The author acknowledges that the name, concept, and descriptions of DAREDEVIL are owned by Marvel Comics and that said owner retains complete rights to said character. These concepts are used WITHOUT permission for NO PROFIT, but rather a strong desire to tell my own tales about a character I've enjoyed over the years. This also acknowledges that original concepts presented here are the intellectual property of the author.

Devil In The Dark
by Ali

The dance is about to begin again.

The storm raged into Hell's Kitchen with a vengeance, and the streets were quickly clearing of respectable people as the pattering droplets and whispering winds of the late afternoon gave way to icy torrents of rain and howling gales of the early evening. The light gray of the charcoal stained stormclouds evolved into a dark soup of ink drenched cotton that settled angrily over the night skies of New York. The shadows yawned and stretched and spread themselves out, covering the sinners and saints, the wicked and the just, the kings and the paupers with the same blanket.

He stands alone, the wind flows around him, the rain kisses his skin hungrily--like a lover. He's ready, waiting, eager to begin, but he takes the time to absorb his surroundings. Waiting for the right moment to begin the ballet once more.

For some, the work day has ended. The trek home from the job winds up in the warmth of home and hearth, the comfort of friends and family, the tenderness of a lover's embrace, or quiet solitude with a good book, the radio or television. For many of New York's citizens, the city that never sleeps slows down just enough for everyone to catch their breath and relax before the dawn returns and the cycle begins anew.

Lightning flashes from above, he tastes it as it cleaves the skies--a split second tear across the gray-black expanse. He smiles, the spotlight has been lit, the stage has been set.

He merely waits for his cue...

Elena McCullah was about to lock up her father's grocery store, grateful that this would be the last day she'd have to cover for him. Elena's mother and father were returning from their vacation to California, a gift from Elena and her brothers, Trent and Virgil, for their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and she was closing early so she could meet her parents at the airport. Elena was a slender woman, twenty six years young, and beautiful for someone who didn't put too much stock in her looks. Her mother was of Jamaican descent, which is where she got her exotic features, big hazel eyes and dancer's build; from her father, Elena inherited a slight southern drawl, caramel colored skin, and quiet disposition. Even beyond the hard streets of the Kitchen, Elena turned many heads without trying or even noticing, her love affair was with education and what Elena considered beautiful was usually found between the covers of books written by her idols, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Ralph Ellison and many others. She had aspirations of becoming an author in her own right someday and had begun several manuscripts that evolved as she learned more from her courses at NYU. Elena's parents were already predicting great things for their daughter's future and offered her all the support they could.

It had been a while since Elena worked in the store, and she had never done it alone, but both of her brothers were policemen which left little time for them to tend the counter. Both had stuck their heads in the door over the last few days to check on her, especially with the rash of hold ups that had hit the neighborhood lately. If they stayed more than fifteen minutes, Elena would put them to work, so the visits tapered off as the days passed without incident. Elena smirked to herself as she remembered making Virgil watch the counter in full uniform with an apron on over it. Both of Elena's brothers put up some form of mock protest, but did what she asked with the usual playful banter and name calling that siblings always did in a close knit family.

All through her childhood, Elena spent every afternoon after school here, helping her father and brothers, her father playing jazz by Miles, Dizzy, Bird; telling his children stories of seeing these musical giants in his youth when he courted their mother. Elena found herself humming some half forgotten melody from one of those old songs, allowing herself to be a little girl once more. Elena, still humming to herself, was about to go to the door to turn the locks and then count out the money from the register when she heard a scuffling noise and the tinkle of the bell on the door.

Five young men in dark colored hooded coats stood in the doorway. The lighting of the store, the gloom of the deserted, rainsoaked streets outside and the fact that the hoods were pulled low over their faces, obscured their features, Elena couldn't make out too much beyond the fact that they had chins and at least one of them held a gun. The scream came from Elena's lips before the realization that the store was being robbed.

"Shut her ass up!" one of the gangsters hissed angrily. The lead man with the gun aimed and fired, the roar of the gun drowned out by another flash of lightning accompanied by booming thunder.

Outside, and far away, he cocked his head and listened, his body already moving to follow the sound back to the source. He had chosen a rooftop that gave him the best vantage point to take the stage, to dance once again with danger, to tempt fate with the gifts and talents he possessed. He traveled once more where angels feared to tread, but where a man without fear was as bad as facing the devil himself.

Matt Murdock, clad in the crimson garb of Daredevil, launched himself from the edge of the roof and into the night to protect those who couldn't protect themselves.

Daredevil spun wildly into the air, unseeing eyes hidden behind blood red lenses, using his enhanced senses and incredible agility to cross the distance between his rooftop perch and scream he pulled out of the hundreds of other random sounds that permeated the air around him. Unlike most of his peers in the world of costumed vigilantes, Daredevil was unique. As a child, Matt Murdock grew up on the streets of Hell's Kitchen, his father, Battlin' Jack Murdock, was a boxer who raised Matt to be compassionate but tough. Jack Murdock made a vow to his son; that Matt wouldn't live the same kind of life he did, that Matt would have all the chances that Jack didn't get to succeed. Matt became an exceptional student and despite his father's concerns, an equally exceptional athlete. Jack raised his son to have a sense of morality, fair play and ethics despite the elder Murdock's ties to organized crime. One of Matt's more selfless acts cost him more than he expected, but gave him more than he bargained for.

Matt still remembers with unusual clarity the day he lost use of his eyes. He remembers every feature of the elderly blind man's clothing, the spots of rust on the right front fender of the truck that barreled out of control at the man, the number of scrapes on his hand after he had dove into the old man and pushed both of them to safety, the Daily Bugle billboard on the wall that the truck ran into, even the shade and intensity of the green tinted radioactive isotope that struck his eyes moments after he thought he was safe. What Matt remembers most from that day was the blackness that followed, immediate and never-ending.

Though Matt had lost his sight, he had awakened in a hospital with all of his other senses amplified to superhuman levels. Touch, taste, smell, hearing; all were incredibly sensitive, the initial realization of his newfound abilities nearly drove Matt mad and almost overwhelmed him, but slowly he gained control over his senses and discovered that he had acquired something new as well. Matt called his newfound ability his "radar sense", for lack of a better phrase, an invisible force emanating from him, which gave him a 360 degree scope of his surroundings. These abilities combined with Matt's heightened reflexes and agility made him more formidable than most sighted men of equal physical prowess. Matt learned to cope with his disability and continued to pursue his education, eventually enrolling in law school.

While Matt studied, Battlin' Jack kept up his work for the mob. Enforcer by day, Jack Murdock found release for his own frustration at life by boxing during the nights. Jack began to make a name for himself in the ring once again, scoring victories against younger men he shouldn't have been able to beat. Jack chalked his sudden success to his desire to stay a hero in his son's eyes, Matt was the one good thing he had left, the one person he wanted to make proud. Unfortunately for Jack, his world fell apart with the revelation that his rise to the top in the ring had been engineered by the Fixer, a small time mobster and book maker who wanted Jack to take a fall in the biggest fight of his career.

Jack Murdock may have been a loser all of his life, but he wasn't going to be a quitter. Not in front of his son, not ever again.

Jack's victory that night would've made the headlines if it wasn't for his murder that same evening. There was barely enough of Jack left recognizable for positive identification. The battered, bloody mess that the police found in the alley behind the boxing arena had to be identified by dental records, the killer's name may as well have been signed in blood over the corpse. Matt Murdock never shed a tear, he never showed any sign of grief outwardly, but his desire for revenge burned like blast furnace. On that night, Daredevil was born and the underworld had learned to fear the man who had no fear whatsoever.

Daredevil's radar sense was a little fuzzy this evening, severe weather sometimes gave his radar trouble, making the impressions less defined, like snow on a television. The scarlet clad hero's other senses were working overtime to compensate for his less accurate radar. His body twisted in the air, Daredevil's hyper-sensitive hearing strained to hear the wind as it swept around solid objects, the rain as it struck rooftops, the hoods of cars, the few people left on the sidewalk and the streets below. Daredevil's sense of smell sorted out the various scents from one another, attempting to pick up some trace of a scent that may lead him to the gun he heard fired. On a crosswind, Daredevil picked up the faint scent of cordite, he changed the angle of his latest flip so that his next bounce would carry him in the direction of the place where the shots may have been fired. The scent grew stronger as Daredevil went, he knew he'd be there soon.

Elena had managed to drop behind the counter as the first shot was fired. She rolled back behind the counter, heading towards the back office, where her father kept his revolver. Trent, Virgil and her father had taught her how to shoot, if necessary, she'd do what she have to do to stay alive and protect her daddy's livelihood.

"Look here, girl!" one of the gang bangers shouted as Elena made it to the office, "Come on out, we ain't gonna hurt you!"

Elena responded by firing a few warning shots from behind the half opened office door. The resulting shots scattered the gang bangers, behind shelves and counters, seeking the nearest safe haven. The banger with the gun lay down covering fire which forced Elena to scream again as the wood of the doorway shattered over her head. Two more bangers pulled a pair of semi-automatics and prepared to pepper the doorway with enough bullets to make certain that the young woman would not be able to give the police any kind of information. Even with the weather working to their advantage, all of the shooting that had happened would be investigated sooner or later. What they didn't consider was just how soon someone would come to investigate the situation.

Daredevil didn't bother with a warning, his radar sense had already mapped out a sketchy floorplan, allowing him enough time to formulate his plan of attack. His final spring from the roof towards the store's entrance was heralded by his primary weapon of choice, a specially made billy club which was resilient enough to ricochet from the wall over the cash register and strike down the gunman who had chosen to hide behind a rack of snack cakes. The club hit the thug in the temple with just enough force to drop the man and carom into the gun hand of one of the other shooters who had just registered the billy club's entry into the situation. His yelp became a scream as his dropped gun misfired into his foot. The second thug lay on the floor, whimpering pitifully.

"DAMN!" swore one of the remaining thugs, "It's the Devil, y'all!"

The thug by the cooler, hissed and tried to run for the door, preferring the better part of valor, but was knocked back into the room by a solid fist in a crimson glove. Daredevil moved gracefully into the door frame, every muscle tensed in anticipation of what might happen next. The thug the masked man had punched, stumbled back into the doorway and lifted his gun hoping he could nail Daredevil before he moved again. Before he could draw a bead, Daredevil had already moved to deal with the thug's renewed attack. A swift kick seemed to come from nowhere, tearing the gun out of the thug's hand and sent it spinning into a corner out of reach among the dog and cat food by the plate glass window. Disarmed, the thug swung at the crimefighter, his desire for escape overriding his fear of Daredevil's abilities. Daredevil deftly sidestepped the punch and leaned forward, stepping past the desperate young man. Still off balance, the thug wasn't prepared for the blow to the back of his head as Daredevil's billy club finished its wild course through the room. Stunned and senseless, the thug fell inches away from the doorway and freedom. Daredevil reached behind his shoulder as the club arced back, catching it without looking. The two remaining thugs were awestruck by the display, so awestruck in fact that they had stopped shooting altogether.

"One chance to surrender peacefully, gentlemen," Daredevil said smiling, "I won't make this offer twice."

The thugs looked at each other and then to their fallen associates and then to Daredevil once more. Almost in unison, the pair gently lay down their firearms and placed their hands on their heads.

"Smart move, fellas," Daredevil commented approvingly.

The Man Without Fear allowed his enhanced senses to stretch out and take in the rest of the room. Besides the still excited heartbeats of his opponents, Daredevil picked up a final excited heartbeat with his hearing, slowly decreasing along with the rapid breathing. The beat was strong, the breathing steady; good, the shop's lone defender was unhurt, just scared. Daredevil pulled the scent of perfume from the same general direction, it was a woman.

"Miss?" Daredevil said loudly but evenly to calm her. "Miss, everything's under control, you can come out."

Elena peeked tentatively from behind the shattered doorway, her father's pistol in hand, ready for everything except the sight that greeted her. Elena knew of Daredevil as did most New Yorkers, but had only seen him in the papers or as a bit of grainy news footage. Despite the violence that had taken place, Daredevil had managed to do relatively little damage to the store itself. One of the displays were turned over, the young man who had shot himself in the foot was getting it bandaged by the masked crusader--the bloody mess from his accidental wounding was stemmed for the moment, the others were tied up neatly next to the bullet riddled counter. Daredevil rose from his hasty medical work and turned his head in Elena's direction.

"Are you okay?" Daredevil asked with a concern that wasn't in his voice when he was dealing with the thugs. Whatever passions drove the man to risk his life for the sake of total strangers, also drove him to be certain that those under his protection were attended to before he left the scene.

"I'm fine," Elena said, amazed at the sudden calmness in her voice. She was still stunned at how quickly the whole thing ended, how easily this masked man saved her life and her father's livelihood.

"They won't be going anywhere for a while, miss," Daredevil said as he stood. "If you'd like I can call the police for you."

"No--," Elena said hesitantly, "I can do that. Thanks. Both of my brothers are on the force." Elena picked up the phone and paged both of her brothers using the programmed speed dial. Her "911" would have them at the store faster than any department dispatcher. She turned to thank her rescuer only to find that he had left while she was making the call. She sat down to wait for Trent and Virgil to show up and hoped that she'd still be able to pick up her parents on time. Though it didn't seem to be logical, Elena smiled, looked out into the night and said a soft spoken, "Thank you."

Five blocks away as he stretched in mid leap to fire a line from his billy club, Daredevil smiled and replied, "You're welcome."

The End?

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