She tells herself she’s imagining things there. It’s only been a few days since his confession to her, as well as her confrontation with Jeri Hogarth and also with Foggy right after. She’s gone after plenty of targets far more dangerous than her, of course, but this one feels personal the way nothing has since Frank. She’s been on edge all week. The two of them are sitting together on the bed, and she wants to bolt off of it.
And then he continues, “…especially given how terrified he must have made you, just as your brother did. This must have been harder if it reminded you of that too, after you realized what you’d done was wrong…” and she has to cut him off with, “Wait, what makes you think I’d realized any such thing?”
He looks shocked and confused. “Karen…look, I understand why you did it. You were fourteen years old and had spent two years being abused and living in terror of your own brother, had your parents call you a liar and tell you that you were going to Hell, been manipulated into thinking if you went to the police you’d be in even more trouble than him, and had reason to believe he’d assault your only friend. If you ever somehow got charged for this rest assured I will defend you and keep you from that much of a sentence; any half-competent lawyer could do that and even an acquittal might not be impossible. But surely, as an adult, you recognize that killing him still wasn’t right.”
“Do I?” She gets why Matt thinks the way he does. That’s a large reason why she didn’t tell him about Wesley until all this secret getting from him and Foggy led her to decide to. But she thinks how much anxiety over his reaction she’s suffered makes her anger at him worse now. As does the fact that he spent a year lying to her about his violent activities, and though she’s forgiven, she won’t forget. “What should I have done?”
“I’m not saying you should berate yourself for something that maybe really only could become obvious in hindsight, such as that the police wouldn’t have arrested you. You can acknowledge something like that without-”
“Are you even sure they wouldn’t have?” Now she’s truly furious, because as a lawyer, he should know better. “Okay, it’s unlikely they would have, but who knows? It’s happened to rape victims sometimes. And even if they had tried to do the right thing, what would he have gotten? They probably would’ve tried him as a juvenile and he would’ve been out a year later with a clean record, until he raped someone else. Actually, until he raped someone else who was willing to report it, and you know that probably would’ve taken time and who knows how many victims. And even then, he was good at being someone everyone thought of as a goody two-shoes and being believed over an alleged victim, and you know what the conviction rate’s like, how the sentences are way too low…there would’ve needed to be a Bill Cosby level of victims willing to come forward before he was put away somewhere where he wouldn’t hurt any more women for good. Yeah, probably none of them would be dead-unless there were one or more driven to suicide-but is that really all I should care about? I’m not even Catholic, so I don’t have to listen to your Church’s bullshit about how a life is more important than the basic safety of women…”
She actually regrets those last words when they’re out, even before Matt, angry himself, protests, “Karen, you know that’s not fair. I have never, ever, thought that way. Didn’t I even tell you-”
“About that little girl and her father? Well, that was an easy case, wasn’t it? And you had the ability to beat and scare the shit out of him. There was no Daredevil in Four Corners when I was growing up; I had to fend for myself.”
“Isn’t that what you like to do?” He’s kind of sneering now, and no, Karen takes it back, she doesn’t regret what she just said.
“When I have to,” she says, “but I thought you knew I don’t charge recklessly into danger just for the hell of it!”
“And you think I do?! Or maybe I…I should be like your friend Frank, who murders anyone who sends you a death threat?”
That’s been an ongoing argument from before their reconciliation even turned romantic. Karen had written an expose on the Watchdogs, and received from a few of them the kind of highly misogynistic stomach-churning death threats which, unfortunately, such people would be expected to send to any female reporter who went after them. A few weeks later, the man who'd sent it turned up brutally murdered, and it was clear to them both Frank had been responsible. Matt had known already she was in sporadic contact with him, even occasionally got leads from him, and even though he does the same, he remains unhappy with her not so much as sending him a note asking him not to do that for her.
Karen’s suspected his motives, which is why she now says, “You know, if you’re really jealous, well, you’re an idiot, but you’ve admitted to being an idiot before…”
“I’m not,” he insists, and she wants to believe him, that he understands that while her feelings for Frank are deep and sometimes uncomfortably intense, she can’t imagine them ever turning romantic. Then again, that might not be what would provoke jealousy from him anyway. “I’m just…” He’s struggling for words, which makes Karen suspicious even before he comes up with, “I’m worried about whether it’s safe you to be allowing such a person to run around in your life.”
Which is why Karen gets angry enough the next words actually come out of her: “At least he’s someone I know would put my safety above stupid philosophy! You know, I’ve been thinking about that explanation you gave me for the other woman I found in your bed, and you know what gets me the most about it?” Well, aside from the fact he obviously still had strong feelings for her, even if he technically didn’t cheat, and he didn’t talk to Karen about any of this at all, but that’s a can of worms she’s not sure she’ll ever open with him. “That the reason she got so injured she nearly died there is because you distracted her in the middle of a fight with a bunch of fucking ninjas just because you didn’t want her to kill one of them!”
Matt just sits there, open mouthed. She barrages on, letting it all out, “I keep thinking about Grotto too. How he ended up dead because you were so insistent on trying to save him without doing what anyone with sense would’ve done.”
“If I’d done that,” he tries, “a man you later found worth valuing would be dead.”
“I know, but…” She’s come this far; she might as well talk about this. “Ever since you told me that story, I’ve been having this dream. Less than I did, but now…I’m pinned to a wall, and I can’t escape, and there’s a man, usually Fisk or Wesley or Schoonover, pointing my own gun at me, and either you or Foggy are right behind him, also holding a gun. Foggy always pulls the trigger just as I wake up. You always just stand there.”
“Foggy…” It can’t be easy for Matt to talk about him like this. It’s not like they don’t talk about him, the way she and Foggy didn’t talk about Matt until a few days ago; in fact, she gives Matt regular updates on him. But they tend not to go in depth.
“Foggy’s not like me,” he finally says. “Foggy would not only never hurt someone except to protect others, he would never even really *want* to. Foggy could do such a thing, and never question whether or not…” He sounds scared now.
That’s why when he trails off, Karen puts in the effort to make her voice soft as well as calm, as she asks, “Do you think I would ever hurt someone for any other reason either?”
Matt’s mouth formed around the word now, but even that doesn’t come out. Karen keeps her voice steady, but she can’t keep the bite out as she says, “There’s only one thing I’ve ever been sorry for over the two people I’ve killed. That was in the days after Ben’s death, where I was sorry the second had only been Wilson Fisk’s right-hand man and not Wilson Fisk himself.”
She expects Matt will have a reaction to that kind of sentiment. But she didn’t anticipate how he visibly seizes up at it. “Kar…Karen,” he stammers, “you…you shouldn’t…shouldn’t think like that…”
“Why not?” She wouldn’t ask it, except the reporter’s instincts she’s spent eight months developing are screaming that there’s something important here: “It’s not like I’d have any reason to kill him now, right? I don’t think it was even him who let Frank out, because the two of us very briefly discussed him once-not saying the circumstances; they’re not your business-and he claimed he wants to kill him.”
“But he did!” It bursts from Matt, and when she sees how his lips are pressing together, she knows he’s still holding more back.
“How do you know that?” she presses. “You met with him, and he told you? Did he tell you anything else, Matt?” She’s getting more certain with each word and his reaction to them. “He did, didn’t he?”
Matt sags, and says, “He’s running the prison he’s in. He grabbed me and shook me during our meeting, just to make clear that the guards are all under his control. He’s biding his time, waiting to come out, and meanwhile he snuck Frank out because he sees him as taking out those who would be competition for him when he returns to the streets. Frank would kill him, sure, but I’m not sure he’ll ever get the chance.”
Same press of lips. That’s not all. “Tell me, Matt. I’ve got no secrets left; you shouldn’t either.”
The rest of it comes out like a long exhale. “He said when he does get out, he’d come after me and Foggy both. Ruin us at least, probably kill us too eventually. That was part of the reason I pushed Foggy away like I did. He’s safer away from me for more than one reason.
But you have to be careful, Karen,” he continues, before she can yell at him that he’s an idiot for thinking that’ll keep Foggy safe from Fisk, that him being the more successful of the two of them might even make him the bigger target. “He didn’t mention you. He hadn’t noticed you, at least not then. Maybe he has now, but if there’s even the slightest chance he hasn’t, you really should keep it that way.”
“Oh no.” As Karen speaks, she feels a grim truth settle within her, a conclusion that started forming as soon as Matt spoke about Fisk running the prison, and set itself in stone when he revealed what he had threatened to do. “You should know better than to even ask me. In fact, Matt, I think if Fisk ever does walk out of that prison, I may have to commit a third murder.”
“Karen, you can’t mean that!”
“You’re going to try to stop me?” She has this ice voice now, the one that comes out when she tells someone that yes, she’s going to publish that, and no, her silence can not be bought. “You might have to do it as Daredevil, and won’t that confuse people. Alternatively, you can help me so I won’t have to do it in such a way that will get me caught. Because make no mistake, I’ll shoot him in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen in broad daylight if I have to. Don’t think I won’t go to prison for the rest of my life to protect you two, if that’s what it takes.” Don’t think I don’t love you both that much. She doesn’t really have to say that last part, she hopes.
“That I can prevent,” Matt tells her, “because I will take the stand at your trial and tell them what I told you to try and reduce your sentence. And then Fisk’s lawyers will legally be able to ruin me, because in order to get that meeting with him I had to sign a contract allowing them to if I discussed our conversation with anyone. You get arrested for killing Fisk, you’ll still save Foggy, but you’ll seal my fate.”
“Sounds like what you’d want,” she snaps at him without thinking.
“With you still going to prison?” He sounds truly dismayed, and there’s an edge of anger as he says, “Do you really think I want you to do that just so Foggy would be safe, Karen? I know maybe…maybe it was wrong of me, not…not telling you about…about…what I…but I love you, Karen.”
Well, if he wants to talk about that. “You said that already. Repeating it won’t right the wrong.”
“And what will?” Now he’s more angry. “You say you don’t want to break anything off, and he still wants nothing to do with me, and there’s not much I can do about that.”
He’s leaning in too close, pretty obviously without realizing it. He gets like that sometimes; Karen thinks it’s all his feelings and fears and the permanent effect of going for long periods of time without affection. His body language will beg for her love even when he refuses to, maybe especially when.
She should move back; he’ll hear that, realize what he’s doing, and retreat. She should lecture him about needing to finally learn the lesson about honesty that should’ve taken ages ago. She should be honest herself, and really speak about how much the current situation hurts. She should point out that Foggy really needs to know about Fisk’s threatening him.
She grabs Matt’s head with both hands and kisses him hard.
It’s a match to gasoline. She’s not even sure who does what next, all she knows is she’s on her back and Matt’s shirt is gone and his hands are under hers and her hands are even more grabby all over his body. It’s not long before he’s hard against her, and she wants him so badly it’s hard for her to remember she’s still mad at him. They haven’t done it since his confession.
“Karen,” he pants when they finally break for air, and she can tell he’s still angry too. “You shouldn’t do this to me.”
“*I* shouldn’t?” she hisses back. “I’m the one trying to deal with the impossible behavior of you two!”
“You want us both, and I can’t not know where he’s touched you. Where he’s kissed you. Where he’s sucked on your skin.” His hand finds her left breast, the one Foggy spent so much time sucking on. His traces the line of where his lips rested through her blouse.
It makes Karen shiver. It makes her hurt. It makes her angry. It also, crazily, turns her on. There’s white-hot fire between her legs, and she hear a tiny moan coming from her lips when his hand settles on her loin, and he whispers, “He fucked you hard.”
“He did,” she agrees, and when a desire hits her, she adds, “He lay me out like this,” and she flips him over, and pulls his sweats down. She likes this, having him naked below her while she’s still more or less clothed, though her legs and feet are bare. Even if she’s forced to add, “He only unbuttoned my blouse and took my pantyhouse and underwear off, but right now, we’re doing what I want, get it?”
“I get it,” he gasps, and she has no doubt he does. Of course he's fine with it; during the early stages of sex he’s always at his most desperately eager to please, before he gets too overwhelmed to think.
But he turns his head when one of her feet get close to it, and she asks, “Can you tell where he licked my ankles?” She moves it away, then forward again. She thinks she can bear this better if she’s in control of it, angry as she still remains.
“He knows where you’re most sensitive. We both do-ah…” And she knows where he is as well, where to put her nails, then where to follow with her teeth; she grazes a nipple and gets him panting, presses her fingers hard into his neck and leans over him, close enough to make it easy for him to hear her hair parting the air just above his face; she even shakes her head slightly to make it louder.
“Kiss me,” she demands, just to have him lift his head to do so. She nips at his lips, then pushes him down from the shoulder and takes more, her mouth continually grabbing tastes of his then going out of his reach even as she presses the rest of her body down against his, just to feel the heat of it, although that gets both their hips moving, neither able to stop themselves. Matt’s head is tilted back, his lips red and parted; he’s already far too undone.
His tongue pokes out and Karen lets out another little moan as she thinks about where she wants that. And it seems they’re able to agree about one thing tonight, because Matt finds the back of her hips and nudges her forward, a clear sign of where he wants them, even before he whispers, “Karen, how are you so wet already?”
“Because you,” she replies as she sits up, unbuttons her blouse, and unfastens her skirt, before struggling with her panties. “Because you do this to me every damn time with that impossibly talented tongue of yours…” She trails off, because his hand is now at the small of her back, not where it was last time he fucked her, but where Foggy’s was last time he did. She’s pretty sure there’s no visible bruise there, but that hand pressed into her hard enough there’s probably been something. “Hands on my breasts,” she commands, though that’s just the first place for them that pops into her head, and then she scoots forward. Best do everything to remind him he’s with a woman right now.
Her name comes from him again as she lifts herself up to settle onto his mouth, soft, but with a little bit of bite to it, as if he shouldn’t have to assure her he’s thinking it. Well, it’s his fault he does.
Then hands and mouth both are where she wants them, her bra cups pulled down within a few seconds, and they both turn relentless fast, fingers working her nipples with just the right amount of pressure, tongue getting to just right there and moving with more than his usual enthusiasm. Karen feels her whole body tilt into it, the need between her legs just getting worse with every flick of that tongue which would sate it, pushing herself in until she’s riding his face hard, not even trying to keep loud moans from coming out, though even then she can hear the little noises he’s making into her cunt, feel the vibrations from them. She usually doesn’t go for this sort of thing, just using his mouth so ruthlessly in this way; even if he wouldn’t mind, most of the time she does. But she’s just so sick and tired and angry and frustrated, and it just feels so good.
Faster and faster, Matt’s noises grow more muffled, but he doesn’t lose stride, lips and tongue keeping perfect rhythm on her. His body isn’t still; it’s bucking up just a little, the motion pressing his mouth harder into her. On her breasts, though, his hands start gripping; he’s struggling to hold onto control. “Just stay like this,” she gasps in between moans. “Keep going…good boy, you’re going to make me come…” His hands tighten further at her words, and she looks down at him for a split second to see him, face and hair smeared with her, pushing into her as if he could never get enough, and she tilts her head back and comes hard, riding the orgasm until she’s nearly wrung out, until the sensation gets to be too much and she finally has to pull back.
“Karen…” Karen never likes to hear her name coming from Matt more than at moments like this, when she knows she’s the only thing in the world he even remembers exists. She needs all of that she can get right now. “Please…I can’t last much longer.”
“Don’t come on me,” she reminds him, then hastily goes for the drawer to get a condom out. He stills, his hands falling to the sheets and clenching into fists as he tries to hold himself in. She can’t help but feel gratitude for that, even though Matt and Foggy have both told her she shouldn’t feel a need for that, just because they keep to the hard limits she needs, and even though her anger isn’t fully spent.
When his dick is safely wrapped in latex, him whimpering and clenching everything in the effort to still not come, she lifts herself and hovers over him, then whispers, “Say my name.”
“K-K-Karen,” it can barely come from him. “K-k-Kar-ren, p-p-p-lease…”
She moves down and he moves up, and she doesn’t ask him to say it any more because she’s not going to demand what he truly can’t do. She just holds on and moves and rakes her hands across his skin until he’s coming, mouth open but soundless, everything shaking violently with it. She leans down to kiss him, fierce and wanting, and he whispers her name into her mouth one last time as he comes down.
They stay like that for a bit, hands on each other’s faces, him still tracing the features she knows he has long memorized, can probably even fully perceive from this close. His fingers stroke her skin as if she’s the most precious thing in the universe.
She’s going to stay tonight. She wasn’t sure earlier, but she’s not up to getting back to her own apartment, or facing the cold, lonely bed she’s slept in less and less since she’s had a choice of two warmer ones to welcome her. She’ll still be here when he comes back, covered in blood, having been brutal and awful as in this moment he’s tender and loving; not even Foggy can be quite this exquisitely wonderful with his touches, but nor can even Frank being quite as cruel and monstrous with his violence at those times when his refusal to kill becomes a further punishment rather than a mercy. That she understands so perfectly why he is both is something that terrifies Karen about herself.
But at long last he lets out a very long sigh, and says, “Karen, you know, I’m not sure how jealous you really should be. You’re the one who’s actually having both of us.”
“And if you two did the same, that I wouldn’t mind,” she says impatiently. “If…if you kept me…for me.” The thing is, while she thinks it more likely than not they would, there’s part of her that’s scared, worrying that they if they ever did reconcile, even as friends, they wouldn’t want her anymore. Or they simply wouldn’t want her enough to share her the way they’re currently doing, wouldn’t want a woman who sleeps with two men at once.
And she’s too scared right now of any further comments from him on this subject, so she pulls herself up with a, “I have to pee.”
Except he promptly claims first shower, probably because he wants to head out immediately, and then, instead of going straight into the shower stall, just stands there in the bathroom as she sits on the toilet, silent for a minute or so, before asking, “Could you at least agree not to kill Fisk as a first response the moment he gets out? I might figure out some other way to deal with him by then.”
“You’d better,” is all she says, before flushing the toilet and shoving past him to get to the sink. Thankfully he takes the hint and retreats; she hears the shower curtain moving and the water turns on.
Except there’s one more thing she absolutely must say to him tonight, even if they let the rest of it go, especially the things she fears they’ll never agree on, the moral divide over which neither of them will ever move. So when she’s back in bed and he comes out in a towel, she calls, “Matt?”
What is he expecting her to say, as he stops? He looks almost afraid of her words, which isn’t what she wants at all, even with her feelings being what they are right now. She’ll try to be kind when he comes home, she really will.
For now, she keeps it simple: “I’m going to tell Foggy.”
“I know,” he says, equally simply, and goes to get his suit out.