Actions

Work Header

The Lesser of Two Evils

Work Text:

The day Landman and Zack offered Matt a full-time position rather than the internship he’d been struggling through with gritted teeth, he took the night to think about it. It wasn’t that the pay was bad. Or the benefits. It wasn’t that he found the work too challenging. It wasn’t even that he disliked his coworkers, though admittedly he largely did.

It was the ethics.

Landman and Zack was a large firm that represented powerful clients. And while Matt was a firm believer that everyone deserved representation, he did not believe in helping multi-million-dollar companies counter-sue their former workers to get out of paying reasonable medical damages. Crushing the already downtrodden and oppressed wasn’t exactly Matt’s idea of a fulfilling work day. He’d been reading and re-reading the slightly-battered Braille book of Thurgood Marshall’s essays that had seen him through undergrad and law school until his fingers were sore, and he knew there had to be a breaking point soon.

It wasn’t as simple as just turning down the job, though.

It would have been an easy decision if Matt had a partner — someone to encourage him, someone to share the load with. But he didn’t. He was alone, the way he’d always been alone since Stick decided he was too much effort and left. And that made it difficult to walk out. The number of cases he’d need to take on in order to keep the lights on in an office — to be fair, mostly figuratively — was more than he could really handle on his own.

And yet, how much longer could he truly go on at Landman and Zack? He’d had dreams once, of changing the system from the inside. But hurting innocent people in the name of rich clients wasn’t getting anyone anywhere, and he had a feeling his rough edges were getting sanded away rather than giving him traction to make a positive change.

If only someone would—

There was a sudden knock at the door.

No, more than that. There was a knock at the door and no one outside — no breathing or heartbeat, no scent, not even a hint of body heat through the door when Matt approached cautiously and pressed his palms against it.

A shiver slid down Matt’s spine.

But he wasn’t about to just stand there shaking in his boots. He unchained the bolt and opened the door.

“Hello?”

“Hey there! Matt Murdock, right?” asked a pleasant, cheerful masculine voice that came from absolutely nowhere.

“Yes,” Matt said. “That. That’s me.”

“Great!” said the voice. “That’s great. Glad I got the right apartment, it would’ve been embarrassing if I’d started my whole spiel and you were just his hot neighbor.”

The words were said with no heat or attraction at all, just amused candor. The sky is blue, Matt Murdock is hot.

“Um. Spiel?” Matt repeated, baffled.

“Right! Yes! I am here...” The bodiless voice paused dramatically. “To change your life!”

Matt waited but no more seemed to be forthcoming.

“I’m not looking to convert religions right now,” he insisted, for lack of anything better to say.

A snort of delighted laughter hit the air — again, from nowhere.

“I didn’t expect you to be funny,” the ghostly voice said. “Serious and broody, but not funny. You’ve got layers, Matt Murdock.”

Matt’s mind, which had been fighting the urge to reach out and clutch at the air in front of him to try and find a solid— something to put to the voice, finally lost the fight. Matt took a step into the doorway, and only midway had the thought to make it look like a stumble. He threw out an arm like he was trying to catch his balance and—

Nothing.

“Oh!” said the voice, and then there was fabric under Matt’s hand.

Soft, high-weave fabric covering a warm, equally soft body that was definitely not there a second ago. The body the voice belonged to was almost Matt’s height based on where the voice was now emanating from. It smelled like expensive cologne — the nice, light, earthy kind and not something overpowering or garish — and a hint of chocolate and strawberry. A hand clasped over his where it was pressed flat to the stranger’s chest, and Matt caught a whiff of ink on the fingers. After feeling nothing at all, the body heat that had flashed into existence was like the warmth of a lit hearth.

“Who— who are you?”

“Ah, right!” A pat from the hand over his and then the stranger backed away and began rummaging through his pockets for something. “My card.”

Matt accepted the card pressed into his still outstretched hand, wary. He was expecting something embossed that he could puzzle out, but when he ran his fingers over it...

“You print your business cards in Braille?”

“For you I do.”

Foggy Nelson, TLE, the card read. The better choice. There was also a phone number listed, but Matt didn’t bother to memorize the numbers.

“TLE?” he asked, deciding to let his incredulity that anyone would ever put the name ‘Foggy’ on a business card lie for the moment.

“The Lesser Evil,” came the reply. “Not a value judgment, by the way, just. Think of it like a job title. A qualification. My version of a PhD.”

It clicked, then. Probably Matt should have considered the possibility earlier, what with the whole ‘evading his senses’ thing.

“You’re a demon.”

“Ding, ding, ding! Give the man a prize!” cheered Foggy.

Matt’s stomach sank. A demon. A demon looking to make a deal with him. People didn’t tend to get on demons’ radars unless they were very, very bad or very, very good. Matt knew which one was more likely in his case.

“What do you want from me?” he demanded.

A shuffle of fabric Matt parsed as likely a shrug.

“Honestly? I’m here to encourage you to leave your job and strike out on your own.”

“You... You are?”

The declaration made him wary. If anything, a demon would want him to keep working at a soul-sucking firm like L&Z, right? Or was there something he was missing? Matt was used to being, and preferred to be, the one with a secret or two, with an ace up his sleeve. The idea that he was missing part of the picture was... Anxiety-inducing.

“Yup! Absolutely!”

“And why would I ever do something a demon wanted me to?” Matt asked.

Foggy hummed thoughtfully.

“Let’s be honest here, we both know it’s what you want you to do. But. Fair enough, I understand your trepidation. I don’t normally give freebies, but you’re special, so I’m willing to incentivize you.”

Which sounded. Well. Kind of sexual, if Matt was being honest. He could feel the back of his neck heat up a little with embarrassment and hoped that heat wasn’t flushing his skin a visible pink.

“In-incentivize how, exactly?” he managed to ask, thankfully without his voice cracking.

“Well, I’m no stranger to the troubles that come with entrepreneurship. Starting your own firm alone, and with pretty much zero start-up capital, isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Normally that’s where the real magic happens — tough choices, picking the lesser of two evils, yadda, yadda — and I’d get my deal just by agreeing to fund your little firm. But I’d really like this deal to go through, so I’m not above greasing the wheels and offering to be your law partner in addition to your investor.”

Investor Matt understood, that part was easy. A demon could come into money in about a million unsavory ways. But... Law partner?

“Are you even certified?” Matt wondered.

“How dare you, I’m a great lawyer!”

The steady thump of Foggy’s heart didn’t seem to indicate a lie, but Matt wasn’t sure he could trust that. If the demon’s body only existed when he wanted it to exist, why wouldn’t he be able to lie without giving off any physical signs of it? And so, Matt quizzed him. Up, down, sideways, until he’d nearly made himself dizzy trying to remember the cases Foggy was citing to answer his questions. After half an hour, there was nothing to do but concede — Foggy would be an asset as a partner. 

But that didn’t mean Matt wanted to make a deal with him. He was still a demon.

“Look. I’m offering you a viable choice here,” said Foggy in a voice so smooth and convincing it gave Matt goosebumps. “You can team up with me and work the cases you want to work, help the people you want to help... Or you can stay where you are and keep helping your corporate overlords hurt people for money.”

“And what’s the catch?” asked Matt, tightening his hold on the cane in his hands.

There was no such thing as a free lunch, he knew. And definitely not from a demon.

“Well. I could use a place to crash,” Foggy said lightly. “No, but seriously, the cost is at the very least the purity of your soul, not sure how much that means to you. Putting us in contract like this means a couple things — first, you don’t get to ask where my money comes from, and second, you can’t contract with anybody else. One soul, one deal.”

“I’m selling my soul to you,” Matt parsed, unimpressed.

Foggy made a noise of disagreement.

“It’s not really a final sale. Think of it more like... Pawning your soul. You give it to me, I give you my power. You give back what I’ve given you, you get your soul back too — a teensy bit tarnished, but still usable.”

Matt crossed his arms over his chest.

“So you’re a loan shark.”

In response to the accusation, Foggy gasped. There was a slapping noise as he pressed a hand to his chest.

“You wound me! It’s not like I’m charging you interest or anything, you know!”

“That’s not—”

Matt was interrupted by the jingling of his phone alarm — the one that told him it was time to leave if he wanted to make it to work on time. He pulled his phone from his pocket and instructed it to silence the alarm, then sighed.

“Look, I have to get going.”

“I’ll go with you!” Foggy announced brightly.

Matt sighed again.


As they walked out the door and down the street, the demon offered to guide — but Matt was absolutely not going to permit him that level of trust. He used his cane, like always. Foggy accepted Matt’s preference with a graceful and cavalier attitude, didn’t try to grab at him the way a so-called well-meaning stranger might. Just continued to plead his case. With a few absent interjections about curbs, or spilled food, or walk lights. Used to walking alone, Matt found the intrusion on his morning commute surprisingly pleasant. Foggy’s voice was neither too high or too low, and he spoke with intensity and energy even when Matt didn’t respond with the same level of enthusiasm.

“Let me lay it out for you this way,” Foggy said at last, with a tone Matt recognized as a sort of closing argument voice. “You can either sell your soul to me, someone who likes you and is inherently invested in your continued well-being, or you can sell it to a sleazy corporate law firm.”

“You prefer me to begrudgingly pick you just because it’s not as bad as working for Landman and Zack?” Matt asked. “Seriously?”

Foggy tossed an arm around Matt’s shoulder and shook him a little, like they were old friends. Matt stumbled to a stop and his stomach jumped at the unexpected contact, but he couldn’t quite convince himself it was a negative reaction.

“Oh, Matty-Matt-Matt, buddy, pal... That’s my whole deal. That’s what I’m all about. Are people happy about choosing me? Pretty much never. But they choose me anyway because I’m always better than the alternative. That’s just what it means to be a Demon of the Lesser Evil.”

“Logical fallacy,” Matt replied, shaking off Foggy’s arm and continuing to tap his way down the street. “False dichotomy. That’s what you do, I’m sure; make people think there are only two solutions and yours is more preferable even if it’s still bad.”

Foggy hummed thoughtfully.

“I guess you’d know all about third options, huh, Mr. Goes Out In A Black Mask To Punch Criminals.”

That had Matt jerking to a stop. The foot traffic around him began to fill with complaints that cut off halfway at — he assumed — the sight of his cane. Locating the nearest side street, Matt dragged Foggy in, shoving him against a wall.

“How do you know about that?” he growled, bracing an arm across Foggy’s collar.

“Matthew, I’m a demon,” said Foggy, impatient and unimpressed. “You’re my mark. I know everything about you.”

Right. Right. Matt backed off, let Foggy straighten himself out.

“Sorry,” he offered. “Sorry, I. That’s... Secret.”

“You know, the mask kind of tipped me off to that.”

They continued walking, more quietly, the rest of the way to Landman and Zack. As they reached the corner the building was on, Foggy stopped.

“I know you’ll make the right choice,” he said warmly.

He didn’t approach the building doors, didn’t move to keep following Matt. Just waited patiently on the curb, everything about him fading — sound, smell, the weight and physicality of him — until Matt was alone.

Alone at last. All he had to do was walk in and accept the job, and he’d never hear from the demon again. He could accept the job and dodge a bullet. Should do it. Would do it.

But... Matt had wanted to leave. Honestly, he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be able to keep his head down, it wasn’t in his nature. And the deal Foggy had offered...

It nagged at him all the way through the building, all the way to the top floor, all the way to Mr. Zack’s office, so that before he’d even opened his mouth the words were ready on his tongue.

“Respectfully, you can keep your job,” he told the man across the desk, hands folded loosely around his cane. “This firm isn’t a good fit for me.”

It was a rush like taking a flying leap off a building. Like pulling on the mask at night. Matt was taking his destiny in his hands. He didn’t know where he would land, but he’d finally, finally allowed himself to make the choice. He was practically floating as he walked out onto the street and heard Foggy fall into step beside him.

“Feels good, right?” the demon encouraged, sounding pleased. “Ready to get started?”

“You know, I never agreed to a deal with you in any binding way,” Matt pointed out, more to be petty than anything. “I could still send you away.”

There was a swish of hair — Foggy shaking his head.

“Nah, you’re kinda stuck with me now. I’m stubborn.”

“Then I could get my priest to exorcise you,” Matt suggested.

“Ok, first of all, rude. And second, I’m agnostic.”

That pronouncement threw Matt for a loop.

“Um, what?”

“Catholic priests can only exorcise Catholic demons, bud. Padre’s not gonna be much help here, because organized religion and I are pretty much splitsville. There was a whole— thing. I just waved my hand around vaguely, by the way. You know, to indicate the... Thingness of it all.”

Matt could tell that was probably what he’d done, based on the waft of air. But it was nice of him to narrate — a lot of people didn’t think to do that. Of course, Matt also found himself a little baffled by the demon’s vocabulary.

“Thingness?” he asked, and it came out— more teasing than he’d intended, almost fond.

“Yeah, yeah. Yuk it up, Murdock, not all of us are poets.”

The false irritation was disarming, oddly pleasant. The thought crossed Matt’s mind that having Foggy around for the foreseeable future might actually be... Nice. And so it was there on the street with oblivious people wandering around him that Matt found himself, against all reason, ready to sell his soul.


With his day suddenly free and with absolutely no idea where to begin putting his new life in order, Matt let Foggy lead the way to a dive bar called Josie’s — Matt had never been inside before, but the smell of it was distinct and he was pretty sure he’d passed it once or twice.

“Just get a beer and nurse it if you have to,” Foggy suggested as they settled at the counter, on a pair of creaky barstools. “Trust me, you do not want to know what’s in the water. And—” He caught Matt’s forearm— “don’t lean on the bar unless you want to rip out all your arm hair. It’s sticky as hell.”

“Thanks,” Matt said, and didn’t mention that he could smell how foul the water was just fine from where they sat without drinking a single drop.

“Let’s hash out this little deal before we involve drink though, huh?” suggested Foggy.

There was a blaze of energy and a rustle of paper.  The smell of it followed a second later, like an aftereffect — wood pulp and something unfamiliar that burned Matt’s nostrils a little. The small stack of Braille sheets were nudged against his hand, and Matt accepted them.

“A contract?”

“Just so the terms are crystal-clear to everyone.”

If there was one thing a grueling corporate law internship had given Matt, it was a knack for business contracts. Foggy’s wasn’t so different than those, despite the subject. The terms were laid out, simply but thoroughly. Foggy would cover rent on an office space and all other business expenses in full. He would be a partner in the firm and would contribute fully in that capacity. In exchange, he would share Matt’s apartment and take ownership of his soul. Foggy was not allowed to physically harm Matt, or knowingly do anything that would hasten his death. Either side could terminate the contract with reasonable cause, which would return everything to its former state — unless one party had violated the contract, in which case the other party was entitled to anything they’d already been given while the one who’d violated the contract lost rights to their claim. At the end of the contract was a binding non-removal clause that puzzled Matt slightly.

“This one’s kind of a biggie,” Foggy explained when Matt brought it up. “The soul is where identity, feelings, personality originate. It’s all expressed physically of course — brain, nerves, hormones, etcetera — but the soul is still the origin point. Without a clause like this, legally, I could remove your soul prior to your death.”

Matt traced the words of the clause again.

“And what would that do?” he asked quietly.

“All those feelings? Poof.” Foggy cleared his throat. “Which, I mean. Wouldn’t work so well for a TLE like me, but it’s something other types of demons take advantage of.”

Nodding, Matt wondered to himself, am I really doing this? It was his immortal soul. The core of his sense of self, if he understood Foggy correctly. And yet, the more he scrutinized the contract, the more he took in how much care Foggy had built into it... It just felt right in his bones. He accepted a pen from Foggy — fancy, smooth and heavy between his fingers and smelling strongly of the same ink Matt had gotten a whiff of on Foggy’s fingertips earlier — and signed his name where Foggy indicated it should go. There was no magical change in the energy around them, no feeling like a vise closing around him. Nothing to suggest the deal was in play except for Foggy’s loud exhale.

“Well, that’s that,” the demon said, voice so bright and distracting that Matt almost missed the contract vanishing with an odd sub-bass noise that was more of a physical sensation than a sound. “And with all that serious business done, I suggest we order something to drink. Josie, light of my life?”

The woman behind the bar grumbled irritably, though it didn’t seem to put a damper on Foggy’s attitude at all.


In the end, they both ordered beer, because it came safely in sealed bottles. When Matt wondered idly, two sips in, at how the place hadn’t been shut down for health code violations, Foggy explained that Josie was one of his ‘clients’.

“I hang out here, conduct business here, drink for free... And everyone who has the authority to shut this precious little hole in the wall down conveniently forgets about it.” Foggy nudged Matt’s shoulder with his own. “It’s not a soul-bonding deal like ours. So don’t get jealous or anything.”

Matt didn’t think he was in any danger of that. First off, they’d only known each other a couple of hours. And second, Foggy was still a demon. A demon who’d help him get what he wanted, but also one that was holding his soul as collateral.

“Do you ever feel guilty about it?” wondered Matt, speaking more towards the bottle cupped in his hands than the demon next to him. “Corrupting people?”

Foggy hummed, thoughtfully. From their shoulders, which were still brushing, Matt could feel his shrug.

“I tarnish everything I touch,” he admitted freely. “But I could say the same thing about humans. And look, I’m not such a bad guy, I do have standards. It’s not really about some objective definition of good and evil anyway — as long as someone’s compromising their personal moral code a little, I’m happy as a clam, regardless of whether their actions actually help or hinder the people around them.”

“That’s... Quite the loophole,” Matt pointed out.

“Sure is,” agreed Foggy. “And what good lawyer lets a perfectly serviceable loophole go to waste?”

It hit Matt then, that what he’d been quietly dreaming of for years — his own firm, where he could choose the clients, where he could help people who really needed it — was in his grasp. He took a shaky breath, in and out, then another pull of beer.

“We’re really doing this,” he said, which was— inane, but there just weren’t any other words.

“Sure are! I can see it now: Murdock and Nelson.”

Matt should have nodded and agreed. It was his firm, really, though Foggy would still be playing the part of a lawyer. Murdock and Nelson made perfect sense. Matt was the primary partner, and his name came first alphabetically. But it rang oddly in his ears. Not quite right, like the dull crunch of a stale cracker or the discordant tone of an instrument a half-step out of tune.

“Nelson and Murdock,” Matt suggested, without quite understanding why. “Sounds better.”

The laugh his words prompted from Foggy was disbelieving but pleased.

“Well, it’s your choice, buddy. Nelson and Murdock it is.“ There was a slide of glass on wood. “How about a toast? To our union,” Foggy announced.

It sounded like they were getting married. But Matt bit back that observation, just nodded and held up his glass. When Foggy clinked them together for the toast, their knuckles brushed.


Setting up a law firm with a demon was surprisingly normal. Foggy could, he admitted to Matt, have just magicked them up a place for their practice — but he preferred to do things, in his words, ‘organically’. Matt was fine with that, since it wouldn’t put him deeper into the demon’s debt or uproot whatever poor souls Foggy decided to steal office space from. And while they scavenged around for real estate, Foggy crashed on Matt’s couch and paid half his rent and bought them both takeout. When Matt questioned a demon’s need to eat or sleep, Foggy had poked him in the side and informed him that corporeal forms came with corporeal needs — but his tone had been pleasant and warm.

Except for the quiet boil of guilt when he thought about where Foggy’s money might have come from, Matt found that he was... Comfortable. Maybe even happy. He wasn’t alone for the first time in a long time. He had a sort of intimacy that came with cohabitating, but he also didn’t have to sneak around to hide his nightly escapades from Foggy because, well, Foggy already knew.

The deal, as ridiculous as it had seemed on its face to sell his soul for anything, was working out.


Matt still ached all over from a night of fighting traffickers when Foggy’s too-cheerful voice roused him.

“Good morning, sunshine, up you get!”

He groaned, burrowing his face further into his pillow. And then he groaned again when his comforter was stripped off him.

“Foggy, come on,” he rasped. “I had a rough night last night.”

“You know, I could heal those for you, for just a little fav—”

“No.”

“Ok, ok, your choice. But while you were getting pistol whipped by two-bit mobsters—” Matt wanted to grumble a protest, but the warm hand ruffling his hair killed the complaint in his throat— “I had an epiphany on how to get some clients. Also we’ve got another meeting with the realtor this morning and I have a very good feeling about it.”

Matt wasn’t sure he wanted to know what wild scheme Foggy had concocted for gathering clients, but they really did have a meeting with the realtor — so, sighing, he inched out of bed, limbs creaking. He was just taking the first limping steps towards his bathroom and the shower inside when fingertips stroked up his spine. It was Foggy, of course — even if Matt hadn’t been able to recognize the shape and heat of his hand, they were standing right next to each other. But what made Matt shiver and his heart tap out of rhythm was the sudden, cool wave of relief that followed the demon’s touch. It was just like rubbing aloe vera on a burn. Matt’s mouth went dry.

“I didn’t agree to—”

“I know,” Foggy said. “But it hurts just watching you, Murdock, you’re moving like an eighty-year-old man. We’ll call it... Regular upkeep. Maintenance. All that wear and tear stuff included in your soul deal.”

Matt was pretty sure that, actually, it was not included in his soul deal at all. But if Foggy wanted to heal him, and it wasn’t going to cost Matt anything down the line, well... Why look a gift horse in the mouth? Matt stretched and luxuriated in the lack of sharp reprimands from his body.

“Thanks, Foggy.”

There was a wet sound — Foggy swallowing — and the demon blazed a little hotter, leaving Matt’s bare, chilled shoulder comfortably warm just by standing a few inches away.

“Yeah, uh. Don’t make it a habit, but. No problem, buddy.”

Buddy. Like they were old friends. Something about it made Matt grin as he padded his way to the shower.


After they were both ready for the day, Matt followed Foggy to his errand, letting the demon guide him. Foggy had been surprisingly adept at the task, considering he’d never done it before meeting Matt. More than that, he was able to weave his narration into their conversation without making a big deal of it or turning their dialogue choppy.

Matt found himself more distracted than usual, though, wondering about the person they were meeting. Thankfully, his body continued following Foggy’s nonverbal guidance on autopilot even when he himself wasn’t paying much conscious attention to it.

“—and this is who we’re here to see,” Foggy said with a finality that drew Matt back out of his own head.

Gently, Foggy brought them both to a halt. Matt let go of his arm, and focused. Above the ambiance of the city, he smelled cheap coffee and something metallic, heard an irritated intake of breath.

“Nelson.”

“Brett, old buddy old pal!” Foggy greeted. “I have finally found a great way for you to pay off your debt to me.”

And suddenly Matt understood. Like Josie, Brett was someone Foggy had made a deal with. And Foggy was going to cash in that favor, somehow, to get their new firm clients. Matt’s stomach churned. It was one thing to know nebulously that Foggy did some unsavory things, but Matt wasn’t sure he wanted to witness it firsthand.

“Oh yeah?” asked Brett. “And how’s that?”

“Well,” Foggy said, then— “Arm incoming, Matt—” Foggy hooked an arm around Matt’s shoulders and gave him a friendly jostle. “My latest acquisition here happens to be a lawyer looking to save the world one case at a time. Unfortunately, we have no cases. Which is where you, Sergeant Mahoney, come in. Just give me a ring first thing whenever a case that might interest a lawyer crosses your desk and we’re square.”

“Oh,” said Brett, sounding thoroughly unamused. “And for how long?”

“I mean. Ideally, forever. But in a legally binding way... Twelve months? Just to get us on our feet.”

There was a near-silent whistle of air as Brett sucked a breath in, probably through his teeth — Matt would never have noticed it if he hadn’t been blocking everything else out to focus only on their little trio. The words had stuck with Matt too — us, our. It put Matt in a different category, closer to Foggy than Brett or Josie. Because they had a soul deal. Matt flexed his fingers around his folded cane and tried not to think about the warm feeling in his gut.

“Yeah, alright. One year. And that’s all,” Brett agreed.

“Good man.”

Foggy took three steps, and then there was a clap of skin on skin — a handshake? Matt didn’t care to expend the energy to dial his focus in closer. Especially when Foggy shuffled back in Matt’s direction almost immediately, the pattern of his steps eager and light — almost a skip. If footsteps could be cute, well... These were.

“See you around, Brett!”

“I think the hell not,” came the reply.

Then Foggy was offering Matt his arm again and they were off. Wasting no time on silence, Foggy began to chatter away about the day’s possibilities for offices. Matt probably should have listened. Just... His curiosity had kind of overtaken him.

“What deal did he make with you?” he blurted, a couple minutes in, unable to hold the question back any longer.

“I cured his mom’s lung cancer,” Foggy explained without even a pause. “They caught it early, it probably wouldn’t have killed her but. You know. Hospital bills, decreased quality of life, rising drug costs... Sometimes a teensy bit of demonic intervention is better in the long run.”

Matt understood that, he supposed. It was hard enough just paying rent in a city where the cost of living continued to climb, where there was always some new developer looking to dig you out of your home by the roots and put luxury apartments or overpriced boutiques in your place. God forbid you end up with serious medical bills, or needing accommodation of any kind. Matt took a slow, deep inhale through his nose, grip tightening on the folded-up cane in his right hand but careful not to squeeze Foggy’s arm in his left.

“How long has it been?” he asked, to keep the conversation flowing. “Since you made that deal?”

It couldn’t have been long, if Foggy hadn’t decided on a payment yet — a deal he’d picked up when scoping Matt out, maybe?

“Ohh, I don’t know, maybe three years now?” Foggy replied, catching Matt as he tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. “And let me tell you that is a weight off my mind, truly. Unpaid deals are so exhausting. It’s like leaving your car lights on until they drain the battery. So, you’re helping me out already, Murdock!”

Mind racing, Matt wet his lips.

“You. You shouldered the cost yourself?” he asked. “All this time?”

“Well, yeah,” answered Foggy, like it was no big deal. “I mean, he didn’t have anything I wanted or anything morally-sketchy I needed him to do at the time, but Bess’s condition was kind of time sensitive. So I let him give me an IOU — and here we are. Worked out great.”

A demon that accepted IOUs. Amazing. Matt rubbed the back of his hand over his mouth to hide the ridiculous smile growing there. Of all the demons in all the world... He guessed he was pretty lucky to have caught Foggy’s eye.


They took the third of the offices they were shown by the realtor that day, and settled in. Then, only three days after that, Foggy got his first call from Brett. It was evening, almost night, and they had been about to close up and head home when Foggy’s phone began to jingle.

“Oh. It’s Brett. Nice, let me just get this.”

Of course, the case itself was about as far from nice as it could get. A woman found in her apartment, covered in blood, a knife in her hand and the body of her coworker next to her. She was claiming to be innocent, though, and that piqued Matt’s interest. So, they went down to meet with her.

And that was how Matt first met Karen Page.

She smelled like blood, like the musty corners of the police station, with the faintest whiff of some floral scent from her shampoo or perfume. Her voice wavered when she told them she didn’t kill anyone, but her heart didn’t.

The odds and the evidence were both stacked against her. She had no one in her corner, and that was exactly the kind of person their firm was supposed to help.

They took the case.

Which was probably good, because the next afternoon one of the precinct’s police officers attempted to murder their client. Matt didn’t want to think about whether there might have been a repeat attempt without he and Foggy intervening to get Karen released. There hadn’t been any charges filed against her at all — which was the most unsettling part, and only served to strengthen Matt’s belief that Karen had been set up. For what purpose he wasn’t yet sure.

Once the three of them were back at the fledgling offices of Nelson and Murdock, it all became clear. In halting sentences, Karen explained what she had found, why she had been with Daniel Fisher in the first place. Fishy accounting, suspicious numbers, the creeping feeling that she’d found something dangerous. Wanting to double check, even though her manager had said it was fine. She’d just wanted to talk it over with Daniel, she said.

“I barely took a drink, and then... And then I woke up, in my apartment, with...”

Karen’s breath hitched and she didn’t continue.

“I’m sorry, Karen. You’ve been through a lot. But we’ll keep you safe,” Matt promised, though he wasn’t sure she was in a state to believe him.

There was silence for several painfully long seconds, and then Foggy clapped his hands.

“How about something warm to drink?” he suggested. “Just give me a couple minutes, ok?”

Karen agreed, and Foggy made his way into the kitchenette. Over the shaky sound of Karen’s breathing, Matt heard Foggy turn on the sink, and then start the microwave.

“So,” Karen said. “First client, huh?”

“Yeah. Starting pretty high up in terms of, uh, severity of charges, huh? But it’s not like we’re fresh off the bar or anything, I promise. I’d been interning a couple of years at a large firm, but… Well, their direction just wasn’t for me. So now it’s Foggy and I.”

It prompted a small laugh from Karen, warm instead of trembling, no edge of the hysteria that had been lingering in her tone.

“Helping the little guy?” she asked. “Saving the world one client at a time?”

“Well, let’s start with helping you. We’ll see about the world after that,” he told her, smiling.

As Foggy approached again, the scent of cheap Lipton green tea filled the air. Matt’s nose twitched. Foggy had probably committed a venial sin by microwaving water for tea, but their kitchenette wasn’t very well stocked in either appliances or ingredients so it could be forgiven. The real question was where the tea had come from in the first place.

“We have tea?” he asked quietly as Foggy passed in a wave of humid heat.

“Stole it from the financial office next door,” Foggy explained. “Look, Karen, you’ve had... A really long couple of days, and you look like you could use some sleep.”

Karen barked out a hoarse, painful-sounding laugh.

“My apartment’s still a crime scene,” she muttered, then sighed. “Can’t exactly go home.”

“Stay with us,” Matt said, before he’d even thought about it.

After all, Karen needed a place to crash, and Matt needed to find out more about her. The fact that she’d been framed instead of just murdered like her coworker meant she still had something that the people who’d framed her wanted. And Matt intended to find out what that something was.

“Us?” repeated Karen, and her voice pitched up in confusion — then her heart stuttered out of rhythm. “Oh! You. You’re... Oh.”

Yeah, it was probably a little weird to room with your business partner, Matt thought to himself. It wasn’t any great shock that Karen would be surprised about that — Matt had gotten used to it, of course, but other people didn’t know about his and Foggy’s soul deal.

“It’s a good idea, but... I don’t think you and I are both gonna fit on the couch, Matt,” Foggy pointed out.

“No,” said Karen, hurriedly. “No, I can take the couch. You two keep the bed. I don’t want to put you out.”

Which was, mortifyingly, the moment Matt realized that Karen actually thought... That she thought they. He and Foggy. That they were.

His ears went hot.

Like he always did, Foggy picked up the slack when Matt let the conversation slip through his fingers.

“Let me tell you,” he said to Karen while Matt was still gathering himself, “you are so lucky I got him to install blackout curtains in the living room because otherwise you’d be trying to sleep to a 24-hour disco of shampoo ads.”

Karen laughed, sudden and startled.

“Oh? Are you guys living in Times Square or something?”

“No, no, here in the Kitchen,” Matt assured her, finally finding his voice. “But, ah... There is an LED billboard right outside the window. Tends to keep sighted people up, from what they tell me. The rent was a steal, though.”

A steal, sure, but only compared to the nightmarish rent in the rest of Manhattan. It had been entirely thanks to Landman and Zack’s shockingly large paychecks to its interns that Matt had hung onto the place so long. With Foggy halving the cost, though, it wasn’t so bad anymore. Well, to be fair… Foggy was covering business expenses, and that included both their salaries. So even if Matt paid rent money from his account, the truth was that at the moment Foggy really was paying for everything. And maybe that was only right, in a soul deal like theirs, but it made Matt’s skin prickle a little. The feeling that he wasn’t supporting himself. When the firm started bringing in more cases, maybe he’d talk to Foggy about—

This train of thought faltered as Karen began to speak again.

“I’m… Thank you, both of you, for the offer. But I don’t want to put you in danger. I mean, Dan, he…”

Matt reached out — rested a hand on Karen’s arm, then, when she leaned into the touch, moved it up to her shoulder for what he hoped was a comforting squeeze.

“I told you we’d keep you safe, Karen, and I meant that,” he said. “We’re a lot tougher than we might seem at first glance. I promise.”

“He’s right,” Foggy added, both gentle and serious in a way that made Matt’s heart thump out of time. “We know the danger. And we can handle it. You shouldn’t have to go through this on your own.”

At last, Karen agreed to come back to the apartment with them. They gathered in the living room to eat Thai takeout, and neither Matt or Foggy said a word when Karen checked the locks three separate times.

Finally, Matt decided it was time to confirm his suspicions.

“Karen, It’s… Odd, your situation,” he began, quietly, careful to keep his face angled towards her, his expression open and unthreatening. “The fact that whoever killed Dan didn’t just kill you too.”

“They did try to kill me,” Karen reminded him sharply.

“In the jail cell. But not in the apartment. They could have staged it as a break-in, or something. You were unconscious. But they didn’t. And to me, that says that they wanted you alive for something.”

And there it was. A slight uptick in Karen’s heart rate. She swallowed, took a breath.

“What are you saying?”

“You didn’t happen to keep a copy of the data you found, did you?” Matt asked, as gently as he could.

“I wish I had,” she told him, her heart stepping wildly out of time. “But no.”

A lie. She had something, but she didn’t want to tell them that — probably to try and keep them safe. It was foolish, but also brave and… And admirable, in Matt’s opinion. Knowing he probably wouldn’t get any farther on that topic, Matt let it go. Returned to more mundane things until they all agreed it was time to try and get some rest.

Matt was the one who volunteered to make up the couch for Karen, mostly because thinking about sleeping in the same bed as Foggy left a weird, fluttery feeling in his gut. It was a mistake, he realized afterwards as he stood in the doorway of his bedroom. Letting Foggy get into bed first meant Matt was returning to a bed that had already started to warm with the demon’s body heat, to pick up the bright scent of his shampoo.

Swallowing thickly, Matt considered throwing on an old T-shirt and some sweatpants to sleep in, although he didn’t usually do that until it started getting cold outside.

“The bed doesn’t bite, Murdock, you should know that better than anyone,” Foggy said suddenly, and Matt jolted.

“Right. Right.”

It would be too weird to change things up. So, Matt stripped down to his boxers and climbed into bed.

Foggy was asleep within minutes. The usual slow breathing and even heartbeat that Matt had gotten accustomed to from across the apartment was distracting from up close. Which was. Fine, it was fine, because Matt was pretty sure Karen was going to sneak out, so he needed to stay awake anyway to follow her.

For half an hour, Matt lay on his side, facing away from the sleeping demon behind him and tried to keep his own heart from beating wildly out of his chest. Then finally, finally, Karen’s breath stuttered, and she moved to get up from the couch. As quiet as she was at it, she still couldn’t beat Matt’s ears. He waited until she was out the door before rising from the bed and slipping on his fighting clothes and his mask.

“Going after her?” Foggy asked suddenly, his voice charmingly muzzy with sleep.

Matt, frozen at the side of the bed, wanted to reach out, stroke his fingers through the demon’s soft hair — but he refrained. Clenched his hand into a fist at his side.

“She’s got the evidence, I know it,” he said. “Go on back to sleep, Fogs. We’ll be home soon.”

Foggy yawned.

“Don’t need a little, mmm, demonic backup?” he murmured.

This time, Matt really couldn’t stop himself. His hand jerked out without his permission, to comb through the hair at Foggy’s temple.

“I’ll be fine,” he promised, the words tight in his throat.

Foggy shifted under his hand, sat up. Matt let his fingers fall away.

“Call me, if you need me, Matt. Promise,” Foggy said seriously. “This deal— I mean, we’re in this thing together, you know?”

Matt smiled.

“I’ll call,” he said, certain he wouldn’t have to.


Twenty minutes later, Matt regretted his earlier confidence. He hadn’t expected whoever was after Karen to send someone quite so skilled — and, admittedly, he was not as in practice as he should have been, too used to fighting low-skill hired guns.

But the one who’d come out worst of the fight wasn’t him. And it wasn’t the assassin. It was Karen.

She’d been stabbed. And not somewhere harmless, and not shallowly. She was going to die. Karen Page was going to die and there was nothing Matt could do about it. He needed, he needed...

“Foggy.”

As soon as the name was out of Matt’s mouth, Foggy was standing next to him, radiating warmth, like he’d always been there.

“Matt? What, what is it, are you hurt?”

Shaking his head, Matt gestured towards Karen’s fading heartbeat. The words lodged in his throat like a rock. Matt steeled himself and forced them out anyway.

“She’s dying. Foggy, I need. Please. Heal her. You can do that, can’t you?”

The quiet that followed lasted unnervingly long. Though Foggy’s heat still warmed Matt’s arm from where they stood side by side, all the noise of him had fallen silent — no breath, no heartbeat. Across from them, Karen’s rasping, labored breaths slowed to a stop. Matt opened his mouth to plead again when—

“I can. But, Matt... There are costs to these things,” Foggy cautioned. “I’m not a god, you know.”

Matt just shook his head, restless adrenaline buzzing under his skin.

“I don’t care. Save her.”

“Matt, I don’t know if you—” Foggy tried again, but Matt couldn’t, he couldn’t let this woman die because of him, because he wasn’t fast enough to save her.

“Please,” he begged, grabbing Foggy’s hand. “Foggy, please.”

The heat of the demon dimmed, went almost cold, and Matt tightened his desperate grip.

“Alright,” Foggy relented, sighing. “If you’re sure.”

“I am,” promised Matt.

The cost would be steep. Matt knew that. But he would pay it. And he would pay it gladly.

Foggy brushed his grip away, then knelt down by Karen’s head.

“Hey,” he murmured. “Come on now, let me fix that up for you.”

With a soft brush of skin on fabric, the smell of blood in the air vanished. The heat of life came back to Karen’s body, and she gasped sharp enough to start up a coughing fit. A miracle, Matt couldn’t help but think, and a feeling of fondness for the demon in front of him squeezed Matt’s chest.

“See you at home,” Foggy murmured in Matt’s ear, which didn’t help quell that feeling one bit.

And then, before Karen had finished coughing, Foggy was gone. Back to the apartment. Maybe even back to the bed. But finding that out would have to wait.

Wet slaps split the air over the patter of the rain — Karen patting at her torso, looking for a stab wound that was no longer there.

“You’re ok,” Matt told her, careful to keep his voice at a low growl. “You’re not hurt.”

“But I. He... I was—”

“You’re ok now,” promised Matt. “A friend of mine healed you. Please give me the evidence — I’ll make sure the police get it.”

Brett. He’d get it to Brett somehow. And then—

“No!” Karen’s shout stopped him cold. “No. You can’t, you can’t trust them. Whoever’s behind this, they have cops in their pocket.”

She wasn’t wrong. And singling Brett out, making him a target for them just to ensure the evidence got to someone trustworthy... That wasn’t a safe bet to make.

“Ok,” Matt agreed. “Then we tell everyone.”

Together, they took what they had to the New York Bulletin, to Ben Urich who was working late to finish another story. Then Matt walked Karen back to his apartment building. Once she’d stepped inside, he scaled the fire escapes and knocked on his own bedroom window. It slid open with a creak.

“Welcome back, alley cat,” teased Foggy.

“Hey.”

Matt was stiff, bone-tired, and more than a little sore... But the apartment was as warm as Foggy’s voice, and he felt accomplished. Satisfied.

After shucking off his fighting clothes and scrubbing the blood and dirt off his skin with a washcloth Foggy had waiting, Matt climbed back into bed. Just before sleep overtook him, he felt the bed dip as Foggy laid down next to him.


The next day, when the news about Union Allied Construction hit, the company folded immediately. Matt knew that wouldn’t be the last of whoever had been in charge, especially since the officer who’d tried to kill Karen and the assassin who had briefly succeeded were both found dead. But at least the truth had come out. At least Karen was alive, and safe.

Matt didn’t have much time to savor it, though. Almost immediately after that night, Foggy was… Listless, tired. He didn’t bustle around the office, or laugh as loudly. The warm hum of energy he always gave off had dimmed to almost nothing. He’d stopped whistling, and singing under his breath, and tossing the baseball on his desk from hand to hand. All the little signs of happiness Matt had quietly relished since their deal began.

And it wasn’t just Matt who noticed, either.

“Do you think he needs to see a doctor?” Karen asked Matt in the kitchenette one morning, concern thick in her voice.

Matt wasn’t sure what to tell her. Did demons go see doctors? We’re there special doctors for demons? And it wasn’t like Foggy was really sick, he was just... Lethargic. Drained.

Like a car battery.

Because Matt hadn’t paid up yet. He hadn’t paid up because Foggy hadn’t asked him to. Hadn’t named a price.

“I’m. I’m not sure,” Matt admitted after what was probably too long.

“I know it’s expensive, but. It just feels like something’s really wrong. What if it’s something serious?”

It was something serious. Matt wasn’t sure what would happen to Foggy once his ‘battery’ reached zero. But the fact that he seemed to be deliberately avoiding naming a price was terrifying in its own way.

“I’ll ask him,” Matt told Karen, knowing he wouldn’t.

Worse still, Foggy began to, to blip. Though he did occasionally forget to simulate normal human things like his heartbeat or breathing, he’d kept corporeal form for Matt’s sake since that first day. It wasn’t something he’d done a lot with other deals, he’d explained to Matt one night over a beer, but then most people tended to believe their eyes and didn’t need all the bells and whistles. Matt, upon whom visual illusion was lost, required something more solid.

Still, Foggy said nothing that would suggest anything was wrong. He ignored the blips, the exhaustion, everything. Never indicated Matt still had a price to pay even though they both knew he did. And Matt… Matt didn’t know how to bring it up. He tried, obliquely, asking if there was anything he could do for Foggy or whether he felt alright, but was brushed off.

Matt threw himself into his work as the man in the mask to combat the mounting fear and frustration. Which worked just fine, until it didn’t. Until Matt passed out in a dumpster and woke up in a nurse’s apartment.

He was groggy, and in pain, and his mask was off, and he’d called for Foggy before he even realized it. The poor nurse, who was still in the middle of trying to get some answers, shrieked when Foggy materialized.

“Who are you!” she demanded.

“Foggy, my name is Foggy, I’m a demon. His demon,” replied Foggy, flickering twice before his physical form and the sound of his heart stabilized. “Just. Listen, just let me heal him and we’ll be out of your hair, ok, Ms...?”

“Claire,” said the nurse, grudgingly, before stepping aside to let Foggy approach.

“It’ll be over in a jiffy, Claire,” Foggy assured her, “just gotta—”

He placed a hand on Matt’s forehead. There was a rush of warmth, smaller than Matt would have expected, and then… And then nothing. No cool wave of relief. No zip of energy under Matt’s skin. Nothing at all.

Foggy cursed under his breath. He tried again. And again. And one more time. But still, nothing. Eventually, he pulled his hand away, swallowing.

“I’m. I’m sorry, Matt. I’m sorry. I can’t do it this time.”

He sounded so utterly heartbroken about it. But Matt? All Matt felt was a bone deep rush of fear. It wasn’t that Foggy wouldn’t do it, wasn’t about a price or a decision. He couldn’t do it. How low had his stores of power fallen for that to be true? They needed to settle on a price for saving Karen. If this went on much longer, Matt didn’t want to know what might happen to Foggy.

“Fo—”

And then Matt’s chest seized. He coughed, but that didn’t clear his lungs. Inhaled sharply, but couldn’t feel the air. Everything was closing in around him.

“No!” That was Foggy. “No, no, you can’t, don’t—”

There were more weak surges of energy, Foggy’s attempts to heal him, but they fizzled out like wet sparklers. A small, distant voice in the back of Matt’s head realized with unbearable calm that he was going to die. He fought against it, struggling to drag in a breath, to hear anything over the panicked pounding of his own pulse, to—

A sharp pain, and then relief. Claire had saved him.

Not that there was much time to enjoy it, before one of the Russian mobsters who had ambushed him began knocking on doors in Claire’s apartment building. Turnabout was fair play, so Matt ambushed him back with the help of a fire extinguisher. In pain, and at the end of his patience for the kind of scumbag who would kidnap a little kid, Matt didn’t hold back getting information from the mobster, and it was oddly thrilling that neither Claire nor Foggy flinched at it.

Troika. The boy was at Troika restaurant.

Though he hadn’t intervened before, Foggy grabbed Matt’s arm when he turned to head out.

“Wait.”

“There’s no time, Foggy.”

Foggy let out a frustrated breath.

“You almost died, you can’t—”

“I have to.”

There was no one else who could save the little boy.

“Then I’ll come with you.”

No. No, that was a bad idea. Foggy was out of power. He couldn’t protect himself, let alone Matt or the kid; he was in no state to come along. Matt sent him home instead, and he went, voice sharp with hurt. Guilt ached in Matt’s chest, leaden, but he pushed past it.

Pouring all that pain and fear and guilt into his fight with the bratva felt good. Cleansing. And at the end of the night, though each step was a struggle, he walked out of the basement of Troika restaurant with the boy in his arms, to return him to his father.

When Matt managed to drag himself home, Foggy was waiting in bed. It didn’t heal Matt’s wounds or ease his mind, but there was a certain comfort to the warmth of another person beside him.


Matt was on strict bed rest for the next two days. He was in enough pain that he didn’t expend the energy to argue. But on the third, when he’d managed to limp around the apartment without assistance, he cornered Foggy in the kitchen.

“We need to talk about that night.”

“... Do we?”

Foggy sounded pleading, but Matt couldn’t back down. Something that had taken only a sweep of the hand weeks before had been impossible just days ago. Foggy had held onto his deal with Brett for three years without noticeable effects, but a month of this deal to save Karen had drained him completely.

“We made a deal, Foggy. And you’re taking on the cost yourself and it’s hurting you,” Matt pointed out tightly. “I made the choice, you can name a price, you know. You don’t have to— you don’t have to baby me.”

“I don’t baby you,” Foggy denied. “I’ve never babied you, come on, Matt. There’s no need to rush things.”

Foggy wasn’t going to name a price. Fine. Matt could come up with a payment to suggest himself. Something immoral, something against his code but that he was willing to do to pay for Karen’s life.

The idea struck like a fist to the skull, so strong he could nearly feel it. Warm and sensual and desperate, the feeling of Foggy’s mouth pressed to his own. Cradled firmly between the demon and the wall. Matt tried, feebly, to shake away the sensation, but failed.

“You’re hurting,” he managed to rasp at last. “The deal’s costing you a lot, and it doesn’t have to, Foggy. It doesn’t have to. It’s all about, about compromises, right? Doing things that, that you know you shouldn’t, for the greater good.” Matt’s lips tingled with heat; he swallowed. “I can pay.”

It... It wasn’t what he wanted. Or maybe, he wanted it but not to offer it up as payment for a deal. Still, it was the safest option. A demon could never be a viable choice. Letting himself have a taste, though, at the excuse of paying for a deal? It wasn’t a great option but it was one Matt was willing to take, if it would cover the payment for his deal. If it would stop the cost from draining Foggy. A compromise. The lesser evil.

“Let me help you,” he murmured, stepping closer until they shared breaths.

Foggy’s heartbeat — of inconsistent existence — stuttered out of rhythm.

“Matt... I...”

There was a moment of pure and perfect stillness where Matt was certain Foggy would lean forward that last little inch and kiss him.

And then that moment passed. Foggy jerked back so quickly he knocked what was probably his elbow against the shelf behind him, rattling its contents.

“Foggy—”

A hand slammed into Matt’s chest, winding him and preventing him from trying to close the distance between them again.

“Don’t,” Foggy snapped, and his voice was low and dark and angry. “Don’t. Do not. That is some— some morally suspect shit.”

“Isn’t that what you’re all about?” asked Matt, still addled by his own stupid desire, and realized his mistake as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

“Oh, fuck you, Murdock!”

“Wait,” Matt tried to backtrack. “Wait, Foggy I didn’t mean—”

“You of all people, I cannot believe you’d try to just, to manipulate me—”

“Foggy, I’m sorry. I wasn’t, I wasn’t trying to manipulate you. I just thought it would help,” Matt pleaded. “I swear, I just wanted to help you.”

Foggy sucked in a shaky breath, let it out.

“It wouldn’t have covered it anyway,” he said, a brittle lightness to his tone. “Even you aren’t that good in bed.”

The words hit like an open-handed slap to the face. Sudden and sharp and stinging.

“You don’t— you don’t have to be a dick about it,” Matt snapped in response, his face hot with embarrassment, shame. “I made a deal, I’ll pay, just tell me what I have to do instead of insulting me!”

“You could never pay the cost,” sneered Foggy. “You’re the most difficult human I’ve ever met, fucking tailor-made for Greater Evil because you absolutely refuse to compromise! Paying the cost you incurred for Karen would destroy you, or you’d break our deal and I’d have to let her die. And I’m such a sucker I’ve tried to keep you from having to make that choice. Because I thought—”

He cut himself off sharply. The tone shift had been so sudden it burst the indignation that had filled Matt’s chest like a bubble. Instead, Matt waited for the end of that tantalizing sentence, heart pounding, because he wanted, he needed to know what Foggy had thought. But Foggy didn’t continue. After several painfully long seconds, Matt took a shaky breath.

“I’ll pay,” he promised. “Foggy, I will. I never wanted you to, to take the price of saving Karen on for me. Just tell me what I need to do. Just tell me the cost.”

“If you insist, Matt,” answered Foggy with a deep, world-weary sigh. “The life of an innocent for the death of someone guilty.”

Matt’s heart dropped into his stomach.

“I have to kill someone, to save Karen’s life...?”

“No, Matt. I have to kill someone. And you have to let me do it. That’s your price. That’s the deal. Your inaction for Karen’s life.”

“Foggy, no, that’s...”

Too much. But he couldn’t force the words out, not after insisting he could pay the price. He just hadn’t thought... It was his deal. The price was supposed to be on him. It was supposed to cost him, to hurt him. Not some random person who would have to die.

“You see now why I tried to dissuade you,” Foggy said, his voice horribly flat.

“Isn’t... Couldn’t there be another way?” Matt asked, throat tight. “Another payment? What about my life?”

Foggy let out a frustrated growl.

“I can’t kill you, Matt, we’re in contract! And anyway it wouldn’t solve the problem!”

It would still be a life for a life, Matt pointed out, even knowing that Foggy wouldn’t budge on the issue.

“Yeah,” Foggy agreed, “but you sacrificing yourself like a fucking martyr doesn’t go against your moral code. The whole point is it needs to be something you’re conflicted about, Matt. And the more power I expend for you, the tougher the choice you need to make. I brought a human being back to life for you, this will need to be the hardest compromise you’ve ever had to make in your life to recoup the cost. Do you understand?”

He did. It didn’t mean he could accept it.

“Foggy, I can’t let you do that. I can’t.”

“Then I.” Foggy’s breath hitched, in a way Matt had come to associate with him saying something he didn’t want to. “I’ll have to let Karen go. You’re… You were right, Matt. I can’t even heal you, and we’re soul-bonded. I’m stretched so thin I’m going to snap, and I don’t know what would happen to you if I did.”

What would happen to him? Foggy was the one most at risk. He and Karen. Sucking in a breath, Matt thought about that. About their lives at risk. What his own life would be like without them.

“Do you know who you’re going to. To...”

He couldn’t say it. Foggy seemed to understand anyway.

“I do. I’ve chosen carefully, Matt, I have” he promised. “Someone who’s killed before and is planning to kill again. If that helps you at all.”

It should have been a simple choice. Karen and Foggy’s lives for the life of someone evil, someone who was a threat to others. For someone more pragmatic maybe it would have been. But for Matt? He did believe, truly, that it wasn’t his place to kill. Anyone’s place to kill. Letting Foggy leave, knowing it would mean a murder… Then again, wasn’t that the whole point? The hardest choice Matt had ever had to make. He struggled with it an hour longer, with Foggy waiting quietly and unobtrusively except for the terrifying way he continued flickering in and out of existence. Finally, guilty and wrung out and with no other potential solution to grasp at, Matt gave in to his own selfishness.

“Ok.” His heart lurched in his chest at what he’d agreed to, and he latched on to Foggy’s arm, which stayed mercifully warm and solid in his grip. “But, Foggy?”

“Yeah?”

He’d never forgive himself if he didn’t ask for one last favor.

“Whoever they are… Please. Give them a chance to change first. To. To turn back.”

There was a soft swish of hair and a catch of breath, but that wasn’t enough to tell whether it was a nod or a shake of the head, a yes or a no.

“I nodded,” Foggy revealed at last, a little choked up and suddenly fond. “I will. It’s a deal.”

When Foggy left, he left through the door instead of vanishing, and Matt tracked him for a block and a half before he faded into the background of the city. There had been no indication how long Foggy would be gone, so Matt started getting ready to sleep. Brushed his teeth, changed out of his clothes, paced for several minutes before realizing how stupid he was being and slipping into bed.

Fifteen minutes passed. Half an hour. Forty-five minutes. Eventually Matt found himself having his clock read him the time almost every five minutes on the dot, and it only made the time pass slower.

Sleep wouldn’t come.

And then, with a crack, Foggy appeared in the apartment again. His energy, which had been so weak and wavering for so long, was blazingly warm. Full strength. Even knowing the reason behind it, that someone was dead, Matt breathed a sigh of relief.

“Foggy?”

“It’s done.” The declaration was firm, but then Foggy faltered. “I’ll, uh. I’ll head to the cou—”

“Come to bed?” Matt blurted, his mouth dry.

It was worth it to hear the startled thu-thump of Foggy’s heart.

“I. … Yeah, sure thing.”

And then he settled into bed next to Matt, right where he was supposed to be. Cautiously a hand stroked through Matt’s hair, and all his aches and pains, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, vanished. Foggy’s power really was back. Immediately, sleep was within reach.

“Thanks, Foggy,” Matt told him.

“Yeah. No problem, Matt.”

They didn’t talk about it again. Matt... Wanted to. But. Every time he worked up the nerve, it vanished as soon as Foggy asked him what he wanted to say. Every time, Matt deflected, changed the subject. So. So they just didn’t talk about it.


Traffic in the office slowed over the next six weeks. Truthfully, daytime work was something Matt had previously been too concerned about Foggy’s flagging energy and his own nighttime escapades to pay much attention to. But afterwards, when the demon’s bustling and humming and teasing resumed? He didn’t need sight to imagine the tumbleweed rolling through their lobby.

Nelson and Murdock wasn’t exactly in any danger of going into the red, thanks to Foggy’s... Financial sponsorship. But Matt didn’t want to sit around doing nothing, he wanted to help people. And there had to be plenty of people who needed the help — they just weren’t finding the firm or didn’t know it was an option.

“It’ll be fine,” Foggy told him when he brought it up.

And it was.

The very next morning, a woman came to their offices — Mrs. Cardenas, whose landlord was trying to force her out of her rent-controlled apartment. She was so genuinely distressed and indignant about it that Matt didn’t even mind that the timing was so coincidental, that the fact that she asked for Foggy specifically meant Foggy had probably called in another favor to get them a referral. How she’d ended up at their door was beside the point — Mrs. Cardenas had come to them and she needed help.

After some minor negotiation — “No I don’t speak Spanish, Matt, I’m a demon not a polyglot, I have a very localized set of skills here!” — Matt stepped back to let Karen take the lead on translating. She wasn’t quite as fluent as he was, she warned him, but Matt didn’t mind; Karen’s voice was pleasant to the ear, gentle and righteously angry in turns, and her presence was a comforting one. Everyone benefited from that.

It was a simple enough case on the surface, and painfully common — slumlord wants tenants out so they can remodel the apartments into condos for rich people. But things started getting weird fast.

The first oddity was the firm representing the landlord, Tully — Landman and Zack. It could have been coincidence, and at first Matt did just dismiss it as bad luck. After all, L&Z’s clientele was largely populated with, as Foggy would say, rich sleazeballs.

In the same way, the lost requests, lost paperwork, stonewalling? It all seemed like the usual stalling tactics of a big firm that knew their client was in the wrong. Unethical, but not unexpected. It was the kind of thing Matt had left L&Z because of.

And then he got to the office one morning and his shoes crunched on glass and paper. The floor was a maze of broken furniture and downed cabinets, and Matt had to unfold his cane again to navigate it.

“Fuck,” Foggy hissed when he stepped inside. “Oh, Matt, your desk. The printer.”

Matt was suddenly deeply grateful he took his laptop and his assistive tech home with him every night. What they’d lost was going to be a bitch to replace, but most of it was low-quality, cheap, second-hand. He set down his bag with a sigh.

“Don’t suppose you could just…” Matt snapped his fingers, then fluttered them.

“Well, I—”

“Oh my god, what happened?!”

“Well, Karen, unless you had a wild party here last night, I think it’s safe to say our office has been ransacked,” said Foggy, though his usual good cheer felt thin.

“This is… This is horrible! The office equipment…! If I find out who did this, I’ll kick their ass!” Karen seethed, going straight from horrified to pissed off in a way that made Matt grin.

She really was tough as nails. He didn’t know what they’d have done without her. Together, the three of them swept up the carnage, righted the filing cabinets and chairs, salvaged what they could, and pitched what they couldn’t. Matt took particular enjoyment out of pressing a plastic stegosaurus into Foggy’s hand after saving it from a pile of certified glass-free paper Karen had passed him to throw away.

“Spike! Wow, you saved his life! Thanks, Matty.”

The nickname curled around him like a flannel blanket.

Someone had upped the stakes, and Matt — or rather, the man in the mask — was going to make them regret it. But in the meantime? Their little office was a team, and no one was going to tear them apart.


It was a good thing Matt hadn’t underestimated Karen’s own desire for vengeance. He kept an ear out for her on his patrols — wasn’t stupid enough to try and patronize her by telling her not to investigate or go out at night. Still, he didn’t expect her to face much besides some intimidation. Whoever was out to get Mrs. Cardenas hadn’t dared to hurt anyone, and it seemed ludicrous for whoever was behind Union Allied to try for Karen a third time.

He’d probably jinxed it, thinking things like that.

Matt leapt off the building he’d been atop the moment he heard Karen shriek. By the time he was on the ground, she’d maced the first of her attackers. Matt laid the second out flat with a punch. And then, out of nowhere, Foggy rammed into the first, who was still grasping for Karen through his pain, calling her a bitch and snarling other invectives. There was a crack of wood against bone, then quiet.

“Whew,” Foggy said, brightly. “Well, that was more exercise than I was planning to get tonight.”

“What…” Karen’s hair swished as she shook her head. “Foggy, what the hell are you doing here?”

“Um, I think you mean, thank you Foggy for that well-timed softball bat. And you’re welcome.”

“Were you following me?”

“Technically, I was following Dread Pirate Roberts, here. He was following you, though.”

Matt sighed. And if the corner of his mouth turned up a little, well. It was probably too dark for either of the others to tell. He accepted his dressing-down from Karen with grace. And then, Foggy let out a thoughtful hum.

“Hey, these guys look familiar.”

“Huh?” Karen paused. “... No, you’re right. They were in that file of workers Tully contracted to work on Mrs. Cardenas’s apartment.”

Beneath his mask, Matt blinked. Tully? Karen’s attackers were tied to their tenancy case, not Union Allied. Which meant… Well, it meant they all needed to be a lot more careful. Matt had to reassess what L&Z and Tully were willing to do to get rid of them and their client.

Unnerved, he lingered where normally he wouldn’t have, walking Karen home before heading back to the apartment with Foggy.

“Do you think she’ll be safe?” he asked as they lay in bed together.

“Karen?” Foggy yawned. “I think she’s too much like you to be anywhere close to ‘safe’. But… If she’s in danger, I’ll know. I mean, I know I told her I was chasing you, but I was here — at least until she screamed. It was kind of an ordeal bringing her back to life, so I’m invested in keeping her alive. Plus, I like her.”

“Yeah,” agreed Matt, rubbing his cheek against his pillow. “Yeah, me too.”


It was only after that incident that Matt realized that for a while there, crime in the Kitchen had... Not stopped, no, but. Changed. The bratva, who had been growing more and more bold in their kidnapping, extortion, and human trafficking, had crawled back down into the corners of the city. The creeping sense of a sinister web being spun around everyone and everything had faded to almost nothing and was only beginning to return. Something had stalled it.

Or someone.

Matt didn’t like to think about the night Foggy went out to get the payment for Karen’s life, but… That was it. That was when the threats to the neighborhood had jerked to a sudden stop.

They were back though, building in speed and size. Men smashing up local businesses, and wearing some kind of thin, flexible armor Matt had never encountered before. It was tough stuff; had to be custom made, not standard issue. That meant money. Meant whoever was behind these attacks was stepping up their game. Trying to drive people out of the neighborhood.

He could pinpoint the moment that had started too. It had been as soon as they took on Mrs. Cardenas’s case — every clue seemed to lead back to Landman and Zack, and the case against Tully. It was the firm, or one of the higher-ups there, it had to be. They were tied in to organized crime somehow, through their client, and were attacking Matt and Karen and Foggy to keep the truth from coming out. Whoever Foggy had killed to save Karen, they had been part of it, enough to stop things for a little while, but not enough to topple the plan entirely.

Foggy didn’t agree, when Matt aired these suspicions to him. Actually, he laughed.

“Buddy, this is not a John Grisham novel. The Firm is not out to get you. They probably forgot your name the moment you stepped out the door.”

“Then what, then what’s this all about Foggy? Huh?” Matt demanded. “And why did it start as soon as we took a client counter to one of theirs?”

Foggy groaned.

“Ugh. Me, it’s me. My... Counterpart, I guess you could say, is less than pleased I took you under my wing.”

Counterpart. If Foggy was a Lesser Evil, then that implied the existence of...

“The Greater Evil,” Matt guessed.

“Got it in one.”

What would a demon of the Greater Evil be like, wondered Matt. Different from Foggy, at least. Very different. And if they were the cause of the suffering in Matt’s city, he wanted them gone.

“But... Why is you making a deal with me a problem?” he asked.

There was a sigh, a soft rustle that usually meant Foggy was scraping a hand through his hair. The heat coming off him flared, then dimmed, and Matt rubbed his own arms absently. With one last thu-thump, Foggy’s heartbeat went uncomfortably silent.

“You’re kind of making some waves, Matty,” he pointed out smoothly. “With this whole, ninja protector of Hell’s Kitchen thing. What you do affects a lot of people in this city. A lot of demons would want in on that, and my counterpart doesn’t share well.”

It wasn’t that this response seemed wrong, per se. But... Nonetheless, Matt felt uneasy about it. He wanted Foggy’s heartbeat back.

But he couldn’t ask for it. Instead, he licked his lips nervously and asked a different question.

“What’s the difference between a Lesser Evil and a Greater Evil?”

“Well...” And then, without even asking, Matt got his wish — the beat of Foggy’s heart restarted, steady and familiar. “My power comes from getting humans to briefly compromise their moral code in order to achieve what they feel is ultimately right. The ends justify the means. My counterpart’s power comes from shifting the focus away from the big picture altogether. From teaching people not to care about the results of their actions, good or bad. To rely only on their code, on their own scruples, their own point of view and experience, and be so sure of themselves that they never even consider a compromise, no matter what happens as a result. Basically... I feed on conflict. He feeds on certainty.”

Certainty. Suddenly, the words of their argument from weeks ago came to mind. That Matt was tailor-made for Greater Evil because he refused to compromise. That was it, he realized. What Foggy was stepping around. Foggy had stolen him right out from under the Greater Evil’s nose.

It was personal.


That weekend, the two of them headed out on a mystery errand. Foggy refused to say a thing about it until they were already out the door and on their way.

“If my counterpart’s really getting this close to us,” he explained as they stepped onto the sidewalk, “then I need to check on my family.”

“You have a family?” Matt wondered. “Demons have families?”

A long, awkward pause followed the question.

“Well, they’re not... I mean, I’m... It’s complicated.”

As they walked, Foggy painted a picture of a loving family torn apart by the loss of an eldest son. Of a younger brother that just wanted to take his parents’ pain away. The desperation of someone who knew what they planned to do was wrong, but didn’t see another way.

Enter: a demon.

Foggy hadn’t had a name back then, he told Matt. Or a face that was his own. So, he filled a void in the universe, one left by a boy named Franklin Nelson. And the boy’s parents forgot their grief, and the whole neighborhood forgot their grief. Everyone but the boy’s younger brother, who could never, ever forget.

“The first thing he asked for was his brother back,” Foggy said, clearing his throat. “But when I told him what that would cost...”

“It was a price he wouldn’t pay,” Matt finished.

“Yeah. So he asked for the... The next best thing? I guess? And got me.”

Matt’s heart twisted. It was so... He couldn’t even find the words. What about the real Franklin Nelson, he wanted to ask. What about his right to be mourned and loved and remembered? What about the truth?

As if he could sense these thoughts, Foggy paused. Eased his arm out of Matt’s grip in a way that felt much more like giving Matt an out than it did pulling away. Matt wavered, indecisive. He could take Foggy’s arm again. Pretend away his misgivings with the warm feelings that had been growing over his months of knowing the demon.

But he didn’t. Instead, Matt unfolded his cane and they kept walking. Silently, except for Foggy occasionally giving a soft, brief narration — curb, dog, crowd ahead.

It was another three blocks before they drew to a stop again.

“Well. Here we are. Nelson’s Meats.”

They lingered on the doorstep, so quiet it was like Foggy was actually holding his breath instead of not needing to breathe at all. And the stillness of that space made room for Matt to blurt out a question.

“Do you regret it?”

He was met with a sharp inhale.

“I... No. It... It wasn’t my most ethical deal,” Foggy admitted as a bell above the door jangled loudly, and Matt thought he could hear a trace of guilt. “But I’ve tried to be a good son.”

Then he stepped inside, into a wash of thick, ham-scented air. Matt hesitated a second more, then followed.


The first of the Nelsons they met was Theo himself, the brother who’d made the deal with Foggy. The only one who knew he was a demon and not the real Franklin Nelson. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy to see them.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he snapped immediately. “I thought we agreed—”

“We did. We did, Theo, but… This is important.”

The severity in Foggy’s tone stopped any further protests cold.

“What happened?” Theo asked, keeping his voice low.

“Nothing, yet. But I’ve got… There’s another demon in the city, one with a grudge against me. So I need to know if you’ve seen anything weird in the last six months.”

The breath Theo sucked in at those words was fast, and angry. But he didn’t let that anger loose the way Matt expected. Instead, he scrubbed harshly at the counter with a cloth of some sort for a minute, his heart pounding but his inhales and exhales carefully steady. When he was done, he flung the rag which hit something behind him with a wet slap.

“Ok.” Theo’s voice was muffled for the first word, probably by his hands. “Ok. Weird. Someone tried to choke our supply of beef like three months ago, totally out of nowhere. We couldn’t find an alternate supplier anywhere. And then, five weeks later, they call us back up like nothing happened. Everything’s fine. Some… I dunno, business thing, exclusivity, whatever, but the deal was over. I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

“Nothing since then?” asked Foggy.

The response was a swish of hair — louder than Foggy’s usually were, as though the hair were heavier. Or had more texture. Matt was put in mind of a girlfriend from undergrad with thick, curly hair.

“He shook his head,” Foggy narrated quietly for Matt before replying to — not really his brother, but… “Good, Theo. That’s… That’s good. We’ll head out, then, and—”

“Franklin Percival Nelson, you’re not gonna walk out this door without even talking to your father.”

Matt jumped.

He hadn’t even noticed anyone else entering the front of the shop, too busy focusing on Foggy and Theo. Based on the way Foggy’s heart started racing, he hadn’t noticed either.

“H-hey, Ma.”

“You have breakfast yet, Franklin?” asked Mrs. Nelson.

Her voice was gruff and thick with the Kitchen, like Dad’s old boxing buddies. It was bizarrely comforting. When Foggy admitted he and Matt hadn’t eaten breakfast, they were both frogmarched past the shopfront and into the living area above.

“It’s been six months. You coulda called.”

“I know, Ma,” Foggy said fondly. “I’m sorry. Matt and I have been busy starting up our firm, I meant to visit earlier.”

A lie, but a well-told one.

“Edward, your prodigal son has returned,” Mrs. Nelson announced.

“Well, look who it is. You’re just in time for breakfast, Foggy.”

The name was awkward in Edward’s mouth, like he was still trying to get used to saying it, but his tone was earnest. Of the two Nelson parents, he was the softer one, it seemed. But they were both warm in a way that reminded Matt of his dad. Full of love.

Matt let Foggy field the Nelsons’ inquiries as Edward finished cooking, strangely choked up at the atmosphere of family around him. He waved a little when he was introduced, said hi, but that was about it.

Then the five of them sat down at a crowded kitchen table, and between bites of sausage and egg, Foggy spun a story for the Nelsons, so vibrant it almost felt real even to Matt, about the two of them befriending one another briefly in law school. How they’d met up again during Matt’s internship and had decided to go into business together.

Matt wished that was how it had been. He wanted that, memories of them hanging out together in college, studying together, drinking together. Wanted their friendship to be uncomplicated and human. The thought made his stomach twist, and he couldn’t quite force down any more of his food, no matter how Mrs. Nelson fussed at him.

“Let the guy alone, Ma,” said Foggy after the third gruff verbal nudge from her to finish his plate. “He’s used to subsisting on moonlight and justice, not hearty American breakfasts.”

Talk moved to the shop, how business was going, neighborhood gossip. Foggy kept up with it all, adding tidbits here and there, little stories of their day to day. Things to keep his parents from worrying.

Because, that was the thing; they were his parents. Foggy loved them, Matt realized with an ache in his chest. As much as a demon could love, Foggy loved the Nelsons like they were his own family. Like they belonged to him and he to them. Even when Theo got in a few passive-aggressive jabs, Foggy never once rose to the bait. He was understanding and apologetic and there was a warmth in his voice that matched the rest of the family’s.

It made Matt feel a little better about the situation, which paradoxically made him feel worse. Because his initial problem still stood: what about the real Franklin Nelson? What about what he was owed? His memory?

The questions stewed in the back of his mind as breakfast carried on around him.

“Don’t you have a store to run?” Foggy teased as he begged off seconds.

“I’d better get back to the counter,” agreed Theo. “Ma, Pop, I’ll see them down.”

Though he volunteered, Theo didn’t talk to them on the stairs, or even after he’d once again taken up his position behind the counter of the shop. And so, the three of them were left standing around in awkward silence for a minute or two. Matt recognized Foggy’s ‘I want to say something’ breathing pattern, and wondered if Theo could hear it too, or see something on Foggy’s face.

“Look.” Foggy cleared his throat. “You know I’m here to protect you guys, Theo. If anything happens, anything at all… Just call for me. I’ll be there.”

“... Yeah.”

And that was it. Matt and Foggy left without even a goodbye between the brothers.


“You head on to the office, ok?” Foggy suggested, when they were far enough from the Nelson shop that it had begun to blend into the background noise of the city. “I’ve got one last errand to run.”

It wasn’t completely unheard of for the two of them to do things apart, but there was an odd sort of undertone to Foggy’s voice that made Matt curious. And wary. He agreed, though, and they parted ways — but then he doubled back and tracked Foggy to his destination.

A cemetery. A very familiar one. The one Dad was buried in.

Matt lingered at the entrance, couldn’t bring himself to walk in. Thankfully, Foggy stopped walking not too far inside, so Matt didn’t need to enter the cemetery to hear him.

“How’s it going, Franklin? Nice weather this year? Looks like the groundskeeper’s taking care of you, at least.” There was a sigh, a scrape of skin on stone. “Look, this… Isn’t just a social call. I uh. Saw the family today. They’re doing ok, mostly. Healthy. Keeping busy. Shop’s doing good. I’ve got the neighborhood gals looking in on Anna and Edward for you — Theo still doesn’t like me dropping by. Actually, he’d kick my ass if he knew I was here, but you could probably guess that. I’m sorry to say, your rep is as something of a distant son now. But I give them your love, however I can. Theo too.”

Foggy paused, then. The sounds of the city began to filter in again, car horns, doors opening, people talking. And then Foggy sucked in a shaky breath and it all dipped back below Matt’s radar again.

“Fuck. I’m stalling. Look, it’s… Thing is, I think I dragged them into some shit this time. I’m sorry for that. But I’ll keep them safe for you,” Foggy said. “I promise, man. They love you so much.”

Matt’s ears burned with shame, and he hurried quickly back the way he’d come. He hadn’t been meant to overhear that, any of it. But… As guilty as he felt for eavesdropping, it was… Relieving, he supposed, to get a glimpse into the way Foggy conceptualized himself and Franklin.

Which only made Matt feel more guilty.

He bought Foggy the biggest strawberry cream cheese danish he could find and handed off his change to a guy sitting on the curb outside with a dog and a cardboard sign of some sort.


Life continued. Foggy again tried to offer to sleep on the couch, but Matt turned him down. He was still working through what he’d learned, about Foggy and the Nelsons, but… At the very least, Matt knew he didn’t want to push Foggy away. They were a team.

Of course, as soon as Matt had voiced that thought, Foggy had insisted on coming along during Matt’s nighttime investigations.

“You said we’re a team,” the demon had argued, endearingly stubborn and completely ridiculous. “That means I watch your back. And your front. And anything else you need a pair of eyes for.”

It was easier to give in than to spend another month arguing about it. And, honestly, Foggy was a big help — Matt could handle a physical fight just fine, but Foggy had connections all over the city, and that meant information. Information that led them to one Melvin Potter, the parolee whose body armor handiwork Matt had been encountering all over the city.

His workshop was large, bare-bones, and quiet, except for the footsteps of the man himself and the quiet scrape of metal or wood. Melvin worked diligently, with care. There didn’t seem to be any particular reason for him to outfit criminals with his work, especially when it put him at such high risk of going back to jail. But speculating about it wouldn’t get Matt answers. Talking would.

Blowing out a breath, Matt pushed open the door to the workshop and entered, Foggy right next to him the whole way.

“Melvin Potter?”

Melvin’s heartbeat spiked.

“Out!” he insisted. “You have to go, now!”

“Melvin, we need to talk—”

“No! No, you can’t be here!”

“Oh, shit — look out, he’s got a wrench!” Foggy called.

Matt only just barely dodged the projectile, which bounced off a pillar with a metallic clang.

“You can’t be here!” Melvin wailed, sounding more upset than angry. “You’re not supposed to be here!”

With nothing else to throw, he came at Matt with his fists. Just the way the air whistled around them as he swung gave Matt a pretty good idea that getting hit by one would have him out like a light. Melvin didn’t seem to be trained, but he was strong and sometimes in a fight that was all that mattered.

Ducking under a punch, Matt shot his elbow into Melvin’s gut. It winded him a little, but it wasn’t enough. Hooking a foot behind one of Melvin’s ankles, Matt tripped him and pushed forward to take them both to the floor.

While he was still catching his breath, a huge hand closed over his face. Matt sucked in a deep breath and held it, lashing out first at the arm in front of him, and then tossing himself to the side to get an arm around the other man’s throat. He took two blows to the ribs and one to the head before Melvin began to still.

“Matt, stop!” Foggy shouted. “Both of you, stop! Stop. Melvin, you don’t need to fight anymore. You did what you were supposed to, you tried your best.”

Melvin wailed again, wordless this time. Matt loosened his grip a little, but didn’t remove it completely.

“Why,” he rasped, “why was he fighting at all?”

“He had to. He’s under contract,” said Foggy, pity thick in his voice.

Matt let Melvin go. The inventor didn’t try to attack again, just stayed on the floor, crying.

He was under contract. With a demon. But why, that was the question. What had the Greater Evil promised Melvin to get him to sign a deal?

The answer, apparently, was nothing.

“He said, he said he’d hurt Betsy if I didn’t sign it,” Melvin explained several minutes later, once he’d calmed down. “He’d hurt her.”

“That… Can’t be allowed,” Matt murmured, mostly to himself.

“It’s not,” said Foggy. “But that doesn’t always stop people.”

“There has to be something we can do.” Matt turned back towards Melvin. “Look, my friend here, he knows a lot about deals, he’s a demon himself and—”

“No!” Melvin shouted, stumbling backwards and sending the wrench from before skidding across the concrete floor. “No! Demons are bad, they hurt people!”

“Foggy’s not like that other demon,” Matt explained quietly, holding up his hands with the palms out. “He helps people. Makes fair deals for everyone. He’s helped me a lot, and protected me. But if you want to just talk to me instead, that’s ok.”

Melvin sucked in a hiccuping breath.

“He protects you?”

“And I protect him,” added Matt, trying on a smile he hoped was comforting. “We’re a team. We help each other when things are hard. Just like you and Betsy.”

Melvin thought about that, quietly, for a long, long moment.

“O-ok.”

“Thank you, Melvin. … Foggy? What can we do for him?”

“Well… If we get the contract, the evidence?” Foggy clicked his tongue. “There are definitely authorities we can appeal to, and they would give us a fair shake. This isn’t how deals are supposed to work. Any demon coercing deals like this, or not keeping their end of the bargain can face serious consequences. But, with the dealmaker being my counterpart, until then?”

Until then, pushing Melvin for more information or help would just put him and Betsy in an even more dangerous situation. He couldn’t be their in. Matt nodded.

“Ok. Ok. We won’t ask you any more, Melvin,” he promised. “Just. Keep your head down, don’t do anything risky. I… I’m trying to protect the people I care about too, so I know how scary it can be. I’m going to do everything I can to stop this demon from hurting you or Betsy or anyone else.”

He couldn’t guarantee no one else would get hurt, but if he had anything to say about it, they wouldn’t. Melvin was just trying to live his life. Just trying to get by. And instead of helping, like Foggy would have, this demon had threatened him. Matt wasn’t going to let that go on.

“You’ll help us?” Melvin asked with a large, teary-sounding sniff. “Me ‘n Betsy?”

“It’s what we do,” Foggy told him.

They said their goodbyes to Melvin and started home, no closer to the Greater Evil than they had been, but twice as angry. Halfway back to the apartment, though, Matt’s anger cooled under the weight of a sudden realization. A sudden purpose.

“Foggy?”

“Yeah?”

“Maybe.” Matt swallowed. “Maybe this is something we can do more of? Advocate for people who aren’t getting fair deals?”

“Getting into even more hopeless cases with no promise of payment?” asked Foggy, but his tone was teasing and fond. “Don’t know what I expected, saddling myself with you.”

It pulled a laugh from Matt’s lips, and he shoved Foggy’s shoulder. The roughhousing earned him a laugh in return.

“Come on, Foggy, what do you have to lose?”

“Nothing I’m not willing to do without, I guess.”


Every night after finding Melvin, Matt went out in the mask looking for more signs of the Greater Evil, and every night he returned to the apartment empty-handed. There was nothing to do but wait for their enemy to show his hand, and Matt hated that. It made his sleep restless and prone to the kinds of nightmares he liked to pretend he’d left in his childhood.

At first when he jerked awake, he thought the dreams had been why... Until he heard Foggy breathing hard, the thundering of his heart.

“Fog—”

“It’s Theo, Matt. I’ve gotta go, they’re in trouble, I—”

And then he was gone. No heat, no breath, no weight on the mattress. The blankets that had been covering him hit the bed with a quiet fwump. Matt’s head was still dizzy with sleep, his equilibrium off and his senses unfocused, but he stumbled out of bed anyway. Lurched for the trunk in his closet, threw on the clothes inside. He barely took the time to shove the mask over his face before he was thundering up the roof access stairs to leap into the night.

Foggy’s family was in trouble. Matt needed to be there to help.


By the time Matt reached the shop, the air smelled of gunpowder but there were no shots being fired. He tried to focus in on just the building, just the people inside as he made his way down to street level. There were… Four. No, five.

Four humans, and Foggy blazing hot with power as his heartbeat shuddered in and out of existence.

“You really shouldn’t have come alone,” he was saying to an unfamiliar figure in front of him that was trembling so badly the movement was audible.

That meant the ones huddling at the back of the shop were the Nelsons. All three accounted for and with hearts beating. There was no scent of blood, just meat like always, and gunpowder, and the cocktail of stress chemicals coming off the person Foggy was facing down. Withdrawal, Matt’s mind supplied distantly as he crept towards the shop’s entrance. Whoever this person was, they were going through some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms.

Not an assassin. Not a trained fighter. Just a desperate man. The most dangerous thing about him was the gun he’d apparently already unloaded into the shop. With that in mind, Matt had no trouble restraining him. He struggled, sure, but Matt was stronger, steadier.

“Who sent you?” he growled.

Foggy stepped closer, bringing a wave of heat and energy with him.

“You should answer him,” Foggy said. “My friend here is the bone-breaking type, and I’m not as nice as he is.”

The man struggled harder. Matt tightened his grip.

“No, no!”

“Tell me who sent you,” Matt repeated.

“A demon! A demon, he said. He said he’d get me as much as I needed, I just had to shoot out the windows, I swear, I swear!”

And in this manner, they coaxed the information out of him. He’d been promised heroin, he said, and he needed it. He’d run out of money. He didn’t have anything else to give. His answers were rambling and panicked, but at least that gave Foggy time to extract the gun.

And then finally, finally, the man coughed up the location he was supposed to meet the demon at after the job was done.

“Now,” Foggy said, pleasant but dangerous, “let’s make a deal.”

Ten minutes later, the man was gone to check himself into a clinic. The Nelsons were sweeping up glass and righting their shop. Foggy had given them some story about talking the attacker down, paying him, something. Matt didn’t really pay close attention — after weeks of chasing a phantom, he had a concrete location for the demon trying to destroy them. He had to take the chance.

Suddenly, Foggy’s hand was around Matt’s left wrist.

“Where are you going?” he demanded.

“I know where to go now. To cut the head off the snake. I can finish this tonight.”

“Matt, if he’s there...” Foggy’s grip tightened; not to the point of pain, but with a desperation that Matt could feel down to the marrow of his bones as though it were his own. “I can’t let you face him alone. I won’t.”

“Together, then.”


The warehouse at the docks — because of course that’s where the Greater Evil had holed up — was only a couple blocks from the Nelson shop, so they walked. Even the relatively cool night air didn’t do anything for the tension buzzing under Matt’s skin. But when they got close to the building, they were met by a cloud of energy so thick it made breathing difficult. The air tasted like electricity, and Matt’s feet stopped cold outside the warehouse doors. He wanted to step forward, to enter and end this, but every instinct he had was telling him he needed to get out.

“Matt.”

He just. He just had to push past it. That’s all it was. The mind controls the body.

“Matt, it’s ok.” A hand closed over his own. “I’m not going to let him hurt you.”

The energy parted in a wave, and Matt could breathe again. His mind flitted to the story of Moses and the Red Sea, but he dismissed the thought before he dug himself even deeper into sacrilege than a soul deal with a demon had already put him. Instead, he squeezed Foggy’s hand in thanks and focused on pulling air back in his lungs.

“Good?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m ready,” Matt promised. “Let’s go.”

Making an affirmative noise, Foggy placed himself solidly in the front. He let go of Matt’s hand, and pushed open the door.

Matt didn’t know what he had expected — a villainous monologue? — but they didn’t get it. Although the ominous feeling in the air mounted the further they stepped into the warehouse, Matt couldn’t pinpoint any sound or smell or air current that could help him locate their enemy. Just the sound of their own footsteps on concrete. In the middle of the room, they both stopped — but still, nothing happened.

“Hey!” Foggy called, and it sounded like maybe he’d even gone so far as to cup his hands around his mouth. “Hey, we’re here for the free heroin!”

“Foggy, what—”

“Hit the deck!”

Matt, on instinct, dropped to the ground. Something whistled over his head and slammed into one of the warehouse walls with a deafening crack. He tried to track where it had come from, but there was no one and nothing there, at least that he could sense.

“Where is he?” Matt demanded, stumbling back to his feet again, turning this way and that like it would help him hear better. “Foggy, I can’t sense him, where is he? Foggy?”

The sickening squelch of metal stabbing through flesh rent the air. Foggy’s whole weight hit the floor of the warehouse.

“Foggy!”

“Fine. I’m. I’m fine.” Another horrifying squelching noise. “Oof. God, rebar, really? With friends like these, who needs enemies?” Foggy muttered.

But even as the scent of blood filled Matt’s nose, even as a hiss of pain slipped from between Foggy’s teeth, the demon kept his corporeal form. He stayed.

For Matt.

And this time it was Matt’s turn to protect him. Though the Greater Evil was physically inconsistent — didn’t breathe, barely stepped, his smell fading in and out of existence — he radiated demonic energy Matt recognized from Foggy. Like heat, but warped and amplified. More concentrated than the miasma of power that had surrounded the warehouse. It wasn’t as much of a guide as Matt would have liked, but it was better than nothing. He got between the two demons, putting Foggy at his back.

Matt caught a fist aimed at his throat, but as soon as his fingers wrapped around the Greater Evil’s knuckles they dissolved like smoke. A kick faded out the same way. The Greater Evil made a feint left, then right, and Matt blocked both. It didn’t matter if he couldn’t land a returning hit. It didn’t matter if he had no real way to win this fight.

He would keep Foggy safe. No matter the cost.

Tension crackled through the air, sharp and electric.

“You don’t touch him,” Matt snarled, widening his stance. “You don’t ever touch him.”

Behind him, Foggy groaned and levered himself up. Every scrape of concrete on skin and fabric pricked Matt like a pin. But he didn’t turn back. He couldn’t. He had to hold his ground. So he gritted his teeth and flexed his hands and stayed where he was.

“You’re pretty pissed off, huh?” goaded Foggy, before spitting.

The glob of saliva — and maybe blood — hit the ground with a sickening splat.

“Foggy—”

“But you don’t get to take offense now,” Foggy continued, his breaths and his voice still hitching slightly. “You didn’t want him. And I felt a pull.”

A surge of demonic power blazed through the air, scorching it.

“A pull? Please. You chose him deliberately to spite me,” the Greater Evil scoffed — in a very familiar roughened voice. “Are you really still so mad about what happened with Debbie?”

“You know I am,” Foggy shot back.

He’d never sounded so serious before. Or so angry. But Matt, Matt couldn’t... He couldn’t...

“Stick?”

The question came out weak. Broken. Anything but what Matt wanted to be in that very moment.

“Good to know you remember me, even if you’ve forgotten everything I taught you,” came the cutting reply.


Stick. The Greater Evil, the being he and Foggy had been fighting against, the one who attacked the Nelsons, the one who had threatened Melvin… And it had been Stick the whole time. Which also meant… Stick had been a demon the whole time. When he was training Matt as a kid. All of that had been to…

Matt’s stomach lurched.

While he was reevaluating twenty years of his life, Foggy and Stick carried on a conversation without him. It was probably important, but Matt had to fight past the rushing sound of his own blood in his ears to get a grasp on what they were talking about.

“That was a clever little trick, trying to pull the rug out from under me by killing my Kingpin,” Stick said.

Behind Matt, Foggy laughed — sharp and so cold that the sound was almost unrecognizable.

“Well. You know what they say. Two birds, one stone. Save the life of a lovely young lady, and get in your way.”

It was like the room was spinning. Matt sucked in one breath, two.

“Kingpin?” he asked at last, distantly.

“It’s all been connected. The mobs, Union Allied. He was building up an enemy for you to fight,” Foggy said. “Someone so powerful you’d need to make a deal with him to stop them.”

The assassin who’d killed Karen. The security guard who’d tried to do the same, then killed himself. The Russians. The men smashing up local businesses. Melvin’s armor. A picture started to form in Matt’s mind, a threat looming larger and larger until it cast the whole neighborhood in shadow. A shiver slid down Matt’s spine as he thought about what he might have done to stop a threat like that.

“All those, all those people hurt,” he stammered, so angry he was shaking. “Killed. Lives destroyed. Just to manufacture a threat?”

“What humans do with the power they get is their business, not mine,” said Stick. “I never once told him to do a damn thing — those deaths ain’t on me, Matty.”

He probably wasn’t lying, at least in a purely technical sense. But Stick didn’t need to order people around to get the results he wanted. And Matt... Matt had what he needed. He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and tried to stop shaking.

“I’m not going to make a deal with you, Stick.” 

“You’re gonna pick this compromising little pansy?” Stick spat. “Over true power, over the ability to save this hellhole city you profess wanting to protect?”

“It’s not either-or,” Matt told him simply. “I can have both. And I don’t need you, or your power, for either one.”

This declaration was met with an ugly, hateful laugh. One that sent a chill down Matt’s spine.

“Oh, don’t you? You don’t get it, do you, Matty?” Stick said, like Matt was slow. “He’s going to make you give something up every time you need help. Someday you’re gonna get a sick feeling every time you talk to him, because you’ll be compromising your precious little morals for every deal. Me? I’ve got enough power in my little finger to let you rule your neighborhood your way. Make it run by your rules. No deaths. No compromises. Exactly what you want, no matter what.”

Next to Matt, Foggy sucked in a breath. His heat dimmed. But he didn’t speak. He stayed silent, didn’t try to sway Matt to his own side. And... Matt wasn’t so arrogant that he thought after twenty years Stick no longer had any hold on him. Matt had spent a long time trying and failing to drive Stick’s messages from his psyche. But. Matt also knew that deals that sounded too good to be true often were.

“And what exactly would you want in return for that?”

“Who do you think I am, Matty? I’m not about to pussyfoot around it like Nelson — it’s a soul deal, easy as that.”

So straightforward, like that was really all there was to it. One insubstantial immortal soul in exchange for anything Matt asked. But thinking you knew the score when it came to Stick was a massive, massive mistake.

“Let’s see the contract,” Matt said, holding out a hand.

That sharp burning smell Matt still couldn’t place from when Foggy had produced a contract asserted itself. The heavy weight of pages fell directly into Matt’s hand — burning hot. He cringed, but didn’t let go. The paper cooled quickly, and Matt set to work reading.

Stick’s contract was different than Foggy’s, but no less crafted. It was a document of persuasion, not one of reassurance after the fact. It promised power, not protection. 

And, just as Matt had suspected, there wasn’t a non-removal clause at the end of the contract.

He thought about Stick’s lessons, about the disdainful way he’d spoken of feelings, of desires. Long ago, Matt had believed in those words. Had tried to emulate them. But now... Now the thought of not feeling anything — of being numb and empty of his own desires, the protectiveness which might have driven him to take Stick’s deal in the first place — chilled him to the bone. Matt wet his lips. Swallowed.

“There’s no non-removal clause.”

Stick made a noise of disgust.

“They’ll do what you want,” he pointed out, “what does it matter if you have any feelings about it or not?”

For a moment, Matt’s surety wavered. Did it matter? Was it selfish, to prioritize his soul, how he felt, over helping as many people in Hell’s Kitchen as he could?

And then, suddenly, Matt thought about Melvin again. Melvin Potter who did the wrong thing for the right reason. Who had been pushed into a corner, forced into a deal he’d never asked for and now had nowhere to turn, no recourse.

Without any pity for him, for his circumstances, without the ability to compromise... What would Matt have done to him? There were people in the world who hurt others because they had power and they could, and those people deserved to face the devil. But so many others were just trying to get by. To make the choice they could live with.

To choose the lesser evil.

And hadn’t Matt done exactly the same thing, over and over again? He wasn’t infallible. He was just doing his best too. Making the whole world or even just the whole of Hell’s Kitchen conform to Matt’s standards wouldn’t save anyone. So Matt shook his head.

“That’s just it, Stick. It’s not about it being my way, or forcing the neighborhood to follow my arbitrary rules. It’s about protecting people and keeping them safe. If I lose that feeling, the core of that... If I lose my love of this city, if I’m not willing to compromise even to save a life, or to take other people’s experiences into account... Then I’ve lost what was important about putting on the mask in the first place. That was a compromise too. I believed in the system. I still believe in my place in it — that I can use the law for good and that where it currently fails it can eventually be rebuilt. But I had to subvert it to protect a little girl. I sacrificed my conviction to do things the ‘right’ way and my dad’s dream for me not to fight, but I stopped her father from hurting her again. And that was worth it.”

There was a long, long silence. All Matt could hear was his own breathing, the pounding of his own heart. His fingers twitched, aching to reach for Foggy, but he refrained. And then a warm, soft hand slid into his own. When Foggy squeezed their clasped hands, Matt squeezed back. And then an ugly snort brought Stick back into the focus of Matt’s attention.

“Still just the same idealistic little shit you always were.”

There was the tiniest note of fondness or pride in Stick’s tone, and it cut deeper than the derision ever could have. Matt tossed the contract on the ground. And then he made the first demand of Stick he’d ever had the courage to.

“You’re going to let Melvin Potter out of his deal with you.”

“And if I don’t?”

“If you don’t,” Foggy snapped, “we can take this to the Infernal Courts. I’m sure you’d love that.”

Silence filled the air. And then with another rush of power, a second contract materialized. Stick tore it in half with a loud rip.

“Didn’t have much use for him anymore anyway.”

Matt really wasn’t in the mood to listen to Stick’s disdain anymore.

“Now,” he ordered, “get the hell out of my city.”

Stick barked out a laugh.

“See you around, Matty.”

And then he was gone. The suddenness of it, the gaping void where his miasma of power had been, struck Matt like a blow to the chest.

But Foggy was there to catch him while he found his equilibrium.


Their walk back to the apartment felt slow — muffled, anticlimactic. Foggy was limping a little, favoring his left side, but he kept reassuring Matt that he was fine. By the time they reached their building, his gait had returned to normal.

It was late, but Matt didn’t think he could sleep. He lingered in the entryway, building up his courage.

“Can I, can I ask? Who was Debbie?” he blurted at last, fidgeting with the seam of his sleeve.

Foggy sighed.

“That was... A long time ago.”

“Please?”

And, with a second sigh, Foggy acquiesced and told the tale. It wasn’t a pretty one. Debbie Harris was a beautiful, intelligent, charming woman who wanted more out of her life. Foggy was a demon who could give it to her. For the price of her soul, protected lovingly by clauses just like the ones Foggy had offered Matt, she got money and fame and the envy of all her peers. She also got the love of a demon.

“There was something about her,” Foggy said. “I was… I don’t know, intoxicated. She was exciting. Unlike any other human I’d ever met.”

And she kissed him. Payment for favors, she joked, then smoothed over the sting by telling him she loved him. That they were a team. They were in it together. They went on dates, to events, even got engaged.

And then Stick showed up.

“The truth was, she didn’t want me,” Foggy explained with a pained laugh. “Not really. Just what I could give her. And when she realized he— Stick, could give her more, even if the cost was higher... She reneged on our pact and went to him. And it uh... I guess I shouldn’t really say it broke my heart. But. It did.”

The words hit Matt like that shove to the chest so long ago. Had she done that too? Offered a kiss like a payment? No wonder Foggy had been so upset — it wasn’t just the duplicity of it, it was remembering how Debbie Harris had hurt him, wondering if Matt was doing the same.

“Foggy, I.” Matt swallowed once, twice, but found his guilt still lodged in his throat. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault, Matt.”

“No, but I… I know what it’s like to be hurt. To still have, have trust issues because of what someone’s done,” he admitted, and the feeling of saying it was dizzying. “In, uh, in college there was someone I loved and I...  Couldn’t be what she wanted either. And, when I was… I was just a kid when Stick trained me and left. So I, I know what it feels like to be hurt by him too.”

Foggy’s breath caught. And he, he’d known, probably. He’d done his homework on Matt, he knew about the mask, he knew about Stick, he probably knew about Elektra too. But it wasn’t something Matt had ever shared before. Wasn’t something he’d felt prepared to. But now? Now, he was ready, and he wanted to, and it just… Felt right.

“He’s... He has his own sense of justice, I guess,” said Foggy. “Debbie got what she wanted, but she paid dearly for it. Maybe to him, that suffering was for her betrayal. But he was the one who tempted her away in the first place so, I don’t know. He’s always been a mystery to me.”

Quiet fell over them then. Matt wanted to tell Foggy that Stick had always been a mystery to him too, but the words dissolved on his tongue, leaving only a bitter taste behind.

Typical.

“He said. He said you picked me to spite him for that. Did you?” Matt found himself asking instead, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer. “Did you only pick me to make him angry? To get back at him?”

And without hesitation — though not without shame or remorse — Foggy admitted he had. He’d wanted to get Matt’s soul where Stick had failed to. Wanted to prove something with it. To make a deal and show Stick up and not get attached.

“And then, of course, I met you,” Foggy said, wryly. “Which fucked that whole ‘don’t get attached’ plan up completely.” He swallowed. “I uh. I’d understand, if you want out of our deal now.”

Matt didn’t even have to think about it. Which was— terrifying. But, well, they didn’t call him Daredevil for nothing.

“I don’t.”

“You... Don’t?”

“Because I’m happy,” explained Matt, and felt suddenly lighter at the admission. “Happy to be here with you.”

“Better than the alternative, I guess,” Foggy said, his tone maddeningly self-deprecating beneath its veneer of humor.

Matt shook his head.

“No. This isn’t— it’s not like that.” He grabbed the demon’s hands in his own, then squeezed them gently. “Foggy. I’m choosing you. Because I want to. I’d choose you out of anyone.”

“Matt—”

“I would. Out of anyone.”

“Ah, jeez.” Foggy tugged his hands out of Matt’s grasp, sniffling, and there was a quiet scrape of skin on skin as he scrubbed at his face. “You can’t just say shit like that to me, Matty. I’ve got a low kindness threshold.”

Matt couldn’t have helped the smile spreading over his face even if he’d wanted to.

“Guess I’ll have to build up your tolerance,” he mused.

“What?” squeaked Foggy. “Why?”

“Because I—” The words stuck in his throat for a moment, but Matt forced them out; they were important, they needed to be said. “I love you.”

Foggy’s breath caught beautifully at the declaration. But instead of a confession of his own or a kiss or anything else in that vein...

“I don’t understand.”

Matt nearly laughed in disbelief.

“You don’t understand? I think I was pretty clear, Fogs.”

“Don’t be an asshole, Matt. I just.” Foggy’s voice broke, and the scent of salt in the air reasserted itself. “After what I’ve done — with the Nelsons, and to save Karen, how could you ever...”

Grimacing, Matt shook his head.

“I was...” Matt swallowed. “I was wrong, to judge you for... There was no good answer for the Nelsons. Theo made a choice, and you honored it. I’ve seen you with them, and I know how much you care about them, Fogs. It’s not my place to say. And for Karen... You tried to warn me, Foggy. You did. And then you almost killed yourself trying to keep me from getting hurt by the choice I’d made. Of course I don’t blame you.”

Matt reached out, let his hand rest on Foggy’s shoulder. It was shrugged off, and Foggy dimmed again, going cold and small.

“Even if you don’t blame me,” he said, flat and forceful like he was reciting a speech; Matt ached to think how long he’d been preparing these words. “It’s because I am what I am that someone’s dead. And I know you weren’t comfortable with that. No matter what they call you when you wear that mask, you’re still a human. And I’m not.”

No. That was unimportant. What Foggy was? Completely immaterial compared to who he was. The kind of demon who gave IOUs. The kind of demon who put clauses into his contracts to keep the souls of his marks safe. The kind of demon who loved his family. The kind of demon who got his heart broken.

“Do you love me?” Matt pressed.

“I... Yes. Yes, I do.”

Good. Then it was fine.

“But Matt, your soul…”

“What about it?” 

“While it still belongs to me, we’re not on an even playing field here,” said Foggy. “I mean, me having that over you, it’s not good. But if we cancel the deal… If we do that, I can’t justify staying with you, I can’t help you when you need it.”

“I’ll find a way to cheat you out of it,” Matt offered, feeling a smile begin to tug at the corners of his lips. “We’re already going to advocate for other people’s souls, why not mine?”

“Maybe because there’s a clear conflict of interest here?” Foggy pointed out, but his voice was beginning to warm deliciously with fondness.

“So we lie. Isn’t that the lesser evil? A little bit of demonic fraud to get us both a happy ending?”

Foggy’s laugh was sudden, disbelieving.

“I think I’ve taught you too well.”

“Or maybe,” Matt suggested quietly, leaning in and nudging their noses together, “you taught me just well enough.”