AKA Dumb Ways to Die

May 14, 2017:

A worried Trish Walker welcomes Jessica Jones back from Germany. Jess struggles to maintain control over her emotions as Trish brings her into the loop of her own ongoing investigation.

JFK International Airport, and a Ukranian restaurant near Trish's Manhattan Apartment

Traffic. So much traffic.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara, Tony Stark, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Azalea Kingston, John Constantine, Cindy Moon, Daredevil, Red Robin, Peter Quill, Kitty Pryde, Peggy Carter, Ribbon, Elinor Ravensdale

Mood Music: Dumb Ways to Die


Fade In…

For Jessica, one of the hardest parts about going to Germany was not knowing precisely when she'd be able to come home again. It ended when it ended, when the mission was done.

Late last night, however, Trish finally got a text.

Lifting off. Home in 8 hours, thirty minutes. Meet me at airport? She knew Trish might have to have her driver drop her off, knew they might have to take a cab wherever, knew and just didn't care.

She stands gingerly at the exit to the airport now, alone and looking like she's in some pain. Zatanna was able to safely heal the worst damage. Her bones, for example, are now safely tucked back into her skin. She no longer has a concussion, though her head still hurts. She wears sunglasses against the early morning glare, jetlagged and confused that there is even an early morning glare to contend with. She's dressed in jeans and a drab olive green t-shirt with a v-necked collar offering a few buttons, some of Tony's bulletproof clothes. Unlike most travelers she doesn't even carry a bag, something which ought to make her stand out, but doesn't, New York being as it is.

—-

Lifting off. Home in 8 hours, thirty minutes. Meet me at airport?

Trish had stared at that message for a good ten minutes before she had typed in her response saying she would be there. Aside from a quick 'You look absolutely adorable! Why don't you dress up like that more often?' in response to the picture of the swing dance getup, there hadn't been a whole lot of talk between the two sisters since Tony had spilled the beans. Because Jessica had been busy doing her best to not die and because Trish had been too guilty to feel comfortable initiating any kind of conversation that wouldn't be face to face. She had made sure her usually non-existent liquor cabinet was fully stocked, given herself a stern talking to about not being silly about driving anymore, and went to bed.

It's in her own car, that she pulls up in front of the airport to pick up Jessica. It just didn't feel right, having someone else there for what was sure to be in interesting ride home. Her brows lower behind her own sunglasses as she takes in her sister's appearance. A quick check is given to her own appearance, making sure her best attempt at the 'Rosie the Riveter' updo was still intact, that her red and white checkered button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up was straight, and that her jeans didn't have any crumbs on them from the muffin she had eaten on the way. Once she's confident she's as presentable as possible, she rolls down the window and leans over to flag Jess over.

"Hey good lookin'! You going my way?"

It's not like she really thinks that looking or acting cute is going to magically make it all better. But it can't hurt her case either. Right?

—-

It maybe doesn't hurt.

Jessica's lips quirk up into a half smile. She slides into the passenger seat. Then she wraps her arms around Trish and just buries her face in the woman's shoulder. In spite of this gulf of unspoken words between them, she chooses just four now. "I really missed you."

She'd pushed off, and pushed off, and pushed off how homesick and lost she'd been feeling in a foreign country. This had allowed her to focus on the mission. And had allowed her to have some fun for a change. But now, oddly, it all comes flooding back to her, felt acutely even as the remedy is delivered. One that might be delivered in full as she continues to touch base with the others left behind here, but…

Trish is first, and that is fitting.

She'd actually answered the text about looking cute with a host of wholly pragmatic and straightforward answer: Because 5 days out of 7 I'm doing dirty, sweaty work, or someone's trying to kill me? She'd neglected to include the other part of the answer…that she only felt safe putting herself into an outfit people might look at her in because she was going with Bucky and Jane, and she'd known Bucky would have burned down the whole club rather than see her harmed. It's foolish. Irrational. She can hold her own against most of the world.

But unlike most of the super-set, she did get her lessons early about how she can't hold her own against the entire world, and her life over the past seven months has certainly found ways to drive the lesson home. When it comes to certain things, she still harbors deep-seated fears and aversions she may never fully overcome…though the lack of long sleeves on a decent spring day, allowing her to enjoy sun on her skin, might be a step in the right direction.

—-

Trish wraps her arms around Jessica, lightly rubbing her back, as she turns her head enough to kiss Jess's hair before matching the shoulder/face burying. She can feel the sting of tears, but swallows them back, knowing there was probably going to be plenty later. She had always wanted to be self sufficient, not relying on Jess for everything, and had gotten the chance while Jess was abroad in Germany. Much like the powers, now that she had been given a taste, she had decided that self sufficient was overrated.

"I missed you, too. So, so much. I'm glad you're back safe."

There was more, so much more, that she wanted to say. The time and place was not in the car, in front of JFK International, for the whole world to see and hear. Instead, she keeps it short and simple, absorbing the hug for as long as Jessica needs it. If anyone has a problem with how long they are taking, not one fuck is given about it inside the car. There is healing happening just then, which takes priority, as far as Trish is concerned.

—-

Jess gives her another little squeeze, then pulls back.

She apparently agrees about time and place.

"Let's go back to your place? I don't think I can go to Alias right now."

As badly as she'd wanted to go home to New York, she feels dread when she contemplates her own apartment. She dreads standing in a spot that she now subconsciously associates with Xihunel. She dreads standing there, knowing that the bright and cheerful home that had existed for a few short months is now shattered: Azalea is locked away, and if they don't find a solution to her problem she may never come back. The white hot breakages of Zatanna and Constantine's relationship leave her with lowered hopes that they're going to be able to make Az a priority in time to save her, and while her own nature ensures that she will try to do what she can herself, she is keenly aware that her own prospects aren't good. When she contemplates standing in that office something sick, cold, and lonely comes over her entire being— which is bad, because she of course needs her files, and whatever map of various shit might be growing there, courtesy of Elinor and Darkedge.

Yet all of these things, including all the ways her journey halfway around the world has changed her for good or for ill or for both— they all conspire to make her feel like a puzzle piece that no longer snaps comfortably into the landscape of 485 W. 46th Street. Perhaps the feeling will fade. Perhaps she'll fix enough of her life for the place to start to feel something other than alien to her again. Perhaps just going there and getting back into the groove will be enough.

But for now, she's happy to put off her return to her little corner of Hell's Kitchen.

She has no idea whether Cindy went home after the window repair or whether she remained with Trish, but ultimately knows the spider kid can be trusted to slip out after a warm greeting if Jess and Trish need to talk. Which they do, and sorely.

—-

Trish tucks a bit of hair behind Jess's ear when she pulls back and cups Jess's cheek, giving it a gentle rub with her thumb, before turning her attention to the whole navigating the car back home safely process. There hadn't been any incidents on the way to the airport, but her emotions hadn't been riled then either. So it's a with a white knuckled ten and two grip of the steering wheel that she oulls out into the flow of vehicles leaving the airport. Her heart gives a little pinch when Jess admits to not being able to go to Alias. She can understand somewhat, given everything that had happened right before the trip to Germany. In fact, she had made up her bed with Jess's special quilt on her sister's side of the bed, feeling like she would try and guilt her into spending the night if she hadn't wanted to on her own.

"Yeah, that's definitely doable. My place it is. Cindy may or may not be there. She's in and out a lot, even more so now that the window is fixed. I got to see the suit spinning thing she does. Can I just say, super ridiculously jealous of that. You'd never have to worry about 'fat days' ever again, which let's be honest. God send. I've enjoyed having her around though. It's kinda nice to come home to a friendly face after a long, shitty day. I could get used to it."

She's babbling. She knows it. She doesn't try to stop it though, because it's the inane small talk that's going to get them home without her powers going wonky. It's also a defense mechanism, to a point. 'Let me throw a bunch of unrelated, really great sounding stuff to distract from the fact that there is a really serious, not so fun conversation coming up.' It's not as easy as it sounds, though, since there are hot button topics that need to be avoided during the babbling. Such as Azalea, Tony Stark, and Daredevil, all of whom knew about Trish's telekinesis before Jess. Which would most likely hurt Jess if/when she found out.

—-

Jessica seems content to let her babble, though her eyes narrow at the 10 & 2 driving. That is how Jessica drives…like a cautious novice…not how Trish drives. Her keen mind makes the jumps: the telekinesis is poorly controlled, and driving has been a hazard. She files it away. Now is not the time to address it.

"I don't think I've ever watched her spin clothes before, but I have seen her make napkins and stuff," Jessica replies. Then again, how much attention does the private investigator pay to clothing? "And she sure tries to fix the furniture with it. I'm really glad she's okay though. I wouldn't take her being in and out personally, that was her pattern before. She's trying hard to find her real family."

She wonders if Cindy feels at home at Alias anymore, either. Not necessarily because Az is gone…the two had bickered. But sudden chaos had come into the only home that she'd had since the bunker; sudden displacement. The PI resolves to pull her aside for a one-on-one in any case. Calling Silk and getting her onto a rooftop for a chat and a check-in shouldn't be too hard. Jess didn't entirely do right by Cindy either, she supposes, with her whirlwind solutions which did not consult the girl at all.

It's a measure of Jana's help that she finds herself accepting she also did the best she could.

She roots around in the dashboard, knowing Trish keeps chocolate there. She takes some for herself and begins stress-eating it. The crinkle of the cellophane is loud in the cramped car. She knows they're both stalling here, knows they're both avoiding everything between them, but she's unwilling to say a word until they're within the Fortress of Lavendar.

—-

Trish's eyes cut to the chocolate stash in her glove box, but she decides against trying to eat and drive just yet. Before Germany, she'd have just reached over and grabbed something herself, never mind asking. Before Germany, she'd have given Jess a hard time about stress eating. Before Germany, Jess probably wouldn't have needed to stress eat her chocolate. Because before Germany, there wasn't this gaping divide caused by secrets and newly acquired telekinesis to contend with.

Right, babbling to fill the awkward silences.

"Oh, I don't take it personal. She needs to find out what happened to them, if she can't actually find them. Must be quite the story, missing family, living in a bunker, having Spider-Man like powers. We didn't quite get into that, beyond that she had actually lived in a bunker, and that it wasn't just a joke." Whoa, dangerously close to hot button, back it up to more solid ground. "Napkins? What were you doing that you needed silk napkins? Wait, where those Cindy made napkins on taco night? If so, I'm even more impressed. She is one busy girl, man. School, part time Alias employee, part time family seeker, full time tidying machine… I might just be willing to give up the work out room to have her move in full time, just saying."

She turns her megawatt smile on Jess, so she'd know she was mostly joking about keeping Cindy. Mostly. But only if Cindy wanted to move in. At every red light they come too Trish will take her left hand off the wheel, to take Jess's hand, or rub her leg. Small, reassuring touches. Though whether it's herself or Jess she's reassuring is up for debate.

—-

"If she would feel more stable at your place, I'm not going to be upset. She might appreciate having her own room. Might appreciate a divide between home and work. Might appreciate a lot of things. If you want to ask her, ask her. That sort of thing should be her choice. As long as she knows she's always welcome at my place, knows I'm not interested in running her out of there."

Jessica feels a weary pang at the thought of both girls drifting out of her space. But wasn't the idea always to get them self-sufficient, on their feet? Eventually this would have happened anyway. It might as well be a happy upgrade for at least one of the young ladies. She knows she'll keep the bunk beds for awhile though, knows she'll stick to sleeping on her sofa when she manages to sleep at home at all.

There are other reasons, too, why it might be a good idea. It might put back-up squarely in Trish's home again. Something Jessica could perhaps have achieved by moving back in herself, but there are deep reasons why she can't, won't do that.

The entire thought line leaves her feeling disoriented though, as if suddenly nowhere is home, as if suddenly there is no place on earth where the puzzle piece that is 'her' can lay her head and, in so doing, 'fit', snap into place, feel 'right.' It's a dramatic, maudlin thought.

Trish touches her, Jess doesn't flinch from it. She finally sighs. She's not sure who Trish is trying to reassure either. She finally takes her sister's hand, squeezes it. She glances at the traffic and the clock, makes an estimation on how close they are to Trish's home. "I'm not," she says at last, "going to scream at you. Okay?" She's not sure if that's what Trish is actually worried about here, but…that is the impression Tony left her with when he took the bull by the horns and texted her the strange news.

—-

It had been going wonderfully well. Minimal awkwards, only a few minor moments when babbling traveled dangerously close to the predetermined unmentionables. A frown drew her brows together as Jess says she's okay with Cindy moving in. The words were innocent enough, but the tone was worrying. It had been intended as a joke but apparently had struck a bit of a nerve with her sis.

"Of course only if she wants to. I was joking, hon, really. I don't think she'll want to leave your place, since you've done such a good job of making it 'home' for her. I mean, if not for the whole window thing, I doubt she'd have stayed with me anyways."

Worry over upsetting Jess has her over-explaining herself. It hadn't occurred to her that it maybe should have been an unmentionable as well.

'I'm not going to scream at you.'

Talk about hot button. Trish flinches back in the seat, shoulders hunching, as guilt for not telling in the first place compounds on guilt for making Jess feel like she has to issue a 'No Yelling' disclaimer, on top of feeling like a shit for not opening up the line of communication sooner. Her head gives a particularly sharp throb, and a multi-legged crack spiders across the driver's side window. Almost as if someone struck it with their fist. Hard.

She lets go of the wheel to pinch the bridge of her nose with a resigned sigh of her own. "I almost wish you would, but let's save that for home, kay?" she asks weakly. Another costly repair due to lack of control. Great.

—-

Jessica starts at the cracks in the windshield. For a moment she is open-mouthed and wide-eyed, her pale, expressive face reflecting nothing but shock.

"Jesus," she whispers. It's one thing to read about it. It's another to see it for herself.

"Yeah. Okay. Yeah." She's tempted to tell Trish to pull over so she can drive, but she is afraid of escalating the situation, making Trish feel worse, and perhaps sending that telekinesis out of control in a way that will create a crisis. She pops chocolate in her mouth in a way that indicates a woman ticking a lock. After a moment? She waves an unwrapped piece under Trish's nose, making to pop it into her mouth. "Light's green. They're going to come after us with hatchets if you don't go ahead and drive."

Trish is feeling guilty that Jess has to issue a no-yelling disclaimer. Jess…is feeling guilty for the same reason, though the thoughts behind this guilt probably represents a vastly different set of issues. But that's something to address when they get home. Clearly.

—-

Trish mumbles a thanks around the chocolate and gets the car moving. It would be a sad day for the idiot stupid enough to approach that car at that time, but it was a valid point. It wouldn't get them home to have 'The Talk' any sooner. The right side of her mouth quirks up in a quick grin at the whispered 'Jesus'. It was usually being said the other way around, and it felt good to hear it for a change. Granted it was for a terrible reason. Windshields are not cheap after all.

"Why don't you tell me more about the swingers night you had with Bucky and Jane. Wait. I mean the swing club you went to, not that other thing."

Her cheeks heat as she stumbles over her words. She was 99.9% sure that the relationship between the trio was purely platonic, and had zero desire to know if it was otherwise.

—-

"Swing dance club," Jessica says, faintly scandalized. It's enough to restore some of the normal bite to her hard-edged alto, enough to make her scowl. "Jesus. I don't think Grandpa is ready for even the concept of the other type of club, Jane would kill him if he was, and I sure as Hell would never visit one."

But then a faint smile crosses over her features. "It wasn't like any club I've ever been in. It was really fun. It felt like flying. Kind of want to learn how to do it. Like really learn. No making fun of me for that, you're not allowed. I wish we could have stayed longer but, you know. We were there for about 30 minutes before Red had to blow up his penthouse, so."

The words are said with a kind of wry resignation. Moreover, there's a heaviness…some of what took place, especially what she can remember of, and what she saw in the aftermath of that last climactic night, does weigh on her.

She knows what she's saying may not be totally well recieved. She has no idea if Trish has kept up with foreign news while Jess was in Germany. If she has, she might have gotten a few tidbits…a blazing fire at a pub called the Union Jack, an SUV getting torn in half in the middle of a public roadway in the apparent thwarting of a kidnapping. There was the aforementioned dragon incident. There was an explosion in a downtown penthouse that only took off the top of the building, the penthouse level. And then on the same day, there was some sort of cult murder incident at a church in Bradenburg, an hour and a half down the road from Berlin.

They were the foot and fingerprints of the small team of individuals who went to pit themselves against the designs of an undying Nazi sorcerer and the Cult of the Cold Flame…and the self-same efforts of that Cult to bring them down.

—-

Trish nods vigorously at the correct term for the club. The explanation causes a small sigh of relief. Jess is not the only one who doesn't really want or need to know the gory details of the sister's love life. The smile is noticed, and one of her own flashes as she's told she's not allowed to tease about the dancing. Not that she would. She'd be more likely to jump in like a dirty old shirt, getting right into the fast paced swing of things. Pun intended.

"That was Red's place? I caught a bit on the news, but didn't get the details. Everyone's still alive, I hope?" It had almost come out 'okay', but one could be alive and not okay. Alive was more important, as it at least gives a chance to get back to okay. "I'm happy to hear you had fun. I solemnly swear I will not make fun of you. Unless you don't take me out dancing with you, at least one time, after you've had lessons. I might even know a guy, who knows a guy, who can give you private lessons, in a completely unsexualized setting. Which is a long, drawn out, politically correct way of saying he's gay."

She had been keeping up on foreign events while Jess was away, specifically the German kind. Each incident had given her palpitations, especially the dragon, but she had done quite well with keeping it mostly to herself. Mostly. Zach had been on the receiving end of some serious cranks afterwards, but nothing a little ass kissing hadn't been able to fix.

"So. You slew a dragon according to your one email. I am jealous of that too, not going to lie. Mind you, it probably sounds a lot more fun that it actually was. A dragon!"

—-

"Yeah, everyone we care about being alive is still alive." Her tone is very quiet there, falling back into something subdued. But she takes a breath.

She isn't exactly feeling guilty about the body count at that church, but she's not feeling good about it either. She isn't sure entirely which of those died at her hands, if any, but she was there, she was an accessory, she is equally responsible for any bodies that hit the floor, even if she did not pull the triggers or snap the necks. And on balance? With the moon turning to blood and some horrible design unfolding? She knows they saved far more lives than they took, knows there probably wasn't another way to save them, and knows that if they were called upon to do it again, she herself would do it all over again without hesitation. But it's not something to feel pride over, either. Not something to dismiss as nothing, for all her mental calculations about monsters and self-defense. It was something that had to be done, no more, no less, but the price of doing those things and remaining someone she can live with is to acknowledge that weight, to hold it, to make it part of her fabric, and to avoid glorifying it, ever.

Even if she can only really remember the mess as a pain-filled blur.

She is learning how to adjust to that weight now, but it's not something she wants to talk about. For one thing, she doesn't exactly want to stress Trish into wrecking the car before they get back to her apartment, for another, she's just not ready. She's not sure she ever will be.

So she turns her attention back to Trish's other comments, about swing dancing.

"You could come with. It would be fun," Jessica allows. She perks at the idea of a gay instructor and nods vigorously. "It's so non-sexual anyway— like seriously, the vibe is super social and fun, I don't think they looked at dancing in the 40s the same way we do now— that it might have been okay— but gay is better. Some of the moves are very high-contact. I don't know how I'd react with a straight man other than Bucky or some other straight man I know and trust, it's true."

The dragon, though, was cool, and carries far less weight. It was a pure guilt-free moment, and Jessica grins. "It was a construct made out of two god damn SUVs of all things. Bucky and Red totally blew it up, they more slew it than I did, but…I did my part I guess. It actually— yeah. That was fun. Not at first, because I was worried the civilians wouldn't get out in time to avoid being squished, but when it was done? Yeah, that…is probably going to go down as one of the high points of my life."

—-

Trish reaches over to give Jess's knee a squish at the quiet assurance that everyone's still here, appreciating why it would be a subdued topic. It obviously hadn't been an easy mission, full of dragon slaying and swing dancing the whole time. She offers up a silent prayer of thanks, or offers up thanks to the Universe, or just offers up good juju, or whichever, that everyone had made it out alive. She can tell there's something more to the story, but knows damn well she's in no position to pry, so she just let's it go without comment.

Her grin flashes back, full force, at the permission to come along. She would have anyways, but it was nice to have permission. And the excuse to have a little dance training herself. 'Dancing With the Stars' might call one day. Well, they might, not that she'd ever admit to wanting it to come in or anything.

"I'll call Andre and see what he can do for us. If I promise him a spot on the show, he'll do it in a heartbeat. Any exposure is good exposure, in his world. He's an absolute darling, I hope you like him as much as I do." At the description of the dragon fight, and admission of enjoyment, she lets out a delighted laugh. Without telekinetic side effects either, so yay for that. "I don't doubt it. I mean, SUV construct or no, you fought a fucking dragon, and you won! I can think of only two other humans who can say that. I'd be wondering what was wrong if it didn't make the high point list. Like seriously! What beats a capitol D, Dragon? What? I challenge you to think of something that is better than that."

Aside from that one little snafu, it was a not bad drive. Munching chocolate, catching up, making plans, and most importantly, not yelling at each other. Yet.

—-

Jessica tilts her head, content to ham it up for the second, to try to heal things between them before they even have the conversation, pushing aside the shame she feels over Trish's fear of telling her something so momentous. She has to fix it, and that starts with some of this, removing awkwardness as they crawl through New York City's traffic towards her place.

So she makes a big show of thinking about it.

"T-wo dragons?" she asks, drawing out the word with a hint of mischief sparking at her brown eyes. It's a moment where she's softened, one of those rare moments where the sassy-but-warm, passionate-but-gentle, loving woman who is buried so very deep inside of her gets to come out for just a moment. It's not the only time Trish has ever seen this woman. Trish has probably seen the glimpses of her more than anyone. She never gets to stay for long, usually choosing to flee back to the suit of armor afforded her by the no-nonsense, tough-talking, prickly exterior, which is in turn only a layer of walls above a volatile sea of emotions, most of them dark. The warmer Jess lives somewhere on an island shielded by all of that, but she's in there.

And she adds to the joke now. "Or…fighting two dragons…while wearing some god damn rocket boots?"

—-

Trish laughs hard enough to end up nose snorting. Of course Jessica would be able to answer the challenge with minimal effort. Trish cocks her own head as she pretends to be considering the point. The fact that softer Jess has come out to play for a bit warms her heart beyond words, giving her hope that maybe she hadn't broke them past fixing this time. Finally, she gives a slow nod.

"Rocket boots would definitely make it better. Not to mention making it harder for the dragon to get ya. Also a big plus, when you think about it. Soooo…..did you sneak into Amsterdam? I won't judge if you did, I'm just curious. Also. Where are your bags? Or did you go with nothing but the clothes on your back? Wait, penthouse blew up, never mind."

Her cheeks color again as she asks what she considers to be a stupid question. What ever Jess had packed probably hadn't survived the explosion.

"Revise that to do we need to stop and pick anything up along the way? I've got back up toothbrushes stashed, and you know you've got closet privileges, but is there anything else you might want or need? Even if it's just need it to cure the wanting that you have."

—-

Jessica snorts and shakes her head, smirking. "Is that what we need now? Jessica the pothead to replace Jessica the alcholic? No, we just didn't have time."

But then Trish is worrying about her clothing and things. Jessica tries holding up a hand to forestall her, but she's off to the races, trying to answer her own question and take care of her. It's warming, but it's also unnecessary. Finally Jessica brings out her phone of all things, and pokes her finger at an app that really is not available in the app store, marked STUFF.

She pulls up a picture of a toothbrush. And she taps it twice, sort of makes a plucking motion in the air, and…

She's holding her toothbrush. "So Zatanna magicked our phones," she explains. "I haven't lost a thing. I've even got my punching bag in here, which is why you didn't see it at Alias. My entire wardrobe. But you can still take me shopping. That bad-ass vintage dress? It got basically ripped to shit in the final conflict and I am kind of pissed off about that. If we can ever get you and Zatanna in a room together I'll ask her to make you a STUFF app too. Your life will never be the same. It's some magical innovation she came up with, something probably not very many wizards can even do, something so uniquely— you know, her. Saturated social media generation, ahoy. Bucky put his whole god damn arsenal in there, it's why he had a rocket launcher for the dragon. He just up and pulled it out of his phone and boom."

After a moment, she suspects what Trish is doing is stalling. If they had to go buy fresh underwear or whatever it would have kept them out of Fort Walker for that much longer. She hits the app again and pushes her toothbrush back into her phone. STUFF renders this stall ineffective, it seems.

Maybe having the conversation at Trish's place isn't even the best idea. Maybe what they need…is neutral ground.

"I'll tell you what I am, is hungry," Jessica says. And she is. Zatanna's healing and her own body's healing factor both demand calories and lots of them. Her body is working overtime, like a furnace. As Trish has touched her she'll even feel the elevated temperature, almost but not quite like a fever. "Maybe we eat, and talk."

It might reassure Trish that they can remain civil, if they are in a place where making a scene would be too much a detriment.

—-

Trish goggled as Jess pulls a toothbrush out of her phone!! She almost pulled her own purple phone out of her pocket to demand which app that was with a side of why didn't Tony tell me it could do that. Until Jess mentions that Zatanna had done it. Which was very effective at forestalling a major pout on her part. As well as putting meeting the famous Zee at the top of her priority list.

"Yes please, pretty please, with a cherry on top. I want that app. Whatever she wants, free publicity for a year, walk ons whenever she wants, whatever it takes. I am not above begging, if it comes to that. Okay, you don't need immediate shopping, but food we can do. I know just the place."

Knowing as much as she does about Jessica's body, more so after reading her medical records, she decides on this delicious, little known, Ukrainian family bistro. Jess's appetite would be viewed as a welcome challenge to Petro and Katia. Plus, she was in the mood for perogies, and they were actually very close. She makes the appropriate turn so that they could be eating in less than twenty minutes. Time to find some courage to say the most important thing she had to say. She takes a deep breath and begins imagining a flower blooming in her mind in an attempt to forestall losing her windshield completely.

"I need to say this to you before we people. It's very important. I wasn't afraid to tell because I was afraid of getting yelled at. I was afraid that you would be
angry enough to cut me out, like you did before. And I'm not trying to pull a Dorothy with the holding shit over your head or making you feel guilty and I know that the circumstances were way different before. I feel really, really shitty that you had to find out from Tony while you were overseas. I wanted to tell you, face to face, everything all at once. Hopefully long after everything had gone away, which doesn't appear to be in the books. But, anyways. I love you and I don't want you thinking that I don't trust you, or that I'm scared of you. Because neither is true."

That was the limit of speaking without crying. Her throat closes up on her and it's a very close thing to being a bit too late. But she manages to not start leaking, even though her bottom lip trembles for a moment. She clears her throat instead, actively avoiding eye contact for the moment, grateful for the fact she had grabbed the large sunglasses. And the fact she hadn't blown out her windshield. The flower thing seemed to be working so far. Food might be doable without incident if this kept up.

—-

Jessica looks stricken when Trish says she'd been afraid Jessica would walk out of her life again.

As much as she made the bit about yelling and screaming, she knows she made this too. It's not as bad. Jessica had been quietly wondering if she'd turned into an abuser herself, had turned into a Dorothy in Trish's life somewhere along the way with her caustic, explosive temper. She had been aware of every moment where she'd turned bossy and unkind, all too quick to order Trish about like some sort of secretary. She's keenly aware now of the balance on the books between them, the one where Trish does 9 times for Jess what Jess ever does for her.

There's still shame to be had in that.

She takes a deep, steadying breath and decides she'd better deal with this a piece at a time.

She reaches over to squeeze Trish's shoulder, though, and says firmly, "I didn't leave the first time because I was angry at you. You know that, right?"

She had, of course, heard Trish say that she knew very well that the circumstances had been different before, but…it's worth addressing all the same, worth making it clear that anger was never the emotion that caused Jessica to forge that rift.

—-

It's probably a very good thing that Trish wasn't looking at Jess just then, to see the impact her words had. She had meant to reassure Jess, not cause more distress. The stricken look most likely would have resulted in something very close to the crisis Jess had imagined earlier when she had decided against offering to drive the rest of the way. If they could have heard each other's thoughts it probably would have saved a lot of upset and resulted in a few laughs. Unfortunately they had to rely on the more mundane forms of communication.

"I know that Jess, really I do. You needed time to figure things out and you couldn't do that with me playing helicopter mom all the damn time. It's just really complicated, you know? Of course you don't, stupid thing to say. But it is. Complicated. It's shitty and manipulative to not tell things because I'm a coward. I'm a shitty human, Jess. I am sorry for that. How can you stand me? I can't stand me."

She takes a deep breath and tries to find logic and reason in the wave of emotion she's riding. If she hadn't been driving she most likely would have stomped her foot in frustration with herself. She settles for a shoulder roll and head shake instead.

"I need to start at the beginning for this all to make sense. But first. Let's get the most important issues cleared up first. I'm not scared of you and I trust you with my life, always have, always will, nothing changes that. Ever. And you weren't mad at me when you struck out on your own before, and possibly aren't going to leave me now, though I will understand if there is a quiet period after I'm done filling in all the details. I can do a quiet period, as long as it's not forever. I have not been enjoying this no talking thing at all. Even though it was my fault."

—-

If they were hearing each other's thoughts, Jess would be having an entirely different form of freakout. Especially given the great lengths she's gone to in regards to keeping her head free and clear of any kind of psychic intrusion. Lengths she's not even done pursuing.

Trish starts calling herself shitty and Jessica scowls. She scowls harder when Trish starts babbling about the anger she expects, the trust she has, the quiet period she thinks she'll need. "Stop, okay, just— just stop, damn it."

She takes a breath. This is close to yelling, but the temper isn't at Trish precisely. It's at all the permutations of situation, some she doesn't even know about yet, which has brought her sister to feel the same levels of self-loathing, even for a moment, as Jess routinely feels. She reaches out to grab both Trish's shoulders now that they're safely parked, ignoring the tantalizing smells of pierogis making her stomach growl like an angry bear. She turns Trish to face her, eyes blazing with intensity.

"Just stop. You're not shitty. You're human. You did the best you could with whatever the fuck this is. Yes, okay, yes, it hurt that I found out from Tony, but you had your god damn reasons. I trust you. I'm scared for you, I'm worried for you, I wish I'd been here to deal with whatever it was. I went to Germany because I gave John my word that I'd go to Germany and help him. We stopped something awful and you know what? Despite both those things? I still don't god damn know if I had any right to go at all."

She takes a deep breath and says, "But I learned something. I learned when you care about people you hang in, even when you hurt them and they hurt you, and if you hang in, and try to fix the inevitable damage, things can be okay. Sometimes sooner than you think. I learned running away isn't the answer."

She drops her voice, lets the edge flow away from it. "You know how I feel about making promises at all." Jess actually rarely gives her word, because once she does, once she elevates something to the level of a promise, she is rabid about keeping it. "Well, I promise you. No quiet periods, no walking out. Not again. I hurt you badly when I did that, and I will regret that the rest of my life, even if I did 'need' it. I'm not going anywhere. If I disappear again, it's because someone has taken me, or because I am dead. Clear?"

—-

Trish takes a deep breath, as Jess takes her shoulders, folding her hands in her lap after pushing up her sunglasses. If Jess was going to be that serious, it deserved actual eye contact. No shields. She does stop, for many reasons, not just because it was requested. She wanted to stop before she did more damage with a runaway mouth.

"Clear. Very clear and thank you for saying so. Though you better just be taken and not dead, you hear me? I mean it. You were asked to go, therefore you had the right to be there. You went because you wanted to help people you care about. That gives you the right. I'm a little scared for me too, but I think I'll be okay if I learn to control it." Her lips quirk in a quick grin. "It's kinda cool, not going to lie. But I digress. Beginning of the story. Brace yourself, Dorothy's involved, and I need you to hear me out without loosing your mind about it. She got her punishment and she hasn't bothered me once since she got out of the hospital."

She leans forward to give Jess another hug, getting close enough to hear the growling of her stomach. It makes her giggle a little, even though it was a serious moment. Another kiss is dropped on Jess's cheek as she pull's back, relieved to know that she didn't have to worry about her biggest fear of Jess leaving anymore. It made the rest so much easier from her side.

"Let's get you some food and I'll give you the whole story. It boarders on unbelievable, even though I was there for the entire thing."

—-

Her features harden as Trish mentions Dorothy Walker, but she allows no other expression or reaction to show. Instead, she addresses the final segment of Trish's words, accepting her hugs and kisses with gratitude. Physical contact, she has found, eases something inside of her when she's receiving it from people whom she loves and trusts. Alleviates pain and hurt that words can't. And given the list of people who she can stand that kind of contact from is very short indeed, she will more than soak up said affection from the first and number one person on that list.

"Every part of our lives borders on the unbelievable."

Jess is already getting out of the car, perhaps before Trish can change her mind. Once they get inside, she orders a ridiculous number of pierogis, enough to feed any four people, a giant soda as big as her head, and then actually turns to Trish and asks, "What are you having?"

She also is happy to let Trish tell this at her pace. Once their order is filled and they are seated at some cheerful little table, she swipes hot cheesy potato goodness into sour cream and fills up her mouth, and then looks at her sister expectantly. It's almost a silent signal— see, she's shutting up, her mouth is full of food, Trish can feel free to go right ahead and do this thing. Given the size of the bite she's taken she might also look a bit like a chipmunk, a fact which she might be playing up just a little to put her sister at her ease.

Jessica herself is right on edge, feeling like she's teetering on some sort of high wire, adrenaline coursing through her veins. The more nervous Trish gets about telling the story, the more build-up she gives, the more Jessica's anxiety grows. In addition to the formidable needs of her healing factor, she'd wanted food precisely because she knew that food would allow her to manage and even conceal the greater part of that anxiety. The signs are there…a tightning around the eyes, an intensity in the gaze— but they are less than they might have been without this buffer.

—-

Trish follows Jess into the restaurant, ordering her thoughts, preparing what she was going to say. Not that she was manufacturing lies, only making sure she had the order of events right. It wouldn't make any sense at all if it was told out of order. She laughs at Katia's look of disbelief at Jess's order, adding her own to the list, though much smaller than Jessica's. The order was so impressive for two small women and even drew Pietro out of the kitchen so he could get a good look. They were promised the best he could deliver, and he was true to his word. Her own first bite was delicious, and she had reached the end of her stalling abilities.

"Okay, so not too long before the whole Joker incident, mom showed up and tried to bait me into Sunday dinners on the sly, using the medical files she had gotten when you came to live with us. I didn't like the idea, but wanted the files, if only to get them out of her hands. So I asked Az to steal them for me. And she did. Which led me to Miriam Kelt, friend of mom's, doctor who consulted for IGH now CGI, and is the whole reason you are now mine. Bless her heart and rest her soul."

She took another bite and washed it down with a sip of her own soda. Now began the more in depth explanation.

"I went to Miriam's house, meaning to ask her why she had done so many tests on you and kept you in the coma. You're welcome to the paperwork I got from mom if you want it. It's in my safe, at home. Anyways. I had no idea she was mom's friend, but that's what finally got her to open up. Turns out she got wind of what IGH was going to do with you, beyond just testing, and she didn't like it, so enter us and you know how that turned out. In the meantime, she was run out of medicine, but kept on the payroll, if you know what I mean, by IGH. When they were bought by CGI, the deal changed and Miriam was recruited into developing new drugs based on what they learned about you."

Trish took a couple more bites as Katia comes to the table to refill their drinks and drop an extra plate of sausage, courtesy of Pietro since it was a new recipe he was trying out. She offers her thanks and compliments to the kitchen, taking a bite so she could send her reviews back to the kitchen, buying them more private conversation time.

"She was going to tell me who was in charge, but she was killed. I found out that her place was bugged and that's why the hitman was able to shoot her just in time. I didn't know where to go or what to do, since there was no one who would be able to get there in time to help me, so I hid in her home office. I found samples there of different drugs along with some notes. I scooped what I could into my purse, pills and papers both. Oh God, Jess, I was so scared, so I took three of the pills on the desk, hoping that a) I didn't die, and b) one of them would give me the ability to get away. I got gills, which freaked me the fuck out, let me tell you. Praise everyone and everything they went away. I also got the telekinesis, though I didn't realize it right away. The third thing, which I liked the least but needed the most in a way, was Kilgrave's thing. I think that's the only reason I'm not dead, because I was crouched behind the desk saying 'don't kill me' over and over."

She takes a pause in the story to eat a few more pierogis, drink a bit more pop, and give Jess a chance to process what she had been told so far and ask any questions she might have.

—-

This might be it. The moment where Jessica finally loses her shit.When she hears that Trish was basically diving into these dangerous dealings behind her back well before she went to Germany, she and Azalea both, her dark eyes flash, displaying oncoming thunderheads. She avoids exploding then and there mostly because sausage arrives. She reaches for it with a ferocious scowl, takes almost all of it. She takes bites; it is fantastic. She in fact does not let herself stop taking bites, knowing that if she doesn't she'll say things before she's really chosen her reaction.

That is 90% of what she and Jana talk about in her dreams. Feeling feelings, just those in the present, ignoring those from the past and the anxieties about the future, acknowledging those feelings, and then choosing how to react to them.

This all means that she gets to hear the rest, and the rest nearly makes her choke. She coughs up some of that food, spits it into a napkin, makes a face, and gets up to throw it away. She wipes her face with a fresh one.

She stomps over. Her soda is empty. She grabs the cup. She stomps away. She refills the soda. She returns, all without saying a word.

The look on her face is dark and shadowed at the idea that Trish, even for a moment, had Kilgrave's powers. Had them.

And used them.

Acknowledging those feelings? She has no idea what she's even feeling. Something inside of her is flailing and screaming in the prison of her heart, spouting incoherent sputters as it pulls tight on the barbed-wire psychological fences built around her mind. It's almost too much to make sense of. Its an elephant. One she ultimately decides to tackle one bite at a time.

"Joker attacked you in March," she says in a low, furious voice. She's trying. Trying so hard not to explode. "Early March. Your mother showed up to bait you with some bullshit from the hospital 17 years ago, and instead of consulting me you and Az decided to— Jesus, when the fuck were you planning on putting me in the loop, Trish? And what the Hell were you thinking? You're telling me you read all about how these people— did you say kept me in a coma? What the— you didn't think someone who would do that might be dangerous? You thought you'd just…show up and ask Dr. Ethics-Fail some questions and she'd spill? You could have been killed!"

Yep, there's those detective skills in action, noting that Trish Walker could have been killed.

—-

Trish takes it all stoically, having the good grace to at least look ashamed of herself. Because she was. It was all true and fair points. About two months was plenty of time to bring Jess into the loop. She had meant to, she really had. Just with one thing and another, starting with Jess's immediate dislike of all things Dorothy related and going on from there, it had fallen by the wayside. It is said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and she is well on her way down that particular highway.

"I know, I know Jess. I said I was a terrible human being didn't I? I admitted it, so it's not like I'm sitting here thinking I didn't fuck up." She heaves a huge sigh, risking a glance at her sister's face. "It went away, Jess. I didn't know what I was taking. If I had known what my choices were, I probably would have went with the telekinesis and just hit him on the head with something from a hiding spot. All I did was make him put the gun down, call the cops to turn himself in, and forget me. That's all. I swear. I was going to tell you, but something kept coming up. And it's not like you're at your most rational when it comes to Dorothy related subjects. Not that it's an excuse. Sorry, shitty underhanded move there."

She squirmed in her seat, wrestling with the guilt she was feeling. It was almost enough to put her off her meal. But not quite.

"It was stupid. I know. I had no business going there by myself. But done is done, so it's clean up the mess time. So much fun. And I'm on CGI's radar now, because they had bugs in the house. And these people are not shy about permanent solutions to their problems. I am staying away from them, at Daredevil's request, until you are home and involved. There isn't much else to tell, really. I mean, the telekinesis won't go away, the other two things did, and I don't know what to do now. I can't just walk away, and I can't go further without your help. If you need to yell a little, go ahead. I'll do my best not to cry."

—-

In many ways the way Trish tells this story is disjointed. Jess should be used to this— as an investigator she has learned much from people who tell the story in emotional spurts, leaving out important bits of information. It's her job to draw them out. Trish apologizes, and she laces her hands behind her neck and rests her elbows on the table for a moment.

"Three random pills, which might have done whatever the fuck. Most of us would have at least just stopped at one, Trish."

She mutters the words in resigned fashion, aware that she is flitting to random points in the story. Her head snaps up a little at the mention of the Daredevil's name, but she leaves it at that for a moment. She just…unlaces her fingers and sits back, staring at her sister. Finally, she takes out her phone and an earbud. She shoves the headphones into the jack and calls up a video. Then she shoves it across the table.

"You just…you just watch that and think about what you've done," she grumbles, "While I try to make sense of this shit you're telling me, cause you're all over the god damned map. You watch every last second."

It makes her sound like a scolding mother chastizing a child, but there's maybe a hint of mischief that undermines this. Because at the end of the day, Jess is aware of one thing: Trish got drawn into this mess because she was trying to look out for her. She is not happy about it, but Trish is apologetic, and Jess decides what she is feeling is a need to sort through the mess of information that has been thrown her way and arrive at some sort of action plan that keeps her sister alive and deals with whatever fresh Hell some assholes have decided to unleash upon the world.

Speaking of Daredevil, she thinks she finally understands how he must have felt, all those times, when he got blindsided by one of her investigations only to get some harried, ultra-dense info dump thrown his way when she tried to frantically explain what it was he found himself caught up in. She is triply glad she opened her files to him, even if she wonders if he found any way to get any use out of them. She feels a stab of gratitude that he chose to extract that promise from her sister, even as she finds herself sighing…the sphinx-like man had apparently learned of all of this before she'd learned of it as well, and had chosen to keep mum. Probably, if she knows him, out of respect for their family dynamics, or perhaps at Trish's counter-request. He certainly owes her, of all people, no answers…

But Jessica Jones finds herself wistfully wishing that he, too, might have reached out to her with the footnote that her sister was fundamentally altered and in some sort of danger, maybe before Tony finally took matters into his own hands and decided that someone had to. She looks down into her cup to hide her face as she grapples with that stab of unreasonable disappointment. He looked out for Trish. That's what really matters. Another person who has been there for her little family when she could not be. She decides to focus on that bit of it, and that bit only.

The video, as it happens, is Dumb Ways to Die. Worth noting that 'Eat Medicine that's Out of Date' is the third lyric, with a little sea green bean turning into a lumpy dying mess after downing an entire bottle. She points at that phone screen sternly one more time, and then closes her eyes to think.

—-

"I panicked," Trish mutters defensively in response to the pill comment. She knew it was stupid, but wasn't exactly thinking straight.

She takes the phone and looks down at what she assumes is some sort of say no to drugs video. She glances up at Jess catching the undertone of mischief. Her brows lower as her eyes drop down to the screen and she taps play. As Dumb ways to Die starts playing, she lets out a laughing sob. But she watches. The whole thing. To the end. Hitting pause when she had to lay the phone down gently and bury her face in her hands to laugh helplessly, but stoically picking it back up when she was composed enough to do so. It wasn't untrue or inappropriate, which made it all the more funny.

When the video was over, she finished her plate, and ordered them both desert while Jess's eyes were closed. She had tried to tell it in the way that would make the most sense, but it wasn't exactly as though it made sense to begin with. She had gone to ask a few questions and ended up in the mother of all shit storms. Had it been anyone else, it would have been amusing at how terribly bad their luck was. Since it wasn't someone else, she didn't find it funny at all. She picks at her dessert, and ques up a video of her own. She turns the volume up enough to be heard, but not offensively loud to bother the rest of the room.

Don't You Put It In Your Mouth plays quietly while Jessica thinks about everything.

—-

Jessica starts laughing helplessly in return as Trish sees her dumb video with one of her own. Her eyes stay closed, and a few tears leak out of the corners of them, but she does laugh.

She listens to the whole thing, then opens her mouth wide and puts the last bite of sausage in. Ordering dessert? A wise move.

Jessica then says, "You're right. There's nothing for this but to move forward," she says, quietly, at last. "Someone's making mind-control pills, and God knows how they figured out how to do that, but that sounds like an operation that needs to burn in the fires of Hell. But I have to get Tony's case cleared, preferably before another body hits the floor. Maybe they intersect. One of my perpetrators on that case has mind control abilities."

A pause, and more quietly. "Daredevil had to extract a promise from you not to investigate anymore? Does that mean you really want to stay in this, fists swinging? What happened to— I kind of hate being in danger and I want to be a sidekick?"

—-

Trish shrugs at the question at first, finishing the last bite on her plate before asking. She had asked herself that too. Many times. Was it something she wanted to be any more involved in than she already was? Not exactly, but she was already on the radar, so might as well see it through to the end. Besides, it might gain her access to more information about what had happened to her, what all she could do now. Move stuff, sure. Maybe there was more too it? She certainly wanted to find out.

"I agree that it needs to be killed, with Hell Fire. It's a terrible thing, they are doing. No one should be able to have others at the mercy of their whims. I felt so dirty afterwards. I just…I can't…there are no words. It's awful. As for what changed? I put a big target on my back by showing up at the doctors and I want to make sure whomever ordered her death pays for it. I need to see it through because I feel like her death is my fault. If I'd've left well enough alone, she wouldn't have died."

She pushes her plate away, feeling even shittier, having finally admitted that out loud. Sure, Daredevil had said the blame lay elsewhere, but it didn't change how she felt. Responsible.

"It wasn't like it was that hard for him. I didn't put up much of a fight. Until Az is better, or you were home, which ever came first, I didn't want to end up in something I couldn't luck my way out of."

—-

Jessica's face closes down as Trish starts talking about actually using that power. "I'm glad it saved your life," she says. That's what she's going to make her takeaway from that, but it does not do good things to her psyche to go there. She compartmentalizes it firmly, feeling an aversion that she has to fight down with both mental fists, one to Trish. She doesn't want to feel that anymore.

As it is, there are bits she still doesn't get, but she's not sure she's ready to do a full investigative work-up on this for herself yet. She knows she needs to grill Trish about each of these details: there are blanks to fill in. Right now, to Jessica's mind, it looks vaguely like Step 1, run tests on Teen Jones, Step 2: ??? Step 3: Show up with a bunch of pills that have nothing to do with her own powers, and…profit??

But believe it or not, understanding CGI/IGH's schemes isn't even at the top of her list right now. She sighs. Trish is now on the other side of it, the side that she herself got so worked up about when Jess did it. The tendency to blame oneself.

"You know," she says. "My investigations kept getting a friend of mine into trouble, and it was driving me crazy. I felt so guilty, just so horrid rotten guilty. If only I hadn't done this or that. But the thing is, the 'this' and the 'that' I kept beating myself up for? They were pretty fucking reasonable actions at the time. I was just having conversations, or working the case, or trying to help someone. The fact that you feel like shit is an indicator that you're a decent human being, but you can't. You'll drive yourself insane. Ask me how I know."

She leans over and takes Trish's hand and says, "You didn't start this dumpster fire. You're one of the people trying to put it out. I want you to remember that. And Kelt? Kelt would still be alive if she'd practiced medicine the right way. If she hadn't taken whatever deal from IGH. She'd be working in the ER right now. That death came about because of her choices. You just happened to be there. Chances are, they'd have killed her anyway as soon as they got what they wanted out of her. The fact that she was still alive probably means those pills aren't street-ready yet and they were hoping she could solve some issue with them, not that she was destined to live a long and happy life."

Trish shrugs, and Jessica sighs. "Alright. First. You're going to promise me that when you decide to start digging again, you're going to go with backup. It doesn't have to be me. There are others you can call. Cindy, maybe." Az, but Az is… "Tony. Daredevil, if he'll consent to do it for you. If you don't want me there, or if I'm not available and you just have to dig into something, please. Just promise me someone will be looking over your shoulder. Shit, give me your phone and I'll download my whole contact list right now. You tell any of those people you're my sister, those who don't already know, and they'll be there for you no questions asked. They'll help you, Trish. You don't have to do anything alone."

"Cause we both know you're going to go digging again."

—-

Trish squeezes Jess's hand, grateful for the reassurances that it wasn't her fault. Just because she knew it, didn't mean it wasn't appreciated when it came from someone else. She still felt a little bad, but that might just be trauma left over from watching someone die less than a foot away from where she sat. Jess is requesting a promise that she wouldn't do anything without back up. Given how stressed out she's been over patching things up with her sister, she'd promise anything. The fact that it's a reasonable request makes it even easier to agree.

"I promise. I will not go snooping outside of my apartment without back up. I'm not going to call in backup for internet searching though. I'll be as safe as possible at home. Plus, I don't think I've been hacked, so privacy will still be intact. But outside my place, if it's not a work or shopping related outing, I will be sure I've got someone to cover my ass if it gets hairy."

Because she was absolutely going to go digging again. Now that Jess was back, she knew where she stood with the telekinesis fading, and things were okay between them, she was definitely going to find out more about CGI. Daredevil said they were bad news, which meant they needed to be shut down. Especially before they got the virus stabilized enough for street consumption.

—-

Jessica gives her sister one of those long, unreadable looks, the same she often gives to clients when they spin their stories in her office. She knows Trish is ready to promise just about anything…and she knows she is not done making demands.

"You also don't do jack shit till those powers are under control. I am taking your keys until they are. I don't care if you work with Tony, Jane, or someone else, but it is more of a liability than a useful self-defense right now."

Internet searching should be safe enough, but she says, "Use the Stark Phone for any searches. Security on those things is pretty much off the hook."

—-

Trish heaves a sigh. Of course it wouldn't have ended there. That was too much to hope for. She'd still agree though, until they got unreasonable. That line hadn't been crossed yet though. Plus any excuse to play with her new Stark Phone. She hangs her head pokes out her lower lip for effect.

"Alright. I agree to conditions two and three. I'm not sure who'll be able to help me figure this out, but I'll make control my number one priority. I need to work still, so I'll be using the car service like I have been. Is there anything else?"

She sits back in her seat and crosses her arms over her chest. Her foot wants to start tapping, but she's not trying to push any of Jess's buttons right then. She figures they've been given a good enough workout as it is.

—-

Jessica Jones is more than familiar with those moments when Trish is pouting for effect. When she's truly hurt or angry, she doesn't pout. She loses her temper and gets right in Jessica's face, or she issues some pointed statements. Pouting is a tactic, one that Jessica notes with some growing amusement. She takes a bite out of her dessert, and makes a big show of eating it, of thinking about all of this for a moment.

Then, much like a director might: "I need you to exaggerate that pout just a little more, Miss Walker. I don't think I'm feeling it."

But once the gentle snark is delivered she does lean back, thoughtfully, offering a glance around the basically empty restaurant to make sure the proprieters are still well out of earshot, a check she's been more or less doing throughout the course of this conversation even when her temper got riled. "We gotta get you some gear," she says at last. "Even if you weren't planning on doing another thing these guys might still wanna shoot at you. Couple of ways to do it. Tony's bulletproof plainclothes are pretty great. Jane made some fantastic one-pieces that go under just about anything. I'd lend you mine but it pretty much got trashed. Full-on costume, I suppose, is also an option." It is not an option that thrills her.

But much as she wants to protect Trish, to keep her out of it, Jessica has to admit the ship has sailed. Trish put herself in it two months ago, searching for answers on her behalf. And if they were answers Jess might have uncomfortably told her to let lie had she been consulted, they were nevertheless answers that point to something important in the here and now. Maybe the ship sailed sooner, when Az took her to stop that robbery.

If she can't protect her sister, she'll have to help her survive, and to treat her more like a partner. Which might also have the nice side effect of being kept in the loop, she thinks wryly, as the mental tally of Everyone Else Who Knew flashes through her head once more.

She takes another bite of her dessert, slowly, thoughtfully. There are still wheels turning, still responses to this latest series of revelations that are building through her head. At last: "I don't understand where Daredevil fits into this story." Because that's another consideration. If Trish is unable to drop this and it's also something that the fabulous Double-D is pursuing, Jessica needs to make sure that her sister isn't tripping over him or hindering him in any way.

—-

Trish uncrosses her arms and sits up, indignation painting her face. Until she realizes it was a joke and that it was just another bout of patented Jess snark. And then plays it up a lot more. Her bottom lip pokes out a bit further and trembles just a little. Her eyes are stricken, filling just enough with tears to be noticeable but not in danger of falling. Better to give just a bit too much and be asked to pull back than be told to give more. Had someone walked in off the street and looked at their table, they would have thought Jessica just broke up with her, or told her that her pet had died.

The moment passes as her very own gear is mentioned. More stuff from Tony wouldn't go amiss. Neither would a one piece designed to go under pretty much everything. It made her think of the special kevlar bustiers the Angels had worn in the second Charlie's Angels movie. Either way, she wouldn't turn down whatever she could get her hands on. Maybe not a full suit. Not yet, anyways.

"I don't think a full suit, hon, at least not until I have a name." She keeps her face completely serious, unable to resist pulling Jess's leg just a little. "But the rest, absolutely yes please. What ever I can get, I'll take. I'm not in a position to be fussy here, so I won't be making one over being bullet resistant. As for Daredevil, he ended up at Kelt's checking out something related to CGI, figured out I was there too, and ran into me at Alias when I went to check on the window progress. Scared the shit out of me, hanging out on the fire escape like some sort of gargoyle."

She picks up her drink and takes a sip to wet her throat.

"He wanted to know why I was there, what had happened to me, and didn't offer a whole lot up in return. Other than they are a dangerous company who isn't above murder and human trafficking. We ended up exchanging digits."

The last statement was dripping with satisfaction, as if to say 'I got a cool contact number on my own!'. Not snippy, but excited and proud. More 'Look at me mom' than 'I don't need your help'.

—-

Trish plays up her pouting, and Jess gives her a smirk and a slow-clap. It's also her way of showing Trish that yes, everything is going to be fine between them. She's forgiven.

But there is no mistaking the relief that unravels tightness at her shoulders when Trish says she doesn't want to get a costume. She might eyetwitch a little at the fact that she's going to be busy coming up with some sort of daft name, but she can envision a reality where Trish hasn't come up with just the right name or motif even well into her 80s, when it's far too late. It might be an effective stall, so Jessica does not look like she's going to help her come up with one either. Nope, nope, nope. "I'll ask both of them," she says, "If you don't see them first."

She drums her fingers against the tabletop. "Human trafficking. Yeah. He's been investigating human traffickers for a long time now, and you have to be careful not to trip over whatever he's doing. He's an excellent investigator in his own right. I'm not saying this because I'm trying to disparage you, by the way. If I'd suddenly had this case that someone else like him was working fall on my desk I'd be worried about the same issues." This relieves her a little too, though…IGH and CGI are definitely being handled. She doesn't have to spin this plate directly; Daredevil really has been spinning that one pretty much as long as she's known him. She doesn't have to feel like she's letting a bunch of people fall by the wayside, getting hurt or killed, because she absolutely has to deal with this other case before it explodes in fantastic fashion.

Interesting that he only tried to warn Trish off against the day of her return, rather than telling her to stay the heck right out of it. Maybe he's getting a bit more open to receiving help…

Or maybe he just had no more idea of how to stop the Walker Runaway Train than Jess does. Or thought she might know. Ha.

But then? Trish is proudly telling the tale of getting Daredevil's digits. Must. Not. Smile…

Jess ducks her head. And she smiles. "You are such a fangirl," she teases, but warmly. "Here. Hand me your phone and you can have some other people's digits, as promised."

Despite her tone, when she raises her head, she's quiet, and back on track, and projecting an air of being a detective again, a detective who is already familiar with the process of training and teaching other investigators, as well as one familiar with playing support to other investigators without screwing them up any. If Trish isn't going to let this go, then she has to learn how to do it right.

The thought— training detectives— brings a pang…going to see Az needs to be at the top of her list, as well, now that she's home. Another plate she's got to keep spinning, a solution she has to search for…preferably in a way that doesn't get Itzpapalotl's undies in a twist.

"Why don't you go ahead and set up a file at Alias with everything you found," she says at last, as if it's totally unrelated to her previous questions. "Keep it all organized. It's really easy to forget details when you're caught up in the heat of an investigation. What did you think your next move should be?"

—-

Trish digs out the purple phone from her purse and passes it over to Jess after performing an exaggerated bow from her chair. Her eyes roll at the 'fan girl' comment, her lips quirk in a quick grin, but she doesn't say anything. It's true after all. She really was. Her head nods at the statement that she needs to be careful of messing things up for Daredevil, by muddling into his investigation. All she was going to do was search out the information readily available on the world wide web. And if there was anything worth investigating, she fully intended on texting him first, to see if it was old new or not, before any kind of physical chasing of leads took place.

"I'll do that. Cindy can help me, if you're busy with other stuff, with setting up the files. I'm sure you've got lots on the go, things that had to be paused while you were over seas."

She pauses to take the final drink from her glass while she considers her next move. There were so many possibilities, but only one made sense. Control. Jess had hit the bulls eye with pointing out she was basically useless without it. No way around it. She had to make that priority, just like she promised. Her head shakes again, a touch rueful this time.

"I need to figure out how to control this thing I've got before I do anything else. I mean, I'll check public records as far back as possible on CGI, but I can't be 'oot and aboot' until I'm not dangerous anymore. Like, what happened to the windshield can happen to someone's person, and I can't have that on my conscious."

It never occurs to her that Jess might be inquiring about more immediate moves.

—-

"No criminal organization is going to have much that's useful just sitting out there on the World Wide Web. Whatever you find about their business arms will be so squeaky clean you could use it to eat off of," Jessica murmurs. She doesn't want Trish to waste her time and get frustrated either. That's just going to send her off into the stratosphere, send her poking into things she shouldn't poke into.

She adds John, Zee, Bucky, Jane, Peter Quill, Kitty, Red, Peggy, Hikari, and Elinor into Trish's phone. She figures Trish already has Tony's number, and Cindy's, and several others. She doesn't actually have a number for Cap, just a direct-access phone. Everyone else sort of comes along with various people (like Rocket coming with Quill), or…is someone she doesn't want Trish thinking of at all in that capacity, because she's carefully guarding their secrets, secrets which aren't hers to tell. Then, she adds the private investigator's database and inputs her username and password, saving it so Trish can get in there and use it. She pushes the bright purple phone back without even shaking her head about the color.

"Tell you what," she says, "There's an option in this database I just added which will allow you to do a patent search. When you start doing your research, run a search on IGH's patents. They were around for nearly 2 decades before CGI picked them up. They had to be making their money somewhere, and at least some of it had to be something that could explain whatever they reported to the IRS. This will probably deliver a stack of information that is at least 99% useless, but that 1% might be important. It will take you awhile to go through. It's something productive you can do while you're working on getting your abilities under control, and it actually will be helpful if you hit on the right gold nugget. In addition, you maybe work the phones. You're in the media. You have to have media friends. Find a science or a health investigative reporter, someone with a good, trustworthy reputation."

"When you're ready to be out and about, maybe search through some old archives at the Bugle or something to find the right person to talk to. Call me when you do, because I'm going to sit nearby and make sure nothing happens, but…you gotta work what you got, and what you got is contacts. There's a good chance one of them might have worked a story or poked at a story. You gotta go to the paper if you need to dig back to locate the right person to talk to, okay? A lot of times the most important news stories just don't stick around the Internet as long as people think they do. Look for something that touched on IGH, that started out looking juicy, and then just…dropped. Do the same for anything touching on CGI— patent searches and news story searches. Truthfully that could be two whole weeks of digging, tedious but important work that you'll be keeping off someone else's plate. It's the kind of shit I do all day long for my clients, though. It's not useless. It's lead creation."

She drains her second soda and adds, "You've already got a good security routine outside your apartment, right? You never let your driver take the same route twice? You vary up the grocery stores you go to or whatever? You don't go to work at exactly the same times, and you don't leave at exactly the same times? All that good shit?"

—-

Trish sits back in her chair and chews on her thumb nail as Jess adds to her contact list. It was going to gone through with a fine tooth comb. Later. When she was in the privacy of her own home. It was a fair point, the surface of CGI being squeaky clean, but clean or not, it might give her some names. It was something if she ran out of steam on the patent front. Either way, she had things to do while she figured out how to control her new found power.

"I can do that. Patents. My eyes are bleeding already, but I can do it. I'll start testing the waters on the health/science investigative front too. See who's kicking around the office before I cast my net wider. It shouldn't be too hard, especially when I start throwing around the possibility of ending up featured on my show. God, I hate using that like a goddamned carrot, but it's so fucking effective. Oh, well. At least I use it for good, which is more than a lot of assholes who do it can say."

She puts her elbows on the table and braces her head in her hands. It was a constant struggle, lately, not feeling like a rotten asshole all the time. It seemed like the biggest reason, keeping secrets from Jess, was pretty much taken care of. It didn't stop the endless litany of everything else she had reason to feel bad for though.

"I'll let you know as soon as I'm at the Bugle stage. Might not be right away, though. I guess it depends on who I can find to help with this control issue I have. I'll also see what I can dig up at the Library. Underutilized resources, those. I do love that first breath just inside the door, you know the one that's full of that book smell? Or am I on lonely island with that? Yes, I have a varied routine, as much as possible. I mean, when the show is on, anyone with ears will know where to find me, but for the rest? Sometimes I walk, sometimes I use the car service, sometimes it's the train. And I am not above having my groceries delivered, it all depends on the mood I'm wearing."

She winks at Jess, quoting one of the shows they had bonded over, after Jess had been adopted. Once they had decided they weren't going to hate each other, that is.

—-

"Look for names that appear over and over again. Patterns, too. Shifts in the technology they're applying for. And the gist of what they were willing to admit to publically." Jess then gives a rueful smile. Trish got actionable information out of medical bills, she should probably trust her to know how to get it out of the patents. But her impulse is to coach, a little, and she gives in to the impulse.

Trish says that she hates using her show like a carrot, and Jessica sweeps up the last bite of her dessert. She then reaches over and puts her arm around Trish as she puts her head down. "It can be a show, or it can be a weapon against the assholes of the world. If you're choosing to take a stand? Choosing to fight? You shouldn't feel bad about using every fucking weapon at your disposal. Especially the ones that only you can use."

She talks about the smell, and Jess gives her a little kiss on the temple. "I love that library smell too," she says solemnly.

She can only sigh and smirk at the quote and the wink. There are things a woman does not like to admit to. Certain television shows are among them. She rests her head against her sister and closes her eyes. "Small prices to pay," she murmurs, almost to herself, even as she squeezes Trish a little tighter. This isn't a television quote, but some thought that has slipped out, all but unbidden.

—-

Trish somewhat awkwardly wraps her arm around Jess, leaning into the hug. The lack of physical comfort had been wearing on her, (not that kind, jeez!), making it harder for her to deal with everything with her usual good graces. Since she was a unashamed, hard core snuggler. When things go bad, she goes for the hug instead of pills or bottles. Well…used to anyways. She lets out a sigh of her own, but for different reasons than Jess.

"Of course you do, because you're awesome. All the awesome people know about the best part of Libraries. Yeah, you're right. And I am not repeating that. I just, I don't know, I don't like feeling like I'm abusing my status. "

Jess kisses her temple and murmurs about paying prices. Given the choice, she'd go with small over large, all day long, especially if she was the one paying. She wants to know what price is being mentioned specifically, but doesn't ask. Instead, she leans her own head against Jess's, with her own eyes closed as well. Had someone snapped a pic, it would have ended up as a black and white print on her wall.

—-

Jessica decides to tell her anyway, because as shitty as Trish is feeling, maybe it's important. She strokes her sister's hair back from her temple, presses her lips to the top of her head, and murmurs into those golden locks. "I keep thinking I should have some sort of reaction to some of what you've told me, you know? Kelt, the fact that the coma was fake, this crazy company poking and prodding as it pleased. But I just— I don't feel anything about it except…that it was an awfully small price to pay to get you in my life."

She closes her eyes and sighs, squeezing her sister tighter. "You matter so much to me. You've done everything for me, even when I take you for granted. I love you so much. It kills me to think of you getting hurt, or dying, especially for my sake. I don't want to clip your wings, I want you to be everything that is in your heart to be, but God, it would absolutely kill me to lose you."

A sudden upswell of emotion sends a single tear sliding down her face and into Trish's hair. "Don't risk anything else for me," she whispers. "If you've got to be a hero, do it for people like them." She nods a bit to the kitchen, where owners of the establishment where they're having their moment have withdrawn once more. "Not for me."

—-

Somehow, Jessica always knows exactly what Trish needs. Whether it's a shoulder to cry on, a stoic wall to yell and rage at, or just the simple fact of saying the exactly right thing at exactly the right time. The shitty feeling starts to slide away as she feels a second kiss being pressed to her head. She can feel her eyes welling again, real this time, as she gets her explanation. Hearing that Jess felt that was all worth her turned into her own little Grinchy heart growing moment. She twists around in the chair enough to be able to wrap her other arm around Jess, instead of the awkward one-armed hug.

"You matter to me too, Jessica Jones. You were my first and best hero, one that actually made every day a little brighter and easier to take. I'm sorry, so sorry you had to go through what you did, but honestly? I wouldn't change anything, because it meant that I got you, too." She gives a little hiccuping laugh, more a sob than a laugh, as Jess talks about her getting hurt. "Now you know how I feel, like all the damn time, worrying you're going to get hurt worse than you can handle with your super stuff."

She pulls back, just far enough to be able to look Jess in the eye. Seeing the wet trail snaking down her sister's cheek causes one of her own to fall. She reaches up to wipe the wet away from Jess's cheek, ignoring her own.

"My wings and heart are everything they are, because you've been there, holding me up. If I'm going to be a hero, Jess, I want to be yours not just theirs."

And that's where her words fail her, as tears choke her up completely. She had known it was going to happen, she had just thought they would have been temper driven instead.

—-

"Jesus, I'm such an idiot," Jessica murmurs, reaching out to brush her thumb roughly across Trish's cheek to wipe awayher own tears in turn. "You know, this past six months, a lot of people have helped me change, get my head out of my own ass, and a lot of times they've done it by basically seeing me different than I saw myself and telling me what they saw over and over again. You've always seen me that way, though. And you told me over and over again. I guess I'm just stubborn-stupid, and have to hear the same thing said 100 different ways out of different mouths. And even then, I left Germany feeling like 'hero' was maybe too much to live up to, that all I could ask of myself was just…to defend people, you know? Because I kept thinking a hero was someone who didn't make so many mistakes. But you've seen all my mistakes. And you can still say that about me."

She smiles at Trish then, then rests her forehead against her sister's forehead. "You're the one who holds me up. You always have been that person for me, Trish. I know it's not what you mean, but the monumental effort of dealing with my bullshit for over a decade makes you my hero. Not everyone would do that. Not everyone could."

She exhales, thinking about the fact that she's been near-death twice in the span of less than thirty days, and those are just the two incidents coming to the top of her mind. If Trish had known the extent of it her hair might have turned white as snow, but in both cases Zatanna's healing had spared her the need to know just how bad it had been. "I never thought about what it might be like for you," she admits. "I just didn't worry too much about my own death. I never really thought how it must feel for you to worry about me, especially as even keeping up with 90% of the shit I'm dealing with is just…insanity."

She pulls back, takes both of Trish's hands. She takes a deep breath as she gently squeezes those pale, perfectly manicured fingers. "So. Here we are. Walker and Jones. Two tough bitches who watch each other's backs. Assholes of the world? You're on notice."

Her words paint a picture of a wholly different dynamic from the idea that she's going to be the big, strong one standing in front of her squishy Trish. It squeezes at her heart even now, scares the crap out of her.

But the idea doesn't feel too bad, either.

—-

If Trish had known the full extent of the two most recent near death experiences of Jess's, her hair would have turned white, and then she would have pulled it out in the mother of all temper tantrum meltdowns. Because as much as it would kill Jess to loose Trish, it would be just as bad, if not worse, the other way around. It would mean loosing her 'one person'. The one person who knew everything about her, the one person who was there for her in ways no one else could be, and most importantly, the one person who helped her dig her way free of her mother's toxic influence. She would say all of that, except she'd be a bawling, incoherent, beyond just an Ugly Cry mess. She squeezes Jess's hands back, soaking up every bit of love and support she could, filling up reserves that had been beyond depleted.

"Two of the toughest bitches I know, that's for sure. Assholes of the World do not stand a chance, don't even try and keep up with the Jones'." Because deep down, in her heart of hearts? She's a Jones, through and through. "You are stubborn, but admitting it is the first step to recovery. I'm glad that there are that many other people agreeing with me about you, because now I can say 'that many people can't be wrong'. "

She gives her head a little toss, giving Jess a half grin to match. Only slightly spoiled by the wobble still hanging around her bottom lip.

"It's not like it's been sunshine and rainbows dealing with me and my shit. I know I can be a brat, though that's just part of my charm." She flutters her lashes at Jess before continuing. "So now that we both know what it's like to worry about the other, let's agree, here and now, that we will both actively do what we can to lessen the chances of bad shit happening. Varied routines, bullet resistant everything we can get our hands on, and most importantly, no going into dangerous situations without some kind of back up. That means you too, Miss Rules."

She's getting a similar picture in her own mind, the two of them, standing side by side, instead of Jess standing in front of her. It's always been there, as Jess is well aware of, much to her consternation at times. It's a little tweaked though, like their own little version of a super team. More Avengers, less Green Hornet and Kato.

—-

Jessica does a gentle double-take when Trish calls herself a Jones. Her cheeks warm. Her eyes warm too. But she doesn't make a big deal out of that one just yet. It is a big deal, but it's such a big deal that she doesn't even know how to respond to it.

"Come on. Let's head home," she says, rather than addressing it, standing up and offering a hand. She pulls out money to pay for the meal…just because Trish is loaded doesn't mean she has to pay for all the things all the time.

Jessica smirks as Trish lays down some conditions of her own, and says, "I already don't go much of anywhere without back-up. I kind of learned that lesson way back in December. Unless I'm on my way to back up someone else. I can't think of the last time I did, except for a little light surveillance in Germany. But alright. Back-up is now our official policy. Once you've got your head under control I'll even call you for back-up sometime." Granted, it might take awhile before Jess will do that for anything she thinks might be dangerous, but…almost anything can get dangerous quick anyway, which is kind of the point of back-up.

True to the Miss Rules thing, she also holds out her hands for the keys. Mark the calendar…it's the first time she's ever been eager to drive. Well. Eager isn't the right word. But given the choices…

She goes silent, then, contemplating Trish and 'her shit.' "You know," she says, at length, "I don't really think of you as giving shit. Or…carrying shit. I think of you as being the one with her life together, the smarter, prettier, elegant one that never makes messes or screws up. It sometimes startles me when I realize you need to go to AA too. Even knowing what that bitch did to you, I guess I see you as having pulled through it so well that I sometimes forget that maybe you get snarled the fuck up inside, too. I guess I should keep that in mind."

—-

Trish lets Jess pick up the cheque, without comment, because it's nice to be treated every now and again, loaded or not. She takes Jess's hand, to help haul her pierogi belly out of the chair. She hadn't needed the dessert and would pay for it with extra time on the elliptical later. Her own cheeks warm as her apartment is called home, because she always wants Jess to feel like it is her home too, even though her room had been converted. It wouldn't take much to convert it back and it would be done in a heartbeat if needed or wanted.

"Homeward bound. It's been an incredible journey. All right, Colburn, this here Daisy is ready to get going." She gives Jess a big toothy grin, extra toothy for the corniness of the comments. "Well, if I didn't have incentive to get that figured post haste, I do now, since I want to be the first one you call. I promise I won't start singing Ghostbusters."

Her eyes drop down to Jess's outstretched hand and she starts to dig in her pocket for the keys. Until Jess starts talking about her and her apparently non-existent shit. It wasn't hesitation about driving skills that had her pausing, but the words themselves. It was a shock to hear that, since she felt she was merely cleverly disguised as a responsible adult most days. To know that Jess felt that way about her was almost beyond processing. The main difference between the two? Jess's screw ups hadn't made front page news like hers had. So it's with a slightly bemused expression that she fishes out the keys and drops them in the outstretched hand.

"Oh, honey. I've screwed up so bad, it's made the news. Maybe not recently on the news thing, but it's happened. But thank you anyways. It's good to know I've managed to project that image well enough to fool even you. Don't ever forget, though. I'm just another duck on the pond. It's all good and calm on the surface, but underneath? I'm paddling like hell to keep afloat, just like the rest of you."

She links her arm with Jessica's giving a jaunty wave to Pietro and Katia on the way out. The couple was beaming and waving back, talking enthusiastically with each other in Ukrainian. She hoped it was all good things, but couldn't really bring herself to care. She was back on good terms with Jess, she had a contact list that almost read like 'The Who's Who of the Hero Biz', and she hadn't destroyed anything in the restaurant during the whole talk. Now, all she had to do was figure out how to get Az out of the box, and things would be looking up all over the place. If you didn't dwell on the fact that she was currently on the radar of some very nasty criminals disguised as business people.

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