Ten Shots of Poison

March 05, 2016:

Shift hires a P.I. to keep his work going while overseas.

Alias Investigations

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Little Drop of Poison by Tom Waits


Fade In…

Alias Investigations is not the most well known private detective agency. It's small, in Hell's Kitchen and run by a cantankerous woman. The building it resides in is run down. The elevator is rickety. The office is on the sixth floor. It's door is classic noir: wood with ribbed glass that proclaims the interior to be 'Alias Investigations' in gold lettering.

Inside, Jessica Jones is laying out on the beat up couch against the wall. A bottle of some cheap whisky is on the floor, mostly empty. A mug that smells strongly of cheap liquor is resting on her chest and the wayward investigator is all but snoring in an alcohol induced slumber. One arm is tossed haphazardly over her eyes, the other drapes off the couch and rests on the floor. Her legs are tossed randomly over the furniture. In honesty, it looks like Jessica fell onto the couch and merely passed out there than is resting comfortably.

*

Referrals don't always come from stand up sources in Kwabena's world. He stood outside the building long enough to smoke a cigarette and have a good look at the place.
"My kind of joint," he mutters under his breath, before curling his hand into a tight ball and cupping it into his jacket. When he reaches with the other to open the door, his hand emerges, cigarette nicely snuffed out, and pitches the butt into a waste bin.

A nice, slow elevator provides the time and privacy to withdraw a tobacco snifter, commonly referred to on the street as a 'bullet'. It's turned upside down, loading the chamber with a white powder that's clearly not snuff. One hit for the left, and he closes his eyes, rolling his neck to the left until it cracks. Two quick snorts and the cocaine is firmly embedded into his mucus membrane, doing its sweet thang.

His first knock on the door to Alias Investigations goes unanswered. So, a few seconds later, he raps again, this time with more force. One more snort to clear his head properly. There, that'll do.

Dressed for the weather, Kwabena wears a gray beanie on his bald head. Stubble has been left to grow around his mouth and chin, and his body is adorned in basics; blue jeans, black riding boots, a dark gray hooded sweatshirt beneath a black leather riding jacket.

*

The first couple of knocks fall into the dark space where Jessica doesn't dream in her alcohol induced stupor. It does enough to slightly rouse her so that when he attempts again, the private investigator starts and springs forward. The glass tumbles off of her chest where it was resting and onto the floor with a clunk. It's a plastic cup, so it doesn't break. The leftover alcohol, however, seeps onto the already scored and pockmarked wooden floorboards.

"Shit." Jessica rubs at her eyes and swings her feet onto the floor, the sudden stench of hard liquor reaching her nose. Her eyes look toward the door and the outline of someone standing there. "Shit." Yanking the nearly empty bottle from the floor, she deposits it in the kitchen and takes a stained dish towel and drops it where the spilled alcohol is.

"I'll be right there," she yells at the door, completely unconcerned about customer service. Her booted foot stomps on the towel, attempting to stamp the spill into submission. After a moment, she leaves the plastic glass and the towel there to open the door on Kwabena. She takes him, his outfit and demeanor in a moment. "Yeah?" she asks. It's not exactly surly, but it's certainly her asking him to declare his intent.

*

When the door finally opens, Kwabena has come to lean one hand upon the wall. He observes the woman responsible for the ruckus heard through the door, but it doesn't take long for the smell of cheap liquor to hit his nose. He doesn't flinch, but it does take him a moment to consider that it's only 4:00 in the afternoon.

Damn.

"Name's T.C.," he tells her, working hard to keep the smirk from his face. "Need a P.I." It's clear he carries an authentic African accent, but he likely hasn't spoken enough for her to narrow it down exactly.

*

Jessica observes Kwabena right back. She doesn't flinch, nor care about his judgements and she exhibits that in her body language. "Yeah, well, I could have guessed that by you knocking on my door," she tells him. Pushing her dark black hair back and behind her ear, she looks him up and down in a try obvious manner. She's a damn good P.I. whens he wants to be, but she only wants to be when it suits her.

"What do you need one for?" She's yet to actually let him into the office yet. Despite - or perhaps because of - her profession, she remains suspicious. "T.C." The way she says his name already supposes that she suspects he's not telling the truth.

*

With his free hand, Kwabena snaps his fingers and points at Jessica. "Nevah watched Magnum, did you?" Lips press into a thin line, and he nods his head twice, before offering an answer. "Something dangahrous, definitely illegah, and worthdis." He reaches into a pocket and produces a thin stack of Benjamins. He leaves them visible long enough to run a quick count; strapped properly, it's two grand.

"Security deposit," he tells her quietly. "For a pair of eyes, cahful discretion, and de chance dat you might have to run from some real thuggish, well armed fuckers."

Two eyebrows shoot upward, and he makes a motion to tuck the cash back into his jacket pocket.

*

Jessica simply listens to Kwabena and his pitch. "No," she tells him immediately about Magnum. When he produces the stack of money, though, her eyebrows raise just a bit, but enough to show interest. Once he's stated his elevator pitch to her, she looks beyond him at her hallway and then steps to the side enough to let him pass through. She gestures a bit to emphasize the meaning that he should step into her office.

"My specialty is dealing with well armed fuckers," she assures Kwabena with a neutral expression and a tone that shows just how much she cares about thuggish marks. "And I've got a pair of eyes."

If he deigns to set inside, she'll shut the door with a click and move toward the desk in the back.

*

Sold. Then again, the referral didn't hurt, especially considering who it came from. Kwabena commits to keep that one secret, lest she kick him out right now.

Soon as he's inside, the mercenary removes his hat and takes a moment to observe the place. "Well armed fuckers backed by de military," the Ghanaian tells Jessica. Might as well be up front about the treasonous activity this might involved. "So, here's how we play dis out. I tell you what's going on. You take my cash and get to work. Don't want de job? I'll leave five hundred for you to keep quiet about my even being here. I'm told you have discretion. Dis is something I value." A pause. "More dan money."

Sure, it's a veiled threat. But if she can't keep her mouth shut, he'll not lose sleep about leaving an impression.

*

Jessica moves to her desk and drops into the wooden chair with the sound of creaking. Putting her feet up on the wooden tabletop in front of her, she folds her hands and rests them on her stomach while listening to Kwabena. "So, you're saying that what you have is worth at least five hundred dollars to keep quiet and for me to do absolutely nothing." This is her just repeating back his own statements.

Pulling open a drawer, she pulls out yet another bottle of cheap whisky and sets it on flat surface in front of her. However, she does not yet open it. "That's quite a lot of booze I could buy for not doing anything but sitting on my ass." Spinning the plastic cap of the booze bottle, she smirks. "If you didn't think I was going to play your kind of ball, you wouldn't be here, Magnum PI. So, let's cut the shit."

She takes two glasses out of the same drawer, these ones are glass, though. They're nicer than the booze should warrant. She pours three finger fills of booze into each glass and then shoves one toward Kwabena. "Let's stop pussy footing around. You tell me what you want, I'll tell you if I'll take your case. Either way, you got a drink out of it."

*

The Ghanaian follows her over to the desk, taking a seat with a bit more grace than his counterpart. "Dat's right," Kwabena answers, before settling in to let Jessica take the reigns. Offering booze is a plus, even if it's cheap trash. It does the job, and it's going to mellow out the cocaine rush he's dealing with.

The shot is taken like someone who is beyond used to it. Kwabena may not be her level of alcoholic, but he spreads his vices. The glass is set down, and followed by a handful of small photos. One is of Spider-Woman, captured via social media during her vigilante days out west. Three of them are official-looking headshot of three SHIELD agents; Jefferies and Matthews (NPCs), and Jemma Simmons. One is taken from X-Red's website, of the team member Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher.

"Noy picture ah myself, and 'Storm', a membah of de X-Men. No photos out dere of Her to be found; tall, black as me, white hair. We're all being hunted by a group of well trained mercenaries, who ah being funded by a secret division of de United States Army."

*

Jessica knocks the shot back like it's water once Kwabena accepts his own. She never told him she was offering top shelf liquor. Her office should have clearly stated that. The slap of photos onto he desk focuses her. Her feet slip off of the desk and onto the floor. While it's almost imperceptible, the PI part of Jessica starts to take over as she picks up the photographs and listens to the explanation that Kwabena illustrates.

Him saying that this is funded by the United States Army, however, gets her to look up with a more than skeptical look on her face. "You're talking about a conspiracy theorist's wet dream." None of the photographs mean anything to her, but she's already gone through them. "I'm a PI, not a security detail. Looks like you already know what I'd be looking into. What the fuck am I supposed to do against the US government?"

*

"Nothing," Kwabena answers. "I'm gonna spare you de ugly details, because something tells me you'd be bored by it. Cliffs notes? Dere using Bush-era policies to rape de Constition, tahgetting civilians who are speaking up for mutant and metahuman rights. Ugly shit. Going so far as assassinations. Look up Natalie Utrecht."

The African leans back, and produces a hip flask from his jacket pocket. "Agent Simmons has cold hard facts about dis. Ain't no conspiracy, Miss Jones. I'm headed out of the country to gathah more evidence on dis, cause its global. What I need you to do is monitor some series of comm frequencies, and alert certain cellulah phones when and if a hit on any of dese peopah is about to take place."

Kwabena folds his arms. "I won't be around to do it, till I get back into de States. Two weeks, tops."

*

"The ugly details tend to be where the interesting bits are," Jessica tells Kwabena flatly. While she doesn't care about meta-human or mutant rights more than the fact that she feels as if they should have them, she sighs and nods her head. "So, look out for he people in these photographs?"

Jessica looks down, plucking a random picture up at random - Cypher. Her eyes drift from the picture to Kwabena. "Jessica," she automatically corrects Kwabena. She doesn't stand on ceremony. "I'm not a protection service, Magnum. I collect information, find things out about other people. I can monitor shit, but that's not looking into anything. This all sounds like you need a security agency."

*

"True enough," Kwabena answers. "Let's just say dis bullshit has gotten bigger dan I'm comfahtable with, and honestly?" The lid from his flask comes off, clinking against the metal casing with a telltale sound. "I'm tired of repeating myself."

He pours a fine amber liquid into each of the glasses. "Blantons. Expensive shit. Fortunately, I got a friend who owes me favahs for life, and he carries dis shit in his cornah store like a fucking Hasidic asshole." Jessica's glass is slid over, the flask set down with lid open.

"Dese peopah don't need a protection service. Most of us can handah ourselves. What we don't know is when dere going to hit, and from where. I've been lucky so far; got dere comm frequencies, and while most of dere communications have been dark, dey resort to traditional standards on op coordination. Typical military. Thing is, by now dey've got to know we're onto dem, so, I'm not sure how much longah de comm frequencies will be an asset. I'll give dem to you, for what it's worth. But, dey're not just utilizing dere own aspects. Dat psychotic clown from Gotham tried to take out Spidah-Woman and myself in Brooklyn, just last week. So, looks as if dey've placed a bounty. Which -" he pauses, pointing to Jessica, "- will be your way in. Get into dis, find out who placed de bounties, find out how much, find out who plans to pick it up, and you'll be able to give de tahgets a heads up."

He snatches up his glass and takes the Blantons in a gulp. Not his usual method for drinking expensive Kentucky bourbon, but he feels it appropriate to 'catch up', as it were.

"Kwabena." He gives her his real, God-given birth name; a name that will go quite far in the criminal and mercenary underworld, should she care to look. The supposedly invincible man, former drug dealer turned mercenary. That crowd doesn't know about the Avengers yet.

*

The photo of Cypher is dropped back onto the pile haphazardly. Instead, Jessica picks up the glass over toward her filled with the much better liquor than she's used to drinking. Bringing it to her nose, she smells it just a bit before taking a swig. It certainly is much smoother. Leaving some in the bottom of her glass, she sets it back down.

A hand pushes the photographs on her desk around a bit more, eyes flicking upward toward Kwabena as he speaks and attempts to tell her what her job would entail. "A bounty, huh? Do you know what any of these people did to get the Army after you with such a hard on?" Leaning forward, she rests her arms on the desk in front of her. The reveal of his name is met with a short nod. She tends to know when she's given a real name or not. It doesn't mean anything to her yet, but she'll certainly look into him later, whether she takes the job or not.

After a short pause, she finishes the bourbon. "That clown in Gotham doesn't tend to work for just money, from what I've heard. Tends to hurt people 'cause he can. Sureyou two weren't just in the wrong place at the wrong time?"

*

"Sure, I know," Kwabena tells her. "Put it to you dis way; we committed treason. Den again, it's arguable dat dey ah doing de same, which is why dey aren't following conventional justice methods. Sure as hell dey don't want dis information hitting de social media feeds."

When she asks him of Joker's intent, Kwabena fixes her with a steady look. "Quite certain."

He seems to have no intention of taking the photographs with him. Instead, he just pours more bourbon. One for himself, then he looks at Jessica with a question in his eye, the bottle held aloft. "I undahstand you're good. I hope so. Today, dese bastards hit me where it counts. Burned down my favorite bar. Murdered my cell phone guy, execution style. Den, he took out my lawyah, and everyone else who was dere to see it." Should she care to look, she might recognize it - a quiet, burning rage deep within his eyes. Here sits a man who is out for vengeance. Perhaps something worse than vengeance. "If you aren't up for it, den take de five large and walk away. You have no idea what dese peopah ah capable of. I'll tell you." A pause. "If you take de job."

*

"Treason, huh." Jessica's eyebrow raises at that. Whether it was really a question about her having another, the information seems to at least warrant a drink. Her glass is held up for him to pour. Once that's taken care of, she takes another swig.

As he goes through the horrible laundry list of people he knows murdered to send a message, she leans back in her chair. The glass is cradled in both hands as she rolls it this way and that. Jessica studies Kwabena - slowly burning rage is easy to recognize for someone who deals with it herself. She doesn't take her eyes off of him. Instead, she responds, softly, with conviction, "I know what people are capable of. I don't need to take your job to find out."

There must be something in what he's said, however, that's given her pause. Taking another long drink, she sighs out, "Fuck." Putting the glass back down on the desk, she adds, "I charge hourly, plus expenses. Doesn't sound like that'll be a problem for you." With a quick gesture of her chin, she indicates the stack of money he already offered her. "You want that to be your downpayment?"

*

People with PTSD are able to see it in each other. It tends to be this sort of unspoken language. You just don't understand that 'look' in someone's eyes, until you've seen similar horrors yourself. As such, Kwabena won't complain about sharing his expensive liquor. At least here is someone who will drink it with him, bearing the understanding that drinking is enough; that he doesn't need someone to tell him everything will be okay.

Iy isn't about things being okay, anymore.

Wordlessly, he withdraws the two grand and sets it down on the table between them. "I need a good cell phone guy," he tells her. "I've got extensive contacts, but I'm trying to play dis close to de vest."

*

Leaving the pictures where they are, Jessica takes the money off the desk. Never good to have that kind of cash just lying out there. "I can get you the address of a guy I know," she tells him. There's a bit of a look that says if he gets her guy killed, she's going to have words with him. "Discrete."

Jessica isn't the sort to deal with trauma in any other way then attempting to bury it. Booze and work helps with that most of the time. Or, that's what she believes. "Do you want to give me the contact info of these guys so when I find something out I can alert them? Or is that part of what I'm digging up?"

*

A slow nod of understanding and appreciation is given when Jessica agrees to put him in contact with a cell phone guy. A solid, discrete cell phone person is the single most important aspect in work like theirs.

At her question, Kwabena retrieves a cell phone from his jacket. Smart phone, prepaid, Android platform without a great deal of bells and whistles. He slides the phone across to her. "Dis contains dere numbahs and addresses. Soon as I get a phone to replace it, I'll send dis phone an SMS, so dat you can keep in touch."

He reaches into his jacket again, this time producing a pack of smokes. "You mind?" he asks, and will regretfully not light up should she forbid him to.

*

Once information is exchanged and handled, Jessica nods. There's not much else to say on the subject of the cell phone guy. It's information offered and accepted. She's not one for talking about it more than that. Picking up the smart phone, she thumbs through the contacts idly, nodding at Kwabena as he explains. "Got it."

She only looks up again when he asks whether she minds. Locking the phone, she puts it down on top of the papers in front of her. The money is squirreled away. She then gives him almost an amused look. "Only if you don't share." If he's willing to let her drink some of his expensive bourbon, she can't imagine he'll object to her bumming a cigarette.

*

"Dey're menthol," Kwabena disclaims, before offering the pack to her. American Spirits, light green; about the mellowest menthol on the market. These ain't prison smokes.

"De United States Army is funding a special unit named 'De Section'. Dis unit is funding global mercenary ops, partnering with terrorist orgs including HYDRA, SIGMA. Ugly shit." He offers Jessica a light, via a beat up old zippo, before lighting uphimself.

"I'm headed ovahseas to further infiltrate dere merc training ops in Greece. Here's de thing. Some of dese mercs are enhanced. I'm not talking natural enhancement, like de x-gene. Dis is something worse. I can't explain it, not quite yet. But, if you come into contact with one of dese mercs, I'll advise you get de fuck out of dodge, or call in help from one of dose contacts." A beat. "Unless you've got some kind of unbreakable skeleton, or you can resist electrical force fields shaped like supah sharp claws."

*

The disclaimer is met with a shrug. He's seen the kind of booze Jessica drinks, he should know she's also not picky about where she gets her nicotine from. Plucking a cigarette, she lets him light it for her. Listening to his information, she doesn't nod or acknowledge his words. She is, however, watching him, smoke curling up from the cigarette around her as she takes a drag.

"The Section," Jessica scoffs. "Couldn't get any more X-Files sinister than that." After another puff, she assures, "I can handle myself." Whether he chooses to believe her or not is up to him. She doesn't care either way. Dismissing the concern, or perhaps just filing it away for later, she moves on.

"So, you're off to Greece to do some infiltration, I'm digging in to see who this Section hired to try and kill you and your friends. Locate them, warn the others." Sounds simple enough, even if there are evil enhanced mercs in the bargain.

*

"Yeah, some douchebag put on some shades, had his cock jerked by Washington bigots, and came up with de worst name since 'Opahration Grandslam'." Kwabena takes another thick drag from his cigarette, filling the room with yet more smoke.

"Sounds like you got it down," he says at last, and moves to pour another drink. "If you staht running low on cash? Give me a paypal address. Oddahwise just keep a tab running. I pay in cash, and I can smell bullshit, even from anodah hemisphere."

He winks at that, and offers his bottle should she want to grow drunker still.

*

Jessica smirks at that, taking the bottle to pour herself another generous amount of bourbon. It's hard to say no to free liquor. "I'll just send you a bill," she assures him. His attempt to tell her that she shouldn't think of him as some dispenser of free money is met with a roll of her eyes, even if he does it with a wink. "I don't bullshit. I don't care if you've got superhuman smelling powers or not."

*

The Ghanaian laughs darkly. "No. No supahhuman smelling powahs." He takes his drink, then stuffs the bottle back into his bag. "Good luck, Miss Jones," he tells her, before scooting his chair back and rising. Taking the cigarette with him, he makes for the front door, and has his leave without another word.

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