Executive Decisions

April 23, 2017:

After Elinor Ravensdale tells one Jessica Jones that Constantine has essentially sent her right back to Jess, the PI decides that it's time to step up, start marshaling some resources, and start exercising some leadership, for good or for ill.

Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, New York

Because draft or no draft, there's still work to be done.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: John Constantine, Zatanna Zatara, Azalea Kingston, Captain America

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

After Jess pointed her in the direction of Constantine, Elinor contacted him to meet up at his earliest conveincence. It took some time, but they were able to meet in one of the local cemetaries she normally haunts. After the conversation she found herself with more questions than answers, so a few days later she walked down the hall to Jessica's door. She has a bag of pastries from a local shop and a cup holder with coffee cups in it. She frowns as she realizes that she doesn't have a hand to knock with and lightly kncosk on the door with the toe of her shoe.

—-

Elinor is lucky to catch Jessica Jones at home.

She flies out in the morning. She's been frantically working. Closing Azalea's simpler cases, so that clients won't go unsatisfied. Making plans. Making arrangements. Deciding what she's going to pull the trigger on now vis a vis certain investigations she's embroiled in, and deciding what will have to wait, lest pursuing them activate new chains of events that she will be ill equipped to handle from within a foreign country.

She's busy filing a copy of a letter in three separate files. Were someone to read the label on the letter they would note that it is marked as having come from Itzpapalotl, the Aztec Obsidian Butterfly. It's a measure of the strange upjump in case stakes that has occurred for Jessica over the past 5 months. She went from process service, infidelity cases, insurance fraud, and the occasional investigation-for-the-defense to wizards, goddesses, primordial darkness, stolen arc reactor technology and alternate universes in a very short span of time. She's doing everything she can to learn what she needs to learn to keep up, and her super-strength is certainly a fine equalizer. But now, as her brown eyes again skim the words on the letter she's filing, it begins to again become somewhat clear that she's swimming in some terribly deep waters.

The letter reads: When you teach a child a lesson, it should not have final consequences. But there is also something to be said for making sure the lesson is well learned. You and your friends could destroy the soul of Azalea Kingston, and unleash a monster upon the world. Unstoppable. Unkillable. I do hope you now understand, and if you will not leave her be for selfish reasons, then perhaps altruistic ones, or at the very least self preservation.

While you were fighting Xiuhnel I struck a deal with Decimux, the Infiniplex, and convinced him that Annette Anders did not need to be redacted. His lackeys should now leave her be, though I cannot promise your own safety if you meddle in his affairs further.

I leave you a final balm. For seven days, alcohol will turn to water in your grasp, and you will not know it's craving. You are a champion of the world I love, the world I would see saved from the meddling of the uninformed few, and this world, so very fragile, still needs Mothers Like Us.

As she slams the drawer shut, Jessica shakes her head at that last bit. Champion of the world. Right.

The window is shattered. There's still glass everywhere, something Elinor will see when Jessica steps over to open the door. Elinor is one of a handful of people who ever knocks, so the detective had an inkling it was her before she even opened the door.

The sight of coffee and pastries is such a simple kindness really. The woman looks exhausted and pushed to her very limit in more ways than one, but her face and eyes soften as she sees the consideration she's being shown. What did she ever do for Elinor, to deserve the repeated gestures of friendship this woman is giving her? "Come on in," she says, waving her hand around. "It's a bit of a mess but…I don't think there's any glass on the couch, or at the kitchen table."

—-

Regardless of the window being there, or the fact that this is a business and a residentical spot, Elinor doesn't feel right just barging in, regardless of their level of friendship. She gives Jess a weak smile as she holds up her offering. Be it friendship or trying to at least smooth things over before she starts asking more questions. "Don't worry about the mess, mine ususally is as well. Living with a perpetual eight year old with more ninja turtles than he needs always has the place a little messy." She walks in and walks toward the couch as usual, and gives it a quick once over to check for glass before she sits down. "So… from what I've been told you've been burning your wick at both ends. What's up?"

—-

Jessica sits down next to Elinor and takes one of the coffees. She wraps her hands firmly around it and presses it, for a moment, into her forehead, letting the heat seep through the styrofoam and into her head. Finally, she takes a sip. A bit of surprise crosses her face…

She'd had no idea that John had even realized how crazy busy she'd gotten.

Elinor asks what's up and for one moment she aches to just confide in the other woman. She could stand to untangle some of it, and Elinor is a…well, she's a therapist isn't she? Only someone who is actually good and effective at her job. She normally counsels the dead, but emotions are emotions.

In the end, though, it all sticks behind her throat, a dull ache. What she told Trish still holds. If she focuses on 'what's up' she might fall apart at the exact moment people need her to keep it all together. (In a few days, when in the wee hours of the morning an exhausted Bucky finally coaxes an exhausted Jessica into saying almost all that is on her mind, she will have cause to regret this decision, have cause to wish she had scooped out her own issues and laid them bare on the table to someone who would not be hurt by them so that she could examine them and get through them before leaving the country).

But today she says, "Work, just work," she says. It's not entirely untrue.

She exhales. And changes the subject. "How did that conversation go?"

—-

Elinor reaches for a cup herself, and smells the warm liquid before she takes a careful sip. These drinks are always way hotter than they ever need to be. "Just work?" Elinor questions, and while it wasn't John who mentioned she was busy, but the ghosts that asked to keep on eye on Jess. Granted she also doesn't want Jess to know that people are occasionally watching her so she keeps it to herself. When the conversation is mention, Elinor frowns. "Well. Apparently I am not filled with Primordial Darkness, since that would be horrible. He then told me he was about to go out of town and that I should ask you about something that happened at Radio City? I'm not sure why he didn't tell me himself but I sort of feel like a ping pong ball right now. Going to one source to get information only to be told to go back to the other. Not that I'm trying to blame you or anything it's just frustrating."

—-

"I'd be frustrated too," Jessica assures her, but slowly.

John was there at Radio City, there for the investigation, though not the subsequent one. Why the Hell didn't he fill her in? He is busy too, but surely…

She puts down her coffee cup and slowly draws her hair back from her face, looking confused and stricken. "So…he didn't tell you any way that you could or should help out or get involved? He just said to come ask me about Radio City Music Hall?"

She decides she'll try to understand this before she reacts to it, but her head is starting to pound. Jessica Jones rarely gets headaches, but even she is prone to the ones caused by stress and tension. Super muscles tightening in her neck and shoulders tend to constrict blood flow as well as regular muscles do. Arguably, they constrict blood flow even better. And if ghosts are looking in on her at night, they'd probably know she's not sleeping worth a damn, waking with horrific nightmares and going back to work more often than not. But that's more something that's come back than something that's new.

—-

"No, not really. I guess no one knows where to start with this Darkness, or if mine will help, but he said it might help? He was rather vague and seemed more interested in having me ask you about Radio City. Maybe he's just preoccupied with whatever is going on over seas. I can't blame him, it sounds like a very sticky situation." Either way she shifts on the couch and reaches for her tea again. "He did find my origins to be a bit strange but, I suppose it is. I've just been living with it for so long that I don't find it weird anymore."

—-

Jessica exhales sharply.

She leans forward, resting her elbows on her knees.

"He's either forgotten I'm not a wizard, just a private dick who has known about the existence of magic for all of 5 months, or…"

She scowls blackly. Maybe he expects Elinor to know what to do. But if Elinor knew what to do, she'd be out doing it.

Jessica Jones, the last person who should be in charge, finds herself in a situation where it seems like she's basically being called upon to spearhead some part of this effort, marshal some of these people. A moment later it dawns on her that John is not adept at placing people at all. He's no Captain America, to figure out who can do what, and where, and why. Jessica had sent Elinor to him thinking he'd be able to make use of that resource, but John isn't equpped to do that. He hates bringing people in as a matter of principle.

She considers texting him, but really sending Elinor back to her is answer enough. There has been some sort of wall between them since he came back from Hell, one that makes her reluctant to do so. They're still friends, they're still working together, but the energy between them has shifted somehow.

Maybe it was asking him to help with Az, a situation he never wanted to touch. Maybe it was whatever trauma he suffered down below. Maybe he's just rightly turning more and more towards his belle, towards Zatanna, and has a partner in her to the point where he doesn't need Jessica Jones. But her PI work is still useful, has still turned up leads and opportunities. Maybe he considers her investigative lead on the physical issues of iDol and Auspex.

Or maybe he just trusts her to do whatever. As he said, he's never let her do anything, and she doesn't need his permission to do her job. And hadn't she done okay, bringing everyone together to get them out of Hell? She hadn't been the hero of that effort by a long shot, but…coordinating everyone had fallen to her, and, well…the results spoke for themselves, didn't they?

Maybe she needs to see herself less as John Constantine's sidekick and more as someone who has her own vested interest in keeping the world from being Nothing'd to death. Steve had hinted that he thought she had some leadership potential. Maybe she can figure out what Elinor needs to do. Maybe all that information will come together and create a plan. She remembers how she had been bracing herself to essentially do this herself if she had to, because it was her fucking world too, and she is not the type to wait around for John or anyone else to save the day.

DHK sure as hell wasn't going to wait for John's permission to take actions, though it would be good if everyone could talk things out before pulling certain triggers. Nevertheless, she'd done what she could on that front, too.

"Okay. I'm going to tell you all about it," she says at last. "But first, do me a favor? I'd like to hear more about exactly what you do and how you do it. It turns out Alias Investigations is hiring an Occult Detective to work under the agency's license. It's a paying position. Also it will help me end the bouncy ball syndrome, cause now I just kind of want to put you on this if you wanna be on this."

She's going to end up eating ramen if she keeps hiring her friends, but…this was inevitable. If Alias is to grow into what she wanted, she was going to have to hire anyway. And she's down a detective.

—-

"Or you're taking too much on your shoulders?" Elinor questions as she raises a brow, still the rest of her words cause her to pause. "An Occult Detective? I talk to dead people and take photographs, that's not a whole lot of detective work." Though if she would think about it, there is fare more detetictive work with the dead than she realizes. Still she frowns and shrugs.

"The ghost thing you know, it's not really something I do, it's just always on." Her hand vaguely waves in the air as she tilts her head to the side. "I can summon a ghost if I have the right materials, I can be posessed and gain the knowledge an abilities of another ghost but… it's unplesant." SHe doesn't feel like going into why, and it takes a lot of effort to supress the shudder rulling within her. The other powers are more subtle and something I have to conciously use. I can manipulate shadows, and hide myself with in them. They can become physical weapons to be used against those who would harm me, and lull those who need it into a deep and dreamless sleep." She doesn't come out and say that she believes it is something Jessica needs, but the hint is there. "If used… impromperly, it can be used to end a life but, I don't like to do that unless I absolutely have to."

"Still. I know about the occult but, do you really want to hire me? Consulting might be cheaper on your pocket book, or free lancing."

—-

The look on Jessica Jones' face says that she can guess at the why. "That sounds like something you should never fucking do," she opines, recoiling, but she leaves it at that. The reaction is more than tripled after Xihunel's rampage.

Elinor says something about consulting, or freelancing, and Jessica tries to track. "Whichever, we'll…work out the business arrangements later, okay? I'll just cut you a check for whatever we agree on tonight."

Elinor is not, as it happens, a mage like Zatanna or Constantine are. It seems her powers are a bit more focused in scope. But she knows about occult things. Okay.

"Radio City Music Hall. I'm not going to take you through the blow-by-blow of how we found all this out, but basically someone did a test run there. Occult energy was zapped through cell phones in a kind of matrix and used to pull a demon— I don't fucking remember which Legion Constantine said it was, it's in the file. The demon sent everyone into what has been very eloquently described as a 'fight or fuck' instinct. Nasty shit. If it were just a demon that would have been bad enough, but traces of this Primordial Darkness crap were all over the site. This led us to an entanglement between the company that ran the test and iDol, that big new social media app. That was a fun fucking night, by the way. Building got black holed."

She finally investigates the pastries, and pulls one out to nibble on. She's not hungry, but she should eat.

The hint about dreamless sleep brings conflict. Then she remembers… "You probably don't want to try that on me. I've got magical booby traps all over my brain, you could get hurt. Nice as it sounds. I'll just crush up a bunch of Benadryl."

—-

"That sounds… Okay I see why you might be feeling a little overhwelmed by all of this. People are summoning Demons?! Didn't people make horror movies about what a bad idea that is? For fuck sake." It's probably the most animated she's been since she got here. However she sighs. "Send the file my way and I"ll give it a look over and see what I can find. I do have a lot of knowledge on that, but I will see what I can find with my ghostly friends. One of them surly has done something absolutely stupid as doing that." Leaning back in the chair again she reaches for her own pastry and nods her head. "Yea lets not mess with any magical things you've already got in place, I'll refrain from using mine on you."

Nodding her head she shrugs. "I've only use it when things are dire, or my own life is in danger. It isn't a pleasant feeling afterwards." She says with a shake of her head. "Anyway, I'm sure we can come to an agreement."

—-

Jessica points to the file cabinet. "It's in there under 2017-03-25-Auspex. You have my permission to enter and read it at your leisure."

She leans back thoughtfully. "So I can think of two ways you might be able to help right now. First, I think we could use a sort of heat map of Primordial Darkness incidents. You could go see this guy Wong at…"

She jumps up and scribbles up an address. "He has some in a bottle, don't ask me how. Get him to show it to you so you can ID the stuff or something, and then just…send your ghosts around. Get me a big map, put it up on the wall, stick pins in it. Look around Gotham too, not just NYC."

A pause. "Alternatively, I need you to find one instance of it and run an experiment. I know that magically enhanced Light weakens it and/or destroys it. But the rest of us can't do that, so…maybe see if maglites, spotlights, stadium lights, any conventional light does it. Take Darkedge with you. He can bamph you guys out of there if things get hairy, lickity split."

She reaches up and takes off a pair of earrings. Bright pink, incongruous for Jones, and diamond shaped. She passes them. "This allows him to track you. He gave them to me, and hopefully I'm not being elf-offensive, but he keeps coming to report to me and I don't even know what to do with half of what he sends me. He might as well report to you and then you report to me instead."

—-

"I'll grab it before I leave tonight." Elinor says, looking toward the filing cabinent, and when she's handed an address she'll slip it into her purse before returning to her pastry. "But I agree, we need to make a map and see if we can pinpoint where all of this is going on. I don't have a lot of influence in Gotham but I'll see if I can spend a few nights there and get some feelers out." Though from Jessica's description of the city, she's going to need more ballstic corsets. When she mentions the light she twitches her lips in a frown and nods. "I'm weak to light myself, but mostly really high powered lights, and UV light. Perhaps we can find some sort of portable UV light to use? Or someone else to use. I'll take the notes."

When the earings are handed over, she takes them and slips them into her purse as well before she shrugs. "From what I figure, he's used to being beholden to a Queen. A powerful woman to tell him what to do, and when to do it. You're probably the replacement for that, he sees your ability to lead and is drawn to you to follow. He is drawn to me because his people linger in the darkness and my magic is comfortable to him. He found out that I met his queen and received a gift so now he thinks I'm to be protected?" She says with a shrug. "Again I think he's just trying to fit into a role he's comfortable with in a world that doesn't feel right to him. He's harmless mostly, but I can take reports if I need to."

—-

"Read it here, or make a copy here. Don't take it out of the office," Jessica warns, without explaining why. "That is very important." Other than saying that, of course.

"Darkedge is crazy weak to light, so that's one problem with that, but yeah. Just…see if you can find some. Those of us who can't just magic up light need some defense. I don't know what you two are going to do but…it occurs to me that…maybe seeming to be even just natural darkness will at least make you something that it wants to eat less. I don't know. Flying blind here."

It's so strange, after that, to turn to the mundane notion of money. Jessica pulls up her balance and scowls thoughtfully at it, then asks, "How many hours will this take you, do you think?"

—-

"Copy it is." Elinor says with out any complaint. This is her show, her files, so there is no reason to take things that don't need to be taken. Though Jessica's words cause her to pause and think about something that just occured to her. "What if, since D and I both use darkness in one way or another, are weak to falling under this Primordal Darknesses charm?" The idea is obviously unsettling and she sighs. "I'll get some light sources, maybe try to find a light spell. I think we'll both recover from light damage, I'm not sure what would happen if we were touched by it."

It is strange to switch gears and she frowns. "I… uhm… I have no idea? I'll keep a count of it, and you can pay me if my information gets you anywhere."

—-

"Alright, fair enough," Jessica says, about keeping a count. She lets it be…she'd like to try to keep things in her business bank account as long as she can. She won't be billing any hours for days, and that's a concern.

But Elinor's concern is a good one, and she grimaces. "Yeah. It could be a liability. And if you don't want to take the risk I understand. This is a good time for you both to consider whether it's time to step back and bow out. Knowing what you know about Radio City Music Hall might be enough of a report for Darkedge to take back to his queen."

Elinor herself saying she is a leader has given Jessica something to chew on, but later.

"And God knows all the problems you already handle are important. Nobody would think less of you if you just said 'you know what? I've fucking heard enough, Jones.'"

A pause, and she turns to face the woman full on. "You've been good to me, Elinor. I've done jack and shit for you. You've extended your hand to me again and again. The last thing, and I mean the very last thing, I'd ever want is to see you get controlled by something terrible. Or eaten by it. So if you think that's a real possibility? Then just…keep your ear to the ground in the occult bar, help Darkedge with shit that isn't Primordial Darkness related but is still important…dragons eating cars is not small potatos shit…and let others step up. Everyone can't handle everything all the time. God knows there's enough trouble to go around."

—-

Not that Elinor is used to being paid for her magical talents. Still she figures that she should make it as fair as possible and doesn't feel right taking money if she doesn't produce any results. Elinor thinks about it letting all of her thoughts and Jessica's warnings roll over her. "No, I can't ignore this. It could harm those I protect so I cannot turn a blind eye to it. Besides if this is truely what could end it all and I did nothing it wouldn't make me feel better. We'll protect ourselves, some how." She adds that to her mental list before she continues.

"It's who I am. Granted I usually deal with the dead, but that doesn't mean I don't recognize pain when I see it. Kindness doesn't have pre-requisits." Leaning back again she shrugs. "And sure, I have other things to handle, but things never stop happening just because you're busy."

—-

It's a response that generates respect in the eyes of one Jessica Jones. She reaches over with a feather light touch to gently squeeze Elinor's shoulder. She wolfs down the pastry and points to the wall. "Just hang the map there," she says. "If you're able to make one at all. I mean cause…if we're lucky there aren't that many incidents at all. Both the ones we found had been triggered by magically nasty incidents. I don't think they're just cropping up like deadly flowers. If they are, we're all in a lot more trouble than we think we are."

Jessica adds, "John says it's everywhere, so even in the city it will be just a cross section, but. Still, the heat map may give us more places to investigate. Exercise extreme caution, keep your distance, don't engage. You and Darkedge can't be the one to do the experimentation, I think. I think finding it is enough. There's someone else who might decide to do it. If not, I'll do it when I get back. It might be smart to have a wizard with light spells on hand anyway, because if it reacts badly and real light sources don't hurt it then…it might get fiesty."

Jessica pauses, then starts writing all this down on a legal pad— Elinor's information, including phone number, what she can do (though the person she is leaving the information for has seen some of it in action before) and what Jessica has sent her to do, as well as her own ??? about possibly running the experiments. It's all very messy, but it's all very thorough too. She opens the file cabinet and drops it inside the proper file when she's done.

—-

Hey, light physical contact is a step in the right direction! When the map is brought up, she nods her head. "I'll get something set up, we'll even get different colored pins, because color coordination is for cool people." Or maybe she just has one of those odd obssessions with data. "Well he probably isn't wrong. Just because it's the nothing of all nothing, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If it predates creation, wouldn't it's residue be left behind when creation was created?" She's starting to feel as if her words are redundant but she gets her point across. "I'll meet with the person you suggested and I'll see what happens when I am around the sample, that should at least give us an idea if I should avoid it or not. I'll be sure to bring D in as well just to experiment on that as well." She gets to her feet and gathers her other items. "I'll come by and read the file later. I need to make sure Bobby's shows are put on, or he starts leaving his toys everywhere." Pausing for one more minute she frowns at Jessica. "Get some sleep. You're not going to help anyone if you can't focus."

—-

Jessica hadn't actually suggested anyone at all, but she lets that go. "Just focus on the map for now. I don't want anyone experimenting, the more I think about it, until we are back and a light weilding wizard is on hand to fix it if things go wrong. At least with the map we'll know where to go experimenting, and we'll have a bunch of new leads to work."

But Elinor is leaving. She stands to see her out. "Be careful."

Focus is another one of those things destined to come up in a few days. Jessica smiles ruefully. "Yeah, up next, Benadryl." That'll be good for about four hours at least, maybe seven if she takes the whole pack.

She decides to take the whole pack. She really needs the sleep. "Call me if you need anything."

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