The trick is knowing where there are places not ventured into, and how to avoid them, and if it’s possible to. Karen told Foggy all he needed to know about her the day after their first kiss, and made him aware there are other things she’s not yet ready to tell him, so he won’t be shocked if she ever has to. Neither of them are going to put the other through what they’ve both already endured if they can help it.
She also calls Foggy to tell him once she’s absolutely certain she’s heading home. He always puts on dinner for them both when he receives that call, waiting until then no matter how late it gets. They’ve broken bread at four in the morning a couple of times. “I often work late anyway,” he’s pointed out to her.
Certainly he does, and plenty of evenings she’s there to see it. Usually she’s doing her own work, but if she finishes first, she’ll find herself reviewing his papers with him, pointing out things he’s missed, looking up points and facts, even taking care of anything he’s done with and knocked to the floor. It’s not unknown for Foggy to finish first and try to return the favor, but he just isn’t as good at it. It’s easier for her, with the old pattern for her to fall back into, even when there’s only two of them now.
It hurts a little less each time. When Karen’s optimistic, she hopes it might even someday stop hurting completely. At least for her.
It’s another thing they don’t talk about, along with the fact that sometimes Foggy wakes up with tears in his eyes and Matt’s name on his lips. Hard as Karen herself fell for him, and hard as he broke her heart, even after Christmas Eve bandaged it a little bit, she knows he could never have hurt her as much as he hurt Foggy, for the obvious reason Frank had defined for her in that diner.
From very early on in their relationship, Karen knew Foggy had already made his peace with so obviously being her second choice. Later, she came to realize that this had been pretty easy for him, because for years, maybe even since the time he first met Matt, every girlfriend and boyfriend he’s had’s been his second choice, and she’s never been an exception. Now, she understands it’s so much a part of who he is, she wouldn’t be indignant on her own behalf if he’d been the only man she’d ever looked at in her life.
She’s really indignant at the universe on his behalf, though. It’s not right that a man as kind and good as Foggy should have to go around living his life with a hole in his heart.
She thinks that’s not just Matt either. It comes into focus during the first case they take on together. It reaches them both on the same day, her hearing the news about a Watchdog killing an Inhuman and then meeting his death moments later at the hands of her enraged husband even as Foggy is shaking hands with the man as his lawyer. When the two of them compare notes that night, she sees a new fire in his eyes.
There are bumps to navigate, Karen having to learn rough lessons about what she’s supposed to do as a journalist and feeling the need herself to not just be Foggy’s mouthpiece as they both advocate for his client in their separate spheres. But she’ll never forget the joy and love on his face the night she comes home, clothes a little ripped but not actually injured, clutching the flash drive that identified three local cops as secret Watchdogs.
Although her being the one to get it means he can’t force her to withhold it from publication as leverage. But even so, when they get the man the minimum sentence for manslaughter, Karen is left aware of how much happier Foggy truly is when he’s working in a team, for a common cause, when he feels that bond with those he works besides. The lack of this at his new firm is a serious problem going unacknowledged. She’s not even sure he’s really aware of it. Maybe someday she’ll try to spell it out for him.
She makes up for it best she can. They’ve got a bit of an informal partnership going even when they aren’t working on the same thing. He actually relies on Jessica for the more rough and nocturnal investigation work most of the time, but she can provide him with information and even clients, as well as the contacts she’s making in the journalism world. He finds her sources for stories among his own circles of friends and provides her with legal backup when she needs it.
Karen likes this professional dynamic, and much more so than their old one. At Nelson and Murdock, if she wasn’t just the lowly underling, she was still not at all equal to the two men. Now she and Foggy are on even terms, and she thrills at having him at her back.
It’s him who makes her finally start to be fond of New York City, for all of the ugliness that runs around its streets. Ugliness happens in all places anyway; that’s something Karen knows all too well. But Foggy tells her stories about growing up in the city, the good and bad alike. She has a similar reaction when he finally introduces her to his family. Lucky for her they’re mostly relieved he’s not having a permanent reconciliation with Marci; a lot of his relations didn’t like her. His uncles drive her crazy, and she’s not sure how she feels about his grandmother. But his parents are kind, and she ends up becoming email friends with his siblings.
The biggest problem is they all want to know where Matt is, and when Foggy won’t talk about it, they badger her. She tells them it’s not her right to say anything and tries to hide her own pain. She’s doesn’t want them to have any inkling about her own history with Matt. She doubts they’d understand.
Although the most painful moment so far might be when Candace asked her one weekend why’d they’d both been so jumpy during their entire visit. Karen hadn’t even thought they had been.
She’s making a mental list of places she feels absolutely safe. Foggy refuses to join in, at least out loud. The fact that Ben was killed in his own home makes it pretty hard. But eventually she’s able to start with Ben’s-office-turned hers(she’s in that place where she can think of it as hers, but can’t stop thinking of it as Ben’s) during the day, when her colleagues are there. That becomes the basic rule of it: the places are places combined with people, because the only place Karen would feel completely safe when alone would probably be a locked bank vault, and even then maybe not. Place number two’s in one of Frank’s safe houses in his company. That’s an easy one from the first time she ends up in such a location.
She and Foggy are living together for a couple of months before she sort of puts their apartment with him on the list. She’s aware the likes of Fisk or his minions could get in and kill them there. They’ve fended off multiple attackers together, of course, but they can never be certain of doing it any given time. So it wouldn’t be listed, except that she’s come to realize that Foggy’s company and especially his embrace is the only place where she instead feels safe from her own head, the place her fear and guilt and ugliest thoughts fall back and lose their ability to touch her.
Karen's also come to know that’s been true for much longer than they’ve been lovers. Maybe it started right from that first night on the town, though back then she had much less to hide from. But now she's soothed during the day by the emails they bat back and forth as their schedules allow, feels her heart go light whenever she sees him or even just hears his voice on the phone, and when they’re alone together, she feels clean and whole and good.
He’s even the first man she’s had sex with where it hasn’t made her feel dirty. He’s hands down the best lover she’s ever had even outside that. But it’s the way he smiles at her, seducing her without making her feel at all seduced, the way he presses tender kisses to her skin, and stops to hold her and tell it it’s all right her when she tenses up, the way they can even giggle during it, that keeps her past shame away.
But even on nights where one or both of them are too tired or too disheartened for sex, which are frequent from the start, they’ll often find the time to cuddle. It’s still a little strange for Karen, who’s never had a boyfriend who’s this happy just to snuggle against her as an end to itself. But she’s also starting to wonder how she lived for so long without it.
In fact, it’s on nights like that, when she’s got a strong story finished and submitted to go to press the next day, no immediate causes for alarm in her life, maybe a lunch date in her schedule or something else to remind her she’s got friends, and a growing number of them, and the arms of a man she loves and who loves her around her, that Karen sees herself coming out of the dark. That for the first time since she lost Nelson and Murdock, she can believe there’s a place in her life she can get to where she’ll be really, truly happy, the way maybe she’s never been, at least not since her earliest years.
If she could only figure out how to get Foggy there with her.