Keeper Of a Murdered God

April 17, 2017:

The goddess Itzpapalotl herself corners Jessica Jones for an involuntary chat. She makes an offer and, in the course of trying to sell it, reveals something that hits Jessica right where it hurts. Things go downhill from there.

Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, New York

You know what? We're just going to avoid the elevator from now on.


NPCs: Itzpapalotl, NPC'd by Azalea Kingston

Mentions: Tony Stark, John Constantine, Matt Murdock, Six

Mood Music: Love Hurts - Nazareth

Fade In…

It's a silent night. Late. Usually Jessica's apartment building never shuts up. Always neighbors in one corner or another who have some problem. Fucking. Fighting. Sometimes just sobbing. The thin walls build thick skins for most. But tonight, in the lobby, there isn't a single junky milling about. Ahead of Jessica, a woman steps into the elevator, a loose gray top draped over her slender frame, and her full, curly hair bouncing about as she stops just inside. She's holding something - a someone, in fact, a fussy toddler who looks all about as if she's never been here before. The child is blond, blue eyed, and the woman of a darker complexion, with brown eyes and dark hair. The door begins to close in front of her, but seeing Jessica beyond, she casts a small smile in her direction and reaches out to stop the door.

Maybe she's a new neighbor. Maybe just a visitor. No one around here is that nice.

When Jessica approaches she'll smell her shampoo, something light and fruity, a sharp distinction from the usual smell she gets when she steps into this deathtrap and prays, each time, that it delivers her to her apartment and place of business.

The stillness of it all remains. The silence almost overwhelming, even with a kid there, who stares at Jessica like she might be the boogey man.


"Hey, kiddo," Jessica says to the child, noting the differences between the child's appearance and the adult's as a matter of course. Adopted child? Takes after the father? It's not her child at all? Her mind kicks up all of the possibilities at once. The woman seems pleasant enough. Jessica keeps her distance, retreating to the other side of the elevator and leaning against it, giving both of them their space.

She's not one for small talk, but everything about this scenario has piqued her interest. It's the investigator's side of her, not the non-existant personable side, which has her asking, "You guys new neighbors?"

She slides her hands into the pockets of her jeans, as if to emphasize she's no threat, just someone who lives here, takin' the same elevator. Today she's got on a blue and black plaid shirt over one of her black bulletproof t-shirts, and the bullet-proof jeans, and her new boots. Of course, she doesn't look entirely non-descript either, as she currently has a Dunce bobbing over her shoulder, but Jessica treats Dunce like he's normal. Of course she's got a little droid, as people do. Right? Right.


Dunce warbles a complaint. He did that in the lobby too, but Jessica doesn't speak droid, right? Slowly he hovers in front of her, warbling physically now, and then vocally, the sound slowed down. Finally, he drops to the elevator floor with a thud.

The child watches it all with an errant glee, making a squeal of a sound as it falls. The woman blinks a little and her expression lights up, and when she looks up at Jessica with those big, brown eyes of hers, she looks like she brings the joy of the world with her.

"Is that one of those.. I've seen them, on television. Flying all about. Wow, I guess they're as common as candy these days." Of course, when the bot doesn't move again, it's lights off, it's body still, the child makes a concerned sound, and the woman hushes her with a soothing shhhh, followed by a pet over her hair. "Probably just out of batteries, baby girl. Oh, us? Just visiting. A friend of a friend lives here, that sort of thing."

Did Jessica press a floor button? Did the woman? Her hands were pretty full, but the elevator is already moving. The floor numbers tick by, one at a time.

The elevator lights flicker a little.

2, 3, 4, 5….

13, 14, 15….

31, 32…

It's almost entrancing to watch. At least until one realizes that this building does not have that many floors at all. If Jessica looks back at Ms. Visitor, she'll find her looking up at her. Silent, but almost expectant.


Jessica scoops the Droid off the floor. Shit. She should have learned to speak Dunce.

She hugs the Droid tight. No losing Tony's Droid.

Her mind runs through some swift calculations right around the time she's watching the 7th floor pass on her 6th floor building. Those calculations carry the 1 with ease and she comes up with an answer.

Her tone is flat. "You're with the Agency," she says, leaping right to it. That's the only way any of this is possible. And that's why Dunce was burbling, because he detected the very energy he'd been sent to detect. This…is not good. "What do you want?"

They brought a child to take her off her guard, and because Jessica will not hurt one; now that she's out of her own reality they may be her only shot at getting home. Another series of calculations tells her to talk, not to panic and start slamming her visitor into the walls.


The way her head tilts is alien in a way, but it isn't like the men and women who have accosted her as part of The Agency. More like a student of humanity, someone who is invested in every little move, who considers every word, and can feel the fear radiating as an adrenal rush in the woman beside her. It's slow, how she moves, as if to show that she doesn't mean harm to the child, setting her down and pushing a small toy into her hand, deftly fetched from a jean pocket. When she straightens and turns to look at Jessica again, her head tilts back the other way. It's the kind of look that could eat someone alive, devour their every intention, chew up questions of the soul and spit them back out.

Before she knows it a hand will be on her neck. It's not a sudden thing. Somewhere between the look she gave Jess and the moment she notices, it snaked up to palm against her skin in a touch that violates her personal space but does not feel unfamiliar.

This is how Azalea greets the people she cares about.

"You're confusing me with pawns from another board, when I'm the Queen of this one. But I've met them. They came for her, you know, little Annette." She glances at the child, who, in just the right light does look familiar now. A face to go with a name. Annette Anders.

"But I sure did cut them to pieces, didn't I?" She sweet talks the baby, who gives a little squeal at her toy, and then looks back up to Jessica. "I just thought she'd be much safer, here, with a friend of my friend. With this woman who struggles with matters of the heart and soul. A woman I could help with both, could help confront the dire truth and set her free." Her thumb brushes feather-light, across Jessica's jawline, but then her hand slips down to her shoulder. "He will always have hold over you. But I can make it better."



Jessica swallows. Her hand twitches, like she wants to rip the woman's hand away, break it, but again she forebears. She starts as she realizes it's Annette, a child she'd only seen in pictures.

Safe? No. A hostage against Jessica's own good behavior. At least that's how Jess is reading this situation, toy or no toy.

As the woman's touches grow more familiar she shrinks, the creepy crawlies starting all over her body, the fight or flight instinct increasing, green-flecked brown eyes widening in fear. Mind racing. The Agency went after Annette? Why? To use as a hostage too? She thought Baby Daddy was some backpacker…or has Anders, or some version of Anders, now joined the agency?

Not off in Gotham, but brought to her instead.

Singing bowls and pools of water. Singing bowls and pools of water. Panicky people make mistakes. She focuses past the roaring in her ears, the surging in her heart, and takes a deep breath. She's repeating what Azalea…what Xihunel…said to her. This woman is wrapped up with Xihunel somehow. Is it the spider goddess Azalea goes on about? Or is it Itzpapalotl? The woman who cut out Xihunel's heart? Either way, both she and Annette are in terrible danger.

Diplomacy is called for. "Forgive me, Great One, but I've no idea who you are." She's a little proud of the way her voice doesn't tremble at all. Its neutrality comes from some place deep inside of her she couldn't even name, some place where still waters sing in copper bowls and where she's the person she wishes she was. "Or what you're proposing."


The hand falls away, but only after straightening Jessica's shirt, after tending to her like someone who's known her all her life, but she doesn't step back, keeping it close. Keeping it personal. Her eyes search and search, her lips purse, and she glances up at the elevator number, well into the 300's by now, even though it should not even display such a number.

"I'm proposing that you leave Azalea Kingston be." Those eyes drift back, and there's no longer the coy mystery that she let hang over her introduction. Instead it's just a power untold. Someone who tricked a Creator into her clutches and stole his power. Someone who does not often make deals, but when she does, they are sacrosanct.

"Watch over her if you must. Play your little hero games and use her power for your purposes, I care not. But dabbling with their souls, letting the Hedge Wizard poke and prod at things he does not understand, will bring only ruin. He was never meant to walk on this world as anything but a shadow, and a shadow he must stay." Her breath quickens just a little, less calm that Jessica is, it seems, when she speaks of the power they play with.

Then she does take a step back, her hands folding in front of her, fingers playing over one of her many rings. "In return, my purview is yours, Jessica Jones. I could help you with the hold he has over you. The hold he will always have over you."

The silence that fills the elevator stills breath itself, and her eyes in that moment, as the light flickers and casts them in momentary dark, seem a shade of glittering gold.

"I could make certain that Matt Murdock loves you forever."


So definitely the one that cut out the god's heart then.

And Itzpapalotl is worried. About what they are doing. Because if she weren't worried, she wouldn't be making deals.

Jessica listens to the pitch in utter silence. And then she looks down. And she smiles, grimly.

"You know, lady," she says casually, as if this were just another back-alley asshole. "You don't know me as well as you think."

She moves closer to Annette, edging around the corners of the small elevator.

"If you did, you'd know that the idea of making someone love me is the most disgusting, despicable thing I can imagine. Your pitch to me is that you're going to erase the damage my super-powered rapist did to me, and then you'll turn me into a divine-magic-rapist instead? That's enough irony for any 200 bad pop songs, right there. And I mean it wouldn't even matter how you did it. Any manipulation, any trick, anything that made him love me— no. No. I would never do that. Ever. Even if I didn't know how awful it is. That's not even love. And it doesn't matter to me if Matt never loves me, which is a very real possibility. I want us to come together because it's what we both want, or not at all. And if that can't happen? I want him to be happy with whomever he chooses. Because that's what love is."

It hurts, confronting again the reality that she has fallen in love with someone she cannot have. It's been over a month since she's bothered Matt; she hasn't seen him or spoken to him, too busy to do anything but work her cases. She's even gone days and days without giving him any thought at all, the work taking up every ounce of energy that she had. But hearing his name, talking about this, twists up her heart yet again, letting her know that despite the fact that she may have just earned herself some sort of 30-Days Token for resisting her Matt Murdock Addiction, she's not over him yet.

She wonders if she ever, ever will be. It seems so foolish, two months after he told her he wasn't interested, to keep carrying this flame. But the heart really does want what it wants.

Banishing the thought, she continues. "Furthermore, this hold you keep going on about?" Jessica lifts her chin. She draws in a tight, shaky breath, because just as her heart won't obey her and stop pining for Matt, the scars upon it won't obey her and stop twinging every time she's forced to think of Zebediah Kilgrave. But the hurt…isn't what it once was. "It's there. Yeah. It's also mine. I've claimed it. I decide what to do with it. As bad as it was it was 8 months."

8 months of nightly rape, whispers a voice inside her mind. Of torture and slavery and being forced to participate in torture and slavery. All capped with a murder…

She quashes the inner self-pitying voice.

"I've now met people who went through that for 18 years. 70 years. There are others who have had it worse. Others that need me, who I can help precisely because I've experienced that pain. And your shadow is doing the same thing to my ward. So I'll make you a counter proposal. Tell me how to put it to sleep for good, or tell me how to take it from her without killing her or unleashing it on someone else. Tell me how to reduce it to a tiny flicker that troubles her not at all, if that can be done. Tell me how to fix her, and I'll go do that, and we'll both have a situation we can live with. Cause I don't give a flying fuck about Xihunel, but I do give many fucks about Azalea Kingston."


The Obsidian Butterfly does not interrupt Jessica Jones as she tells her every way in which she is wrong, and tells her the only way she can be right: Help them to their goal. One of many. As Jessica edges closer to Annette, Itzpapalotl does not even turn, her eyes falling shut for a moment as she basks in such raw, mortal emotion when Jessica talks about her captivity, mistakes some of Itzpapalotl's words.

When she turns it's with a careful consideration, but such roiling sentiment so very close to her is beyond distracting. Xiuhnel's lust is for energy, for all the right curves in all the right places.

Hers is for matters of the heart.

"Jessica, you misunderstand. I could no more cure your pain than I could make Matt Murdock love you." She steps close. It's cornering, but Jessica will still have enough space to guard the child. Her voice drops to a whisper, her head falling into that ever slight tilt. "Matt is the only one with any hold on you. Your pain is an echo of the heart's anguish, reflecting in the pool of your mind. No, I cannot create love. Love is the heart's radiance, projected on another." Her eyes drop to where Jessica's heart is, disconcerting, considering what she did to Xiuhnel's. But they don't linger, ticking back up when she speaks again. "I can only find it, steer another away, help his light find your own." Her lean is slow. Deliberate. Does she mean to kiss her?

No, but to whisper, in her ear. "You see, the truth is, Jessica. He already has feelings for you." When she leans back again her smile turns into something almost regretful, pulling in at the corners, a little shake of her head emphasizing her analysis of the situation. "She just got there first."


There's another kind of roar in Jessica Jones' ears, the kind that happens when a rug is pulled utterly out from under a person, as an ancient goddess tells her the one thing she wants more than anything else is a reality.

Matt Murdock has feelings for her.

She wants to believe it so badly. A lump rises in her throat; tears spring to her eyes. She wills them not to fall. Some of the color fades from her already pale face. It makes her want to do all manner of things. It makes her want to go and pour out her every last feeling to him, to fight for his affection, to make him forget this woman, whomever she is, every way from Sunday.

Sharp pain in her chest. She's holding Dunce close to her heart, not close enough to break him, but close enough to make it hurt. Clutching her heart, only the little robot is in the way.


She swallows the urge to cry again. "That's a lie. A cruel lie," she whispers. "It must be. He's never shown— he hasn't given even a little sign of that." Matthew Murdock, as inscrutable as a sphinx. Saying she's amazing, the kind of throwaway thing a person says to a woman who is annoying him with her affections, letting her down as gently as he could.

God, she's there in front of that police station all over again, her stupid heart shattering into a hundred stupid pieces over a man she'd known what, a month?

She wants him there. Right now. She wants to be in his presence so badly. She wants to hold on to him and never let go. The tears slide slowly down her cheeks anyway.

She's not lying, is she? God, Jessica doesn't know whether to throw away the hope or to cling to it with all her might. She doesn't know which hurts worse. Especially as the ancient love Goddess just slyly told her that he really might just have stolen her heart for good. He'll always have a hold on you, she'd said, and it turned out she wasn't talking about Kilgrave at all.

If that's true, she could be facing a very lonely future indeed.

In the end she finds the strength to say, "It…doesn't matter, Itzpapalotl." Saying her name for the first time. "He made a choice. Out of honor, or whatever love he bears for this other woman, or whatever it was, he's chosen her for now. Maybe one day he'll make a different choice, but it has to come from him. And only from him. His light will find mine or it won't, in its own time."

She scrubs her cheeks angrily with the back of her hand. And pushes, once more, as she does. "Come on. You've got to know some way I can help Azalea without harming her or unleashing Xihunel on the world again. You've got to know betraying her isn't going to be on my personal To Do list, no matter what you offer. Surely there's a Win-Win in this somewhere, right? I'm sure you've had millions of mortals snap at the chance to take a deal like this, but dark bargains can't be the only way to get things done."


"I will not help you tamper with the lock that could end the world. I did what I did to him for selfish reasons, but they were not unjust. When an Elder God decides it wants to know humanity, to walk on worlds, it leaves giant footprints. Species-ending footprints." She almost sounds angry, but soon the Goddess calms again, and she steps backwards towards the door. "It is the curse of a species that is bound for greatness. I was there, a minor aspect upon this great universe, while Titans like Xiuhnel painted the sky with their raw power. I've seen so many rise, so many fall. When logic runs into emotion, sparks fly. Where the embers land are key to your survival, Jessica Jones. I chose this world to care about because your personal experience often overrides what you know is right. Feeling. Love." The whimsy in her voice is on the verge of ecstasy, and it is now she who looks like she may cry.

"Perhaps you are right. Perhaps it should be your instinct I stoke, your rush to reason. Perhaps because you do not know or understand what it means to play with this very powerful soul, without plan or any real understanding, and hope for the best."

The numbers on the elevator stop at Jessica's floor. The lights flicker off, and her voice echoes in the dark. "I suppose I shall have to help you understand."

The light clicks back on. Dunce whirls to life and beeps a question at Jessica. The beep says 'pls, let go. pls, no crush'. Behind Jessica, Annette begins to cry. She does not like being left in the dark.

But the Obsidian Butterfly is gone. Silence fills her wake. The elevator doors open. Down the hall her doorway looms, and then there is the sound of rage. It drowns out all the other sounds, of fucking. Fighting. Sobbing, reaffirming this is all very real to Jessica's senses. The sound Jessica hears is the sound of Azalea Kingston shouting in a voice that is barely her own. Something heavy flips over.



That's one of Jessica's windows shattering.

That is Xiuhnel, The Sky Serpent, released upon the world.


Jessica lets Dunce free, then grabs up Annette and runs to put her…put her where? She plunks her on her couch. "Dunce, watch her. Play some cartoons or something. Do not let her out of your sight! Annette! Stay here, you'll be safe here! Jarvis! Call Cindy! Tell her I need her at home right now to babysit!"

Great. She's leaving Annette in the care of a robot named Dunce. Yep, this is fine. This is all fine.

Sniffling back her own tears still— what the Hell did the Goddess do?— Jessica Jones goes racing across the expanse of her own apartment to leap out the window after Xihunel. After Azalea. She is going to try to catch up with her, try to grab her, try to…

Try to then what?

Jessica has no idea. "Winging it" doesn't even begin to cover today. Not even a little bit. "Fucking gods and fucking goddesses, fucking asshats. Azalea!"


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License