PI to the Rescue

December 11, 2016:

Jessica Jones, investigating the recent spate of attacks on members of the Gotham Antiquities Commission, happens upon the source.

Gotham City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Gotham Antiquities Commission is a pretty venerable old institution of Gotham City, staffed by any number of enthusiastic individuals who all share a love of things from the past. They also share a general nature as 'average, normal, middle-class or upper-class people,' for the most part, which is why the sudden 'interest' that's been taken in them and their annual winter auction has all of them extremely spooked.

They've auctioned off a lot of valuable pieces before, but in no one's memory can they recall their members being attacked… their homes broken into. James Ford is in the hospital, for Christ's sake! And to hear him tell it, he wasn't even the main subject of interest, in the end.

Robert Carter has been really scarce lately though— no one has been able to get in touch with him— which is why investigative interest has now fallen on his best friend, Tom Weiss. Mr. Weiss lives in a modest house in Old Gotham with his wife and young daughter, and he isn't hard to find at all, especially not for a good detective who wants to investigate the recent happenings with the GAC.

Judging by the fact the lights are on in the house, it even looks like he's home this evening.

—-

Jessica isn't usually a snappy dresser, but there's a lot she'll do for the job. To interview these people she knows that eu de yesterday jeans isn't going to get the job done. She's put on a snappy pants-suit with a crisp white shirt and has pulled her hair back into a tight bun, though she's not good enough at that sort of thing to avoid the fall of hair that's tumbled down to frame her face. The /combat boots/ under the hem of her pants may seem a little out of place, but she just refuses to wear heels, or anything that might impede her that much. She's got on a trench coat against the chill.

She rings the doorbell, eyes sweeping over the house and yard to take in any other details she can catch just…sort of out of habit, really.

—-

There is a distinct pause, longer than it usually takes for people to answer the doorbell. Then the door slowly opens, and a man who looks to be in his late thirties, early forties answers the door. His eyes are darting and nervous, a slight sheen of sweat on his brow, but he is obviously trying to play it off as if nothing is out of the ordinary at all.

"Can I help you? N-now isn't a really good time," the man, presumably Mr. Tom Weiss, says.

—-

Jessica's instincts go on high alert.

But she acts normal. She puts on a big smile and says, "Mr. Weiss, my name is Jessica Jones. I just wanted to ask you a few questions, but if now is not a good time I'll be happy to offer you one of my cards and make an appointment. I know I dropped in late. I just didn't want to intrude on your work hours. Sorry, they're blank…let me just jot down my number here."

She takes out a pen and one of her business cards, flips it to the back, and writes 'If in trouble, say come back Monday.' Then she passes it to him, careful to do so in a way that it would make it difficult for anyone else to spot.

After all, he could just be with his mistress or something stupid like that. "When would be a better time for you?" She even pulls out her phone, as if she's going to plug it right into her calendar.

—-

Weiss's eyes can't seem to stay on Jessica's face. They try, but something keeps pulling them off to the side, as if he wants to keep looking behind him. He looks like he's trying desperately to decide what to do. Does he risk trying to ask this person for help? Or would the odds be better to just—

His brain is working in overtime, so he stares a bit blankly through Jessica's polite niceties where he should be replying aloud. He almost doesn't even read the back of the card when she gives it to him. At the last moment, his eyes flick down— and he hesitates visibly.

She can see the moment when he makes a decision. "Yes… Come back Monday," he says. "Come back Monday."

—-

"Ok, Google," Jessica says cheerfully. "Make me an appointment with Mr. Weiss on Monday evening at this time. See you then, Mr. Weiss?"

Someone was definitely there. She hopes he has the sense to deal with the card in a way that doesn't tip him off. She has to walk down the driveway, cause whomever it is will be watching. She turns towards the bus stop, already planning her double-back route. Down three houses, cut through the neighbor's yard, and come around to the back. Hopefully Tom won't be dead in the time that will take, but if this person had wanted him deadperhaps the same she's already been hearing abouthe would have shot the man and gotten out. Or snapped his neck, or whatever.

So she walks briskly, like a busy professional woman might, and doesn't break into a run until she's well out of the line of sight. She leaps over someone's very nice aluminum fence, charges through their back yard just as fast as she can, then into the next, and the next.

She does, however, make a strategic leap into the Weiss' yard, choosing to land heavily behind a tree so she can get the lay of the land before just running up to the back door. Getting spotted will not help.

—-

"Yes," Mr. Weiss says again. He doesn't look like he can muster more. His eyes look desperate as he recedes and closes the door.

He backs up a few steps, then turns and walks slowly back into the house proper, turning right into the living room. There sits his wife on the couch, there sits his daughter beside his wife, and there stands the masked man with the gun… his weapon trained on the back of his daughter's head.

"She's gone?" That voice is flat and dispassionate, muffled by the mask yet still very clear. Weiss can only nod.

The gun lowers. The armed man walks away a few steps, and Weiss gathers enough courage to urge his family off the couch, gathering them towards himself closer to the hallway. The assassin does not seem to object, though his head turns slightly to watch. "Let's pick up where we left off. So far as you're aware, only Carter handled the special guest lists?"

From inside the fenced-in back yard, this tableau is just barely visible through the curtains of the windows.

—-

Okay. She needs to keep any of them from getting shot, give them a chance to run, and give the assassin something else to think about all at once. All without really knowing the layout of the house.

Jessica's neck tightens as a litany of her failures starts to whisper in her head. She can all too easily see the entire family inside dead, either because she moved too fast or not fast enough. Her palms start sweating.

Ok. Weiss has them near the hallway, which means they can duck to the side of a gunshot. Weiss also knows help is coming, though he might be expecting her to just call the police or something.

The gun will probably go off, but it's lowered right now, and not pointed directly at them. He might also turn to face her when she makes her move, which would throw off the trajectory and make it probably hit…well, something expensive, but not something irreplacable…and anyway, she's gotta get that gun away from him.

Well, here goes.

She takes a deep breath, backs up a few steps, moves to the side to give her a clear line to the window and to the gunman, pushes off the fence, and charges, leaping for the window, using her superior strength to punch right through it, ignoring the glass that gets in her hair, that slices her hand and her face, and barreling forward to attempt to tackle Bucky right to the ground.

—-

"Yes—" is about as far as Weiss gets to saying, desperate, when he suddenly notices Jessica's movement out in the back yard over the assassin's shoulder. He tries not to give it away, but he's a civilian facing an operative with decades of experience. The Winter Soldier notices.

He turns just in time for Jessica to smash through the window closest to him. The gun snaps up immediately, and there is a heart-stopping moment where she's staring straight down the barrel.

Then she collides with him. Braced for the expected force that a girl Jessica's size can bring to bear, he's not expecting what he actually gets; he's knocked flat under her. Weiss takes the opportunity to grab his family and run them right into the hallway, heading for the front door.

That makes the Soldier pretty mad. His eyes stare coldly up at her, memorizing her face, as his right hand lifts again to try to bring the gun back to bear.

—-

Oh good. That saves her from trying to yell run when she really needs that energy to try to grab the Winter's Soldier's wrist and slam it down again with all the force she's got, all in the hopes of /not/ having to look at the barrel of that gun again, maybe making him let it go, wishing she hadn't brought her fists to a gun fight. She tries to slam her other hand down on his shoulder to keep him down. She attempts to keep the advantage she's got, bringing her knees in close and tight to try to keep him pinned down.

Her own eyes are wide and wild, her lipsticked-for-the-day mouth a slash of blood on pale features. What's in her eyes is all instinct and power, with very little training and very little calculation. Some glass continues to make life interesting for the both of them, raining down mostly from the folds of her trench coat at this point.

—-

Surprise shows briefly in those remote blue eyes when Jessica grabs his wrist and slams his gun hand right back down again, hard enough that pain jolts up his arm and the gun skitters free a few feet. He tries palpably to wrest his right arm free, but while Jessica can feel he's got a lot more power to bring to bear in that arm than a normal person should… it's still not enough to overcome Jessica Jones two-handing him down in place.

Unfortunately, his gun arm isn't all she needs to worry about. It's not even his strong arm.

A strange noise rips the air, the sound of something mechanical whirring. It seems to be coming from his left arm… his left arm, which snaps up and tries to latch onto her throat. If he can get a grip, he'll pull with extreme force, far more than she can feel in his normal arm, sufficient to tear her off him and send her careening straight into the far wall. Not far, in fact, from the hallway the family fled down.

He's wearing gloves, but the touch of his left hand will feel unnatural as hell… as if there were metal there instead of flesh.

—-

He gets her, and now her own eyes widen in shock and pain of her own, as she goes basically /through/ the wall. She has enough sense to keep her head up so that it's not the first thing to hit. She doesn't quite go all the way to the hall, but if that had been a load bearing wall the house would be in trouble. Her strength plus his strength means the studs cracked. She hopes the family has gotten a lot farther by now though.

She can't let him get that gun though, and that's the one thing on her mind right now. She shoves her way half out of the wall, not bothering to get fully free yet. There's a heavy vase near where she landed, one of those big porcelain things. She snatches it up and attempts to whip it at his head. Not her weapon of choice, but it will do in a pinch.

—-

He rises once he gets her off him, rolling his right shoulder once— irritated to feel soreness in its joints. She's strong. Another meddler on his tail. There's more and more of them the more time goes on; a distinct downside of operations that run this long. The Winter Soldier is not accustomed to operating out of freeze for this long, though the circumstances of timing necessitated it. He is usually used for… shorter… more incisive things.

Things that leverage his natural strengths. Like his skill with the gun that he's immediately going straight back for.

The thrown vase arcs to intercept him, however. It's a considerably heavy object, something that nobody should be trying to deal with barehanded, but he does anyway— notably using his left arm again to hit the thing and shatter it into pieces before it can smash into him. He grasps his gun, pulls it from the floor, but doesn't raise it. Discharging it would leave hard evidence, and he's already paid the price once for doing that.

"Who sent you?" he demands. Time to see if there's any commonality to these constant interferences to his work.

—-

Just as she'd gotten herself the rest of the way out of the wall. She's covered in white powder, and drywall hits the floor in unhealthy looking chunks. She knows he'll be ready for another tackle this time. But she also notes he's not raising the gun. "Funny," she says, taking this moment to catch her breath and try to figure out how to get another advantage in this situation. "I was going to ask you exactly the same thing. You're the guy that put Ford in the hospital, right? What's the matter? Just can't live without the Le Pigeon aux petit pois?"

—-

Jessica scans for an advantage. The Winter Soldier just scans for exits. His target is out the door and presumably running down the street. There isn't much more he needs out of the man, but there is more he could possibly /want/. He hadn't run through every question he wanted to ask before Jessica came crashing through the window.

He's assessed that Jessica doesn't have a weapon other than herself, otherwise she would have used it already. He's pretty sure he can leave when he decides to. But first— the question of the hour.

She answers predictably. The assassin's half-masked head cants, eyes narrowing. Her reply doesn't shed clarity on his initial question, but it does reveal she's following the case, as it were. That's annoying enough in itself. Something to keep in mind.

You put Ford in the hospital didn't you? Jessica inquires. Just can't live withohut the Le Pigeon aux petit pois?

"I like antiquities," he rejoins dryly, before he makes a sudden left and crosses the living room to try to make an exit straight out through another window.

—-

Jessica swears violently under her breath, just because she realizes she gave away a little more than she actually concealed just then, even if she managed to conceal the things she thought were the most important things to conceal. Her and her mouth! Then, she charges towards the window, acting at first on instinct, only to hesitate as she remembers her first duty is that little family, no matter how much she wants to follow the strange antique lover. And if he doubles back around to them, they're toast.

So instead of trying to follow him, chase him down, go for round two, she breaks off, runs back towards the front door, and tries to see if she can't get to them. If this means he just leaves, well, at least they'll be safe. And if he doesn't, she'll be there to go for round two, even if she has to snatch up a lamp post and swing it at him.

—-

The front door is still swinging open. Looks like the Weiss family was a little too distracted to remember things like 'shutting the door behind them.'

They didn't get too far, either, because there's only so far and fast you can run towing a four year-old girl who's crying hysterically. They're still visible, some ways down the street. It'll be easy for Jessica to catch up, make sure they're okay, ask them some questions. They'll be more than happy to answer, for the woman who saved them.

The Winter Soldier, for his part, seems to be gone. Time passes, and he never does double back to attack again. No productive point to it.

But he does watch briefly, from a distance, memorizing the look of this girl on his tail, before he finally turns and leaves.

—-

She is relieved when they don't, and she does ask. Primarily, what he wanted. What he did ask. Anything which might help her get a little more information on their strange assailant. She kept looking up and around, wanting to get them out of the open but not sure where to take them. Her skin kept crawling. But eventually, she'll run out of questions, and she'll advise, strongly, that they go stay with someone, perhaps an old friend, not a relative, perhaps in another state, until all this blows over. From time to time she rubs at her aching, bruised throat.

—-

They are forthcoming— or Mrs. Weiss is, at least. She takes over talking when the stress and strain finally render her husband temporarily mute, her arms around her daughter. He wanted to know about Rob, mostly, since he and Tom were such good friends. But even Tom didn't know where Rob was or what he planned to do after the attack. He then started asking about Rob's duties with the GAC.

A lot of questions, but mostly he just seemed interested in the list of special guests that would be at the auction. Wanted to narrow down that it was just Rob, really, that was the keeper of that information.

There is truly not much else they can tell, not when the man wore a mask that covered all but the eyes, and eventually they agree the best course of action is to get out of the state for the time being.

Perhaps, ultimately, that's what other GAC people who've been attacked are thinking about doing now…

—-

Maybe Rob already has, which means he might be transmitting that list electronically. Either way, it seems like that's going to have to be the Antique Lover's next stop, which means it's probably going to be hers. Possibly with back up. And a better plan than the one she had going in. She thanks them, pat pats the wife's shoulder in her awkward sort of attempt at comfort, and heads back to Shadowcrest. Maybe Zatanna can do something with the information she's uncovered today.

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