A/N: I originally planned to write more chapters to this fic. I've recently added another chapter, and will continue to do a few more "days in the life" of Matt Murdock in his civilian guise.
Ripple Effect: A Little Off the Top
Matt Murdock sauntered up the cracked sidewalk of the Hell's Kitchen side street to Doc Burnett's barbershop. It was a Saturday morning, the warmth of the sun filtering between the awnings on the old buildings, so he was in no particular hurry. As Matt came to the end of the block, the aroma of bay rum and Old Spice filled his nostrils. His cane tapped the old wooden barber pole that had stood beside this doorway for decades. He remembered the blue and red stripes that spiraled around it, and wondered if anyone had ever repainted that thing.
"Looking scruffy, Counselor!" Doc Burnett chided as Matt came in the shop. Most of the time now, everyone saw Matt as the buttoned-down attorney in the expensive suits, so it was a surprise to see his muscular torso clad in a Columbia University t-shirt that had seen better days. Matt sported a good week or so worth of beard, having been on a type of sabbatical from both his day job at the law firm of Nelson and Murdock, and from his "other" job, fighting crime as the crimson-costumed Daredevil. He was just now getting over the sore muscles and bruises of his last round of clearing crime on the streets of the Kitchen.
"And good morning to you, too, Doc." Matt took his place in line on the bench next to the window. He greeted the other men, settling next to the worn table with its stack of reading material, leaning his white cane in the corner out of the way. With a sly grin, he reached over and grabbed one of the worn periodicals, intentionally holding it upside down in front of him. "Don't you EVER get any new magazines in here?"
"Don't you EVER have any new jokes, Matthew?" Doc shot back, grinning. How many times had Matt done this over the years? "Got two more ahead of you, son."
Doc recalled to himself how Jack Murdock had brought Matt in when the boy was so small that his feet dangled off the wooden plank that served as a makeshift booster seat, spanning the arms of the big leather barber's chair. I remember the first time Jack brought him in after that accident. Terrible thing to happen to a young guy. Doc shuddered slightly with the thought.
That morning, so many years ago, Doc had settled Matt into this same chair, pulled the towel around his shoulders, and was trying to make polite conversation when he clicked on the electric clippers. A startled Matt almost jumped out of the chair. Little did Doc realize that the accident that took Matt's sight had heightened his other senses to the extent that the hum of the clippers was like the roar of a jet engine to him, and the vibration rocked through the base of his neck like a shock wave. The look of distress on Matt's face told Doc to try something else. He picked up the scissors and his straight razor and finished the job. It was this gesture of understanding on Doc's part way back then that had kept Matt coming back to him year after year (except for those long-haired college days), even when some suggested that he might get a more stylish, not to mention expensive, cut uptown in a trendy salon.
"OK, Matt, your turn." Matt rose and Doc ushered him over to the worn leather chair. "What'll it be today?" He clipped the vinyl cape around Matt's neck, removed his dark glasses and set them on the ledge in front of the mirror.
"Um…for starters, how about a 'little boy regular'." That's what Jack had always called a typical haircut. "Then, I'd like to get you to trim this stuff up for me to get me started toward that GQ look that Foggy thinks I should try these days." He rubbed the stubble on his chin. This was the first time Matt had decided to try a decent beard, because it just didn't work with the mask too well. Now that he was hanging up the tights, here was his chance. "He's really jealous because I can grow a goatee and he can't even get arrested for an attempted mustache."
Doc snipped away at Matt's red hair while the towels heated in the steamer, making small talk about how quiet the neighborhood had been lately. He brushed away all the cut strands, then tilted the chair back and swathed Matt's upturned face with the moist towels.
Matt sighed. He could remember seeing men get shaved when he was a little kid, and now he knew why they would line up on that wooden bench and wait their turns for this. Man… for a guy who could feel every pore on his body, this was some kind of wonderful. For almost five seconds, he reveled in the moment. Then Matt caught a snippet of conversation amongst the waiting clientele. He smiled under the weight of the towels.
"Yeah, things around here in the Kitchen have been different since that Daredevil guy ran out all the drug dealers…"
"Wonder how he managed to whup up on all those guys?"
Then a whisper from a younger voice…"Wait, didn't I hear something about DD being a blind lawyer? It's not this guy over here, is it? Didn't Doc call him counselor or something when he walked in?"
Another whisper…"Shhhhh…naw, no way, man. This dude is way too skinny. Besides, I've seen DD in action on the streets, and there is no freakin' way he's blind. Saw him knock a guy right between the eyes with that billy club of his. Freakin' awesome."
With a flourish, Doc whisked away the now cooling towel, and applied the warm soothing lather he had been whipping up in the old ceramic cup with a soft-bristled brush. He began to work his magic sculpting Matt's goatee and mustache. A few deft strokes later with the straight razor, and Doc was wiping away the traces of the fragrant lather, rubbing the aftershave between his palms, and gently slapping it on Matt's cheeks. He uprighted the chair and swung it around to face the mirror before he caught himself. "Looks good, trust me, Matt" he said, glancing at Matt's reflection in the worn, streaked mirror. He handed Matt his dark glasses. He grew up to be a good-looking guy, despite the accident. Shame his dad didn't live to see it, Doc thought.
"Oh, I do, Doc. Pass me my cane and I'll get out of your way." As Doc retrieved the stick from the corner, Matt fished a pair of carefully folded bills from his wallet. He took his cane from Doc, pressed the money into the barber's hand, and waved as he departed. "Thanks, again."
Barely out the door, Matt heard one of the men say, "No way…". He smiled, and headed back home.