Rivers and Stars

August 27, 2017:

Cutscene. Jessica Jones reacts when she hears from Jane Foster at last.

// The Road to Birnan S'Yan, Wakanda//

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Michael Carter, Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Asleep in a robotic car moving swiftly down the highway to Birnan S'Yan, Jessica Jones wakes on the buzz of a text. She has trained her mind to wake to them immediately right now. Anything could be from any member of the team. Any communication could be important.

It could be news of the loss she's trying hard not to think she might see. And even if it is, she knows to her bones she will stay in this country until they drag her out or behead her if it means clearing his name, even posthumously, because when she lets herself feel at all the vast well of anger and sadness that opens up inside threatens to swallow her.

It's loony— she knows it's loony— how she's been running around trying to make a family for herself, trying to stock up on new brothers and sisters ever since feeling her mother's arms again, hearing her father's stupid jokes again, seeing Phillip (god, Phillip) all grown up and happy, ever since wondering if they are safe like that in any universe. Trying to fill a void that on some level she knows she will never successfully fill. Knowing she has to make a choice about finding the balance, about not pushing herself too hard on people who have their own families, their own lives, who don't, ultimately, have room for her at those tables. At other tables perhaps, but not those.

She presses the heel of her hand into her eyes so she can get the bleary out. For all of that, for all that she knows it's loony, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if James is Steve's brother, not hers, she still feels like she's on the verge of losing a second family.

The text is from Jane Foster, and that sits her straight up.

Jane, who has pushed everyone away in a maneuver that Jessica recognizes because it's a mirror of what she herself did when she was at her most hurt, her most broken, her most raw.

I'm here, is all it says, and she sucks in a breath. Maybe she'll join the bulk of the team, meet up, they can compare notes, they'll get this done so much faster with Jane's mind on the job. She gears up to even turn all this crazy leadership crap over to the diminutive scientist, Jane, who is so much smarter than she is, could surely unravel everything where she plods along and has to Google half the terms she comes across.

Jessica's fingers pause as she tries to form an appropriate reply, not wanting to step too far on the throbbing mental wounds that she knows Jane is carrying, not wanting to presume or overimpose. Feeling, weirdly, the hot tears that she hadn't even felt the need to shed since getting here and getting to work well up and threaten to spill over, just for those two simple words. To Jessica's mind and heart, Jane feels poised over an Abyss as surely as Bucky does. She's in danger of losing them both. That simple text makes her long for the woman's hugs and gentle advice in an almost physical, palpable way. As much as she's ever longed for a sip of whiskey, and she's been longing for that (and cheating so much) that she finally just threw her 90-day token out and began texting Dr. Gardner about naltrexone instead.

She adds up all Jane has been through and wonders if the tiny woman will ever be able to hug someone in such giving fashion ever again, or talk about souls and beautiful places.

She dashes the tears. They're not needed here, not wanted here, not useful here. She curses her slip, her dumbass crisis of confidence in front of Daredevil and Cage, remembering how Matt had been the rock for everyone during the half of the war he'd taken point on without ever letting anyone see him sweat, always projecting total confidence that he would fix this. It's her turn now. She can't succumb to stupid self-doubt or whatever the fuck else she's succumbing to. She can do all that shit when she goes home.

If she goes home, but the thought of Cage ultimately wrapping his giant, warm hands around her neck and strangling her (a move she's already resolved not to resist when the time comes, should he make that choice) bothers her less than the idea of him figuring it out and taking some sort of adverse action that keeps this case from being solved in time to help James. She just needs time, damn it. Couldn't he have waited?

By the time she has herself under control she realizes she's looking at an absolute flood of information that she now struggles to even understand. LJOS? A tech company that attended the conference…a Hydra tech company. She makes a note to herself to feed the name back into Shoro. Maybe the drones caught something, can recreate something about LJOS that none of them have seen. And some sort of terminal in Armenia? A hacker coordinating with Hydra, feeding information through some major distribution line. And a whole bunch of panther god stuff. She'll spend the rest of the drive going through all of it, and deciding what it suggests in terms of next moves.

She realizes, too, that the only suitable answer is to reciprocate. She pulls the case file marked 07052017 Wak/JBB that she's been using to document their every move and clue here. A door of communication has been opened, but the swift burst of information was its own sort of answer.

She thinks she hears it thusly:

Don't try to see me, Jessica. Our rivers of information may be converging now, but our paths aren't, yet.

She sends it all, but still highlights a few items of special interest for her friend on her silent, lonesome hunt.

Firefighter drones - Hacked.

Blackstone of the Akili

Of the two things she can pass on to Jane right now, those seem to be the most relevant, the most pressing. She frowns, then highlights one more:

Staff of Orisha - Weapon? Name for operations/maneuvers? Unrelated??

Her fingers hover one more time. Can she give some word? Some encouragement? Some lifeline? Can she give anything to remind Jane Foster that she's not alone?

Because Jessica made a promise to them both.

She thinks about trying to tell James how much she loves them both, and smiles back another rush of tears as she thinks about the asshole getting all ridiculously uncomfortable about it. Men. Christ. But it still stalls her from sending anything of the sort now.

She thinks about what he said.

We already know, so you don't have to say anything.

She leaves it at that. At drones and accelerants, Blackstone and Orisha. A swift burst of information that it's own sort of answer. She hopes Jane reads it thusly:

Okay.

Remember my promise to you. You're never alone. Not as long as I'm around.

I love you.

Stay safe.

Then she leans back in her seat and stares up at the stars. Jane's now seeing that same sky. Jessica considers that, even as she misses her friend fiercely, even as she hopes she'll get to see her, or at least hear her voice, at least one more time. Jane would know what picture all those stupid dots make, so many more than Jessica has ever seen back home in New York.

Jessica can't find any picture or pattern at all. The constellation she's staring at could be the Big Dipper or the Big Ass for all she knows.

But it gives her some strength, some determination, some restoration of the foundation that has been steadily eroding beneath her feet, reconnects her, however briefly, to someone she desperately needed to reconnect with, even if Jane didn't.

And so she dives into the information Jane has sent in earnest, feeling nothing, now, but a hunter's focus as she sifts through it all, looking for the pillars that will ultimately build the case, nail some assholes to the wall, and send James Buchanan Barnes safely home.

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