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Daredevil #4

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  • Hoang Thai
    *** The Alternate Marvel staff would like to say Happy Birthday to the Stan the Man Lee for the great contribution he has had in creating the Marvel Universe
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2003
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      *** The Alternate Marvel staff would like to say Happy Birthday to the Stan
      'the Man' Lee for the great contribution he has had in creating the Marvel
      Universe that we all know and love with characters such as our beloved
      Hornhead, Daredevil, and amazing wall-crawler, Spiderman! Happy Birthday
      Stan!***

      He dwells in a world of eternal night - where the blackness is filled with
      sounds, scents, tastes and textures other men cannot begin to perceive. For
      though attorney, Matthew Murdock is blind, his other four senses function
      with superhuman sharpness - his uncanny radar sense guides him past every
      obstacle. He stalks the street at night, a relentless avenger of justice -
      he is Daredevil: the Man Without Fear.

      Daredevil: the Man without Fear

      Issue 4: �New Horizons�

      Written by Hoang Thai

      ---- Lower Manhattan ----

      Lower Manhattan, they say it�s the heart of the financial world, where men
      with ambition rise to unimaginable heights while others without ambition
      fall to incredible depths. You either make it or you don�t. As selfish as it
      is, there�s no other way: Most of the people who live in this exclusive
      world of glamour and prestige would attest to that. They�ve earnt it all:
      the towering skyscrapers, luxurious suites, extravagant restaurants and
      frenetic nightlife. They deserve every inch of it. The media�s glorification
      of New York City�s industrious and exclusive business districts serves to
      highlight this to the world. And today is no different.

      �Despite the catastrophes that have undermined New York�s business
      district�s stability, today there is an expectation that perhaps some good
      news is finally about to come its way. I�m Eleanor Harvey reporting for WBC
      news.

      �We�re here today in front of the Mason Building waiting for an announcement
      from Rosalind �Razor� Sharpe, one of America�s most highly regarded lawyers.
      What does she plan to announce? We suspect, whatever it is, that Matthew
      Murdock and Foggy Nelson, the renowned duo, have something to do with it.
      They entered the premises earlier today but� wait here they come now!�

      Eleanor Harvey and her camera crew in unison with the masses of journalists
      quickly converge on the Mason�s Building�s marble stairs. Cameras flash,
      films rolls, notepads are scribbled on and tape-recorders hum.

      Matt Murdock lost his sense of sight as a child but in return his four other
      senses were heightened and he gained a unique radar sense. It is these
      hypersenses that enable him to today hear each and every sound, feel each
      and every set of eyes and camera focusing on him and his colleagues. Matt�s
      had his fair share of the limelight in his life, but this� this is something
      totally different.

      It�s not the same as being revered as a superhero or an astute and just
      lawyer. It�s an aura of respectability based on connections and social
      standing in society. The feeling you get when you know the hottest girl in
      the grade and everyone gives you that look: that half-jealous, half admiring
      glare. Matt feels it now and he knows Foggy Nelson, his best friend, does
      too.

      Foggy attempts to conceal his delight, but Matt can feel it encompass every
      part of Foggy�s body. His every stride is just that little bit more
      energetic and purposeful, that child-like smile that creeps across his face
      despite his attempts to display an aura of composure and those wide eyes
      darting across the crowd that gaze towards him.

      Rosalind Sharpe meanwhile provides a stark contrast. Her every movement is
      natural and relaxed. This is business as usual for her, nothing new. She
      gracefully steps forward onto the erected stand and adjusts the microphone
      height. She doesn�t rush, rather, she deliberately does it slowly to build
      the sense of anticipation among the journalists. Rosalind Sharpe shows why
      she is called �Razor� in the legal profession: her business sense, level of
      control is impeccable and her natural gracefulness unmatched.

      Matt smiles, he hadn�t expected any less of either. He still finds it hard
      that despite being mother and son, Rosalind and Foggy can be so utterly
      different. Then again, many would say the same of his father and Matt. Of
      course, that was provided they didn�t know Matthew Michael Murdock and
      Hell�s Kitchen crimson Avenger, Daredevil: the Man without Fear, are one and
      the same man.

      Rosalind finally addresses the waiting reporters. �Good Morning to you all,
      you�re probably wondering why this press conference has been called today so
      I�ll get straight to the point.

      �Franklin Nelson, Matthew Murdock and I have negotiated the terms of a
      partnership that places us at the forefront of the American legal
      profession. In dangerous times such as these, justice needs to stand firm
      and Sharpe, Nelson and Murdock will help to ensure this.�

      Rosalind pauses, giving the journalists and gathering crowd a moment to
      absorb the far-reaching implication of what she�s just declared: Sharpe,
      Nelson and Murdock are one of the elite law firms in the United States.

      Sharpe continues, �As of immediately, business starts today for the firm of
      Sharpe, Nelson & Murdock�

      Sharpe�s speech is short but its sheer potency indicates to everyone that
      there will be significant implications for the American legal profession�s
      balance of power.

      A reporter breaks the chatter amongst the sea of journalists. �Mrs. Sharpe,
      your accolades spread far and wide across the nation. You�ve always stated
      that you believed a desire to work alone, why the sudden change?�

      �Before I answer your question, it�s Ms.,� corrects Sharpe. �As for why,
      nothing is a constant in life, and in uncertain times we need to work
      together and be firm against forces that would undermine our society.�

      Another reporter on the left side of the crowd fires another question, �Ms.
      Sharpe, would this particular choice of partners be in anyway related to Mr.
      Nelson being your son? You haven�t in the past expressed a desire to work
      with him, why the sudden change?�

      �I think I have firmly indicated that partners should be judged on merit and
      not connections. Franklin being my son is one thing, Franklin as an attorney
      is an entirely different matter,� Rosalind pauses again, making sure the
      fact sinks in. �A person has to have something to offer, and Nelson and
      Murdock have proved over the years that they have plenty to offer.�

      Another journalist fires a question, but this time at Matt. �Mr. Murdock,
      how did this come to be? It�s quite a change from the typical cases that
      Nelson and Murdock use to handle.�

      Matt steps to the front of the podium, �The opportunity presented itself,
      and Nelson and Murdock felt it would be in the best interests of both itself
      and its clients enter into this partnership with Ms. Sharpe.�

      �So is that a categorical �yes� that the firm of Sharpe, Nelson and Murdock
      will continue to provide legal services to working class citizens?�

      Matt doesn�t need to even look over at Sharpe to know what she thinks. But
      he ignores her. Foggy and he are equal partners as well, and there were no
      terms in the contract that disqualified this possibility.

      Matt smiles and states firmly, �Yes.�

      A round of applause erupts across the gathered crowd. Matt knows Rosalind
      isn�t terribly pleased with what he just did, but the loosening up of her
      facial features and her calming breaths indicate that she�s at least pleased
      with the positive response. After all that�s what the media is going to
      report.

      A round of questions ensue relating to everything from strategic objectives
      and policy to what�s going to be in the office pantry and how much is going
      to be in the petty cash box. They take turns fielding the questions before
      Rosalind stops it. They�ve made their point, best to let the media play it
      out. Rosalind leads them back up the marble steps, past the pillars and into
      the majestic cream halls of the Mason Building.

      Matt grins inwardly as he follows Foggy and Rosalind back up to their
      offices on the 53rd floor. The prestige doesn�t bother him like it does
      Foggy. He�s seen enough over the years to know the measure of man is his
      sense of self, not what the world dresses you up to be.

      ---- Hell�s Kitchen, Matt�s apartment ----

      Karen Page has just woken up. The sun pours in through the windows and onto
      the navy blue sheets. She drags herself out of bed, pulling her bra strap
      back over her shoulder and under her silky blond hair that radiates the same
      brilliance of the golden sunshine on this New York morning.

      It�s another day, and Karen Page finds herself asking the same question she
      has for the past few months since getting back together with Matt: what is
      she going to do today? Well, she�s having lunch with Matt today, but that�s
      not really a job. She slides out of her lingerie and steps into the cold
      shower, wishing that the water could just as easily wash away her problems
      as it does the sweat on her body.

      Then a phone rings, and Karen begrudgingly steps out of the shower. She�s
      made a few inquiries here and there about possible jobs, none of which have
      been met with much success. She wraps a soft blue towel around her beautiful
      body and walks out to the lounge room and picks up the phone.

      �Hello?�

      �Hi, Karen, it�s Melissa McLaren. From high school, remember?�

      �Oh, Mel, how are you? It�s been so long.�

      �Not that long, Karen. I met you with your boyfriend, Matt, at Delivian
      Hunter�s ball a few months ago,� Melissa laughs, �so how�s things been?�

      �Oh, the usual, you know? I�ve been everything from a secretary to an
      actress over the past few years,� replies Karen cheerily as she pulled up
      Matt�s favourite red armchair and makes herself comfortable.

      �An actress? Really? What did you do?�

      Karen hates it when this happens. Why did she always have to bring up being
      an �actress�? Not exactly something to crow about. �Just a few small jobs
      here and there, nothing much, looking for some different work now.�

      �Guess that�s why you were the girl back in those school days, we always
      knew you�d get into film� jokes Melissa.

      �Stop teasing me, Mel,� Karen giggles, remembering the old high school days.
      How simple they were.

      Karen changes the topic of the conversation, �So, Mel, what have you been up
      to? Broken into fashion industry yet?�

      �Well, that�s why I called actually. You see, I landed a job with Fiore last
      year, and well, now I�m one of the chief designers. We�re currently looking
      for some new models for our European tour in a few weeks and I thought you�d
      be the perfect candidate.�

      Karen�s jaw, as does her towel, drops in surprise, �Me?�

      �You heard me, Miss Page,� says Melissa.

      �But Mel, you haven�t seen me for so long!�

      �If the photos from Delivian Hunter�s Ball are anything to go by, you�re
      definitely what we�re looking for. The other designers agree too, you�ve
      definitely got the smile and the body. Oh, and the boys down in photography
      unanimously agreed,� replies Mel with a touch of both lightheartedness and
      seriousness.

      Karen is thrilled but then it hits her and she knows she�s got to ask the
      question. �Mel, I�m excited as humanly possible about the offer, but� but
      there�s just one thing. How much touring do we do? Matt and I just recently
      got back together(1) and I can�t --�

      �You and Matt got separated? But you guys seemed like the perfect couple.
      Sure, he�s blind but he�s one helluva guy. Oh, sorry, I�m drifting back into
      old girl talk, aren�t I?� laughs Melissa. �Look, it�s okay, Karen. I
      half-expected it wouldn�t be easy for you just to step away from your life
      with Matt. I won�t lie to you. Touring takes about nine months of the year.�

      Karen hesitates, �I see. Mel, is it okay if I get back to you? There�s a few
      things I�ve got to think through and --�

      �No sweat, Karen, we understand. Take your time. Give us a buzz when you�re
      ready. Just know that�ll we will be more than happy to have you aboard,�
      says Mel cheerily.

      The conversation continues for a while longer, moving into other topics
      about life and the times but when it�s all over, Karen Page bends over and
      picks up her towel and walks slowly back to the bathroom. She�s finally got
      a job offer, one that shr really likes. The only problem is that she�ll have
      to leave Matt again.

      ---- The Offices of Sharpe, Nelson, & Murdock ----

      �Now, gentlemen, we get down to business,� Rosalind begins as she paces
      across their state-of-the-art conference room, �we already have several
      clients requesting our services and I�d like to make my suggestions on how
      we should divide the tasks. Shall I begin?�

      Matt nods while Foggy replies, �Yup, yes, sure.�

      Rosalind smiles and continues as she pulls a remote control from her pocket
      and presses a button that causes the lights to turn off and a holographic
      projection is produced on the far war which Matt�s hypersenses detect,
      �Though, you may not be able to see Matthew, we have a holographic image of
      the four cases requiring our immediate attention.

      �The first is with Youngthai Comics Group. Mr. Youngblood and Mr. Thai are
      being sued by George Perez for failure to meet contract agreements. A simple
      case centred around Contract Law.

      �Secondly, the prosecution of the supervillain known as Boomerang for crimes
      recently committed(2). Another relatively straight forward case, I would
      suggest. The defences� case is based on the premise of an unknown third
      party exerting some influence over the accused(3).�

      �This one�s, the toughest case of the lot, Twiggy and Natale Insurance have
      several contractual disputes with their various clients who are making
      claims in light of damage caused by Devil�s Night.

      �Finally, a close associate of mine, Darling Industries, located in Colorado
      is seeking to take civil action against property infringements by the local
      government and community.�

      She turns off the holographic projector and turns back on the lights, �Now
      that I�ve provided us with an overview, let us discuss who would be best
      suited for what. Of the four, one case requires one of us to travel
      interstate. I would handle the Darling Industries case but I�ve promised
      Twiggy and Natale Insurance to assist them.

      Franklin, contract law is your department so I think Youngthai Comics Group
      is well-suited to you. Matthew, that leaves you for the Darling Industries
      case. It�s a delicate issue and I think your broad expertise and skill makes
      you the perfect candidate. A chartered flight�s prepared for to leave this
      evening, seven o�clock sharp from the foyer of the building. Franklin, that
      leaves you with that supervillain case. Any questions?�

      Franklin shakes his head happily. Matt meanwhile doesn�t register a response
      until after a deliberate pause, �Only one, Rosalind. I�d like to remind you
      that part of our terms were that we are equal partners. Next time, we
      discuss, not one person delivering orders.�

      Rosalind replies, �My sincerest apologies, Matthew. As you�re aware, I have
      yet to adjust to working in collaborative environment. Rest assured though,
      I will keep your advice in mind.�

      �It�s appreciated, Rosalind. Regarding the Darling Industries case, could
      you have Sitka run off a copy to my office?� responds Matt.

      Rosalind nods and after some further casual discussion each returns to their
      respective offices. As soon as Rosalind breaks off from them, Matt can feel
      the slowing of Foggy�s heartbeat. He still can�t understand Foggy�s
      nervousness when in Rosalind�s company. Sure, she�s imposing but she�s still
      his mother.

      Stopping at Matt�s office door, Foggy says, �These offices are amazing,
      Matt! Everything�s so new and modern. Even the coffee maker!�

      �I�ve noticed,� smiles Matt to his overawed friend.

      �You know, Matt, you seem pretty indifferent to all this,� says Foggy
      bordering on a more serious topic.

      Matt looks down and tentatively taps his cane against the floor, �It�s not
      that I�m indifferent, Foggy. From my point of view, the job we do is still
      the same.�

      Foggy doesn�t press any further. He recognises the sacrifice Matt made when
      he bought into this partnership and he himself knows why Matt feels the way
      he does. So Foggy Nelson does what has never come naturally to him, he
      changes the topic, �You think you-know-who can easily come in and out of
      this office?�

      Matt smiles at his friend�s unnatural change of topic but welcomes it, �It
      shouldn�t be a problem. I just need to be more careful with Rosalind�s
      secretary.�

      �Ahem,� interrupts a voice.

      Foggy turns around while Matt already knows who it is. That�s why he
      deliberately referred to her. Her name�s Sally Sitka, she�s been Rosalind
      Sharpe�s secretary for more than 10 years now. She struts towards them with
      her lovely figure, her shiny black pony-tail swinging from side to side.
      Foggy gives Matt a gentle nudge behind his back.

      �Sitka, you have the documents I requested?�

      Yes, sir,� she replies and hands them over, �Mr. Nelson, Mr. Thai and Mr.
      Youngblood are awaiting you in the foyer regarding the Perez-Youngthai
      situation.�

      Matt replies, �Thanks, Sitka, and please call us, Foggy and Matt.�

      As she walks back to her desk, she glances over her shoulder and Sitka
      smiles, �Sure, Matt. And, please, call me Sally.�

      Matt turns around to Foggy, �Don�t even think it about saying it, mister, or
      you�ll be finding yourself dangling outside Ms. Osborn�s(4) window courtesy
      of �you-know-who�.�

      �Think what?� asks Foggy unable to hide his mischievous smile as he leaves
      to greet his two newest clients.

      Matt sighs and enters his office. His radar sense outlines the smooth
      elegant Victorian design of the office. His phone starts ringing, Matt picks
      it up.

      �Hello?�

      �I�m looking for Mr. Murdock, is he here?�

      Matt immediately recognises the voice, it�s Sasha King(5).

      �Yes, it�s me. And you are?�

      �I�m Sasha King, Mr. Murdock. I�m calling to inform that Miguel Gomez�s case
      has run into further complications. His whereabouts is unknown after Devil�s
      Night(6).�

      �So the case can�t proceed. That�s disappointing. Oh, and call me Matt,�
      says Matt, his words not reflecting his �disappointment� though. He�s
      gladder that the young boy will be able to escape the inadequacies of legal
      system.

      Sasha smiles as well, there�s something special about Matt Murdock, �I heard
      that you were on your way to Rykers when the Devil�s Night fiasco broke out,
      Matt. You okay?�

      �I�m alright, Sasha. I managed to get back to shore but I lost my suitcase.�

      �Hrm, I�ll see if I can contact anyone to locate it. Look, I�ve got go now,
      I�ll see you around,� replies Sasha.

      �Ciao,�

      Matt puts down the phone, and makes a note to himself to try and check up on
      Miguel as Daredevil when he found the time. He then started going over the
      Darling Industries case and knew it�d be a long first day until Karen
      arrived for dinner this evening.

      ---- Sometime Later, Several Levels Below ----

      Karen Page walks up the prestigious Mason Building�s marble steps marvelling
      at the grand architectural designs. Matt�s talked about not liking the
      change, but from the immaculate high halls, gleaming chandelier and red
      Persian carpets she sees, Karen can�t see anything she�d really complain
      about.

      As she stops at the elevator, a blue uniformed doorman greets her, �Good
      day, ma�am. Which floor?�

      �The 53rd floor please,�

      �Certainly, ma�am,�

      The elevator door promptly opens and a group of business men file out, whose
      eyes move up and down her body. Karen gets on the lift and the doorman.
      Eventually she reaches the 53rd floor and as she steps from the lift she is
      greeted by Sharpe, Nelson & Murdock�s magnificent reception centre.
      Everything from the soft-white sofas to the Kingston plant pots are of the
      finest quality available.

      Sally Sitka looks up from her desk to see an attractive blond leggy woman
      starring at her. And she finds herself in a position she rarely is. She�s
      jealous. And that only worsens when Karen asks to see Matt.

      Sitka flips through the office diary �I�m sorry, Ms. Page, but I can�t let
      you see Mr. Murdock without an appointment. He�s quite busy.�

      Karen protests, �But I do have an appointment with him.�

      �I don�t see it in the diary anywhere. If you�d be so kind to show me where,
      I�d be happy to let you through,� says Sitka as she pushed forward a blue
      gold-brimmed diary into Karen�s face.

      Karen knows Matt�s probably already heard her with his enhanced hearing so
      she doesn�t bother to pursue the matter aggressively and nor does she need
      to as Rosalind appears.

      �Sitka, she�s indeed Mr. Murdock�s flame. You can cease the hostilities,�
      she says teasingly to her secretary.

      �I was just making sure she wasn�t just one of those reporters, Ms. Sharpe,�
      replies Sitka still enviously eying the attractive Karen Page.

      �I know, and you�ve done a good job of it over the years,� says Rosalind as
      she turns to Karen, �Ah, Karen, it�s so nice to meet you again. How have you
      been, my dear?�

      �I�m well, Rosalind. How about you? Is the transition coming along
      smoothly?�

      �Yes, my dear,� says Rosalind but as she is about to continue she�s
      interrupted by two men leaving their offices.

      �Thank you, Mr. Nelson, we�ll be in touch,� says the first tall and handsome
      young Asian gentlemen.

      His bright Anglo companion says to him, �This is going well, isn�t it,
      Hoang?�

      �Yeah, well we wouldn�t be in this mess if your output rate wasn�t so slow,
      David.�

      �Oh it�s my fault now, Mr. �I forgot Deviants was Marvel property�.�

      �Well that�s an old issue. Right now we�re George�s suing us for not paying
      him. Why? You! Y-O-U-! If you had an issue out by now we wouldn�t be
      struggling to pay him.�

      �You mean the monopoly money ran out?�

      The young Asian man slaps his head as if in question why the gods were so
      cruel on him. As they walked out of the offices pass Karen Rosalind and
      Sally.

      Foggy then emerges from his room, evidently glad his two clients had
      disappeared, �I though they�d never go! You guys should�ve heard them� they
      wouldn�t shut up about the monopoly money!�

      �I know,� says Matt as he too comes out of his office with his long brown
      coat in hand, �they were quite the comedians, weren�t they?�

      �You can say that again,� replies Foggy, grabbing a drink from the water
      fountain.

      Rosalind moves beside Karen and says, �I�m sure you�ll cope, Franklin. As
      for you, Matthew, where are you planning to dine with our lovely Karen this
      evening?�

      Sitka ignores Rosalind�s teasing glance while Matt answers, �Just a place
      down in Hell�s Kitchen, nothing special.�

      �Oh come on now, Matthew. Karen�s a special girl and you can�t take her to
      �just a place�. Now let me see, ah, the La Rique is a lovely place to dine.
      I have a place reserved all year round. How about it?�

      Matt declines, �Thanks for the offer, Rosalind but I�m Karen and I already
      had plans,�

      �I insist, Matthew. Karen would like it very much I would think,� presses
      Rosalind.

      �Karen, what do you think?� asks Matt.

      Karen shrugs, �I don�t mind, honey.�

      �Then we�ll try the La Rique Restaurant,� says Matt reluctantly, as he takes
      Karen�s hand to leave the offices. �Foggy, Rosalind, I�ll catch you both
      later this week then.�

      �See you, Matt, have fun,� waves Foggy.

      Rosalind adds, �Matt, please keep in mind Darling Industries is a close
      associate, the matter needs to be delicately handled.�

      As they leave, Matt looks over his shoulder and says �That�s why you wanted
      me for the job, right?�

      Rosalind smiles to herself. She�s happy, she got what she wanted. She was
      preoccupied with Twiggy & Natale Insurance, while Foggy�s expertise and
      class in such a matter was questionable. Hence, Matt was the obvious choice.
      She looks at Foggy who�s finally realised, but no guilt overwhelms her. To
      her, it�s business as usual after all.

      ----- Hell�s Kitchen, Taylor�s Park ----

      A district characterised by poverty, conflict, gangs and fear, there aren�t
      many beautiful things in Hell�s Kitchen. Taylor�s Park, however, is one of
      those few exceptions. Squashed between two residential flats and no more
      than the size of four basketball courts it�s a small lush field where
      families can find a little serenity and warmth in a dangerous and unstable
      world. The Carpenter family is just one of those families.

      Standing under an oak tree, Mike Carpenter watches his wife, Kate McCarthy,
      glide down a large light red slide with their sweet 8-month child in her
      arms. The light breeze on this autumn afternoon blowing her golden blond
      hair back as she reaches the base of the slide and lands in the sand bark.
      The sight of Kate and little Sarah laughing happily draws a content smile
      from him. Today is Kate�s birthday and Mike just wants her to be happy,
      happy away from all the troubles within the gang ever since they discovered
      he possessed mutant powers(7).

      She hops merrily to his side while little Sarah giggles in her arms, �Quit
      gawking, Mr Carpenter. Lighten up!�

      She kisses him on the cheek and then hands their daughter over to him. Sarah
      stares at her father with her large innocent light blue eyes and Mike can�t
      do anything but laugh and cuddle her.

      �Use to be me who�d draw that smile from you. Looks like I�m reaching my
      age, huh?� Kate teases him as they walk hand-in-hand across the tiny
      playground and over the sea of red, orange and yellow leaves. .

      �You know that�s not so, honey,�

      �O� course I do, otherwise I�d be out the door by now,� she laughs.

      Mike pauses, �Kate, on a serious note, I�ve been meaning to say this to you
      - about my powers. I know today�s your birthd--�

      Kate presses a finger to his bottom lip, �Mike, I love you. And that�s all
      I�ll ever need to know.�

      And Mike holds her to his chest. They sit beneath the old oak tree in one of
      the many piles of the lovely red, orange and yellow leaves at this time of
      the year and her gentle touch tells him that she�s all he�ll ever need.

      ---- The La Rique Restaurant, Lower Manhattan ----

      Matt and Karen enter the restaurant and are greeted by a waiter who takes
      them to their seats. The manager who is chatting with a wealthy patron at
      the extravagant northern end sees the entrance of Matt Murdock and quickly
      signals his waiter to him. The waiter leaves Matt and Karen and walks over
      to his boss.

      The manager whispers something to his waiter that Matt with his hypersenses
      easily catches, �That�s Matt Murdock, who is in partnership with Ms. Sharpe
      who is one of our most prestigious clients. I want you to ensure his and his
      companion share a wonderful evening.

      �Yes, sir,� replies the waiter hurriedly returning to Matt and Karen.

      He leads them to a magnificent section of the restaurant reserved only for
      special patrons. Karen is surprised while there is no doubt in Matt�s mind
      about what he is going to react to this unexpected development.

      �Waiter, I believe I didn�t order for a table in the Glorial section,� says
      Matt.

      The waiter begins, �Sir, I�ve been instructed to--�

      Matt cuts him off, �My companion and I would be most delighted if you could
      show us to the table we had actually reserved.�

      The waiter weighed up his options and looked over to his manager who was
      overwatching this odd development, how many people on Earth would refuse to
      dine in La Rique�s el Glorial section? The manager nods and the waiter
      proceeds to do as instructed by Matt.

      �Guess life�s changing already, huh?� asks Karen later once they�ve ordered
      their meals.

      �It does, but people don�t,� smiles Matt.

      Karen returns the smile, and then braces herself to say watch she�s been
      plaguing her mind. Though he doesn�t know what exactly she is going to break
      to him, Matt can feel the tensing of her muscles and it serves only to
      heighten his eagerness to find out.

      Karen begins, �Matt, I��

      �Yup�?�

      �I got a call from an old friend this morning, Melissa McLaren. We met her
      at Delivian�s a few months ago. She offered me a lead modelling role at
      Fiore and well� I�m thinking of taking it up.

      Work�s hard to find nowadays, I�ve been searching for three months now. It
      involves a fair bit of touring during the yea, maybe eight to ten months. So
      I�ll be away awhile and with you busy with the influx corporate assignments
      from all over��

      Karen curses herself, that didn�t come out the right way and she quickly
      says, �What do you think?�

      He�s argued with the finest of attorneys and the fiercest of enemies,
      including Mephisto himself(8), but right now the only words that Matt
      Murdock can find are, �Sounds good.�

      What was to be a pleasant evening unfolds into an uneasy affair for Matt
      Murdock and Karen Page. They share few words between them for the remainder
      of the evening steering clear of the topic of Karen�s employment
      opportunity.

      As the meal finishes, Matt calls to the waiter a few tables away, �Waiter,
      bill please,�

      The waiter prepares to cross to their table but the manager quickly gestures
      to the waiter that he himself will attend to their guests� needs, �I trust
      that you enjoyed your meal here, Mr. Murdock?�

      Matt replies, �I did, thanks.�

      The manager turns to Karen, �And you, madam?�

      Karen just nods her head. She�s not in a mood to talk, not after just what
      she told Matt. He�s trying to put it aside, pretend it doesn�t hurt him and
      that she�s entitled to make whatever choice she wants. However, Karen�s
      known Matt too long to know that it is hurting him and that he wants to tell
      her what she should do.

      Matt then asks the manager again, �We�d like to pay our bill, please. We�ve
      both got important engagements tonight.�

      �Oh, it�s on the house, Mr. Murdock,� says the manager, �think of it as a
      gift to congratulate you on your new position.�

      Matt knew this would happen. The moment he turned from a small-time lawyer
      of the people to a corporate attorney, people start looking at him with
      different eyes.

      Matt declines, �I can�t thank you more than enough for the kind offer, but
      I�d like to pay what I owe. It�s what my father always taught me.�

      The manager sees there is no point in pursuing the point, but at least he
      has expressed a gesture of goodwill to a man of renown and in a city as New
      York connections are vital. He replies graciously �I understand, Mr.
      Murdock.�

      Karen and Matt stand still in front of the La Rique restaurant, neither sure
      of what to say to the other. In a week, when he returns she could be in
      Paris and he alone. On the flipside if she�s still here, she�s might still
      not have a job. Just living off other people� like she always has. Sure,
      it�s not a big thing if she goes, they�ll still see one another, right?

      �Karen, I just want you to know whatever choice you make I�ll respect it.
      Besides, we�ll still see each other throughout the year,� Matt says
      unconvincingly.

      Not able to bring her eyes to meet his, despite the fact that he�s blind,
      Karen utters, �I know.�

      �I�ve got to get going; I�ve got an appointment as �you-know-who� with
      Peter.�

      �Tell Pete, I�ll drop around to see MJ sometime this week.�

      �I will,� Matt kisses her on the forehead and slips into an alleyway where
      he changes into his alter-ego. And Karen makes the long trip home on foot
      asking herself what is she going to do.

      ---- Hell�s Kitchen ----

      �Do we have to do this?�

      �Course we do, you promised.�

      �I did?�

      �Remember how I pulled your butt out of Hydra central?�

      �Nope, as I recall a certain webhead was about to bite the dust(9)��

      �Details, details��

      �Well, at least you didn�t use the �that was my clone!� excuse,�

      �Okay, Hornhead, you going to start posing or what? I need a paycheck
      tonight, and Jonah�s had enough of Spidey, so I guess I had to help him look
      for a new public enemy number one and who better than Daredevil?�

      Matt laughs, �Geez, thanks, old �buddy�,�

      �What are pals for, right?� quips Spiderman as he clings to the top of the
      roof in the large warehouse.

      �So, what do you want Daredevil to do?� asks Matt.

      �Oh, you know. Just the usual acrobatics from the superhero guidebook,
      nothing much,�

      Daredevil sighed as he started somersaulting across the warehouse for
      Spiderman who quickly gets his camera into action.

      �You know how stupid this feels?� asks Daredevil as he does a double-twist
      over a set wooden of crates.

      �Yup, do it all the time. Especially when Doc Ock, Electro and gang don�t
      pop up for a week or so. Gotta get a paycheck somehow, y�know?�

      The photo session continues for a few minutes before Spiderman gives the
      signal to Daredevil to stop. �That�s enough, Hornhead, save some for next
      time.�

      �Next time? There�s not going to be a next time,� replies Daredevil
      lightheartedly as he lands on the concrete floor beside Spiderman.

      �Oh, you�re just saying that, you know you liked it,� teases Spiderman as he
      concealed his camera in the belt under his costume.

      Daredevil laughs and the two head to the rooftops of the abandoned
      warehouse.

      �So, what�s on your agenda for the rest of tonight,� asks Daredevil.

      Spiderman replies, �Oh, dinner with Mary Jane and a trip down to the
      theatre. A live show�s on tonight, not much by the way of superheroing.
      Well, not until after MJ goes to bed. How about you?�

      �I�ll be out of town this week. Rosalind�s sending me on a mediation
      assignment between Darling Industries and some local government.�

      �Fun,�

      �Yeah, if you can call it that. Look, I�ll catch you later, webhead. Karen
      might drop around tomorrow and see MJ, but I�ve got a limo to catch from the
      Mason Building.�

      �Goody, can I hitch a ride? You know I love limos!�

      �Well, if you want to cop a lawsuit from Rosalind �Razor� Sharpe, sure,�
      grins Daredevil.

      �I�ll pass. My pal Jonah Jameson�s enough trouble for me already. Thanks
      again for the photos. See you later then, Hornhead,� waved Spiderman as the
      two went their separate ways.

      ---- JFK Airport ----

      As the main airport of the one of the most active social, political and
      financial centres around the world, JFK Airport everyday sees more than its
      fair share of high-profile individuals enter and leave its many terminals.
      Despite the many limousines that come and go every day the common people
      still turn their heads every time one stops at a terminal entrance. Today is
      of no exception as heads turn to gaze at an immaculate white limousine
      approaching the domestic terminal of JFK Airport.

      The white limousine slows to a halt and the chauffeur quickly comes around
      to open Matt�s door for him. Matt steps outside and there is already two
      baggage collectors awaiting him. He feels the wishful eyes starring at him
      as the baggage collectors methodically converge on the booth of the
      limousine to collect his luggage.

      �Gentlemen, my sincerest thanks, but I prefer to do these things myself,�
      says Matt as he gestures to the surprised baggage collectors to just only
      load on.

      The guide moves to protest, �Mr. Murdock, my employer�s instructions were
      to--�

      Matt cuts him off, �To act as a guide, I believe.�

      The guide doesn�t argue. He recognises that Matthew Murdock is a self-made
      man and men possessing such this rare quality value nothing more than doing
      things their way, even if it�s the hard way. Unlike the slow and often
      impolite economy class check-in clerks, the business class check-in clerk
      quickly and politely processes his baggage. Matt then proceeds to the gates
      where a tall brunette flight attendant greets him and helps him to his seat.

      Before leaving she asks, �Mr. Murdock, is there anything I can get you?�

      �No. I�m fine, thanks,� Matt replies before adding, �Oh, and one other
      thing, just call me Matt.�

      �Well, Matt,� she smiles, �if there�s anything you need, just call for me.
      By the way, I�m Elaine.�

      With that, the stunning airhostess moves towards the cabin, flirtatiously
      flicking her radiant hazelnut hair back, despite knowing that attorney Matt
      Murdock is blind. She�s served her fair share of renowned business class
      passengers before, but there�s something special and unique about this him.
      He�s cute, he�s witty and he�s got an undeniable sense of self.

      As the Boeing 767 American Airlines Flight 201 takes off, Matt�s mind drifts
      into the depths of his preoccupations. Karen� Karen� he so hope she doesn�t
      go. He knows it�s selfish� that they�ll still see one another throughout the
      year. But what about those long lonely months in between?

      Then there�s the practice. The changes in his life have been more than
      obvious. His enhanced senses registered each and every change down to the
      minutest detail, everything from the new aura of respectability and
      importance to the rich aroma of Lamore coffee in their lavish offices. Yet
      through it all Matt Murdock stands firm against the waves of change. He
      knows who he is and what he stands for and nothing can ever change that

      ---- The End ----

      Next Issue: Matt meets a figure from his distant past! Who can it be? How
      will Matt react to the� wait-a-sec! That�d be telling! Guess you�re just
      gonna have to wait till next month, huh?


      Endnotes

      1.) Yup, Karen and Matt only recently got back together. They went their
      separate ways after Karen discovered that Matt had shared an intimate
      relationship with Mary Walker, a.k.a. Typhoid Mary! This happened way back
      in Marvel�s DD #261!

      2.) Boomerang was recently incarcerated in the AMU�s The Mighty Thor #4
      where he foolishly attempted to kill our Mighty Norse God of Thunder!

      3.) This happened to be Loki who wanted to find out what was up with Asgard
      and who else to use than a petty fool like Boomerang! Also in the AMU�s the
      Mighty Thor #4!

      4.) Where�s Liz Osborn, Foggy�s girlfriend, these days? Check out Alternate
      Marvel�s latest issue of the Amazing Spiderman!

      5.) From the pages of the AMU�s premiere espionage book, Shield: Faction X!

      6.) As seen in Daredevil #3, Matt and S.F.X. let Miguel Gomez go after
      battling the devil�s and demons in Alternate Marvel�s penultimate crossover!

      7.) The rest of Mike�s gang discovered his mutant powers in the AMU�s DD
      #3!

      8.) When did this happen? Way back during the classic Nocenti Era in DD
      #279 - #282! Yup, our man Matt�s one heckuva lawyer, huh?

      9.) DD hauled the webhead�s tail out of Hydra Central in Peter Parker:
      Spiderman vol. 1 #74!





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