The Bigger Picture
Roleplaying Log: The Bigger Picture
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Her encounter with the NYPD's operation in Central Park takes Zatanna Zatara to the offices of Nelson & Murdock in Hell's Kitchen, where she seeks the advice of Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson about the state's registration law, and what it means for people like herself. Both lawyers inform her of their long term plans on fighting the law; plans that require the right case…and bottomless pockets.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 01, 2018
IC Location: The Offices of Nelson & Murdock, Hell's Kitchen, New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 02 Dec 2018 07:11
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It doesn't even occur to her to call ahead for an appointment, so when Zatanna Zatara arrives in the offices of Nelson & Murdock, it may come as a surprise. The young woman, now officially in her twenties - a couple of years ahead of the teenager Matt Murdock first met - arrives with her typical effervescent self brought to bear, chatting amicably with the young woman in charge of the front desk. Slender, dark-haired and pale-skinned, the up-and-coming celebrity illusionist is garbed in her signature, fasionable blacks, this time in a short turtleneck dress, her fishnets tucked under over the knee boots and a double-breasted peacoat. The only pops of color on her monochromatic pallette are her eyes, lips and the flush the cold outside has pushed up from under her cheeks.

She has taken to wearing some color recently, at least. A scarlet cashmere scarf is loosely wrapped around her throat and shoulders.

Whenever Matthew Murdock comes in after court, or a client meeting, or whatever other business that calls the handsome lawyer away, he would find her making herself right at home in the office's sitting area - and he would know who it is immediately despite not being able to see her. It isn't because of her fragrance, something usually subtle and spicy, like cinnamon and honey, but the underlying whiff of ozone that accompanies her magic.

And he is very well familiar with her sorcery, having reaped its benefits in the past.

If that doesn't do it, her cheerful greeting would identify her right away.

"Hi, Matt! Long time, no see."

Normally, that waft of ozone alone is enough to set Matt Murdock on edge. However much Zatanna has helped him in the past — not just him, but those closest to him — it's a sensation he intimately associates with one brutal night in an alleyway, when all of his powers and grit couldn't save him from being skewered by shadowy tendrils of magic. Matt's taken a lot of beatings in his life, but that injury was severe and unusual enough that the smell has become an indelible sense memory, forever imprinted in his mind.

Still, he perceives other things — cinammon, honey, a bright and familiar voice — that put him at ease even as he's tap-tap-tapping his way down the hallway, briefcase in hand. "Zatanna!" he says warmly, and with a quick smile that lights up his normally closed-off mug. It sends a million crinkles bursting from the corners of his eyes. He carefully leans the walking stick against the side of the door and steps towards the sound of her voice, free arm opened for a quick hug. "It's been forever. How are you?"

She is up on her feet in an instant, a glance towards that opened-up arm. Perhaps it's the unexpectedness of it, after several weeks of feeling adrift - fresh off the wounds levied by the heavy weight of guilt on her shoulders, and nursing a broken heart - but the sight of it has her throat closing up in the back of her mouth, and heat stinging traitorously under her lashes. The urge to cry has been one that she has tried desperately to keep at bay for close to a month, to the point where she has been relatively confident that if she holds on long enough, it will simply fade away.

But that's the way it usually goes, isn't it? It only takes something genuine and simple for the house of cards to collapse.

To her credit, Zatanna manages to withstand the tide, feeling her insides twist painfully when she steps into the arm and gives Matt a hug, tightening her grip around the blind attorney and for once not at all marveling at the cut of his jaw and how devastatingly attractive he was - she certainly teased him constantly while he was on his hospital bed. Certainly not what she feels underneath a suit; she has known for months that he is the Devil of Hell's Kitchen and probably goes through the same kind of punishing regimen Tim Drake does every day as Red Robin…anything to keep up with the scores of metahumans filling New York.

"I'm okay." It's a lie, and unlike most of her other acquaintances, Matt is uniquely equipped to know that it is. Pulling away, she tilts her head back to look at him, and while he can't see her smile, he'd somehow be able to sense it. "How are you? I've seen your work all over the news lately." The latest being Fisk's incarceration.

The sad truth is that Matt Murdock is a walking, talking violation of a person's right to privacy. If he were a prosecutor, his abilities would open him up to countless civil rights lawsuits. It's not just the lie, it's the surge of emotion he registers at the simple act of a friendly embrace that sends his dark eyebrows briefly upwards before they drop down again, narrowing in concern that creases his brow. What happened to her? He gives her a little squeeze in the embrace before detaching.

How are you?

Matt's mouth opens, closes. "Good?" he says, and you can hear that question mark in the upward lilt of his voice, as if he didn't quite believe that it was true. Months and months of pain, and grief, and struggle. Even madness, he can see in retrospect. And then instead of a cathartic end, he was plunged into defending his city for months on end from some demonic horde out of his worst Catholic-orphanage nightmares. But now the demons are done, Fisk is in jail awaiting trial, and Matt is finally, finally beginning to feel — if not exactly like his old self, a continuation of it rather than the dark detour that marked most of 2018.

"I'm good," he repeats, realizing he let that answer linger a little too long. "Things are really busy. There's a lot of rebuilding to do, and the world really doesn't stop for that. But — yeah. Good." His head cocks to the right, ever so slightly. "What, ah, brings you here?" Another smile, slight and quizzical. "Not that I'm not always glad to see you."

It was another early morning for Franklin Nelson. He hasn't been at the courthouse though, but instead down at the local police station. A client — an emancipated metahuman with an unnatural gift for music who has been buskering her way around Hell's Kitchen — had been arrested for being unregistered and was being interrogated. Foggy stepped in as quick as he could to be her saving grace.

He's about three heartbeats behind the hug from Zatanna and Matt, seeing just its end as he steps into the office. He looks tired, but at least in good spirits. "Well. Hello." He smiles that good-natured and entirely disarming way — a kind of casual upturn that hides the normal worries that cloud his features. It takes him a second to place her, and then he snaps. "Za — tanna." Once he has the first name, the rest flows easily from his memory. "Zatanna Zatara. Good to see you."

Good.

Had she known the full extent of Matthew's downspiral in the last few months, Zatanna would have more to say, like the singular truth that the world operates on a balance. With the man's life back on an upswing, it was inevitable that it was someone else's turn to suffer; a cynical way of putting it, perhaps, but it is accurate on some level. She also hopes that with that in mind it would be Wilson Fisk's turn, after what he had done to Hell's Kitchen and the innocent lives that were taken, blood and bone and life used to pave the way for one man's ambition. While she hadn't been there with the rest of the Titans, a few members of which had managed to actually prevent the bombs from taking the lives of more children, she had been there for the clean up, up to her elbows in bodies and saving who she could.

"I'm glad," she tells him, and she means it, her smile lingering. "You look good." Some of her usual behavior towards him manages to slip out.

When asked about the reason for her visit, she is about to answer, but the door opening catches her attention. "Hi, Foggy," she says simply, cheerfully. "It's good to see you too."

Her hands slide into her pockets. "I'm here because…" There's a pause. "Well, I was shot, a few days ago in Central Park…by cops. I'm…not really looking to sue, exactly, but I wanted to know…"

She hesitates, shifting uncomfortably. "Um…can we talk in your office?"

Matt crook of a half-smile is slightly self-conscious, the way it almost always is when someone compliments him on his looks. After all, last time he checked himself out in the mirror, he was a pinch-faced nine-year-old with a bowl cut. He 'glances' at Foggy's approach when the door opens. "Hey, Fog," he says to his weary comrade, full of casual ease, punctuated with a familiar upnod.

Though that up-nodding head whips back towards Zatanna when she explains why she's there. "Jesus, Zatanna," he says, shocked — and not just because the news is shocking. Normally he'd be able to tell if someone were that wounded right-off. But there is no copper to taste in the air, no smell of wound disinfectants or gauze. The question answers itself quickly enough. But of course there wouldn't be. She'd healed his own grievous wounds with a touch; how easy would it be to heal her own wounds then?

Still, he has to ask: "Are you okay?" Two heartbeats. "And yeah, of course. Foggy can join us if that's okay." He places that free hand on her shoulder, the blind man set to guide her towards the small conference room where he and Foggy handle most intakes.

Foggy's brows go up, and his entire expression changes into one of open curiosity which then settles into a darker frustration. "You're not the first." He glances toward Matt, and something just in the way he looks at his friend might say a lot about what Foggy knows about his best friend (for fucking ever). He expects Matt to read him, to know that he's handling that little edge of being totally pissed off and fed up just beneath the surface. He shifts slightly, and nods. "Matt is actually pretty useless without me." The humor wrought in ire is just the way it goes these days.

He still has his messenger bag hefted up on his shoulder, and he nods to the gal behind the desk. "Hold the calls, okay?" Then he's gesturing Zatanna for Matt's office. "You need coffee? Water?" Beat pause. "Home-brewed hard apple cider from Mr. Lewinski?" With a half-turn, he asides to Matt. "He was feeling festive and dropped off his wassail-themed brew as payment this month."

Nelson and Murdock: we accept cash, check, cards, food, alcohol, magical talismans, construction materials (see: plywood stored on Foggy's apartment building's roof), and the occasional pocket lint.

The warm hand on her shoulder easily steers her into the conference room, grinning faintly at Foggy - an empathetic creature most days, the frustration simmering underneath Franklin Nelson's disarming facade is noted, but she doesn't address it while they are outside more private quarters. "I'll bet, I mean look at him, he looks like a helpless puppy." She knows he's anything but, however the truth has never stopped Zatanna from unapologetically teasing anyone who would endure it. "Hard apple cider sounds great."

To Matt, her grin tempers slightly. "I'm not leaking anymore, so there's that," she tells the lawyer, easing into a seat, long legs folding by the knees and linking her fingers together. "It was a close call though. I'll get into more detail in a little bit, but a friend bailed me out, and he took me to a friend of Daddy's." She chews on her bottom lip. "Once I actually get into it though, bear with some of the weirdness, okay? It's…hard to divorce myself away from the really strange."

It is true of all magicians, but especially those who have achieved some significant level of power and notoriety; if John Constantine could avoid walking on the Synchronicity highway, he would, but he can't. Same with the other powerful magic users she has known all of her life - Doctor Fate, Doctor Strange, Sargon the Sorceror, Baron Winters, her own father. Zataras, especially, caused ridiculous mystical ripples with every little thing they did. They cannot help but attract the strange.

Once drinks and things have been brought, she reaches out for her hard cider. "Ever since the law was put in effect, I've been trying to keep my head down, you know?" she tells both lawyers. "So are the other Titans. Some of us were lucky, since the word came out during the holidays and many of them were visiting their families outside of the state. But I was around and…I've been trying not to get involved too visibly. That day though…the way it went down, it was impossible for me to ignore it. I thought people were going to die."

She glances down at the bottle in her hands. "It was just a woman. In her thirties, maybe? Blonde hair, green eyes. She was just trying to get home, or so she claimed, but these officers were trying to determine if she was registered, because apparently she electrocuted a mugger in self defense. She said she meant to, but that all the paperwork was confusing, and she was just trying to get home to her boy. The officers kept insisting that she come with them to the station, but she was growing agitated and her powers lit up. The guns came out, the officer in charge was yelling at her 'not to make them do this' and that's when I interfered. I just put them to sleep…before the lady got shot, or before she did anything to the cops. It was the only thing I could think of to do."

"That's me," says the helpless puppy through a rueful little twitch of his lips. Matt ends up taking a seat opposite of Zatanna, easing into it with all the care and deliberation of movement he manufactures for the daytime hours. Mostly, though, his attention is focused on Zatanna as she relates how it was that she came to be shot by some of 'New York's finest.' He straightens his skinny, slate-grey tie as he listens, one hand resting palm down on the expanse of desk between them. "It's okay," he reassures her. Stubborn and prickly and contrary as he can be, Matt has worlds of empathy — and that's never more on display than it is in an intake interview. "We've all gotten pretty used to the weird around here." Two years dealing with the metas of Manhattan will do that.

Then she begins. Matt's an active, engaged listener; you can see it in the slight forward lean, the crease that runs down his forehead, neatly bisecting his brows. He listens with concern, but without judgment. Questions arise, but for now he sets them aside so that she can finish her story.

Well. With one exception. "Put them to sleep," Matt repeats in that soft-spoken cadence of his. "The police officers and the woman? Or just the police officers?"

"The Titans? Like… Red Robin?" He whistles low, impressed. There's a soft clink as he sets down three bottles — brown, nondescript, and blissfully unlabeled. They are impressive — semi-sweet with bright notes of cinnamon and cloves and other spices. It screams ''Tis the Season' while also knocking you off your feet.

So. Appropriate.

Foggy settles into a seat, and immediately is cracking open his messenger bag. He's old school — yellow legal pad, ballpoint pen that comes in bulk — and he flips to a fresh page and starts in with his blocky shorthand. He looks up at Matt's question, nodding slightly in agreement.

And you know what? He barely looks taken-aback by Zatanna's witness account. Shit, his life has really taken a turn lately. Cthulhu will be rising up soon and he'll just casually ask where he gets his tentacles done. Shit just ain't real anymore, man.

"Did they notice you, or was this, ah… more of a stealth sort of… um." He glances at Matt, trying to choose his word. "Uh. Thing?" Smooth, Fogs. Smooooooth.

She answers Foggy first. "Yeah!" she tells him. "Red's a good friend of mine, he recruited me sometime in 2017. I thought I'd just help out to be a consultant, you know? For situations that deal with magic and mysticism. But the group expanded significantly since then."

When asked for specific details, however: "Just the officers. I didn't want the lady not to get home to her son," Zatanna tells Matt, her pale expression turning somewhat sheepish. "I was hiding and listening, because I didn't want to jump in without information, but I figured once the guns were out of the way, I'd be able to talk her down. And once they were, I approached her and asked her if she was okay. When she asked me how I did what I did, I just…I didn't really explain it, if not just because I know better than to give a perfect stranger those kinds of details." The last two years have only increased the numbers of dangerous, interested parties after the endless well of power sitting at the seat of her purely magical soul. Caution has been the name of the game after one close call.

"And then she asked me if I wasn't 'papered' either, I said no. And that's when she fried me with her powers."

The young woman takes a drink of her cider after that. "It blasted me back through the trees, I was twitchy and discombobulated afterwards so I concentrated on getting away. I couldn't use any of my spells in that state, I've been…I've been trying to be even more careful after what happened during the demonic invasion." A detail that she has yet to tell Matt, but judging by the way she lowers her eyes, and speaks more quietly - not to mention all the other intangible signs of distress Matt could detect - whatever had happened wasn't just serious, but dire. "The risk of it coming off all wrong was too high and even after that I didn't want to hurt anybody. So I just ran while she took off after me, trying to arrest me. That's when she shot me on the back repeatedly and I fell."

She takes another drink, her expression growing more sheepish. "I was bleeding, and there was nothing around me but dead trees and snow. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I called Swamp Thing." What? "Er…all life on Earth is guarded by two elemental forces, the Red for fauna, and the Green for flora. Swampy's the guardian of the latter. He knocked the officer out and pulled me out of the situation. He took me to Sanctum Sanctorum, where Doctor Strange saw to my injuries….the Sorceror Supreme. Though did you know he was an actual doctor once? His entire living room is a garden, and Swampy's connected to all plant life, so he took me there."

That must be where the strange part comes in.

"I was wondering…I mean, I know cop shows don't really reflect real life," she continues. "So I don't know if this is something like…drug busts and stuff where police can catch you red-handed doing what you're not supposed to. I just wanted to know…is this something we're going to have to expect from now on? I'm just…I'm trying to look out for my team, and if police are going to bait us like this…"

Matt lets the sidebar about superheroes and their teams pass them by, occupying himself with a long sip of cider, and otherwise keeping his attention on one Zatanna Zatara.

Earlier it was Foggy displaying signs of anger — signs he'd been showcasing for weeks now, ever since the governor signed that registration bill on the statehouse steps in Albany. But as Zatanna goes on, it's Matt's turn. See the way the line of his jaw shifts right, then left, stubbled skin tightening at its hard edge. See the short, sharp sniff that flares his nostrils, the tightening and flexing of the hand that was formerly planted palm down on the desk. See the chords tighten just above the collar of his neatly-pressed, oxford-cloth button-down. And, by the time she's trailing off, see the vein on his temple begin to show itself.

"It's not something you or anyone else should have to expect, no," he says after a moment, that beer making a slow rotation on the tabletop in his grasp. He keeps his voice even, but it's thick with tension — anger. "What they did was illegal, and against any number of police procedures. First, it's a clear-cut case of entrapment. There's no predisposition defense here. Second, it is not against the law to be unregistered right now. The deadline is March 1. No one needs papers until then. And third, even if you were in the wrong, she should have identified herself as a law enforcement officer and told you to put your hands in the air and surrender, then placed you under arrest — not used her powers right out of the gate."

He takes a hard swallow of the rage-fueled bile at the back of his throat, Adam's Apple bobbing above the knot of his necktie. "I'm glad you're alright, Zatanna. And I'm so sorry you went through it. We're going to take care of this, and hold those responsible accountable."

Foggy's brow furrows deep, and his green eyes cut toward Matt once before he looks back to Zatanna. "… Yeah, okay. I've not heard this one before." This about Swamp Thing. He takes a couple more notes. He can feel Matt's anger, and cuts a look toward him. "Wouldn't be the first time that cops wrote new rules on how to handle new legislation. Also wouldn't be the first time that someone decides to take this whole call for Law and Order seriously enough to start the witch hunts early."

While Matty lays out all the reasons why this is totally against the law, Foggy kind of sorts through his own thoughts and some notes. He frowns at the bit he took about Red vs. Green and Zatanna's friend called Swamp Thing, and he has questions, lots of questions. But he at least decides not to prompt the lovely Goth girl in their office to tell him more about colors and elements.

He cuts a look to Matt. "Rock-Paper-Scissors for who gets to call Blake Towers on this one?" Would probably be an unfair game if Matt was actually blind…

… Which really makes Foggy do lightning-fast reflection on all those times he actually cheated, and Matt fucking knew. You're a true friend, Matt. Seriously.

She tastes his anger in the air before she sees any visible signs of it. Zatanna has always known Matthew Murdock to not just be friendly and affable, but a genuinely good guy who tries to do as much for his fellow man during the day as he does by night. He would have to be, remembering just how destroyed Jessica Jones was when she found out that he didn't return her feelings - and he had to be someone, indeed, to turn the private investigator's head like that. People are, of course, not that simple….they are, above all, human, with just as many flaws as the most ancient structures of the world have cracks. She is certain that much like all the other heroes that she has met over the last two years that there is more complicated machinery underneath.

But with the way he is reacting, it's hard not to view him as a paragon of something. They say Justice is blind, and the poetry of a blind lawyer defending the rights of those who are about to be dispossessed of them is not lost on her. She reaches out across the table, because she has always been this way, unable to help the urge to soothe someone even in the midst of talking about her woes and concerns. She squeezes his knuckles gently, before her hand retracts.

Foggy's own remarks has her grinning faintly at him. "You'll learn pretty quick that when I come calling, you'll hear about something you never have before, Foggy," she teases him, batting her eyes in an almost innocent fashion…if innocence meant wearing the kind of look that would easily get her convicted on the spot, anyway.

Clearing her throat, she takes another swig of her cider. "Anyway…I'm glad, that it's not supposed to operate this way. I think if I didn't know what is right and proper, chances are most people like me don't. I…with what Foggy says, how likely is it that they'll make different rules for us…people like me? I mean, this law is new, right? So regular police and law enforcement, they'll be coming across situations they never have before. And if it's really likely, then how likely is it also that…"

That things would get worse is what she means to say, but her voice trails off. Matt and Foggy are lawyers, they can probably read between the lines.

She glances down at the bottle. "You know, my friends and I…we've seen a lot of shit, and we've always found a way to resolve really big problems however we can. I know it makes us look dangerous, but…we're trying to do the right thing. The bad guys, they can pass as many laws as they want, none of them are going to care, they're gonna keep doing what they normally do anyway. But we do. Daddy…" There's a stab there, palpable from a young woman who only had her father for most of her life, and now he is missing. "…Daddy raised me in the Work, my entire life. I don't think I need to tell you guys that nothing kills the spirit faster than feeling helpless and this is something that…no amount of ass kicking is going to make this go away and I figured the only way this can be corrected is through…well. You guys. People who know the system. So I also wanted to ask….if there is anything I can do to help?"

She reaches for him, for his scuffed and battered knuckles, and he's quietly astonished. She is trying to soothe his anger and outrage, even though she's the one who was shot point blank by people sworn to protect and serve her. One corner of his lips quirk upwards. He's too angry for it to be fairly called a smile, but whatever it is, it is appreciative — not just of the brief gesture, but of the woman who made it. She's a good one.

"You can call Tower this time," Matt say in quiet aside to Foggy, dispensing with the need for any games (rigged or not).

Then he turns his attention back to Zatanna, and her point about shifting boundaries. "You're right, of course," he says, regaining some of cool, collected composure he's known for in the courtroom. "Procedures may change. The meta officer who hurt you would probably argue that she was facing someone who'd just incapacitated her whole team before she knew what was happening, and she couldn't afford to go through proper procedure."

He draws in a long, cleansing breath through his nose. "Which is why these next few months are so important. We need to be aggressive — relentless — to make sure the right precedents get set. And as painful as what you went through had to be, maybe some good can come out of it on that count."

Is there anything I can do to help? she asks at the end.

He angles his profile towards Foggy. "I don't know, want to fill Ms. Zatara in on some of our bigger plans vis a vis registration, Foggy?"

At the grinning words from the Magician, the Lawyer tilts her his own slight grin. "I'm trying to decide if that's a warning or just a casual thing to note, Zatanna." Then his expression opens, gesturing both with empty hand and pen. "Or is this one of those 'little from column A, little from column B' things?"

The exchange between Matt and Zatanna sobers him a bit, and he taps his pen gently against the notebook with his head slightly bowed and eyes glancing toward Matt. He's about to say something, but then Matt lands him with the Tower call. "I'm being punished, aren't I?"

Then he sighs heavily — sighs eternally — and he nods. "I'll call the DA. We'll get this sorted out." Then he takes a couple extra notes on his legal pad, and it includes a little frowny face next to 'CALL B. TOWER.'

Then when Matt kicks the ball his way, he nods slowly and thoughtfully. When he looks back at Zatanna, he caps his pen. It means something, almost like the reporter quietly turning off their tape-recorder. He sets the pen down on the pad, straightening up as he does. "We need to find a strong case… something that carries a lot of weight, can attract media attention, and will draw attention to what is happening with this entire bullshit law." He gestures openingly with both hands, shoulders settling back a bit. "We want to put this case before the Supreme Court."

"If you need me to file anything," Zatanna tells Matt. "In order to help…uh…set the right precedent, then I'll do it. I'm serious, Matt. I don't know much about the law and trying to work…this kind of thing through the system, but if you say there's a need to be aggressive, you can use me. Or…my situation, anyway." Aggressive and relentless. He can practically sense her smile. She may not understand legalese, but she understands those concepts rather well. She is no genius, not outside her very specific skillset, but despite however she looks, past the slim frame and the delicate countenance, she was meant for the battlefield.

Foggy's remark earns a small laugh from the magician. "Both," she tells him unabashedly, unashamedly.

With Matt fielding her next query to Foggy, her ice-blue eyes turning towards the other half of Nelson & Murdock, though when she hears what the plan entails, they widen considerably. "…wow," she breathes. "You mean….wait. Are the two of you telling me you need another trial of the century?" It sounds complicated, and for a moment she looks uncertain. "What, the two of you need a challenge more difficult than getting the Winter Soldier acquitted or something?"

How can she help with that? She has no legal training, and outside of magic and the mayhem that follows it, she can't even really be said to be a genius.

"This law isn't going to stop Red," she tells them, hoping deep down that attorney-client privilege is real. "The Titans might go underground, as a group we're against it. But I'll let them know that if we come across a difficult situation that might qualify, we'll refer the case to you. What about other things? I mean…" She lifts her bottle. "Cider is great and all but I don't know if you can pay court fees with liquor. If it helps….my trust fund has several."

A pause. "Million. And if you need more, my best friend is a Wayne, he doesn't agree with this either."

"Punishment?" Matt repeats with another angle of his aspect towards his partner. "I thought letting you blow off some steam at the guy would be a favor."

The lawyer takes another long — and much needed — sip of his cider while he hears out Zatanna's reaction. All of it is reasonable — even the incredulity — maybe especially the incredulity. He's not really surprised by anything she says up until the very end: Millions.

Who knew there was that much money in magic tricks?

But first thing's first. "It may make sense to sue the city over your case," Matt says with a roll of one shoulder. "You shouldn't expect much back. They don't make it easy to win civil right suits against the NYPD, and your magical healing complicates the whole question of damages. But from the standpoint of precedents, and setting the right goalposts? Getting the right people fired and sending a message? It's probably worth it."

He takes a breath and flickers a smile: small, rueful and self-aware. "And yeah, that larger project Foggy's talking about is an uphill climb too." He leans forward, the lamplight catches winking reflections on his round red lenses. "But if we win, it could do a lot of good. And not just in New York. There are bills like this being introduced all over the country right now. We need to draw a line in the sand."

Shoulders shrug. "And — yeah. It'll be expensive. We want to put together a legal defense fund, with a board comprised of the principal donors. That nonprofit would then hire our firm to staff this place up and do the work. If you'd like to be a part of it…"

His hands spread. "I won't say no. You've already seen what's at stake."

"We haven't been in the spotlight in like… six months. We're going through withdrawals, and it's the only way I can keep blood off Matt's suit. He at least does his laundry when he knows there's cameras present." This is all delivered without a single break in the audible dry mirth that inhabits Foggy's body like a possessive spirit of snark and wit.

Then he cuts Matt a look, and points meaningfully at the Magician with his pen now that he's picked it back up. "I like her." Then Foggy is looking back to Zatanna with that comfortable smile. Until she drops the whole thing about a trust fund. He actually starts and stops several tries before he settles for: "… several million… donuts?" He knows it's dollars, but his brain kind of sputtered out.

Then Matt is taking over, using that devilish — ha — suave to their benefit. Foggy might be unarguably adorable, but he's definitely not Matt. Stupid Matt.

The only drawback she finds with that entire thing is that it would put her name on record, and with her growing celebrity, it would make everything somewhat more complicated. "Would it be possible to keep my identity anonymous?" Zatanna wonders. "And I understand the healing complicates matters, but if it helps, I wasn't the one who treated my own wounds. Doctor Stephen Strange did. I'm sure he's testified in court cases before his license was taken away, but he can corroborate the fact that the wounds existed, and the fact that he was once a practicing surgeon might even help on that front."

It's probably worth it.

She nods, electing to trust Matt's word on that. "Okay," she murmurs. "Let's do it then."

Mention of the uphill climb has her turning a sympathetic expression on both attorneys. "I understand there's a bigger picture, for sure," she says quietly. "And like I said, this is the kind of thing where our ability to kick ass physically, or even magically, won't do a lot of good. So I'll keep an eye out, and I'll spread the word, too." At least it's something, that she's putting some effort in trying to stop something that implicates some enormous consequences for others like herself.

…several million…donuts…?

A blink, and she grins. "Well, sure, I can splurge for several million donuts if that's what you need. Daddy's been saving the world well before I was even born, most people just don't know about it because that's the way most of the do-gooders in the magical community operate. He hides in plain sight, back in the day, he was huge on stage, and whenever he does perform, he manages to sell out still every time. Not to mention…caches of gemstones, ancient artifacts, the investments he's made over the years. Like I said, I'll gladly donate," she offers. "And if you need me to sit on the board, I could. Daddy's done something similar before, might as well make it some kind of family tradition. Tim already sits on the board of Stark Industries and Wayne Enterprises, he might throw his weight behind this also if I asked, and he might even know other people willing to help the fund also. He's more connected than I am."

Would it be possible to keep my identity anonymous? Matt's lips tug into a wince, which should be answer enough, but he clarifies: "It's possible the court would allow you to file as a Jane Doe, but unusual," Matt says with a lawyer's care. "The court looks at whether the revelation would cause the plaintiff some harm, or open them up to retaliation."

And then, with a shrug of his eyebrows: "We can try to do it. Worst case, the judge says no and offers us a chance of whether to move forward publicly or retract the suit."

Matt lets out a short, surprised laugh at talk of several million donuts. "For the sake of our waistlines, I think we'll opt for a check instead." The rest, including an explanation for her wealth — and her connections to others with wealth — Matt dips his head. "If you think this… ah, Tim?… would be interested, Foggy or I would be glad to meet him."

When Matt winces, Foggy winces. He breathes out a slow exhale, and he taps his pen carefully against the thick pad of yellow lined paper. Then he sighs. "Matt's also not pointing out that there's nothing to stop an intrepid reporter from figuring out that it's you, and then the story becomes why you are hiding your identity in this instead of using your influence to put a face to this fight."

Foggy's tone is strangely measured. Matt might recognize it — Foggy has done it before. Here's the reality, here's what might happen… and if it's going to happen, we might as well embrace it.

"Forgive me, Zatanna… but we don't need anonymity. In fact, we shouldn't want it." He breathes out a slow breath. "I respect the secret identities, I respect the purposes behind them." He cuts a glance to Matt. "But we need the public to see that this isn't just a bunch of masked crusades still trying to circumvent the law."

Hard truth, but Foggy delivers it in that same, deeply emotional tone that he has with other clients. And truth is? It isn't fake.

"Let's try that, then," Zatanna says, reaching into her pockets for her phone. It has been evident throughout the meeting that the young lady does not carry a purse. Not even a wallet. Then again, when you're basically magic, you don't really have to, do you? What she does, instead, is sort through her smartphone's camera roll until she finds a picture of her checkbook and just…

…well. She turns the screen over onto the table, and gives her phone a shake. The checkbook falls plops on the surface, as real and solid as anything around them. It's magic, yes, but the question is whether it is actual magic, or technical skill. It is not unlike the tricks several master illusionists in Vegas have perfected and performed for audiences over the years. The young woman, despite her age, is a master at both. In fact, it's a point of pride for her not to use any actual magic on stage.

After another few shakes of her phone, a pen falls out of it. She grins at both, the expression lighting up her face - clearly one who doesn't just live and breathe in a wondrous and often terrifying world - one that lies in the fringes of every day living, just out of sight and reach of ordinary mortals and even extrordinary beings - but one who manages to find some joy and awe from it despite being so intimately entangled with it her entire life.

"Tim Drake," she says. "He was the only child of Jack Drake, of Drake Industries, and his sole heir when he passed. Bruce Wayne adopted him several years ago." Which makes him a beneficiary of two absurdly wealthy Gothamite families. "Daddy and Bruce's father were old friends…I don't know if I told you before, but I've some old roots in Gotham. I can definitely at the very least ask him."

She scribbles quickly over her checkbook and signs her name, handing it to Foggy, who can undoubtedly appreciate the many zeroes on the line better than Matthew can, since he can see.

Foggy's own comments are sound, and her expression softens. "I know. And if I did something else for a daytime profession, I would understand it. But save for my friends and those I've interacted with in the past, nobody knows my magic is real. When I perform on stage, I don't use them, what I do under the lights is pure skill. Misdirection, props and sleight of hand, things like that. Like Daddy, I hide in plain sight. But in the last two years…it's gotten more dangerous for me. Not just people knowing it's real…" Her fingers tighten imperceptibly on her cider bottle. "…but how much of it I actually have."

The Nelson and Murdock team have touched on it already, briefly, during the Barnes trial, when evidence regarding Golubev's machine was presented and what had actually powered the device that created HYDRA's vision of a perfect world. She had gotten lucky that Archer had decided to leave her name out of the called witnesses in the last minute after a confrontation in the hallway. Especially after what happened durind the demonic invasion of New York, she is understandably reluctant to paint a bigger target in the middle of her chest than what already exists.

Matt's lips quirk into an appreciative smile as Foggy pushes for a full, public, transparent calling out of the NYPD. It's the right call in so many ways, and it's well spoken. Really, this attempt to move Zatanna is exactly the sort of delicate but critical dance lawyers engage in every single day. But there's zero surprise on Matt's features when Zatanna gently pushes back, even if her reasons are just as outlandish as her crazy story of swamp creatures and sorcerer supremes. This is going to be a recurring problem if they develop a robust metahuman practice. Many of these people are engaged in life or death struggles of their own above and apart from these lawsuits, and hang on to anonymity or public personas to protect themselves and the people around them. Asking them to unmask, to go public and out themselves, is always going to be an uphill battle.

And that may be why Matt accepts her answer without much pushback of his own — for now. "Foggy's right that it'll be more compelling if you go public, but we can try it the other way first," Matt says with a simple shrug. "If the judge denies our request, we'll cross that bridge and see what's what."

That smile gorws a little. "Yeah, I think I heard about your Gotham mansion becoming a little commune for folks for a little while," he says dryly. "Like I said, we're extremely interested in meeting anyone you think would be helpful. And we're grateful to you for the help, Zatanna. Truly." Even if he can't see the zeros, he can hear the scribbling.

Besides, he's already seen her generosity at work firsthand on multiple occasions.

The magic phone is out, and he blinks at it. Then he snaps his fingers, pointing at it. "Heeeey… you're the phone gal. Jess has one of those." He looks at Matt. "That's how we survived when locked up in Stark Tower… she pulled food out of her phone. It was wild."

That little sidebar done, Foggy looks back to Zatanna and listens with a kind of open, surprised expression. His presses his lips together, shakes his head, looks at Matt, and intones, "Christ, I'm just never going to be cool." When the check is proffered, he takes it. He looks at it. He then nods soberly. "Yup, I can buy a lot of donuts with that." There's a strange sobering that settles into him soon after those words though, and he's sitting up a little taller in his seat. He tucks the check into his legal pad for safekeeping before he speaks — that earnest quality falling back around him.

"I get it. I do." His smile is slight, but genuine. "Matt's saying it's compelling, but I'm saying it's beyond that." He looks apologetically to Matt, the expression easily heard in his tone. "We're facing some harsh realities, here." He shrugs slightly beneath his brown suit jacket. "Someday, people are going to have to know… people are going to have to know because to not know is where the fear comes from, and that fear is where the hate comes from… and — I could go Yoda here and spout off the whole thing, but I'm going to spare you. Because, the more you guys hide it, the more you guys try to bury it, to pretend it isn't there…" He gestures openly.

"Look, we take out the magic, we take out of the x-gene, we take out everything else… we've been fighting this since the Civil Rights Era. Before, actually… " He sits back then. "This is the same thing, just with a different skin." He hesitates, catching the odd play of words. He shrugs, and keeps going. "It is harder to hate someone when you know them… and right now, the public needs to know more about people like you." He hesitates, glancing to Matt. "People like both of you."

"I know, Foggy," Zatanna tells him, her expression somber. "But I'm a magician too - secrecy is part of the great game. It's not just the culture and our way of living, there's a reason why we keep the nuances of our magic hidden, even from one another. I recognize your position is a difficult one, but at the moment…I really can't let that cat out of the bag just yet."

She checks the time on her phone, and rises from her seat, setting her empty cider bottle on the table. "Anyway, I'll keep in touch, see what I can do to help even more. Let me know when I need to come in to start on the paperwork, okay? You have my number. And I'll pass on what you guys said to my team, and Tim, too."

If nothing else, she's great at keeping other people's secret identities. She has known about Tim, Bruce, Dick, Matt and Peter Parker for a good year and has still managed to address their separate personas as different individuals when talking about them. It took some getting used to, but now it is as normal as breathing.

A few moments later, she's taking her leave of the offices of Nelson & Murdock.

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