Taking a Hard Pass on Those Feels

April 12, 2017:

Jessica Jones brings her purloined portals to Tony Stark. He sciences, she speculates. Then, the inventor offers a gesture of trust which floors the PI.

Stark Industries, NYC, NY

But seriously though, the couches.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Trish Walker, Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Stark Industries has had a new…tenant? For a couple of days now. Since about the 7th she showed up with an overnight bag, strode up to an unoccupied executive suite, and addressed JARVIS (the real one).

"Jarvis, I need to use this suite for a few days," she'd said. "I need you to adjust the security on it so that only Tony or I may enter. Nobody else. And I need you to send him a message to let him know I've got more stuff to show him. As soon as he's got a moment to look at it."

Why wasn't she sleeping at home? Why not even at Trish's, surely secure enough, or Shadowcrest, also incredibly secure if her own insecure apartment wasn't good enough?

All will be revealed.

At least she's not a hard guest to keep. She's hardly ever been in, though she did stow the things she'd brought to show Tony in there under the plush leather couch. She'd brought a single bag. She's used the showers. She's eaten out, or swung back by Alias to eat. But she's there now, a fact which Jarvis will surely clue Tony into when that convenient time comes.

As it turned out, asking for full access to Stark Towers was probably one of the best moves she could have made. And she figured if she was way overstepping the AI would just bzzat that idea in the bud, but he didn't. Which was a relief. She didn't have a better solution.

—-

Oh JARVIS has been keeping Tony updated. The Avenger had quite a few irons in the fire though, so its been a day or two since he's been able to get by. This one though, this perticualr iron, its personal. Getting more so by the day it seems. Which is why he made time for her this time.

Which is why as she is there pouring over the info she has there is a knock on the doorframe.

I mean he's already opened the door. He isn't that polite.

He is there, Tony Stark. Dressed in his t-shirt and jeans. One eyebrow curiously quirked and with a lopsided smirk cresting his features the man leans his shoulder against the frame he just rapped his knuckles on.

"Enjoying the place?" He has to ask.

—-

"I'm enjoying not getting stabbed or blown up, which is the point of me hiding out here," Jessica says, getting right to the point. "Though it is a damned fine couch."

She has been going over her notes and files, it's true, but she lifts the couch up to retrieve the bundle beneath it. "It turns out these 'Agency' guys can track me anywhere. Anywhere at all. And I really hope you can figure out how to stop that shit, but…first, here's what I brought you."

She pulls three objects out. Two are broken. Crushed. One is wholly intact. "I recovered these from Schism and a winged woman who also seems to be a member of the Agency. I thought you'd want to get a look at them. Be careful with them, okay? The one that works makes a portal into wherever they live. Spawns them right out. But I suppose it could be made to suck someone right in, too."

A smirk flits over her own face, answering his own. "At least you know I'm never going to waste your time, right?" She is dressed in jeans herself, and bare feet for the moment, and a black tank top. The jacket— back up bulletproof number two— lays there beside her, with a big duct tape X on it.

—-

Tony deals with the biggest problem first. The jacket with the duct tape on it. "Man. First off fire your tailor." He adds as he walks over towards the armored fabric to pick it up. "I mean I've heard of taking a bit off the top, but…" A vage gesture towards the coat before he turns towards the devices.

Oooooh. Strange tech. He loves strange tech.

"JARVIS, get Dunce in here and to get us some scans. And…" A glance towards the detective with a quirked eyebrow. "They can track you? Huh. Before you picked up their stuff or just after? Gotta ask to narrow stuff down."

"So, I'm going to assume you pissed some people off with this looking into things? Or is this an entirely different group of people you pissed off. Because I have a lot of experiance pissing off people, but usually they don't try to stab or blow me up till at least the third date."

—-

"Schism said it's because Merc managed to tag me with that gun of his," Jessica replies, furrowing her brow thoughtfully. "She said…"

She furrows her brow, casting about for exact words because they could be important. "Bossman's leavings sink in, she said. All things he touches leaves a mark. And then she tried to, you know, take my head off."

She looks at the jacket self-consciously and says, "Let's just say those gifts you gave me keep saving my life. But these are the ones connected to your case. The same Agency folks who showed up at Cassandra Marx's house, going on about portals and rifts. I don't think they were pissed about me looking into things so much as jumping on an opportunity, but…given I ran off with their tech I had concerns about round 3."

Whenever Dunce comes in and starts scanning the devices he'll find that there is a correlation between the portal devices that she's brought him and the metal that was located in the broken portal ring that she and Peggy brought him before, the ones powered by the arc reactor. He chirps this information helpfully. Jessica watches as the little drone does his work, adding, "I might have a lead to some answers about these people, a possible defector from their ranks. But he doesn't speak our language, and until I figure out how to communicate with him it's dead in the water. Like the Baby Daddy lead, by the way. Some backpacker in Europe knocked Anders up. Totally unrelated, so that line of inquiry is dead."

Idle information, really, that she can convey while Tony and his drone do the science.

—-

"Hrmmm, related to what you and Pegster pulled from the portal and the Arc Reactor. So its defintally all linked up. Wonderful. Dealing with alternate worlds is always annoying, I mean what if I'm a prude or something on the other world. That would be terrible."

He glances back over towards her though with a slight frown on his face as she repeats what Schism said. "Dunce get her too. Might have tagged you with some kind of tracer. Chemical or mineral thats easy to home in on. Sounds like that at least from what you just said."

His head tilts slightly though at the mention of a defector. "Huh, what is he? Like I mean I'm guessing you can't just babblefish this language or something." She would have done that. He's pretty sure. "You got any clues on this guy? I mean you can bring him here and I can see what I can manage to help with. Or take Dunce with you and see if he can help he's smarter than I give him credit for."

Dunce burbles happily at that.

—-

Jessica stay still while Dunce scans her. Then she pulls up the picture of Extra on her phone, and the photo of the six lines. She brings them up in the air, having learned how to bring up the multiple holograms. "This is him. Extra. He's stashed in a safe place at least. It sounds Japanese, but we've confirmed it's not. But if you want me to bring him here I can do that for sure. He's in Gotham, I imagine we could get him here or meet him somewhere tonight. He just has to leave the property he's at, I can't get you in there. Or I can go later and take Dunce. Whatever works for you. I know you're busy."

Dunce burbles again: there are microscopic metal bits lodged in Jessica's body, giving off a low-level radiation that is also related to the portal energy. It doesn't seem to be harming her in any way, and his calculations indicate that it will be gone inside a month without intervention, though Tony might be able to cook up a way to remove it faster.

"I may have been wrong," Jessica says. Quiet, abrupt, but troubled. "About Holmes. I'm not sure these Agency people aren't…victims themselves, somehow. It was something Schism said before— well she died. She was back a second later, just like Merc, but a version of her died. It's like they take all their potential selves, tether them together somehow, maybe with this red energy. And call on them at will. It gives them incredible power…but seems to make them all crazy too."

—-

"Huh…." Tony reacts to the drone's results first. "…yeah. Looks like whatever he shot ya with seeded you with some kind of isotope. Not harmful, but unique enough to track. I'll work something up before tomarrow to mask or get rid of it. So that should help ya a bit."

He turns towards the hanging photos before he nods slowly. This might give her hope, if not for a few seconds after that he shrugs. "Never seen him. And I have no idea what 'six' is. I mean he's a robot, or mecha based. So if you bring him by and he lets himself get scanned I might can help with something. Can't hurt at least."

The last though gets his attention though and he frowns. "Like…its teathering multiverse doubles together to give someone infinite lives? Thats…well thats kinda sick. Impressive but sick. I'm sure that many different people all occupying the same area would kinda cause insanity. That many different voices and impulses in the same space can't be healthy for a psyche."

He pauses a moment to frown. "And now they are trying to get into our dimention? The portals match up…hrmmm…I wonder if there is a way to untangle their potential selves from this mess…I'll have to take a in-depth look at this bit of tech."

—-

"Good," Jess says with a ghost of a smile, when he says he can purge the isotope. "Once you do I'll get out of your hair."

"If there is a way to untangle them, it might be a very good thing. You might well be saving them. It might be happening against their will. She begged me for help. Told me she was once an Agent of SHIELD. Well. That version of her was, anyway. That she'd been a hero once. As she died the red energy left her, and she begged for help. That doesn't mean Holmes isn't still a huge threat, and a murderer…but…"

She's not sure how to even begin to process how to deal with something like that. "Except I still think he's rogue which may mean he still deserves whatever he gets."

She stands up, frowning. "If your satellite scans can track them now can you have an alert sent to my phone whenever a new portal opens? That could help me get to new information whenever it's available. As for what they want…"

She begins pacing, trying to piece it all together. "I don't think they're trying anything. They can get into our reality just fine." She gestures to the portals at the table. "They show up when someone else opens portals, or when a bounty they're hunting is around, or in response to things which can breach worlds. So…here's my working theory right now."

"It starts with Agent Homes, of Other Earth. He gets recruited or tethered or whatever and he doesn't care for that at all. It maybe drives him crazy. It maybe just pisses him off. Either way, he decides to do something about it. He recruits people on his side for his project— in SHIELD. Then he slips over to ours and recruits people from Stark Industries. Together, they make their own portal tech. But that's not the end game. Anders said: using the other plans was a nightmare. Maybe his plan is to tether everyone together. Maybe it's something worse. He becomes more powerful either way, enough that Other Anders panicked when she thought Holmes was about to find me through the portal tech. Or rather Agent-Me, who she thought I was."

Another turn of the pacing. "So that's party number one: Holmes. Meanwhile, the Agency apparently exists to clean up rifts in reality and to get rid of that kind of technology. So that draws them in, and they pull what they pull trying to fulfill their missions. Party number two. And then party number three is a more conventional thief, Mr. Less Cool Suit, who was maybe already stealing from you. Getting involved because all of this threatens his own interests somehow."

They'd stated this in some ways when they went over the evidence before, but…not quite in this way, because they'd been missing part of the equation. "Three enemy interests, all drawing Stark Industries into their schemes in one way or another. Though in the case of the Agency, Stark Industries is…almost peripheral, unless they decide you're threatening their interests."

Jessica blows out her cheeks. "Sadly, a working theory isn't a solved case. And it's not even necessarily right. No leads on Holmes at all so far, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of Less Cool Suit. But. Whether I get him here or get Dunce to him for a remote link, Extra may have answers. And I know Peggy's doing what she's doing with SHIELD."

—-

"This is just getting more complicated," Tony shakes his head as he glances around the room. "But I guess most things do. So Pretender Suit is just using this as an oppurtunity. This all started with Homes. Hrmmmm…" He glances towards the gear there.

"I might can do ya one better. I'll start setting up satalite searches for this isotope. See if anyone or anything else has been tagged by our friend Merc. Then I can search for the metal compounds in the devices. That way we see if any are dorments, or if anyone else is using this same manner to activate the ARC tech. Should at least allow us to track them a bit better."

A pause.

"In theory."

A longer pause.

"But this is me and I can turn theory into fact on a pretty consistant basis." Because he's done being humble now. "You take Dunce with you, if he can get a scan of this Extra we might can manage to make some headway on things. I'll start on taking apart these devices and see what makes them tick. See if I can to backwards engineer a way to unteather these people."

—-

"Sounds good to me. Anything that gives me physical locations to go and poke around in," Jessica replies, to Tony's offer to set up satellite searches for the isotope. She's just as confident that he can get the job done as he is, and his backwards engineering. She looks up at Dunce, then back at Tony. "Anything I should know about the care and proper feeding of Dunces? And can he be sent off or told to wait some place if I ask him to?" There are places Jessica plans on going that Dunces probably should not go.

"I'll have him take scans of anything else that might be of interest, too," she adds, after a moment's thought. "One of the Agency people themselves, if I run into it. He can…beam those…back to you right? No matter where he is or where you are?" She's just assuming it's a lot like sending a file over a cell phone, but given what she's seen of Tony's tech that doesn't seem to be a bad assumption.

She sits down and starts pulling on her socks. "Not that I won't be back for one grand isotope purge the moment you tell me it's ready. Oh…just as a heads up…one of my other cases might take me out of the country for a few days, but I don't anticipate being gone too long." Sure, she'd told him from the start he wasn't going to be her only case, but it just seems right to at least inform him that International travel is somewhere on her personal horizons. She's been juggling pretty well, but it might be hard to juggle from Germany.

—-

"I'll do my best. Which is like ten times better than most people." The inventor replies with a smirk towards her. "But Dunce will be fine, you can give him simple commands. Just don't tell him to I don't know. Cook you up an ommelette. Or anything like that. I mean he might try but he isn't quite sure whats digestible and not for organics."

Is he serious? With Tony its hard to tell.

"Yeah, he should be able to beam whatever he can get off a scan back to the Tower here. I'll go through everything and try to make sense out of it. Like you do." A pause though at the last and he blinks in suprise.

"…out of the country. I'm going to guess this isn't a vacation." A pause. "This is one of those things I don't want to know about because it might incriminate me later isn't it?"

—-

Jessica opens her mouth to reassure Tony that they're probably not going to do anything illegal in their quest to track down an immortal Nazi sorcerer who has already left a trail of havoc and pain behind him.

Then she considers some of her traveling companions, one very ruthless one in particular, her own fantastic tapdance on the legal line when legality gets in the way of actually getting things done, the fact that they are, in fact, going to basically put an end to said immortality which is, she supposes, yet another murder, technically, at least on paper. Which would make her uneasy, except that really, immortality is all kinds of a cheat.

But she considers all that. And she claps her mouth shut again before deciding on the right answer.

"We're— hunting monsters." Basically accurate. And as much of a vacation as Jessica Jones ever takes.

"But you definitely don't want to know." That seems safe enough.

A thought that brings on another smirk. "Even though I somehow doubt I'll be doing anything you wouldn't do. I don't have an exact date yet. In the meantime…" She waves her hands around the portals, taking back one of the broken ones. "I might need this," she adds. One broken one and one in tact one should be enough for Tony's work, she figures. She grabs a boot, then, and pushes her foot into it.

—-

"Mmmm," Don't want to know is never something Tony wants to hear. But he knows better than to get into a stubborn match with a woman he's paying to investigate things. Besides its not like he doesn't have a few things to do here himself.

The man just nods before he pulls out a little red card. Its got what looks to be a button on the middle of it.

"Panic button. Hit it if you need backup. Might take a bit to get there, but it'll be there."

He tosses that on the sofa near her things befire he looks at Dunce. "Stay with Jess!" There is little burble from the macine. "No I'm not getting rid of you. Just help her for awhile." It floats inn the air back and forth a little bit. Seeminly unsure. "Oh my god, fine. Repulsor upgrades when you get back."

It does a little happy burble and a few barrel rolls before doing a circle around Jess.

"God worse than kids I swear." He grumbles as he shakes his head. "Anyway, I'll get started on the portals."

—-

Jessica picks up the panic button, tilting it this way and that in her fingers. Regardless of the outcome had Tony insisted on being filled in (and she certainly respects the fact that he's paying her, but learned early in their association to just be herself, stubborn and all), something about this seems to give her pause for a moment. Not in a bad way. The impact is more positive than that, one part wonder, one part gratitude. One boot remains on the floor by her foot as she studies it. Then she looks up, and studies him.

"Wait. Just a sec."

She hesitates, speaking slowly. "You're not happy I've chosen not to fill you in— But you're willing to send help clear out to Germany if I need it, just like that, even though you have no way of knowing whether or not doing so could actually create nineteen kinds of trouble for you that you didn't ask for?"

This has clearly poleaxed her a little bit. A lot, actually.

It's even touched her a little bit.

The steady paycheck? That's something she certainly appreciates, but she's working for that. The somewhat lavish gift of phone and (admittedly rough-worn already) bullet proof clothing, the loan of one of his favorite droids— nice perks of a job that she's too pragmatic to even begin to turn down, chalked up to what she has been told is a habitually generous nature of the man before her, someone who is more than happy to just give things away when it suits him because money concerns him so very little.

But this…this is a different order of magnitude.

"That's— Tony, why would you— ?"

—-

"Well I have a new hypersonic quinjet design I need to put though the paces anyway." He explains with a shrug of one shoulder. "So really its almost like doing me a favor. No using it to get me to show up at some nephews birthday party or something though. I'll charge you for gas if you do that. Believe me you don't want that." The man smirks slightly again as he tilts his head just so to look at her.

This really did floor her didn't it?

A pause again as he reaches up to run his fingers though his hair.

"Besides. You're one of the good guys."

Urgh. This is causing feels. Damn those feels. They just happen. And then Tony usually runs away. This time is no exception really.

"Right then! Good talk! Good talk! We'll do lunch later!" His fist thumps off the side of the door frame. "Dunce, be good! Catch ya later!" And with that he turns and starts to stride right off.

—-

Yeah! Screw feelings! That's been Jessica's policy for a long time. Granted, the policy seems to have been run through the shredder six ways from Sunday lately, but it's a sentiment she can still more or less appreciate. So…long story short, she doesn't stop Tony from fleeing the scene of the feels he has created.

Instead, she tucks the panic button away, putting this one into her wallet in the back of her pants because of its slim credit card design. It doesn't need to be rattling around with the other stuff she's carrying in her inner pockets, which are already filled to overflowing.

She glances at the door one more time. One of the good guys? Is she? She's never so sure, but…

It's nice to be thought of that way, anyway. She tucks the little endorsement into the box in her mind where she keeps the other articles of faith which tell her she can be who she wants to be if she keeps trying hard enough, which tell her she might be brushing up against that ideal from time to time.

She sits tight for about ten minutes to let Tony Stark make it to whatever place he needs to go to get on with his work and to move past that awkwardness.

Then, she stomps her foot into her other boot, and stands up.

"C'mon, Dunce," she says. "You and me? We've got work to do."

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