Oh, and these guys are definitely Marvel's, not mine--I would *never* have the nerve to do something like this. I'm just borrowing them briefly; they'll be back in place for next issue.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang, or a whimper, but with a screaming tabloid headline. Most people would laugh, but I know better--I can already hear the slow slide of reality collapsing around me, crumbling under those blunt black letters.
PULP HERO OF HELL'S KITCHEN IS BLIND LAWYER.
Matt Murdock is Daredevil.
Not my world, you see, at least not yet. Right now what's at stake is my partner, my best friend, the man who means more to me than anything else...
I'm shaking. I should really try to stop that.
Part of it's rage. I don't know how this happened, though I can think of plenty of ways. (And a little of the rage spills over onto Matt for a minute; damn it, did he have to tell *everyone*? And if he did, why was I the last to know...? But that's long over, and not important right now.) But whoever it was, how could they, how *dare* they, what gives them the right to play with peoples' lives like this, to make the secret that's been life-and-death to my partner for so long into just a matter of gossip and sales?
It's just as well I'm a lawyer. I won't have to pay anyone to sue them.
That part's almost comforting. A lot easier to handle, definitely, than the part where I'm scared out of my mind.
He's going to die. That keeps repeating itself in my head, over and again. He's going to die, because half the criminals in New York City want to rip his lungs out, and this thing that calls itself a newspaper just hung a neon sign over his head telling them where to find him. And he's smart and fast and *always* knows what's coming up behind him, but he's still human. I know that real well. So my partner's going to die, unless we talk fast enough and act innocent enough to throw them all off the track. A blind superhero? Don't be ridiculous. No one could believe that.
Unless someone does. And then I'll attend his funeral, for real this time...
Or maybe it won't be real. Maybe it'll just be another fake. I mean, it worked last time this happened, didn't it?
I wonder if he'll even bother to tell me this time? Or if he'll just skip out again, bury himself in his costume somewhere, and I won't know a damn thing for months, years, *ever*...
Is that it? Am I just scared for myself, that I'll lose him?
Well, yeah, I am. If that's wrong, then I'll be wrong. He's--jeez, I don't know. He's my partner. He's my conscience. He's *Matt*. I can live without him, I've done it--and I don't want to have to do it again. And conceited as it sounds, I don't want him to have to do without me, either--without someone to make him laugh and make sure the bills get paid and drag him out of his head every now and then. I've seen what happens to him when he takes off on his own, and it's not good, you know? I just--
I want him to be okay. Safe. Happy. *Alive.* And if he can't do that and still be a superhero anymore--and with half of New York's media vultures watching his every move it's looking pretty unlikely--is that really such a bad thing? I mean, I'm not stupid, or blind--
--okay, bad choice of words. But I'm not. Daredevil is important, he does good things--I know that, you think I don't? He's saved *me* more than once.
But Matt's important too.
And I just, I can't tell you how long, how many times, I've watched my partner be *eaten* by this red weight he carries around. Dozens of images--Matt, wild-faced, sobbing into my shoulder over an open grave. Matt's voice on the phone, almost unrecognizable, in a toneless flood of obscenities and accusations that left me terrified for both of us. Matt, vomiting in the bathroom from pure sick shame. Matt in a coffin...
Matt's eyes, blank and numb, as he told me Karen was dead.
Karen. Damn it. It's not just him that his alter-ego eats, either. Karen, and maybe Heather...and me. No, I'm not dead. Yet. (Though if that lunatic at the courthouse had been just a little closer...) But it's cost me in more ways, more daily pain, than I'd ever explain to him.
If I want to spare him, spare us all--is that so wrong?
Matt, please. Don't do this to us again. Don't shatter yourself to pieces, trying to keep your alter-ego alive.
Our world is ending. I'm sorry, but it is. For once, Matt, just this once, can't we make a better one out of it?