A.K.A. No Balloons, Bears, or Flowers

January 29, 2017:

Takes place after Bona Fide. Directly after Zatanna Zatara uses her power to heal Matt Murdock, he and Jessica Jones share a few heartfelt words.

Metro General Hospital, Hell's Kitchen, New York

A hospital that really sees more excitement than any hospital ever should.

Characters

NPCs: Foggy Nelson

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

(Continued from Bona Fide)

Jessica already has a bunch of trash in her hand so she just…drops it all in the can on her way over, in spite of the fact that she was being somewhat inefficient with it. It wouldn't have been a proper excuse if she had whirlwinded that.

When he calls her over her breath catches a little; her heart skips, and she at least stops picking up anything else.

Her boots click clack over. "I'm right here," she says, his smile eliciting one from her as well. Just as her hands were gentle in the alley in contrast to her full strength, her voice is gentle now in contrast to what most people get out of her. Even so, other than that, she again pitches her words without any of the flirtatious lilts or tones that another woman might use when feeling what she's feeling. She doesn't follow that up with any questions, even though she'd linger-fussed to ask one or two - if he has something he wants to tell her or ask her or request of her she doesn't want to derail him from that.

Her fingers stop short of fussing with the sheets around him; she opts to rest one very lightly on the railing of his bed instead.

-

He'll feel her proximity before she ever does him the consideration of telling him she's at his bedside. "Jessica Jones, this is the second time I've been a dick to you in a month," Matt he begins, his smile taking a turn for the self-deprecating, even rueful. A pause, and then a dry explanation: "We've had an hour or more together with me awake and aware, whether in that alleyway or in this room, and I haven't thanked you once for saving my sorry ass."

It's a joke, it's clearly intended to be a joke, perhaps to soften the earnestness in what follows. "Whether it was getting that guy off me or bringing your friend here, it's safe to say I'd be in a coffin if it weren't for you." His shoulders shake in another soft, soundless chuckle. "You're my hero, Jessica Jones."

She does laugh with him as he says the first bit. Not out loud. They're soft breath-chuckles that stay mostly in her chest and throat and nose. But then he says that other thing. That she's his hero.

He can't. He can't possibly have any idea how much hearing anyone say that to her and mean it like that would mean to her. She doesn't even know what to say. There's like three intakes of breath before she settles on anything at all.

She settles for the easier bit first. "You were never a dick to me," she says, trying to hide the emotion in her voice. It's good emotion, but it's intense emotion, so intense she still hardly knows what to do with it. "You've seemed too kind to manage anything other than Diet Dick, I'm afraid. At least…in that sense." Temperature rises, and suddenly she is studiously studying his face. Bad word choice, Jessica. "At least to me. Most people would have just told me to fuck off in the alley or even in the sandwich shop, wanting no part of it. You stood there and made me feel better."

She swallows. She's his hero. They're more words that she puts away gently in a mental box, to take out when she's teetering on the edge, to try to hold on to. She should have called him, the night she was falling apart. He should have been the first number she dialed. It's not like he was protected by her insistence on facing those demons alone.

Her hand hovers over his hand for a moment, but never drops to touch it. "If I got to be your hero, I - really can't think of a bigger honor. You're a good man, Matt. A truly good man."

He chortles, coughs, nearly chokes, on being dubbed 'Diet Dick' by the woman at his bedside, in any sense whatsoever. That one's definitely out for a moniker, says the man who is still formulating his alter-ego, or whether he needs anything so grandiose to begin with.

But underneath all the humor, there's an undercurrent of… satisfaction. It's true, there's no way he could have known the effect those words would have on her, but he does once they do. Whatever you think of Matt, for all his personal bravery and private deceptions, one thing's certain: he's kind of a menace. A walking, talking violation of privacy for everyone within a square mile of him. She has no idea how much he senses or sees, and so can't begin to grasp how much quiet pleasure he takes in bolstering the confidence of the woman who just weeks ago was berating herself in Sal's deli, or whose self-destructive binges — however increasingly remote — he can break down by the date and liquor brand going back half a month.

He senses other things too, of course. But there's no move to take the hand that hovers, and there's no tease at her fluster. It wouldn't be out of character; even Foggy would (and probably, eventually will) tell her he's a bit of a dog when it comes to women. That may even be part of the reason why he doesn't make a move that should really be obvious. For all he says she's his hero — and means it, every word of it — he's moved by a deeply protective instinct, in the moment going so far as to protect her from, well, himself.

"I'm just a two-bit defense attorney with no luck on me," he says at being called a truly good man, his smile close-mouthed and a little tired. "But I'm a grateful one, at least." A beat, a gentle wrinkle of his brow. "You took down two of those guys, each time they popped up. You must have a mean right hook."

She assumes he doesn't know it's there, so she doesn't get disappointed when he doesn't take it. She shoves it in her pocket instead. That's a much better place for it.

He tries to protect her, she does the same for him, banishing her foolish hope that his hand would rise up to touch hers in turn, perhaps by accident. Because…what is she smoking? (Two half dead cigarettes scrounged out of a coat pocket, last week, no others, no fresh ones. It's gross, but she did it, but at least she didn't do it again).

What would happen to him if he suddenly responded to her feelings, anyway? Who would take a real interest next time? HYDRA, perhaps, now that she's gotten involved in their affairs too? Whomever ends up coming after the two young super heroes sleeping in her apartment? She could literally kill him.

And however increasingly rare the binges, she's not out of the woods yet, and she knows it…does he need that in his life? No. No he does not. He needs a…someone sweet. Catholic like him maybe. Some angel who doesn't curse and drink and snarl and get herself into situations that are increasingly ridiculously weird. He's learned about magic today. What the Hell would he do with spaceships, Nazis, and, and, and…

And her past. Dark shadows move through her as her mind touches that, slowing her heartbeat, dropping her body temperature, plummeting it almost, before she banishes those again. Mental talking to complete, she drags herself into refocusing. It's not the discipline of someone who meditates or has practiced all the arts he's practiced. It's just a stubborn demand for her brain to get it's shit together so she can focus on the here and now. She can't stop the warmth she feels whenever she looks at him, the warmth that increasingly sparks to life over her skin like a flame whenever her eyes fall on him.

But she can damn sure be responsible about it. That's what a hero should do.

She'll just have to admire from afar. And do her part to make sure nobody touches him ever again.

She chuckles at the mean right hook. "As a matter of fact, I do," she says, smirking. But she habitually avoids talking about her abilities or showing them off unless it's needful to do so, and she avoids doing so now. "Fueled by a very vicious temper," she adds, laughter in her voice once more.

She turns the conversation away from herself then, and says, "Matt, is there anything you need? Reading material of some sort?"

Her tone turns impish. "A teddy bear of your own?" He looks tired, she should do what she lingered here to do…figure out if she can help him further today…and let him be.

"Yeah, well, most of the really good right hooks are," quips the son of a boxer of being driven by anger. And who should know better than me? Matt adds in silent addendum. He doesn't press or pry into her abilities; everyone's entitled to have their secrets respected, even if those precious secrets are always a little less secure than you'd think.

He feels those subtle shifts in body temperature and the rhythm of her breath, though he doesn't know their particular origins. These two are, for all that they've been through together already, just getting to know each other. "No, thank you," Matt says with a slight - and slightly exasperated - smile. "No balloons or bears or flowers please, from you or anyone else. I don't need to make this room more comfortable, I just need to leave it as quickly as possible. And you've already done your part there, and then some."

"Though," he adds with a gesture of one hand towards the door. "If you don't mind letting the nurse know that she should send the teddy bear outside on in when he finally wakes up? That'd be swell, Jessica Jones." He draws in a breath, and for a moment abandons all his wit and wry defenses for a quiet, heartfelt, and eloquent: "Thank you."

Amusement causes those tiny laughs again as he puts item after item on his 'no way, thanks' list. "You got it," she says. "Not so much as a tiny box of chocolates." She has the feeling he's not going to stick around for three days like Zatanna suggested, but…this worries her less than it would have worried the young mage. She has total confidence in Zatanna's healing abilities.

He can hear her crossing to the door. She pauses as he thanks her again, and her smile is sincere. "Any time."

It probably doesn't really take his super abilities to know that she means that, but…they back that up anyway. Then she gently withdraws. A few minutes later he'll hear her murmur to the nurse, and the nurse shaking Foggy awake.

By the time Matt's irrepressible and very concerned partner comes racing as fast as he can down the hall, the elevator doors have closed behind her.

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