The Slaves

March 15, 2017:

Jessica Jones locates Grymalkin, the mysterious shapeshifting cat that T'challa hired her to find. Hot-headed, soft-hearted statements cause an antagonistic conversation to veer into an entirely different direction.

Times Square, New York City


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Elinor Ravensdale, T'challa, Zatanna Zatara, Juno Hart, Daredevil

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Nobody who knows Jessica Jones would think for a moment that her sole work on the Shapeshifter case would be to pile it on all Elinor and wait. That's just shoddy casework, and Jessica doesn't do shoddy. She does thorough. There's also all those motivational speeches about the entire nation of Wakanda trusting her and a few other things.

There are a few people in New York who just seem to notice everything after all, contacts she's made in the two years since she's launched her business. She's already used them to pinpoint a few patterns on where this shapeshifter seems to like to go. She's even gotten a tidbit or two about someone with dual-colored eyes, which is a very nice distinguishing mark.

Today she stands with Miranda, an out-of-work off-off-off-off broadway actress who lives under the overpass and probably will never even work off-off-off-off-off again, because the streets are rubbing her looks away like a muddied eraser. Nevertheless, she's great at brokering info. "I know, it sounds nucking futz," Jessica agrees. "But…cat to man, man to cat, and maybe the dude has one yellow eye and one blue eye. Heard any rumors, seen anything at all?"

"NO! Nevah. Nevah hoid of 'em." The off-off-off-off broadway actress pulls her abused carpet bag closer to her side as she promptly looks away. Adjusting her thick outermost layer of Goodwill's finest couture she clams up with unusual vehemence.

Miranda has always been willingly helpful. If perhaps only for a few crisp bills, but in general she's had a measure of concern for the common man. Or a measure of concern for the common gossip. Either way, she's never just dropped a topic like a Republican press conference before.

After a moment of hesitation she looks both ways beneath the graffiti-painted overpass to take note of the small retinue of others seeking similar shelter from the brutal cold. Only then does she lean in a fraction to whisper, "Thos' if ya sees 'em, lemmie know an' all splits the cash with yas fifty fifty?"


Jessica watches the cagey body language, watches the nervousness. She steps in closer and lowers her own voice. "You're telling me someone else has hired you to keep an eye out on this man already? How much are they paying you? Sure, I might want a cut. Who's buying?"

One can't gain friends on the street by being too good to meet people right where they are. Jessica has in fact accepted such deals in the past, and has even honored them. "Look, if you don't want to talk about it here we can grab a sandwich over there— " she waves her hand at one of the local sandwich shops, not her favorite one since she's out of Hell's Kitchen right now, but a good one, "and you can tell me?"

This is the most interesting tidbit she's come across so far. This cat sure is making one Hell of a stir to produce this kind of a reaction.


Miranda is on her feet by the time Jessica finishes pronouncing 'Sandwich'. The lady has her carpet bag in her offhand as she huddles at Jess' side like a kid being escorted to an Ice Cream Shop. "Nah, it ain't like that sweetie." She looks over her shoulder at the slumbering hobo battalion and ushers the PI to move faster.

"Look. I dont knows about no cat man man cat. Dat sounds like ah Gotham thing. Wells we gots Spidey but he seems like ah nice guys ya knows? But I do knows this magic cat. Gots the eyes yous talking about." She leans in to whisper with the breath of a woman who has not brushed her teeth in some time.

"He can make money out of thin air!" Miranda nods with emphatic excitement, gripping Jess' arm gleefully. "I's seen him do it! Oh there was a yuge brawl, there was. Buncha guys from a few blocks over nearly beat each other ta death over that pile o' cash. Oi, was terrible. But that cat… he can do it!"


Jessica makes a mental note to get Miranda a little kit when the sandwich is done, something from the drugstore she can carry easily with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deoderent. She ushers her into the shop and says, "Order whatever you want."

She'll let the former actress take care of her order while she narrows her eyes faintly at the board, not even paying attention to it. She'll get a coffee, but for the moment she's not at all hungry. She's contemplating shapeshifters who make money out of thin air. "That's just about the dumbest thing anyone could do in this town," she observes thoughtfully. "He's lucky nobody beat the shit out of him and stuffed him into a container in the hopes of getting him to make more money for them."

This magic cat may just be clueless, not sinister, but by Jessica's estimation he's going to find himself in deep shit soon if she doesn't find him, and not just with a certain man-Panther who wants to rip his arms out. No matter how good his magic is. There is a huge rogue's gallery of individuals who would want to harness that and use it for their own ends. Hell, there were struggling single Moms in bad neighborhoods who would probably be tempted. "How long ago was that brawl anyway?"


"Hero club! Everythin' on it an' extra pickles!" Miranda instantly orders the clerk, hands gripping the edges of the glass containing many culinary treasures therein. She then regards Jessica quickly as she passes judgement on this ludicrous activity, "I know! We gots ta find 'em fast! I bet whomever hired ya's lookin fer the money too.." She grins and leans in again to whisper, "If ya finds 'em, just say yas never saw 'em and we'll be rich! They ain't payin yas enough sweetie ah.. Oh!" The moment the sandwich is ready she instantly snatches it, unfolding the packaging and availing herself as a starving woman might.

"Mph..Yepherday swheetie. Mm!" She manages out between bites, eating the mighty sandwich standing right there. "Fas in pha *gulp* Alley between 15th an' Wellington. Nawm!"


Jesus. Even Miranda's smoking the 'hit him over the head and force him into servitude' train. Jessica pays for the sandwich and says, "Let me see what I can do," with no intention of doing anything else. "Look, sit here. I'm going to run to the drug store, then I'm going to go looking some more, kay?"

She doesn't wait for an answer before she indeed runs to the drug store, gets the woman a travel kit full of toiletries, and comes back, sliding the bag over to her. "These are for you," she adds, with no irony or sarcasm or snark at all. She squeezes Miranda's shoulder gently. She can't blame the homeless woman for being tempted. She really can't. All she can do is try to make her life a little better today…and then get out of there before Miranda realizes that Jessica is not tempted.

She leaves the shop then and heads right to the alley between 15th and Wellington, considering it with narrowed eyes. Physical traces are all going to be so gone or contaminated by now that it's not even funny, but…there might be something, or someone, who can get her a little bit closer to this guy. She supposes he might just be another wizard…Zatanna could probably duplicate his feat by taking a picture of it and pulling it right out of her phone, though the bills would have the same serial number over and over again. It would be interesting to see if the bills this guy created had different numbers. Also, Zatanna would never do something so clueless and dangerous, so there's that.

She slides her hands in the pockets of her jacket, pulling her scarf a bit tighter about the cold. On the scale of one to really bizarre, this case is quickly working its way right up there.


Broadway is a place of dreams manifest. A hopeless soul such as Miranda can only look upon a pile of riches and immediately dream of a better life. By the sounds of this brawl, she's unquestionably not the only one.

As Jess returns from the drugstore, Miranda is licking the paper wrappings for bits that she's missed. She accepts the little bag with a weathered yet charmed smile, "Bless you sweetie. Good luck!"

The alleyway in question is just another snow-powdered corner of New York's endless sprawl. All of the standard elements are in play here. Bags of uncollected trash. Clothes lines hanging high with forgotten clothing, many with long icicles formed and swaying in the confused winds of the city.

A cat flees the moment Jess' boots meet the first layer of grime. This cat a calico, unlike her target.

The only obvious signs of a fight are what looks like a splatter of dried blood on the side of a trash bin half way along the alley and a few bags torn open, disgorging their horrid contents on the ground. Their baby is sick by the look and smell of it.

The narrow way terminates in a dead end, tagged with layers of territory marks of all manner. Mildly interesting, one set of graffiti says 'Hello' in bright, bold letters.


That is mildly interesting. Following a hunch, Jessica touches the graffiti to see how fresh it is, or to see if it's actually paint flaking off on her fingertips, bare at the ends of her fingerless gloves. "Hello, back at you," she says out loud, thoughtfully. Hell, if she happened to have a paint can she'd even try spraying it back, like Harry Potter writing in Tom Riddle's diary in the movie she won't admit to anyone she watched, but…she does not. And probably shouldn't get herself picked up for graffiti when she walks a thin line with the law many days as it is. Still…


It could be nothing, it could be stupid, but given the way her life has been going, awash in magic as it is, she is willing to entertain any idea for at least a moment or two. Right now she's entertaining the idea that Cat Man Do is talking to her in graffiti. If nothing comes of it in a few minutes, she'll just…move on from that and be glad nobody spotted her doing it. Right.


Truth be told it's difficult to tell the quality of the paint due to the fact that this greeting is the uppermost layer upon wave after wave of tags beneath.

However. An odd thing. As her fingertips come away, she has a few chips of red paint on them. The 'Hello' itself is signed in yellow. Solid, unbroken yellow unchipped and fresh.

Jess' Harry Potter instincts are proven true as the image of the graffiti suddenly fades away, revealing someone's rendition of Daredevil's face in a vaguely Japanese demon art style beneath.

The air fills with a telltale sound of a paint can's inner emulsifier clicking before new lettering appears. Hissing into appearance, sprayed by an unseen hand not more than a few feet away from the PI.

'Looking for Money?'


Huh. The demon art Devil of Hell's Kitchen isn't half bad. Neat.

It's a distant thought.

"No, but I'd like to talk to you," Jessica says out loud. "Face to face. My name is Jessica Jones. I have a couple of questions for you, but…Other than that, no. I don't need anything from you, and I mean you no harm." He's wise to hide, she thinks, though if he's continuing to offer it like some sort of demented graffiti ATM— no. He can't be. Otherwise there would be a line stretching from here to the Brooklyn Bridge of people waiting on handouts.

She steps back, crossing her arms, perhaps giving him…space? To paint can? She's not really sure how much he needs, but the thought that he might be invisible and right next to her is disconcerting enough to her that she at least tries her best to create some space with…well, what? The wall?

Yep, pretty much the wall.


The notion that Jess has any kind of space to her own is shattered the moment there's another hissing noise. This time to her immediate left on the wall, not ten inches from her.

'Oh really?'

Another set on the opposite side of the alley.

'No Money?'

On the ground at her feet, 'You must be rich.' The paint slowly begins to drip upwards from the ground to underscore that statement, gravity disobeying.

'Why is a rich girl here?' The paint weaves in a slow, curious fashion on a window itself.

There is a voice. The voice projects from her shoulder itself, whispered so closely in a faintly British accent that it could raise the hairs on the back of her neck.

"What if I have no face?"


Most days lately, Jessica Jones would like to think she's got this raging PTSD problem more or less under control. Going to the nightmare realm has blunted a great deal of it, forcing her to face her deepest fear over and over again, to outmaneuver it to survive, though ironically forcing it to grow bigger and more dangerous every single time that she did.

But it never really leaves. She can manage it. She can slowly pry its death grip off of her life. She can make sure it doesn't control her every move and thought. But some things are deepest instinct.

She'd been opening her mouth simply to answer the question, and then…British. Right next to her. Too close.

She pales, she jumps, she actually drives an elbow backwards into her imagined opponent before she stops herself, not with her full strength, but with more than enough to shatter bone…were there any to shatter. She stumbles back, driven back by her own force, actually falling on her ass right in the alleyway. Augh. Gross. She doesn't even want to think about what's under the snow she just landed in. And now her elbow hurts, right on the fucking funnybone, cause that's what hit the pavement first. She starts shaking out her arm.

"You have a face," she snaps, temper riling. "Stop dicking around. You're making a stir left and right. You're making enemies. I'm trying to fucking help you, asshat." Maybe. But she's not going to get him out with threats.

Not that she's exactly doing a great job with the sweet talking department here, but…she tried that and suddenly she had a Fauxgrave whisper in her ear, so…fuck that.


That voice lingers in the air. A gentle laughter, filtering through the air as languidly as snowflakes shook loose from the fire escape above from Jones' impact on the fetid ground.

"No harm, eh?"

On the edge of that very fire escape, a feline appears. A black cat calmly loafing with perfect balance on the dark steel railing. A good three stories up and watching the woman below with a feline expression that seems oddly close to pleased. Mismatched eyes look upon her mildly, "So this is the real you. Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are when furious, Miss Jones?" If she has never seen a cat mouth manage to enunciate english before, then permit Grymalkin to be the first.

His tail swaying back and forth passively as all the yellow graffiti disappears below him. "So how, pray tell, are you interested in helping me?"


Some women enjoy being called beautiful by strangers. Some women would even really enjoy being called beautiful by mystical strangers with incredible powers.

Jessica isn't one of them. She pulls her scarf far more tightly around her body, almost covering the lower half of her face, hiding a bit more skin as she stands up and brushes herself off. She puts her hands firmly in her pockets.

"I thought you— never fucking mind."

She will never understand why so many people seem to prefer her bitchiest, stompiest self. He's not the first one to really seem to warm up to her when she finally lost her temper and said something awful.

She exhales, spots of high color still on her cheeks, eyes narrowed.

Helping him. Right.

Maybe. Helping him.

She glowers at him and says, "Clearing things up, for starters, because at least one person wants to kill you from some shitty stunt you pulled. What were your intentions when you fucking shapeshifted in the lap of a young woman?" Given his opener about how beautiful she looks when angry, she's less inclined to think that he's innocent at all. She isn't sure she can trust his answer, but…'seeing what his deal was?' That was part of the contract. That starts with asking.


The cat is the very image of serenity. The snow banks in the fire escape beneath him contrasting his dark coat perfectly. White and black. Feline gaze patiently waits for Jessica to collect herself and present her case.

Not an ear is batted at the notion that someone wants to kill him. However, as she describes an event with a young lady.. A look of revelation dawns. His head tilts back as his cat mouth widens in near-human look of shock, "Ooooooh! Would you be the sister to the assassin ghost then? You have that murderous instinct about you."

Adding yet another layer onto this already strange case, the cat rises to his feet. "To be honest? Much like you, I just wanted to see her reaction. Much like you she proved to be most violent. My.. women in this age!" He paces along the fire escape before hoping onto a nearby windowsill, displacing yet more snow in his wake as his eyes remain upon her with a predatory amusement.

"I could clearly tell she was a trained assassin in life. I wonder.. Are you here to silence what I've seen? Finish what she could not? My.. How lovely." Flashing her a fanged grin as he sits on his haunches on the window directly above her.


"Maybe women in this age are just really done with bullshit like men in any age touching them without permission," Jessica snaps, her scowl deepening. "With that being said, I'm not here to kill you."

Her relationship to the assassin goes completely unanswered.

"So this is what you do? You just wander around, pull weird shit, see what people do? Above and beyond the assassin you now have every street urchin from here to Jersey ready to see if they can't stuff you right into a kitty cat trap so they can make you manufacture money all day long. That wasn't your brightest god damn move either."

She steps back from him as he hops onto the windowsill, keeping him right in her line of sight, tense and wary. Nothing about her looks particularly trained; it's all untrained ferocity and instinct with this woman. And she doesn't look too eager to fight.

For one thing, she knows damn well it's a fight she probably can't win. She will fight, and ferociously, if forced to. She'll go down kicking, screaming, swinging, fighting. She'll make a fight expensive if she can. But she's not eager for it.

I ought to have brought back-up. I know damn well back up is a good idea. Why didn't I bring back-up?


Too late now. Forge ahead.

"Who are you? What are you? A wizard, or something else? Where are you from?"


As Miss Jones reminds him that she isn't here for purposes of murder, the black cat nods his head understandingly. Perhaps patronizingly but the message is received. "You would be a strangely soft-hearted assassin. After how you treated that harridan over there." Implying that she has not gone unwatched before entering the alleyway.

His head tilts down, gold and blue eyes alight with curiosity, "I wonder if you're compensating for your anger. Is there something you regret?" Tugging at her motivations with the precision of dismantling a pocketwatch.

At the woman's warning he chuckles underbreath, waving a paw before him from his seated position, "Oh it isn't the Urchins I'm interested in, Miss Jones. Those would be the lowest link on the.. Ah.. food chain, yes? That's what they call it? Yes. Sooner or later the higher links would show up and it seems you are the first."

The cat bows his head, "Congratulations."

He then continues, "I'm rather flattered that someone would bother following up a trivial matter as this. Considering we now live in a world of Gods. Men can fly now, is that not impressive? Like Icarus reborn! .. I hope this Super Man fares better than that boy did."

Rambling a bit, the cat catches on to the topic of conversation as he intones, "Ah! Wizard. Hm Hm. How hilarious. They call me Grymalkin if you must know."

There is a certain menace to his easy tone. For all the threat that Miss Jones reveals to him, he seems strangely unconcerned about it. He does not make any particularly threatening gestures, despite his feline eyes dissecting her at every moment. "The where and the what are unimportant. I'm simply curious about the modern age. For example.. How many of these.."

Suddenly bills begin raining down from above. Fluttering towards the ground like green, rectangular snowflakes. As they get within arm's distance however it's clear they're merely illusion. Hands will slip through their immaterial nature. For an observant PI as herself, it's clear these are fake. They would only hold up under the scrutiny of a short distance at best. Or someone who's vision is tainted with desperation.

"Would a man fight for. In this city I'm finding it is not a lot. Hilarious with how far men have come."


Jessica scowls again, this time self-consciously, when he indicates he'd been watching her up until now. She scowls a little harder when she realizes he just called her soft-hearted.

I am not.

It's a reflexive objection though, one she doesn't share. Still, the sour look on her face might say it for her.

Grymalkin, not from the modern age. He's at least giving her a lot of information, and since information is what she is here for, she's game to keep it up. She is well aware of the menace though; she doesn't let herself forget that at any moment the capricious being may decide to shift up this encounter a great deal, and mostly to her detriment.

She refuses to answer whether she's compensating for something. Instead she slowly draws up the hood of her hoodie from beneath her jacket, pulling it over her hair.

The illusionary bills she ignores, stepping well back from them lest they become something else. She is not a religious woman, but…"Behold, you will always have the poor among you," she quotes, dryly. "Giving out false hope like that, for funsies? That's a really shitty thing to do. Why do you care how much money it would take to make someone lose his shit? What does that even matter?"


Grymalkin seems to possess a strange calculus of what to be secretive about. As the woman retreats beneath her hood with a scowl, the cat's eyes glimmer. He might be purring, it's hard to tell from the distance. His forepaws kneading the snowbank he sits upon in the windowsill as he adds, "How much money did it take to make you look for me?" Turning the question around.

A speculation, but being a cat gives you an incredibly insightful look into body language. Words are unimportant, movement is. Calling the ghost a sister had no impact. No, likely this is for a different reason. Humans don't make a habit of looking for magic cats making mischief for no reason.

"As much as I enjoy talking about myself, I'm still waiting to hear how you intend to help me? Is it to offer free life advice? Were you hired to find this 'magic money making cat' and bring him in?" He makes a tongue clicking sound which should be impossible for cats. He then calmly walks off the window sill.. And into the open air. Walking without footing as calmly and evenly as if he was walking on the ground.

"Who was it that sent you? I doubt it was the ghost girl."


"I work for money. I earn whatever I get. I earn it by finding people. But I'd punch anyone in the face if they tried to hire me for the purposes of enslaving anyone." Jessica's tone curls with so much disgust at that notion that it all but bristles off of her; the idea makes her want to vomit.

"The assassin is now pestering all kinds of people because you frightened her. One of them sent me to determine if he needs to respond, if you were merely making mischief or if he needed to answer the insult that your actions indirectly caused. I will not tell you his name. He is my client and I will hold that information in confidence. You should know, though, that you came across as a sexual predator. Know what one of those is? Or is that too modern a concept for you, Gry?"

She does not look like she's entirely sure where she falls on that spectrum yet, what she's going to report when she finally returns with the details of this encounter. She is eyeing his air-walking with every evidence of deep suspicion and concern.

"As to how I can help you, having seen some of what you can do, I guess I probably can't, other than to tell you to cut this shit out if you don't want to provoke a mob at some point. I had visions of you being in a lot of trouble, with people coming after you for your money printing abilities, but…fuck it. You can handle yourself. There have to be limits to even what you can deal with, but I sure as fuck don't know what they are."



There was something in Jessica's rejoining statement that causes a change in the cat. He pauses in mid-step in mid-air. It's difficult to gauge animal expressions compared to a human's but he seems to lose a degree of his weedling joviality. He sits back down upon his haunches in the air as his tail stops swinging.

Listening more attentively now to Jessica's dialogue as she explains matters very pointedly.

A silence lingers in the air after the PI's proclaimation, just long enough to become uncomfortable.

"Alright." He states in a very neutral tone, "I will stop dangling wealth before the masses for my amusement. I will also stay away from the ghost child. Have you further demands of me?"

An odd change about from his earlier devil-may-care attitude. Unless he's lying but his tone suggests only sincerity.. As does his feline posture, whatever that might be worth.


Jessica pauses, taken aback. What caused the change?

"I would prefer it if you don't hurt anyone, or cause anyone to hurt anyone else," she says slowly. "You could try helping people with all that power, actually helping them, in fact, but…that's your choice. I guess beyond those things…no. I don't care what you do."

What was it? What was it that she'd said? What was it that made him decide that he'd do as she asked, and stop fucking around? She goes frantically back through her own words with a mental fine-tooth comb, her investigator's mind working overtime.

What were the hot buttons in what she said? Enslavement. Sexual predator. Mob. When had his body language changed?

Was it sexual predator? Was he offended, that his actions were interpreted so darkly?

He surely wasn't afraid of the mob.

Was it the enslavement? Did she detect in this creature, suddenly, a kindred spirit, someone who had at some point been bound to a will not his own? Was he in trouble even now?

She watches him. Really watches him, slow, uncertain compassion leaking into her angry gaze, until the rage is finally wiped away, gone. The soft heart she reflexively denies she has suddenly shines in her eyes. Brows furrow in concern. Is that it? Is she full of shit? Reading too much into what he's doing, saying? Is he just playing with her in another way, trying to see what she'll do, trying to see if he can provoke her with this instead of with fake money?

She should probably just leave it at this, go make her report and enjoy the good graces of Wakanda, whatever they are worth. She should walk away, just in case getting in any deeper might open her up to some dangerous game she's not at all prepared to play. But…it's the sincerity that gets her, the uncomfortable silence, the sudden shift, the…

The neutrality. She's heard an echo of it in her own voice, when she's trying to hide pain.

Shit. She can't just walk away. She just can't. Even if she lives to regret this moment 1,000 times over, to walk away without asking this next question would be to become someone she is not, someone she doesn't want to be.

Her tone softens too.

"Hey. Grymalkin. Do you need help? Actual help?"


Perhaps it is to Grymalkin's advantage that he's in a feline form, nigh unreadable to even the most discerning eye for body language. Earlier he was clearly entertaining himself, watching the woman switch gears from business to anger with such clear delight. Interesting enough that her most recent emotional switch seems to give the creature no joy.

At the suggestion of helping others, the black cat's head turns away. Mismatched eyes gazing along the closed windows of the opposite building, glancing about the dozens of lives in open display in their City boxes. Of that, he does not respond.

As she suddenly blurts out an offer of assistance, regardless of everything that occurred moments ago.. The cat makes a singular bitter laugh. Eyes drifting to the alleyway as he muses, "That soft heart is going to be the end of you."

Deciding that this audience is now over, the cat simply rises and begins walking away, unswayed by the higher street winds.

"Take care, Miss Jones." He offers as he then simply fades from existence. A newspaper tumbling past her boots as the cold winter wind picks up.

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