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The problem with the Avengers, Foggy reflected, was that they were very confusing people.

Hawkeye was technically the first one he “met”, if that word can be used to describe a master assassin following you, saving you from four very scary ninjas, and coming back to your place for beer and stiches.

Clint had blinked after he offered and Foggy had found himself rambling without even realizing it. “I mean you, you just saved my life, so obviously beer is the least I can do, especially for you. Because, you know, you’re Hawkeye! And I sort of know another superhero? He’s my friend so when I found out he was…doing what he was doing I took some first aid classes and bought, like, a lot of gauze and antiseptic so it’s no trouble if you want…patching up?”

Clint was still staring at him. “You found out your friend was a superhero so you took a first aid class?”

Foggy winced. “Well, no. I yelled at him a lot and tried to break up with him, friend break-up! But well ‘I can’t quit you’ and all that and then I took like six first aid classes. I think I’m halfway to a degree in nursing at this point, which might be good because my partner at my law practice hasn’t been showing up a lot and if we go under, well, there’s huge nursing crisis in this country…”

Foggy felt himself blushing as he trailed off lamely but Hawkeye had started smiling a little bemusedly somewhere in the middle of Foggy’s stuttering speech and just said “Beer sounds great. Call me Clint.”

So Clint climbed back to the roof of the building he had circus acrobated his way down after shooting two of the ninjas and followed Foggy home from high vantage points before breaking into his apartment though the window Foggy kept loosely latched for Matt.

“You should lock your windows.” He said standing in the middle of Foggy’s apartment like he hadn’t just followed Foggy home on rooftops and then broken in and wasn’t dripping blood from a cut in his arm.

“Yeah, well, like I said, I have a friend who does what you do and I want him to be able to…because of the patching up. And it’s not like I have anything to steal really so its fine.”

Clint glanced around at Foggy’s small, reasonably neat apartment and nodded slowly. Neatness didn’t come easily to Foggy but he’d learned it from living with Matt and now that Matt was dropping in at all hours, sometimes with head wounds, keeping the place pretty clean was more of a priority. It was nice now too because it meant Foggy’s dirty clothes were safely in his hamper when he unexpected visitors like Clint Fucking Barton.

Clint having completed his survey of Foggy’s apartment raised his eyebrows and gestured to the sofa. “Of course!” Foggy hastened to say. “Please sit. Let me get you a beer and you can tell me of your woes while I stitch you up.”

Clint raised an eyebrow. “My woes?”

“I figured if I am playing bartender I might as well lean in.”

Clint paused for a second, then barked a short laugh. “I think Nat would like you.”

Foggy resolutely did not think about the possibility that “Nat” was Natasha Romanov and instead grabbed a beer from the fridge and his very large first aid kit from under the sink.

He presented Clint with the beer and ripped open one of the packs of numbing gel he’d bought extra outside the kit. Clint just watched him, sipping his beer as Foggy smoothed the gel on, prepped the needle and painstakingly began to sew the cut in his forearm.

Uncomfortable in the silence, Foggy began to babble about one of his cases, a silly dispute between two rival falafel stands that he was determined to settle out of court. The story was funny and involved him getting humus thrown at him and he could sense Clint starting to relax so he kept talking, listening for the little chuckles that followed some of his better anecdotes and plying Clint with beer until the man was asleep on his couch.

Foggy, a little hoarse from telling his embarrassing stories, tiptoed to the kitchen grabbed and banana and a couple granola bars, wrote a note saying “Breakfast if you want it”, and left note, bars, and fruit on the coffee table in front of Clint. Halfway to his bed, he paused wondering if that was weird but it was what he did for Matt who often left Foggy’s place before he was up to change his clothes before work despite Foggy insisting he could keep a couple spare suits at Foggy’s.

The next morning Clint was gone when Foggy woke up but he’d written “Thanks” on the back of the breakfast note so Foggy figured it was a win.

--

Foggy didn’t see Clint for another two weeks until he was awoken by a scraping outside his window well after midnight and upon padding into his living room was not confronted by his best friend trying to sneak into his apartment but rather a somewhat bruised Clint Barton.

Foggy winced. “You want some ice?”

Clint blinked, paused and then shrugged. “Yeah, if you didn’t mind.”

So Foggy grabbed the several bags of frozen peas he kept in his freezer and a couple beers and went to join Clint on the couch.

“What happened? If you don’t mind me asking. You can not say if you want. Ma—My friend doesn’t always like to talk about stuff.”

Clint shrugged and then winced a little. “Tracksuit mafia.” At Foggy’s troubled look he elaborated, telling Foggy all about his building and the Russian mobsters and his dog.

By the end, Foggy was spluttering with rage and had three different state laws he thought Clint could use to gain proper control of the building and Clint was looking surprised and a little pleased at Foggy’s indignation on his behalf. “You know, your friend, The one you learned first aid for and stuff, he’s a pretty lucky guy. I get now why he asked me to follow you for the week.”

“He did what?” Foggy spluttered.

Clint shrugged, wincing again. “Apparently, there were some threats? And he didn’t want to worry you so he asked me.”

Foggy murmured darkly, “We’re going to have more words about sharing tomorrow.”

Clint giggled a little. “You’re mad he didn’t tell you? Not that your life was in danger?”

Foggy shrugged. “You keep the company I keep, it’s bound to happen.” Clint was looking at him, with a warmth that was making Foggy uncomfortable. “Let’s talk New York state real estate law. I will need to check some stuff but…”

That was how, five weeks after they met, Foggy Nelson and Clint Barton using a combination of the law and archery kicked the Russian mob out of Clint’s neighborhood and Foggy got a lifetime invitation to Clint’s rooftop grilling sessions with his neighbors.

---

After Clint, Foggy met Natasha, who was truly, deeply terrifying. She simply sat down in next to him on a bench in the courthouse while Foggy was waiting for a case and looked him up and down.

“Uhh, can I help you?” Foggy offered after a moment.

“Clint is a very good friend of mine.” She said and Foggy very seriously considered running but he also knew running would be futile against Natasha Romanov so he might as well die with dignity.

“Uh, yeah? Clint’s a great guy?” he offered after another minute of her staring.

She nodded shortly. “How did you two meet?”

So Foggy told he the story of his Clint saving his life and falling asleep on his couch and the Russian mafia and got the sense that she was reading a lot between the lines of what he was skipping.

When he finished she hummed contemplatively. “He was right.” At Foggy’s confused look, she elaborated. “You are a good guy and we meet fewer of those than we should. I get why Matt talks about you so much too.”

Foggy chocked. “Matt talks about me? To you guys? To the Avengers?”

Her look was a little pitying. “Steve really wants to meet you.”

Then she walked away leaving Foggy basically having a panic attack at the thought of meeting Captain America.

---

He actually met Banner next. Bruce came knocking at the office door after robotic ants about the size of dogs tried to take over the city, butt naked and sheepish. Foggy was cleaning up the office while Matt recuperated back at his apartment on his couch. Foggy was saving the clip of Daredevil trying to beat up a robotic ant and mostly failing for when Matt’s bruises were less fresh and then he was playing it for Karen all day.

“Clint said you were good people and Natasha seems to like you and I really need pants.” Bruce said all in a rush when Foggy opened the door.

Without a word, Foggy stepped aside to let Bruce in and lent him his spare court suit and resisted laughing at the three inches of ankle showing past the hem.

Just before it could get awkward, Bruce’s stomach rumbled very loudly and Foggy couldn’t resist laughing at his blush even as he went to the fridge to dig out the Thai food he had been saving for lunch.

“Come on, Dr. Banner. I can’t imagine turning into a giant green rage monster doesn’t burn a few calories.”

And that’s how Foggy ended up sharing his lunch with “Call me Bruce, please” and if Foggy was a little extra friendly and tried a little bit harder to impress Bruce that he might otherwise have done, who could blame him when Bruce got that startled, pleased look when Foggy teased him.

Foggy was Matt’s best friend. He knew all about people who thought they were a danger to others.

---

Two nights later Clint and Bruce, still looking a little hesitant, showed up at Foggy’s apartment with the best Chinese food Foggy had ever eaten and Thor.

That’s how Foggy ended up hosting an impromptu Avengers movie night where Thor ate all his Pop Tarts and then had twice as many delivered to him the next day and told him “The others spoke rightly of you. You may not be a warrior but you have a true champion’s heart. I am honored to have met you.”

There was really nothing Foggy to say to that so he offered to make pizza rolls which got him a clap on the back that left he bruised for a week.

---

Movie nights became a semi-random thing that Foggy could never quite predict so he kept his fridge full of the German beer Bruce liked and cherries which Clint and Natasha ate by the pound and he devoted a full cabinet to all the flavors of PopTart he could find.

Movie night was how Foggy met Tony who barged in with pizza thirty minutes before Clint and Bruce usually stopped by.

“I figured I had to meet the man the whole tower has been raving about. Tony Stark, nice to meet you.”

“Foggy Nelson, nice to meet you too,” Foggy stuttered, wondering how his life turned into Avengers just showing up at his place unannounced.

“They’re right. You’re adorable.”

Foggy blinked, opened his mouth and shut it again. Tony grinned. “Yup, you’re definitely never allowed to meet Pepper. She’d want to keep you forever and while I’m pretty sure I can take your boy in a fight, I don’t really want to.”

“My boy?” Foggy choked out, completely uncertain who Tony was talking about.

Tony just chuckled again, “Oh and they were right. You don’t know. This is almost as cute and Steve and Bucky and they’ve waited years for each other.”

“Bucky?” Foggy asked because while he had always preferred Captain America to his trusty sidekick, Matt had once derailed a very serious conversation about the finer points the Howling Commandos comics to explain that Bucky Barnes a true hero and anyone with a friend like that should count themselves lucky with a weird intensity and the unfocused face staring that Foggy interrupted as Matt trying to make eye contact.

Foggy could just imagine how gleeful Matt was going to be about getting to meet him, if Bucky was back with the Avengers.

“Yeah. BDSM was pretty excited to meet him too and I think I get it now. Anyway, I brought pizza and if we start Top Gun now Bruce can’t complain.

So Foggy followed Tony Stark in a daze as he made himself at home on Foggy’s couch and started the movie and bickered with Clint and Bruce. Natasha showed up a little later than them, right when the end credits of Top Gun rolled with a Tangled DVD in her hand.

Natasha, Foggy reflected, was one scary motherfucker.

---

Foggy hadn’t told Matt about the Avengers apparently deciding he was worth their time. He didn’t quite know why. Maybe because he was feeling a little vindictive because of all the secrets Matt kept but it was more likely that he didn’t want to feel foolish around Matt when they tired of him and decided to haunt another random New Yorker. Matt after all was basically an auxiliary Avenger who apparently knew them well enough to ask Clint to keep an eye on him and gossip about Foggy. He didn’t want it to be awkward when the Avengers were still Matt’s friends but not his anymore.

That meant, however, that it was awkward now, when Foggy received an embossed invitation to the Avengers New Year’s Party separate from Matt’s with a note reading “Please come. I’d love to meet you and I know Steve would too. Best, Pepper”.

He quickly slide the note into his pocket but there was no hiding the invitation from Matt who sniffed it and ran his fingers over the stamped letters before turning to Foggy with raised eyebrows.

“I met Clint when you sicced him on me without telling me, which by the way, I’m still a little mad at you for.”

Matt’s face fell out of its jovial inquisitiveness into a frown. “I’m sorry about that, Foggy. I didn’t want to worry you.”

Foggy sighed. “Well, I’m a worrier, buddy. That’s the way it is, so you might as well spare me from worrying about you not telling me things.”

“I will, pal. I promise.” Matt looked so earnest, Foggy felt his stomach flip. Matt, unguarded and serious with all his attention focused on you was when he was the most irresistible. Foggy ran through the list: he’s your best friend, you don’t want to risk that, he mostly dates girls and you don’t want him to have any more Catholic guilt, everyone he’s dated has been of a similar supermodel level to him, so even if he could get over the friend thing and the guy thing, you are so far from his type it isn’t even funny.

Having sufficiently depressed himself, he was able to look into Matt’s face, which was now frowning slightly. “You okay, man? You smell…sad?”

Foggy barked a laugh. “Oh, man, don’t smell me. That’s like, I know you embrace suffering but no one needs that dude”.

Matt shrugged. “I like how you smell.” His smile went all sunny and soft. “You smell like you.”

There was really nothing to say to that so Foggy fled back to his office.

---

The New Year’s Party at Avenger’s tower was the most glamorous occasion Foggy had been to. Foggy had been okay for a while when Clint found them and started listing all the new things Lucky had tried to eat since he’d last seen Foggy but Matt had interrupted him with a clenched jaw asking to talk to him privately. Clint had winked at Foggy before Matt basically growled and dragged him away leaving Foggy to hide alone by one of the very large potted plants dotted the edge of the room.

“Overwhelming isn’t it?” A very attractive man with dark hair and wearing black gloves appeared next to him.

Foggy shrugged self-deprecatingly. “Yeah, well not my usual crowd.”

The man laughed, the sound was a little harsh, making Foggy flinch back a little. The man raised his hands to in a universal gesture of no threat. “Me neither. The things we do for them, huh?”

“Them?” Foggy ventured.

“Being in love with people who are profoundly good can be very difficult.” The man shrugged.

“Um, what?”

The man turned shrewd eyes on him. “I guess it isn’t quite the same with you, is it? To hear Clint, Banner and Stark tell it, you’re the good egg but you got that look man.”

Foggy continued to stare.

“Like you’re waiting for it to end. You’re still committed all the way, you’re going throw yourself over that cliff, knowing that your gonna hit the rocks below but you can’t resist, even though you know its gonna hurt you because he’s worth it?”

Foggy could feel himself getting paler.

“How do you know?”

The man shrugged. “I got it too, dude.” He face softened. “I think it might just kill me when the end comes but for what I’m getting, that’s a fucking steal.”

Foggy nodded, his throat dry.

The man clapped Foggy roughly on the shoulder. “Jeez, they were right. Look at me, spilling all my secrets to you. You do just have that kind of face. Murdock’s lucky to have you.”

“I am.” Matt voice behind him was firm and a little threatening and Foggy could feel how tense he was because of how closely Matt had pressed them together.

The man just raised his hands defensively. “No harm meant Murdock. Just two people in the same boat commiserating.”

Matt ignored him. “I think Steve is looking for you.”

The man sighed, waving himself off good naturedly.

Matt stepped around Foggy to crowd him back against the wall. “Bucky hassling you?”

“Bucky? That was the Winter Soldier?” Foggy squeaked.

“What was he saying to you?” Matt bit off.

“Nothing! Jesus, Matt, calm down!”

“You’re heartrate was awfully high for someone talking about nothing.” Matt muttered but stepped back apparently mollified.

Foggy smacked him in the chest. “Couldn’t you figure it out with your super hearing? Also, I can’t believe you just tried to chase off Bucky Barnes. Isn’t he like, your favorite part of the Captain America story?”

“Yeah, well, there’s a lot of ambient noise” Matt grumbled slinging his arm around Foggy’s shoulders.

“But you could still hear my heartbeat?”

“I can always hear your heartbeat.” Matt sounds…warm, affectionate, earnest in the way he had when he had said he liked how Foggy smelled. Before Foggy could think of something to say Matt winced a little and started to step away but Foggy pulled him back.

“You okay? Is the party too much?”

Matt just shook his head and pressed Foggy up against his side.

Foggy sighed and relaxed into it, not sure what was bothering Matt but willing to let him take his comfort. Bucky had been right, the foreknowledge that this thing with his feelings for Matt was going to hurt him was doing absolutely nothing to make him more cautious. If anything, it was making him clutch tighter, making him wring as much out of Matt being willing to touch him like this as he could before it inevitably got weird.

“There you are! Matt, please introduce me to your friend!” A very tall, slim strawberry blonde woman was smiling warmly at him.

Matt paused for a second before dredging up one of his more charming smiles. “Pepper, this is my best friend Foggy Nelson. Foggy, this is Pepper Potts.”

“Foggy!” She enthused. “I’m so glad you made it. I have heard so much about you.”

“Oh, dear!” Foggy joked and smirked when she giggled a little. He had just made Pepper Potts laugh.

“Matt, surely you won’t begrudge me borrowing him for a dance or two? I have to get some in before Tony decides to play something completely uncivilized.”

Foggy smiled, liking how her voice warmed with affectionate exasperation around Tony’s name. He started to move forward only to be met with a moment of resistance from Matt’s arm still around his shoulders before he slipped his hand off, fingers brushing the back of Foggy’s neck.

“I suppose I can spare him but I expect him returned in pristine condition.” Matt voice was just a hair too serious to be joking.

Pepper rolled her eyes. “Good heavens, Matt. I’m not Tony.”

Matt smiled at this, back into charming mode. “Thank goodness for that.”

Pepper laughed again and grabbed both of Foggy’s hands leading him towards the dance floor.

“You might have done better with Matt as a dance partner.” Foggy warned. “I’m not particularly graceful.”

Pepper laughed again, a light warm sound that managed to sound both polite and genuine. “We’ll go slow.” She said before winking mischievously.

Pepper led them patch of floor just in front of the band and then pulled him into a slow, swaying dance. She leaned close to his ear. “I know your friend has excellent hearing but I figure with the band and whispering we have a chance at a private conversation.”

Foggy blinked at her confused.

“I meant what I said in my note. I know it can be…hard, waiting at home with them always talking about keeping you safe and never about themselves.” Foggy swallowed, two conversations that were way too real in one night. The Avengers did know how to throw a party. Pepper pulled back and her face was kind. “I don’t mean to upset you, but from what Clint, Bruce and Natasha say, you’re a good person. Even Tony says so, in his own way. Sometimes, Jane, Phil, Darcy, and I get together to talk or if I can, I try to get them to the tower during an emergency so we can wait together. It helps.”

Pepper ducked to look him right in the eye. “You’re more than welcome. To hear the others talk, you’ve been picking up a lot of slack, maybe without even realizing it so know we’re here for you.”

Foggy swallows, overwhelmed and Pepper is gracious enough to ignore it, continuing to dance in silence.

They’re barely halfway through the song when they’re interrupted by Tony “Mind if we cut in?”

Foggy turns and tries to prevent himself from staring but that’s basically impossible because Captain America is grinning sheepishly at him.

“Come on, Pepp.” Tony says, “Let’s show them how it’s done”.

Pepper pats Foggy’s hand once before drifting off with Tony. Foggy stands there awkwardly before Captain America offers him his hand. “Steve Rodgers and you must be Foggy. May I?”

“Are you sure?” Foggy blurts without thinking.

Steve chuckles “My dance card belongs to someone else but I figure he won’t mind lending me out to you, especially because I owe you an apology.”

Foggy just blinks confusedly while Steve pulls him in and rests a hand against the small of his back.

“Aren’t you worried about…photographers?” Foggy asks after about thirty seconds of gaping.

Steve shrugs. “I’ve been out for ages and Bucky won’t mind. Besides, I think it’s important to let your actions demonstrate your convictions. Does it bother you? We can stop, I just want to talk to you about what Bucky said.”

Foggy can feel himself flushing. “I…” Steve is looking so earnest and concerned its making his head spin a little. “No, I’m fine.”

Steve grins and sweeps him into a clumsy waltz. “So, I don’t know what Buck said to you. But he’s been having a hard time and he’s still getting used to the idea…” Steve pauses to take a breath and square his jaw. “that he has friends. People that love him. That he is more than a tool and even if he stays broken, he’s never going to be discarded.”

Foggy shakes his head. “You don’t need to…Look there are some things that you may not get because you’re all…you… and I think Bucky was just trying to help so I’m not really bothered.”

Steve frowns at him. “You know I wasn’t always like this, right? I used to think I was never going to get to have…” Steve’s eyes go soft looking at something over his shoulder and Foggy doesn’t need to turn around to know it’s a dark haired man in black gloves.

Foggy swallows “Then to happy endings. To those of us that get them.”

Steve smiles down at him, eyes a little sad. “I get why the guys want to make a plan so badly now.” He raises his voice “Scheming, emotional manipulation and eavesdropping are still very wrong.”

Foggy turns to see Natasha and Clint dancing nearby. Clint just grins at Steve “But helping people is good, particularly idiots who might not be able to accomplish something on their own.”

Steve huffs a laugh and Clint’s smile gets wider. “Will another sniper suit? I know I’m not the right partner but I can jitterbug with the rest of them.”

Steve just rolls his eyes but surrenders Foggy to Natasha who whisks him away before he can do more staring Steve.

Natasha takes one look at his face and chuckles. “A lot of people have been waiting to meet you.”

Foggy blinks. “Yeah, I guess.”

Foggy had tried to keep his trepidation out of his voice but Natasha just chuckles again.

“I’m not going to offer you anymore devastating analyses of your relationship with Matt.” Foggy tries to relax but that’s hard to do when you’re dancing with Natasha Romanov and all night superheroes have been coming up to you saying things about you and your best friend that your pretty much head over heels in love with. Natasha face goes soft. “Come on, Nelson. I heard you’re the best superhero wrangler in New York, you’re not going work your magic on me?”

Foggy raises an eyebrow at her. “Would it work?”

She sighs, sounding the tiniest bit actually wistful. “Probably not.”

Foggy has no idea if she’s doing it on purpose but it works and he rallies “Well, I can try.”

Foggy spends the next three dances wrestling a surprised chuckle out of Natasha who squeezes his hand gently before depositing him back at his potted plant. Foggy lingers there, wanting to find Matt and go home but a little afraid to go back into the fray. He’s feeling a little raw and exposed. He’s glad the Avengers are so kind but it itches at him that they know so much about him and Matt. It makes him embarrassed and a little worried Matt will be angry if he ever finds out. So Foggy hides behind his plant and snatches champagne off the passing trays and tries to spot Matt in a crowd of heroes. He blends in very well.

He notices people starting to cluster. Natasha and Clint are back to dancing together with an easy comfort about their bodies that Foggy envies. Steve has pulled Bucky out onto the floor and they are pressed so close it makes something is Foggy’s heart ache. Pepper is making the rounds with Tony a step behind her occasionally leaning in to whisper things in her ear that make her laugh and swat at him. Jane and Bruce are chatting animatedly and Thor is looking on benevolently. Foggy is suddenly fiercely happy for these people that he knows are grieving and cautious but have still come together to make a little family and that can be warm and generous enough to welcome Matt and him into it.

“What are you thinking about?” Matt’s voice, warm and close startles him out of his revere.

“Matt!” Foggy is very happy to see Matt, he’s buzzing with goodwill and quite possibly a little bit too much of Tony’s excellent champagne. He can feel a grin starting and doesn’t bother to suppress it because Matt is smiling back so affectionate and sweetly good-looking he can’t help himself.

“Well?” He asks, his voice colored warm all over.

“Hmm?” Foggy hums back, pulling Matt in for the same type of side hug he’d used on Foggy earlier.

“Your heartbeat is all…pleased” Matt murmurs against his chest.

Foggy laughs a little. “Of course it is. Cause that’s a quality heartbeats can have.” Matt just keeps smiling so Foggy rolls his eyes and lets it go. “This is a good night.”

Matt chuckles, “Do you mean this is good champagne?”

Foggy considers smacking him for that but instead he just pulls Matt as close as he can and presses his face into Matt’s hair. They stay like that when the countdown starts and Matt murmurs “Happy New Year, Foggy” in between the first bursts of fireworks.

---

The next day Foggy is sleepy and hungover and he stumbles out of his bed to find Matt stayed the night and is asleep on his couch so he starts mixing pancake batter, trying not to hum but failing miserably.

“Don’t stop on my account” Matt yawns from the couch looking rumpled and human and safe in a way that Foggy wishes he could keep him all the time.

“You know, if you had told me sooner that you had super senses I could have trained myself out of annoying habits like humming a lot sooner.” Foggy shoots back.

Matt ducks his head, smiling a little. “I like when you hum.” And then he flops back on the couch so Foggy continues along making pancakes and humming.

---

Foggy remembers that morning, the warm sunlight and the soft certainty of the new year when Wilson Fisk’s goons tie him to a chair in front of a tub of water and a car battery.

“Franklin Nelson, a pleasure.” Fisk’s voice is soft and rough, almost exactly like it sounds on TV.

Foggy tries to spit at him but his mouth is dry with fear.

Fisk ignores him. “The man behind the man behind Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Tell me, how long do you think it will take him to find you missing? He can be very distractible, maybe days? I think we should help him focus.”

And then the two men behind Foggy are ripping his shirt off and attaching jumper cables to car battery and Foggy has never been this scared in his life except the electricity isn’t the first thing to come, it’s Fisk’s fist slugging him from the side, knocking the chair over. Foggy’s can’t brace against it and his shoulder hits the cement with an audible crunch and Foggy isn’t even trying to hold back his howl of a pain.

Fisk turns to the man in the suit beside him, who is holding a microphone. “Did you get that?” The man nods, “Excellent, tell me, is your equipment sophisticated enough to catch the actual sounds of bone breaking?’ Fisk doesn’t wait for a reply. He just turns Foggy’s arm against the chair and pushes and Foggy can certainly hear the bone snap even through his screaming.

Fisk looks considering. “He’s making enough of a racket that we might not need the cables.” Then he sighs, “But I like the way it makes them dance. Joe!”

And out the corner of his eye Foggy sees the man with the jumper cables and he’s screaming before they even touch his skin and then he’s just on fire.

Foggy doesn’t know when he lost consciousness, the electricity blurring into a beating that blurred back into the electricity but he’s yanked back into full awareness by the slap of cold water against his face and he can’t breath and he just barely has time to wonder if they even paused torturing him before he’s yanked out of the water for a single gasp and air of plunged in again.

Foggy loses time again during the dunking which just gets longer and longer until he’s certain they’re holding him under for more than three minutes and he’ll drown here in this warehouse and Matt is going to blame himself and Foggy’s going to be unable to help him because he’ll be dead.

Then the pressure on Foggy’s neck slackens and Foggy tries to heave himself out of the tub but his ribs hurt and his hands are tied behind his back and oh, god, they’re just going to let him drown here and he’s thrashing and then someone’s hands are on his shoulders lifting him out of the water and Foggy doesn’t even care they are pressing into his shoulder which he thinks from his advanced first aid class is almost definitely dislocated but then the hands squeeze and he can’t help the whine in the back of his throat but they immediately soften.

The person holding him shifts then wriggles and suddenly Foggy leaning up against his rescuer’s chest and their both slumped back against the tank and someone is saying his name again and again.

“Foggy, Foggy please, please Foggy, it’s me, you’re okay, Foggy come on, breathe for me, it’s okay, you’re okay, you can breathe, just breathe, please Foggy”

And Foggy has never really been able to deny Matt anything so he does his best and follows the motions of the chest he can feel pressing behind him and does tries not to flinch at the sound of the water still sloshing in the tub.

The sound fades anyway when Matt starts pressing kisses into the back of his head in between murmuring comforting nothings and Foggy can feel himself getting tired.

“Hey! No sleeping!” That’s Clint’s voice from above him and then a figure with red hair is crouching in front of him and Foggy can’t help the panicked press back into Matt who responds by tightening his grip around Foggy chest and Foggy can feel his ribs grinding but before he can’t do more than whimper Matt’s softened his grip and his fingers are stroking Foggy’s skin and he’s muttering, “Easy, I’m sorry, Fog, I didn’t think…, I’m sorry, You’re gonna be okay.”

He hears Clint again. “Nat? Can Bruce handle this?’ and the figure in front of him, Natasha, nods and he hears the sound of scuffling above him.

Foggy ignores that because Matt is still apologizing and comforting all at once and Foggy only needs one of those from him, so he clumsily pats at Matt with his good hand and says “It’s okay, buddy. It’s okay. Don’t be sorry.”

Nat hisses something but Foggy is distracted by Matt nuzzling at his neck, stubble scrapping his ear. “You can’t say that to me. I almost lost you. You almost died. It’s not okay. It’s not.”

Foggy feels fuzzy and confused and isn’t sure he has much more in him so he just pats Matt’s arm again and tries to hum reassurances back to him.

They’re interrupted by Bruce, who shows up much more clearly than Natasha. Foggy blinks again and Bruce slides into clear focus with Natasha standing behind him looking completely blank and Clint standing beside her as close as he can without touching.

“Bruce?” Foggy croaks.

“Yeah, Foggy. It’s me. I need you to do me a favor. Follow this light, okay?” And then Bruce is waving a light in Foggy’s face and going through the rest of the steps for checking head trauma that Foggy knows from his forth first aid class and Foggy relaxes back against Matt and lets the man work.

Then Matt is speaking in his ear again. “We’re going to knock you out, okay? Going to the hospital on those ribs will be no fun.”

Foggy jerks, “No hospital!”

Matt hushes him gently. “It’s fine. You’ll be fine there. I’ll stay and watch over you.”

Foggy shakes his head. “No, it’s suspicious. The other gangs probably know Fisk made a play for you tonight. If they have suspicions, this will confirm them.”

Matt sounds stubborn. “I don’t care. Foggy, you need medical attention. You’re going to the hospital.”

Foggy turns to the others. “Clint, Natasha, back me up.”

Matt actually growls behind him but his hands remain gentle on Foggy’s skin.

Natasha’s face remains totally blank. “He’s right, Matt.”

Clint just looks miserable.

Matt sounds furious. “Fuck you! What do you want to do? Take him back to his apartment and splint his arm with cooking spoons?”

Bruce offers, “He could come to the tower?”

But Foggy interrupts, “I have splints.” Everyone pauses, Foggy can feel the hitch in Matt’s breathing. “All my friends are superheroes. I keep them in the bathroom.”

Matt is sounding angry again. “We’re not taking you back to your apartment to recuperate on your couch, like, like—”

Foggy getting tired so he snaps, “Like the rest of you? What my couch is good enough crash on but not really?”

“Foggy—” Matt tries to interrupt.

“No.” Foggy pushes back. “Bruce, if you have to, knock me out but take me back to my apartment. I’m sure Natasha can work out where I keep…”

And then he’s sliding into oblivion.

---

Foggy wakes up in his bed, feeling dizzy and high in a way he associates with really good weed. Foggy blinks up at the ceiling, starting to hum a buzzy little tune without realizing it.

“Foggy?” That’s Matt sounding sort of breathless and tense so Foggy tries to shift towards him and warm, drugged feeling immediately gives way to pain, making him grunt inelegantly.

“Shh, Foggy, don’t try to move.” That’s Matt again and Foggy can feel him patting along Foggy’s arms and chest, more like he’s reassuring himself than Foggy but Foggy is finding it hard to care about anything besides relaxing back into the comfort of whatever drugs he’s on.

But that’s not quite right, Foggy’s at home and shouldn’t be on anything, unless…

“Did you steal my morphine stash?” Foggy means to sound grumpy but he just sounds dazed.

Matt’s face pops into view above him so he doesn’t have to try moving again because Matt’s considerate like that. Matt’s the best. Foggy tells him that but that just makes the frown lines around his mouth deepen.

“Yeah, getting you tortured and nearly killed is what’s going to put me over the top for Friend of the Year.”

Foggy just shakes him off. “Nah, you’re my best friend, Friend of the Decade, and I wouldn’t have you any way.” Foggy frowns. “Unless you wanted to be safer but you’re so good, it’s not—I don’t want you to stop because…well that matters less too me—it’s just I worry, but I trust you and you’re the best human I know, through and through, so while sometimes want you stop, I know why you can’t and I don’t blame you.”

Matt has gone from frowning to bemused to amused in the space of Foggy’s speech and now he just looks pleased, down to his core in the sleepy, cat-like way he gets when something has gone completely his way.

It occurs to Foggy then that he’s babbling and that he’s perilously close to spilling all his feelings in a drug filled haze and he’s not sure he can bare the idea of taking that look of contentment off Matt’s face, especially when he looks so tired and worn underneath so Foggy switches tacks.

“Did you use my morphine stash on me?”

Matt immediately looks shifty. “Maybe.”

Foggy wants to swat at him but his arms feel like lead and last time he moved he regretted it. So he blinks up at Matt and says in a tone that’s aiming for scolding but lands on pleasantly buzzed. “You shouldn’t have done that. I got that special in case you ever needed it. Or I guess the others, but I was definitely thinking of you when I bought it from that super shady guy and had Claire test it to make sure it wasn’t mixed with rat poison. Now, I’ll have to go back and Matt, this guy’s, like, the worst. I think he wants to recruit me to his horrible junkie prostitute army and I don’t know if I could make enough selling my ass to support my habit so when the sketchy morphine guy takes it out my kneecaps, I’m blaming you”.

Matt’s expression had flickered between amusement and concern during that speech before settling on concern.

“First of all, Foggy, you bought morphine from someone that seedy? You shouldn’t have done that, it’s not safe. You should have at least brought me along for protection.”

Foggy shook his head. “But it was for you, in case you got beat up, not for you to get beat up getting and now you’ve wasted it.”

Matt sighed. “I didn’t waste it. Jeez, Foggy, the sounds you were making, even after Clint and Bruce popped your shoulder back in, I don’t care how hard the morphine was to get, it was worth it.”

Matt just looks sad and tired now like after they’ve lost a case that their client really can’t afford them to lose and Foggy can’t stand Matt looking defeated so he wiggles his fingers in the closest he can get to grabby hands right now and says “Come here”.

Matt pauses, looking him over and then shifts to one side and drapes himself over Foggy. Foggy just hums contentedly, feel Matt relax against his side.

“How did you find it anyway?” He asks after a few moments and is rewarded by the rumbling of Matt’s voice against his side.

“Natasha.”

“Ah.” That reminds Foggy and he tries to shift to look Matt but Matt makes an indignant noise and his ribs stage a full scale protest so Foggy just gives up and asks Matt.

“What about you? Are you okay?” He feels Matt shift and can almost feel himself getting glared at. “It’s a fair question. I don’t know how many people Fisk had on him but rescuing me from under him can’t have been a walk in the park.”

Matt snuggles closer, murmuring “Worth it, so worth it” into the crook of Foggy’s neck.

Foggy wants to shrug but wants Matt’s face pressed up against his neck more. “Well, yeah, but I still want to make sure you’re not bleeding one in my bed like an idiot.”

Matt sighs and mumbles, “yeah, I’m the good one” sarcastically.

“What?”

Matt says louder, “I said, a couple cuts, nothing major, Clint cleaned them while Natasha and Bruce were setting your arm.” Foggy waited, Matt sounded quietly indignant. “I totally should have been in there. I wasn’t growling at Bruce, I was just making sure he was being careful.”

Foggy chuckled and then abruptly stopped because oh, his ribs, how did Matt live like this?

Except Matt was burrowing close again and for once, Foggy was hurting more than him, which wasn’t ideal, ideal was neither of them hurting but Foggy preferred it to listening to Matt suppress gasps while Foggy checked his ribs after a hard night so Foggy let himself start humming again and drifted off sleep.

---

The next time Foggy woke, he was alone, his head was a lot clearer, and he hurt a lot more. There was a scuffle and then a thump and Matt was calling “Foggy?” from the foot of his bed.

Behind him he heard Clint mutter, “Jesus, that’s creepy” and Tony, not bothering to mutter, “Hover much, Bat-Ears?”

Oh, god, he had company. Foggy started to sit up but before his ribs could do much more than twinge, Matt was holding him firmly down with a palm in the center of his chest. “Easy there, pal. You’re still on complete bed rest.”

“Thank you, Dr. Murdock.” Foggy muttered before raising his voice. “Come on, who’s going to help me sit up against my oppressor?”

Tony laughed, “Sorry, man, I like my hands where they are.”

Clint was more serious, “I need mine to shoot, dude” before breaking into his own giggles.

Foggy turned back to Matt. “Please, my ceiling is so boring and it’s weird to be lying down while I have guests.”

Matt grumbled, “They could just go” but he helped Foggy ease himself upright and was kind enough to pretend to look away way while Foggy tried to stop trembling from the effort.

Foggy studied the back of Matt’s head. Matt was the only person he knew who’s hair could look guilty. Foggy reached out clasped Matt’s wrist. “It’s okay, dude. I’m okay. Don’t beat yourself up.”

He knew immediately that he had made a miscalculation; Matt went nuclear, rising to his feet and spinning to face Foggy. “Don’t beat myself up? Don’t beat myself up!? Foggy, you nearly died. They tortured you! Because of me! There isn’t a circle of hell low enough for the kind of friend I am!”

“Hey, easy, pal, easy. I’m fine. I made my choices. I knew what kind of risks I was exposing myself to after I found out about the mask and I stayed. I chose this. So anything that happens to me is on me, alright, buddy?”

But Matt was in full swing, up on his feet yelling. “No! Not alright! How could you being hurt or worse possibly be alright, Foggy?”

“Matt—”

“No! I made a promise to myself when I put on the mask that I wasn’t gonna let this touch any of the people I loved and then last night I get to that warehouse where they’re keeping you and Fisk is fucking recording torturing you. He’s recording it so he can send me a tape. He’s got one guy holding you under water and he’s asking the other one, cool as can be, like you’re not being drowned next to him, if he reckons a whip is better because it sounds more dramatic.”

Foggy swallows. He wants to push back but Matt voice is summoning up all the memories from last night he’s been suppressing and the word drowned just starts echoing in his head and oh god, he’s can’t breathe. He can’t breathe, there isn’t enough air. He can’t breathe. No air no air no air—

“Foggy!” There’s a sting on Foggy’ face and he blinks back into his apartment to find Natasha hovering in front of him and Matt standing at the foot of his bed looking like Natasha just slapped him instead of Foggy.

Natasha is saying something to him in an even calm voice but Foggy holds up a hand, trying to ignore its slight tremor, to interrupt her.

“It’s fine. I’m alright now. I just got lost in my train of thought.”

Tony scoffs from somewhere in his living room area and Matt’s hands are white knuckled on handfuls of Foggy’s bedspread. Foggy is suddenly very tired and his ribs hurt from hyperventilating and his arm hurts from being fucking broken.

“Look, guys, I appreciate the vigil but I’m getting tired and I know you guys have other things to do.” Matt opens his mouth but Foggy makes a shooing motion with his hand. “Honestly, Matty, I need Matt Murdock, attorney at law, more than I need you to hold my hand right now. You’re gonna have to take my cases for a bit and I doubt Judge Hart will grant an extension. Why don’t you go get the Rodriguez files and then come back here and we can go over them?”

Matt’s expression is bullish. “I’m not leaving you alone.”

Foggy sighs. “Clint? Do you mind? There’s pistachio ice cream in the freezer.”

Clint whoops and heads for the kitchen, yelling over his shoulder, “You want the rest of cherries, Nat?”

“Yes, please.” Natasha calls back.

Foggy starts “You guys don’t both have to—” but Natasha just raises an eyebrow and Foggy subsides.

Tony claps his hands. “Well, two super assassins should be enough. Come on, Alter Boy, let me walk you out.”

Matt hesitates but Foggy makes shooing motions with his hand. “Go, I’ll be fine.”

Matt sighs than walks around to Foggy side of the bed and presses a brief, burning kiss into Foggy’s temple.

“I’ll be back soon.” He whispers. Before pulling Natasha and Clint out of the room for what Foggy assumes are pointless but stupidly sweet threats should anything happen to him.

Foggy reaches up to touch his temple where Matt kissed it feeling stupidly warm and special in that way only Matt could make him feel and that was more than half the reason Foggy could never get over him.

He is interrupted by a sigh and Clint saying “All this pining would be cute if it weren’t so godamn sad.”

Foggy is tempted for a second to panic or pretend he doesn’t know what Clint is talking about but Foggy has had only one friend for so long and he’s been in love with that friend for most of that time and has had no one to confide in so he just slumps and asks, “Is it that obvious?”

Clint chuckles, “Foggy, the first time I met you, assassins were after you because word was getting around that you knew Daredevil and you shrugged it off while telling me about all the first aid classes you were taking in the spare time you didn’t have because you were doing the work of two lawyers. Dude, half your apartment is like a weird secret medical inventory stash. Also, you fucking quoted Brokeback Mountain, man. You’re not subtle.”

Foggy had shut his eyes during this speech and now he cranks one open to peer at Clint. “Maybe I’m just a really good friend?”

Clint just sighs. “The worst part is you are. You’re a great friend. You know how much it meant to Bruce that you weren’t scared of him? Or that Thor basically only talks to you and Jane about Loki? You’re a great friend and you don’t even know how much you matter to us. You don’t even notice how surprised people are when you’re kind to them because it doesn’t occur to you not to be.”

“Wow” Foggy tries to joke. “If Matt tries to kill me when he finds out about the whole…feelings thing, I definitely want you to give my eulogy.”

Natasha makes a frusterated noise in her throat. “You know what the first personal thing Matt told us about himself was? You. Not your name obviously, he’s too protective of you for that, but he was all ‘my friend this…’ and ‘I got a friend that…’. And at the New Year’s party he basically interrogated Clint about your entire relationship because he was jealous and he didn’t talk to Bucky for a week after he made you sad and has been pointedly asking Bruce what his intentions are toward you.”

Foggy just blinked, shocked a super spy could have gotten it so wrong.. “Matt’s just a really good friend. The best kind of friend a person could have. And he only dates women, beautiful, impossibly impressive women, and he’s Catholic and you’re just…you’ve just got the wrong idea.”

Foggy can see Clint open his mouth out of the corner of his eye but Natasha shakes her head ever so slightly and he shuts it again. The silence stretches. Foggy had been tired before Matt left, achy and sleepy but now he feels tense and exposed, a milder form of the laid open feeling he’d gotten at the Avengers New Year’s Party. He knows Clint and Natasha care about him, maybe as even more than as a diverting civilian amusement judging by what Clint had just said. Foggy flushes warm at the memory. But he doesn’t trust them not to mettle and the idea of them telling Matt is…incalculably bad.

Foggy thinks for a few more minutes and then remembers the futility of trying to manipulate super spys. So he just comes right out and asks, hating how his voice has gone small and tight. “You’re not going to tell Matt, are you?”

Clint makes an angry noise but Natasha just leans towards him, face kind. “Not if you don’t want us to.”

Foggy sags with relief; he can hear his heart pound and is distantly glad that Matt isn’t here to hear it. Though, Foggy glances at the clock, he’ll probably be back soon, best to shut this down now.

“I don’t”. His voice is still a little panicky and he can feel himself sweating a little. “I really don’t. Never say anything. Matt can’t know. Ever. About any of it. No telling Matt anything.”

Clint glances out the window. “Would it really be so bad?”

Foggy glares at him. “Would it really be so bad?! Yes! He would let me down easy and it would be terrible and awful and humiliating. And he would feel so guilty because Matt’s such a good guy, he’d probably start avoiding me and we’d drift apart until he’s kicking me out of the practice and I’m left alone with nothing and he’s off fighting crime with no one to take care of him and he’ll end up bleeding to death in his apartment or something while I’m across town doing nothing important, all because of my big, dumb crush.”

Natasha’s voice is gentle. “But it’s not a crush, is it, Foggy?”

And god, Foggy about to cry in front of the Black Widow. “No, of course it’s not just a crush. I know Matt. I know him down deep and I love everything I know about him. But I can’t make him happy in the way I want to, in the way he deserves, so I will do my best as his friend for as long as he lets me.”

The room is silent. Foggy looks up, room blurring a little through the film of tears that he will not let fall. Matt can probably smell crying and would worry. He looks at Natasha who looks sad and sympathetic in a way that makes Foggy’s gut churn so he turns to Clint who is glaring at the window at…Matt.

Matt’s there perched on his window sill, barely visible in the dark wearing his Daredevil suit clutching a sheaf of papers that Foggy assumes in the Rodriguez file. Foggy can’t see his face in the darkness but his posture is tense and there’s no way he wasn’t heard everything Foggy just said, no way.

This isn’t happening. Foggy can’t think of anything to say, anything to do so he just waits heart pounding, for something to happen. He watches a Matt fumbles the window open, hands clumsy like he actually can’t see the lock at all but Foggy realized as Matt slides the window up that it’s because his hands are shaking and Foggy fists his hands in his sheets to stop them doing the same.

Matt’s staring at him, mouth slightly parted and Foggy is dimly aware of Natasha putting a hand on Clint’s shoulder and drawing him towards the door but Clint pauses before leaving to call out. “Hey, Matt, I don’t need to tell you what will happen if you hurt him, right?”

Matt doesn’t take his eyes off Foggy, just shakes his head jerkily and takes a few steps towards Foggy’s bed. Clint mutters something under his breath and closes the door behind him, leaving Foggy and Matt alone.

Foggy didn’t realize that he’d started shaking until Matt stopped walking toward him, dropping the file and raising hands in a gesture of no threat. “Foggy—”

“I suppose I can’t talk you into pretending you never heard that?” Foggy voice is weak but he’s proud it doesn’t shake.

“Foggy—” Matt sounds worried and confused in a way that makes his heart clench and this conversation was never going to be easy, that’s why he’s been avoiding it, but Matt being so perfectly, purely Matt doesn’t help even a little bit.

“Why don’t we just skip you letting me down easy and move on to pretending it didn’t happen?” Foggy is aiming for joking but just sounds desperate.

That shakes something loose in Matt and he’s across the room and next to Foggy in three paces, gripping Foggy’s good hand in his shaking fingers.

“Foggy,” There’s something different in Matt’s tone. Something serious and warm that Foggy never heard before that makes his heart skip a beat. Matt cocks his head like he’s listening and something that looks like a smile starts to unfurl in the corners of his mouth. “Foggy, I’m not going to let you down easy. I’m going to kiss you. Is that okay?”

Foggy chokes. “What?”

Matt is grinning now, he face split open and leaking happiness in a way Foggy didn’t know it could and the longing that’s been growing in his chest for years fed by Matt’s humor and his kindness and the steely core of integrity at his center rears up and Foggy wants.

Matt’s drawing closer. “I. am. Going to. Kiss. You.” He’s centimeters away. “Is that okay?”

When Foggy says yes, it’s like a sigh and then that smile is pressed against his mouth and Foggy is drinking Matt in and it will never be enough. So he kisses Matt, kisses him like a man going over a cliff who only has the fall left to live.

It’s Matt who pulls away, gentling him when he starts to gasp. “Shhh, Foggy. Easy, I can hear your ribs creaking” and Foggy remembers his cracked ribs and broken arm and the burns on his chest. The aches and pains come flooding back and with them the rest of reality and he finds himself drawing back even as Matt’s smile darkens.

“What are you doing, Matt? You can’t—We can’t…” He trails off desperately.

Matt just shakes his head, a small smile still playing in the corners of his mouth. “We certainly can. You’re it for me. Have been for years.” He says it simply and easily, like he’s telling Foggy the sky is blue and not bringing it down on Foggy’s head.

“But—but, Matt, I’m a guy.” It’s the first thing Foggy can think of. He can’t for the life of him remember the list he’s been repeating for years of why this is a bad idea.

Matt shrugs again. “I’ve dated guys before. You know that.”

Foggy laughs, “Yeah, like male models. Guys who are” he makes a gesture to describe the general hotness and coolness of the few guys Matt had fucked around with “and I am incredibly not.”

Matt shrugs. “Probably why didn’t last. I do keep running into this problem with people that I date.” He does that fake eye contact thing he does when he’s trying to convince someone he’s serious. “They’re not you.”

Foggy’s struck dumb by that and when Matt asks if he can kiss him again he just nods and then finds himself being kissed more thoroughly and sweetly than he’s ever been kissed in his life.

But then Matt starts mumbling things between kisses like “God, Foggy, so long” and “Sometimes your heartbeat is the only thing that gets me through the day”.

Foggy pushes him back. “Wait, I can’t lie to you. How did you not know?”

Matt shrugs. “It’s not like you go around telling me you don’t love me every day. The opposite in fact. I figured you meant friend love. I didn’t want to…Foggy, you’re the most important thing in my life, I didn’t want to screw it up.”

Foggy stares at him. Matt lets him, smiling a little relieved smile and running his fingers up Foggy’s arm. Foggy realizes that Matt hasn’t stopped touching him since he kissed him. Finger tips brushing under his ear or over his cheek or along his wrist. It’s that which convinces him more than anything, the soft brush of fingers over the inside of his elbow.

“Okay.” He says, voice quiet but sure.

“Okay?” Matt asks, hopeful and a little uncertain.

“Okay, I believe you. Can I kiss you more now?”

And Matt just lights up in way Foggy didn’t know he could make another person and it makes the longing rise in his chest again but now Matt can just kiss it away.