April 25, 2017:

Cutscene. Takes place after Too Many Words and before Workaholics Anonymous. Jessica succumbs to both her addictions, but finds her own advice coming back to appeal to the angels of her better nature.

Allan's Breakfast Club and Wine Bar, Berlin, Germany

Home of the best Bloody Mary's in Berlin, apparently.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Azalea Kingston, Trish Walker, Jane Foster, Red Robin, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Matt Murdock

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Trudging down the street, farther and farther from the penthouse, trying to think, trying to work.

“Jarvis, cross-reference the public libraries in Berlin with the known addresses from the Steinschneider list. If the journal didn’t get dropped off at the main branch it’s probably close to one of their homes, if the libraries are where it actually landed.”

PI work was often all about checking dead ends and knowing quite a few of them would take hours of careful, patient, tenacious diligence, all to uncover the one lead that isn’t dead at all. The journal might be there or it might not, but due diligence would at least rule it out.

“Searching, Miss Jones. There are three likely targets within the fifteen mile range of each of those homes.”

Three more to search then. That should keep her busy, until it was time to meet Krueger.

It was legitimate work.

It was also stalling, work that kept her from addressing the knot of pain and remorse in her stomach. That she’d caused Bucky, and soon, by extension, Jane, any pain made her feel like the world’s biggest shit-for-brains. She’d tried to build him up, tried to tell him how amazing she thought he was, but in the end, similar circumstances and membership in a terrible club was no bar at all to saying stupid things.

Went about as well as it used to go when Trish tried to comfort me. Should have asked more questions. Shouldn’t have assumed what he believed. Definitely should have trimmed the talking. You could have just said ‘murder case, and I’ve imprisoned Az because Xihunel just went on the rampage, and it all sucked. Would have conveyed the important bits. If anything needed to be said at all.

She wondered at herself, at her overcorrection, the way she seemed to swing between being dark and taciturn and ridiculously verbose lately. Too many words.

Maybe you’re just going to do the wrong thing no matter what, because when someone lets you into their life it’s a lot like drinking fucking poison. Too many words, not enough words, eventually you’re going to pick wrong and someone’s going to get hurt. It’s cause you’re garbage.

Her head was pounding. She really wished she could have slept.

She stopped short at the sight of a cafe on Rykestraße. It looked warm and welcoming, familiar, a bit American— it was called, incongruously, Allan’s. As she was not here to be a tourist she had no compunctions about reaching for the familiar like some kind of hipster; homesickness was plaguing her, on top of everything else.

The sign was in English, advertising Croque Monsieurs and the city’s best bloody Mary’s. The Bloody Mary was not Jessica’s drink of choice, but they’d serve it to her at this hour.

She should keep walking. She’d come really far with her decision not to drink.

But she needed to focus. She agreed with Bucky on that much. As it was, if anything, anything at all went wrong on this trip, she had a feeling she was going to be blamed, whether it was her fault or not.

At that thought, a kernel of resentment welled up in her, a tiny hint of anger. Five months. She’d been at this for five months. Maybe people could cut her some slack.

She quashed it, and the wave of sick guilt she felt at feeling it at all was enough to send her through the doors of the cafe. She had no right to be angry.

If I have a bit of food, and maybe just one, it’ll be enough to put all this behind me, she decided grimly. When she drank bottle after bottle, she knew she smashed her apartment, or made bad sexual decisions, or basically acted like a stereotypical drunk. When she drank a reasonable amount, though, it sometimes rendered her far more functional than anything else, silencing the demons so she could focus, could work. It was how she’d built her practice in the first place. Her pills had a “do not drink while you’re taking these” warning, but they weren’t doing the trick anyway.

She ordered the sandwich, made herself wolf it down before she touched the Bloody Mary.

She closed her eyes as she lifted it to her lips. The feeling of the alcohol hitting her bloodstream for the first time in weeks was glorious and sickening all at once, bringing both relief and nausea. She felt all the guilt, the pain, the fear, the greasy sensations start to ease almost at once. It deserved to be nursed.

So it was a surprise when a handsome waiter laid a hand over her little fancy cute mason-jar-esque handled glass, cleared his throat, and said, “Ich kann dir nicht mehr dienen. Du hast schon sieben.”

Jessica wasn’t particularly bleary at this point, just lost in her own thoughts. She had, at some point, pulled out her phone. Brought up Nelson and Murdock’s website. Zoomed in on Matt’s picture. She’d been staring at it, and drinking.

Not like a lovesick girl, or so she told herself.

Sometimes, things are just better when you’re nearby, Matt. Just…nearby. Even though you don’t know it. I bet you make things better for Miss Perfection too. I really do hope she makes you happy. You deserve to be happy. I miss you. Even if you don’t miss me back.

She closed the tab and looked at the waiter. “What?…wait.” She turned on her translate app. “Say — Weiderholen.” Say it again. Repeat it.

He did.

“I can’t serve you anymore. You’ve already had seven.”

Jessica waved him away. Fine, don’t serve her anymore.

Then she pulled over the little cup and drained it, trying to get the last drop.

Remorse and shame pierced even the dull fog of her numbed thoughts. How could she have sat here and gone through seven? She’d meant to have one. Maybe two. When had that happened?

She summoned up one of the phrases she had managed to learn.

“Kann ich schwarzen Kaffee haben?”

He looked at her, perhaps relieved she hadn’t made a scene, and nodded. He’d get her the coffee.

So this was it, she’d fallen off the wagon with a drink she didn’t even like, and really, it didn’t make anything any better at all. She did feel like she could focus now, but the damage she’d caused to one Bucky Barnes was still waiting for her back at the penthouse. The consequences of all her behavior, the rifts she thought must surely be growing between her and her team— still there. All her problems were still there at home, waiting for her.

Her inner demons, as it turned out, were having a field day. A much bigger and better one than they’d already been having. Something had shifted. The booze hadn’t done a thing to silence them.

At least Vodka, colorless and mostly odorless, hidden by tomato juice and Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, would not make it immediately obvious that she’d taken her tumble off the wagon. 7 wouldn’t even redden her eyes, wouldn’t impact her gait, wouldn’t require dark glasses, though she would use a little Listerine before showing up to the meeting with Kreuger, drink more coffee, drink more water. Change clothes, in case she’d spilled.

Trash, Jones. You really are trash.

Then, from within, another voice. Quieter. Kinder. Small and still.

Did you really believe all that you told Bucky? About repenting?

It gave her pause, even as her coffee arrived.

Yeah, I guess? She answered the voice. She’d believed it at the time.

How about you get on that then?

She closed her eyes and brought the coffee to her lips. You repent, you’re forgiven, that’s the deal. Did she buy her own sales pitch, or was she just blowing smoke up Bucky’s ass?

She decided…maybe she did buy her own sales pitch. The standard had to apply to everyone, she’d said. So. She’d be the prodigal daughter.

So what would that look like?

She would have to mail back her 30 day and 60 day tokens, but she could keep the white one. The 24-hour commitment, saying she would not drink again for 24 hours. That was how it started. And she could hold to that, and not drink again.

But she could also cut herself a break, for being in pain, for needing a way to cope.

She could be more careful with her words in the future. She could try to accept and navigate whatever consequences came from the ones she’d already spoken, try to make it right, try to soothe the harm she’d done— which meant she couldn’t keep hiding from the crew at the penthouse, no matter how much she feared their censure, their disappointment, the idea that she would fail them, the idea that they’d cast her out.
She could apologize for her behavior on the plane, to everyone, at their next shared meal.

She went back to that idea, that it was really and truly time to stop tearing herself apart every time something went wrong.

Five months! With the sole exception of Jane, who was, after all, a genius, everyone else had years and years of dealing with assassins and spy work, wizards and demons. Maybe she’d done pretty damned well, given that time frame. She’d given a damn, she’d rolled up her sleeves, she’d gotten to work, she’d contributed.

Maybe it wasn’t really her fault that she didn’t know how to stand up to goddesses in elevators— maybe she’d already done what she could do by making sure Matt had access to her information, was given the power to navigate the strange world they’d both found themselves tossed into, willy-nilly.

Maybe Xihunel would have gone on the rampage anyway, no matter what, eventually. Maybe leaving Az to Batman’s untender mercies might have made her worse faster.

Maybe the murderers in Gotham, New York, and Maryland were responsible for the murders, and not Jessica Jones, who was only trying to defend as many people as she could. She was trying to stop them. What more could be asked of her, truly?

She could stop holding herself to impossible standards. “Heroes” were expected to win every battle, to be more than human, to race to the rescue in the nick of time, to be a moral compass, to make the right choices in every scenario.

Maybe they didn’t even exist.

There was more to Steve Rogers, Bucky had said, then the shining beacon on the hill. John stood in the gap for people he didn’t know, but he also had told her of his own failures, of the ways everything had exploded in his face in the past.

Maybe it was more about coming to the defense of others than it was about being a hero.

Just be a defender.

That was a standard she could hold herself to. She could try to defend the defenseless, to stop violence before it caused harm, or to stop the violators so they couldn’t cause more. It was painfully obvious she couldn’t save everyone. But she could save some people, if she could continue to keep stepping up.

Her mind was on Bucky once more.


She texted Trish.

I know why people hire therapists now. Please find me one that doesn’t suck. I’ll go.

It was obvious that she actually did need to talk about her shit when it started ripping her up inside.

She did not necessarily need to give it all to her friends to carry, especially not when they were hurting, broken in their own ways. She could find a way, maybe with a good therapist’s help, to open up and share and build those relationships without necessarily overdoing it, without doing it carelessly, without stepping into minefields or saying too much.

She left the cafe and stepped into a public bathroom, using her app to change her clothes, to pull out mouthwash, to clean up. Nobody needed to know that she’d done this.

Her alcoholism was her business anyway, for all that they’d all been supportive. She’d been very open with everyone about her problem, but they didn’t need to know every time she lost this very private battle.
She wasn’t about to force them to deal with it, either. At some point, her issues needed to stop overshadowing this trip, and that point was right about now.

She stepped out, spotted a tobacco shop, and went inside, putting in an order just for Bucky. To try to start making it right, to try to soothe the hurts, try to show him through her actions that he was worthy of love and care too, and that she had decided that not only was intervention a good idea after all, but that she’d always intervene for him if he needed her to.

She’d try to do better tomorrow. Hell, she’d try to do better in the next few hours. She’d go get to work. She’d come back with her due diligence. She’d get on the job. She’d show him he had gotten through to her after all, had helped her after all, because what he needed most, it seemed, was to know he was helping.

She would repent.

And she would move forward.

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