Foggy opens his eyes to a blonde man in a coat inspecting the machines near his electrocardiogram monitor. He's unfamiliar but that doesn't really rankle up his nerves till he sees the man pull out a syringe and starts fiddling with the tube of his saline bag and intravenous chemo drip.
"Doctor?" He calls out carefully, mind heavy with sleep but still wary from the last time an unfamiliar man in a coat holding a syringe - sent by Bullseye of all people- had almost killed him a few days before in that very same room. "Sorry but I've never really seen you around here. The nurse usually tells me when they're about to add anything to my usual drip. To warn me ya know? Did I miss a memo or-"
The man doesn't even bother to turn and face him. Instead proceeding to place the needle of the syringe into his injection port. "It's alright Mr. Nelson. No need to be alarmed. This is merely a supplement", he says as if that was enough to explain everything.
The words induce the opposite of a calming effect on him and Foggy frowns. "An anti-emetic?", he pushes suspiciously. But 'Blondie' doesn't answer. Instead 2 other men in Black suits enter into his room and close the door behind them with a click of the lock.
Foggy's alarm bells are fully ringing now and he reaches for the emergency call button but doesn't hear the usual beep when he presses it. His heart starts to drum in his ribs. The nausea that had already been creeping up his throat from the chemo treatment starts to edge even higher, combined with the fear that was setting a slight tremble at his fingertips. He wishes more than anything right now that Matt would show up for one of his surprise visits. Even though he knows visiting hours had ended an hour ago.
"Who are you? What do you want?" His voice sharp despite the fog of panic. Turning his head from the men in the suits to the man in the coat -regretting it immediately at the throbbing pain of his aching neck muscles- though not really expecting an answer. His hand creeps cautiously under his blanket for his phone, groping around uselessly before realizing-
"Mr Nelson there's no need to be alarmed as long as you cooperate," one of the men - Mr short and pudgy- says. His voice comes out a harsh, gravelly tone and Foggy half expects him to pull out a stick and yell at kids to 'get off his damn lawn!'
"We're merely here to ask you to clarify certain allegations against your friend, Mr Murdock and other accusations concerning his 'nightly outings'. If you answer our questions we'll leave you to your treatment with no harm done before the hour is even up," he continues. The statement sounds reasonable enough but the 'if you don't' still hangs threateningly in the air.
Foggy immediately realizes what this is about and his hands ball up the rough hospital sheets in his fists.
"You're the Sons of Serpents" Foggy says, eyes narrowing when none of them deny it. He racks his brain for all the information he's read up on them and what Matt had told him before. He's never met them in person or been in their cross fires in the past. But he's researched enough of their history to know they're nothing but bad news. A racially motivated group doing everything to gain and maintain power and cruelly dispatching anyone in their way. Particularly those who they thought didn't look the way they felt 'people' should look. They were basically the new Nazi propaganda hell bent on spreading their influence all across the globe. Matt simply called them racists trash and frankly from what Foggy's found in his own research, he couldn't agree more.
"If you think I'm going to give you any information willy nilly then you've got the wrong guy. In fact I'm pretty sure we've already proved what you're suggesting as bullshit half a dozen times in court already"
Mr pudgy creeps closer to his bed and it takes all of Foggy's control not to cringe away.
The man brandishes a thick file in his hand the same way Foggy had expected him to do to his proverbial stick.
"Mr Nelson lets not play that game. We both know the truth. Let's skip the pleasantries and commence to the meat of the matter shall we? And don't bother trying to scream for help. We have people in the building to aid us in redirecting any unwanted intrusion" He says with a condescending tone and a disdainful expression on his face and Foggy finds himself paying closer attention to his unwanted visitor.
The man's suit is impeccable and almost impossibly taut with not a wrinkle in sight. He reeks of an offensive -and obviously expensive- cologne that makes Foggy's nausea claw higher up his throat the closer he gets.
But worse of all - at this proximity- Foggy can't help but see a coldness in his eyes that reminds him of ruthless men who would do anything and everything to get what they want.
The thought sends a cold chill down his spine and he can't seem to hold back the resulting shudder.
It's not that he's never faced with anything like them before. Matt's infamous repertoire of villains have ensured that Foggy has had more than his fair share of being in the presence of merciless and remorseless men who would do the unthinkable with a snap of their fingers and a turn of their wrists without even a hesitant flinch. These men have nothing on Wilson Fisk and he's stood in front of the Kingpin himself and survived and he damn well wasn't going to be intimidated by these borderline ridiculous and literal 'Men in black'.
But as he attempts so sit up to meet the man eye to eye a jolt shoots up his spine like a serrated bullet and he can't help the the choked gasp he emits at the pain.
The effect immediately reminds him of how defenseless he really is at the moment from his cancer and it's subsequent hellish treatment. He holds his breath and finds himself noticing even more how exhausted he really is. The muscle of his fingers were already throbbing from their earlier exertion, frail and weak. He can barely move his limbs without a sharp ache in his joints and the ever present twist and pull of his stomach had nothing to do with the men in the room.
Vertigo edges at his line of sight, daring him to turn his head like he did before and his already labored breathing quickens at realizing that this wasn't a confrontation he could fight.
And frustration welled up in him at the thought because even in life and death situations in the past, he had always been comforted by the thought that Matt's enemies would have to face him kicking and screaming if they wanted to put him down.
Foggy is not a brave man. He's never had any illusion that he was. He's a pacifist at heart and even despite that, fear has always been such a strong fixture of his identity that it practically runs in his veins.
Between a villain and his best friend he's always understood that his place is set permanently behind Matt because he knows his limitations. Understands that words have always been his choice of weaponry over a physical fight and he wields them just as well if not better than Matt does his fists.
But lying there now on his hospital bed with toxins and the equivalent of poison spreading in his system he knows instantly that it won't be enough. This isn't a battle he can fight against and most likely not one he can dream of winning.
And nothing tightens the chill around his heart more than the thought that he was at risk of giving these man any thread of leverage against his best friend.
But he'll be damned if he was going to make it any easier on them anyway.
He knows he's not exactly an impressive picture of defiance, especially with his aborted attempt at pulling himself up. Regardless, he meets the man eye to eye as well as he could. Daring him to do his worst.
"Fuck off" he spits out
The other man - Mr tall and oily (seriously, he looks like he lathers a tub of grease on his head every morning)- raises an eyebrow at his ensuing determined silence and nods towards the man In the coat.
Foggy spares a glance to the side to see him pull out another syringe to inject into his port.
It takes a while and Foggy even indulges in the idea that it hadn't worked before suddenly his muscles are contracting against his will and he barely holds back a gasp behind clenched teeth.
What happens after that is this. They place the file on his over bed table and asks questions with every sheet they pull out. Every 5 minutes where he doesn't cooperate another vial of the substance is shot through his system. The pain increases at a sluggish pace but it's effect is potent. They continue to ask him questions, shifting through the papers all the while and it alarms him how much they already know about Matt. Everything from newspaper articles about his incident, his father's career and death and even his medical records from his first hospitalization at nine years old to his last most recent visit this year. It dawns on him after a while that they weren't there to ask for information but instead for confirmation. To make sure what they already uncovered was 100% true and the only reason they were even bothering to do so would be because they needed to ensure that what they had would hold up under inspection and the only reason they would be so thorough about that was if they planned on bringing up those same documents in court or publication. They weren't just trying to find Matt's weakness. They were going after his credibility. His integrity. Even his livelihood if it was enough to get him disbarred or jailed. And most likely it would.
He's not even sure if he says a word to them. The pain is literally blinding with how often his eyes threaten to roll up into his skull and breathing feels like drawing air through a straw.
After a while he notices that the men weren't even facing him and were instead studying his heart monitor, taking notes every time a question made his heat rate spike.
It's sometime after the seventh injection that he finally lets out a shout, though it comes out more a sob. The machines beside him all begin to beep their warnings and he can hear hurried shuffling and voices in the corridor outside his room from what he hopes to be one nurse to the other.
'God please. Please. Help me. Someone help me please' Foggy can't help but beg in his mind.
But the men in front of him don't seem to be apprehensive at the possibility of attracting attention. Instead taking their time to leisurely shuffle and arrange their papers and closing their file with a muffled flip.
"We are done here I think. Thank you for your help Mr Nelson. It was much appreciated. And don't worry, we won't let you die yet. Keeping you alive is very much in our best interest"
And just like that they were gone but Foggy barely notices. Every nerve and muscle in his body is on fire and his heart is thumping like a drum in his ears. He would scream if his throat wasn't so dry and even then he can almost feel the lining of it threaten to tear at his effort. Though he finds himself more preoccupied with how it had become even harder to pull enough air into his lungs for a single breath.
He's suffocating. He can't breath!
'This is it', the pain submerges his thoughts into mass panic. 'I'm going to die. I'm going to die like this. I won't see Matt again. This is how it ends'
The door finally bursts open and a flow of attendants and nurses hurried into the room, calling out instructions he can't bring up the strength to try and understand. The last thing he sees before the darkness finally takes him is the blonde man in the coat standing in front of his bed, watching him before everything goes black.
Awareness struggles at the periphery of his consciousness. Pulling him back to the surface at the sound of Matt's voice. There are other people in the room and it takes him a while to recognize them as the men from before. Matt sounds tense and furious but everything is too muffled for Foggy to understand their conversation.
Having Matt so near at his side is enough for him to feel safe and relaxed especially when it became obvious that Matt was standing protectively between Foggy and their unwanted visitors. But there's a guilty nudge inside him when his mind becomes present enough to understand what was being said. Recognizing the men bringing up the same information from before. Allowing him to comprehend enough of the situation to know that these men were already starting to use the info they have against his best friend. Possibly to black mail him to do what they want. Things Matt might decide to do just so he could protect Foggy and their other friends because if nothing else Matt will always try his hardest to protect those around him even at his own detriment. His too kind and compassionate heart never being able to bear the thought of anyone being hurt and god Foggy hates what it does to his friend but he's known him for too long to not understand. And he can feel tears welling on his eyelids to know that these men were using that same compassion - and the information they've had Foggy unwillingly confirm - against him.
'Matt. Matt I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I tried to fight. I tried so hard. I tried not to tell them anything I swear! I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.' Foggy tries to say but his tongue feels thick and heavy behind his teeth. Either way the mask over his mouth and nose stifle any sound he manages to make and it's only when he hears the men making their way to the door and closing it with a familiar click, that he manages to inch shaking fingers to wrap around the wrist Matt is resting on the bed beside him.
Matt snaps around to face him. His hand twisting so both his and foggy's are holding each other wrist to wrist while the other flits from Foggy's shoulder and upward to gently cup his cheek.
"Foggy?", Matt's voice is a mix of apprehension and relief. There's also a mournful hint in his tone. "Hey buddy. Hey are you with me? Should I call the nurse? Jesus Christ, your skin is so cold. I can barely hear your pulse Fog."
Foggy looks up, trying to nod and convey that he was alright without speaking. His eyes scour his friends face and he can't help but notice how red and flustered Matt looks with his auburn hair sticking in sweaty clumps on his forehead as if he'd ran all the way to the hospital. His black tie that he kept in his office for emergencies hung loose under his collar as if he hadn't really bothered to tie it properly and the tense, stiff stance that he had when Foggy first woke up, melts away and his broad shoulders hung loose from exhaustion.
He looked worn out. Stretched thin. The last time Foggy had seen him so overwhelmed was when Fisk had burned down his home and had him disbarred. He can't help but frown, wonderingly worriedly what the men could have said to his friend to make him look so defeated.
But then Matt bows his head, choking back tears and Foggy realizes that it wasn't what the men had said, but what Matt though they had done that really had him shaking.
"I'm so sorry Foggy. I was in the suit when the nurses called. They said you were in pain. They said you might not- I thought- I thought I'd lost you. I couldn't hear your heart beat. I couldn't- I was terrified. I came as fast as I could. I'm so sorry I wasn't here. You asked me for one thing. You asked me to be here and I wasn't and I'm so sorry Fog." Matt's chest began to heave with gentle sobs
With as much force as he could muster, Foggy tightened his grip on Matt's wrist in what he hopes is a soothing gesture. He wishes he could do more, but simply opening his eyelids felt like lifting weights. He could only hope that Matt would understand what he was trying to say
'The city needed you'
'I tried. I'm so sorry'
'It hurt Matt. Everything still hurts'
'I'm so scared Matt. I thought I was going to die. I thought I'd never see you again'
'I'm still afraid that I'm going to die. Who would've thought cancer would be the way I go huh?'
'I'm so scared of leaving you Matty. I don't want to leave you'
Maybe it works because Matt leans even closer, resting his head gently on Foggy's other shoulder. Foggy struggles and manages to pull his free hand to rest on his friends back even though such a small movement already made his muscles ache even worse.
It takes him a while before he can manage to get his hand up and pull the mask down off his lips.
Matt immediately moved to put it back, "Foggy don't-"
"Matt. What did-" *cough * "what did they want? What- what did they ask for?"
Matt looks stricken and Foggy knew he was torn between keeping his sick friend in the dark or unloading it all on his best friend. Knowing full well that the former was something Foggy hated.
So he takes the middle road.
"You're still exhausted Fog," he soothes. Gently putting the mask back in it's place. One hand moving to the back of Foggy's very bald head and leaning forward to place a gentle kiss on his forehead. An intimate gesture that he rarely did but one they both sorely needed after the terrifying experience they just had.
"Go to sleep Foggy. I'll tell you when you wake up." Matt says reassuringly, pulling Foggy's blanket just a little higher.
"Promise?" Foggy whispers behind the mask. Eyes already starting to close but knowing that Matt heard him.
"I promise" Matt replies, bringing up a finger to cross an 'X' over his hearts. It's the last thing he see's and hear's before Foggy falls in a deep peaceful sleep. Comforted at the idea that as long as Matt was around, he'd be safe.