Of Penance and Inflection Points
Roleplaying Log: Of Penance and Inflection Points
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After months of freeloading, Matt Murdock is finally vacating Danny Rand's mansion. But first he has a conversation with Emery about family, faith, and the fate of the world.

Other Characters Referenced: The Defenders
IC Date: April 02, 2019
IC Location: Casa Rand
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 03 Apr 2019 01:25
Rating & Warnings: R (Language)
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's moving day, though it doesn't look like it. No hired hands have been brought in. There's not even a U-Haul. The truth is that Matt Murdock has been traveling light for at least half a year, and hasn't begun to replace nearly half of the things he lost when his loft went up in the funeral pyre Wilson Fisk made of old Hell's Kitchen.

All it takes to clear himself out of Danny Rand's apartment is a few packed duffel bags and a Lyft to take him to his finally-ready townhouse in the Kitchen. Yes, it's true. After half-a-year of freeloading, Matt Murdock is finally moving out of Danny's mansion at 18 Grammercy.

He's in his suite packing the last of those bags right now, folding his business wear with care, even though a trip to the dry cleaners before his next court date is necessary and inevitable. But right now he's dressed down for the first truly-warm day of 2019: a grey t-shirt, some old jeans, beat up sneakers, and his perennial shades.

Matt has made the bed, rendered the place spotless even before Emery can get to it. It'll be like he was never there, to begin with; like last year's deconstruction of Matt Murdock's life was all just one bad dream.

—-

The Butler has given Matt his space, for the most part, listening to him bustle about and clean and such as he works black magic in the kitchen, and in other parts of the house doing his job. But at this point…the Irishman is leaning in the doorway of the suite, arms crossed over his chest and an eyebrow quirked. He's dressed in a pair of black slacks, a black button-down with this sleeves rolled up, and he's removed his apron, for now, long hair pulled back out of his face.

"Alright…c'mon then ye mad, blind bastard. Up to the roof for a bite to eat before I drive ye to whatever you're moving on to." He jerks his head slightly to motion for Matt to follow, knowing he cannot see it. "And I dun wanna hear any objections now…"

—-

Matt crooks a slight smile when Emery speaks up, though he keeps folding clothes a beat or two longer. The truth is, having anything like 'help' looking after him has been the least comfortable part of staying in Danny Rand's very comfortable home the last eight months. Between Matt's working-class background and low-key radical politics, it's problematic. That's doubly true when the 'help' is a friend and partner in that other side of his life.

On the other hand… the food is really, really good. "Yeah, sure," Matt says as he stuffs the last white button-down into the duffel bag and turns. "And I'll take the ride. But I'm not, uh, going to sit behind you when we drive to the place. Shotgun, please."

And even though Matt can't 'see' the jerk of Emery's head, there are enough cues for him to follow out the door and up the stairs towards the rooftop. "I'm grateful," he says. "You and Danny have been — really great hosts, even after I probably stayed past my welcome."

—-

"Pssh, 'not going to sit behind you'. Of course not, I've got a new Jag I'm tryin' out for a few days, ye may not be able to fool around in the back of a coupe but I'd tink you of all people could appreciate feelin' the beauty purr." Emery chuckles softly as he turns to head off. "I'm not driving ye because I'm a Butler. I'm driving ye because you're a friend and it would be insensitive for me to just offer you one of me cars seein' as I'm prety sure its ilegal for you to get behind a wheel."

On the roof, he's set up a small spread. There's fresh milk and butter, some fresh baked bread warm and radiated fresh baked yummyness, and sliced juuuust so because he's got various sandwhich fixings spread out. Condiments, roasted chicken, roast beef, veggie fixings and what not. Then a large basket of home made fries (chips), couple of glass bottled sodas of the European variety and for desert there's the smell of freh baked brownies.

"You are as quiet as a mute mouse most of the time, and you clean up after yourself. You'd be welcomed no matter where I worked…or hell even where I lived." He gently moves to Matt's side, to reflexively gesture/nudge in the direction of the set up he's spread out on a picnic basket. "Don't be a sappy wanker about it, don't tink I won't be checking out your new place and making sure its fridge stays stocked as well."

—-

Don't be a sappy wanker. Mad blind bastard. It's the sort of talk that might rankle someone else, but Matt takes it in good stride. A strong masochistic streak thickens the skin.

"I do like the sound of a nice engine," Matt says as he follows Emery out the door to the roof exit and feels the warmth of the spring sun on his features. He smiles a little, lips twitching at their corners.

"Yeah, you should come and check it out," he says of his place, casually. "I'll have the gang over sometime soon I'm sure." Out here he can feel the change in the season, but he can also smell the soot and ash and lingering residue of destruction from the fallen Triskellion in the east.

It reminds him.

"Hey, uhh," he says as he rounds towards the sandwich spread, seats himself while he puts together something without hesitation or any of the faltering or fumbling he feigns with most people. "You've had a lot of lives, right? Done any intelligence work? Or P.I. stuff. Tracking, snooping, that sort of thing."

—-

Chips are sprinkled with a bit of salt and the scent of vinegar is in the air as Emery prepares himself a plate, nodding slowly in agreement. "Mm, housewarmings all around." But its the next question that make him blink a few times.

A lot of lives? That's putting it mindly and the Irishman thoughtfully consumes a few pieces of fried potato before replying with a soft snort. "Aye." There's a long pause. "I've 'ad to find people I've never met before, follow others, learn tings. It came with the whole…" He waves a hand vaguely. "Err, mission and all that."

—-

"So, look," Matt says as he sits back on the lounge chair with his chicken sandwich in hand. "I think I — or rather Daredevil — brokered an arrangement with SHIELD that gets Luke out of a tight spot with registration."

SHIELD, you say? The SHIELD whose midtown headquarters was recently decimated by the Maximoffs and their Brotherhood? The one that the Maximoffs then publicly accused of developing a mutant-killer virus?

Yes, that SHIELD. Matt's features have some chagrin, but they're also full of jaw-set determination. They've made this deal for Luke — even more, for Luke and Jessica's future — and he'll hold up his end.

"But the flip side is that we've got to track someone down for them." We, presumably, is the Defenders. "His name is Benjamin Palmer. He was a SHIELD agent who supposedly died on a mission. Then he came back and murdered a high-ranking SHIELD official. He knows how they work, so Agent Carter wants us to go poking around after him to see what's what."

His shoulders lift, drop. "I'm about to get bogged down in this trial nightmare… if you're game to do a solid by Luke, it'd be helpful."

—-

Frenchfries are put on some bready with some roast beef and several sinfully indulgent sandwich fixings go into creating the masterpiece of a dish on Emery's plate. He's listening though, closely and he just blinks a few times. He has to pause in mid-bite of his sandwich to tilt his head to the side curiously and take a deep breath.

He sets the sandwich down and just bows his head politely. "Are ye askin' me, as a Butler and a Friend or as a professional to go find this man?" He finally asks after a few moments.

—-

Emery greets Matt's suggestion with what is perhaps an appropriate amount of caution. "I guess I'm asking you, as a member of the team, whether you'd be willing to," Matt says, the hand not holding onto his sandwich turning palm upward.

His lips twitch again at the corners. "Whether that counts as 'professional' or 'friendly' I can't say. What do the 'Defenders' count as? Are we a club? A second, unpaid job? I don't know. The lines are a little blurred for all of us, aren't they? But we're building a relationship with SHIELD, for better or worse. And they just kept one of ours from going to jail. I don't fully trust them, especially not with all —"

He gestures towards the ruins to the east.

"But if a little investigative work helps keep Luke out of jail, it seems worth it to me."

—-

There is a moment where there's a soft inhale, almost a hint of confusion mixed with sprinkle of disbelieve and drizzled with being touched. Emery opens his mouth and closes it and just finally takes a bite of the sandwhich, chewing slowly. Then another bite. And he finally admits. "I had no idea that you lot considered me part of a team. You all are the closest ting I've had to family outside of Kennis for hundreds of years. I do what I do for ye all because I'll be damned if I lose another one." He purses his lips and shrugs a shoulder, staring off towards the ruins and he shrugs again. "I've found people you all didn't know about but needed to be found in the past, it won't be a problem." He bows his head and just sits quietly for a few moments. "I've felt your pain, Matthew Murdock. Held ye like a wee babe and felt it course through me body like it was my own. Dun ever tink I wouldn't do whatever it took to keep you all safe, I always do."

—-

When Emery calls this makeshift crew of misfits 'the closest thing I've had to family,' something unguarded and touched passes his typically guarded features. His eyebrows drift upward, and his careworn forehead crinkles. Memories of Thanksgiving meals pass by, of people hovering over his shit-beat form, fresh off Wilson Fisk's boat. "Yeah," he murmurs, "I think I know what you mean."

There's more there, of course. Talk about 'finding people you all didn't know about.' Under other circumstances, Matt might press, but the moment feels wrong for many reasons. "Thanks, Emery," he says, with quiet sincerity. "I'll get you what you need to start."

A beat. "How is Kennis. How are you both, since —"

//Since registration started, and this whole city started going to hell.

—-

There's silence as Emery just stares off at the ruins and his lips curve in a small smile, a hint of sadness in the eyes Matt cannot see and he nods slowly. "See that ye do boyo." Its that next question that makes him look down and then back up. "She's…upset again because I can't let her go to school with other kids. She's back to where she was before we moved, doin' her lessons at home. I don't know what I'm goin' to do really. I mean." He rubs a hand over his head. "Might have to send her back to England or Ireland or maybe with Nimisha in India…" He chokes up a bit at that, clearing his throat. "I've been through shite like this before, kept me head low and made it through but now, I have someone with a future to consider." He idly scratches his chin. "How are /you/ Master of Law?"

—-

Matt's brow knits again when Emery speaks of Kennis' distress, the possibility he might have to send her away, overseas. "Even out of state might keep her out of danger for a while," the man says as he sets his mostly untouched sandwich back down on the plate beside him. "Jersey City, Gotham. That way you could visit. Or even go with her, and visit us from time to time."

How are you, Master of Law?

Matt's eyebrows lift and drop in the semblance of a shrug. "Fine," he says. "I mean, relatively fine. I've got a roof over my head, and there's lots of work to do. I feel a little unsettled. Like we're at this, ah, inflection point — the part of the line graph before things take a serious curve. You know?"

—-

"Jersey City's easier than Gotham," Matt notes with a little shrug of his shoulders. "Just fifteen minutes on the PATH train from the financial district and you're there. You could have your own apartment there, go to sleep every night. Think about it."

And then Emery gives Matt something to think about. A big picture, grand-historical view of history's highs and lows. A cycle of violent populist waves that devastate and destroy, but also make way for rebirth. It's a wise, almost spiritual perspective. And more proof that Emery is a man who has seen a lot, and learned a lot from it.

Matt finds it a challenging perspective to take. "Yeah, that sounds good if you're the new thing that's growing," he says with a quirk of his lips. "Less so if you're getting crushed. Foggy and I are just trying to — "

His eyebrows lift, drop. "Break the wave, I guess." A beat. "God. It sounds quixotic when you put it like that, doesn't it?"

—-

Emery smirks gently, a hint of knowing sadness in his eyes but he takes it all in for a moment and then just nods his head slowly to the suggestion for Jersey. "You and Foggy are trying to help all the people getting tossed about and around in the wave come up for air and keep swimming so they can make it where the wave will crash to the shore. You will help as many as you can and hate yourselves for the ones you cannot but ultimately keep going because after the wave breaks, there will be predators to fend off."

A helpless shrug. "Faith helps alot…"

Then he returns, almost seemingly out of the blue to the original suggestion of sleeping every night and he admits something to the blind vigilante. "I don't sleep every night. Just once or twice a week. When I do, I need a safe place or person for Kennis to be with." His lips press together in a thin line as he traces one of the tattoos that disappear under his sleeve. "I pay penance for every soul I've reaped, to keep a balance. The memory fragments…residue of that soul transferrence because another spirit in the queue, lined up and waiting to punish me for their sins. When I am not conscious, I am tortured. Broken, boiled, stabbed, burned, whipped, chopped, beaten…over and over until I've 'recharged' so to speak physically and then I continue on my way."

He exhales softly. "Stuck in a perpetual undertow in the war between good and evil in this world…so I do what I can to help you lot surf and help others. Makes me feel there's a purpose to it all."

—-

Matt's chin dips pensively downward at Emery's commentary on he and Foggy's efforts to challenge registration and the rising tide of anti-metahuman hate. He has thoughts on the butler's elaboration of that metaphor, but they never find a voice.

The lawyer's head snaps back up as if he were trying to look Emery square in the eye while the man describes —

"That sounds like — hell," murmurs the one-time Catholic schoolboy. There's no shock or skepticism in his voice. He has seen enough shit and knows enough to take Emery at his word about something like this. Instead, it's quiet sympathy, paired with a gently knit forehead. Even for someone who sleeps as little as Matt does, the idea of a life where slumber is torture rather than a healing balm is hard to fathom.

"Forever?" he asks after a long beat. That's the difference, in the end, between hell and purgatory. The latter is penance, the former eternal retribution.

—-
A long sip of what's probably not actually British Soda in that glass bottle and Emery grunts softly in acknowledgment. "Aye." He lowers his eyes for a moment before chuckling softly and giving a quick shake of his head. "I 'ave to live until every soul I've reaped has had the years I took from them to torture me. So if a wanker was supposed to live 50 and I snuff him at 25, he's got 25 years to torture me…and so on." Then all he says after that is. "I've…done alot of reaping. So. I'll outlive me own daughter. For me, that will be Forever."

He clears his throat and takes another swig of beer. "The man upstairs either has a wicked sense of humor, or the people who created us were arseholes."

—-

Matt listens to Emery outline the rules of this perverse calculus of his long-lived life. This man has lived, by admission, hundreds of years. All of those years belonged to other people, once upon a time. They were snatched away, stolen, and Emery pays the price every night he sleeps.

The butler speaks with gallows humor about their creators, and Matt puffs out a breath. He knows a thing or two about penance and all its myriad contradictions. "Maybe both," he suggests to his friend wryly.

A long beat. And then a quiet: "Is there a way to stop — adding on to the years? Any good lawyer would counsel it."

—-

Emery rubs a hand over his face, he doesn't talk about this much but there's a knowing…with his roots and his choice of costume and title, that there's a spiritual aspect to his own existence that can be better understood. "Cheers to that." The bottle is lifted at the 'maybe both' comment before another swig is taken.

Its that question that makes him smile a bit sadly and huff out a breath. "Aye. I tried. When Kennis was born. Said I wasn't going to do it anymore. If I had to outlive her, then damnit I'd reduce the years. Stop eating sou-reaping, and stop adding years." He slaps his knee. "Then I moved to New York and there was that terrorist attack at that Gala. In me arms was this young woman, mortally injured and in so much pain. I took her pain, and released her soul to a better place…" He falls quiet. "Anyways. I'm tryin' me best. Sometimes who I was made to be is on conflict with who I want to be." He sniffs. "But ye know all about that, don't ye Satan of the Subway?"

—-

Emery points to the hard choices he's had to make. What happens when snatching a life isn't about killing at all, but ending suffering? Why should that be a sin? Why should that add to the man's torturous penance? Who possibly benefits?

But Emery doesn't make the rules. He just lives by them. And eventually, if he is lucky, will someday die by them. Until then, he has a commiserating soul in Matt Murdock, who spends his every night trying to atone for a single sin he's only recently begun to admit out loud to those closest to him. If just one death on his head could shape his life so profoundly, what must the dozen (hundreds?) that Emery has provoked.

Nevermind all that. "Satan of the Subway," Matt echoes, suddenly sardonic. His eyes roll behind his red-rimmed glasses. "Jesus Christ."

The humor only lasts a moment, right up until he settles on an answer: "The trying your best counts," he says. "We're Catholic, after all. Faith and works, not just faith alone."

—-

Emery pushes himself to his feet and brushes off his pants with a smirk. "Fitting though. Ye fight like you're avoiding hell. So keep fighting Matt Murdock. At the end, we're all just messengers."

He may or may not (he is) packing up some of the sandwich stuff and no doubt it will be in containers and left at Matt's new place, with no comment. "Faith and works…" He echos. "Now eat yer lunch, I want to see this 'new place' of yours. Tell you if the view is really as shite as it probably is." He teases gently, but there's gratitude in his tones. He doesn't voice it. "You'll need a good place to rest if you're going to be managing freakin' waves…"

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