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Marvel Legends

Long Night in the City

Marvel Legends

Long Night in the City

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The air is muggy, steamy, as though the whole city has just stepped out of the shower. Moving through the wet air is like breathing through a warm, wet washcloth. The large, plate glass windows of the various bars and dives on the outskirts of the Kitchen would no doubt be obscured with fog, condensation beading inside of the glass. It's a quiet, uncomfortable night, one that would be best spent indoors with minimal clothing, a whirring fan oscillating, windows open. That would be the sensible thing to do, at least.

Costumed heroes have never been regarded as a particularly sensible bunch, so that factor alone perhaps explains the presence of one of New York's masked guardians keeps vigil on the edge of his territory, the muddy border between Hell's Kitchen and Times Square where the grime of the tenements and the subdued glitz of the Off Broadway theaters bleed together. Despite the Kitchen's close proximity to the glittering intersection of Seventh Avenue and Broadway, this is not a safe place, and of late there has been a spike in the number of inebriated out-of-towners who strayed too close to "Midtown West," paying for their misadventure with the contents of their wallets and, occasionally, their blood. It only took a few broken bones and mild concussions for the Kitchen's wildlife to remember their place - at least along the border.

Despite the severity of his methods, there are still some members of Hell's Kitchen's criminal element who are slow to learn. Thus, the neighborhood's Guardian Devil has taken to adding an extra pass over the border to his nightly route. Daredevil lifts a gloved hand to his face, wiping away sweat that trickled from under his mask down to the point of his chin, flicking the moisture away. "Damn this weather..." he whispers, shifting on the lip of the building's roof, listening intently to the ground traffic below.

Summer's last gasp before the first crisp snap of autumn broke the interminable spell of heat and humidity. It would be a welcome change. In the meantime, Matt may have to pay a certain Dr. Richards a visit to tweak the moisture-wicking capabilities of his suit. "Another swing over, then I'll head home," Murdock promises himself, rolling stiff shoulders, then leaning over the ledge again, listening.
  • A familiar heartbeat is certain to be noticed, right about the same time as Daredevil's keen senses note the impact of a pair of feet on the rooftop behind him - the acrobatic figure attached to them landing in a crouch.

    "Oh, look, somebody put one of the gargoyles in a red costume!"
    • "Hnh..." Murdock amiably growls. "Don't you have a kitten to pull out of a tree or something? I'm working." Daredevil turns from the building's ledge the look of feigned annoyance falling away when a familiar - and much beloved - scent hits his olfactory centers.

      Mustard, ketchup, onions, and sweet relish on a foot long dog. "The Spider comes bearing gifts," he says, a smile spreading over the exposed part of his face.
      • Peter chuckles, holding out the paper bag with Daredevil's present.

        "From Marco's hot dog stand, over on Bleeker. Only the best. Of course, I actually wanted to talk to you about something in your area of expertise, so maybe we can call it a retainer.."

        He moves to stand next to Matt, near the building's edge, fishing out his own dog with chili, mustard, and onions.
        • A genuine grin spreads over Matt's face as he accepts the bag from Parker, reaching inside, retrieving the hot dog, the smell wafting up through the open paper bag. Wonderful.

          "Matt Murdock needs to make a point of stopping by Marco's," he muses, setting the bag down and taking a hearty bite out of one end. "Daredevil would probably just scare the hell out of the guy. Your costumed alter ego is so much cuddlier than mine."

          Retainer, eh? "If you need a reference for a property damage dispute, I'm sure Reed or Sue would be happy to give you one. Been representing them for years," Murdock says, reaching into the bag and, to his surprise, finding a napkin, wiping at his mouth.
          • "Har-de-Har. I hear they're looking for comedians at Open Mic night at the club up the street."

            He noshes on the hotdog, hopping up on the ledge as he chews, waiting till he swallows to go on.

            "Nah, some sleazeball producer paid a guy to pretend-stalk M.J. Creepy letters, photos, the works. We have proof and everything, and I've straightened him out, but with this guy, I'm worried it may not stick. Always possible we may need to pursue legal action against him."

            There's a pause.

            "Though, you'd better not wear that suit in court."
            • Murdock takes a seat beside his friend on the building's ledge, eating alongside him. It really is an amazing dog - almost as good as the one's at Shea. The stadium is a cesspit and in desperate need of being torn down and rebuilt, but few things are better than a quality ballpark frank.

              "You know, I'd think about it, but I'd be arrested on-site, and I'm sure you can imagine how many criminal charges I'd get slapped with. They wouldn't be able to read me my Mirandas fast enough," Daredevil quips. Matt's costumed alter-ego hasn't enjoyed quite the same level of celebrity as Parker's, after all.

              The napkin is retrieved again and Matt wipes at his mouth before continuing. There's no appreciable jump in Parker's heart rate, nor does he exude any of the physiological reactions that accompany a jump in stress hormones - meaning that M.J. must not have come to any harm.

              "So, this would be a completely civil matter," he says, continuing the train of thought aloud. "Cease and desist order, that sort of thing." Another bite of the hot dog. "What's this about a sleazeball producer, anyway? Your better half land a film role I'm not aware of?"
              • "She's got a TV show going. What, you missed the billboards?"

                He feels comfortable teasing Matt, after all these years.

                "Believe me, I wouldn't do much better in my costume - Jonah's made sure the city's half-turned against me. And yeah, civil thing, if it comes down to it. Hopefully, he won't make a peep - he knows we have the evidence to get him in hot water on a criminal basis."
                • "Yes, somehow. Believe it or not, I'm not exactly up on my television watching," Murdock returns, frowning at his costumed compatriot.

                  Matt takes another bite of the hot dog, chewing thoughtfully, contemplating his friend's situation.

                  "Well, the first step would be to have someone look over the exact language of the contract to see if this constituted some sort of breach," he explains, sounding more like Matt Murdock, Esquire, than Daredevil. "Apart from contractual questions, there are various legal avenues that would be open to her - undue mental and emotional stress is the first that comes to mind."

                  A shake of his head as he finishes the dog. "I'm afraid I can't be much help to you on the civil matters, Pete. Just not my area of expertise. I could make some recommendations, though," Matt says, his tone apologetic.
                  • "Yeah, I know you mainly deal in criminal matters. Still, if you know a good civil lawyer who works cheap, I'd love to have the number. I'm hoping nothing will come of it, of course.."

                    He peers down over the ledge of the building.

                    "I think I prefer the scumbags who wear costumes and rob banks. You're allowed to hit those."
                    • "I'll see what I can do. Though, if MJ decides to press charges of any sort, be sure to let me know, Pete," Matt says, standing up on the ledge and turning around, listening for the telltale signs of trouble in the neighborhood.

                      It's strangely quiet for this time of night.

                      "How's she dealing with it?" he asks after a moment.
                      • "Better now, but.."

                        He chuckles, shaking his head.

                        "She didn't tell me at first - about the stalker. Either thinking I'd worry, or get mad, or something. She actually hired Felicia to do detective work on the guy, and got Ben to help."
                        • Felicia. Felicia Hardy. Former cat burglar and Spider-stalker, now private detective. Sultry voice, lots of curves, and near as Murdock can tell, a costume that's lacking proper coverage over her ample assets.

                          The second name catches his attention, and Matt lifts his head, turning his face toward Parker again.

                          "The Scarlet Spider's pulled the spandex on again?"
                          • Parker nods, shrugging a little.

                            "He's ditched the old name, since that alter ego is still wanted for crimes he did not commit. Just goes by 'Spider' now. I think he's going to grow his hair long and start a heavy metal band."
                            • "That'll be the day," Murdock replies, frowning, his attention shifting to another part of the street, lips pursing as he listens. Nothing.

                              "So, she had people looking out for her. That's good." Parker has managed to gather a tight circle of solid people around himself and his wife, much as Matt has done with Luke, Jessica, Ben Urich, and others.

                              The frown deepens as Murdock recalls something Pete said a moment before. "How are you dealing with it, Parker?" Daredevil inquires, opaque lenses still turned toward the far end of the street.
                              • "Annoyed. At the producer-jerk. Wondering if I should've noticed it sooner, myself - Spidey-sense can't pick up on everything, I suppose, but just wondering if my eyes were open."

                                He coughs.

                                "Er, so to speak."
                                • "Hnh," comes the curt response. Murdock knows Parker well enough to know the comment was meaningless; nonetheless, Peter's stumbling reaction is amusing.

                                  "There."

                                  With a single, swift movement, Murdock stands straight, unfastens the clip on the holster at his hip, and draws his billy clubs. His jaw sets as he flips one club into his left hand, then he extends his right arm, flicking the actuator, a long, slender line attached to a grapnel streaking out into the darkness, attaching to some unseen anchorpoint.

                                  A heartbeat later, Daredevil leaps out into the void, soaring across the streetscape, in pursuit of his quarry.
                                  • "'Well, Pete, good luck with your problems, I have to go glower intensely at a bad guy now, and possibly knock him around with a stick. Talk to you later!'"

                                    His imitation of Matt's voice isn't half-bad.

                                    "And yeah, I know you heard me."

                                    Spider-Man fires a webline, swinging out into the darkness, following Daredevil.
  • "Quit complaining," Murdock replies, knowing that Parker cannot hear him - he's simply too far away. Swinging up onto a fire escape, Daredevil pushes off the railing, firing the grapnel again in mid-fall, swinging low into an alley between two dilapidated tenements.

    "No! Please, I gave you my wallet! Just leave us alone! It's all in there, please!" comes a frantic male voice. Five heartbeats - and at least one of those belongs to a woman, judging from that perfume.

    Daredevil's boots strike the wet pavement and he stands to his full height, blocking the alley, arms out to the side, a club clutched in each gloved fist. "Pretty bold - three on two." He recognizes two of these men, and the tremor in the third man's breathing leaves no doubt as to why he's committing aggravated assault and robbery. "Reg, Jerome. We've been through this. Tell your friend to drop that piece and I'll go easy on you."

    "He's just one guy, man, we can take him," the third man whispers to his compatriots.

    "I wouldn't count on it - I've got backup."
    • Spider-Man drops from the rooftops to land in a crouch next to Daredevil, smiling under the mask at the three would-be muggers.

      "Hello, gentlemen. I'm with the Vigilante Exchange Program, doing outreach work in this neighborhood.."
      • Gloved fingers tighten around the clubs in each clenched fist, the material of his costume squeaking audibly around the weapons. The soft glow of the moon is obscured by a fire escape rail high overhead, casting long, slender shadows along the ground, black stripes obscuring Murdock's masked face. He smiles - a terrible sight on his devilish visage.

        "Holy shit, man! That's the dude! The Spider-Dude!" Reg shouts, pointing at Parker with the trembling tip of his knife.

        The smile falls from Daredevil's face at that. "You were warned." With a practiced flick of his wrist, Daredevil flings a club forward, the missile darting between the two unfortunate pedestrians, striking Reg and Jerome's unwitting accomplice in the forehead, sending him to the ground in a collapsed heap.

        A moment later, that same hand reaches out to pluck the club from the air and the grin returns.
        • "Are all your muggers that dumb? Maybe I just get a better class of criminal up in Soho.."

          He leaps into action, firing twin lines of webbing at the criminals' hands, bounding forward to launch a kick at the midriff of the nearest one.
          • "You bust guys for playing their car stereos too loud as their cruising the boulevards of Midtown," Daredevil replies, taking a step forward, flicking his wrist and thumbing the actuator on his club, firing the concealed grapnel line.

            The end of the line wraps around the remaining mugger's ankle, and Murdock gives a sharp tug, dropping him hard onto the grimy pavement.

            "Yeah, you're a real hero, Webhead."
            • Spider-Man webs the mugger to the wall as the guy stumbles back, immobilizing him.

              "Oh, yeah, let's have a villain-measuring contest. Green Goblin, Doc Ock.."
              • Murdock crosses the space separating him from the downed mugger - strolling past the shocked would-be victims - and crouches beside him, extending two fingers and striking a spot at the base of the man's next, rendering him unconscious.

                "Kingpin, Bullseye, Mr. Fear..." There's no concealing the smile - it's good to have a partner again, even if it's just for one night.
                • "Hey, Fisk counts for both of us. You don't get exclusive rights. I've got the Scorpion, the Lizard, Mysterio.."
                  • "Hnh," Daredevil grunts, apparently ending that particular line of conversation. Considering "the Jester," "Stiltman," or "the Owl" could have passed his lips, perhaps its for the best that the matter be dropped.

                    Flicking the actuator on his club again, the cable retracting and disengaging from the would-be attacker's ankles, Murdock drops the weapon back into its holster, then turns to face the couple.

                    "Go," he very nearly barks, pointing sharply in the direction of the well-lit street.
                    • "Hey, don't let it get to you - I may be popular, but it's the wrong kind of popular."

                      He chuckles, quickly firing a little webbing at the downed muggers to truss them up for the police to find.

                      "Think you might want to catch a ballgame sometime soon?"
                      • Murdock listens as the woman tries to stammer out some response of thanks, a response that is quickly squelched by his firm command. Their hearts are hammering so hard that it is only until they cross the street and run half a block back toward Midtown that their heartbeats begin to fade back into the general cacophony of the city.

                        He'll leave the quips and the good public relations - well, the half that isn't in the Bugle - to his compatriot.

                        Tilting his horned head, he gives one of the dangling crooks a shove, sending him swinging on the webbing. May need to start carrying zip cuffs.

                        "You know I hate the Knicks," Daredevil replies, turning back toward Parker.
                        • "Knicks? Knicks? You wound me. The Mets."

                          Parker chuckles, shaking his head.
                          • "He brings hot dogs, witty conversation, and the promise of Mets tickets. Clearly, he is not to be trusted," Murdock replies, smirking at his friend, folding his arms over his chest.
                            • "Me? I'm as innocent as a newborn babe. You've gotta stop reading those Bugle editorials."

                              He grins under the mask.

                              "I'll give you a call about the game, soon. Thanks, D.D."
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