She started by asking for a statement from each of them. She’d specifically asked them to have an individual one beforehand. Matt’s and Foggy’s weren’t too different from each other, and Jennifer’s was surprisingly cautious, but Marci made a more colorful one, with a remark about poor innocent Darlene Wilson being persecuted and the general way her life had gone. Trish took the cue, and they learned about the murder of Sam Wilson’s father when he’d only been nine, which raised sympathy for him too. She was sure to talk about his time as a pararescue airman too. Foggy did notice Marci was a bit vague about the events that happened in between, though; she suspected she didn’t wanted listeners hearing about those.
Instead she finished, “From the way his mother describes him to me, I think the loss of his father is a large part of what made Sam Wilson a hero, both before he donned the wings and after.” She was probably making a point just by saying that on the air. Especially when she added, “And honestly, his Avenger activities aren’t even the most impressive things he’s done as Falcon. Even after the group moved their headquarters out of New York City, he’s been a regular sight in Harlem. As late as right before he went to Europe during recent events, he was attending a fundraiser there. Nobody there had a word to say against him either, even with what had happened in Lagos. They, at least, could recognize an accident when they saw it. They don’t now, either.”
“So are you saying he might not have even necessarily done anything wrong?” Trish asked, and now she sounded both wary and hopeful, as if she wanted to believe it more than she thought she should.
“I think,” Jennifer cut in, “whether our clients did anything wrong is for a proper court to determine; an opportunity they have not been given. Surely if they have committed crimes they can be convicted of, the U.S. government should not be so worried about trying them. Are they worried they would be acquitted?”
“Although,” Foggy felt the need to cut in, “I do have to question the backlash that happened against mine for what happened in Africa. Wanda certainly didn’t want to kill anyone; I don’t see why anyone shouldn’t have seen that immediately. In fact, had she not done what she did, more people would’ve been killed. She was facing a critical situation where she only had a second to act. I want everyone to ask themselves: in her situation, would they have done any better? They can’t know.”
“Some would say,” said Trish, “that she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation, that the dealing of with Hydra should’ve been left to the military, who are trained to remain cooler under pressure.” She felt she had to say that, Foggy was sure.
“Well they took their sweet time doing anything,” said Matt. “For nearly a year, all they seemed to be doing was detaining and interrogating members of S.H.I.E.L.D., most of whom they ended up clearing of any wrongdoing. It seems Glenn Talbot thought there was more harm in them than in the known escaped Hydra operatives; maybe because they were the ones he could get hold of before they killed themselves. You hear him talking now about how they just took out most of Hydra, but why did it take them this long, and when before that they failed to accomplished anything of substance against them? And he found them all over the place, and no one even knows how many people they killed.”
He stopped then, but Foggy could tell he wanted to say more. Trish might have seen it too, because she was quick to say, “That actually brings to mind something Ms. Romanov said two years ago, at the Congressional hearings following the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. When they threatened her with arrest, she basically told them they couldn’t arrest her, because they needed her and her colleagues. Do you think this was what she meant?”
“Well, that’s obvious,” said Jennifer. “And one can’t help but point out that ultimately, those in charge let her walk out just like she said they would. For a year, they were happy to let the Avengers do what they wanted. And in return, they were pretty much as open and honest about their activities as they could be without compromising their missions-obviously the affair in Lagos involved a very dangerous quarry they didn’t want to risk tipping off. Tony Stark even admitted that the robots in Sokovia were his own creation when he didn’t have to. He could’ve maybe not said anything, and hoped people thought rogue Hydra agents had been responsible.”
“That’s right,” Matt added. “The governments of the world were perfectly fine with the Avengers, until someone who was one of their foes at the time caused the Hulk to suddenly become politically inconvenient. You might even say they used them to do their dirty work, then disowned them for it.” He was visibly bristling now.
Trish had been looking at Jennifer with a careful expression on her face. But thankfully she decided against saying what she was likely thinking, but just said, “We’re going to open the lines now for callers.”
The first two callers said nothing they all hadn’t either said or heard over the past week or so, and they made a contrast to each other Foggy could tell Trish liked, one all angry about the unlawful imprisonment, the other all angry over the Avengers’ unlawful actions in general. She had a slight smile on as she said, “Our third caller is Alex, from Manhattan. Alex, you’re on the air.”
“Hello, Trish,” began a male voice whose sneer spoke immediately of trouble. “I would like to say, I have been a loyal fan of yours from the time you were Patsy onward, and I have never been more disappointed in you than I am right now. I know you’ve been cheerleading for superheroes lately, but I never thought you would allow your show to become a platform for possible criminals to advocate for definite criminals.”
“Possible criminals?” Trish voice betrayed only mild surprise, though she was definitely tensing up. “I am not aware of any criminal allegations made against any of my guests.”
“Oh, come on,” Alex scoffed. “You’ve got two lawyers in there who’ve been lauded for taking Wilson Fisk down, ignoring the heavy involvement of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, and if you think it wasn’t him who sent Carl Hoffman to the police, you’re deluding yourself. It’s obvious the two of them had to be collaborating with the vigilante. And then Murdock shows up in the company he did recently? And now this. Any of them could’ve been involved in that leak. Did you even ever intend to mention who Ms. Walters is related to?”
Trish and Jennifer exchanged a glance at this point, and the latter nodded. It was she who spoke: “If you’re going to inquire into me and my cousin, Bruce Banner, sir, let me put it all out there. I don’t know where Bruce is, any more than anyone else does. The last time I had contact with him was a few weeks before the incident in Sokovia, when he emailed me to congratulate me on my new job. Believe me, I would love to know where he is, or even just that he’s okay. The Avengers have all sworn to me they haven’t heard anything from him since the publicly disclosed message he sent shortly after the battle.”
“Well, now we can be sure that you’re either an imbecile, for believing such an obvious lie from the Avengers, or you’re involved in the cover up of whatever he, Clint Barton, and the Thunder God have been doing this past year. Either way, you have no excuse for not kicking her out right now, Trish. You’ve had enough imbeciles on the show over the years.”
“You are basing this accusation on wild speculation, sir,” said Trish, her tone now hard and no-nonsense. “And I am, by the way, willing to vouch for the character of the three lawyers here I knew before today.” There was a pause, where they all had to be thinking the same thing: would he speak Jessica Jones’ name on the air? Because everyone knew it, even if Trish never spoke it.
But the guy was probably a little bit off in the head; it wasn’t impossible his brain had decided to ignore that completely. Instead, he just said, “Well, you’ve lost a loyal listener today, Trish. And I don’t think I’ll be the only one.” Then he hung up.
They went to commercial, and Trish sagged down hard. “Hey,” Matt said to her gently. “Things blew over for you when the whole incident with Killgrave happened, right? And nobody’s even sure what happened at Midland Circle, are they? There’s never even been an official confirmation on who was involved, not even in the police reports.”
“Sure wasn’t,” said Foggy. “I made clear before I left the precinct that night that any made would require those involved to talk to the press themselves.” After convincing the NYPD that they didn’t want that, with Trish and Karen’s aid.
“I know,” Trish said. “Just a little worried about how my higher-ups are going to react to that call.” She shook her head. “I’m doing what I can, but they’ve been driving me crazy.”
“Seeing you just as a shallow blonde?” Marci sounded sympathetic. “Make you feel helpless?” Trish nodded empathetically.
The four of them had also agreed to have lunch together that day, but they all had separate things to do before then. Even Matt wasn’t with her when Foggy returned to her office to find Cheryl on the floor leaning over a set of photos. “We just got these in the mail. With two other letters you don’t need to actually see. The one in the center had the word ‘Remember’ written on the back. But I’m trying to figure out where I’ve seen these before.”
Foggy walked over, glanced down, and immediately knew: “Those are of Frank Castle’s victims, the ones from the motorcycle gang.” There were five of them, four arranged around a center one, and as soon as she saw it, Foggy remembered the rest: “Well, alleged anyway; they dropped charges against him for these five for lack of evidence. They’d filed them in the hopes of getting the death penalty, because of where the murders had taken place.”
In the center, the photo of Smitty was glaring to her. Getting those charges dismissed had been the easiest part of that afternoon for her; the evidence had been so flimsy. Hell, it said everything they’d never tried to refile them afterwards. And while she hadn’t been willing to admit it to her far more righteous husband/partner and secretary, she too had recognized the wrongfulness of how they’d been trying to get Frank Castle onto death row by manipulating the system, and been angry enough there’d been no room for guilt on her old classmate’s behalf.
Later she’d wondered if she should’ve refused to step in, maybe even told Matt he’d be on his own for this one. That had been a conflict of interest, after all. Then again, the whole thing with Grotto had been a potential conflict of interest for all three of them, and that left out their client having once kidnapped Matt and chained him to a roof.
Strange as it was, she no longer regretted agreeing to take the case, even though it had ruined their firm. It had led to Karen’s journalism career, after all. Foggy too had done pretty well for herself, and even Matt had benefited, being able to now have the pro bono career he’d dreamed off without having to worry about supporting himself. And as for Frank Castle, well, Karen owed her life to him twice multiple times over, and Matt did at least once.
But in there, she knew, she had betrayed Smitty. And she had the feeling this kind of reminder, of some of the more morally dodgy cases she’d taken, especially after joining Hogarth, Chao, & Benowitz, was going to arrive in the mail at least a few more times in the future.
And those weren’t even the pieces of mail she had to worry about the most. Unwilling to explain to Cheryl about Smitty, she instead just asked, “Do the other ones have anything in particular for us to worry about?”
Cheryl shrugged. “One death threat. We’ve sent that on to the police. Mostly calling you a coward and a traitor.” She shook her head. “Are we really going to talk about them like this?”
She and Matt had gotten a death threat for defending Frank. They’d both of them had much bigger things to be extremely upset about by then, and she’d never reacted. Matt had, even growling something about finding out who’d sent it once the trial was over. She wasn’t sure he’d ever gotten around to that, though; he hadn’t told her about it if he had. Karen had just put on the grim expression she’d been wearing a lot those days and said she’d call the police, in a tone that made clear she didn’t expect anything to come of that.
(She’d gotten a few since, of course. From what Foggy could tell, her reaction hadn’t changed much.)
Foggy knelt and scooped the photos up; it looked downright unprofessional to have crime scene photos on the floor, and here was a place she couldn’t get away with that. She probably should’ve thrown them out; there was no point to keeping them. But instead she found herself shoving them into one of her drawers.
Before she’d joined up with her husband a block or so back, she’d spent most of the walk dead convinced everyone on the street was stealing glances at her. Then she’d realized that was probably just her being paranoid. Still, it was enough for her to seriously consider taking cabs everywhere, even though she hadn’t really wanted to be *that* rich lawyer.
“It’s not entirely a reliable thing,” said Matt, very softly. “There are five people we’re walking past right now who read as possibly eyeing us. But they could just as easily be trying to ignore unpleasant company, or trying to see if someone they’re waiting for has arrived, or any number of other things.”
Foggy would’ve liked to have asked him more, but they’d reached their table. Marci was looking surprisingly tired, while Jennifer was speaking to her in a low voice, though she was smiling. When she looked up at Matt and Foggy, she said, “You have anyone yell at you since last we parted?”
“No,” said Matt as Foggy shook her head. For a split second, Foggy could see him trying to not give away how much about Marci’s state he could detect, then he smoothly asked, “Did either of you?”
Marci’s fist landing on the table was audible enough to probably everyone in the café. “I should’ve known Kimmie would quit over this. She’s been looking for an excuse since before this whole thing started. And the way she did it probably means she’ll never have any career in the legal world, but I don’t think she wants one anymore anyway. Still, she did not need to go saying what she said to me-to me, who knows more about it than she ever will.
And you know, I did think that even if not everyone thought I was doing the right thing…” She drifted off, and just shook her head.
“It’s never the ones you think it’ll be, is it?” Foggy asked. She herself had decided, after her discussion with Cheryl, that she lost whatever friends she lost over this, and she’d probably lost most of those types of friends over defending Frank Castle anyway. But two days ago, now, she’d gotten an email from the childhood friend who’d been most supportive of her during that case, but apparently now felt completely differently about Foggy defending “that Sokovian bitch,” even though she’d never spoken ill of Wanda to Foggy before that day. Foggy didn’t understand it, and probably never would.
“Or the ones you hope it will be,” said Marci. “I suppose it really was too much to hope for that I’d offend Hogarth, and hell, she probably wouldn’t have shown it if we had anyway. But I could’ve done without that creep Graham visiting my office today just to express his support after Kimmie walked out.”
“Oh, you poor thing,” said Foggy as they sat down, and Matt even voiced his agreement; he’d met Graham. “Have you gotten any more of the word around the office? I’ve mostly spent the last couple of hours dealing with Sasha.
Marci shrugged, “All I know is the partners are too busy playing power games with each other to care too much-trust me, Murdock, you don’t want to know, and everyone else is scared someone will mail us anthrax. Which, really, that was a decade and a half ago, you’d think they’d get more modern.”
That got them all to at least smile a little, and then Matt said, “Well, let’s at least get Jennifer introduced to this place’s sandwiches. They’re a little small, but personally, I recommended anything that has their sliced tomatoes in it, without the mayonnaise.”
“You should follow his recommendations when it comes to all things edible,” Foggy told her. “Trust me.”
Jennifer did, ordering tomato with cheese. Foggy herself ordered one with lettuce. Matt just asked for the tomatoes by themselves, without the mayo.
Marci ordered a chocolate tart. “No offense,” she said, “but I don’t feel like eating healthy just now.”
There wasn’t much news from the past few hours besides what Marci had already told them, but they all had some catching up to do with Jennifer, and she with them. Especially since she did have one cause for worry: “I haven’t heard from Ms. Van Dyne in days. I even tried contacting their other relations. I couldn’t get in touch with her father, and Lang’s ex-wife hasn’t heard much lately either. Lang’s daughter said she thinks he and his girlfriend argue a lot, but I don’t think that explains it.”
“What about the media?” Marci asked. “Has she managed to elude them?”
“She told me at the beginning no one was getting her on record, and they’d be lucky to get her or especially her father on camera. So far she’s made good on that promise. I don’t really blame her for that.
I’ve never done this media thing, you know,” she said. “Never had a case where they were ever interested. And I know each of you has done it only once, and didn’t talk much.”
“In both cases the defendants weren’t ones that would get much sympathy with the media,” shrugged Marci. “You do what the job requires, take whatever blows hit you for being heroic.”
“Okay,” said Jennifer. “That is not a comment you make in a scene like this, especially the second half of that sentence. And since when was being heroic demanded of lawyers anyway?”
“Once would’ve thought we were too evil for that,” Matt agreed, smiling.
“Oh, well, you’d do it anyway,” Foggy retorted, because she had to. “Seriously, how was this one not his idea?” She’d honestly been wondering at that one, that, of all people, it had been first Tony Stark’s idea.
Though of course their companions didn’t know that. Instead, Marci said, “Maybe sometimes you don’t need Saint Matthew to do the right thing.” Down under the table, Matt squeezed her hand just a little; Foggy kept herself from reacting only with effort. “Though I suppose in this case, any lawyer would’ve realized it was the obvious thing to do. I mean, there’s no way the Black Widow knew for sure about the petitions when she dropped into your apartment. I don’t care how supersmart a ninja she is, there’s none.”
A pause, and then, “You know, I’ve wanted to ask this for a while, Foggy, and I think it’s a question we now should have the answer to anyway. Have the two of you ever spent any real amount of time with any of the Avengers besides Wanda? Hell, do you know anything about Sam Wilson it might be useful for me to know, too? Even anything you’ve heard secondhand?”
“We would’ve told you if we did,” Foggy said, trying to keep her voice steady, as she thought about the fact that she and Matt were now going to have to lie to one of their oldest friends on a case they were working with her on. It had been bad enough at Landman and Zack, where so often Matt had known who was lying and who wasn’t, and couldn’t tell anyone but her that he knew and how. But this kind of deceit was far worse.
It was almost enough to make her wish they hadn’t taken the case.
Matt had spent most of his life lying to people, of course. And now he just said, truthfully enough, “We did meet them, yes, but not under circumstances where they were going to talk about themselves much.”
“Did you meet Tony Stark?” Jennifer asked. “Bruce has talked to me a bit about him, you know. Said he could actually be nice when he got too distracted to be arrogant.”
Marci laughed, and Matt and Foggy forced themselves to smile, and he said, “Oh, he really has to be distracted for that, from what Wanda’s said to us. Remember, your cousin spent time with him in the lab. In any case, he wasn’t with the group that came down to the city last fall.”
Foggy was relieved when their food arrived, and for a few minutes they were all too busy eating to talk. Except that as she finished up her sandwich, she noticed that a woman who had come into the café after them was definitely eyeing their table. She was a black woman with fuzzy bobbed hair, dressed in a simple jeans and blouse, though there was something about her that stood out, maybe screamed “danger” a little bit. (She’d been around enough of Matt’s old girlfriends to know that attribute very well.)
She thought Matt had noticed her too. He had that expression on his face he sometimes got when he was trying to concentrate on something in their surroundings without giving away that he was doing so.
Unfortunately she couldn’t ask him just what he was sensing, but she did first say quietly, “That woman over there? Think she’s looking at us?”
“Oh God,” sighed Marci. “Surely even us rude people should have a quota of how many other rude people we have to put up with per day. Yeah, she is.”
A minute or so later, she added, “Or we could maybe go over there and see if she has any questions? I think she must have a purpose; that’s too much focus on us for her to just be gawking.”
Foggy took another look, and Marci was definitely right. Below the table she tapped Matt’s hand in question, and he took her fingers and squeezed them in affirmation.
“If that’s true,” said Jennifer, “she’ll come to us. I’ll take the check; I have less debt left than you three.”
She was in the process of signing it when the woman stood up and walked over. “I have a letter for Ms. Marci Stahl,” she said, in an African accent. “She will need to read it right now, with all four of you here.”
Marci gamely took the letter, which was only a page long, and read through it. Then she dropped her voice and said, “It’s from Sam Wilson. He includes two details about his mother’s apartment I doubt very many people know, and it looks a good deal like his hand too, from what I can tell. He says he’s writing on behalf of all four of our clients, that they want to meet with us, and we should trust this woman to take us to them. He also advises us their hosts do not wish for us to know where exactly they are, and we’re going to have to let them hood us.”
“I think we should do it,” said Matt, in a tone that told Foggy he’d smelled at least its author on the letter. “Although I’m not sure what the point of hooding me would be, m’am. If it makes you feel better, you can put earplugs on me.” From the woman’s amused grin, Foggy was pretty sure she knew about the enhanced senses.
Foggy felt more sorry than ever they couldn’t tell Marci and Jennifer. But she did ask, “You’ll take us to them? None the worse for wear?”
The woman looked vaguely unimpressed, but she said, “I will take you to them, no harm done.”
“Then I’m going,” said Matt. “You three with me?”
“Of course,” said Foggy, because he knew that already.
“What the hell,” said Marci. “Let’s have a dangerous adventure.”
“We’ve put ourselves in danger already anyway,” Jennifer agreed. “Might as well do our jobs. Though can we grab some notes and recording devices first?”
“If you must,” said the woman, though she looked may more annoyed than was called for.