopeless feeling then, of the world just being wrong.
Most of her was terrified about what Karen would do with that quote when she inevitably got her hands on it. A small part was hopeful about that instead.
Matt’s rage never froze him like that, of course. It usually smoldered below the surface instead, Matt remaining smooth and continuing on, until such time as he could get his fists on something. That was what it was doing now, as he coldly replied, “If all you have left in you in the twisted version of the truth by which your boss justified his unlawful acts, sir, then this meeting is over. Unless you intend to detain us?”
A jab of terror ran through Foggy that this man might intend just that. But he only sneered a very threatening, “Not at this time, Mr. Murdock. Mr. Richter, escort our visitors out of the base. Use the fastest route.”
Outside, as soon as Marci turned her phone on, it chimed. “Mrs. Wilson called me,” she said. “They’ve probably just ambushed her. I told her already she doesn’t answer anyone’s questions without me there; I hope she listened. I’d better head off.”
So they parted just outside the base, and when they were alone, Matt whispered to Foggy, “There’s a French restaurant a couple of blocks from here, one of the cleanest ones I’ve ever caught a whiff of in this city.”
Foggy wasn’t going to object, and it turned out to not even be quite as expensive as she initially feared. Plus they were in a booth that was a little smaller than was strictly comfortable, but also in a quiet corner, where Matt felt comfortable leaning forward just a little bit, nose to Foggy’s hair like he was just being an affectionate husband, and whisper things nobody was going to try to overhear.
Like, “He didn’t believe that Rogers is a traitor. He did believe the rest of it, or at the very least had convinced himself he did.”
“That’s comforting, I suppose,” said Foggy. “I mean, he was obviously the sort of guy who’ll parrot whatever his evil boss proclaims and for the most part be absolutely convinced that he’s doing right by advancing his agenda. Even when he does things he might otherwise swear are utterly unjustifiable-and he’ll blast the other side for doing them even after he’s done them, of course.”
There was a brief pause as they both contemplated how many such more people they were likely to run into. Ross probably preferred them.
“I don’t know if that comforts me,” said Matt. “I know what you’re thinking, that if that sort of man isn’t going to buy his boss’ bullshit, that means a lot of people won’t. But the thing he was most certain of was the possibility of Rogers not being right in the head. That’s a classic tactic of authorities for dismissing dissent, especially when it comes from people they’re nervous about villainizing. If Wanda had remained in the Raft and you’d had to motion to get her out of the straitjacket, the government would have almost certainly claimed she had to be in it because she’d lost her mind. That accusation’s dogged her since she and Pietro first ran into the Avengers.”
“Oh, Wanda,” Foggy sighed, wishing the news of her being out of the Raft could make her feel better. “Now I’m wondering where she is right now. Is anywhere in the world even going to take them in?”
“Hey,” Matt already had his face against hers; all he had to do was lay his hand on her shoulder. “She’ll be fine so long as she’s with Rogers. He’s not going to let anything happen to any of them if he can help it. I’ve fought alongside three of them, remember, who can take care of themselves, and I’m pretty sure Barton can too. Also, if there’s one thing I’m sure of about Rogers? He’ll do *anything* for someone he cares about. Probably for his men as a commander, too, or women, as the case may be.”
“He’s a good man. A good man.” He was nearly whispering it, yet there was a hardness to his voice too.
“Oh, that he certainly is,” said Foggy, because he was. And at least Matt was sticking to the details about this debate the two of them could agree on.
The news about the breakout from the Raft broke right after the waiter took their orders. They both got texts from Karen informing them so, and asking if that was what the scary people who’d dragged them out to Fort Hamilton had wanted to talk to them about, since she had known they’d been escorted there. Foggy ended up calling her, her and Matt’s heads still close enough he might have listened in easily even with normal hearing. “Marci’ll probably give you a statement on behalf of herself and Mrs. Wilson sometime tomorrow. She has a few more people to eviscerate tonight first; she doesn’t have time for the media.”
Karen laughed at that; she might have even been a little relieved. “And you two?”
“Nice try. You’ll get a statement crafted with forethought and on a full stomach and you’ll like it. We might even give you different ones.” She and Matt hadn’t really talked about how much of this they were going to do together yet. “But of course neither of us have anyone to consult with for them, so…we’ll try to get our words to you by bedtime, if you want. I think Jennifer probably will too, especially since it’s earlier in the day for her anyway.”
“The sooner, the better, as always. Although rumor’s currently flying through the office that Ross is going to make a speech in an hour or so. You two might want to eat quickly.”
Too much to hope for he'd keeping hiding behind his lawyers at this point, Foggy supposed. But the timing was annoying; she’d wanted to be able to eat in peace, after enduring his minion, without having to endure him too.
“Text me if you hear anything definite?” Foggy asked her, and Karen agreed, before saying, “I’ll leave you to your dinner, then. Be sure to tell me if it’s any good, and if that restaurant’s worth however much it costs, just in case I end up being in that area myself.”
It was. Foggy was sure of that from the moment she took her first bite of her beef bourguignon, even before she saw the expression on Matt’s face as he tasted his fish. With his unfortunate tendency to taste even the slightest of contaminants, especially in restaurant dishes, it took a lot of skill to make him look like that. It wasn’t unlike watching him have an orgasm, and on those occasions when the Catholic guilt wasn’t hindering him too much.
Between that, and finally getting to eat when she really had been hungry, Foggy was in far too good a mood when the text arrived from Karen. Ross will be speaking in twenty minutes. When she’d relayed it to Matt, he said, “the bar next door has just turned to CNN. It’s loud enough you might even be able to hear it from the ladies’ room.”
They were nearly done eating by then, and regretfully Foggy agreed they could skip dessert and call for the check. It took an eternity to get it, though, and the waitress hadn’t brought Foggy’s credit card back when it was scheduled to start. So Foggy did indeed go to the ladies room, which was at the end of the restaurant adjacent to the bar. When she closed the door behind her, Ross’ voice came in clear through the bathroom’s tiny window:
“…that Captain America would think himself so above the law, but perhaps we should not have been surprised, since right here in New York, we have seen plenty of evidence that it’s not only him. Ask anyone in Manhatten, and they’ll probably know somebody dead because of the actions of a superhero or vigilante. After years of enduring these people, it is clear that as a group they have no respect for authority, for proper law and order, for anything that might hinder them. Even the exceptions cannot be relied upon. When we first heard of the break-in at the Raft, as you might imagine, we immediately called Tony Stark. I am still trying to get him to give us a straight explanation as to why he was completely unavailable for contact, and I’m starting to doubt I’ll get one.
It is now too clear to me that we, the people of the world, have been too soft on those among us with superpowers. We let ourselves get taken in by sob stories, people claiming to be afraid of their own abilities,” the scorn in his voice was scarcely believable, “people who insisted they would never do anything but good. It was easy to let them deal with the aliens, let them deal with Hydra-even when several of them failed to notice it had taken over their own organization, let them deal with the robots who were their own creation. We see now where that’s gotten us. With five criminals at large, two of them possessing powers with which they could probably do whatever they like to us.
Well, we won’t make that mistake again. Thanks to the Sokovia Accords, we will soon have identified every last person who’s a threat to us, and we’ll be keeping an eye on all of them. And they want to blow up buildings or even entire cities in the name of the greater good, they’ll need to get permission first. Soon, nobody will need to worry about their neighbor suddenly gaining the ability to walk through their walls, damage their property, even injure them with a glance…”
Foggy couldn’t stand to listen to him anymore. She left the bathroom on shaking legs, staggering back to the table where Matt sat, fists clenched and body rigid, probably wanting very badly to throw something. “It’s…” she started.
“It’s only getting worse,” he growled. “He’s urging people to report their neighbors, classmates, students, that so long as the Avengers remain at large, anyone with superpowers is likely a sympathizer with them and should have their communications be monitored, and now…he’s citing all the instances where Inhumans being attacked have had to defend themselves and insisting there are too many of them to be true.” And when they’d both of them had multiple such Inhumans as clients, all of whom Matt had confirmed as telling the truth.
“Oh, now he’s going after Jessica and Luke,” he sighed as Foggy silently sat herself down next to him. “Seriously, he’s saying that about Harlem’s hero…I’m pretty sure that phrase is racist code…and that is outright misogynist…”
The waitress had brought the card back, and Foggy forced herself to concentrate enough to calculate the tip and sign her name. They could leave now, but that wouldn’t help Matt escape having to hear things that Foggy was rapidly getting the impression had gone beyond horrible into downright shocking to hear from the U.S. Secretary of State.
Except then he shook his head, and said, “No, he shouldn’t talk about that, he knows nothing about that, how did he even when the police didn’t even file a report…”
Foggy shot her hand out for his, needing the support then just as much as he did. The memories were still raw for the both of them, that Matt had nearly been left behind in that basement, that he would’ve been had the child Black Sky he’d been trying to save not started climbing up the elevator shaft, causing Matt to chase him out. And yet the thing that haunted him the most was he had lost track of that boy, and had no idea whether he’d even gotten out of the building itself. Though that they hadn’t found his body made it likely he enough that he had.
“He’s trying to throw suspicion on every mysterious explosion and accident that’s happened for the past year.” Matt let out a slight laugh; he was sounding a little crazed. “Apparently there have been issues on the DC metro that have been going on for longer, and they’ve even *admitted* it’s because of negligence and are going to spent the next year shutting down parts of it to fix it, but he’s still trying to insinuate that it’s all a coverup.”
“He really thinks anyone would claim such negligence as a cover story?” sighed Foggy. “I thought everyone knew that’s the kind of shit that *gets* covered up. I’d believe a story about someone superpowered being at fault to be the cover story.” It probably had been somewhere or other by now.
“I think he’s wrapping up,” said Matt, but he didn’t sound too relieved about that. “And he finishes off with a veiled shot at our habeas lawsuits. At least he hasn’t singled us out by names, but…”
Foggy’s phone pinged. The text was from Marci this time: We’re demanding Ross’ resignation. Joint statement. No, your husband is not allowed to object either. I’ll email Jennifer.
When she read that out loud to Matt, he just nodded and said, “Good idea, but which of us drafts it? I think you’d better do it, since she still has her other people to have words with, and Jennifer didn’t endure what we did this evening-unless they’re going after her right now, which of course they could very easily be doing.”
“And you?” Foggy asked, very quietly, simply to get his answer out loud.
He said, even more softly, “I’m worried about how much danger all four of us will be in tonight. I wish Jennifer was in town, instead of all the way on the other side of the country, where none of us can do much to help her. I don’t need to go far from our apartment, thankfully, to be in hearing range of Marci’s, though Mrs. Wilson lives all the way up in Harlem. I want to visit Luke as soon as I can manage; he’ll look after her.”
“Who are you afraid would target us?” Foggy asked. “The CIA? Watchdogs? Other right-wing crazies? Or are you just being generally paranoid?”
When Matt didn’t respond, Foggy was left pretty sure it was the last one. “Look,” she said, “maybe you’re not entirely wrong to be paranoid. Hell, going to talk to Luke about anyone in Harlem connected with Sam Wilson is probably a good idea. But who’s going to come for us as early as tonight? If Ross had that kind of nerve, we’d already be in handcuffs. Those who are afraid of superheroes…well, if you wanted to go out to protect Inhumans and such from them, that would be a very heroic thing for you to do, but their priority will be attacking them, not us.”
“You’re probably right,” Matt sighed. “Still…”
They rose from the table at last, and Foggy took stock of how he moved, how tightly he took hold of his cane. “I get it,” she said to him, very softly. “You’re restless. You can’t punch anyone responsible for this, and you hate that, and if you tried taking your feelings out on the available acceptable targets, we’d have nothing left intact in the apartment within a week.”
“It would be a bad idea to go after them even if I could get away with it,” said Matt. “They’d use anything Daredevil did to them to further gain public sympathy. I know that.”
That was a remarkable amount of thinking ahead for Matt. “We need to be smart,” she said. “Wait for them to show their true colors. If it’ll make you feel better, we can go see Luke right now; I can work on the statement while you two talk.” She called Marci when they were out of the restaurant, who quite happily agreed to let her do the writing. As she hung up, she wondered briefly how they would explain Luke Cage getting involved if he did end up having to do anything for Mrs. Wilson. Maybe she wouldn’t ask. Maybe she’d figure he’d heard about it and decided to intervene on his own.
So that was how Foggy found herself sitting at Luke and Claire’s table with the latter while their two men talked. It wasn’t the first time she’d done this kind of drafting on her phone, but it still made her feel better to have it on a wooden surface before her. Claire initially tried to get a look at what she was writing, but after a meaningful look, she stopped, and after that mostly seemed to be paying attention to the men.
Matt and Luke were now getting along well, so unsurprisingly, they lingered. Foggy thought she heard Luke ask if Matt had seen Jessica. So she had time to finish the draft, and even do an initial rewrite, despite the pain she found that to be on the phone, and even send it to Marci and Jennifer for comments. It was a pity Matt would be last to hear it, but serve him right for talking to Luke this long, when it was late, and she was tired and sad, and just wanted to spend an hour or so cuddling with him at home.
When she’d put her phone away, Claire looked at her. “Sorry,” she said. “But attorney work product…”
“I know,” said Claire. “You know I read a little bit about habeas corpus tonight? Thought I’d better keep up with the conversation around me. I mean, now that I’m even working in a hospital owned by a superhero, I really have to give up on escaping them.”
“Well, you’re at least partly used to it already, right?” said Foggy. “Although let me warn you right now, actually getting romantically involved with a superhero is completely different from just sidekicking for them on occasion. And having to hide out in a precinct, and cope with someone’s arm having just gotten sliced off on scene-well, okay, I’ve never done that second one yet. But it’s really just the start of it. Though you did kind of get hit with the brunt of things early in the relationship.”
“I believe it,” said Claire. There was an uncertainty in her voice, a lack of confidence of a type Foggy had never heard from her before. “Still, it is good to have a place where I can patch superheroes up as they need, without worry about what the boss will think. I’ve even been talking with Danny about protecting identities, making it a safe place. Of course those Accords don’t make it easy, though I think he’s managed to get an audience with Jeri about it, and, well, I hope we can have your and Matt’s help too, if we ever need it.”
“Hey,” Foggy said, taking her hand. “You know you’ll always have that. We owe it to you anyway, but even if we didn’t.”