AKA Get That Girl Some Netflix

March 08, 2017:

Takes place after Breathe. Spider-Gwen attacks Matt Murdock, thinking he's the Murderdock of her world and behind her displacement. Jessica Jones intervenes, a move which leaves Gwen reeling in confusion.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Trish Walker, the Joker, Bucky Barnes, Spider-Man, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's early evening, overcast but with the first real signs of winter's thaw. The sky may still be a pale grey slate, but people have shed their heavy coats, and twilight is finally coming post close of business. The sidewalks are thronged with people in their brisk, rush-hour power walks for the train station or their apartment buildings.

One man, however, is conspicuously taking his sweet time— his stride is even and easy, his walking stick counting out ten second spans on the sidewalk in a three-tap spread: left, center, right, right, center left. He's buttoned up in his navy suit and skinny tie; glasses hiding his countenance, as well as whatever thoughts said countenance might betray, from Manhattan's swarming masses— who for the most part make way for the blind man making his careful way home.


It has been a long 48 hours for one Jessica Jones. She, too, is on her way home, looking like the negative photograph version of a certain pink-haired crusader from Earth-65 in just about every way: pitch black hair, red and black clothes, bone-weariness, cynical expression. New boots, at last, though.

Were one to look closely, they might see the darkened patches on the blouse and dried-on viscera on the jacket, though the jacket obscurs the color of the mess well enough, and remains buttoned to hide as much of the blouse as possible.

Even to her own nose she smells of dried blood, dried sweat, hospital, and little else. She hasn't had a chance to catch a shower since the morning of the attack. She's feeling gross as a result.

She's not tired enough to feel ready to collapse in sleep— it takes about 72 hours for that to happen to her— but she's still tired enough to feel unpleasantly in need of her bed. Or…couch, as the case may be.

As well she might be. Anyone paying attention to the news would know why.

Aside from the attack, it's not exactly thrilling to her to have intimate personal family details on the front page of the Bugle and broadcasting on other news outlets, either: bits and pieces of her life that she has basically told to Zatanna and nobody else, though one or two others certainly knew, in an abstract way. They weren't embarrassing or anything, but they were private, hers to share or hold on to…or had been until Ulrich's thorough and quite proper journalism. Joker had gone and spilled the beans on the airwaves about Dorothy Walker's abuse, too…and that shit was something she'd hoped to spare Trish from forever. Now, whenever her sister emerged she'd be innundated with interview requests and tell-all-bullshit-book deals. Trish would make the best of things; Trish always did, but it was, as far as Jessica was concerned, an unenviable position for the woman to be in.

She can't even put her hands in her pockets in this suit; she misses her leather jacket.

She'd spent the night with Trish in the hospital, watching vigil over the foster-mother she hated, then she'd finally convinced her sister to go home. She'd promised to sleep there, had said she just needed to go home for a shower, for the rest of her clothes. That's where she's headed now; back to Hell's Kitchen, back to Alias.

Despite her state, she has homework to do, so she's actually whispering under her breath a bit as she steps from the tunnels to the street, trying to track all the people all around her as an exercise in situational awareness. "Black businessman, moving away from me, elderly woman with punk haircut, moving towards me, short kid with headphones crossing the street." It keeps her mind occupied, gives her a puzzle to solve, which is precisely the sort of thing she needs right now. She's not very far from one Matt Murdock, though with the teeming throngs to sort through she doesn't notice him yet, despite her efforts to keep tabs on everything and everyone. There are just a lot of people to keep track of, which is why Bucky set her on this exercise at all.


Perhaps unbeknownst to Jessica and maybe sensed by Matthew Murdock, there is a masked woman on the roofs following them. Every since arriving in this world, there has been a lot to attempt to figure out and guess. Stark, apparently, does not own Starkbucks. There is something called the Avengers led by some white boy from Brooklyn. SHIELD remains a thing, but Peggy Carter is some old woman in Virginia. And Peter Parker is alive. There are so many things here that are strange and different and in her research, however, she noticed someone still involved with Hell's Kitchen, someone who is still a defense attorney and who certainly seems as if they are attempting to do things in the public interest. Matthew Murdock. It wouldn't surprise her if Murderdock remained the same throughout what she assumes is some form of nightmare reality. He would. Honestly, it's the skinny tie that really seals the deal. That is so a Murderdock outfit.

First, perhaps out of nowhere, a burst of webbing drops down from across the street. It attempts to snag and attach to Matt Murdock to the building next to him. Then, a woman dressed in white, pink and black swings downward - right in front of him. Though a super suit, it's clear she has been wearing it for a few days. It's dirty in some areas and worn in others. It's quite possible that she stinks, too. She knows better than to try and take the Murder Matt straight on: he has that blind zen stuff. She'll follow him should he dodge, should he try and get out of the way. Jessica Jones is completely ignored. With no pink hair, no bright white and blue outfit, she is just a woman on the street to the spider-woman.

Attention completely focused on the blind man in front of her, she glares. "I know you're attempting to pretend that you can't tell that I'm glaring at you, but I am, Murderdock. Why did you bring me here? What is this messed up place an what do you have to do with S.I.L.K.?! I tried to play this the nice way and do it 'Escape the Alternate-Verse Room' style, but I can't. Just send me back. This place doesn't even have Blockbuster, you monster."


It is not, point of fact, the first time that Matt Murdock has been stalked from the rooftops. The first time began in the dark of night, and ended with him in the ICU, his insides gutted, restitched, and eventually made whole with the help of a teen goth sorceress. Here he can sense the steady— if elevated— trail of a heartbeat from up above, but even at that distance he can tell that it's younger and fiercer than any of those sported by the magical hit-men that laid him low.

In each of these (growing number) of situations where he faces danger with his public persona, Matt has a choice to make. He can give up the game and use his gifts— both given and cultivated— to escape said danger… or he can take the hit. It's a fraught choice; the projectile of webbing he senses heading for him through the air could be toxic, corrosive, who knows? But sometimes— in fact, more often than not— being a Murdock means taking the punch.

He doesn't even try to dodge, and the webbing knocks him him back against the wall, casts his walking stick clattering to the sidewalk and his glasses tumbling, clattering off his nose. He's fairly well pinned, grunting with the impact as his back hits the old brick of the apartment building behind him. The people surrounding him scurry, trip over themselves with shouts of and cries as Weird Shit suddenly invades their lives.

Matt, for his part, seems dazed. Is dazed; however much he took the punch, it still smarts. "Aaaah," he says as he struggles vainly against the webbing, brown eyes directionless but still alive with shock and fright. "What the hell?! What do you want? Let me go!" He doesn't even have to feign his outrage or disbelief as he tries to process the string of words that follow.


"Woman walking with stroller, about to head into that store over there. Guy running late, veering away…Bug in Drag…Matt…Bug in Drag attacking Matt…"

Jessica Jones suddenly realizes what she just said. "Bug in drag, attacking Matt."

She gathers her powerful legs beneath her body and leaps, soaring up and up, pushing her height to its limits this time, all so she can get precisely where she wants to go. Spider-Woman felt a shadow pass over her at Columbia; she feels it now.

Jessica angles her legs downward…aiming to land directly between Matthew Murdock and his assailant.

This is the fourth time in as many weeks someone she cares about has been screwed around with. That list— the list of people she cares about— is a damn short list to begin with. And Matt, above them all, had personally called her his hero, and by so doing had earned himself one fallen guardian angel to protect the shit out of him whenever he needs it.

She sticks the landing and whirls around to face one Spider-Woman, who now, she can see, cannot possibly actually be Bug in Drag. The height is all wrong. The build is wrong, and looks genuinely female.

She…does not care.

Her voice, familiar to both of them for different reasons, is utterly livid as she turns around to address the woman. Livid, but not loud. It's almost deadly soft, shaking with the force of her rage. It is the voice of a woman who has had enough.

"Touch one hair on his head. I'll break every god damn bone in your body."


It's impossible to tell behind her mask, but Gwen quints at Matt Murdock at his genuine outrage and shock. Fuck. Did she just web a legit blind lawyer? "No, stay on target! Shit, is Star Wars even a thing they have here? God, what world is this even?!" she hisses to herself. "Murdock pretended to be innocent all the time."

Louder, she points an accusatory finger at Matt. "Don't try and play coy, Murdock. Only you'd be Kingpin enough to send me to a world as weird and white-washed as this one. Is white-washed even a thing here? Do you even know how weird your hero game is? What's your game? I saw there were other Spiders here. What does that even mean? You trying to lose me in the shuffle? Are you in touch with the other Murderdock?"

Then, however, Spider-Woman's spidey-senses for once do not fail her. The approach of the angry and certainly different Jessica Jones are alerted. She springs backward and then up, attaching herself to the wall right above Matt's head. Squinting, she studies Jess. "…Jewel?" It may be hard to tell through the mask, but she sounds genuinely floored. "No! You're not working with the Kingpin, are you? Man, you're Goth phase here? I liked your pink hair."


Somewhere in between Jessica Jones' leap and Gwen's tirade about Murderdocks, Matt lost the script. She's telling him not to play coy, talking about kingpins and spiders and jewels and whateverthefuck— and he has basically no conception.

Although he does understand, on some level, that she's accusing him of faking his disability. Which puts all this beyond the realm of the simply surreal and into the out-and-out danger zone. Still pinned against the wall, he takes a hard swallow and attempts to regather both his breath and his wits.

"Jess?" he calls out, an echo of Gwen's incredulity as he calls out 'Jewel.' He flinches at the sound or impact above his head as Spider-Woman makes her landing on the wall, but when he speaks to her again, his voice trained outward. "Look, lady," he says with worlds of mystified weariness, "I don't know who the hell you are, or what you want. But I'm not the guy to help you. I'm just trying to get home from work."


There is a flash of raw shock from Jessica Jones as she whirls around to keep pace with the stranger's movements, one that plays over her face and physical reactions, as she's addressed by the name Jewel. "How the Hell do you even know that name?" She definitely recognizes it, though there's a flush of embarrassment— one that raises her body temperature, makes it into the exasperated and angry tone of her voice, one that flashes across her face in a flush.

Talk of kingpens (bowling?) causes no spark of recognition on her face. At the mention of pink hair she scowls, disgusted, and doesn't even dignify that with a response.

Matt calls her name, not even sure it's her. She's edging closer, prepared to defend him. Her tone drops to something more gentle for him, kinder, concerned. "You alright, Matt? Did she hurt you badly?" she asks, her voice traveling in such a way as to indicate she's looking up, at the babbling woman, rather than directly at him. She checks herself though, adding, "It is me. Don't worry."

He tries to talk the woman down, and she shuts up while he does. She sifts through as he speaks, trying to make sense of what the woman is saying. He's far more of a calming presence than she is, something she's been the beneficiary of more than once. Perhaps he'll get through to the kid. She sounds like a kid, at least, though of course the mask makes it pretty impossible to tell.

Still, his attempts to defuse the situation lead her to think she should at least try to do the same.

"Look. Matt would never murder anybody. He helps people. People pay him in fucking tamales and fruit pies. So…bug off, Bugette. Leave him the Hell alone. I don't know what kind of delusion you're nursing, I don't know what the fuck you think you know, I don't know which meds you forgot to take, but… You wanna let him down, get off the god damn wall, stand down? Maybe we can talk about this, help you get your shit sorted, but until then as far as I'm concerned you are just some overpowered criminal thug picking on my friend, and I will respond with all due force if I don't like the action you take in the next, oh…30 seconds or so. And trust me, kiddo…I've got a lot of force to bring to the table."


This is far too trippy for Gwen Stacy. The Spider-Woman climbs further up the wall to keep out of reach of Jessica Jones. The iteration she knows can fly, so she's ready to leap and dodge at a moments notice.

"I didn't hurt him," she tells Jessica defensively. "I'm just trying to get answers. And this guy? He knows more than he's letting on. Matt Murdock, defense attorney. Patsy." The words drop off her tongue like poison. While she is starting to believe him in the fact that he may not know who she is or why she is here, she knows panic when she hears it and Matt Murdock is almost certainly someone that cannot be trusted no matter the universe.

"Yeah, he helps people like Wilson Fisk." She's not sure what is where any more and now, she's starting to retreat back into her fear, her bubble of impossibility. What is real here? "You're Jewel. You should have pink hair and help rescue people," she tells Jessica sincerely. There's a long pause as she freezes at the words 'bug off bugette'. No, this is…this is wrong. This is all wrong.

"You can definitely pull him down with your strength," she tells Jessica. "This— this is wrong. This is just— I'm sorry. I think. Unless you both turn out to be jackasses, then I was right all along." The woman in the dirtied superhero costume looks at them both. "Confused Heroine Exit, Stage Left. Hopefully not pursued by bear. Cue Lady Macbeth monologue. Out damn spot, out. Crap."

Webbing upward, she flings herself toward the rooftop of another building without freeing Matt and without any other explanation. What the Hell?


What the hell is right, and a dizzied Matt even thinks it himself as he's pinned there against the wall. Followed shortly by: Crazy spider-women assaulting people and making wild accusations while making Winter's Tale references. This is what happens when you give drama geeks super powers.

He waits a moment after she zips away before asking, ostensibly of Jessica: "She's— gone?" A beat, and then he answers the question she posed just moments before. "And yeah— I'm okay. Thanks. Not hurt, just… uh, sticky, I guess." He lets out a helpless, incredulous puff of breath well short of a laugh before he adds: "Jess, what in the absolute fuck was that? Who was she?"

Meanwhile, his mind is working overtime, sorting through all of the deranged assailants non-literary references: few ring bells, compounding silent frustration.


"She's gone. I'll have you out of that as quickly as I can," Jessica promises.

She doesn't answer right away, furrowing her brow as she sticks one booted foot firmly against the brick wall and carefully starts tugging at the webbing. She grimaces; it's really sticky; she has to pause and scrape it off her hands by virtue of raking them against the brick wall, then working again. As if she wasn't gross enough right now, but it can't be helped, and she tears in without hesitation.

"I don't know who she was. She looked like a female version of Spider-Man." Now she's thinking it through, working the puzzle.

"I think I may understand what just happened though."

Sheepishly, "Jewel is a thing. It's— it's a joke only one person ever laughs at. Well I guess you might, now that I'm going to tell you like an idiot but… that was the super-hero name my sister wanted me to use. She designed this…god awful costume. White sparkly spandex, pink belt buckle, blue trim and gloves, the works. Pink hair was nowhere in it, but. I flatly refused to wear it or to use the name. But…"

She rips off another section of webbing, making disgusted noises.

"I've been to an…alternate dimension if you will— I've actually been to a couple— where I was Jewel. Still no pink hair, but I apparently took the stupid suit and everything, and was running around doing the full on cape schtick. I saw a newspaper article before…other people…got my attention. In that world, and others, everything was different. My f— people were alive that shouldn't have been, too. Or were dead that shouldn't have been. Ugh! This stuff doesn't quit." More web comes off; she gets about half of him out and goes to work on the other side of it. There's no hesitation in telling him strange things anymore; she has come to understand that Matt Murdock will believe her.

"She knew stuff she shouldn't have known. She could have gotten your name off the Internet, I guess but…literally only 3 other people know about Jewel. Even Trish doesn't talk about it, and the other two would never say anything either as two of them found out about it by accident. So following that…" Rip, toss, ugh, "bouncing ball, I guess we might deduce that she's from some other reality, one where, apparently, you are evil, and…"

Here she rips off the last bit of webbing. "Where I…have lost my god damned mind. There! Your suit's ruined but I think you ought to be able to peel your way off now. Give it a try?"

She'd been careful to avoid touching him the whole time she'd freed him, almost overly conscientious about it, even though the warm sense of attraction to him is still present, something that had crept up on her gradually as she'd worked to get him free. It only showed up in her bloodstream and heartrate though…she's not pretending to be wholly focused and not-as-awkward-as-usual…she definitely 100% is.


He bears the unwebbing patiently enough, slightly preoccupied. Jewel— there's one answer. But what about the others? Fisk, Silk. These aren't the ravings of a madwoman, but hints and clues of possiblies and might-have-beens. That gives them an added weight and importance worth thinking through— but he keeps drawing blanks.

"Creepy. An alternate Earth where you're a hero, and I'm evil, and apparently there's still a Blockbuster-fucking-Video," Matt says, making rueful conversation as he attempts to wrest himself free of the remainder of the webbing and dip one leg searchingly for the ground— reaching out his other hand vaguely in her direction in a silent request for some steadying aid to complete his descent. "Get that girl some Netflix."

The suit is indeed ruined, and his dark hair is disheveled and askew. He looks tired, and out of sorts, but maintains his good humor despite it. "Thanks for the help, Jess," he says quietly, and presumably means more than just the disentangling. "But if you're right, she needs it even more than me."

One heartbeat. Two. "There are probably a whole bunch of people watching us right now, aren't there?"


Jessica could answer about Silk, perhaps, but…she hadn't heard that part. Which is to the good, because there would have been some tantalizing clues in that part of it for her, too…

He can't see her warm smile as he reaches for humor, but…he can sense the warmth spreading through her, and can hear the weary, gentle laugh.

She takes his arm gently, offering the help he requests until he's steady on his feet. Fire spreads across her skin for a moment, but she is perfectly proper in every way. Trying to do the right thing, trying to make sure this isn't awkward for him. "I'll get your glasses in a second, don't step too far to the right or you'll crush them…too far forward and you'll trip over your stick," she warns.

"People? Oh. No. I don't see too many. A lot of them took off. I guess the Spider-Man hysteria caused that one. Why?" Her tone changes, teasing him just a little bit. "Worried about another St. Matthew article?"

Also, he gets major points for laughing about Blockbuster, and not for snickering about Jewel. Major. Points. Not…that he really needed any more of them.


"I think Urich can contain himself," Matt says with a faint, wry smile and a roll of aimless eyes at her ribbing about St. Matthew as he steadies himself on his own two feet and gently disentangles himself from her. "Getting webbed is a lot less romantic than getting stabbed. Or— whatever I was."

Although now that he mentions Urich, memory of the intrepid reporter's most recent story washes over him. "Jesus, Jess, I didn't even ask," he says with genuine concern. "You alright? How's your family?" He's reaching out with either hand as he's talking, a silent request for the material aids scattered around him."

Whatever trace signals he picks up, whatever signs, Matt diligently ignores. It's natural enough. He's used to sidestepping most of the sentiments people around him betray in a million unguarded signals.


"What? Not asking about my personal drama while being attacked? For shame," Jessica says with deadpan humor. But it's a humor that says mention of the whole thing has brought her own exhaustion back to her in a wild rush, washing away everything else. He's used to ignoring it, she doesn't even know she's broadcasting it, and it all works out in the end.

She releases him and goes after the glasses first, laying them against the back of his hand like she always does, not answering right away. His stick is next; she steps back from him and lays the handle against the back of his hand too, but only after he's replaced his glasses.

"Trish is rattled, really rattled, but unharmed. Dorothy's no family of mine. Trish is tucked away at her place after we sat and sat and sat at that hospital. She's finally sleeping, I'm going to try to stay with her for a few days. I was just heading home to grab a few things. I never even saw that stupid clown."

She sucks in a deep breath. "Look, Matt…Would you allow me to walk you back to your apartment? We live less than a mile apart. We're already moving in the same direction anyway. I'd feel better; otherwise no matter how rattled she is she might double back and harass you again."

She scrubs her fingers through her tangled hair, realizing a new responsibility has just shown up on her radar. "I don't have the bandwidth to go find her too," she says in frustration. "And yet who else can I send after her that she might trust even a little bit? God damn it. She also probably doesn't have a dollar to her god damned name. Damn it."

(Clown car. Super-children really are about to come tumbling out of Alias Investigations like a god damned clown car, aren't they?)

She sucks air through her teeth, furious, suddenly, then grimacing. "Sorry. None of this venom is for you."

Her phone buzzes on vibrate in her pocket, twice: a text has come through. She doesn't reach for it right away, though her stomach does a slow flip flop. Any text right now could be important. But it also won't be actionable in the next several minutes, which means she can do Matt the courtesy of giving him her full attention while she waits for his answer. Even if that attention means listening to her explode with temper, only to try to reel it back in again.


Matt listens, with interest, as she recounts the status of the people she grew up with, claimed and unclaimed. It all fills in a picture that's largely outline, even if nuances and shades beyond those edges are slowly being filled in. He accepts his props as he does so, donning his glasses and tipping his walking stick back towards the sidewalk. "I'm glad your sister wasn't hurt," he says quietly, commenting no further on the matter of her stepmother.

In part because he's considering her offer, at least for a brief span of heartbeats. It's a deliberation altogether interrupted by her frustrated yet protective outburst over the maniac who just webbed him. "No worries," he says of her apology, with a quick shake of his head. "My advice is not to worry to much about the web-head. She seems to have some resources of her own. Just keep an eye out, and help where you can. I know it's a crazy notion, but it's not all on you."

A ranker hypocrite than Matthew Murdock you would be hard-pressed to find, especially when he's trying to provide comfort and perspective on the scope of people's responsibilities.

"Another beat. "But yeah," he says with a twitch of his lips. "Let walk, right?"


'I'm glad your sister wasn't hurt.'

He doesn't push, but she adds just a little more anyway. She walks beside him, but drifts away from him until there's more than ample personal space for them both. Not so far they can't converse comfortably, but more than ample.

"I'm glad she's alright too. After the accident…" well, why not talk about it? It was all over the news. The death of her birth family, two years in a coma…none of that's a secret anymore. "She was all I had for the longest time. On that count, I'm glad Dorothy adopted me, even if it was just a publicity stunt."

He offers sensible comfort, and she ratchets back down from level ten. She chuffs a sharp chuckle. "Not all on me? It is a crazy notion, but…I…guess you're right. You usually are."

She falls into step beside him, her hands trying to go into the pockets of her jacket, only to slip again.

"I guess I'm just…trying to make up for lost time, on everything. For lots of…wasted years. Now that I'm actually doing things I guess I can't get enough of doing things."

She remembers a promise she made too, and decides to fulfill it sideways, now. "Lots of time without any people in my life. Even pushed Trish away, for awhile, after some other stuff went down. People…That's pretty recent. I like it. But it's recent. Like since December, recent. It makes me…not know how to act, sometimes. A lot of the time."

She tries again to put her hands in her pockets. Again they slide lamely out of pockets that aren't there, and she lets them drop.

He's trying to fill in blanks; she has lots of them for him. The qualities, the shape of a lot of who he seems to be…that's there. His tenacity, his intelligence, his compassion, his steadiness. But his story? It's a mystery to her…one she intends to start solving right now. "What's your family like, Matt?" She did not, in fact, go digging into his history, though she certainly could have. That was one line she didn't ever cross, at least. "If…it's okay to ask." He'd only wanted three wards, she remembers. This could be sensitive ground.


Matt is a measured, equanimous listener as Jessica elaborates on her personal tragedies, twists of fortune and strangest of strange family dynamics. Though his his dark, bushy brows do lift in self-deprecating skepticism when she says he often knows best. It's followed by a subtle duck of his head, almost a dodge, when she offers her roundabout and oblique— apology? explanation?— for whatever it is she thinks she needs to apologize or explain for visa vi them. He shakes his head as if to dismiss the thought as unnecessary, focusing instead on:

"You're lucky to have her," Matt says of Trish, seemingly sidestepping her question of him. It would be characteristic. He is reticent in the extreme about his own history, which made Ben Urich's recent paean to his childhood heroism all the more infuriating.

…but then his pale brow is furrowing above the rims of his glasses, and he adds, tentatively, an explanation for why he considers her lucky: "No family to speak of on my end. My dad raised me, but he died when I was still pretty young. After that I lived in an orphanage in the neighborhood." He's surprised to find it doesn't hurt to talk about it; it's more like soreness— using muscles that have stiffened and atrophied for lack of use. He rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "The Church took good care of me. Guess it's part of why I try to be good to it, too."


Jessica is a focused listener, turning her full attention to him. Given how difficult it was to get him talk at all, she's as patient as a prospector. She waits him out while he side-steps, having the feeling that if she does she might get him to talk, a little bit, finding she's hungry to hear him talk, after so many encounters where he just gently absorbed every little thing she threw at him, during which she hadn't really reciprocated.

Her steps match his, step for step, as he'd looked like he was going to try to turn the conversation back to her again, still waiting.

The story of his childhood heroism had surprised her not at all, when she'd gone back and dug up the article after being alerted to its existence. The man had a heroic quality about him, an air of nobility.

She watches his brow furrow, and then at last he expands on his personal history reluctant detail by reluctant detail. She doesn't say anything right away, opting to just be present with those revalations for a few moments.

Finally, though, she speaks. "I'm sorry you lost him. Your Dad."

She knows how inadequate the words are, but…what other words are there for such things?

"I'd never thought about churches giving people a place like that before, taking care of people. I guess I'd thought it was all lip service, just stuff they said. Is that what made you so fierce about helping others like you do? Being raised by the church? Seeing it in action like that, seeing it working?"

He is fierce about it in her opinion, to extend so much charity to the people of his old neighborhood when the wolves had to be baying at the door at every turn. She herself may have done a little here and there, but the vast majority of her clients still paid her with actual checks which she cashed or deposited with all due haste. She's still, in fact, trying to figure out if she can pay him for the work he's already done for her without insulting him, now that she is no longer broke.


She offers fifteen-year-old condolences. "Thanks," Matt says simply, albeit paired with a brief and rueful flicker of a smile as they continue their procession down the sidewalk. He angles his profile towards her; more to signal than anything else— it's not as if he could get a better look at her. "I'm sorry about yours, too," he adds with quiet sincerity of her own losses. She's not the only one who can read, watch, or listen to the news.

That moment of dour commiseration is leavened by subtle but decidedly exasperated humor as Matt Murdock puffs out an incredulous breath. "I'm no St. Matthew," he insists. "Not by a long shot."

"But yeah, as far as the church goes," he adds as they tap their way ever nearer to their destination, "they used to be the original social safety net, right? And seeing from a young age that it's possible to help people— even people you don't know— does a lot of good for empathy and imagination."

"We're coming up on my place," adds a man who can count his blocks, smile faint.


She knows it's stupid and way out of date but…there it is. And when he says it back to her, well…it doesn't seem stupid or way out of date at all. "Thanks," she says simply, leaving it at that.

Jessica raises her hands, laughing at his exasperation and incredulity. "Hey, hey, I didn't say you were. I just said you helped people. There's a difference. If being a saint were the criteria I'd be so screwed." He can hear the smirk in her voice. "So no no, no worries, no sainthood for you, Matthew Murdock. We both know you're a little bit of a dick. Not a lot of a dick. Just enough for that itty bitty one calorie label."

The silhouette of her fingers in the air: a thumb and forefinger held a miniscule amount of distance apart.

"So we are," she says. She lapses into silence then. It has been a good conversation; the most normal one they've ever had, barring the alternate reality theories and the spider webbing, it's the most he's ever talked about himself and save for a few bumps and blips it didn't feel awkward to her…she's almost afraid to mess that up, so after her little bit of ribbing she closes her mouth.

But she's not unhappy or tense to be doing so. In fact, all those little broadcasting signals are tuned firmly in on a dial of happiness. Weary happiness to be sure. Happiness with the distant static of worry peppering the signal, ready to overtake it at any moment. But happiness just the same, for a few minutes anyway.


She's wary about the ribbing, but it actually helps. He cracks a smile, full and white, when she brings up that first god-awful moniker she'd given him back in the hospital room. "Alright," Matt allows wryly, "I can handle Diet Dick better than saint, for sure." However good humored about it he may outwardly be about his whole ordeal one month ago, the aversion to the "St. Matthew" label is real: a knee-jerk reaction against the tendency of others to mythologize him and, inevitably, his disability.

Then he's bringing himself to a stop at the front doors of his apartment building. He stands there, at once agreeable and ridiculous in his web-coated suit. "Thanks for the escort, Jess."

A pause.

"…and for getting in the face of that crazy spider-girl," he adds with another lop-sided smile. "Seriously, though, good luck with your sister— and the other dozen crises you're tackling head on.


She steps back from him and says, "Any time. Oh."

She steps back from him, walking backwards. There's a faint grin in her voice. "Since sitting down with you has been impossible, how does— if they're paying you in pie, save me some, if they're paying you in money, just pass my fees on to them, half them if they're decent people but can still pay, double 'em if they're assholes, use your best judgement, I trust you, and when Nelson and Murdock wants me to get on a case I'll get on it and let the rest sort itself out because I'm not freaking worried about it sound to you? Cause really, Matt…I don't even care. If you need me to investigate something I'll do it. What the Hell else are friends for?"

She turns to go, then, fully intending for this to be her parting shot. But at this point, she finally checks the text that had buzzed in her pocket earlier, the one that she'd ignored.

That's when she stops on the sidewalk, her stomach dropping to her toes. There is a strange rush of conflicting emotions; excitement; the sensation of a bulldog on the hunt, elation, but also fear. Stone cold fear that strikes her to her toes. She looks back over her shoulder.

"We've got a way to get to her," she tells him. "Zatanna. We're going in tomorrow." It's an update she's sure he'd want, and so she drops it here and now.


"Sounds like a deal," Matt says to her proffered terms, amused and easy as you please, utterly comfortable and grateful for it.

But then there's enough of a pause on her end— and along with it a host of tell-tale biological signals— to send his eyebrows shooting up in surprise. He's about to ask if she's alright before she tells him exactly what has her spooked.

He hasn't, with this guise, gotten remotely involved in whatever has happened to Zatanna and her beau. And Matt Murdock— at least unmasked— has already proven himself incredibly ill-equipped to grapple with demons and evil sorcerers. So instead of inquiring further, or making lame and useless offers to help, the lawyer just dips his head in faintest gratitude and says, "Go get her, Jess." And then he's putting up a hand in parting, and turning towards the door.


"I will."

She tucks the phone away, words hovering right on the tip of her tongue. Words that go unsaid. Instead she says…"Good night, Matt," and steps away, letting him go for real.

She will wait for the door to close behind him before taking in a sharp intake of breath, and exhaling again. She swallows, and tells the door what she had decided not to tell him, doing so in the barest of whispers. "And if I don't come back…take care of yourself. Thank you. For being my friend."

'You should always say those things,' Bucky had said, and it was a lesson she definitely knew, that one had one shot to say all kinds of things. But that truism didn't take into account the times when saying all those things were potentially damaging, hurtful, complicated, messy. It didn't account for emotions even deeper than those three sentences might have hinted at, emotions too dangerous even to whisper to a door on a busy New York Street.

She slips into the crowd then, crossing the street for her own apartment. She has a shower to take. She has to change clothes and pack a bag and talk to Trish.

She has to sit down and get her affairs in order; too. Responsible people leave wills; they update their insurance policies, they make arrangements and make sure the right words get passed out to the right people. Time to go be responsible. Good thing she knows the right law firm to ask to be her executors, when she sends the whole mess over by courier.

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