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August 31, 2017:

Jessica Jones sits down for a "working breakfast" with one Agent Peggy Carter. But before they can dig into the case, there's a small personal matter to attend to…

Birnan Zana, Wakanda

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Daredevil, Elektra, Captain America, Jane Foster, Luke Cage

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Since Jessica Jones had her conversation with Captain America around 1 AM local time she just…waits for breakfast.

She in fact gets up uncharacteristically early and takes a car back up to Birnan Zana. She’s making so many treks between the two cities lately that the drive is almost second nature. She texts Peggy ahead, saying she’d like to have breakfast with her— maybe just with her.

This is maybe not a good conversation to have with Michael around. She just. Has a feeling.

She’d slept a little in the car, but arrives in the hotel dining room basically on time. She even decided to put on make-up. Looking like an exhausted bum, she decided, was no way to project confidence and strength. Captain America, she was reminded after her call with him, looked impeccable no matter how tired or sad he was. Kept his cool, didn’t go around wearing his emotions on his sleeve.

The least she could do was put on some mascara.

She orders mushaali and strong black coffee for herself. The former is a breakfast dish she’s become very partial to since arriving here. It’s made of oats, honey, and chia seeds. It is nothing she would have ever thought she would have liked, but…as she told Zee, bits of Wakanda are slipping under her skin in spite of all the reasons she has to be angry at the place. And despite everything the place hates about her.

But before she starts dropping bombs she has a question, one she’ll ask of Peggy nearly as soon as she sees her.

“How are you feeling?”

The woman did go through jail, for God’s sake.

Peggy arrives downstairs put together. It’s how she generally is when not recently released from a Wakandan jail, but the appearance is more important to her afterward. While she orders no food, she orders a black coffee.

As she settles herself, she gives Jessica a bit of a surprised look and then a smile. “I’m fine,” she tells Jessica. Whether she is or not is up to debate. She did go through a rather notoriously tough holding prison. She is, also, Peggy Carter. She might be totally fine because of that or pretending she is totally fine because of that. It’s hard to say.

The questions as to her well being do not raise any red flags: she is used to Jessica’s straightforward questions about care. It’s rather refreshing, if also a bit foreign. In exchange, she offers the counterpoint. It’s only polite, after all.

“How are you?” She waits a moment till she’s properly seated and then adds, “Any word from Jane?”

—-

“I’m fine. You were asleep, but I got in touch with both of them. Jane and Daredevil, who got to her aid quickly enough.”

She half-shakes her head. In the rush of visits, emotions, phone calls and continuing investigations she’d forgotten about the assassin. Which is insane. Who forgets about an assassin?

Jessica rubs a hard hand over her face. “Female assassin, using guns and martial arts weapons. They drove her off, and she’s still at large. It’s probably going to be a good idea for us to try to travel in groups, or at least pairs, for a bit.”

Their orders arrive, and she goes straight for the coffee in spite of liking the porridge, though her stomach rumbles wildly. For once, she’s hungry as all get out, even as she revises her mental parameters. There is more to discuss in this conversation than she’d first remembered. There’s even new evidence she supposes she ought to float Peggy’s way when she has the chance, too.

“Daredevil.” Peggy says the name with a raised eyebrow. “I should be used to code names by now, but they all still sound rather ridiculous.” She leans back in her chair and nods. “Care to enlighten me as to what transpired?” It sounds like spy talk, but that is generally just how Peggy talks at times. Especially when she is on the job and every moment in Wakanda is a moment she is on the job.

Jessica talks and she nods. “Do you know if she is after Jane? This might be a part of Wakandan retribution. I recently managed to find out that certain equipment from the WIS was stolen. If there is a female assassin on Jane’s case it might mean we are starting to close in on a proper lead.” There it is, that spy thing again.

“But, she’s alright?” The question comes on the heels of, but after the other questions. If Jane were truly in danger now she expects Jessica to say something. However, a true verbal confirmation as to the scientist’s well being is also warranted.

—-

“She was definitely after Jane. I assume she’s after all of us. And I don’t know a lot. They weren’t really in the mood to deal with me. But they’re both okay.”

She smiles a little, fondly, at the mention of Daredevil— the name, costume, and mask are all necessary in his case.

And…wherever her traitorous and mercurial feelings lie on the matter of the man beneath the horns— in flux, when she bothers to think of them at all, since she had her conversation with Kinsey Sheridan— she probably will always feel a little protective over him. Or a lot protective over him, as the case may be. At the very least she’ll always have his back, and sometimes that means a indulging in little good-natured counter-ribbing on his behalf.

“Because ‘Captain America’ is definitely a serious codename,” she says with tired good humor. “The Giant A on his head really sells the gravitas too, I feel.”

But she soon leaves the matter of cape fashion choices behind, adding, “I think she’s Hydra. The assassin. But yes, I agree. The freaks and threats come out when we’re getting close. Or closer, anyway.”

She of course came with Cap on her mind, but she’ll wait to see if Peggy wants to pursue the matter of the assassin any further. It was a scary event, and Jessica did hit the ceiling and damn near take off without them. She’s owed whatever answers Jess can give, even if they are incomplete ones simply by virtue of just how little Jess herself knows.

—-

The tease about Captain America is met with something of a smirk. “Point taken, Miss Jones.” Peggy gives a fond shake of her head at the codename. “The large A is for easy identification, much like medics in the field. It’s for clarity. I was more fond of the wings on either side of the helmet, to be perfectly frank.” Her tone is dry, but it’s clear she is running with the joke.

Once she’s properly contributed to the teasing, though, her expression turns more serious as she is briefly told of what happened to Jane. There’s a bit of a frown and a nod. “Hydra. If Hydra is involved with this that is an entirely different can of worms. Perhaps they’re annoyed that he was found innocent and are attempting to another form of retribution for escaping.” It’s merely a theory, but without anything else to go on, it seems like a logical one. “I am sure if she makes herself known again we will be able to gather more information as to her intentions.”

Not that she wishes the assassin to strike again, but in the absence of data, all they can really do is investigate what they can and wait. Without prior knowledge as to why Jessica wished to speak with her, she assumes it has to do with their rush to Jane’s aid and now the new information about the assassin.

—-

“They’ve always been involved,” Jess says grimly. “That was one of the first things James told me about this case.”

She frowns down at her porridge, mentally going over her notes. “I have a few thoughts on where we can go next. Some of this is starting to come together. But before we start the true working part of our working breakfast, I gotta talk to you. About Cap. In fact.”

She takes a bite so she can gather her thoughts. This is, after all, all slightly awkward. Still, no amount of thought-rearranging can make it any less awkward.

“So I called him last night. I figured all this time he hasn’t been here because he had political reasons, right? Captain America, turning it into an official intervention. Turns out he had no clue Bucky was here. Now. He was informed. I went back and checked. Jane included him on the same group text nearly everyone got. But he must have been busy, or distracted, or bad at texts, because he missed it. I apologized profusely and told him it was my fault for not double checking that he’d been informed. Which is nothing but truth. But. I also know you two are close,” was there a slight pause before that word close? Yes. Yes there was.
“And I know stuff like this can cause— tension. When people are close. He’s on his way here in plain clothes. I thought I’d give you the heads up. I promised to pick him up from the airport but will defer to you if you wish to do that yourself. Or will go with you, if you prefer to have me along for some uh. Moral support.”

A pause.

“He didn’t make a big fuss about it, I mean I want to stress he was very kind, very polite, instantly forgiving, but just in case. I wanted to make sure you knew what was going on and that the wires had gotten crossed.”

“Ah,” Peggy replies, tone and expression matching Jess’. “I should have guessed.” She sighs. “Speaking of bad news, I attempted to analyze the signature you spoke of before. From what I could tell it seems to be some form of annoying garbage signature attached to all of his work, much like a serial killer might leave a calling card. If it is a key to anything, I have yet to find the lock to which it fits.”

The information about Steve is met with a blink and then a look down at her plate. There is also a nod. “I see,” she replies. There’s a few emotions that cross her face at the knowledge that he is on his way. The one she lands on is a bit of idle amusement. “It’s quite alright. I don’t need any moral support to face Steve,” she assures the PI. “Though, I appreciate the sentiment.”

Her eyes, however, remain downward as she thinks. “I honestly assumed that he simply was unable to make it due to international complications. I know he would otherwise be here for James. I have, unfortunately…” she trails off. “We haven’t exactly spoken since the trial,” she explains. “I’m not sure he knows I was suspended or that I came here.”

—-

“Someone must have mentioned your presence here in passing, cause he brought it up,” Jessica replies thoughtfully. “So he knows about that. I think it’s safe to assume he doesn’t know anything else. But. So. Okay. You’re on Steve duty then.”

She had spent the evening trying to think where Steve’s talents might best be employed, and she actually did come up with an answer, so she adds, “When you fetch him, once you two are done catching up, would you please ask him if he will use those fantastic PR and people skills of his to see if he can’t find and talk to people who actually supported the Mizizi na Nyasi conference? They might be willing to speak to us, and they might have noticed things we didn’t. They might know more people we can talk to as well. Obviously supporters aren’t suspects, but several of them might have been hurt by these actions, and we won’t know if they know anything until we ask.”

Jessica decides to address .hackersays<3 second, circling back to it. “We can still use a calling card.”

She thinks for a moment and says, “WSS, Wakandan Security Services, have been marginally more friendly to us. I don’t know if they’ll let you use SHORO, but…maybe you can find a cybersecurity or cyberforensics expert from WSS to talk to. Getting hostile people to like you is part of your schtick right? So…maybe you get this cybersecurity guy to like you, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll tell you if this calling card has shown up anywhere else, and where else that might be. What do you think?”

On Steve Duty. Peggy nods at that, though she doesn’t enjoy the sound of picking Steve up from the airport being some form of work or something she is required to do. “It’s probably best. I imagine he will be less than pleased to think I kept this from him and it is best to speak at the onset rather than drag it out.” She sighs and pushes some of her hair back behind her ear. There’s frustration, there, annoyance at herself and the situation.

“Of course.” Steve’s ability to make people trust him is one of the qualities that made her connect with him so quickly. Even in a country as hostile to outsiders as Wakanda, she can imagine Steve would be able to get others to open up.

Back to the case, she nods at the assessment. “Yes. It’s a rather particular calling card. At the very least we might be able to use it to see what else he has done and hopefully predict what else might interest him.” As for getting hostile people to like her is met with a bit of a raised eyebrow. “I’m not exactly sure I would call that a talent I am particularly good at as myself. I tend to butt heads with people rather than sweet talk them, especially if they are holding something I wish to acquire. However, I can certainly speak with a cybersecurity person to see what I might find. It is certainly a step forward.”

—-
At least Peggy’s ability to read people will be able to pick up on this much: Jessica didn’t mean it that way. It was a turn of phrase (perhaps a careless one), and nothing more. Her mind, in fact, is way off Captain Rogers by the time she has finished asked Peggy to pass along her request, mentally checking that one off her list and moving on.

In fact, she’s been more mission-focused these days than probably ever. Back when they were searching for a mind-controlling murderer her own personal issues kept cutting into her, but this? Nothing seems capable of distracting her for long, and her emotions seem to have become distant and little-used things.

Jessica looks surprised when Peggy says she butts heads with people. “I think you’re perfectly damn delightful and screw anyone who says otherwise.”

Says the other woman who tends to butt heads with people.

“But you don’t have to be dude’s best friend anyway.”

While Jessica might have moved her thoughts on from Rogers, Peggy has not. There is a bit of worry there, now, realizing that Steve didn’t know what was happening in Wakanda and annoyance at herself for not reaching out sooner. Perhaps it is the suspension, or the knowledge that Steve did not know about the second trial of Bucky, but her own attention turns personal rather than toward the case.

So, it is with a bit of a surprise and then a smile that she takes the compliment from Jessica. She can’t help a bit of a laugh and a shake of her head. “We have yet to be at opposing sides, but thank you. I don’t believe I’ve ever been called delightful before.”

As for being the person in question’s best friend, she nods. “Yes, I know. I will do what I can.”

—-

Jessica shrugs. “If we are, I don’t take butting heads personally. I prefer the company of people who can take it when I get shitty and who can stand up to me, and I feel like you’d be just that. And anyway, you’d probably have good points. My prediction is we’ll dig in for awhile, and then we’ll see the common ground and work to something worth doing.”

She scoops up the last couple of bites of her food and says, “I’m heading into Birnan Azzaria soon. A lot of signs seem to be pointing west. I’d like to get the lay of the land out there. I’ll take Luke Cage with me. He’s enormous and literally bulletproof, and is here because he wants to play bodyguard or whatever anyway.”

She sucks down her coffee. “I think we’re at a complete dead end for any more attempts to use our contacts outside the country, so whatever else we do is going to have to come from contacts we can cultivate here.”

“You might should we actually be on opposite ends of a case.” Despite the statement, Peggy smiles at Jess. She’s used to clashing horns with both enemies and work colleagues. Most of the time they remain respectful.

As for the case, she nods, agreeing. “Yes, it seems as if quite a lot of what we need to do now is within the country as opposed to looking outside it.” The knowledge that Jessica will be heading into Birnan Azzaria is met with a look. “Just be careful. A bulletproof shield only protects one side.”

Finishing her coffee, she sets the empty mug back down on the saucer with a small clink of porcelain. “I’ll be sure to keep you apprised on what I find.”

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