Breathe

March 07, 2017:

Takes place directly after AKA Dr. Philgood. Trish Walker struggles to find her composure in the aftermath of her encounter with the Joker.

//This log moves from Manhattan to Hell's Kitchen and back again. //

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Joker, Red Robin, Batman, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Azalea Kingston, Cindy Moon, Peggy Carter, Bucky Barnes, Captain America, Matt Murdock, Jane Foster

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

After turning Dorothy over to the EMTs, Jessica turned to Trish. Other than the slight jut of her jaw and a hardness in her eyes, her face had remained expressionless. "What do you wanna do? You wanna ride over to the hospital, or do you want to go home for the night? I'll go with you whatever you want to do."

She also pauses to text Red. It's over, we're fine, Joker in the wind.

She puts her phone away and turns to her sister, looking expectantly at her. Much as she herself could happily do the 'fuck you' dance to Dorothy and her problems all day long, she's…smart enough to recognize Trish's emotions for her birth mother might just be a little more complex than her own. She may not like it, she may think Dorothy deserves nothing but Trish's undying contempt, but…

How Trish handles her own relationship with her mother is her choice, and hers alone. Jessica can do little more than support it. And will do nothing less.

—-

Trish stared at Jess, seeing her lips move, yet unable to process the sounds right away. Since Jessica's arrival Trish had been operating on autopilot, obeying the order to climb on her sister's back without arguing, and answering the EMTs questions in a monotone voice. She looks to the ambulance and back to Jess. "Huh? Oh, I don't… I want… Shit. I'll go to the hospital to make sure she's not going to die in the next 24 hours and then head home."

Trish steps closer to Jess to take her hand, seeking comfort and the strength to hold it together for just a little while longer. Up until Joker had actually stabbed Dorothy, Trish had believed she wouldn't be bothered by her mother's death. It was rattling her to her core, discovering the depth of feelings she had for Dorothy.

"Can you come with me?" Trish's voice is small, knowing she's asking a lot of Jessica, but still needing her anyways. "You can drive my car, since you've got your licence now. New driver or not, you're probably least likely to crash right now, of the two of us. Thanks Zach." Her assistant shows up with Trish's purse and jacket, to save her going back up to her office for them. "Do you mind, Jess?"

—-

Jessica squeezes Trish's hand. "No. I don't mind," she says. She gathers Trish in a half hug, her arm around her shoulders, and presses an uncharacteristic and warm kiss to her temple. She sticks her hand into Trish's pocket, retrieves her keys, and gently ushers her sister to the spot where she knows her car is parked. She even opens the passenger-side door for her.

She pauses to adjust the seat a little bit, and the mirrors, in the way of new drivers who are over-conscientious about checking every little thing in the vehicle. She prays she doesn't have to be two places at once, but…so far her phone remains silent, which is all to the good.

Once they're on the road Jess continues with the inexperienced driver moves, mechanically checking every single mirror and oversteering just a little bit. Still, she's getting the job done.

"You did really well. I was listening the whole time. You did exactly what you needed to do. You kept him talking, you worked to get information out that people would need to know in order to help you, you never stupidly antagonized him. You did everything right."

—-

Trish continues to move like an automaton as Jess agrees to go with her and she is led to the car. Except when Jess kisses her temple. That gets a sharp intake of breath with a vicious bite on her lip to keep from crying right then and there. On any other day, Trish would be giving Jess little nose tweaks about all her New Driver characteristics and tipping up one side of the rear view mirror when Jess was shoulder checking. Today, she's just glad to not be the one trying to navigate through the streets of New York.

"No, no I didn't. She still got hurt, she almost died. If I'd done it right, no one would be hurt and Joker would be in jail." Trish vehemently shakes her head in denial of Jess's affirmations. "I don't get it Jess. Why me? Why the fuck would he come to New York to get Batman's attention? I highly doubt he drives around listening to Trish Talks in the Batmobile!"

For a second, she pictured exactly that. Complete with him calling in to voice his opinion and just about burst into a fit of hysterical laughter.

'Oh shit, did that shit he had have a leak? Am I going to laugh to death? Stop, calm down, just breathe. In, two, three, four. Tongue on the roof of your mouth. Out, two, three, four.' Trish closes her eyes and leans her head back against the seat as she tries to gain control of herself.

—-

"That's right. Breathe." Jessica says. At times she's an emotional basketcase herself, but sometimes, when she's watching someone else go through something she's gone through in particular, she has it within her to be a rock of steady calm for others. She calls upon that ability now, that center, the knowledge that the school of hard knocks has given her. "There was no gas in the room, you're having a perfectly normal reaction to having a psycho do something terrible right in front of you."

She drives exactly the speed limit and comes to a complete stop at every stoplight. At the next stoplight she glances sideways at Trish, keeping her voice calm, controlled, slow, and steady. "This is not your fault." She knows it well, the tendency to blame oneself for what others did. It was certainly her own knee-jerk reaction to almost anything that went wrong. But from the outside looking in? It's easy to assign blame correctly.

"You are not responsible for what happened. You survived. That was your only duty. He made the choice to take Dorothy. He made the choice to take you hostage. He made the choice to stab her. All the choice, all the responsibility in that situation, lies with him, not with you. You made the choice to try to sacrifice yourself for her— " A choice that causes some conflicting emotions, as she is both proud of Trish for making it and angry that it got made on the behalf of someone so undeserving. "You made the choice to stay calm and do what you needed to do. You made the choice to be a very good person in a very shitty situation. And you exercised the only choices you had— he took all the other choices away from you."

"As for why he did what he did? He's a psycho. He got attention. It'll hit every news outlet between here and Gotham and may even hit some national ones." The thought makes her scowl just a little bit. "You're Trish Walker. He's banking on your name to carry the story. It sucks, but it is what it is. And it's still not your fault."

—-

Trish keeps breathing, slow and steady, as Jess talks her through the rough spot. She can't help but smile a little, as she gets to hear the 'It's not your fault' speech from the other side. It's so much easier to say than hear, and she now has an extra level of understanding why Jess would need to step away from it for a while. Her gut reaction is to start yelling at Jess that she has no idea what she's talking about, but that's not exactly true.

"Really? National coverage? Holy fuck, what's wrong with me? What a stupid thing to be worrying about right now. I'm turning into my mother. When did I start turning into my mother?" Trish's voice changes from weary interest to an increasingly shrill tone, and she twists in her seat to face Jessica, straining the seatbelt.

Her imaginary diary was getting quite interesting. Dear diary, today I met my very first psycho Supervillian, who stabbed my mom, AND I made National News…

—-

Jessica just listens while she spazzes about the coverage. She can't tell whether Trish is momentarily focusing on something that will help her career, or feeling as horrified as Jessica herself is feeling by the notion. It might be good for Alias, but it also means that little pieces of their lives, pieces she normally plays very close to her chest indeed, are just going to be…out there for public consumption.

Done is done.

"You're not turning into Dorothy." The car is moving again, slow and steady as Jessica Jones' voice. "You're in shock. Your mind is latching on to weird details, you're having weird reactions to them. Right now is not a time for judging whatever you feel about anything. Your job is just to feel it until your mind stops racing."

"But try this. Try yelling the word 'fuck' just as loud and as hard as you can."

—-

Trish sits back in her seat as the car starts moving again, pinching the bridge of her nose. The headache that had started with the Makeup Airhead had exploded into full on raging head splitter by time she got into her car. Now, it just felt like her left eyeball was about to explode out of it's socket. The emotional storm was looming, Trish could feel it. She opens the glove box and pulls out a bottle of Ibuprofen (the one thing she allowed herself, aside from Doctor's prescriptions) and took two, washing them down with a juice pouch she had stashed in her purse.

At the next red light, when the car wasn't moving, she took a very deep breath, and followed Jessica's advice. "FUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!" Her throat is raw, but she feels strangely better. Like maybe the next few minutes aren't going to be so hard to function like a normal human being.

"Thank you. I feel a little better, less like I want to crawl into a bottle, and able to think again. Is that what you do?"

—-

"One of them," Jessica says with a small smile. "I don't recommend some of the others. And you're not allowed to crawl into a bottle. I'm damn near at the fucking 1-month dry mark, if you crawl back into a bottle you'll spoil everything, so screw that." She pulls a furious scowl, though Trish can see it's the one she pulls when she's trying to be fierce but does not actually feel fierce; it's almost comical, done for her benefit. Obviously Jess won't have to drink if Trish chooses to, but she'll pretend if it means that Trish stays away from her own addictions.

In the span of this month she's also learned that there are lots of tools in that toolbox. Leaning on others. Propping others up in turn. Lately Jessica Jones is beginning to wonder if that's really the sum total of what it's all about.

She's quiet for a moment as Metro-General comes into view up the road. Trish finds her way onto more stable ground, and she finds herself not wanting to risk saying anything that might disturb the fragile peace she's achieved. Best to let Trish lead the conversation.

—-

"No shit? One month? Looks like you'll have to take day drinking off your resume." Trish grins at Jess's scowl. She knows it's for her benefit, just like she knows that Jess knows that there's nothing stopping Trish from falling back on the wagon. Hard. "All joking aside, I'm really proud of you Jess. We'll have to celebrate, with something very high in calories and deliciously sinful."

Trish's eyes lock on the hospital and her mind tries to explode into manic worry again. In order to halt that disaster, she focuses on Jess for a minute. "So what else do you do, besides screaming profanities at the top of your lungs? I'm curious now."

Trish has a pretty good idea that booze was high on that list, but really wanted to know the rest. Even though they weren't recommended, it didn't hurt to have options, right?

—-

Booze is the most maladaptive of those things. "I work," she admits. "I fling myself into it, I work 16 hour days. Working, helping other people— that's what makes me feel human again, without drinking." Not that Jessica wasn't secretly hoping that this brush with the weird and awful won't turn Trish off her desire to thrill-seek, but…she admits she can't really talk.

Jessica Jones has learned she thrives in extreme situations herself, at least when those extreme situations do not involve being helpless and mind controlled for eight months.

"There are exercises that stupid therapist assigned. They work sometimes." Jessica doesn't think Trish needs the full on street name treatment, but…

"Name five things you can see, five things you can hear, and five things you can touch. Do it while I find us a parking space. And then once we get in there? Remember that the name of the game is making the next thing the next thing. That's part of it too. We'll need to provide them with Dorothy's insurance information. We can't see her yet; she's in surgery. We'll need to find a spot in the waiting room. Maybe get you a little more hydrated. Once the doctor knows who to talk to he'll give us news when he has it. It's not my first hospital vigil."

She squeezes Trish's shoulder, reaching over and driving one-handed around the parking garage while doing so, for just a moment. Grimly: "I'll stay as long as I can. I'm working a critical missing right now involving an 18 year old girl; Zatanna, who I still want to introduce you to. She's been in the most horrible situation you can imagine for almost 3 weeks now and we're just trying to find an opening at this point. As soon as we figure out how to get to her I'm going to need to get on that and go extract her. I'm telling you this now so you don't feel abandoned if that happens, because I love you and I want you to be okay too. I'm now officially sticking my fingers into the dyke and hoping to hold back the tide."

—-

"Okay, five things. That seems doable. I see I am in desperate need of a manicure. I see the crack in my windshield I have been meaning to fix. I see that man in the blue Camaro picking his nose, nice buddy. I see the dented bumper on that black Ford truck, and I see the lady crying in the silver Prius. I hope those are happy tears, but somehow I doubt it. "

Trish reaches up to cover Jess's hand patting her shoulder for a moment, before continuing the lists. "I hear you, and me, that's an easy two. I hear the radio playing, barely. Just enough to know it's there. I hear the car alarm blaring but can't pin point it." She closes her eyes again, concentrating on what she was hearing from the window she had cracked open. "I hear New York, in all it's horn honking, siren blaring, people shouting glory. Touch now. I suppose I could name all the bits of the car I can touch, but I'll just lump that into one. I can touch my water bottle, my purse, and my phone."

Trish now squeezes Jessica's shoulder. "And my sister. Whom I love very much and won't think abandoned me should she need to leave. This time. And only because I'm a good person." Her lips curl in a slightly wobbly smile. "I hope you get the call soon, but not until I'm done with you. Because I'm also a selfish, spoiled brat. Or so I've been told by someone who shall remain nameless."

—-

Jessica's lips quirk into another half smile as she does a terrible parking job at the far end of the lot, where there aren't any other cars. She takes up two spaces with her crooked attempt. Then she turns to gather Trish into her arms. "You are a good person, and tough as nails," she murmurs, reaching up to stroke the other woman's hair briefly. "Even if your superhero name ought to be 'The Brat.' Able to turn the tables in a single rush of crocodile tears…"

There's a smirk in her voice now; she knows that humor will help carry the day where little else will. She's seen that work its magic too. John had taught her that; John, also missing, whom she didn't mention because going straight to the 18-year-old-in-trouble bit of the truth would help take the sting out better. Jessica knows there may only be so much information Trish can absorb anyway.

"The cops will be right behind us, the reporters will be next." she says quietly. "They're going to want us to give them statements. So this is the plan…we're going to go in, we're going to get Dorothy's paperwork under control, we're going to sit in the waiting room, and we're going to get you a water. Then I am going to ask the cops to take you into a private, empty room to interview you and keep you there. I will deal with the reporters, then come in after you and give my statement." Jessica's surprised they got to their car without being accosted, but…maybe Mahoney had something to do with that. "Then we'll find a quiet corner of the waiting room to wait for the doctors to tell you what they know."

"Who knows. Maybe Dorothy's brush with death will make her re-evaluate some things. Turn her into a better person."

—-

Trish lets out a laugh that borders on a sob as Jess gives her an alias to use when fighting crime. She wraps her arms around Jess, as best she can in the car, hanging on while she gathers her nerve to go and deal with the cops and reporters She gives a final squeeze before letting go and pulling down the visor for damage control. Jess lays out her plan, in which Trish finds no fault for once, as Trish "I'll be 'The Brat' if you wear the Jewel outfit I had made."

Trish digs out a travel pack of makeup wipes, her foundation compact, and lip gloss to fix her face enough to be presentable. She lets out a derisive snort as Jess gives her optimistic opinion about her mother's disposition. "I highly doubt that. We can hope, but I doubt it. It'll just be one more thing she'll hold over my head and use to guilt me into towing the Dorothy Walker(tm) line. You owe me a desk by the way." She flips the visor back up and packs up her war paint, completely forgetting that she was keeping that little visit and resulting request of Azalea a secret.

—-

Jessica catches it— Dorothy at least called Trish to bitch about the desk, if not showed up in person. Slips like that are the bread and butter of her profession. It would take more distraction than she currently feels for her to miss that, and with Dorothy and Trish currently at the front and center of her attention, it would be too much to hope that she didn't. At the very least, knowing that Dorothy 'broke her restraining order' to yell about the desk does not necessarily lead in to everything else that Trish has been up to, or suggest any involvement by Az in anything untoward whatsoever.

"Fuck. No." Jessica says flatly. "I will never wear that outfit."

But…

Well. Anything to make Trish smile right now. She pushes back the fall of her hair to reveal the fact that she's wearing Jewel earrings now too. They're even pink. "Tell anyone and the Joker will be the least of your worries," she mock-growls. "My name is and always will be Jessica Jones. But sometimes I guess when you're trying to live up to a fucking impossible ideal it's good to have a little something to remind you of being your best self."

"Not your best dressed self, because Jewel has a camel-toe problem."

—-

Trish turns to roll her eyes at Jess's tone about The Outfit (as she thought of it) and catches the reveal of the earrings. "Oooh, pretty!" She leans in closer to inspect the design, heartily approving of them. Including the color, because like it or not, the softer colors really look good on Jess. And then the mouth spoiled the little moment Trish was having. Not that she wasn't used to how Jessica spoke. She, herself, was no stranger to crude and/or foul language. Jessica just had a knack for bringing it out at the worst/best times. Trish put her forehead on Jess's shoulder, and let herself have a fit of giggles.

"Jesus Christ, Jess. I love you, even if you have no filter sometimes. I promise I won't tell that you're wearing pink earrings inspired by the Captain Camel-toe spandex tights. I have great fear and respect for the wrath of Jessica and have no wish to brave that storm."

Trish sat up and dabbed at her eyes, giving Jess a noisy kiss on the cheek on the way by. "Okay, i think I'm ready. Let's do this before you have to clear a path through cameras like a linebacker. I think it's linebacker. Maybe it's running back. I'm sure you get what I mean though." Her lips quirk in a quick grin. "On three. Hut, hut, hut!"

—-

THE NEXT MORNING…

Dorothy is in critical, yet stable condition. The diagnosis came down, with one grizzled old black reporter sitting doggedly in the waiting room with Jessica and Trish. Ben Ulrich had filed the story at that point, having gotten the 'not fit to print' response from the cranky PI.

Jessica starts her morning by plucking up a paper, scowling to note that the incident at WNEX is front page news. She scowls even more deeply to see the details of her family's death there beneath the fold, her fingers tracing the names. She hadn't told Ulrich crap about that, nor had Trish, but it was all a matter of public record. He was good at what he did. He'd dug it up, and there it was…the kind of dutiful detail that looks so innocuous in print but has an entire, devastating reality beneath it.

Of all of her friends only Zatanna ever heard the story of her family's death from her own mouth. Red knew it, because he'd seen her weeping and smiling as she'd encountered them again in Hydraworld, but it just wasn't one of those details she dropped with ease. She had mentioned graduating with a 1.75 GPA and the coma to Jane. And there it was now, in the Bugle, probably being thrown about on other news outlets as well.

She crumpled the paper and threw it in the trash. "Whatever."

She then turned to get a second coffee, and brought it up to Trish. By now all of the stress of the past several weeks is starting to coalesce into a true, dark pissiness that is slipping over her demeanor like a familiar glove. Grace is all fine and good, but she's in a Mood.

Still, she keeps that Mood buried in a deep, tight knot in the center of her stomach, only checking her phone to make sure that there's no word from Bucky yet. Seeing none, she crosses from the hospital cafeteria back to the waiting room, handing a cup of coffee to Trish.

"I honestly think I should take you home so you can rest," she says, tone neutral. "You can't do her any good, her condition isn't going to change for at least 24 hours," she doesn't even deserve this, but that goes unsaid, "and a shower and change of clothes will do you a world of good."

—-

Jess finds Trish sitting hunched over slightly, elbows braced on her knees, face buried in her hands. The braid she had idly plaited while at work has mostly come undone, leaving stray, fly away bits sticking out at weird angles. Her eyes are shadowed, and she had been staring sightless at the floor. Until the scuffed toes of Jess's boots came into view and the intoxicating smell of coffee hit her nose. Granted it was hospital sludge that would probably take the rust off her bumper, but it was the blessed carrier of much needed caffeine, so she takes the cup and drinks without complaint. A slight wince with a quiet "gah!" maybe, but no complaint.

Trish looks down at herself while trying to uncurl her tongue. Her appearance is definitely worse for wear, not even close to her usual put together way of presenting herself. She had washed her hands at some point, but hadn't been able to do much about the rest of the blood on her clothes. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to have her skin crawling if she focused on it for too long. Trish stands up, takes another sip with a shudder as she swallows, and attempts to smile at Jess, finally giving it up as a bad job.

"Okay, sounds good to me. They've got my number if something changes and I think I might be able to sleep a little. Do you mind to stay for a while? Or until your friends call with information on your case." Trish frowns as she tries to remember what Jess had said, but just can't seem to find it in her current condition. One Trish Walker, hopeful Hero extraordinaire, was not holding up to the stress of the past twenty four hours very well at all. Her concentration is blown, giving her the attention span and memory retention of about three seconds. As evidenced by the third drink from the cup which was starting to actually taste good. Or her taste buds were dying. Either way, the coffee was slowly going down.

—-

Jessica isn't standing there judging Trish's condition. She gets it, after all, and gets it intimately. "I will," she says quietly. "Once I get you to sleep I'm going to head home long enough to pack a bag and to get a shower, but I'll stay with you at your apartment for as long as you want me to, barring any overnight time I need to spend on rescue efforts. I'll have to be in and out for work but you'll at least have someone sleeping there with you at night for as long as you want."

Jessica Jones, no stranger to couch surfing, doesn't always sleep at home anyway, and she wants to be there for Trish, as much as she can. She holds out a hand and asks, "Are you hungry at all? We can pick up something on the way, or…" she eyebrow waggles. "I can show you my mad scrambled egg skills. Because I can do that now. Cook a scrambled egg." It's another attempt to get Trish laughing, since she knows her sister will enjoy the fact that Jess is trying to learn her way around a kitchen at last.

—-

Trish goggles at Jess for a minute, mesmerized by the waggling eyebrows. Then the words register, and the whole thing finally manages to make her laugh. A sober and cooking Jess was something she had been longing to see for a long time. For Jess's sake as well as her own. She puts her arm around Jess's shoulder, noticing the suit for the first time (coffee is pure magic in a cup, however stiffly brewed, after all), and gives Jess a squeeze.

"Thanks, sis. I appreciate that a lot. I know you're busy right now, but you're all I got. For better or worse, we're in this together all over the news. I got an update text from Alex saying we've made the front page. You know, I think I might have the necessary ingredients for you show me your new culinary skills. Feel free to use my car to run back to your place. I added you to the insurance already."

Trish is once again amazed at how incredibly lucky she was to have Jess in her family. No matter what, Jess was there when Trish needed her, giving what time she could.

—-

"That's generous, but I'll leave the car with you," Jessica says, squeezing Trish's shoulders. "I can roof run if I need to get somewhere faster than a cab or the subway, and you, in the meantime, might need to get back to the hospital. I don't want you to be put out if the unexpected happens, and I don't think being alone in a cab with a stranger is going to make you feel great right now."

Still, Jessica is warmed to hear that she'd been added to Trish's insurance. It wasn't something she'd have ever thought to ask, but…it means a lot.

She wraps an arm around Trish in turn, ushering her gently out of the hospital. "We're always going to have each other," she says firmly. "And I'm never so busy that I won't make time for you." She felt a pang of guilt for the months she'd shut Trish out…and about all the ways she still keeps Trish out of the loop sometimes, either through negligence or through fear that Trish would get caught in the crossfire of things.

She navigates them back to the car and tucks Trish back in the passenger side. She hopes Trish doesn't see the parking ticket before she snatches it out of the windshield wipers with a soft, venemous, "Shit." She shoves that into the inner pocket of the pantsuit jacket, the only part of the red and black outfit that has a pocket worth the name. Which is where her phone is stored, so her phone helpfully pipes up. "Miss Jones, would you like me to pay that ticket?"

"Yeah, Jarvis. Go right ahead."

"I've taken care of that for you, Miss Jones." Stark phones are handy shit.

She stares down at her boots. The left heel has finally blown out. She makes a sharp chuff of breath and says, "I think I'll borrow a pair of your boots before I go home though. Ones without heels." At least their feet were basically the same size, and if she knew Trish she knew there was some sort of Shoe Mountain in place inside the Fortress of Purple, as Jessica has dubbed it, somewhere.

Still, despite these various setbacks she gets back in the car and gets it rolling, after a good 10 minutes of tentatively easing herself out of the parking space.

—-

Trish simply nods in response to the car statement. It made sense, proof that coffee can only take the brain so far into functionality when it wants to shut down. She's back to focusing on odd random things, the current focus being Jess's outfit at the mention of shoes. Trish arches an eyebrow as she takes in the complete pant suit, which was rather fetching on Jess in the red and black. If she happens to notice the parking ticket, she doesn't say anything. It could be argued that it's her fault for not insisting Jess try and limit her parking to one space.

"I've got lots of boots, shoes, and booties that would work, without heels even. Don't roll your eyes at me, that's what they're called. I like you in a suit, hon. We should go and get you a couple more, for court appearances and what not. With all the free advertising you're getting, I imagine you'll be getting busier. Plus you never know when you might have to cleverly disguise yourself as a responsible adult, instead of your usual jeans and jacket."

Trish grins at Jess as she watches her try to maneuver out of the parking spot. She almost makes a smart ass comment about granny driving, but doesn't. They've managed to keep things light, or as light as possible given the circumstances, and Trish doesn't want to ruin that with a mistimed sarcastic remark.

—-

She had, indeed, rolled her eyes at the word 'booties.' "Boots," Jessica says firmly. "Just boots. And…"

She considers the clothes as she awkwardly pulls out into traffic. "I was. Undercover. At Stark Industries. Thankfully the last of my employee interviews ended today, so if 'Jessica Knight, Efficiency Consultant' is a well and truly blown cover at least I've taken it as far as it can go, even with that trick Agent Carter taught me. It really is down to…"

She trails off, then changes tactics. Trish doesn't want or need to hear all about how her paying case is lousy with murder victims. "Other angles."

"As for the clothes, more might be wise but I don't think I'd be able to get more like this. It probably costs more than I make in a month. They're bulletproof. I asked for a loaner vest and Stark just bought me a new wardrobe. The rest are my old standbys. As for the pantsuit…I don't hate it."

This is code for she actually kind of enjoys the suit, when she wears it. But Jessica Jones has been making a lot of changes lately, mostly for the positive, and she's not sure she can handle more. The comfort of a leather jacket at most times is certainly not something she's willing to give up on a regular basis. The pragmatism of a good pair of jeans.

And then she grouses: "There's nothing fundamental about jeans and a leather jacket that deducts from being a responsible adult. For the record. I spend a lot of time leaping over buildings and getting hit in the face. Just how much sense does it make to get all dressed up for these activities?"

—-

"Oh, shit! I am sorry if I blew your cover Jess. Bullet proof suits, huh? Guess Stark isn't just a pretty face. We'll get some of the regular kind, since I doubt I could afford them either. Well, maybe one, but I doubt it would be more than that. As for the jeans and jacket, you're right. When the jeans aren't so old, faded, and full of holes they look like they're about to fall apart."

The words are snarpy, but the tone is full of love. It's a familiar convesation, Trish trying to get Jess to dress up a little more. A small frown shows as Jess talks about getting punched in the face. She had never actually believed it could get that rough, that things were like the show she used to star in. Yes there was struggle, but no one really got hurt. Trish knew better now.

"It makes sense to always look your best, regardless of the activity. I mean, you could learn from my example. I looked hot when I drove you for that insurance case and Azalea would agree." Trish was merely referring to Azalea's fashion sense, not anything extra that may be brewing between them. "There's nothing wrong with jeans, when they're new and not full of holes. And how often are you getting hit in the face?"

Okay, so maybe she wasn't able to let it go, like she had hoped.

—-

Jessica snorts. "That fucking Stilt-Man video came out before I went into cover so. You didn't do a thing. And even if it was blown let's remember that would be the asshole, not you. And you'll be happy to know there are no holes in my new jeans and I don't much wear the old ones anymore because they do not, in fact, protect my ass from bullets. So. There you go. Grown up PI who gets shot at sometimes look, for the win."

How often is she getting hit in the face?

Jessica hesitates. If she demurs, Trish might keep her romantic notions and get herself into more trouble. If she exaggerates, Trish might be wracked with worry at a time when she needs to rest and relax. If she tells the truth, it could go either way. In the end what she says is: "Dunno. Enough." Sometimes voluntarily even, but that's beside the point.

Course, she just said point blank she's been shot at too.

Then she decides to open up, just a little. "This hero gig is harder than we both imagined a few years ago. There's a lot more to it than either of us thought. Having powers isn't really enough. I've got a lot to learn."

Trish's apartment approaches, Jessica hesitates on the merge until she damn near causes a traffic jam before finally lurching out and into place.

"But that's what I'm doing now. Learning. Working to get better. For as hard as I fought you on it I guess it's crazy that eventually one day I'd realize you were pushing me into the one thing I really wanted for myself. Not exactly the way you were envisioning, with the fancy outfits and code names and stuff, but close enough. I've even got kind of a cool vision for Alias now, something a little…more…than it is."

She looks over. "I never thought, though, about how baring my face like I do might put you in danger. I guess…before the news story I figured 'who the Hell is Jessica Jones', right? Nobody much knew about our association, and I figured that would protect you. But it probably took a good dig of about an hour to find out, didn't it? I don't want it to be clowns to the left of you, Jokers to the right because of what I'm doing, even if it had dick all to do with me this time. So… I mean I guess… I should include you in the discussion on the direction I want to go. And-or…the direction you want to go."

—-

Trish opens her mouth to tell Jess to go when she lurches the car out into the spot that had almost passed them by. She closes her mouth as she considers Jess's question. What direction did she want to go in? Definitely keeping up with Krav Maga, possibly look into a concealed carry permit, given the recent event at the studio. It would be good to have a gun in a knife fight should it ever happen again. It's such an important question that Trish is quiet until they're almost in the underground parking of her building.

"I don't know Jess. I mean, part of me wants to just hide away in a hole and never come out. Part of me knows I can't because I've got a good life started here and I don't want to leave it. Why don't you start with your side of the discussion and I can maybe have some more time to think about it. I can't help but feel like I need to start over, since I was completely useless against the Joker."

Trish gives a short bitter laugh. "According to the Joker, it wasn't anything to do with either of us, and everything about a desperate cry for attention."

—-

"We can also talk about this later," Jessica points out gently. "If you're not feeling up to it."

Jessica herself did better when moving forward, focusing on what to do next, but…that didn't mean it would work for Trish. She does say this: "Trish. I probably would have been useless too. He's a seasoned guy who the Batman can't take down, who escapes Arkham every time they put him in and who comes armed with gas— I did not bring a gas mask to the party."

She goes looking for Trish's reserved parking space, narrowing her eyes into the darkness. "And…I'm fine with intimidating street thugs, but…I've now learned I've got real gaps in my training. I…kind of asked Bucky to help out. He basically flung me around like a kitten and pointed out I don't know shit about fighting people who are, like, on my level. So…I showed up too late to do much more than evacuate you and your mother, and it's possible my showing up might have made things messy and worse. It's possible I'd have been useless. So."

She brings the car to a stop, having found the parking space. Now she just…has to get in it. It's a tight squeeze with two SUVs on the other side. The car inches forward. "Should I beat myself up over this?"

The car inches back. She turns the wheel. It gets wedged in. She nearly hits an SUV. She continues in this vein before she explodes, "God damn it. Trish, you're going to have to park this car." So this interrupts words of wisdom pretty badly but…what the fuck ever.

She flings the car in park and gets out, arms crossed, cranky as shit.

—-

Trish hadn't been paying attention to the parking process, chewing on what to do next as she was, until Jess exploded. Then she just started to giggle helplessly. "Oh Jess, I'm sorry. It's not funny."

And then Jess is getting out of the car, in a full on mood, and Trish's giggles turn into soundless wheezing with tears running down her face. She get's out and walks around the car to get in the drivers seat, giggling a little less than she had been inside the car. She managed to pull the car in, without incident, despite her mirth.

When she gets out of the car, she crosses to Jess and wraps her arms around her pouting (though she'd never say so to her face) sister. "You did good, Jess. I'm really impressed at how well you're taking to driving given the late start. It's not that I'm not ready to talk about it, I just don't know what to do." She lets go and links her arm with Jessica's. "If you don't stop scowling, I'm going to be forced to tickle you. You did really good, I'm very proud of your driving. The car's in one piece, no scratches or dents, so add that to the win column along with your grown up hole-less jeans."

She pulls Jess along into the elevator, hitting the button for her floor, feeling more and more tired as they went up. "So moving forward plans. You have them. I need them. Dish with Trish." She lets out a groan. "I can't believe I just said that. I am so sorry."

—-

Jessica sighed and took the hug, glad she could make her sister laugh, even if it was at her own expense. She links arms with Trish and smirks as 'dish with Trish' comes out of her mouth.

She adopts a silly little girl voice like she does sometimes, the type of voice one might imagine belonging to a bubble-headed stripper named Pia or something. "Well, Trish…I want you to think about our situation right now. We've got cops who can't keep up, and heroes trying to fill the gaps. You have street level heroes like The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, he of the fabulous shoulders…"

She has a pang of guilt, which she scowls at. Matt. Is. Taken. She can notice the vigilante's shoulders if she wants to. It's not disloyal. It doesn't even mean her feelings aren't real.

The guy just has good shoulders. Sue her. But she turns her tone more serious.

She moves on quick. "He helps whomever he can, but…most people have to wait till he finds them. On the other side of the coin, you have the Avengers or the X-Men. You call them up, you get a numbered menu, a message some intern will read, scribble down, and throw away unless it's highly specific. People need heroes they can call, heroes who are connected to other heroes up and down the chain. Alias could be that middle ground. If it's stuff that Alias can handle, we handle it. If not…we know who to call. We can assemble the teams, bring in the right people, or…pass things on when it's not appropriate for us to handle it, in a way that might get heard. Somehow I've now got contacts in SHIELD, the Avengers, Stark Industries, the magical community, and the street-level vigilante community. Even other heroes could hire us…other heroes already have, after all. Alias could stand in the gap, meet that need. Obviously we'd still take paid cases…we've got to keep the lights on somehow, and…that's where it falls apart. I don't want to be some super-merc group or anything…but I'd rather be working on real problems than infidelity cases too. I'd like our investigative capacity to be front and center. I'd like to not have to charge some old poor grandmother who has real trouble, but I don't want some slimey asshole coming in pretending to need help when he's really out to use our skills, ability, and heart for evil shit. That's where this all kind of falls apart in my head. I don't know how to set it up right, I don't know how to take it from where it is now…a Mickey Mouse operation running out of my living room…to what it could be. I don't know how to make sure it doesn't get too big or go in the wrong direction."

—-

Trish rolls her eyes at the affected voice Jess used, but it was her own fault for saying that ridiculous line in the first place. It was a very good plan that Jess had, and if she wanted to take things to that level, it would be best to get the office out of her living room. Trish could help with that, when she had more than five functioning brain cells. Jess's plans take them to her floor and she manages to get the door to her apartment opened. All of her sister's ideas are incredibly well thought out, and Trish is even more impressed with how far Jessica has come since they had encountered the "Bishop Dude" the first time.

Trish crosses to the kitchen first, needing a cup of something hot and tasty, brewing herself a quick chai latte with her Keurig. "That's a really intelligent, well thought out plan, chick. I'm impressed. Not that I think you're stupid, cause I know you aren't. It's a compliment. Oh, hell. I know you know what I mean, I'm just tired. We need exactly what you are describing, and not just in Hell's Kitchen, but the whole city. People need someone they can go to when they need help. Someone who they can call when things go wrong."

—-

"Right. With a human that answers the phone." Jessica waves Trish to sit down, then crosses to the fridge to bring out butter and eggs. With great fan fare, she digs for a frying pan as well. She carefully puts the stove on Medium Low, because she has learned that Medium Low, not High, is the right temperature for cooking eggs. She slowly starts to melt the butter. This is all just as exaggerated as the driving was, truth be told, but…nothing's on fire yet.

"I know it's a compliment, Trish." She says it very gently. "I think I sketched a little of this for you before but…at that point I just was seeing myself as one person that could be called. Not as a network of people. Before now I didn't even think to ask where you'd fit into that. I assumed you'd be up there, doing your show, and I'd be down in Hell's Kitchen, building this thing out. But…If I actually do this I'll be painting a target. Right on your face."

—-

Trish sits down on one of the stools on the far side of the kitchen island, to stay close to Jess. Given her current emotional state, she'd be clinging to her sister's back like a monkey if she could.

Trish sips her latte, and watches Jess go about making the eggs. It was another good point being made. A giant target that would likely be aimed at again, given the Joker's successful run at her. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame. She could have a public falling out with Jess to distance herself, or she could try and bury the family connection as much as possible given the spectacle Dorthy had made of it back when it happened. Either way, she wasn't interested in not being part of Jess's life again.

"I'll just have to take up target practice then, so I can fight back. I've been considering going for my concealed carry permit before and think it might be a really good idea now. I can also look into a bodyguard for when I'm at work and a bit more exposed than I am here. I don't know what I want to do, right now, but I know that hiding under a rock isn't an option. If you do open an office, it'll give Azalea a legitimate way to utilize the Devil inside, plus it'll give Cindy a job opportunity that isn't stripping. Although, her ability to stick to the wall might come in handy working the pole."

It had never occurred to Trish to confirm that little job detail Az had given her on their very first meeting in an attempt to hide Cindy's real occupation.(edited)

—-

"What the fuck are you talking about? Cindy's not a stripper, gross! She's just a kid. She was locked up or something from the time she was 15; she came to me for help and I'm helping her. She has a job already. She answers my phones now, and files my papers, and at least once kept me from breaking the dry streak. Az has a job now too; she's my subcontractor, but…Jesus. Stripper? What the hell ga… you know what, never mind. Az. I already know the answer and the answer is Az."

She huffs, and cracks eggs into a bowl, adding salt and peper and water, beating them furiously. "Alright. More training is good, a body guard is good, being careful is good. All that is good no matter what. I've been caught on video or in the news doing this shit twice; it might keep up, so even if my vision isn't realized it's good. You're tough, I know you can handle yourself better than most, and I— at least really hope— you won't take unnecessary risks." Now that she's had a taste of the necessary ones.

—-

Trish's mouth works helplessly as Jess fills her in on the fact that she was not a stripper. Two bright pinks spots of color appear on her cheeks as well. /Thanks Az/ she grumbles to herself. Trish is now very glad she never brought it up before or in front of anyone else. She can just picture the amusement all of Azalea's face if she had.

"Yeah, Az told me that. I suppose it was because she didn't know that I knew that Cindy was able to stick to the wall. Not that Cindy said anything about it, I just happened to catch her. But I told you that, I think. I, ah, I definitely won't be taking any stupid chances. Chasing after a couple of goons is one thing. Coming face to face with a real villain is something else. I still want to be part of your helping people, using my show to promote Alias Investigations as much as possible. I'll even continue to be your driver when you need a hotshot behind the wheel. As for getting my hands actually dirty, I don't know. I can honestly say that last night really opened my eyes."

The words are true, Trish really does mean them. Right now. Once the terror wears off, who knows? Given the right circumstances, Trish will be right back in it, without a moments hesitation.

—-

"I hope Az hasn't been spreading that rumor beyond you. Some of the jokes that girl tells…I swear." Eggs hit the pan, Jessica sounds weary. "They fight like cats and god damn dogs, break shit all over the apartment, then try to fix it and hope I don't notice. Of course I notice, of course I pretend not to. And…don't promote it yet, okay? When you're feeling a bit more up to it maybe you can help me figure out how to make sure it becomes what I want it to be without veering off in the wrong direction. And good. I'm glad. You have a lot to offer, Trish. You don't need to become a thug like me to be a hero."

Stuff they've covered before. She keeps the egg moving in the pan, swift and steady; she's starting to get the hang of this, or at least to feel confident in getting the hang of this.

But Trish getting back in the fray wouldn't surprise her. They both thrived in extreme circumstances. If Jessica could give her more of a capacity to survive said extreme circumstances, she'd do so in a heartbeat. She just doesn't have a way to do that. But then Peggy did well. Red did well.

Hmmm. Peggy.

"If you want," she says, slowly, "I could…ask Peggy to help you." Jessica was getting training from a super-soldier; they essentially shared the same power set, with a few variations here or there, leading Jess to wonder if the convoy they'd crashed in hadn't had something similar to what was pumping through Bucky's veins. But Peggy was perfectly normal. Perhaps…Perhaps Trish needed a teacher too, one who was another woman who regularly held her own with the weirder elements of the world. "I don't know if she will, or if she'll have time but…I could ask. You met her at the party."

—-

"Oh no worries there as far as my show goes. I'm taking at least a week off, maybe two. If they don't like it, I don't care. I need…I don't know what I need."

Trish shakes her head and swallows down the tears that threaten. Jessica's continued offer of support and kindness, now extending to putting her in touch with the woman who appeared to be Captain America's sweetheart, had Trish feeling. Something she had been avoiding to keep her cool while she needed to deal with doctors and so forth.

"Th-that would be n-nice…" Her voice trembles and so does her bottom lip. "I-I'm s-sorry…I d-don't know w-why I'm c-crying now…." The tears finally fall, and Trish shrugs as she reaches for the paper towel, knowing she'd be needing it for her nose right away. "O-oh Christ, J-Jess! I w-was so scared! I w-wanted h-him to k-kill h-her for a m-minute. I-I'm a t-terrible h-human b-being! W-who w-wants s-something l-like that?"

It all comes out in a tearful, stuttering, hot mess of a rush. Trish knows she's barely coherent, but can't stem the flow of words once started. Guilt makes her feel sick to her stomach, only slightly relieved by the admission.

—-

Jessica turns off the egg and enfolds her sister in a hug in an instant.

"I did. I wanted you to tell him to stab her right in the heart. I wanted to let her bleed on the floor," Jessica says flatly. "That woman hurt you. She is just as bad as he is, in her own way. Why not wish, for just a moment, to be free of her? You did the right thing anyway. Trish, you were good, you were so good, you could be a hostage negotiator you're that good. You never let him see you sweat, I couldn't even tell you were scared, you did everything right. You're crying because that's a natural and human thing to do. I still cry when shit scares me, I did cry, remember? Remember me crying in your bathtub for 5 days straight?" She had, too, not coming out, just running the hot water over and over again.

"Listen. Listen. Listen. You cry, sleep, scream, refuse to eat, whatever it is you need to do. This is okay. It's all okay. Whatever you feel is okay…as long as you don't sit there and castigate yourself. You're going to get better, I'm going to call Peggy, you're going to be amazing. She might even turn you into a SHIELD agent yourself, who knows? The point is, you did great. You are great. It's okay to be scared. It's okay you were scared. I was scared too. I get scared all the time."

—-

Trish clings to Jessica, and sobs like a little girl. She hears Jess's words of encouragement, telling her she did right, and appreciates it. She's not able to stop the crying jag though.

She did remember Jess's extended stay in the bathtub, and thought it sounded like a great idea, all in all. She considers not eating, but quickly dismisses that idea. Her appetite was the one thing that was usually unaffected by stress or upset in her life. As evidenced by Dorothy's very real and borderline successful attempt at making Trish bulimic. At least until Jess had stepped in. Once the worst of the tears had passed, Trish let go of Jess, and blew her nose for what she hoped was the last time.

"O-okay. That s-sounds good. I can just hear it know….Agent Trish Walker." Trish gives Jess a trembley smile. Her voice trembled as well, but she had most of the tears stopped. One still fell, now and again, but she wasn't the emotional, incoherent wreck she had been earlier. "I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought it might be a good thing for her to be gone. It makes me feel a little less guilty. I'm glad you're mind, Jess. If I don't say it enough, I think it all the time. You don't act like you're scared, which I guess is the point right? Don't let them smell your fear, that's what I kept telling myself."

—-

"You didn't act scared either," Jessica says firmly.

She could almost laugh. She, Jessica Jones, doesn't act scared? Really? "I'm glad to be yours too, but you wouldn't have said that if you'd seen me break down crying right in the middle of a fight the other day." There were extenuating circumstances for that, but…

"Right in front of the entire team. But you know what? Nobody got in my grill over that, nobody thought less of me for that, everyone continued to be their same supportive wonderful selves, because I guess there's not jack shit wrong with being afraid…especially not if you keep fighting in your own way anyway."

Jessica rubs Trish's shoulders and arms, up and down, then plates the egg. "Eat," she orders gently, sticking a fork in it. "Throw some salsa on it or something if it doesn't taste right, I find that renders them edible again."

—-

Trish picks up the fork, pokes at the eggs tentatively, scoops up a bit, and sniffs carefully before taking a cautious bite. All for the sake of trying to lighten the mood a little after her crying jag. Both of her eyebrows lifted in surprise and she scooped up another larger bite.

"These are actually really good, Jess. I hate to be a broken record, but I am really, really proud of how far you've come, just in the short time we've reconnected. You're cooking, you're driving, and you are taking care of me for a change. If you aren't careful I'm going to get used to you being the grown up for a change."

Trish gives Jess a grin then blows a kiss at her, before finishing her eggs. Once she's done eating, Trish gets in the shower, where she has another short crying fit. The clothes she was wearing are thrown out, and she puts on her favorite pajamas comprising of an old pair of Star Wars boxers with her over sized 'Yoda raising the TARDIS from the swamp' tee shirt.

After finding Jessica a suitable pair of boots to run home in, she crawls into bed, with Jess beside her to scare away the monsters in her imagination. True to her word, Jess stays until she's asleep, which means more to Trish than words can express.

Her experience with the Joker had opened Trish's eyes to the darker side of the world she had so desperately wanted to be a part of. It had scared her enough to consider staying behind the mic and doing her best to change the world that way. Until Jess had mentioned training with Peggy Carter. Those words had reignited the flame Trish carries for being a Hero. So much so, that instead of having nightmares about a giggling, green haired, twisted clown she was dreaming about Agent Trish Walker, working with the likes of the Avengers to fight Evil.

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