The Broken Jewel and the God-Fearing Devil

March 03, 2017:

Jessica Jones finds the Devil of Hell's Kitchen at last and secures his help in the quest to rescue John and Zee.

Hell's Kitchen Docks, Hell's Kitchen, NY

Where gunshots on the docks do not, in fact, summon police officers of any kind.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Elinor Ravensdale, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

1:35 AM. Word on the street puts an outgoing shipment of girls leaving Pier #4 right around this time. The time is important, as is the word on the street, as the operation has taken to varying up the schedule and the pier on a regular basis now that the Devil of Hell's Kitchen has been working hard to interrupt their flow.

Still, this source, an info broker named Steele, has been impeccable so far. Steele's motivations aren't entirely clear, but he seems to know everyone and have his fingers on the pulse, and he seems to highly disapprove of this entire operation. Try to get him to talk about drugs, though, and he clams right up.

At any rate, six of the Russians are roughly herding about five young ladies into a shipping container, if the sound of sobbing, screaming, and distinct perfume smells are any guide. The slight click of shifting weapons and the firey silhouettes of heavy duty barrels says they've brought the spray-and-prays tonight, perhaps as insurance against the Devil's arrival.

The Russians are not clumped together. Only one is actively herding the young women. Two spread out somewhat, guarding him, and two more spread out, guarding them. A final one stands atop a shipping container, covering the entire area.

They speak to each other roughly in their own language, though the one doing the herding snaps, "Hurry up!" to their prey, waving the barrel hard into the container. "We've no time for your whining."


He's eschewed a name for months. Now, in that vacuum, his enemies have given him have given him one of their own. The first time he heard it whispered, the moniker rubbed the Catholic boy wrong. But after that knee-jerk reaction, he came to recognize it as not just ironic, but appropriate.

"Those Murdock boys, they've got the devil in them," his grandmother used to say.

Might as well own it, the shadowed figure thinks to himself as he finally makes himself known. The first sign or sense of him the Russians playing shepherd on the ground will have of him is sound of fist meeting flesh up above, the crack of bone as knee meets ribs, the clatter of an assault rifle striking the metal roof of the container. And then, of course, of their compatriot hurtling downward towards the men on the outer perimeter.

In the fallen watchman's place is the hulking, heavy-breathing silhouette of the man in the mask— but not nearly long enough to be a target. Then he's leaping from that height— straight towards the next set.


Of course, they're shooting. The rat-a-tat of weapons fire breaks out, shooting where they expect him to be rather than where he suddenly is. Bullets ring out and ricochet in sparking-harsh melodies as they strike shipping containers, punctuated by a dull percussive sound as they bounce into buildings.

The girls scream. Three hit the dirt, covering their heads. Two just quite sensibly book it just as fast as their feet will carry them, the sound of their heels slapping on pavement still audible to Matt even through the gun fire. The guy Matt lands closest too starts and definitely tries to reposition his weapon, but…he's a mite slow on the uptake to reliably dance with the Devil. He yells: "Vot! On zdes!"

He yells it rather frantically.

Granted, the others will have a moment to recover too.


Jessica Jones might have missed this commotion tonight, despite its relative volume. She'd been walking a fairly reliable pattern every night in her search, heartened, somewhat, to hear the name that matched the markers she'd been told to watch out for. She'd walk up and down the docks exactly once. She'd already been all the way north. She'd walked her way south to Pier 3 by the time Matt got there.

She probably would have headed home had a ghost (true story) not started flinging garbage at her to herd her back towards Pier 4. She'd ducked and weaved, avoiding, just barely, getting hit by an slushie cup with some red dye #5 and water still caught up in it. She'd dodged backwards, furious and confused, had dodged again to avoid a half-eaten orange that had seen better days, and had kept right on doing this until she'd heard the sounds of gunfire and chaos. At that point her eyes widen; she silently realizes she might have been given a little help from a certain neighborly ectomancer tonight…and she pushes herself to the limits of her under-four-minute-mile to try to make it onto the scene.

Either she's just found the Devil, or…something bad is going down and someone might really need help. Or both, she supposes. Both is a possibility too. Either way…she's gotta move, and she does.


Definitely both. Because as fast as the man in black is, and as hard as he can hit, he's outnumbered and surely outgunned. The first part of that equation he tries to dispense with first, hoisting the gun away from the Russian he's facing, turning its but into a battering ram against the man's stomach before flinging it right at the head of the next closest opponent.

Since the aftermath of that first mad riot of a night with the Winter Soldier and Jane Foster, he's committed to ensuring no one dies when he steps into the field of combat — even his enemies. So there's no attempt to use the man he disarms and brings low as a shield from the volley of bullets that follow. Instead he rolls, quicker than you could believe, towards the marksmen who are hastily taking their aim. He closes the distance, sweeps at a knee to vault another one onto their back before slugging before moving on to the next target; a one man whirling dervish of destruction. The next one is smarter than his compatriot. He abandons the dream of a perfect shot against this shifting shadow of a man and adapts instead; bashing the vigilante upside the head with his gun, sending him staggering; while his compatriot takes aim…


And thus comes a familiar, feminine, and truly awe-inspiring battlecry of, "Shit!"

Jessica Jones is not a swift and efficient shadow. She's the literal bull in the china shop. But…she gets the job done.

And so it is that a blur that smells like vanilla and leather rush-leaps for the man taking aim at the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, just barreling him to the ground with all her might as her adrenaline spikes to epic levels, betraying far less coolness and polish in battle than she might like to pretend to, especially when there are guns involved.

She pins him down with her knees, grabs his gun hand as a few rat-tat-tats nevertheless slam perhaps uncomfortably near the Devil, and slams it into the pavement with a few hard cracks until she's sure it's really, really, really broken. Then she sort of balls up the gun and flings it away in a way that indicates a sense of real discomfort even touching a gun; a roughly spherical shape hits the river with a hard, wet splash.

Then she realizes she's kneeling on some screaming evil Russian guy and she just grabs his head and bonks it with smooth precision into the pavement, using the barest fraction of her strength to make sure it's an unconscious-making bonk, and not a big bloody dash.

Course, that still leaves the dude who just hit Matt upside the head with his gun to take care of…


Matt is smart, and fast, but also headstrong and ultimately untested. Even with all his gifts of echolocation and his incomparable training, it's a minor miracle that he's survived as long as he has. Sometimes even he can scarcely believe it— like when that volley of bullets cascades around him.

The blow to the head has compromised his strange set of gifts, so it's only after she's engaged her target that he dimly realizes she's on the scene. When he does, he puffs out a quiet breath of unadulterated gratitude — right before summoning his reserves of will and strength to deliver a spinning kick against the Russian assailant moving in to maintain his momentum and press his advantage. It sends the Russian reeling and Matt to the floor — but it's a heavy-breathing Matt who rises first, and who rushes to maintain his momentum and deliver a series of savage punches to the remaining combatant.


Meanwhile Jessica whips her head around. Left! Are there any more? No? Right? Okay! No more! Just piles of bodies on the ground and some asshole the Devil is finishing off. Great! Go Devil H.K., go! She watches the man in black take the guy down with a series of punches, then shakes herself.

God. What is she doing? She's being an idiot, that's what she's doing. Look, there are some girls there. She springs up and dashes over to them, ushering them up. Her tone is actually really gentle for them as she says quietly, "Come on, get out of here, you're okay now, you're fine, it's going to be okay. Here, here's some money, take a cab, just don't stick around here anymore, okay?"

And off they go, sniffling but booking it, taking the money, backing away slowly. Jessica sees another gun and lets out a sharp, "tchah," sound. She scoops that up and balls that up and sends it into the river.

When she's sure the man in black is done turning his opponent into a sack of potatos on the ground of the docks she really takes it all in. "Jesus Christ you can fight, holy shit, you took down like 5 armed men!"

Jessica Jones could not take down 5 armed men like that. She? Would have just gotten shot. A lot. A lot, a lot.

And then…"Did you get shot? Are you okay?"

Her heartbeat has not calmed down yet at all, still riding the great holy-shit high of leaping into a gun fight in the dark.


He did not, in fact, get shot. But even in the thick of night, a cursory examination will suggest that the melee took its toll. He can fight, but he's only human, and without even a modicum of protection. He's breathing deep and fast, reaching towards the back of his head to tentatively feel that throbbing point of impact where the but of the gun landed.

She tends to the women, ushering them to safety with a gentle touch; he surveys the scene in his own strange way, detecting heartbeats and scooping up the remainder of weaponry to cast it into the black waters of the Hudson. "I'm okay," the devil says raggedly with a tip of his head towards the starless New York sky, gesture that almost feels like prayer or supplication before turning back to regard her. In his daytime life he might ask whether she's hurt; but here, now, he can dispense with both frivolous courtsey and any pretense that he doesn't already know the answer. "Thanks for the help. What brings you here, Jones?"


Right. To business.

Jessica turns to face him fully; and seems to respect his right to shake off his hurts, whatever they may be. At the very least, she's useless for addressing those, and if it makes her feel a pang of guilt to go right ahead with what brought her here while he's dealing, there's no help for that.

Soon her heart rate is falling to more or less normal levels, though now that things have calmed down and she's stepping a bit closer she's giving off quite a bit of information to his senses.

The blend of her smells is different. Vanilla and leather are still predominant, but the whiskey smell is nearly gone. It's been 23 days since she's taken a drop into her body; if he can smell back a month he knows that cut-off has nearly passed, though he'd already probably noted the binge that preceded the dry spell back at the whole disastrous "girl's night" incident. She's not out of the woods yet, but…this is definitely the longest it's ever been for her.

Her leather jacket is brand new, and so hasn't soaked in any smells but itself. Some Tequila Reposado did slop onto the right sleeve as recently as two nights ago, but that didn't make it into her mouth either. Her clothes all sound a little weirdly thick as they rub against each other— that's not normal cloth, though it's hard to tell what, precisely, is going on with it.

Twelve days ago she did smoke one high-quality cigar; the rich scent clings, just a little, to the strands of her hair. She was pretty close to some second-hand cigarette smoke three days ago but didn't indulge that time.

Tiny wisps of magical energy cling to her ears in form of two little diamond-shaped earrings with an elongated point at the bottom…the ozone here is mixed with something very like fog or mist; the energy is otherworldy and strange, but not particularly threatening. This is weak, very weak indeed, just enough to suggest the shape….though if she's wearing earrings she's not showing them off as her hair is fully pulled right over both ears.

She's been regularly ingesting some sort of pharmaceutical, but the traces it leaves in her scent indicate a prescription medication, not a street medication. A serotonin reuptake inhibiter, perhaps, a hypothesis that might be born out by the fact that her serotonin levels are marginally higher than what was normal for her in all the time he'd known her. Marginally, because that's only been going on for ten days, if his senses are any guide.

Consumed by other concerns, she has more than shaken off the unhappiness and disappointment that had marked her the last time they'd met. Her body temperature is back to its baseline. Her cortisol levels are way high, indicating plenty of stress and strain. Her body does force deeper breaths than normal, not because she's winded in the least by the rumble, but because she hasn't been sleeping really very well.

She slides her hands into her pockets, feeling suddenly vulnerable. That vulnerability carries into her tone; for once she's not trying to play anything off, not trying to act cooler than she is, not trying to hide.

"I…really need your help," she says. "I know I have no right to ask…and um you're welcome, but I honestly just…uh, kind of got lucky just now. But…it's not for me. Or…at least…it's not just for me."

And then, a word that is perhaps even more deeply indicative of the fact that she thinks he might just be her only hope, betraying a fear that he might just say, 'no, I'd rather not get involved, you've been too much trouble already' or something and blend back into the night before she can state the fullness of her petition.

For it is not a word she says, too terribly often.



Safe to say he notices these changes, one and all; his survival and ability to function in the world depends on a knack for details. What he makes of them— what inferences he draws, what assumptions he arrives at— he keeps close to his chest. Even in the daylight hours his features are more often than not schooled to neutrality. Here? Impenetrable, opaque, and all the more so because he is utterly silent while she speaks. The only movement she'll detect is the heavy rise and fall of his chest as his breath steadies.

Then she's making her plea, and he puts up one black-gloved, staying palm. "You don't need to have a right to ask for help," the devil says in low tones. "Tell me what you need and who I'd be helping. Yeah?"


"Yeah. Yeah, okay," Jessica says, but the relief that courses through her veins is like fire, sweeping through every fiber of her before she shoves it aside and gets to work.

"On February 14th my best friends Zatanna Zatara and John Constantine went missing," she says. "I'm going to fill you in on the whole story in a moment because I think if you agree to help you deserve to know everything." She shifts, uncomfortably, adding, "It strains credulity, even more than other stuff I've told you in the past, and I don't have any proof other than my word. You should know that up front too." The unspoken, 'You might think I'm fucking crazy' is right there in her words; it's punctuated by the sound of her gloved fists clenching hard inside of her jacket pockets, steadying herself against this uncomfortable fact, which carries boatloads of significance for her.

"The quick-cut to the chase is that in order to find them, we've got to find the person who sprung a trap on them. They're wizards, both of themgood wizards, as is the person we're hunting. But the key to doing this and I'll tell you why in a moment— is to locate a gang. I have very few clues, I've been hunting them for two weeks. It is safe to say I can't do this. I know dick-all about gangs or how the criminal underground works. But…you know about them, and you're the only person I know of who knows about them other than cops…and the cops and me don't really get along so hot."

She realizes abruptly after telling him all about evil wizards that asking him to help more wizards might not sound so appealing to the man she's trying to recruit to the cause, so she adds, "They're amazing people. Zee…she's only 18, but there's just this light in her, you know? She gives 150% at all times, no matter the cost to her. She helps people, she cares about them, she brings out the best in them. And John? He thinks he's a real piece of shit, but…he's like you. He fights this thankless war in the shadows every single night, trying to protect people who don't even know the threats he goes after exists." The fact that she loves these people in a very fierce, platonic, family sort of way would be evident even to someone without super senses.


The Devil of Hell's Kitchen and his alter-ego are as different as — well, night and day. Different in how they carry themselves, how they speak, and even how they treat the people they encounter. Gone is all of Matt's wry humor and self-deprecation; the rueful little defenses he uses to keep the others at bay. The devil, by contrast, is all id; raw and utterly grounded in the moment. But one thing they might seem to share is capacity for belief, or at least a ready willingness to accept the things she says— no matter how outlandish— as true for the sake of argument and discussion. "You can give me the long part later," the devil says, with none of the lawyer's thirst for a good cross-examination. "Right now I just need to know two things. What do you know about this gang, and how they're connected to all of—" a beat, and then for lack of a better word: " —this."


"Okay," Jessica says. She's…pretty much just Jessica Jones, full of messy emotions for good and for ill. Another sweep of relief rushes through her. It's like she's set up these hurdles in her head, these fear points— and when she leaps over each of them one after the other, encounters nothing but his willingness for her to go on (even to just get on with it), she drops an enormous weight.

She takes a moment to collect her thoughts, which means she starts pacing restlessly before him, her boots clopping on the streets of the waterfront. Same old boots; the left heel is gonna go soon though and will need to either be repaired, or replaced.

She's not marking differences because she doesn't know. Every now and then that mask of his really nags at her, whispers that she's missing something important, but that is so far at the back of her subconscious that it might as well be nonexistent. Especially right now.

"John and Zee were sent bodily, alive, to Hell when Zee kissed a magic pearl," Jessica says. "The only time that pearl was out in the open was when John and I went to retrieve it around 11:30 PM on the night of the twelth. He called me and asked me to play bodyguard. We went to Chinatown to get it. Turns out he needed a bodyguard, because a Latino gang showed up."

She finishes one leg of her pace, whirls on her heel, and paces in the other direction. "They addressed him by name; they attacked. They were just…baby gang members I think, not heavy hitters. Only one had a gun, the ring leader in a red jacket. The rest had knives, pipes, shit like that. They were basically just kids. The pearl hit the dirt in the scuffle, but they didn't take it. At the time, John and I both figured this was cause I'd ripped a lamp post out of the ground with the intent of getting them all to run away; and that worked. I didn't see any insignia, they didn't introduce themselves as anything."

She whips around again, pacing, her hands coming out of her pockets to cut through the air in expressive, tight motions of emphasis. "I broke the hand of the gunman in multiple places," clearly her MO for guns, "and I shattered one of their jaws. It just couldn't be helped." Guilty— they were just kids, after all.

"We knew it was strange. We knew it meant something."

Another quick, rapid turn. "But I trusted my fucking investigative instincts, so I didn't bother to follow them that night. I was tired. I had a cut on my face I wanted to bandage. I wasn't dressed for it. Well that was a fatal fucking mistake. Because my go-to strategy? Checking every fucking hospital in NYC, then checking every god damn urgent care clinic within a 30 mile radius of Chinatown? Jack and shit. And canvassing Chinatown for information?"

Here, she scoffs. "You'd think those little shits didn't even exist for all anyone wanted to talk about them, out of territory though they must have been. So yeah, epic fail there, and now the trail is really cold, and in truth I've been looking for you since about the 16th when I realized I was in over my head..but all I had was Hell's Kitchen docks so I'm sorry to be bringing you this shit show of bullshit cold case clues."

She makes a rougher scoffing sound and stops her pacing, shoving her hands back into her pockets.


The Devil listens intently as she speaks, head cocked slightly to one side. He's predictably ungenerous with his reactions; the most notable is the way his frame tenses and his jaw juts outward when she describes her attackers, and the press of his lips in the faintest measure of empathy when she airs her guilt for striking one. That's a sentiment he understands well enough.

"If they were in a gang that had their shit together, they'd never use an emergency room," he offers by way of explanation in his gruff and quiet tone. "That's how you get found out by your enemies when you're already weak." It's a reality he faces himself, and has worn that much more heavily on him since he was laid up in a hospital, and only delivered from death or a grueling recovery the grace of the very witch Jessica gushes over.

One beat, two. "So you want to find the people in this gang in the hopes they might know some more about what happened to your friend." Another pause. "But it sounds like you already know where he went. Ideal world, Jones: how does this all shake out once you've ID'd the people you're looking for?"


Now she listens intently to him in turn. When he explains why criminals don't carry HMOs she exhales a little, a quiet expression of raw self-irritation that she didn't think of that for herself. But for all that she vents and feels whatever while she briefs him, she is briefing him, and she doesn't address that like she might if a certain lawyer were playing sounding board.

As for the end game?

That's a good question. Fortunately, it's one she has an answer for.

"Someone got them to do what they did," Jessica says, her voice quiet, intent, and angry. "We've been told by a couple of sources if we don't find the wizard we can't find them in that place, cause it's a big place. It's apparently kind of like saying 'they're on Earth.' Having set the trap, however, he's apparently…stamped the coordinates on his ass or something, I don't entirely get it, I have only really known magic even existed since Zee walked into my office in November. I'm taking the word of experts on that one. I also think punching this guy repeatedly until he vomits and wriggles his fingers and brings them back is a nice option too, with no need to make it any more complicated than that."

Yep, he heard that right…all of this fierce emotion and attachment has formed, at most, within the span of a whopping four months or so. It's no less genuine for all of that.

"So…ideally, whether this guy is in the gang, or hired the gang, or sent a guy to hire the gang, they are the key to finding the next step. We have to find them, have to shake them down, have to find out what they know, what they were told to do, why they were told to do it. They're not the last step, they're only the first step."


"Got it," the devil says quietly of Jessica Jones' grand plan to rescue her friends from Hell. And, of course, he does— despite knowing next to nothing about magic. But going after the lowest rung of criminals and working your way up— it's how police officers and prosecutors build their cases. It's a game he knows all too well, though something about its application here seems to nettle at him.

"There are a lot of Latino gangs in the City," he offers after a further beat or two of deliberation. He rests his back against the cold metal of the container wall, arms folded across his chest. "Though not too many in China Town. Sounds like your targets were travelers on a very specific mission." Forefinger taps on bicep thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you have any other information we could use to narrow the hunt?"


She racks her brains and thinks.

"Crimson Jacket carried a pistol. He used it sideways, which I'd always heard was dumbass. He wore…Reebocks." Her brain picks up details like a sponge, she just doesn't always think to look for them. When she does that, they're there, ready for recall.

"He did all the talking. Two blocked off the alley. One had a baseball bat. They told us they wanted us to pay a toll. They tried to threaten me to coerce him…no, that detail isn't relevant at all, of course they did."

Her voice is devoid of most emotion now, fully intent on The Puzzle Before her, engaged with it.

"Someone pulls a switch blade…Crimson leaps right for John instead of me, but…does he know John's about to probably throw a spell? Or is it just cause John is the target of this entire dumbass exercise? Oh, yeah, there's a third one…broken knuckles. I forgot about the guy who broke his hand trying to punch me. But if the other injuries didn't help that's not going to help…"

"One spat out teeth, really should have grabbed one, that would have come in useful and…"

And that's it. That's the details she's got. Her emotions overtake her again, a hot rush.

"A really long-winded way to say no," she grumps. "But…I had to look again to tell you." She just sort of…trusts that he'll get what she means by that.


He puffs out a breath far short of a laugh when she says she should have grabbed some of those teeth she knocked out that night for evidence, but otherwise he's on a similar track to her: all business, honed in on the case.

"Your gang was in the wrong neighborhood that night," the Devil ventures, voice soft enough that it barely carries over the air between them. "Somewhere they didn't belong, and under ordinary circumstances wouldn't be allowed. It's the people whose turf they crossed that are most likely to know who did it."

A beat, and then he's abandoning his repose by the abandoned shipping container. "Which means I'm headed to China Town to have a talk with some of the people most likely to take offense. I'll let you know what I find tomorrow." And then, just like that, he's starting the purposeful walk away from the field strewn with the prone and unconscious bodies of the men they so recently put down.


"Shouldn't I…come with you?" Jessica asks, startled as he just starts walking away. "Not— not that you can't handle yourself, obviously you can, and better than me, but it seems like kind of an asshole thing to do, just waving goodbye while you charge off to go do something dangerous on my behalf…"

Granted, it occurs to her that she maybe might just be in his way. Now that she's seen him in action she can see for herself that's a distinct possibility, stranger as she is to the world he inhabits. Still…she jog-walks to keep up with him for just a second. It's all uncertainty now, from the timbre of her words to her movements. "I mean…thank you of course for being willing to. And I'm not trying to get underfoot or anything, just…"

Just what?

Jesus, in his own way the Devil of Hell's Kitchen gets her as flustered and turned topsy turvy as Matt Murdock does, what the Hell is up with that?

(This thought floats through her mind searching for some place to connect, much as the words 'yellow' and 'bulldozer' might have floated through the mind of one Arthur Dent in the wee hours of a fateful fictitious morning, but the hapless Dent has one up on her today, because it doesn't find one, and soon disappears into the mental ether.)

She's fully intent on the Devil though, trying to do the right thing when suddenly she's got zero idea what that might be.


It is, indeed, what he's used to. Outside of the odd rooftop chat or surreal bonding over donuts, the existence of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen is solitary. A little lonely? Sure. But also mercifully uncomplicated in a way so much of his life is not. It is also, even after just a three-month career as a vigilante, entirely second nature to him. So much so that it never even occurred to him to take her with him on his trip to shake down the gangs of Chinatown, even though her help just now may well have saved his life. All that may explain why he seems genuinely surprised that she's pursues him— and the matter— further.

He mulls the matter for a span of paces — but only for a few, and none of it slows his stride. "You asked for my help, so you can't call yourself an asshole for taking it," he finally says, with a turn of his profile towards her as they walk. "How about this. Let me handle this one, as it's just the first step towards the first step. And I'll promise that I won't leave you out of the main event. Sound fair?"


In this, they're alike, because Jessica Jones is…not a woman used to asking other people to just…do things for her. Even when she's asked others for help in the past, she's always just kind of been involved. Taking responsibility, sometimes, sometimes just relying on herself because deep down, relying on others is still something of a struggle, for all that she's learned the value of teamwork. The one exception was…that damned rooftop incident she's too embarrassed to even think about for very long, and that was more so she could meet one responsibility— keeping Matt covered— while meeting an equally strong one— getting the Hell out of there before she crossed the line into the unacceptable.

All physical signs point towards both gratitude and uneasiness with the proposition, a strange mix. She notes the surprise in the lines of his body language, but despite it there are plenty of fine reasons why she might cramp his style.

'Let me handle this one.'

It comes down to trust doesn't it? Either she trusts him or she doesn't. And she does trust him, for all that she knows so little about him. He radiates trustworthiness, and he's never been anything but gallant; calmly saving her from probable torture and death at the hands of Saskarians, amused and exasperated but not put out when she asked him to look in on Matt. Believing all of her wild stories, taking her at her word, steadfastly refusing to think she was crazy, just asking good questions despite having zero reasons at all to trust her

She swallows. "Of course it's fair," she admits softly. "I did ask for your help. It's 100% your call on how you give it to me." Her strides draw to a stop, indicating her willingness to just let him handle it for her. His enhanced senses can pick up every tiny marker of how huge that is for her.

"Thank you. Just…be careful, please."

Damn. Is that her second please of the night?

It sure is.


Be careful, she says, as she comes to a stop. "Always am," the devil replies— as big, brash, and bold a lie as he's ever told in his life. He' spins on his heels to regard her, but even that won't stop him. He walks backwards as he puts up a parting hand.

"I'll reach out as soon as I hear anything," he's saying with each sure-footed backwards step. How liberating, he thinks to himself, to be able to walk backwards without popping the eyes of everyone who sees him. "Maybe as early as tomorrow morning, if I'm lucky."

Then he's pivoting again, turning his back towards her as he turns the corner and out of her visual range, becoming just one more shadow lining the piers. "Get some rest," his voice calls out across the distance. "My guess is you''re gonna need it, Jones."

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