Trish Walker, World's Newest Vigilante

February 18, 2017:

The Dark Devil recruits Trish Walker as her sidekick, and together they stop a liquor store robbery, infuriating one Jessica Jones.

Hell's Kitchen, New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Silk, Batman, Tony Stark, John Constantine

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

New York.

The apartment of Jessica Jones.

Long ago, Azalea Kingston had realized that the front door of this apartment was more like a guideline on entry and not a rule, and so the sound of keys in the lock barely drew her attention. It was likely Jess coming back from where ever she was off to. It was not likely Silk, who often used the window or the roof to make her way down.

And so, she did not stop what she was doing. There, not far from Jessica's desk, is a hero in the midst of transformation. The sleek lines of the grey, mesh-weave bodysuit she wears, a gift from Batman himself, call back to something like a swimsuit. Thinner, tougher, it clings to her in a way that shows off musculature, but it is not all that she wears. There's the sound of cloth running up her legs as black cargo pants are tugged over her hips and secured with her many-pouched belt.

"Look I know, New York isn't my turf, but I just heard something happening down the street on the scanner so, I'll-"

When Azalea turns around to plop into a chair and pull on her boots, she'll finally spy the entering Trish, eyes slightly wide at the unexpected visitor. Well. Shit. Keeping her identity secret really hasn't been a thing, but she'd been trying.

Oops.

Nothing else to do but pull on the armored boots, latch them down over her cargo pants, and then hop up to snag her armored, forearm protecting gloves. The last bit remains in her hands, and like charged lightning or bottled mischief, something dangerous plays across her crystal blues.

There's a moment of consideration, right before she lifts her domino mask and presses it around her eyes, completing her outfit.

Becoming The Dark Devil.

"You got a car?"

The question hangs as if it were another one entirely. As if this hero from Gotham, slumming it in NYC for the rest of the week, had asked Trish something else entirely.

It's almost like she asked her if she wanted to be a hero.

—-

Trish dropped her armload of Macy’s bags, her latest episode of shopping therapy inspired by another close encounter of the Dorothy Walker kind, just inside the door. She couldn’t help a small “Huh” of surprise as she took in the outfit Azalea was putting on. Seems like Az had taken to Jess’s suggestion like a duck to water.

Did she have a car? If not for her car, Trish wouldn’t have the hero/P.I. experience she did. A grin, the first real one of the day, spread over her face causing her green eyes to sparkle with delight. Her own outfit of oversized emerald green button down blouse over black leggings, with short boots and winter coat was rather pedestrian in comparison to Azalea’s armor but would suffice for being a chauffeur.

“I do have a car! You might be surprised to hear this, but I’m quite the experienced …I’ll say getaway driver even though it’s not quite right, having done it for Jess before. Where are we going?”

Trish always wanted to be a hero and jumped all over every opportunity to be one, even if only in a sidekick capacity.

A hand dips into another box of things she moved out here, and from within she produces a black hoodie that she tosses in Trish's direction. Really, she shouldn't be doing this. But on the long list of things she should not be doing with Trish, this couldn't possibly be at the top of the list. Or even the middle. Right?

"To catch some badguys."

There's little hesitation after that, and if Trish is going to pull that hoodie on she better do it fast, a hand moving to the door, opening it as if to tell Trish to lead the way.

Fire escapes are cool and all, but who knows where The Driver(tm) parked? In one hand Az holds a small device that must be some kind of communicator, and she latches it onto her belt. In her ear, a small earpiece, and she glances around, at nothing in particular.

"Liquor store robbery right up the street. I think we can cut them off. Get me close and I can get them to stop for sure."

Trish shed the puffy coat she had on, carelessly draping it over the shopping bags, and pulled on the hoodie. She fell into step behind Azalea, digging in her purse for one of her hair elastics, so she could pull her hair up out of her face in one of those casually chic messy buns. No matter how hard she tried, Trish just couldn’t shake that part of her style, as evidenced by the undercover outfit she had put on for the outing with Jess the other day.

“I managed to snag a good spot out front, lucky for us, and unlucky for the robber. If it’s the store I’m thinking of, Jessica would be happy if we caught the asshole.”

Trish had been battling the urge to drink all afternoon and Azalea had provided her with her chosen drug of choice. Saving the world. She dug out her keys on the way down, hitting the unlock button on the fob as soon as they hit the ground floor.

“This is me,” she said as she pointed to the sleek, dark grey Mercedes-Benz coupe. In her imagination, she slid across the hood like they did in the movies, and in reality she just walked around like a normal person. “Let’s hope the traffic doesn’t decide to go full New York on us.”

—-

It's hard to catch as many of Azalea's side-eyes with that mask on, but they're there, her little, private smile at the celebrity talk show host's not so hidden glee peeking at the corners of her mouth. It isn't until she mentions Jess that the smile falters a little. Well, shit. Yeah, Jess is probably going to be mad she's taking Trish along.

But sometimes, most of the time, Azalea could barely keep right and wrong separate, much less follow any particular rule. Save for one. The golden rule. The rule Batman lives by, that allows her to work with him.

No killing.

"Holy shit." The exclamation comes when she sees Trish's car, brows lifting, eyes wide. When she slides into it, her eyes roll shut and she leans back into the comfort of the seat.

This must be what it's like to sit in a Batmobile. Maybe.

Something in her earpiece draws her head up, and she leans forward a little, her breath quickening as the thrill of the chase settles in. "There's a cross street two blocks up, we're looking for a busted, dark red Buick. Late 90's make. I think the cops lost them but we're ahead of them!"

No matter what Trish imagines about herself when she gets into the car, what heroic deeds that might have crept up to her mind's eyes as she prepares for the chase - there's nothing quite like a real chase. With inside information.

With a hero to the right of you, who does not hold you back from what you want most. The Dark Devil looks to Trish, and the wanlight of streetlights highlights her face in a way that looks absolutely sinister.

Why? Because they don't even HAVE to get to the cross-street. The Buick just blew past them!

—-

Trish put the car in drive, and darted out into traffic, adrenaline surging as the tires squeal just a little bit. Her eyes were locked on the red Buick as she navigated the car through the traffic. It had been a very long while since she had enjoyed this kind of rush without the aid of pharmaceuticals or booze.

Trish couldn’t resist giving Azalea a toothy grin, a touch on the wicked side, as they followed the robbers. “Thanks for inviting me, Az. I haven’t had the best of days and you’ve given me the perfect distraction. Better than shopping, even!” A small laugh followed. “Speaking of shopping, I really don’t need more clothes so feel free to help yourself to what’s in the bags when we get back to the apartment.”

Knowing full well her sister wouldn’t approve of Trish’s involvement, she resolutely kept Jess’s name out of the conversation. Trish’s eyes jerked back to the road as she had to jerk the wheel to avoid a car that pulled out in front of her.

“Shit! Goddammit, look before you pull out you dick!”

Trish’s heart hammered in her chest as she worked on keeping her breathing even. The last thing she needed was to be lightheaded right now.

—-

There's a long moment where the world becomes the lights of the city streaking by with adrenaline fueled acuity, a dream of the chase given form by one hero reaching out to another. It's not like you needed some special gift to be a hero. You just needed a special drive, and as Azalea watched Trish navigate the street like she owned it, her slow recline into the seat, the grip of her fingers, the pull of the night air through the crack of the window all set her senses on fire for the task at hand.

There's a laugh, one that cuts through the night, and as Trish gains on the trio of men and their Buick… it makes a sudden, hard turn into an underground parking garage.

"What the fuck? Whoa whoa.. slow down here… right here. Give them a minute. Alright, turn in and park right away. I don't think this thing has more than one level."

The building that sits above the parking garage is an apartment building.. a little high end for an otherwise down on it's luck area.

"Listen. When we get out…"

Oh, it's coming, isn't it? The 'wait here speech', the hero's chastisement. Drive, but don't drive.

"Stay low. Stay behind me."

—-

Trish felt a rush of gratitude, enough to drown out the adrenaline for a moment, as Azalea doesn’t tell her to stay in the car. She slowed down as she followed Az’s instructions on where to park. The car slipped into the first available parking spot, Trish’s parking luck holding, a few spots in from the entrance.

Trish dug into her center console for her Taser and pepper spray. She glanced up at Azalea with a one shouldered shrug as she loaded her pockets. “Use what you have, right?” She asked, mouth lifting in a one-sided grin.

Ever the practical woman, Trish took her phone out, dialed her landline, and stuck it in the cup of her bra. If anything exciting should happen, there would be an audio recording of the events on her voicemail.

Trish got out of the car, following Azalea’s order, keeping low and ducking around the front of the vehicle to join Az. She had carefully left enough room between the wall and the nose of the car so she could use it to cover her movements.

—-

It's with a careful eye that Azalea notices all the things Trish does to prepare for battle, and though her lips part against what she does with her phone, she says nothing to stop her. They can talk about that later.

It is not often that someone gets to shadow The Dark Devil. Mostly because no one would want to. Moreso because she does not have the recognition of The Batman. But watching her move is like watching a jungle cat loose in a kindergarten, gliding past cars with a careful skulk, slipping around edges with an ease of motion that did not immediately draw attention.

"Hurry hurry, other ride's over there!"

"Shit did you hear another car come in?"

"It's a fucking parking garage bro, that shit is going to happen. You see lights? Hear sirens? No? Get moving!"

They run for their other car, just a few spaces over. In the time it takes for the conversation to play out, there's a flurry of speed and motion, and The Dark Devil completes that vaunted hood-slide Trish had been dreaming of to practically land on the back of one perpetrator's knee.

He cries out, flailing, and another man, a man waiting in their get away car, pops out of the driver's seat as Azalea makes herself a menace, a furious mess of combat that puts her in the middle, slipping past them like hands reaching for a rushing river, only to come up empty.

For anyone watching with real context from a far, it will be beautiful chaos. For the man that Az does not see, the driver, marching around the side of his car with purposeful intent and a double barrel shotgun, it is a God-send: She'll never see this coming.

—-

Trish’s lips parted in a soft sigh as she watched Azalea tear through the robbers. It was beautiful, glorious, violent chaos, and Trish was living for it. If somewhat vicariously. The man stalking up on Azalea caught Trish’s attention, and her eyes narrowed. Jess’s warning about not revealing her own fighting skills just yet rang in her ear as she reached for the Taser in her pocket.

An experienced thumb flicked on the power as she stalked closer to the gun toting ass thinking he’d get the drop on her friend. The top of Trish’s head popped up for a moment behind the hood Azalea had slid across as she gauged the distance between herself and her own prey.

Trish popped up, with a low growl she just couldn’t help much to her mortification, and dashed towards the other driver. She ran with her Taser outstretched, aiming for the goons side. If nothing else, she’d serve as a momentary distraction, hopefully saving Az’s life.

It didn’t occur to her to be afraid of the gun until after she was moving. Jessica was going to be pissed off when she found out about this flashed across Trish’s mind, causing an involuntary smile to flash on her face for a moment.

—-

There's a shot across the jaw, and Azalea staggers, just as the guy walking up thinks to take aim. It isn't until he sees movement from the corner of his eye that he whirls, leveling the shotgun at his hip, his eyes wide at this charging, hooded creature and her… is that a ray gun?
There's a crack of knuckles against face that brings Azalea's eyeline to the new threat, and they go wide.

"NO!"

It happens in a blur. The Dark Devil steps between Trish and the shotgun toting criminal, his bald head gleaming in the light, and then there's the deafening sound of two shotgun blasts as Azalea catches both in the ribs. It sends her spiraling sidelong, in the direction she was moving as she leapt to intercept him, and with a look of bewilderment on his face, he reaches into his pocket to find more shells to reload with.

Azalea hits the pavement and rolls to a face-down stop, and one must wonder if she had any regrets about this little thrill ride of a date she decided to bring Trish on.
A thrill ride, perhaps, that would spell the end of The Dark Devil.

—-

Trish screamed out her own “NO!” as the gun went off and Azalea hit the ground, coming to a stop face down. She sent up a frantic prayer that the body armor Azalea had put on stopped the shots from being fatal. All hesitation of giving away too much information about herself vanished as she relaunched her attack on the man with the gun. Fury drenched her vision in a red haze and her lips pulled back in a snarl.

Trish struck at the man with her Taser, grabbing the barrel of the gun with her free hand, intending on keeping it pointed away from herself and Azalea. “Fucking hell!” she grunted as she struggled to connect with the taser.

In a desperate move, Trish stomped down with her foot, aiming for the top of his ankle where foot and leg met. Her wild eyes met his bewildered eyes as she shoved the prongs towards the thug’s side, desperately struggling to put the asshole down before he overpowered her.

—-

The gun falls away with a fumble, and Trish will have it like a second weapon as that stun gun hits the man's side. He arches, crying out, staggering, but that's nothing compared to the shriek he lets look when Trish dislocates his ankle and sends him to his knees.

CRACK!

The Devil's Fist finds the side of his face, and he goes down in a sobbing, heavy-breathing mess, his consciousness pushed to the very edges as the Devil recovers and uses pain as fuel.
They groan all around them, some still there, if only barely, and every predatory instinct Azalea has tells her to keep going, to reach down. Grab. Twist. There's an after party to her left, just waiting, after all.

A dull blink and the crash of sirens, and she snaps out of it, reaching down to snag Trish's new shotgun away to break the stock from the barrel.

"We have to move. Stay close."

But it isn't in the direction of the car, running as quickly as she can in a mad dash across the parking garage and towards a street exit, one they will make it to just as the police come pouring into the garage. Just outside, Azalea is careful to rub the barrel clean of Trish's fingerprints, and then she tosses it down the sidewalk, reaching up to remove her mask and snag Trish's arm.

It was dark. Her outfit didn't have a cap or horns or anything. They could make do.
"We'll have to come back for your car tomorrow."

They can pretend all they want. Walk a calm walk back to Jess's place. Move like a pair of friends enjoying the night air. But Azalea's cheeks are glowing with the thrill of battle, the rush of victory, and even the bliss of rib-cracking pain. Fortunately, the armor did hold, and the only damage appears to be a pepper-shot pattern of black gunshot residue across the micro-mesh gray.

—-

A slightly deranged giggle escaped Trish’s lips as she followed Azalea out of the parking garage. She was flying high on the rush of the fight she just took part in, pulse pounding visibly in her throat. Trish leaned up against the nearest wall as Az dealt with the shot gun. She scrubbed a hand over her face, careful not to smear her makeup, and concentrated on her breathing again. Inhale, two three four, exhale two three four. Excited green eyes turned on Azalea, concern entering them as she took in the other woman’s appearance.

“What a rush, I am so pumped right now! Are you okay? Oh, god, you were shot! Let me see!”

She takes Az by the shoulders at first, turning her to catch some of the surrounding light, then running a hand lightly down Azalea’s side. Trish meets Azalea’s eyes, as she pauses, realizing she may be overstepping by touching the other woman without permission. She pulled her hands back, after giving both of Azalea’s shoulder’s a quick squeeze.

“I won’t need the car anytime soon, so no big deal. Jesus, Az, that was….fun!”

—-

There's a sharp pull of breath, her gaze locked on Trish as she feels down her side, which is little worse for wear. Save for the bruising of ribs, and the pain that touch causes. Pain that is fuel for everything she is and does, the lifeblood of the creature inside her - one end of the spectrum it demands.

Usually Azalea was the one overstepping, always drawn to the sensation of life under her fingers, no matter it's form, to harm or please. What Trish will find in her eyes is the danger Jessica warned about, the devouring press of a stare that could melt steel, or someone's insides. It was probably good in an interrogation, probably better fired across a dance floor.
Swallow. Breathe.

"I'm right as rain. I mean.. it hurts. It'll be every color of purple and blue tomorrow. But I've had much worse."

She starts them walking, back towards Jessica's place, her hands working to take her gloves off, to fold them as much as she can before one of the arm guards finds a big pocket on her leg, and the other finds another. It'll make her costume seem less unusual, though close inspection will not stand up to scrutiny.

Silence will fill the space between them for a long moment, and Azalea gives a little laugh, reaching out to tug at the side of Trish's hoodie. "Fuck. Looks like you caught a few pellets." Indeed. Trish will see the holes where two shotgun pellets barely tagged her side, just her hoodie, through the material and out without ever touching her. She, of course, has plenty of gunshot residue on her too, the stuff burning at the nostrils just a little, exotic and smoky and a reminder of life and death and what they just went to.

"Sorry I didn't see him. I was.. It's been awhile since I got out and let loose. That was really stupid of me."

—-

Trish felt at the holes in the side of the hoodie Azalea had lent her and her eyes widened. That had been a little too close for comfort, now that she had the time to think about it rationally. She giggled again, a tinge of hysteria coming through this time, before she clamped her teeth shut with a click.

“Okay, maybe a little too much fun, but still fun for all of that. I’m the one who should be sorry. You told me to stay back but I just couldn’t. I’m glad you aren’t hurt too bad, Az. I don’t think my conscious could handle that.”

Just then her phone started to vibrate, causing Trish to give a start of surprise, and making her yelp. She dug it out of her bra, icily staring down a passing pedestrian who was giving her a look of their own.

“Jesus fucking Christ, fucking phone!” She rubs her chest with the heel of her hand, hoping to ease the thudding of her heart. The usual eloquence of the radio host had fled in the rush of adrenaline and endorphins she was still feeling.

After a cursory glance to make sure it isn’t Jess or the station, she hits the end button and pocketed the offending device.

—-

The Dark Devil can't help but laugh at Trish's raw deluge of expletives, but eventually she gains control of herself, just as the phone is put away.

There's a twist of her lips, mouth canting sideways with an expression of mild disappointment when the phone comes out and she ends up putting it away. She tsks, the sound audible as her hands find her pockets and she does her very best not to ruin what had been a fun evening thus far.

That'll be a long shot. She almost ruined ramen and coffee by just, you know, existing.

"To bad. I was going to leave a little message for you to think about. The nightcap to our little adventure. Hey.. wait." She stops walking for half a minute, somewhere in the middle point to their journey - they might have another block to go. Maybe.

"Did you say you bought me clothes?" She looks astonished, one hand pressing to her chest in an almost teasing expression of overwhelmed joy.

Of course, she'll keep walking as her smile grows, and that mischief dances in her eyes in a way that dares Trish to justify spending so much money on Azalea Kingston, practical nobody.
The walk home had been electric for Azalea. The thrill of the hunt, of battle, of a near miss turned right, it sunk into her bones and churned against the creature she harbored. A creature that sat behind the mask of her psyche and pushed on her a little more, every day. It might ebb away, her better angel, though tackled and bled out by the demon on her back, could stand fast. It might do so were she to see some hint of uncomfortable caution on Trish's face, but to see a mirror of excitement and exhilaration with ever sidelong glance and lingering look sent her mind tumbling backwards.

It was not a thought, exactly, but a sensation. The culmination of the conquer, the reward for a battle won. What did they call it then? Revels? By the time they were back in Jessica's apartment, the scent of gunshot residue lingering on them both, Az was brimming with a private smile, some mischief that hung around her like a cloud. With a toss, her gloves left her pockets and landed, with her phone, on the couch. She barely realized that she had had her headphones plugged in, and that they came off in the throw.

Music splits the air: The Weeknd's Wicked Games. It earns Az a sidelong glance as she stands before Trish, one hand reaching for the little spot where her hoodie suffered battle damage. "Close one. Life or death close. Six inches to the left, and I don't think I'd ever smile again."

Her gaze cuts up, to meet Trish, and her other hand joins in the purchase it has on that hoodie, at the other side, slowly lifting. "I better keep this." Not everyone would approve. She won't pull it up to fast, so if it catches on anything else Trish is wearing, it will be brief. But she'll stop, pause once it's past her mouth but not past her eyes, stepping closer to accommodate for Trish's height, to stare at the exposed half of her face, and perhaps maybe make her wonder why she does not untrap her arms and pull it free.

But it will be brief. And soon enough she'll pull that hoodie free, the motion sending it in a toss. Right towards the apartment door.

She didn't mean to do that, but she's ever so close to Trish Walker, World's Newest Vigilante, and you'll have to forgive her if she's a little distracted.

Trish's face is starting to hurt from the smile she couldn't stop if she tried. The rush of chasing down criminals, staring down the barrel of a shotgun, and getting away mostly clean minus Az getting hit full in the chest with a blast from said gun hadn't worn off yet. She had laughed at Azalea's enthusiasm over the clothes, delighted to have found someone who enjoyed them like she did. Jessica couldn't care less about fashion and had made it clear on more than one occasion.

Once back in the apartment, she had given a small start as the music had startled her. Trish's eyes had dropped down to where the holes were, mouth twisting into the barest of frowns for just a moments.

"A few more inches to the left and I definitely wouldn't have smiled ever again. And I certainly wouldn't be smiling if your body armor hadn't held. But let's not dwell on that. We beat them, Az!"

Trish's breath hitched slightly as Azalea began pulling the hoodie up. A small shiver went over her as the blouse underneath lifted enough to expose about an inch of midriff, before falling back down. The exposed lips curled in an amused smile as she stood there with her arms and eyes trapped by the dark fabric until Azalea finished pulling it off.

"Whew," she said, as she brushed her hair out of her eyes, finally free of the hoodie. She laughed as Az tossed it away, not really noticing where it went. "Here's to hoping you can find something to replace that in those bags. I don't know about you, but I'm starving. I want something decidedly not healthy. Chinese or Pizza. Or maybe something off a food cart. My treat!"

Jessica has a raging headache by the time she walks in the door. Today's withdrawal symptoms aren't as bad as yesterday's. She'd managed to go out, get a few things done on her two major cases, but the pain isn't putting her in the best mood as it is. Granted, today drinking the pain away is no temptation. It's Day Fucking 9, and now it wants to kick her in the teeth and hurt her. She's intent on kicking her drinking problem right back…it is now officially an enemy to fight, and she was always at her best when she had someone or something to fight.

This does not mean that being hit in the face with a hoodie that smells like gunshot residue puts her in a more fantastic mood when she walks through the door.

As for fashion, hers might be a surprise. Her jeans look brand new. Her dove-grey t-shirt with the Jewel necklace swinging over the V looks new too. Even the leather jacket is new. They don't look wrinkly in the least. Her boots still look like shit though.

What's worse, however, than the hoodie now held in her hand is listening to Trish excitedly discuss how she almost got shot. And now her sister and her protege are basically about to…what? Have post-stupidity sex in her living room?

For two seconds Jessica Jones tries to remember all this stuff she said about not sheltering Trish too much. It says 'buh-bye' and leaves.

"I sure as fuck hope the both of you are talking about Paintball, and not the fucking multiple shots fired memo that came over my police scanner app not far from here. You are, aren't you? Talking about god damn Paintball? Oh wait, I already know you're not, because this place reeks of GSR!"

"I was thinking of eating someth-" Jessica Jones arrives before Azalea can finish her thought, a thought pushed by the Devil Inside with a fire that isn't likely to burn out anytime soon. Adrenaline. Victory. She should conquer something, someone else. The sound of the door opening doesn't phase her, but Jessica's words sure do, and like a splash of cold water it sends her blinking back to the sudden present, to something other than Trish's enthusiastic smile.

She should feel a certain shame, but she doesn't, not really, her gaze cast downward for a moment, before peeking sidelong at Jessica. Enough that when she turns, the peppering of a shotgun blast is clear on her chest.

"Don't worry. It's mostly me who reeks of GSR. Trish smells like lilacs and heaven."

The smile she gives Jessica as she puts her hands into her pockets is almost a tease, but she winces a little, because no matter how playful her tone, she knows she's going to get a paddlin. Verbal, hopefully, or this won't really be a punishment.

"But no, really! Everyone's alright. Trish really saved my ass back there. Rolled up right when I was about to get dunked on by this guy with a shotgun and took him to task."

It's a slight alteration of events. Slight. Kindof. It makes it sound better than 'I took your sister on a vigilante date. Hurr hurr hurr.'

Trish's head whipped towards the door at the sound of Jessica's voice. One of Trish's eyebrows arched over eyes that still held the exuberance of earlier. She couldn't help sniffing discreetly, wincing slightly at the burn in her nose. Trish noticed the change in Jessica's appearance, wondering what helped spark the change in Jess's wardrobe, from worn in and wrinkly to clean and new.

"What the fuck is your problem?" Trish asked with a smirk, refusing to let Jessica ruin her good mood, but unable to not answer the snarkiness in her sister's tone.

Trish's cheeks colored slightly at the compliment that she accepted with a murmur of thanks. Her eyes dropped to the floor as Azalea gave alternative facts about what had happened, but didnt' correct her. It didn't seem like Jess needed any more fuel added to her cranky fire.

"Besides, it's not like you can keep me sheltered, living in a bubble. Az needed help, I happened to be here to offer it, and there are some criminals in jail because of it. No need to be upset."

No need to be upset.

Trish just decided to take on a guy with a shotgun because she and Az were out…

Jessica really, really wishes she had booze in this apartment right now. Instead she stalks to the kitchen and takes out the orange juice. She upends it into her mouth directly out of the jug, pretending with all her might that it's a really fantastic Mamosa. Not that she's normally into fruity drinks, but right this second if someone slid an Appletini over? She'd drink it down in a heartbeat.

Sweat breaks out on her brow as she contemplates it, sweat which is ignored.

It gives her time to think on how to address this. So when she finally puts down the orange juice and wipes her mouth, the words that come out of her mouth are almost dangerously calm.

"What is my problem? Well, let me name a few."

She turns her flat gaze onto Az. "You are wearing bullet-resistant clothing. My sister? Not so much. You? Have super-normal advantages. You? Are a radio host who as far as I know has been taking Krav Maga since what? March of last year? April? Wellll fuck me running." Her smile is flat and dark. "Why would I ever have a problem with this? Gosh, let me think a moment. I'm sure it will come to me. Because expecting some god damn common sense…that's exactly the same thing as putting Trish in a bubble."

—-

Well, really. Azalea can't disagree on any particular point. She listens to the condemnation, her crystal blues ticking sidelong to look at Trish, to watch her unabated high, to think on the moments that came before. The pull of the shirt, the graze of her fingers against the older woman's side.

WAh Wah waH wAH WAH!

OH RIGHT. Jessica was talking. Lashes hit her cheeks, which are a rosier color than normal, and she swallows hard, digs deep, and tries to find some way to make this less of a hurricane in a handbasket. She does does the most diplomatic thing she can do and steps towards this friend that let her in, that took care of her when it was hard, who let her cry in front of her and told her the right, logical things while her heart leaked into the floor.

She owed Jessica everything.

Azalea certainly owed her enough to own this. "It's my fault. Really. I uh.. I needed to stop them. She helped me out with a ride. She stepped up, because I got sloppy. She had to be a hero tonight because I wasn't quite one. Sh..wait, what?"

Her brow furrows, and once again she's filled with an abject glee, her eyes lighting up as she turns to face Trish again. "Oh. My. God. You know Krav Maga? We should spar sometime. Like, train, yanno?"

New reports of a super powered woman throwing two other women into the East River tonight will probably be greatly exaggerated, right? Right.

—-

Trish drew herself up and squared her shoulders, preparing to go into battle with Jessica. She was slightly intimidated by the calmness in Jess's voice, but couldn't back down. The addition of her listing off facts that were far from alternative didn't really give Trish much to go on, outside of the good old standby of 'You're not the boss of me.'

Until Jess blew the whistle on Trish's Krav Maga secret. Both hands found her hips and the toes of her left foot tapped out an annoyed beat as she gave Jess a significant 'thank's for telling on me' kind of look.

And then Azalea was being reasonable, apologizing, and trying to take the brunt of Jess's ire. Calling her a hero, causing her heart to give a little lurch, in a way that Trish decided to file away for further investigation later. Much later, when Jessica wasn't glaring a hole in her forehead, and she wasn't trying to do the same back.

"I wouldn't say I 'know' it exactly, but I've been studying it for self-defense purposes." Trish turned to face Az, switching from icy glare to warm smile in an instant. "Sparring would be great. I know a good gym close by my office that has rooms you can rent for some privacy. I'm not very good and I wouldn't want people laughing at me or tweeting awkward photos of you tossing me around like a rag doll."

She turned back to Jessica, with a resigned sigh, determined to smooth it over, partly afraid Jess might cut her out again to punish her for being reckless. "I won't apologize for being there to help Azalea. I will, however, promise to get myself a bulletproof vest before I do anything like this ever again." The side of her mouth lifted in a half grin as she offered Jess an olive branch, hoping it would be accepted. "Maybe I can find something in pink camo."

Jessica is unreadable as Az steps forward to apologize. She remains unreadable as Trish glowers at her; as far as she's concerned the 'Trish can take care of herself' cat is way out of the bag. She doesn't even flick an eyelash. She remains deadly still, not speaking until she's figured out everything she wants to say.

Normally her rage just spills out all over the place, but so much has changed. It simmers, instead, where she tries to handle it with some semblance of care. There's more at stake than tonight, more at stake with the heart of the young woman she's taken under her wing.

There's also Trish's life.

It takes more control than she's ever had before, but…in a lot of ways Jessica has had to learn how to grow up over the past four months in ways she never bothered to try before. To look past her own pain and her own angst in a way she hadn't ever really done even before a monster walked into her life and shattered it; the accident alone, and her blaming of herself for it, had kept her from being at her best years before then.

But lately, she's had to reach, to step up, to think, to introspect, to see truths in herself and face them, to see other people's truths and present them for their own good. She's found people actually looking up to her, for reasons she still can't fathom, and in that has found a responsibility to respond in kind, to be the kind of person who is worthy of that.

Deep down, she thinks of it as being her 'Jewel' self, though damned if she'll tell Trish that. Still, her hand raises to fiddle with her necklace before she speaks a word. Anchoring herself. Giving herself a reminder.

"I see," is what she says to Az. "Personally, I think if the police can stop something, you let them. It's not effective to go after every Tom, Dick, or Harry out there. If they need special attention, that's when you bother. But I also have only really been bothering for a quarter of a year, and I wasn't there. So for you? I'm going to point out you're a licensed PI and there are some rules governing assault and resisting arrest that can tank you if you're not careful, and yet that license also gives you some abilities to do things that others can't do. Perhaps next time you take your camera, you collect evidence, you turn it over to the cops and you make friends with them so they're ready to help you the next time you need a cop for your next case. There's more than one way to stop someone. If nobody's life is immediately at risk? Maybe you don't gotta jump in. It's just a thought."

She turns to Trish.

"A bullet proof vest would be nice. Or maybe you spend some money to get a bulletproof suit. And a mask that I can't turn and blind you with. Because your whole life could be ruined by playing vigilante. Your reputation. You could end up tied up in countless lawsuits because you have deep pockets. Not to mention you're going to do a bad job with the rest of your life, because you're going to be exhausted. Of course, you are a radio host; someone with the power to turn PR to your advantage, someone with connections, someone who could be providing a host of valuable support that nobody else could possibly provide…with no alternate genetics to give you the responsibility to put your ass on the line. Not that having powers is the end-all be-all; neither Red Robin nor Peggy Carter do, and they're both phenomenal. Of course, they devote almost all of their time and energy to being phenomenal, with few other distractions, and have years of training under their belts. Or…you could choose to continue focusing on using that day job of yours to make positive changes too, something that's hard to do when doctors are sucking blood out of your lungs through a tube because someone has ventilated them with a semi-automatic. By the way, check with your PR office; Tony Stark will be calling about an interview."

And with that she turns from them to put the orange juice away.

—-

When Trish suggests a private grappling session her brows rise, and the huff of breath she expels with a laugh is probably very much like the Devil waking up to find John Constantine sitting on his porch. The way she looks at Trish, lingering through the first half of Jessica's measured response, might be enough to distract the detective. When she does finally look at Jess, it does not inspire any particular confidence.

The way Azalea tilts her head at that advice from Jessica is much like a dog trying to understand some strange word from a kind human. Oh sure, the tail will wag, and it'll look receptive enough. But does Azalea understand? Does she get that beating on criminals is not the only way to treat them?

No, no she does not.

Oh, for sure she's learned from the other Batlings that investigation brings dividends. She's just not as good at it yet. Besides, tonight was not about that. Tonight was about getting her spiritual rocks off, and she'd admit to it in a moment if called on it.

What can she possibly say that will make all this better? Not much.

Instead she steps forward, and decides that only two of them smelling like GSR is not enough. She's wraps Jess in a hug, her bowed against her shoulder, giving her a squeeze for the ages. It's a far cry from such a short time ago, the last time Az dared touch her. Despite all she is, it's the human who is reaching out now, not the monster, and it is not some foul violation but a physical reassurance.

"Thanks for looking out for us, Sis. I promise we'll be careful."

That's right.

Jessica is family now.

—-

Trish started to wilt under the verbal onslaught from Jessica. Making her feel like a toad was one of Jess's special skills, though it could be argued she could do it to everyone else. Her lips twitched as Jess brought up the disastrous Jewel outfit she had had made, while conceding the point. It was rather stupid of her to be running around getting in fights with her face plastered all over New York buses and benches.

"I hate it when you do that, win the fight with logic and reason, making me feel like a dumbass. Dorothy stopped by the office today and I was looking for a distraction that was slightly stronger than shopping, since that didn't work." She motioned to the bags on the floor, with a wry twist to her mouth. Trish hated the effect her mother had on her, the ability she had to make want to Trish self destruct with such little effort.

Azalea hugging Jess and calling her sister made the smile come back. Jessica was probably uncomfortable already, but that didn't stop Trish from crossing the floor to hug Jess from behind, sandwiching her between them. "Like she said, sis. We promise we'll be careful, and I'll get a mask so I'm not recognized."

Oh, no, she thought. I'm not going to, I won't do it, I can't say it….

"And a wig, something brunette since red would be recognizable on me. Or maybe some funky color like neon yellow."

Oh, god, she said it…

—-

Jessica sighs, relents, wraps her arms around Az and kisses the top of her head, pausing to stroke it very gently back from her face, accepting her non-verbally. The anger drains away, pretty much just like that. It's possible she knows damn well it was about getting Xihunel's rocks off, but that's not going to stop her from saying what she has to say and hoping at least some of it filters through the noise.

Right now, at least, Az will note as she touches the older woman that her inner demons are mostly silent, save for an exhausted inner ache that speaks of her battle with her addictions and her fear for the lives of the people before her. The monster in her memories, backlit in purple and blue, is little more than a sleeping serpent in her heart. Not that it hasn't been hissing and spitting in her dreams, or in the wee hours of the morning, when she wakes up and stares at the ceiling for an hour or more before finally getting up to make coffee. No doubt sleeping one room away from Jessica is no fun for Silk, either, given churning emotional states trigger Silk's Spider sense.

'You're damaged goods, Jessica.'

'You're no hero, Jessica. You're just like me.'

Things he'd never said physically, but some part of him continues to shadow her, finding new ways to torment her.

For now, though, the scars inside her ache but do not bleed; the more recent inner hurts have scabbed over and are no longer quite so raw and rough; memory is far from her and the present is all she's paying attention to.

Then Trish mentions Dorothy, and cold rage sweeps over her. "Dorothy needs to be reminded of our arrangement," Jessica hisses. "I'll stop by her little agency and make sure she remembers." The hate she feels for Dorothy is deep and dark, and the protectiveness she feels for Trish triples the power of that hate. Dorothy will not enjoy this visit.

But then she's getting sandwiched in hugs. And Trish is going on and on about costume choices. Jessica sighs. Perhaps this was inevitable. She finally just twists so she can wrap another arm around Trish too, accepting all the affection, kissing the top of her head as well.

Siiiiigh. And just like that they're forgiven. Well, maybe something she's said will keep both of them breathing a little while longer.

She chooses to ignore the image of Trish running around in a neon yellow wig.

"So. Pizza."

—-

It takes a lot of stress to bring out that one particular gift of Azalea's, something that has turned into more of a curse than anything else. Though for some reason she does hear the name 'Cindy' in her mind. Hmm. She releases Jessica and bites her bottom lip as she thinks about the logistical, logical problem of the GSR. Clearly, both Trish and her need a shower. There's really not much hot water in this place, and, really, it just makes sense to…

'Dorothy.' 'Pizza'.

Her nose wrinkles and twitches, conflicting thoughts hammering at the back of her mind. She might get caught staring off into the distance for awhile, but eventually she side-eyes them both. "Yeah, get her Jess. And her little dog, too." Aww yiss, that made her feel better. "I need to change." A much more practical and less horrible solution to the GSR problem than what The Devil Inside has in mind. Jessica would never scrub those sounds from her brain.

Eventually she disappears to Cindy's room, so she can change, casually knocking something of Silk's over to make inner self feel better.

Come at me Silk (you won't.)

—-

Trish gave a small snort as Jessica mentions a visit to her mom's talent agency. It may or may not have been mentioned on purpose, a jab of spitefulness on Trish's part, since she knew Dorothy was afraid of Jessica. She never used her sister, except when it came to Dorothy. Trish was a coward when it came to her mother, and she knew it.

Trish giggled as Jess kissed the top of her head, dropping one of her own on Jess's shoulder, in a very sisterly show of affection before using her favorite private pet name for Jessica. "I love you, asshole. And yes, pizza! Lots of pizza, with lots of cheese and toppings. My treat but you order since you know the neighborhood best."

Trish chuckled at Azalea's Oz reference, but mostly from the irony of the real Dorothy being more like the Wicked Witch. Jessica wasn't the only one with a burning hatred for Ms. Dorothy Walker, Talent Agent extraordinaire. Following Az's example, Trish pulled a shirt out of one of the bags and took it into the bathroom to change. If they opened the windows and made coffee or something, it should help cover the residual GSR in the apartment.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License