Miss Fairchild's Mutual Admiration Society

June 29, 2017:

A chance meeting between Caitlin Fairchild and Jessica Jones reveals the two women have quite a bit in common.

Somewhere off the northbound I-95 highway

Why are all the other drivers so crazy, anyway?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Captain America

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Late afternoon. Searing heat. The rush of cars zooming by on the Interstate, far too close for comfort. One Jessica Jones sits on the shoulder, grimacing every time the wake of one of those vehicles tugs at her shirt and tears at her hair.

Most would find the fear of being hit by a fast-moving semi a little strange from a woman who is literally using her knee in lieu of a jack, propping up a silver sedan so she can undo the bolts on a flat tire with…well. Her bare hands. The only 'tool' she has is the spare tire that's apparently ready to go in its place. The image of people with powers, after all, especially powers of strength, is one of pure fearlessness and seeming invulnerability. But while Jess may have gotten that memo, she never really internalized it. Especially when it comes to the deadly nature of cars.

Dressed in a green plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up and jeans, she could be just about anyone, really, save for her strange car care methods.

"Hello?"

The voice would be weird enough, but it doubles down that it's coming from a six-foot-plus— PLUS plus— ginger-haired woman who just popped up almost literally out of nowhere.

Triple-down; she's hovering on the other side of the guardrail, which is a thirty-foot drop into the interchange pavement below. And doing so on her own power.

She's dressed rather trendily, in a blue/white skirt that hangs loose to her knees and a demi-sleeved white t-shirt with a scoop neck.

Which are all details that are fascinating and largely irrelevant next to 'She's flying and huge', probably.

"Hi! Can I give you a hand? I saw your car broke down and it's a baaaaad spot for it," Caitlin tells Jessica, with the sort of bubbling enthusiasm reserved for cheerleaders, pep rallies, and motivational life coaches. "People around here drive like, stupid crazy. I can carry your car down the road to a safer spot, or call AAA for you, or something?" she inquires, resting her elbows on the guardrail divider.

Jessica would realize quickly that Caitlin's flying low so she doesn't distract the other drivers anymore than necessary, and looks… weirdly, sincerely eager to help!

For a moment Jessica's expression is one of actual purest envy. She would love to be able to fly just like that, a silly dream and obsession that she's only just begun to admit to herself. Falling with style is just not going to cut it with a car; she can't guarantee she wouldn't damage the car.

"I remember you," she says thoughtfully. "You were at that crazy Princeton Science fair. Yeah, if you could fly the car down to a safer spot I'd appreciate it. I keep thinking one of these damned drivers is going to swerve into me on principle. Don't think AAA is required, I looked up some YouTubes on how to do this tire changing thing."

She gently lowers her knee, setting the car back down again, gathering up the bolts and tucking the spare under her arm the way some women might gather up their bags, wiping black-stained hands on her jeans.

"Oh, right! I remember you! You were yelling at everyone," Caitlin tells Jessica. She gives her a slightly wary look, but then Jess accepts her off of help, and that megawatt smile is back.

She's disturbingly peppy, particularly compared to Jessica's glowering disposition.

"I can help with the tire change, too. I'm a mechanic," Caitlin says, proudly. "Here, hop in your car— I'll carry the whole thing down. It'll be a little slow— buuuut I think I can do it," she says, confidently.

Once Jessica's ready, Caitlin wiggles her fingers under the car. She's definitely a gearhead; she avoids the frame or fragile fenders, and grabs for a tow point. She walks the car up until she can grip the frame and balance it over her head, then floats into the air with a grunt of effort and flies the car about seventy-five yards down the freeway to a parking lot just near an offramp.

The car is set down with a kerthump*THUMP*fumpf as Caitlin tries very hard not to damage the car, the tires, or the Jessica, and she steps away to brush grease and dirt from her hand, walking to the tire that needs replacement.

"You want some help with this, too?" she offers politely, clearly giving Jessica all due deference.

She won't have to worry about damaging the Jessica. When Caitlin tells her to get in the car, the PI just says dryly, "Ah, no. I'll find my own way down. Control issues. A few of them."

She just stands on the guardrail and leaps, letting Caitlin take the car. She lands beside Caitlin as it kerthump*THUMP*fumphs, doing so in a tight crouch and says, "If you wanna change it, I'm not going to stop you, cause I'm not really sure I'm doing it right."

She sets the tire back down near where it's supposed to go.

"Thanks for the help," she says. And then:

"I was yelling at everyone cause yelling was the most productive action I could take at that time. If doing something else would have been more productive, that's what I'd have done."

Then, after a moment's thought: "Jessica Jones."

Caitlin's already squatting down on her low wedge sandals— she's got the tires going, and she's clearly just as strong as Jessica, using her bare fingers to remove the lugnuts and attach the new tire. She knows what she's doing— making a star pattern with the lugs and torquing them with a careful and consistent turn of her wrist.

It's a bit ungainly, her squat, but she looks terribly proud of her outfit and clearly doesn't want to stain it.

"I'm Caitlin Fairchild," she smiles up at the other woman. "It's nice to meet you! I know how it feels to want to yell at everyone. I do that sometimes, too," she tells Jessica. "You just— urrgh!" she says, shaking her fists and trying to make a scowling face. She fails and laughs at herself. It's very unlikely Caitlin's ever really yelled at anyone in earnest.

"I thinnk I've got it fixed, but you really should get your alignment checked anyway," Caitlin tells Jessica. She starts casting around for something to wash her hands with, failing to realize she's got grease smudges on her face already. "But that's not a bad idea anytime you get a flat. The rim looked okay, though— I know a good auto body shop, if you'd like? I sold my car last year but they took really good care of it until then."

Yeah, see, the star pattern wouldn't have happened had this been left to Jessica. She only got a video where she saw them coming off and on, and had no idea that the pattern was important. But she absorbs it, watching carefully, observing that Caitlin did use the same pattern as the one on the video and deducing that, yep…it matters.

But then she's making this scowly face and shaking her fist, and an incredulous laugh escapes the other woman's lips. "Yeah, I'm sure you're a real terror," she says, dryly but warmly enough.

"Naw, I got one, a good autobody shop. I think my friend probably did the alignment thing."

She hefts up the old tire, turning it until she plucks out a nail. "Think I just rolled over one of these."

She chuckles. "Yeah I guess I'd sell my car too if I could straight up fly, cause it would be a whole lot of why bother? You can get anywhere faster by not driving."

"Well, it's harder to carry groceries, but… I'd be lying if I said I missed it," Caitlin concedes, pinking a little. "I had a little Volkswagon that rattled and had all of sixty horsepower. I had to take out the driver's seat and sit in the back just to get around town," she admits. "It was awful. She was my sweet little bug, though," she sighs, wistfully. "Got me around town instead of having to take the subway everywhere."

She finds a clean rage in the back of Jessica's car and starts vigorously scrubbing at her palms with it to get them clean. "So, er… where were you headed?" she inquires, brightening at Jessica. Caitlin's about as sociable as a college freshman and about as adept at conversation— clearly she doesn't want to hold Jessica up, but she's enjoying their meeting too much to give in to letting the detective get back to her life.

Jessica doesn't seem to mind that much. She looks bemused to find the rag there, but…she did just inherit this car from her sister. Rags do seem like the sort of thing Trish would have floating around back there, and probably for that very purpose. She probably wiped down hundreds of things that Jessica would never have thought to wipe down.

She sees something of herself in this lack of conversational adroitness, and decides to indulge it. She plants her hip against the side of the car, taking her ease. "Just heading home. I took a short case out in Gotham. Nothing serious, just a workman's comp thing. How about you? You're the type of person who can order government decontaminations, so…somewhere pretty important, I imagine?"

Despite how it may sound this is not an attempt to shoo Caitlin off; it's something said more with easygoing curiosity than anything else.

Caitlin takes praise poorly— she turns a very nearly iridescent shade of pink at the praise, laughing self consciously and touching her hairband, leaving a little smudge of grease on her brow that vanishes under her bangs. "Me? Important? Hardly," she says, snorting mid-laugh. "Honestly it's no different than calling 911, they just tell you what to look out for, and y'know, who to call if there's a biohazard, y'know— that kinda thing. I was at an event some time ago and they were talking about a list of 'hazardous threats' and the nanotech stuff just… stuck in my mind, I guess," she admits.

"So, er, case?" she asks Jessica, rubbing her toes against the back of her other calf quickly. "Are you, like, a … social worker, or something?" she guesses, turning quizzical, wide green eyes on the shorter woman. She stands with a bit of a slouch actually as she and Jessica talk, clearly manifesting a little self-consciousness about their significant height differential.

She sees a lot of herself in this denial of importance too. It causes Jessica a surreal moment, in fact, to realize there are other heroic types, people even stronger and more powerful than her, who feel insecurities of their own, who feel, perhaps, their own sense of the impostor syndrome she struggles with every day, a moment which only grows more surreal when she realizes one of Caitlin's own insecurities revolves around her physical appearance

She decides she likes Caitlin Fairchild.

The question about whether she's a social worker produces a genuine laugh.

"I'm a private investigator," she says, amused. "I'd make the world's shittiest social worker. What about you? What do you do, Caitlin?"

If nothing else, she knows how to carry on a conversation by dint of asking questions. Questions are pretty much her stock in trade.

"Uhhh… I'm… well, I guess I'm mostly a full-time superhero," Caitlin admits, as if she's not entirely sure that's a legitimate job or not. "I mean, I'm in the Justice League, and I'm one of the new members of the Titans," she says, gesturing vaguely at New York and the large 'T' shaped tower on an island in the middle of the river.

"But— oh! I work for Starr Labs, too," she says. "I'm a Systems Engineer there," she explains. "So I have, like, a REAL job, not just… y'know, the tights and flights crowd," she says, with a self-conscious giggle. "How did you get into Private Investigating? That's the whole…. camera, and the talking wristwatch thing, right?" she asks, clearly having read too many Tracy comics recently.

Jessica glances at the Tower, 'huh'ing at it. "Thought that place was abandoned," she admits. She seems to think it's legitimate enough, noting, "Justice League? Pretty intense stuff. And an engineer?" She grins faintly. She's met quite a few engineers now; she enjoys their company.

But she seems more than a little bewildered by this description of her job.

"Uh," she says. "No talking wrist watches, but um, the camera's useful,yeah. And…I don't do the whole employee thing well, but did manage to dig up facts about people well enough. So when I discovered it took $385 and a test to get the license, I went for it. That was about 3 years ago, and I've been at it ever since. It's just like being a police detective, really, except you've got no authority and usually the cases are a little bit less life and death. Usually. I've got some real doozies right now."

"Well, it WAS abandoned," Caitlin tells Jessica, hurrying to reassure her rather than appear argumentative. For a near-giant with muscles that can hoist a street car, she's clearly a bit of a people-pleaser.

"We renovated it. My team, I mean, and me," she clarifies. "The government gave us a grant to rehabilitate it and move back in."

She listens with rapt fascination to Jessica's stories, eyes going wider. "Wow! So, like, you do the real deal," she marvels. "Skulking around, sneaking through bushes, tapping… wires…" she says.

"…er, can you tell me about your cases right now? Any cool ones? Some politician with a mistress?" she asks, whipping up an entire narrative already. "Or a MANstress?" she says, before titting behind her hand.

"No wiretapping," Jessica says with a laugh. "That's…super illegal."

Not that she hasn't done plenty of super illegal stuff when she felt she could help people that way, but she can't use any work product that comes about as a result of wiretapping and anyway…not going to admit that to a government employed superhero she just met.

"I had a politician with a mistress about a year and a half ago. He chased me buck naked down a state highway when he spotted me in the bushes. These days I don't do a lot of infidelity work, actually, but yeah, I've caught people with manstresses too."

She seems more than amused, adding, "I can't believe a real superhero is fascinated with my PI shit."

"Well— I mean, c'mon, that's really hard work!" Caitlin tells Jessica, boggling a little. "Being sneaky like that. Figuring out who's staying in what crappy motels, where people have bodies stored, who's sheltering funds overseas—"

She bobbles on her toes once. "You get to do all kinds of cool, clever stuff, right? I mean, whattoIdo?" she asks, talking a little faster (and getting increasingly rhetorical). "I mean, I punch stuff, sure, and that's fun, and I'm GOOD at punching stuff, but— you know, anyone can learn to throw a PUNCH," she snorts. "Or throw a bus, or whatever, you don't even need superpowers. Iron Man is just a SUIT, I mean, okay it's technically a highly advanced prosthesis, but STILL, the guy goes out and kicks some butt," she says, swinging a fist through the air excitedly, "so y'know, that's COOL and all, but man, getting to be sneaky and skulk around and surprise people and stuff, and get the goods on criminals— I can't just punch -everyone- I meet, that's— well for one, that's illegal, and two, there's this concept called 'parity of force' that they made us study OVER and OVER," she says, with a theatric rolling of her eyes.

Someone might need to stop her or she'll keep talking for a while.

Jessica doesn't seem to mind, but she says softly, "Honestly, I've always kind of aspired to do the superhero thing. I mean…don't get me wrong. I'm an investigator first and foremost. And I do love it, for all the reasons you just said, though— I'd probably hire a forensic accountant for the funds overseas thing, I don't have the skills for that. I can tell a lot from bank records when I can get them, but only to a point."

She gives a hint of a smile. "But the person I most want to be? Would be a hero. Saving lives. Helping others, making things better. And since at the end of the day that's why I investigate too… I mean I guess what I'm saying is— well, I don't know what the fuck I'm saying, just that I admire people like you I guess."

She is not familiar enough with Caitlin's work to apply that personally, or disingenuous enough to do so, but she can do it in general terms, and she is at least vaguely familiar with JLA's work.

It is gratifying to have someone recognize she can be sneaky though. Jess has a whole bull in a Chinashop vibe that can make people forget about the pretexting, skulking, and shadowing that her work demands.

Caitlin's at least considerate enough that when Jessica speaks, she closes her mouth and listens. And to her credit, the big ginger really listens attentively; eyes wide, and chin wagging along unconsciously as Jessica talks.

She fidgets her thumbs together after Jessica falls silent, and pinks again at the praise, struggling between being shyly demure and some sincere pride at the honest flattery.

"We-well, thanks," she stammers. "That's… gosh, that's really nice of you," she marvels.

She brushes some hair back behind her ear, and frets at the inside of her cheek once. The girl has a lousy poker face. "I— look, I mean, you've got your whole detective thing together," she tells Jessica. "But, uh, if you ever just want to get out in mask and cape crowd… I could put you in touch with the right people," she offers. "I know everyone in the League, and most of the Avengers, and… well, just nice, real nice people who'd appreciate someone just putting a shoulder to the wagon, y'know? If you'd like, anyway," she says, quickly, as if worried she's offended Jessica's sensibilities.

Most people also don't look at Jessica Jones and see someone nice, though in truth she can be. She smiles a little self-consciously herself, and decides now is not the time to demure in turn by declaring what an asshole she can be.

And then she's dropping her offer. "Uh well, I mean I know a couple of Avengers," she flusters. "Tony and Cap, but I guess you're the first from the League I've ever met…It's more a matter of being good at it than willing to put my shoulder to the wagon, I'm not sure I'm really A-lister material like you guys are…"

Now it's her turn to babble, even dropping, "Though I mean I'd like to meet anyone, and of course I'll help wherever I can, heh, you should ask Tony about his basement, maybe…JLA should maybe be on that basement problem too for all I know."

God, now she really needs to stop sounding like a fangirl.

"I actually," she says slowly, "Have kind of this vision. For Alias. Because I mean. I've had cause to do the thing. More or less. And have met a lot of good people. It's hard to get an Avenger or a Justice Leaguer on the phone, you know? And then there are all these other communities…street level heroes, wizards, all of that. I have met a lot…I just sort of find myself in the middle?"

Her whole life is middles.

"And I keep thinking if I can find a way to make it happen, Alias could be that middle. You know? The people that an average Joe can call if they're in trouble, and get someone on the phone. And then I'd be in a position to just…bring in whomever needed to be brought in, or handle things myself if— I'm probably boring you with all this."

Caitlin blinks at Jessica in surprise at the sudden outpouring of a secret, dark confessional desire to be — A Superhero!

She digs in the little purse cross-slung over one shoulder. If Jessica liked Caitlin at all, the ginger probably loses any credibility— her purse is not just clean, it's meticulously organized.

What kind of monster is she?!

By the time Jessica's done talking, Caitlin's got a business card out and waving at her. "Here! My card! Take it!" she tells Jessica, almost pressing it into her hand and bursting to contribute to the dialogue. "Oh my gosh, I love that idea SO HARD, you don't even know!" she tells the other woman. "Helping people, making TEAMS, the community— it's great, it's ALL great. Look, if you're ever in a pinch where you need someone to like, move a bus, or hold up a bridge, you call me, okay?" she promises Jessica. "And if I can't help, I'll bring someone who can. I know plenty of people who're in that boat— they don't wanna punch Godzilla in the teeth, but they want to help with disaster relief and stuff like that. So if I can help you, AT ALL, you gotta PROMISE you'll call me!"

Jessica takes the card.

"I totally want to punch Godzilla in the teeth," she says solemnly. "That would be fucking cool. I will call you, Caitlin."

She produces a card of her own. Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, NY and Gotham, NJ; it has the slogan 'How Can I Help?' on it and offers a phone number and an e-mail. Nothing social media at all, unusual for this day and age. She pauses to program Caitlin's number into her phone. Then? She carefully pulls out a wallet from her back pocket— an honest to god man's leather wallet, with the name B. Jones engraved into it, and tucks the card in with a few other business cards she's carrying around. Sometimes it's good to just keep the card.

"I promise," she adds, just in case poor Caitlin is lead to believe she's being brushed off. As uncertain as the other woman's confidence seems to be, Jess fears it to be a distinct possibility.

Caitlin is a 21st century girl— she whips out her phone and scans Jessica's business card.

"Say cheese!" Caitlin says while Jessica's distracted— and the redhead stoops next to Jessica, trying to get them both in a selfie.

She flickers her fingers over the phone and texts the image to Jessica. "There, now you've got a picture of me for your phone, even if it's a goofy looking one," Caitlin says, with the relentless self-criticism of the young.

"So… like, I'll let you get back to… work-stuff," Caitlin tells Jessica. "But it was really swell to meet you! Can I buy you coffee sometime?" she asks. "I wanna hear more about the exciting life of being a PI, and you can tell me more about what you wanna do for Alias Investigations," she offers.

To say Jessica is a little taken aback to be swept into a Sudden Selfie is a bit of an understatement. So the look on her expressive face when that picture snaps is utterly bemused and somewhat skeptical, but…definitely quintessentially Jess. She doesn't have the heart to actually prevent said Sudden Selfie, at least.

"I never turn down coffee, Caitlin," Jessica says. "Call me any time. Thank you again for helping me out with that tire. It was nice meeting you too."

She means it, even if Caitlin's exuberance seems to produce a matching level of reserve in Jessica, slowing her speech down a little in response to the redhead's speed, for example, lowering her voice a midge to compensate for Caitlin's higher, more bubbly one.

"It was swell to meet you, too, Jessica. Be careful out there, okay?" the big ginger advises the slender detective. "I'll shoot you a text, or— or you can text me, too! Either way, I'm really excited about all this."

She flashes a big, effusive grin at Jessica, and stoops to wrap her dress around one calf and hooks her ankles together.

She looks up at Jessica and shrugs. "Flying with a dress— can't go flashing the entire city," she explains. "Bye!"

And with no further ado, Caitlin levitates quickly up fifteen feet skywards, then adjusts her 'pitch' and flies off towards New York.

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