AKA Hell Kitten

March 20, 2017:

Takes place one night after Blowing Up the Rabbit Hole and the night before Exercise Due Caution. An unlucky breakdown on one of Hell's Kitchen's darkest streets forces Trish Walker to defend herself from an unexpected attack. Outnumbered and outgunned, she receives help from The Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Jessica Jones arrives late to the scene yet again…but is just in time to have her worldview of her sister gently altered by the perspective of the man in black.

Hell's Kitchen, NY

What do we pay our taxes for around here, again?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Azalea Kingston, Superman, Batman, Joker, Peggy Carter

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Trish knew all Jessica’s tells. If they ever sat down to play poker, it might not go so well for Jess, since Trish had made a study of Jessica Jones her own personal thesis as it were. Red flag number one, “I’m going to stay at Bucky and Jane’s for the night”. Red flag number two, the text response today that said “I’m fine, just tired”, which was Jess speak for “I’m not okay and I’m not talking about it”.

So she got in her car after work, tsking in annoyance at the check engine light that had just come on, and started driving herself over to Alias Investigations. The side benefit of maybe running into Az, who had been scarce for a while. Not that Trish had really been socializing much after her Joker run in, but now that she was, she was feeling Azalea’s absence.

“Where are you, huh? I hope you’re okay.” Talking to herself is a bad habit that often embarrasses her at work since her door is left open more often than not.

The car moves along the streets of New York, carrying it’s one occupant closer to the one other place in New York that she considers home, since it’s where her heart is. Lots of famous people have multiple homes. Most aren’t in run-down apartment buildings, with a rarely locked door, in Hell’s Kitchen.

—-

The streets of Hell's Kitchen aren't a great place to drive at the best of times. There are also spots where it's really hard to just drive down a nice, well-lit, safe street. At one spot, a spot where not a single street light has gotten any kind of maintenance, she hits a pothole good and hard. There's a tooth grinding crunch. Something inside of it pops the tire good and hard. The metal of the rims warps a little bit. Her car, normally so well-maintained, is not up to a spot where the city decides to just neglect a bunch of its citizens because there are better, more expensive places to maintain.

Normally this would be something she could deal with. Just call AAA, and or a cab. Get a tow truck in the morning and head on to wherever she needed to go. But a few seconds after the car is stopped, shapes move in the darkness…a group of figures who have decided to take advantage of the very nice vehicle that has suddenly stopped right in their territory.

This territory, for certain heroes in the know, belongs to the Dogs of Hell…big, burly biker dudes, a few of which are already readying chains and lead pipes. What they intend to do isn't really clear, but…it's nothing good.

—-

The sound of the popping tire has Trish groaning and letting out a terse “God dammit all to Hell!” and pulling over into the first available spot in an attempt to lessen the damage. The shifting shadows materializing into pipe and chain carrying thugs has Trish slinking down into her seat, wishing she had spent the extra money and tricked out her car like she had her apartment.

“Jesus Fucking H. Christ. Isn’t that just absolutely fucking perfect. Send Jess a text or don’t send Jess a text? She’s got a lot on the go, but I don’t have any interest in being Biker Snacks. Shit shit shit. I’m sending a text, fuck it. I don’t want to die over a flat tire.”

The phone is pulled out and Trish’s thumbs fly over the touch screen, sending yet another 911 to her sister. “Okay Trish, here we go. You can do this. You survived the Insane Clown Show, you can survive this. You know what to do, you have your taser, you have your pepper spray, and you have your wits.”

Taser and pepper spray go in her pocket, the phone is tucked in the console after she confirms the text went through, and prayers are said that Jess gets it quickly while she waits in the car to see how it’s going to play out with the intimidating assholes. The fleeting thought of how it would be handy to have Azalea with her just then passes, causing her to grin despite the danger she was obviously facing.

—-

Trish doesn't get to see if Jessica responds to the text, though…she's fairly reliable about doing so when those 911s come through.

Even so, Trish is quite some distance from her apartment, and it seems unlikely that her sister is going to show up to save the day fast enough to handle things.

For one thing, one of those chains lashes out to shatter the driver's side window in an explosion of violence, spraying glass all over her; the chain comes perilously close to her head, to boot. Beefy hands pop the lock, yank the door open, and reach towards Trish, intending to simply haul her out of the vehicle. They have a chop shop, they might just want to take the car, but…that would be the absolute best outcome. There are so many worse ones…especially if they recognize her.

There are seven of them in total. At least none of them have guns; it's all melee weapons…three with knives, two with chains, two with lead pipes. The others just move lazily to surround the car, chuckling, obviously not feeling like the female driver is any kind of a threat.

—-

A loud yelp escapes her lips, not quite a scream, but very close. Her head ducks down and her arm comes up in a reflexive defensive motion. The impartial part of her brain that is sitting back calmly, watching this all play out like a movie, makes a note to seriously look into getting a gun of her own with all the appropriate permits. This was starting to get ridiculous, with the 911 texts, and feeling like a helpless kitten.

Kittens have claws too, ya know floats across her mind and she strikes out at the hands yanking her out of the car. She gets her own hand wrapped around a sausage like finger that she yanks backwards with all her strength. She can feel the vicious popping as strained joints give way as the finger bends in a direction it was never intended to go.

Her teeth are locked together, to prevent howling like an actual cat, and to keep her from biting her tongue off in the scuffle she knew was going to happen now that she had started to fight back. Was it the smartest move, probably not. Was she willing to just sit back and let them do whatever they wanted to her? Definitely not.

A continued litany of ‘Please let Jess get to me sooner rather than later, please let me live through this so I can get a fucking gun to deal with this shit, please stop putting me in these positions since the novelty of being the damsel in distress all the fucking time had worn the fuck off’ runs through Trish’s mind. It’s just enough to have her digging down deep to pull up her proverbial big girl panties and deal with the situation at hand without completely melting down.

—-

Time has a tendency to slow in literally dreadful moments like this, but to those outside this bubble of terror, frustration, and adrenaline; the arc of accident to now dramatic escalation and crisis point has taken place in a mere handful of minutes. It's just enough time, barely, for the masked man scouring rooftops to leap, vault, parkour, grapple, slide, jump, creep, and — well, pounce.

It's one of the men on the outer edges of this circular perimeter the bikers have established that is first to go down: he's struck in the back of the head, brought to his knees by a whirling, spinning — something. Likely a pipe or tire-iron, it emerges from the alley and finds its target just milliseconds after Trish snaps back her assailant's finger. The exact point of origin is unknown, the man who threw it just one shadow in a hundred-thousand that coat the Kitchen tonight.

—-

The man whose finger got snapped actually cries out and staggers back, yelling, "Bitch!" He draws back his bad hand but tries to whip the chain around her neck with the good one, now just fueled by rage. At least she's still in the car, which affords her a great measure of cover. And…the others are certainly distracted now.

The one that the shadow took down draws the attention of the others. "Shit!" someone yells.

The two closest to the one who went down leap forward, one looking for someone to plant a knife in, another looking for someone to hit with a lead pipe. Hampered by the fact that they can't yet see their target from the vantage point of his surprise attack, they probably aren't a huge threat to the shadow in the Kitchen…but they're closing in nevertheless.

For a moment the other three seem a little bit taken aback, confronted with their ringleader's scream of pain and the sudden incapacitation of one of their perimeter guys. One of them goes for the passenger side door, yanking it open for whatever reason occurs to him, and the other two surge forward, also to attempt to close with the unseen threat who has already changed tonight's equation.

—-

Trish is hyper focused on the man immediately in front of her. The finger slows him down, yes, but has the adverse effect of also pissing him off. Her teeth are bared in a soundless snarl and her resolve has never been more set. She would not give up and she would not go down without a fight.

So focused is Trish that she does not notice the help she is getting from the masked man ‘with the shoulders’ as Jessica had put it. She squeaks a little as the chain connects with the side of the car and she shrinks back in the seat, seeking what little shelter was to be had.

As her passenger door opens, Trish manages to yank out her pepper spray, and fires blindly out the door. She’s counting on luck, more than accuracy, to help her out with that particular move.

Her feet come up, as much as possible, to position herself for a good, two feet kick at her original assailant’s knees. Go for the knees, take height out of the equation, and you have a chance!

The fact that Trish has been training in Krav Maga is probably the only reason why she’s held on as long as she has. Without it, she’d be a whimpering useless mess. The detached part of her brain makes another note to do something wicked nice for her trainer.

—-

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen, the Man in Black, the Man in the Mask— the Man with the Shoulders?— takes a little time before revealing himself. He has the luxury Trish, cornered as she is, doesn't — even if her own peril sets a clock on his otherwise considerable patience. Still, he lets those men circle, let's them stalk looking for their unseen assailant.

And even takes advantage of Trish's fortitude— whatever cries or curses she prompts with her knee-kicks and mace-sprays, he takes advantage of. And like all good devils, he comes from below, an esckrima stick darting and sweeping out from beneath a street-side parked SUV to catch the knee-joint of one of the bikers circling it.

He's all motion then, hurriedly sliding not towards the man he's struck, but towards the back of the car to find free air and curl himself out towards a rise. He's moving fast, but in those moments before he brings himself to a stand he is decidedly vulnerable.

—-

Whatever idea Passenger Side Door had in regards to Trish is quickly squashed as he gets a face full of pepper spray. He staggers back, clawing at his face, screaming…he's done fighting today. He may not know it yet but really, he's done. He sort of hits a wall and continues to scrabble at his eyes. Trish misses Ringleader's knees (she's at the wrong angle for it, really), though her foot glances off his massive chest. He simply tries to wrap his chain around her kicking knee in turn, again trying to just viciously haul her the Hell out of the car.

Knee joint hits the ground, and that leaves three who are not otherwise engaged. The Devil of Hell's Kitchen will find one of those lead pipes slamming into his abdomen good and hard; that guy is a cooler head than some of the others, quick to take advantage of the vulnerability and vicious enough not to mess around. He's going in for another hard strike, this time moving right towards the Devil's face with a huge fist, trying to press his advantage. "Devil, huh? You just look like a guy to me," he grunts.

The other two are a little slower, whirling around to reposition themselves. They're the knife guys though…they could be a problem quick.

—-

The chain finally does its job and Trish finds herself landing hard on her ass on the pavement. Exposing her legs like that had not been a smart move, since the protection of the car had been a big help so far. She grunts as she lands, knowing it was going to bruise later, but avoiding biting her tongue thanks to the foresight of keeping her teeth clenched.

She rolls to her feet, after kicking free of the chain, with the intention of putting the car to her back. Like the Devil, however, she’s momentarily vulnerable. The pepper spray was lost in her exiting the car, leaving her temporarily weaponless until she could get her taser out of her other pocket.

“Shit, shit, shit!” is now being repeated, somewhere between a whisper and a whimper, with the occasional “Where are you Jess?” for variety’s sake. Trish knows that Jessica is probably doing everything she can to get there as quickly as she can and she hasn’t yet noticed the extra help she’s been getting. Not because she’s being rude or ignoring the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, but simply because he hasn’t actually crossed her field of view yet. Which is rather narrow, in all fairness, at that particular moment in time.

—-

"Aaah!" Matt grunts as the pipe slams into his abdomen, his preternatural hearing picking up the creak of his ribs, his powerful sense of touch alert and attentive to the millions of nerve-endings the blunt instrument just sent aflame. He's no Superman, impervious to blows — or even a Batman with a rocking suit of body armor. But he's what this woman has, and it's safe to say that it's her frantic curses at the universe that motivate him to move past the pain.

Most people don't realize that it's not enough to block — blocking just takes you back to equilibrium, to zero. You block with a counter-strike, which in this case, given that his legs are sprawled out in the general direction of his assailant, is yet another joint attack, this time a heeled boot slamming into the man's knee even as his forearm moves to counter the sweep of his fist.

He has to get on his feet; he can feel the knives coming for him— but one thing at a time.

—-

The Ringleader wastes no time taking advantage of that vulnerability. He backhands Trish good and hard, then reaches up to pin her wrist, where he's going to slam it into the car. "I know you," he hisses. "You're the bitch on all the busses."

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of a situation going from bad to worse; these guys are going to get extra motivated with someone valuable in their midst, someone with money, someone with fame. They can do some serious terrible stuff with that. Course, they don't know that even this terrible position isn't exactly total helplessness for one Trish Walker. Still…that was no love tap.

Meanwhile, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen breaks the man's knee with a satisfying crack. He stumbles back and cries out…another one basically done fighting for the night. He sort of scooches back on his ass away from the Devil, crying out in agony with every movement.

That leaves the three most dangerous ones: the Ringleader grappling with the radio star, and the two knifemen. Who waste no time.

The knifemen move to flank. One of them tries to come in on Matt's right with an overhand strike aimed for the tender spot just above the collar bone. The other steps in on Matt's left with a hard thrust aimed towards his floating ribs. These aren't tiny switch blades…Matt can hear the whistle of steel in the air; see the silhouette of serrated bowie knives.

—-

Trish cries out as the backhand connects, and again when her wrist hits the car. Fury and shame that he was able to make her do so flood her face with color. Color that promptly drains as she is finally recognized. Another small whimper comes out against her will as she shrinks back against the car, temporarily paralyzed by panic.

Once again, the slim blonde finds herself digging deep for the fight part of her flight or fight instincts. Self-preservation finally takes over and Trish’s eyes change from panic to resolve in an instant. Her free hand closes around her taser and she pulls the same move she had in the parking garage with Az, stomping down hard at the top of the asshole’s ankle. The taser comes out and jabs at the man’s side. Trish’s thumb is pressing down on the trigger button so hard, the joints are starting to hurt from the pressure.

“Don’t call me a bitch!” Trish’s voice is indignant of all things. This thug had seriously damaged her car, attempted to seriously damage her person, and she’s taking offence to being called a bitch. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back on Trish’s self-control. First, Dorothy blackmails her, then the Joker shows up and does his best to ruin her career and sanity. Now she’s got a major flat tire and is being accosted by thugs who want to start name calling. It was entirely too much to take.

That detached part of her brain still watching starts laughing at her. Which makes Trish bristle even more. It’s entirely possible she’s either concussed or has lost her damn mind.

—-

It takes a few words beyond, 'Shit! Shit! Shit!' for the man in black to register that voice, and where he's heard it before, and— more recently— who he associates it with. Jesus Christ, he thinks to himself as those blades come whistling through the air for him. That is one unlucky family.

Not that he's a poster child for fortune himself, especially in his current predicament. Still, even in this instant of imminent danger he feels suddenly empowered by the miracle of adrenaline, bringing the short wooden stick in his right palm up to knock away the knife headed towards his collar bone with enough force to fracture a forearm, while at the same time using his righ leg to sweeping at the ankles of the second assailant aiming for his ribs.

—-

BZZATTTTTTTTT. The discharge of electricity fills the air. The Ringleader makes a harsh gurgling sound and hits the ground with incredible force, felled by a kitten in the kitchen in Hell. Unlucky or lucky is a matter of perspective, and for the moment Trish Walker is lucky enough to put down a man twice her size.

The man whose forearm fractures swears and spins away, his knife dropping hard to the ground. The second knife fighter hits the ground hard before the knife can hit the ribs of the Man in Black. He looks left. He looks right. Everyone's down. Everyone is down and he's on the ground and he's suddenly actually outnumbered, because people with broken arms and pepper sprayed faces and broken knees and whatever else just don't fight well. His mind does a swift calculation that ends in his own broken or tased face, and/or prison. He springs up and starts booking it with all of his might right the Hell out of there, moving surprisingly quickly for a dude his size.

Which leaves both of the individuals on this darkened street to catch their breath for a moment.

—-

Trish satisfies herself with a swift boot to the ringleader’s ribs with a muttered “Fucker”. Now that she’s not immediately fighting for her survival, for that is how it felt to her in the moment, she’s aware that her fight has gone from a bunch on one to two on none. Her eyes fall on the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and her mouth falls open.

While they might be rather unlucky, it would seem like it’s balanced by just the right amount of good fortune. For good fortune it was, that the Masked Man had been close enough to help Trish. Her chest heaves as she catches her breath and turns to fully face her unexpected ally.

“Wow! It’s….you…whew…Thanks!” Gasps for air punctuate her words as she tries to thank the second Devil in her life.

With an eye on the bastard she had put down, Trish sidles closer to the Masked Man. She was not above admitting she was seeking the relative safety of numbers.

“Are you hurt?”

In typical Trish fashion, she was deflecting by focusing on the wellbeing of others. Plenty of time later for the breakdown she felt she had earned this time.

—-

"I'm okay," the man in black replies as his breathing slows. It's not true, strictly speaking— a lead pipe to the ribs will leave more than just a mark, and he's finally starting to feel it now that the euphoria of adrenaline has begun to ebb. But he still just brought down three — arguably four?— men literally lying on his back, which is a mild ego-boost. "Thanks."

He pushes himself up, grappling on the tail of that SUV he'd been hiding under to complete his rise, tipping his head skyward. "Are /you/ hurt?" A beat, and then a husky-voiced quip: "And really, shouldn't I being saying: 'Wow, it's you!' instead?"

—-

It's worth noting that one Jessica Jones is not like, chilling and watching Netflix with her phone off while all this unfolds. On the floor of Trish's car the cell phone helpfully has recorded her responses over the several minutes this has taken.

Trish's text: 911!

Jessica's text: Where are you?

Because there was no other information you see.

30 seconds later, with worse grammar, probably cause she's now using talk-to-text: Damn it, I did not actually put some kind of fucking tracker in the phone like a creeper need info

90 seconds later: I tried calling phone company to track GPS on phone but I can't pretend to be you because I can't remember your favorite fucking actor was it Fassbender or was it Cumberbach damn it

120 seconds later: Now out searching your most likely route god damn it god damn it I really hope that was a butt 911 shit I don't know if you left from home or radio station probably radio station at this hour shit god damn it

It seems Fate wants Trish to continue her growth in a way that demands that Jessica Jones is not making it right on time to her rescues the way she used to. But she is out there and she is on her way. For…whatever that is worth.

—-

A short burst of laughter that borders on hysterical escapes Trish before she claps her hands over her mouth. She clears her throat and tries again, hoping she’ll be able to speak and not just giggle like a hyena.

“I think I’m good. I’m not bleeding, so there’s that. I’d certainly appreciate that over ‘You’re the bitch on the busses’. I can’t believe I’m going to say this after what just happened, but I’m a big fan of your work. I’m not a crazy stalker but I do follow your stories in the paper. My sister lives in this neighborhood. But you knew that if you keep up on the news. Oh my god, I’m babbling. I’m sorry.”

Teeth click shut and Trish is finally able to hear the pinging of missed messages on her phone in the console that had gotten opened in her abrupt departure from the car. It’s quickly retrieved, again with a close watch on the drooling thug on the ground.

Her eyes quickly scan the messages and she thumbs in a quick response, including apologies for not sending her location before and an all caps ‘FASSBENDER IS PERFECTION!’. The phone goes in her pocket and her attention is back on the man she is now privately referring to as ‘The Savior’ since she already thought of Az as ‘The Devil’ in a rather playful way.

“I know it’s a lot to ask, given what you’ve already done for me, but do you mind to stay until Jess gets here? I’d rather not be alone. I’ll hold off on calling the cops until then, since I’m sure you’d rather not have a face to face with them.”

Complete, coherent sentences, without babbling. Good girl Trish.

—-

Were these daylight hours, and were he simply Matt the lawyer, he might show more empathy and comfort to a woman twice-terrorized by psychopaths in as many months. But the mask he wears sets more than just a physical barrier between himself and his fellows; it instills a potent kind of psychological remove and reserve he doesn't even fully grasp the quality of as yet. Instead he scans the area, listening for signs of movements, heartbeat, or breathing among the fallen that suggest anyone on the verge of consciousness or, worse, actual threat. Finding none:

"I can stay until the cops come on their own or Jones show up, whoever comes first," the man in black allows with the faintest tip of his head in acquiescence. The casual dropping of a family name for 'Jess' an implicit admission that he does, indeed, keep up with the news. Or at least the news about supervillains and heroes.

And, too, that he knows her sister; though that she's likely well aware of.

"You handled yourself pretty well back there," he says, turning to fold his arms against his chest and rest his lower back against the side of the black SUV. "Runs in the family, I guess."

—-

For a terrible moment, Trish thought she was going to be left on her own. Her shoulders sag visibly with relief when the Masked Man agrees to stay. And then he is complimenting her and her cheeks flood with color.

"Ah, thanks, thank you. For staying and helping and everything." One shoulder lifts in an embarrassed shrug. "I did okay, I guess, thanks to some self defense training I've had. But you, though! Wow! Four guys, that's, like, crazy! I had pepper spray and a taser and barely handled two. Remind me to stay on your good side!"

Her hands gesture enthusiastically and she's officially riding the after rush at full throttle. If she wasn't trying to act at least a little cool, she'd be asking for his autograph or something ridiculous like that. There is still that little detached piece in her head watching all of this go on, and it calmly reminds her that Jess knows this guy.

"Jess definitely knows how to handle herself. She mentioned meeting you, in the middle of a crazy case. Do you two cross paths often?"

Trish would mirror the casual posture of the man in black, had she been able to stand still. Excess energy has her shifting her weight from foot to foot and constantly shifting from arms crossed, to hands in her pockets, to swinging restlessly by her side, and back again.

—-

It's safe to say that The Devil of Hell's Kitchen has never thought of himself as someone with a fanbase before. He's experienced individual gratitude and appreciation, of course — it comes with the territory of vigilantism. But someone not (yet) directly aided by his works admiring them from afar? Perhaps the self-same way /he/ may have once-upon-a-time with the exploits of a certain caped crusader across the Hudson?

He finds himself, despite himself, suddenly flattered — even flummoxed. And so it's a few beats of silence, of not really knowing /how/ to respond, before he finally replies to her slightly manic, adrenaline-fueled soliloquy with:

"Yours seem pretty well handled." The praise is hushed but matter-of-fact, said with a roll of his shoulders. He demurs entirely on his own feats of the evening.

But on the matter of Jessica Jones, the Devil's thin, red, stubble-framed lips quirk upward. "Uh, yeah, we help each other out once and again. I'm pretty sure she even saved my ass once, back on the docks."

—-

Interviewer's eyes catch the man's body language when talking about Miss Jones. It's enough to have Trish figuring that it's probably a lot more often than Jess copped to, in an attempt to spare Trish worrying. Her own lips curl up in an answering grin.

"Oh, good, I'm glad to hear it's not just my ass she's saving all the time. It must have been a doozy of a situation, since I'm fairly confident saying you can handle yourself. Can I snoop a little and ask what your fighting style of choice is? Are you a mixed martial arts kind of guy, or do you go with brute strength?"

There it is, rearing it ugly head, in all it's glory. Her desire to interview everyone who is, was, or trying to be what she herself aspired to. The questions would have to be chosen carefuly, to respect The Devil of Hell's Kitchen's privacy, which was obviously something he took quite seriously what with the mask and all.

—-

The Devil doesn't smile — not fully, not ever. But he will duck his head ever so slightly when Trish remarks that it's good it's not just her ass getting saved all the time by one Jessica Jones. Then Trish is pressing him, and the man in black cocks his head to regard her, like a cat hearing a far-off sound. "You can snoop a little, sure," the Devil dryly allows from his vantage on the SUV amongst the unconscious men, "but am I on the record here?" In his private life he listens to more than enough radio to have caught episodes of Trish Talks, and with it tone that broadcast-ready voice adopts when it couches a careful question for one of her guests.

He won't actually wait for her reply. "Brute strength is what these guys had," he says with a gesture to the burly, chain-and-knife wielding fallen around them. "Mixed martial arts for me." A beat. "Very mixed."

He won't be the only one grilled, though: "So, what's your style, Walker?"

—-

Several minutes ago: Somewhere on a rooftop several blocks away, Jessica's phone pings. She gets the location and that bit of sass.

"Fassbender is perfection. Great. Great, Trish. Good to fucking know," she growls in annoyance that's mostly 90% relief, since Trish is clearly fine. Security questions. BAH. She had Trish's social. She had Trish's date of birth. She had Trish's address. But the guy on the phone wouldn't give it to her without the frickin' favorite actor.

"I'm putting a tracker in her god damn phone like a god damn creeper," she tells the empty night. "See if I don't. One on her car, too."

Now:

She whumps into the scene from a five story building above, arms akimbo, landing awkwardly because she's still frantic to make sure everything's okay. She's lucky she didn't twist her ankle with that sorry excuse for a landing. From that height she hadn't heard the quiet conversation in progress, and so interrupts it without thinking. She stumbles to Trish whom, at first, is the only person here who she has eyes for, gathering her up in her arms. The headlights and internal lights of the car give her a little to see by; her eyes adjust quickly to pick out the rest. Jesus, one, two, three—six?

Her voice is soft, gentle, ready to offer comfort that is not generally associated with her at all…but which she is, in fact, infinitely capable of.

"I'm so glad you're okay. Christ, did you…"

She spots the Man in Black, leaning there against the side of her sister's car. His presence here gives her the final fact she needs to pretty much piece together what happened here.

She's felt gratitude towards him before, on a number of occasions, but never quite like this. The rush that takes her now is enough to take over every one of her physiological responses. To Trish's eyes, it is the only expression on Jessica's expressive face, chasing away habitually sardonic lines— not that those haven't been often eased of late anyway, simply by virtue of surrounding herself with good people who tend to bring out the best in her, rather than allowing her to keep wallowing in her worst.

Her face, Trish would see, has a weird…spot on it. It's about the size of three fingers pressed together, a pink, uneven mark as if she was burned by something wet, or irregular. It shows signs that whatever it was is already well on its way to healing; in a day or so there probably won't be any signs of it at all. She's also got her leather jacket and boots on over the old sweat pants and tank top that pass as her PJs; she'd been schlubbing when the call had gone out.

Also worth noting is that whatever unhappiness Trish had detected in her…it has not, apparently, led her to crawl back into a bottle this time. There is no sign of intoxication.

Quietly, warmly, she says: "Hey, DHK."

Look, his full moniker doesn't exactly roll right off the tongue. "Zee and John are now home safe and sound, directly as a result of your actions." She hadn't had a chance to thank him for that either, and it is (she thinks) the first opportunity she has to tell him; it's worth adding into the rest of what she has to say.

"And now you've protected my sister when I couldn't. We have definitely veered out of 'I owe you' territory and straight into 'I don't know how I can possibly ever repay you' territory. Thank you. Thank you so much."

She'd normally follow that up with 'if you ever need…' statements, but…she's already told him that on multiple occasions, and he's seemed to steadfastly resist, with a kind of stony resoluteness, any of her own attempts to help him with any of his own affairs. Whether it's out of some intensely independent streak of his own or because he doubts her abilities she does not know, but…for tonight, she lets her thanks stand in. Some debts just can't be repaid, anyway.

—-

Trish shakes her head no, not understanding that her movement wasn't seen in the traditional way, in answer to the being on the record question. While she might be a radio show host, she has a unique understanding and respect for keeping secrets. Besides, digging for an expose on the man who just helped her would be poor repayment.

"Definitely off the record, purely for my own information, since I seem to have a recurring need to defend myself." A touch of shy pride enters her voice in response to the masked man's question. "Krav Maga, actually. With a little bit of 'Holy shit, I'm about to die, what do I do, what do I do?' thrown in, since I'm still learning."

A breathy shriek comes out as Jessica lands on the scene and her knees almost gave way. Trish would have connected with the pavement again, butt first, except for Jess's strong arms holding her up. A moment of weakness was indulged then dismissed for later as she pulls back far enough to tuck a strand of hair behind Jess's ear and catch the weird mark.

"You gotta work on your superhero landing," gets whispered in Jess's ear, an attempt at humor in the midst of all the feelings being had.

"Thanks for dropping in and scaring ten years off my life. Seriously though, thanks for coming. You missed a 'party'."

Trish's free hand, the one not currently tucked around her sister's waist, made air quotes. She almost started giggling again and decided she needed professional help.

—-

Matt senses her mid-leap — an arcing whoosh through the air, a rush of leather and vanilla soap. Trish may even notice a flicker of white as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen flickers a heretofore unprecedented smile that heralds the arrival of one Jessica Jones.

He's close-mouthed then, as much out of deference as out of habit, letting the sisters enjoy their reunion. When Jessica catches sight of him he'll unfold one of the arms crossed over his chest and puts up a gloved, white-wrapped hand. "Jones," he says by way of terse greeting. Although that won't, can't last when Jessica thanks him for the rescue of Zee and John, at least one of whom he knows and has singular reason to value. He puffs out an appreciative breath. "If you had to do what it sounds like you had to do to get them back, I'm pretty sure my part in all that was small by comparison. But—" and here his lips twitch, " —glad to hear everyone's alright.

He puts up his hand again, less a welcome than a staying motion against further gratitude. "She would have worked her way through the rest of them if I hadn't gotten there first," he says wryly. "You two have a lot in common," he adds, even if the manner and disposition of the two women were as seemingly different as, well, night and day. "She was just telling me about Krav Maga," he says with a lift of his chin to the currently — giggling? — Trish Walker. "Pretty badass." And that said without (apparent irony).

—-

They really are night and day. Trish giggles, she grumps.

Night— Jessica, rather— puffs out an exasperated sound when Trish talks about her and her super-hero landing, grumbling a little but…not denying it either, pressing a quick kiss to her temple by way of reply and stepping back from her. She's far more interested in hearing about this party than in talking about her deficient superhero skills. Or acknowledging the superhero thing, which she just loves to pretend she doesn't care about being.

She again takes in the bodies, giving the Devil of Hell's Kitchen a slightly skeptical look, which translates into a slight…flattening of her emotional responses to go with the turn of her head in his direction, with a soft, "Dude, are you serious?"

Her…squishy Trish…would have worked her way through them without his help?

Then, she gives it up; her emotions shifting again, a mix of lingering fear-for-another and actual warmth towards both of them once more.

"It's good to know those lessons are paying off," she says, in rather grudging fashion, more or less to both of them.

"But I don't think you're ready to put on a mask and start launching patrols yet." This, of course, to her sister. Much. As. Trish. Wants. To. Still, there's also…a lot of pride there too, in her voice. She's proud her sister accounted for some of these guys. Trish herself can see it in the shine in Jessica's eyes as she just steps back in favor of unkindly and impotently stepping on the one Trish tased. Not hard enough to break anything, it should be noted, but hard enough to leave a few unnecessary bruises. Whoopsie.

"High praise coming from you." Jess had her own holy shit moments at the docks, when viewing DHK's acrobatic leaps and twists and ninja dispatches; if he thinks Trish is badass she probably was, a fact that is really kind of rocking the private investigator's paradigm right now. "Whether she would have or not though, I appreciate you fighting with her."

—-

A finger gets rubbed hard against lips still wanting to giggle. As far as stress responses go, it's kind of annoying really, since there is the stigma of being blonde to deal with already. Laughing at inappropriate moments only add to the ditzy airhead cliche. A stern throat clearing, punctuated by a small snort as she catches Jess stepping on the tased prick, and Trish is back to being mostly serious. Aside from beaming like an idiot at being called badass by arguably the most bad ass of the bunch still on their feet.

"That one's mine and that one's mine." A finger points at the one at Jess's feet and then towards the mess of a man who was unlucky enough to get half a can of pepper spray unloaded in his face. "The rest are the Devil's. As far as masks and patrols go, I will leave that in the hands of the professionals." The unspoken 'for now' hangs in the air between the sisters, since Jess knows Trish just as well. "I'm going to be too busy dealing with getting my car fixed."

She faces the Devil, head tilted in thought. "Do you really think so? That's not really something we've heard a lot, at all. I'll take that compliment too though, since you're being so generous with them."

Trish's eyes fall on her poor car, finally taking in all the damage it had received. Her mouth slowly drops open and her eyebrows reach her hairline. She slowly circles to the side with the flat and kicks the tire closest to her in frustration. This was not going to be cheap, quick, or easy to fix.

—-

Matt offers a helpless shrug at Jessica's note of incredulity that Trish could have dispatched these bikers, although the coyness doesn't survive the following revelation that radio star Trish Walker isn't just a fan of vigilantes, but an actual aspiring one herself. It catches the Devil of Hell's Kitchen off-guard and prompts him to regard the slender blonde with new eyes, so to speak. Discerning, critical ones. "Or if you do start patrols, maybe don't start with the Kitchen," he offers dryly before bending his lips down in almost humble demurral at Jessica's praise.

"Really?" the Devil asks, when Trish says comparisons between herself and her sister are far between. "Seems plain as day from my view." Which is, he admits to himself, a singular one. A beat, another twitch at the corner of his lips. "These guys won't stay down forever, and we should spare your sister the job of beating them unconscious again. Why don't you call the cops, and I'll head out? Nice talking with you, Trish."

Then he's turning his mesh-masked regard towards Jessica. "Take care of yourself, Jones, especially while you're busy taking care of everyone else. Right?"

—-

Trish points out her tags, and Jessica lets out a chuff of a laugh, proud but also…well, here comes some snark.

"Okay, okay. Do I need to take pictures and hang them on my fridge?" she teases.

As the Devil moves away from Trish's car, Jessica similarly waves Trish back. She feels the need to do something useful, and in this case it is putting the SUV in neutral, ridiculously lifting the car out of the pothole, and walking it back a few steps like it's a wheelbarrow before gently setting it down again. That will at least shave a few hundred off the tow truck bill, making it a bit easier for whatever guy to show up.

Jessica makes a pained sound as a vigilante suggests that Trish can totally do this. One who isn't Azalea, whose opinion is dubious. At least she's not going to start with Hell's Kitchen. She freaking hopes. But…soon there's a resigned sigh, full of unhappy misgivings. "Peggy said she'd train you," she adds to Trish. If Trish is riding high on her victories, at least she won't be writhing in guilt and fear. Silver linings.

But believe it or not, the compliments about similarities bring a slight smile to her lips too, but for different reasons. "Other than her desired career change, Trish has her shit together," she says. She would dearly like to have her own shit together, so…she'll take the compliment too, even if it probably wasn't meant that way.

The Devil's parting words bring a sheepish smile and a bit of a laugh to her lips though. "Right. And…back at you," she says, raising a hand in farewell. Because…she's hardly the only one with a penchant for taking care of others at his own expense. Still, she seems touched by the words.

She even allows it to show.

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