Author's Note: Hello, everyone! Welcome to the first fanfiction I've written in about seven years. Daredevil just drew me in and wouldn't let go.
Two things you should know before you begin reading:
1. This story does deal with some dark thematic content, especially in terms of some of Matt's more questionable personality traits, like his violence and anger issues. There's nothing terribly graphic (it stays within the T rating that it currently has) but I do explore how Matt's darker side affects all areas of his life, including his (future) love life. So while the story is eventually Matt/OC, don't expect romance right away. When I say this is a slow burn fic, I mean slow.
2. I wrote this after Season One but before Season Two, which premiered in between Chapters 20 and 21 of this story. So if there are any inconsistencies in timelines or backstory revealed in Season Two, that's why. The only canon fact from Season One that I ignore in this story is the costume change at the end of the season. This is partially because for certain plot points I needed Matt to still be in the black outfit that he was more easily injured in, and partially because I just could not get my head around the red suit with the crazy horns, even though I know that's his signature look in the comics. I want to hang onto the black outfit for just a little longer. But at some point I'll address the issue of needing heavier armor, don't worry. So don't be confused by the timeline if you see mention of the black outfit instead of the red.
That's all you need to know, I think. Enjoy!
Chapter One: Check Mark
Sarah Corrigan's father was never a truly bad man. He had his poor qualities—a heavy gambling habit and a blind spot for the consequences of his actions being the most obvious—but he was not cruel or unkind. Sarah had to remind herself of this every time she arrived at her job as a secretary for an extremely shady company that was formerly owned by Wilson Fisk himself. Her father had not meant to get her stuck in these circumstances, she repeated to herself. He had no control over the situation. All the same, as she looked up at the looming gray building that was home to Orion Incorporated she felt a familiar feeling of resentment rise up in her, and had to force herself to swallow it back down.
Sarah couldn't believe she was back here at ten o'clock at night, a full five hours after she had already been free for the day. She had forgotten to take home some dull paperwork that she had needed to fill out, and as she'd learned over the past ten months of working there, mistakes were not tolerated well by management, specifically by her overbearing supervisor Ronan. Ronan had wandering eyes and occasionally wandering hands, and he took every opportunity to attempt to intimidate Sarah by threatening to tell the higher-ups she wasn't working hard enough to keep up her end of their agreement. She was keen to avoid drawing more criticism to herself, so she'd reluctantly gotten back on the subway and ridden across town to get the paperwork from the darkened building and bring it home.
She keyed her employee code into the security panel beside the front door and entered the building. Since Fisk had been taken down by Daredevil, his mysterious replacement at the head of the company had installed several new security measures, including new codes and new cameras. Sarah carefully avoided looking as she walked by the front desk she usually manned during the day. As a general rule, she refused to think about her job—if you could call it that—when she wasn't at work, and right now she technically wasn't on the clock.
She briefly considered taking the stairs—the paperwork she needed was in the conference room on the third floor—but the clientele that frequented the building had an unfortunate habit of smoking in the stairwells, leaving them smelling like cigarettes and body odor, so she opted for the elevator instead. As the elevator rose, Sarah thought she could hear muffled noises coming from above her. The sounds got louder as she got closer to the third floor, and as the lift came to a stop she could clearly hear shouting and crashing from the other side of the doors.
The elevator doors slid open, and the first thing Sarah saw was a six-foot-four Russian flying towards her. She jumped to the side as the man crashed into the open elevator, crumpling into a heap on the threshold. Behind him, chaos raged.
Ronan and four men that Sarah loosely recognized as other employees were in various stages of fighting—and apparently losing to—a masked man dressed in black. Sarah's eyes widened as she recognized the subject of every Hell's Kitchen news outlet for the past few months: Daredevil.
The vigilante was struggling with three of the men, while a bleeding Ronan leaned against the wall, gasping for breath and clutching his right arm, which appeared to be broken. Another man appeared to already be unconscious, sprawled out on the floor near the conference table. In the middle of the room, Daredevil moved impressively fast, thrashing one of the men while effectively blocking the other two.
Sarah slammed her hand onto the down button, intending to get out of the fray, but the man whom she assumed Daredevil had thrown her way was blocking the doors from closing. He didn't wake as the doors bumped persistently against his side.
"Shit. Shit, shit, shit."
She bent down to try to heave his giant form out of the way, but within a few seconds of trying she could tell he was far too heavy. Suddenly she heard a gunshot and the water cooler that sat a mere few feet from the elevator door exploded, flooding the floor with water and broken glass. Snapping her head up, she saw Ronan—stupid, asshole Ronan—firing a handgun. He was apparently aiming at the vigilante, but with his dominant arm clearly broken he was forced to fire with his left hand, and the bullets were going everywhere.
Scrambling over the colossal Russian—who, shockingly, appeared to be stirring—Sarah ducked low and ran along the wall closest to her, keeping away from the raging fight and hopefully the flying bullets. Something smashed into the wall close above her head and she screamed. The vigilante's head snapped in her direction, and in his moment of distraction one of the men slashed his face with what looked like a shard of glass. Daredevil hissed in pain and slammed his fist into the man's face, focused once more on the fight.
The stairwell was on the other side of the fray; there was no way she'd make it over there in one piece. Instead, Sarah dipped into the first open room she came to: a small, darkened office. She scanned the room, looking for a place to hide. Unfortunately, her best bet seemed to be underneath the desk in the far corner—an obvious hiding place, but it would conceal her at least. Crawling into the small space, she fumbled in her purse for her stun gun. She wasn't sure who she was more scared of: the vigilante that was currently taking on four fully grown men (having already taken out two more), or the idiot with the gun and no aim. A stun gun probably wouldn't do much good against either of them, but it was better than nothing, she supposed.
She listened as the fight continued. The gunshots ceased suddenly and she heard Ronan shout in pain. The loud blows and various grunts continued for several minutes, and she could hear the men drop one by one. Finally, there was silence except for one man groaning lowly in pain. She could hear Daredevil speaking to him quietly, and strained her ears to hear what he was saying.
"Who took over for Fisk?"
The man mumbled something. She couldn't make it out completely, but it sounded vulgar. There was a loud snapping sound, and he screeched in pain. It sounded like the vigilante was breaking the man's fingers. Sarah winced.
"I'll ask again. Who took over for Fisk?"
"I don't know."
Another snap, followed by another scream.
"I don't know! I don't know! They don't tell me! They don't tell anyone everything. We all just get little pieces of the puzzle."
The vigilante growled in frustration.
"There's a list of employees at this company. Where is it?"
"On—on a flash drive. In the cabinet. Over there. But it won't help you. No one knows nothing."
There was a silence, and then a dull thud as she assumed Daredevil knocked the man out. She heard him moving around the other room, presumably to find whatever list the now unconscious man had mentioned. Sarah held her breath, hoping he would go down the staircase and away from her, but she had no such luck.
Daredevil limped slowly into the office, and then stopped. Sarah could see him through a small opening between the top of the desk and the side. He was standing in the middle of the room with his head down, his shoulders heaving as he breathed heavily. The moonlight through the window illuminated the uncovered lower half of his face, and Sarah could see a gash on his face. It was long and shaped like a check mark, going down along his jaw and then running up over his bottom lip. Blood dripped from the cut as he stood there, not moving. What was he doing?
Then he turned his head in her direction, and Sarah's stomach flipped. She couldn't see his eyes through the mask, but it looked like he was staring right at her hiding place. Don't come looking for me, please don't come looking for me.
She gripped her stun gun tighter, trying to breathe as quietly as possible. She had no way of knowing, of course, that he could hear her rocketing heartbeat clear as day, that the scent of her shampoo and perfume were like a beacon, telling him exactly where she was hiding. That he could sense the electric current in the stun gun she had in her hand, and feel the vibrations in the air from her slight trembling. That he could also tell she wasn't injured, hadn't been hit by the bullets or the debris.
After what seemed like a century of him seemingly staring directly at her, he limped over to the window, slid it open, and heaved himself out. Sarah breathed a sigh of relief; either he hadn't known she was there, or he thought she wasn't worth the effort. She heard police sirens approaching; the gunshots must have attracted attention. Crawling out from under the desk, she wondered briefly how Daredevil could survive casually jumping out of a third story window.
She wasn't sure if the vigilante would have hurt her or not; she worked for the worst people in Hell's Kitchen, but rumors seemed divided on how much violence he generally inflicted to get to what he wanted. Regardless, she was relieved to never have to see him again.
Unfortunately, that sense of relief would only last for the eighteen hours it took her to run into him again.
The next day, news of the vigilante's attack had spread around the company. Sarah spent most of the day fielding phone calls and making appointments for many more clients than usual, all of whom were anxious to come in and make sure their status in the criminal hierarchy of Hell's Kitchen was still secure. By the end of the day, her head was pounding from having to deal with so many of the city's lowest criminals. She counted down the minutes until she could leave, comforting herself with the thought that at least it was Tuesday, and she had her weekly dinner with her father tonight.
The clock finally reached the magic hour, and she swung her purse over her shoulder and made her way over to Ronan's office to settle the day's finances. His beady eyes were already watching her as she entered his office. Wordlessly she handed him her time sheet, and he stared at her for an extra beat before turning his gaze to the paper.
"Alright, that's ten hours for today, minus half an hour for lunch and another ten minutes for goofing off at the end of your shift packing up your things."
Sarah bristled but didn't say anything; there was no point in arguing for something as small as ten minutes. He looked disappointed that he didn't get a rise out of her.
"So that brings you to nine hours and twenty minutes. That's four hours and thirty five minutes for your paycheck, and the other half for daddy dearest's debt." He smiled at her mockingly. "At this rate you'll be done working this off in less than ten years."
The subway ride to her apartment was long and tiring, as it always felt after a long day of forcing smiles for horrible people. Sarah had time to take a quick shower and change clothes, and then it was time to catch a cab over to her father's place. She made a mental note that she needed to stop at the pharmacy for his medication on the way over, and that she needed to call and set up his usual doctor appointments for the upcoming month.
As she exited the building she heard someone calling her name. Turning, she saw her neighbor, an elderly woman named Mrs. Benedict, walking towards her. She was accompanied by a handsome man in a suit. He wore dark, round sunglasses and swept the trademark white cane of the blind in front of him as he walked, limping slightly.
"Sarah! Are you headed out towards your father's place? I need to go that way to get some groceries, do you feel like sharing a cab with an old woman?"
"I don't know if you're allowed to call yourself old yet, Mrs. Benedict," Sarah replied doubtfully. "I saw you chase that kid down the street the other day for trying to steal your purse. And then you started beating him with it."
Mrs. Benedict cackled. "That dumb lout didn't know what hit him."
Sarah laughed, then leaned in to the front window of the cab to give the address to the driver while Mrs. Benedict said goodbye to the blind man accompanying her. Sarah faced them again just as the man turned to walk away, and for the first time she got a good look at the left side of his face. Specifically, a very recent looking gash, running along his jaw and up onto his bottom lip. In the shape of a check mark. Sarah froze.
There was no way it was possible. But he had the same exact cut in the same place, the same limp in the same leg. She felt like the breath had been knocked out of her. There was no denying that the man standing in front of her was the same one who had torn his way through the office the night before.
He seemed not to notice her reaction, although she could have sworn she saw him pause for just a second and tilt his head slightly in her direction before continuing on his way.
"Are you getting in or getting out, kid?" she heard Mrs. Benedict say from inside the taxi, although she sounded much farther away. Sarah ducked into the vehicle, still in shock, and turned to her neighbor as they pulled away.
"Mrs. Benedict, who was that?"
"Oh, that's Matthew Murdock. He's a very sweet lawyer, he's helping me with all that trouble I've been having with those dumbasses at the department store. Why do you ask? He's very attractive young man, isn't he?" Mrs. Benedict asked knowingly.
"Um, yeah. Definitely," she said distractedly, not paying much attention to the older woman's usual attempts to set her up with any man that could walk and breathe. "That was a pretty nasty cut on his face, though. Did he...mention how he got it?" Sarah asked with forced casualness.
"Yes, poor thing. He said he tried taking the subway and stumbled getting out of the door. You know, they should really make those things safer. Just the other day my friend Georgia—you remember Georgia of course—was trying to get to…"
Sarah tuned Mrs. Benedict's ramblings out as her mind raced with this new information. Lost in her thoughts, she felt the older woman press something into her hand and glanced down; it was a business card. It bore the words 'Nelson and Murdock: Attorneys at Law' followed by a phone number with a local Hell's Kitchen area code.
"He's very smart, you know, and funny too. I think you'd like him. And it's been so long since you've been out with anyone. He came all this way just to take my statements since I couldn't make it to his office. I had no idea when we spoke on the phone that he's…blind." Mrs. Benedict whispered the last part in the way that older people always whisper anything unpleasant, as though his blindness was a secret that Sarah and the rest of the world couldn't see as plain as day.
No, his blindness was obvious for all to see. His nighttime activities, on the other hand…Sarah felt a cold stone of trepidation drop into her stomach. She was pretty sure not many people knew about that part.
As Sarah and Mrs. Benedict rode away in the back of the taxi, they were unaware that the subject of their conversation could still hear every word they were saying from where he stood on the sidewalk with his ear cocked towards the departing vehicle.
He had vaguely recognized Sarah's scent—honeysuckle scented shampoo, with some sort of citrus soap—but hadn't been able to place it until he heard the woman's heartbeat take off when she saw his injured face. It was then that he realized where he knew her from, and cursed silently as he realized that she had recognized him too. Her shaken questions to Mrs. Benedict in the taxi only reinforced that theory.
Clutching his cane and trying to tamp down on the rising panic in his chest, Matt pulled out his cell phone to call Foggy.
A few hours later, after she was done visiting her father, Sarah found herself hesitating before opening her apartment door, and berating herself for it. But she couldn't help imagining Daredevil—or rather, Matthew Murdock—hiding in the shadows of her home, waiting to take out the only witness to his identity. For months she had heard the men at work speaking in hushed tones about this man and how dangerous he was. Sarah had no sympathy for most of the men that he put in the hospital—she had seen and heard how cruel they themselves were—but she still cringed at some of the tales of his violence. Snapped arms, broken legs, concussions, extreme blood loss, even a few comas. Several men had ended up in the hospital, using tubes to breathe and eat. The whispered accounts varied on whether or not he had decapitated Anatoly Ranskahov, but the general consensus was that no one would put it past him.
Sarah knew the vigilante had done a lot of good for the city—rescuing children, saving women, generally doing a lot to fight the bad guys. But no matter how reluctantly she had entered into it, she technically worked for those bad guys, and if he were to find out what she knew, she had no idea if he'd see much difference between her and the hired guns that he hospitalized on a regular basis.
But there was no way, she reassured herself. He was a good fighter, but he was still blind; he couldn't possibly know that she had been in the office that night, or that she had passed by him again outside of her building. And he hadn't acknowledged her as she got into her cab. There was no connection for him to make between her and his activities the night before.
Sarah nodded reassuringly to herself, unlocking her door and entering the apartment. She would be too embarrassed to ever admit that she did a quick sweep of her home—under beds, behind the shower curtain—to make sure she was alone before discarding her purse on the table and perching on her computer chair. She opened her laptop, nervously biting her the thumb nail and staring at the business card in her hand. Matt Murdock. That was the masked vigilante's name. Before she could talk herself out of it, she brought Google up on her browser and typed the name in. A surprising number of search results came back, most of which were digital copies of newspaper articles dated about twenty years earlier.
"Boy Blinded When Toxic Truck Overturns in Hell's Kitchen"
"Child Saves Man From Truck Crash, Loses Sight"
"Chemical Company Being Investigated For Tragic Chemical Spill"
The articles were numerous, but repetitive. The young boy had pushed an old man out of the way of an oncoming truck, but the crash and the resulting chemical spill had blinded him. Down below the articles about the chemical spill, she saw his name mentioned in more links about his father, and clicked on a few. Again, they appeared to be physical newspaper copies scanned online.
"Battlin' Jack Murdock Found Dead in Hell's Kitchen Alleyway"
"Hell's Kitchen Boxer Slain"
"Murder at Fogwell's Gym: Murdock Down For the Count"
An obituary for Jack Murdock from a local Catholic church listed Matthew Murdock as Jack's only child, and made no mention of Matthew's mother or any other possible family. The remaining links were less depressing: An archived Columbia Law web page from several years ago listing students who were graduating Summa Cum Laude. A few archived law papers of his on the same website.
One naïve soul named Chris who hadn't yet made his Facebook page private (was this not 2015?) had posted a picture of Matthew several years back. The slightly younger looking Matt in the picture was in a bar, and had his arm slung around the shoulders of a blond, shaggy haired man. Both were holding beers and grinning widely. She scanned the caption:"Matthew Murdock and Foggy Nelson, everybody! Graduating and leaving the rest of us to wallow in textbooks and law exams!"
Sarah noted that the Foggy Nelson in the picture must be the 'Franklin Nelson' accompanying Matthew's name on the business card. Neither of them were tagged, and a quick Facebook search didn't come up with pages for either of them.
That was it. Nothing at all to link Matthew Murdock to Daredevil. Except for the accident that had blinded him. She had assumed that the bandana Daredevil wore over the top half of his face was opaque enough to conceal his identity but thin enough that he could see through it. But now she realized he didn't need eyeholes or sheer material—it wouldn't make any difference if he couldn't see anyway. She recalled how he had moved during the scuffle in Orion: quickly and gracefully but also brutally, connecting his fists and feet to his opponents with alarming accuracy and no mercy. How could a blind man possibly fight like that?
But there was no doubt in her mind. Especially now, staring at the Facebook picture on the screen, she could see that the shape of his jaw and mouth were undeniably the same-although he looked different with the wide, charming smile he wore in the photo. There was no way it wasn't him. Even if it made no sense.
"I don't want to interrogate a girl, Foggy. Especially not one who's about half a foot shorter and seventy pounds lighter than me."
Matt and Foggy stood in the reception area of their office. If it could be called that. It had a desk, and at it there was usually a receptionist, although when Matt called Foggy to tell him what was happening, they had made sure to meet up after Karen had already gone home for the day.
"Seventy pounds? How much does all that martial arts muscle weigh, man?"
"I know, I know. I don't want to see you running around terrorizing women either, especially since I'm sure if she's in anyway connected to your life she must be a hot one."
Matt sighed, ignoring Foggy's claim as usual.
Foggy continued, "But I mean, what other options do you have here, Matt? She works for the Big Bad Company that you're trying to fight. She's gotta know what kind of company that place is, and she still chooses to work there. And it's especially sketchy that she was lurking around the place in the middle of the night. This chick doesn't sound like the most trustworthy person to know your secret. If she tells even one of those guys about who you really are—"
"—I know, Foggy." Matt felt sick at the thought of the criminals of Hell's Kitchen finding out his true identity, tracking down Foggy and Karen, probably Claire too, possibly even Father Lantom. "I'm not saying that I'm not going to interrogate her. I'm just saying…I'm not going to like it."
There was a pause.
"Do you usually like it?"
Matt didn't answer.
Picking up his cane, he turned towards the door. Night was falling, and he had to change into something a little more intimidating before tracking down the girl who knew too much.
Looking back on it later that night, Sarah would realize that her major mistake was procrastinating on taking her trash out.
She had woken up late that morning, having not slept well the night before for obvious reasons. After sleeping through her first alarm and then an additional twenty minutes past that, she got ready for work in a whirlwind, nearly skinning her pinky toe while trying to hurriedly jam her foot into her black work pumps and then having a near miss involving her morning coffee and her white blouse. She had no time to even put on mascara, much less take the trash out. Then, after her curbside encounter with Matt Murdock that evening, she had been too busy with her obsessive Googling to think of her increasingly ripe smelling trash until it was already dark out.
Now, in the dim blue light from her computer, Sarah leaned back in her chair and glanced around her apartment, giving her eyes a break from the screen. Her gaze fell upon her full trash can and she sighed, uncurling herself from her desk chair and stretching before walking over to the bin and drawing the bag from it. She could do with a normal, chore-like task anyway, to take her mind off of blind vigilantes and blackmailing crime lords. Once outside in the dark alley behind her apartment, Sarah made her way to the dumpster and threw the trash bag in.
It wasn't until he had already invaded her space that she realized she wasn't alone. A large hand covered her mouth while another one settled on her throat, and she stared, wide-eyed and panicked, into the partially covered face of Daredevil.