Welcome to the Freakin' Team

August 25, 2017:

Team Bucky gains a new member, forcing Daredevil to play referee. Luke Cage has arrived in Wakanda for his own purposes, and Jessica Jones is not happy to see him.

Birnan Zana, Wakanda

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Michael Carter, Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

A light mid-morning rain in the capital of Wakanda has given way to a pleasantly cool afternoon. It's cool enough to make the outdoor directly across the street from her hotel attractive to one Jessica Jones, who is impressed by this heat in spite of herself.

She sits at an outdoor table wearing a pair of olive green cargo shorts with a white tank top, a panther tooth necklace, and sneakers, working on a holographic keyboard on a holographic screen, all generated by the small square of her phone. A plate of viazi vya tamu sits at the center of the table, large enough to share, and every now and then the small but tasty mincemeat pies do get a measure of her attention. As does the glass of mabungo juice; as the case has started to actually turn into something resembling a case she has been too distracted by her current favorite addiction (work) to continue backsliding and cheating with light beers, or even the cigarettes that she's been dipping into more often than not.

As she sits there, from time to time she's bringing up images in the air, too, and she pulls them out, one by one, with a frown of concentration on her face.

The ones she arrived with are otherwise engaged at the moment, running down their own set of leads and thoughts on the case. Not long ago she had texted Daredevil on his burner, saying she had a few new things to share with him if he wanted to compare some notes.

It's probably safe to say that she's not a hard woman to find in her current environs, for all that Birnin Zana is a sizable city.

*

Most times when Daredevil is seen in his native environs of New York, it's at night: a quick-moving, shadow-wreathed silhouette with a crimson outline. It plays to his strengths and the comparative disadvantages of others, while playing into symbolism that grounds his costumed persona, and reduces the chance anyone will spot him. Besides, in Hell's Kitchen, it's the witching hours when most people need his brand of help.

Not here, though. Here he had to make a choice between his lives or else risk discovery by process of elimination — Matt Murdock or Daredevil? Which of these men were needed most?

He made his decision, for better or worse, and so here, in broad daylight, it's the masked man clad in sleek and — by some standards — state-of-the-art battle armor that rounds the nearest corner to approach the outdoor table Jessica Jones currently occupies. He seems unmindful of all the looks he draws, striding with purpose and seemingly unmindful of the furtive looks and stares his getup draws from the crowd.

"Keeping cool?" he asks affably as he approaches (her) earshot. The smile is barely that: the faintest intimation there at the corners.

*

“Jessica Jones.” The thunder of voice doesn’t have the startling crack of lightening but rather just the low rumble of warning that a storm is rolling in. It belongs to a large slice of a man taking strides across the street from hotel to café. Luke Cage has forgone jeans and t-shirt in favor of cargo pants and a white tank top, a pair of aviator sunglasses riding low on his nose.

Unlike the other two, Luke doesn’t have much of a claim to fame yet in Harlem, especially not unless he’s lurking around in a hoodie. But it’s too damn hot for that.

“Sweet…” The man’s usual exclamation of curse is cut off by a car nearly plowing into the man and a horn blaring. You see, upon seeing the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen sidling up to the woman he intends to talk to, even Luke Cage can forget how to chew gum and walk at the same time. And he’s all out of bubble gum.

*

When Daredevil walks up there's an answering smile. His is faint, hers is quick, but friendly for all of that. "Probably cooler than you," Jessica tells him, with real sympathy. She can only imagine what that suit is like in Wakandan heat. "Want some juice? Or one of those?" She gestures to the pies. "They're pretty good."

The next word has the start of a question, the opening syllables of the word, "Find," which was probably the prelude to 'anything new?'

But then she hears her name in a distinctive voice, and her adrenaline shoots through the roof. Her gut twists unhappily. Shock, guilt, and fury do a tango throughout her physiology.

On her face, it's mostly just the fury. She goes white, tight lipped. Her brown eyes flash and she savagely presses a button on her phone to suck every last holographic screen down into it. There's a sharp intake of breath as Harlem's Hero nearly gets himself run over.

She stands up, crosses her arms, waits for Luke Cage to get close enough to their table, because she knows it's inevitable that he's going to make his way right to them, and asks sharply, "What the Hell are you doing here?"

*

"I'm managing," comes the simple reply from the man in the mask on the matter of heat, though there's a sheen on the stretch of chin and jaw revealed by his uniform that belies the demurral. Either way, he declines the drink and the pastry with his silence — here, out in the open, he's all business.

See, for instance, how he's ready to give an answer before she even finishes her question. He has found some new things, and things he'd been meaning to share…

…but then things go sideways. Even before he hears that voice call out his companion's name — in a distinctly American accent — and even before the car screeches to a stop and the horn blares, he hears the strong, steady heartbeat and heavy footfalls coming their way. The Devil turns from Jess to face the approaching man, head canted ever so slightly to the right, as if he were trying to catch some far-off sound.

He can feel the man's very presence set off a cascade of reactions in Jessica Jones, and while he doesn't know their origins, he does know that she regards the new entrant as an unwelcome surprise, if not quite a threat. There's a shift in his stance. It's subtle, but it inches him closer to her — and between her and Cage — and communicates a certain readiness depending on how Luke answers.

*

Luckily for the car, it draws up short and Luke continues the short distance the rest of the way to the outdoor table. “Rumor has it that when you go overseas, dragons show up. And I thought, ‘Damn, I really want to see a dragon.’” She folds her arms, so then so does Luke, mirroring her stance like a large black shadow. It’s not his fault a smirk found it’s way to his lips, but her ire must be amusing.

“You even got the Red Devil chasing after you, to tell you this is a bad idea.” Luke turns to Daredevil with an arched brow. “That is what you’re here for, right? To tell her it’s a bad idea?” He didn’t seem to notice the defensive shift in Matt, only that he’s now the one that needs to be addressed by a slight lowering of his chin.

*

Jessica does notice the shift from her friend, and it steadies her quite a bit, though it's true that Luke is not a threat. Not in any way that would require violence, anyway.It's a reminder that her friend is there, and that he has her back, and right now having someone around that has her back is important. She shifts a little to even let him get a bit more between them, though this doesn't stop the Jones temper freight train from barelling down on the newcomer.

To Daredevil's ears, an audible grind of her teeth, even as the predominant emotion becomes that sharp-edged guilt. Outwardly? It's still all anger though.

"Daredevil, Luke Cage. Luke Cage, Daredevil. Luke was just fucking leaving, because no, there aren't going to be any god damn dragons. I'm— we're in the middle of a case. I told you I'd give you what you wanted when I got home. Do I look like I'm fucking home to you? Are you confused?"

Her pale hand waves expansively to take in all of Birnan Zana. Perhaps even all of Wakanda.

"A man's life is on the line and we're on a god damn deadline, which means we don't have time for drama, or bullshit, or whatever the fuck this is you're trying to pull right now. So turn around, get your ass back on a plane, and get the fuck back to New York."

The guilt stabs harder at some of her own words, hard enough to make it flit across her face, because 'drama' was harsh and unnecessary and unfair, as was 'bullshit', and she even knows it. But she stands her ground.

*

Introductions are made. Daredevil, Luke Cage. Luke Cage, Daredevil. And the Devil of Hell's Kitchen — what, nods? Yes, ever so faintly, almost distractedly. "Hey."

Because as much as the man picks up on Jessica's rising distress — a complex cocktail of emotions — it's the whirr and buzz of notice their conversation causes in the crowd. Because for all that he's the only one dressed up as a goddamn demon, they're all glaring outsiders in this cloistered country, and now they're arguably fighting with each other in public. And Daredevil, more than most, knows just how much can be picked up when people are talking without care — and the extent to which these foreigners who have been 'invited' onto Wakandan soil are likely being watched.

"If it's a bad idea for Jones to come, I'm pretty sure it's a bad idea for anyone to follow her," the masked man as he refocuses his attention back on Cage — after Jessica demands he get right back on his airplane, keeping his voice gravel-low and even-keeled. "Including you."

And of course, himself.

*

“And if you’re not careful, you might not come back.” The last word in that sentence is emphasized with over-annunciation and a little vertical twist of Luke’s head to really screw that in to Jessica. “Until I get some answers, it turns out I have a vested interest in your well being. So. You can either let me help, or I can just follow you around and really ruin your chances of getting anything done.”

His wide expanse of a hand is held out for Daredevil because they were introduced by name, somewhere in the process of Jessica cursing it. Of course Double-D can sense it, instead of see it, but Luke wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. “I like your horns.” He comments casually. “But make no mistake, I can help.”

*

It takes Jessica, focused on Luke as she is, a moment to pick up on what has Daredevil distracted. She doesn't come to it the same way, of course. It's the dark gazes that she suddenly sees from the waitstaff, from people on the street. She has time to notice it while Daredevil points out that following her is a very bad idea, while Luke comments on the horns— a comment that would, perhaps, cause a little bolt of amusement on any other day, had it come out of anybody else's mouth.

She lowers her voice, hissing the word, "Shit," in a way that draws it right out.

But she does lower it. She even sits down. Because stomping into some other location right about now seems like it would make things even worse. She pastes on a big bright smile she doesn't mean. See? Nothing to see here, folks.

It might kind of mess up Daredevil's protective stance, but then, they did introductions, and this is a verbal battle anyway.

She takes a few notes from the trial, takes a few deep, medatative breaths. When she's done, her tone is even.

"I told you. I can take care of myself, and even if I couldn't, I have friends here," she says, tipping her head pointedly towards the red-clad Devil beside her. In this second battle in the war, calm is apparently just as important as it was in the first. As it is, resignation is slowly creeping over everything inside of her, everything outside of her, and she looks a bit defeated, the lines deepening on her face. But…she knows someone here who can argue a thousand times better than she can, who might be able to convince Luke to back off…so long as he'd provided with a good reason to do so. Even if Luke can, perhaps help, for two reasons Jess can think of right off the bat.

So, deliberately, she says, "Mr. Cage is hoping that Alias Investigations can provide him some closure in regards to the death of his wife. Reva Connors."

*

"Yeah, I get that a lot," the masked-man quips of people liking the horns before reaching out his gauntleted hand for a short shake of Cage's own. Then Jessica is lowering her voice and sitting, and everyone's suddenly pseudo-civil. He hears the distinctly meditative quality of the woman's inhale and exhale and it almost prompts a double-take. It would be unnerving for anyone to be pursued between continents and across an ocean, but she's registering less surprise than outrage, and subtler emotions that are harder to suss out even with super-sharpened senses. Emotions like…

…some closure in regards to the death of his wife. Reva Connors.

Like guilt. And suddenly Daredevil knows exactly who Luke Cage is, and why he's here, and why it's upsetting Jessica so much. He lets out a barely-audible sigh into the humid air. "I'm sorry for your loss," he says, shortly but sincerely, of a death that happened years ago. Few know better how long the memories of the dead can linger than the man behind the mask. "But," he adds evenly, "it sounds like she's already told you that won't find any of the answers you're looking for here and now." A beat, and then with quiet certainty: "And following her unwanted? Even with good intentions? That's really not an option, Mr. Cage. Among her friends here, I'd be the least of your worries. Trust me."

He takes a breath, folds his arms over his chest. "So if you do want to stay, and help — make your case." His chin dips down and to the left, where Jessica Jones sits. "To her."

*

Make your case, he says.

Luke doesn't look rattled or peeved at the situation, he just gives a long suffering sigh and drops his large frame into one of the chairs at the table that he nearly dwarfs. His brown eyes roll up to the still-standing Daredevil and then swivel over to Jessica, the wrinkles in his forehead providing mountainous peaks and valleys for a bead of sweat from the heat to roll over and disappear behind the tinted glass of his aviators.

Casually, his hand fists over the fork near her plate and slides it off the table. Without any more warning than that, the tined utensil gets stabbed into his thigh. Well. A full muscled attempt at stabbing it into his thigh. The metal prongs are bent every which way but straight as he tosses it onto the table with a quite clatter, only his pants leg sporting the trio of holes from the force. "I can help." He merely says again.

*

Daredevil is fair and even handed and gives Luke the chance to make his case. It's not exactly the scathing, pointed argument that she'd hoped he'd produce, the sudden opening statement that might send her giant albatross packing so that she can do what she needs to do here, for all that Daredevil gently insists that Luke needs to make his case to her. It's very him though, to warn him off while giving Luke a chance because of course Luke is a good man and…and they could probably use the extra pair of hands.

She downs the juice. She downs it like she really, really wishes it were whiskey. She then watches, rather dispassionately, as Luke displays his unbreakable skin.

"You're huge and invulnerable, congratulations," she says, employing all of her powers of sarcasm for all their glorious abilities to keep people right at arm's length. "But this isn't a bar brawl, and Germany aside it would be best if we don't do any fighting. At all. And it might not even be necessary. It's a case. Investigation isn't a freaking action movie. It requires— " Well, there might be some irony here. "Subtlety and patience and an ability to spot—"

She finally just exhales gustily, angrily, because she does just fine with one out of those three things.

"Fine. Fuck it. Welcome to the fucking team. But you follow my lead, Cage, or the deal's off. You get in my way, you buck me when I tell you something needs to be done, and you don't get jack shit."

She looks up at Daredevil. "He'll have to catch up though. I'll brief him later. What did you find out?"

Just like that, she decides. The bulk of Luke's case may be that she simply senses that this man has a stubbornness more than capable of matching her own.

*

And with the sound of warping stainless steel Luke Cage reveals himself as a meta, sending Matt's chin briefly heavenward, cracking his first smile of the entire exchange. Then he waits for Jessica to render her predictably caustic verdict. Even though he knows full well it's the only rational choice, it's still hers to make. Once she does, he nods again — slightly, wordlessly, but with finality. Welcome to the team indeed.

Then to business, as the masked man finally pulls out his chair and settles into it. "The intelligence director — Kagiso — could give two shits about whether Carter can help him find his agent, and maybe about finding his agent at all," Daredevil says succinctly of his surveillance activities around the Wakandan intelligence HQ. "But he also wasn't ruffled by Michael's inquiries or offers to help. Cool customer all around. There was a ton of talk inside the building about an audit of the fire control drones. Not much about intelligence or counterintelligence operations — though there was some code name thrown around. 'Staff of Orisha.' Might be worth a google. But when they talked about it it sounded like — well. Like more of a general strategy than an operation."

*

"I won't cause you trouble." Luke's voice vibrates deep in his chest, that velvet note of amusement creeping up in there that makes his eyes shine though his face remains completely passive as she welcomes him to the 'team'. Still, he leans towards her just slightly, lowering his voice a touch more. "Sorry to bully you." He falls silent then as Matt starts to brief what suddenly went from a her to a them, giving the masked man his full attention. "Sounds like a weapon." He adds at the end, just as his fingers reach out to snap a bit of crusted edge off of one of Jessica's pies.

*

Luke's apology oddly does nothing for Jessica's mood for a variety of reasons that are complex and difficult to explain. She scowls at him a little, but it's a distracted scowl. All her attention is on Matt. She nods to Luke's observation though, keeping that in mind; it's not a bad guess at all.

"The chatter about the drones tracks," she says. "I got the analysis of the accelerant back. Once I looked up all the terms in the science babble it came down to this. They used oxyacetylene— welding fuel, propane, and this thing called a polyethelyne microfilament. Which, when I looked that up, turned out to be a long chain plastic commonly used in the textile and fishing industries. The fact that they used such common materials is almost disheartening, but…the thing is I don't think it's any easier to just walk in and buy welding fuel in Wakanda than it is in the states, so that's a thing. They did set up some charges, high up in the building, and apparently the microfilament made it possible to do that and spread the fire really fast. But here's where it ties into what you just said: someone took control of those firefighter drones. They actually made the fire worse instead of fighting it until other drones showed up and brought the damage under control."

She brings up all her screens again and quickly types everything Daredevil said into her case notes; she continues to use the exact system here she does back home. "Did you catch anything else?"

*

Luke suggests the staff is a weapon; Jessica nods. Daredevil tilts his horned head back and forth musingly. "Maybe," he offers with a downward bend at the corner's of his lips. "A metaphorical weapon, at least."

Then Jessica is asking if there's anything else. "Nah," he says after a moment's consideration, sifting through sense memories accumulated over the last day or two. "Actually, most of what I heard was spoken in a couple of dialects I couldn't pick up," he says with a quiet note of regret. A beat, and then a dry addendum: "And none of them were Spanish or included the six words of Punjabi I know."

Then he listens to her talk about the drones, and how they made everything that much worse due to outside interference. "I wonder if we could get our hands on one? Some of our friends might be able to get a sense of how they could have been hacked."

*

"Maybe." Luke echoes Daredevil's sentiment about the weapon being metaphorical. "That's a pretty fancy set up there for a P.I." Comes the offhanded comment to Jessica's computer as he reaches for more of her food. What? He's hungry. And likely headed out straight from the airport on the great Jessica hunt. Of course, new to this whole scenario, he doesn't have much to add about the investigation yet but just seems to be absorbing all the information that he can as he's thrown neck deep into it.

*

Jessica leans back in her seat to consider Matt's thought, even as she grimaces sympathetically about the language barrier. "Yeah, we knew that would be a thing. I'm impressed you know any Punjabi at all though."

She drums her fingers against the table. "I was going to suggest you go to the closest fire department and do your thing there," she says slowly. "Borrowing a drone might piss off our hosts— they've gotta be equipped with cameras— but…maybe they throw some out when they stop working and are too expensive to repair. I guess a junked drone is like an old dresser on the curb, right? Fair game? So if you're okay with doing that, maybe look for one of those while you're there. And maybe someone at the firehouse will simply talk themselves about how they might have been commandeered."

She's not super sure what to make of 'The Staff of Orisha.' She in fact has to look up what 'Orisha' even means on her dictionary app. "Orisha means god," she murmurs. "So I really hope that's either figurative or unrelated to our case."

She exhales and leans back. "I got some footage of the event from an acquaintance back home. Some sort of protest was going on. I was going to take it up to Shoro, see if I couldn't recreate what they were doing from another angle, maybe try to get them through the facial recognition software too. Cross-reference against ties to any of these industries. I haven't checked in with the Carters yet but they did text me that they found some new stuff."

And now she turns to Luke. He probes about her set-up, and what she says is a brisk and disinterested: "That's because I'm a very good PI. Now for your job. You might get a better reception from the locals than the rest of us do. For Reasons. So I'd like you to ask around, find out how easy it is to buy oxyacetylene, and find out where one might get some. Find out, too, if there are any businesses where welding is happening within…let's say a 25-mile radius of this address." She pulls out a piece of paper and scrawls the conference center address down for him. "Do the same for propane, too. Propane's ubiquitous in the States, but…here in Wakanda it seems an awful lot like striking a pair of rocks together to get fire when Bics are in easy reach. If it's rare here where it's not back home, we might shake out a trail."

If Luke Cage thought she was just going to let him wander around behind her playing bodyguard, well…she intends to disabuse him of that right now. There's just way too much to be done, and way too little time to do it.

At least she doesn't seem to care if he dives into the food. That is what it's there for, after all.

**

Not so long ago, Daredevil had expressed his full confidence and support for Jessica taking the lead on this one. After having been point for months on Bucky Barnes' legal defense, it seemed only fair to defer to her now that Bucky's fate hinged on an investigation — clearly in her lane. That good-faith deference is tested — though only briefly — when she lays out her tasks for him. "Hey, what's working a case without rifling through some garbage?" the Devil of Hell's Kitchen asks rhetorically, and with a wry twist of his lips.

Anyway, then she's offering Google's insight on what 'Orisha' means and the masked man's smile fades, lips flatten. For whatever reason, the religious overtones and implications sit wrong with him. He mulls that matter quietly while Jessica lays out her to-dos for their new accomplice. Chasing leads, striking up conversations with locals about where one can purchase highly flammable materials. That ought to go well. But at least this Luke Cage seems able to deal with whatever fallout arises from it. "What's your next move?" he asks of Jessica, as long as they're laying out next steps.

*

“That’s what I’m banking on.” Luke doesn’t so much as mutter the words about her being a good PI as just say them in that low register of his as he reaches forward to palm the piece of paper. He glances at the address, nodding to himself as he reads it and then shifts his weight to tuck it into a pocket.

If has an qualms about taking directives from Jessica, he doesn’t show it. In fact he seems to take most of the orders she delves out in magnanimous stride, like water puddling on top of an oil slick. His wide nostrils merely flare with a long exhale while Daredevil speaks, and he wets his lips by rolling them inward to give an pass with the pink tip of his tongue. “We’ll stay in constant contact?” Because he just found her in this godforsaken country, he doesn’t want to spend any more time tracking her back down after she scatters them to the wind.

He notices the shift in Daredevil, though it’s not easily attributed to the ‘god’ reference. Unlike the other two, he’s not as trained to be attuned to such things. “You all right, man?”

*

"At least your garbage probably won't have spaghetti sauce in it. Probably. Spaghetti sauce is the worst," Jessica Jones says deadpan.

She has definitely done a lot of digging through garbage during the course of her career.

Daredevil asks what her next move is, and she realizes she'd babbled about Shoro without actually explaining it. "My weird status here actually paid off," she explains. "I gotta go down to Birnin S'Yan to use it, but their security service is working with me. A little. They've given me access to this thing called the Shoro Investigation deck. It lets you process forensic data, use data gathered by all the drones to recreate crimes, it's got facial recognition software. I'm a bit playpenned there but…it's an investigator's wet dream. I'm going to try to recreate the fire, but I also have new faces to feed in. People who were protesting the conference. I'm also going to try to cross-reference all their identities against all these other data points."

She offers an apologetic chuff. "I know it sounds cushy and I'd give it to you and take your job if it made sense, but you know how hopeless you are at using computers."

She shoots Luke a slightly thin-lipped look, though, at his comment about what he's banking on. The severe irony is that her prowess as a PI is absolutely unnecessary to giving him what he wants, and that knowledge makes her sick on every level. He sighs and demands contact, and she waves her hand at him. "You have my number, Cage. It still works here. I've given my word, okay? That means something to me. So just…"

But she trails off as Luke asks if Daredevil is okay, and she shoots him a glance, unaware it was 'Orisha' that set him off.

Uncertainty plagues her all of a sudden, painting an anxious look on her face. She wasn't kidding when she had said that 'taking lead' is nothing she's used to. What she's used to is working alone. And this kind of investigation is outside of her experience. Using other people's skills and experience is also new. Did I piss him off? Am I doing something stupid? He'd -tell- me if I were doing something stupid wouldn't he? Shit, I'm doing something stupid. I'd better make sure…

"This— I mean— if you think— if you see— " Shit. Damn it! And now Luke is on the team, and she's been unfair to him, so she blows out her cheeks. "Look, this thing is big and— if you two see holes in anything I say you should just tell me, I can take it."

*

"Huh?" comes the masked man's eloquent retort when Cage asks him if everything's alright. It summons him from distraction and forces him to recognize that he's not the only person in the world who picks up on unspoken signals. He clears his throat. "Just that it's strange for a bunch of spooks and analysts to be chattering that much about religion," the masked man murmurs. "…though maybe here it isn't." It's a quiet and candid admission to just how many information barriers they are coming up against: cultural, lingual, historical, and potentially even spiritual. The sort of barriers that no amount of googling or footwork may be able to effectively surmount.

And then Jessica is having a crisis of confidence. "Hey," he says, as gently as he can in this persona he's adopted, putting out a brief staying gauntlet in her direction. "You're doing great, Jones." The voice carries reassurance in it, and perhaps a note quiet understanding about how and why Luke Cage's sudden appearance has her on a knife's edge. "That platform sounds like a real coup — and like you're the one to play around with it." A little too much of a coup, from the vantage point of someone trying to protect their secret identity, but that is neither here nor there — and certainly a risk he knew he was taking when he came to a high-tech, arguably hostile security state. "It sounds like we've all got our to-dos, am I right?"

*

“Maybe I’ll ask around about that too, while I’m out there.” Luke rumbles about the religious aspect of this whole thing, if only to give the other man a bit of peace of mind about it.

Unbidden, and likely even unwanted, Luke reaches out beneath the table to try and cap Jessica’s knee with the expansive plain of his palm. “You’re fine.” It’s really meant to reassure her that he sees no holes in her current plan, but that’s based on what little knowledge he’s working off of on this entire thing. He’s still operating somewhat blind, but then again he flew out to Wakanda half-cocked of his own accord.

”We’re good?” He asks them both then, as this little meeting of minds seems to be at an end. A man of few words, this.

*

Daredevil's reassurances help to talk Jess off the figurative ceiling as usual, and she exhales. It's a weird world where she questions her abilities in investigation of all things, the one thing she thinks she really has going for her ever, but it's true that Luke's presence has made her vulnerable to all kinds of self-doubt, as has the nature of the case in general. "Thanks, DHK," she says, flashing him a quick smile even as she reverts back to the older nickname. "We do. Thanks gu—"

Luke tries to do the same as Daredevil, and if he'd done it without the touch, he'd have actually added to that patch on her confidence.

He manages to touch her knee, pale and uncharacteristically bared by shorts, because she doesn't expect it, but touching Jessica in that kind of a familiar, intimate way without expectation or permission doesn't comfort her, even if his words are kind enough. Perhaps, especially right now, because his words are kind enough. His massive hand causes her to remember that this is a man who could probably easily be a match for her if he should decide to attack, and for all that she knows he doesn't have reason to, yet, the reminder hits her to her core. It causes her to stiffen, hiss, and take the opportunity to stand up, taking a few steps back from him and swallowing. "Yeah," she says, trying not to make a big damned deal over it.

But it puts her over the edge. "Touch base with you guys later," she says. "Takes a bit. To get to Birnan S'Yan."

And then she leaps straight up, something she hasn't done in Wakanda even once yet. She scrambles over the roof of the cafe, takes a running leap, and launches herself at the next building over, essentially fleeing the scene.

*

It's a cliché at this point to say that Daredevil sees more than most, but it's still true. Even without eyes to see it all, he observes the contact under the table, takes in Jessica's sharp and barely-stifled reaction right before she brings the meeting that was already winding down to a screeching conclusion. He dips his head and lets out a quiet breath. It's a moment before he turns his head towards Luke. "She's alright," he explains, simply and softly, as he pushes himself to a rise and turns to face the man who, even seated, still comes up to his shoulder. "Just been through a lot." And had to relive it all, very publicly, very recently — partly because of Matt's alter ego. Guilt comes easily to him, and he feels a stab of it slip right through his armor and between his ribs.

Standing puts him out of the umbrella's shade and under the hammering beat of the sun, and so he won't stay there for long. "See you around, Cage," says the man in red before he reaches for the pair of batons strapped to his thigh and makes to turn.

*

Luke is left squinting up behind his sunglasses to where Jessica disappeared. "Helluva woman." He comments distractedly in response to Daredevil, finally swiveling his head in that direction. "Yeah, yeah." He pushes up to a standing position too, rolling his shoulders as if to release some tension he wasn't aware had gathered there. "Motherfucking Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Pops is never going to believe me…" A boom of laughter accompanies him back across the street.

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