Ego te Absolvo

September 03, 2017:

Daredevil reveals the truth about Elektra to one Jessica Jones.

Birnan Zana

Home base for Alias Investigation's Wakanda Branch.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Elektra, Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Kinsey Sheridan, Luke Cage, Sizani

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

On the call, Jessica had just sounded tired. She'd lost a lot of blood before she could actually treat the damned wounds—wounds in triplicate, because they were made with a fucking Ninja Turtle Sai. She'd said she was fine, had even jokingly acknowledged the irony of giving him and Jane whatfor about not getting killed only to take a "ninja thingie to the gut" a few days later, and had said she's back in room 402 in Zana where, "we should maybe talk."

Maybe in a few hours, she'd added, because she was already dropping back off to sleep on the phone with him.

She's able to let him in without moving from her bed by virtue of high-tech voice commands, which either allow her to open the door or the fourth story window for him with a simple verbal command. She's built (or more likely, Luke built) a pillow pyramid of sorts that lets her either be propped up for eating or working or sleeping depending on where she's at. Sadly the smell of burnt flesh and blood still linger around the bathroom.

A nation with Trek level doctors, and she wound up super-heating a piece of metal and cursing her way through 'treatment' because she didn't want them calling the WSS. She's sure WSS probably knows, but she's also sure if she doesn't make it their problem they won't make it her problem.

It does smell a lot like booze in here too, but the good news only one of those mini-bottles went down her throat. The rest she poured all over the mess on her lower abdomen prior to said cauterization. No stitches— infection is a concern even for her.

This whole thing would be loony tunes except for her healing factor, already hard at work. It shoots her temperature up through the roof, especially near the wound, and it makes her hungry. Thus the room might smell a lot like a food tour of Hell's Kitchen hole-in-the-walls; she doesn't want room service in here so she's been yanking food out of her phone. Sal's sandwiches, pizza-by-the-slice from that one place near Matt's office, butter chicken from her favorite curry dive. Her metabolism gets ridiculous while trying to tackle any serious wound, and Elektra didn't meet Germany levels of mauling, well, gut wounds and blood loss still require some calories. She's not eating now, but the smells do linger. She's is popping a handful of Advil like they're fucking M&Ms right around the time he arrives though.

She obviously has kept right on trying to work; there's paper all over her bed from where she kept scribbling notes and thoughts, covering every bit of the duvet that she herself isn't currently occupying.

"Welcome to Alias Investigation's Wakanda branch," she tells him, sounding both dry and a little stronger.

It's the window and not the door that Daredevil will eventually rap on, though only after he can tell that she's woken and roused herself. He's spent most of the hours since their brief conversation gargoyled on the roof of her hotel, his powerful sense of attention trained floors below to the sound of her resting heartbeat and the steady rythmn of her breath at sleep. The sounds of a sleeping, quickly-convalescing Jessica Jones are at once a source of reassurance, a font of white-hot guilt, and a meditative focal point as he tries to quiet a mind that's been thrown into tumult by the revelations of the last twelve hours. They aren't the only place he rests his attention, of course. He spends part of the time sifting through the swirl of sounds and sensations that populate the building, searching for any trace sign of the woman who authored this mess — but finds none.

After a sudden and violent return to Matt Murdock's world, Elektra Natchios is once more a ghost.

He gives her a little time after she wakes, both so that she can rouse and settle herself and so that he can settle his own fraught feelings. When he pulls himself in — deft as ever — he barely quirks a smile at her dry greeting. His features are obscured by the mask, but there's a weight and gravity to his aspect as he approaches her bedside and pays closer attention to the little details that paint a picture of her condition and how she's been occupying her time while it improves. "Still giving Sal business from a world away, huh?" he says, matching her banter. And really it's vintage Matt, that use of humor to deflect, disarm, or otherwise soften tough conversations. though the attempt at banter is half-hearted, falls flat.

This is all on you, the familiar internal refrain comes again. By saving Elektra. Jessica Jones could have died because you wouldn't let Jane take the shot.

"Jess, I'm sorry," he says, horned-head ducking, voice suddenly and uncharacteristically raw with emotion. "I'm — so sorry this happened to you. And just… glad you're alright."

Jess can be awfully clumsy when it comes to people.

But that doesn't change the fact that, like Matt, she has plenty of empathy. Usually people are just aiming their empathy at her first, because she's such a fucking mess, and one who ultimately wears her heart on her sleeve, at that.

And while her need to get answers, her identity as a detective who brings order to her world primarily through relentlessly seeking to understand it, prompted her ask him to come here so she could to barrel through and demand answers to the questions prompted by the assassin's actions, well.

All it takes is that ducked horned head and that raw emotion to make a rush of that powerful empathy sweep through her with the force of a tidal wave. All she wants, suddenly, is to soothe that rawness away, to absolve him of whatever guilt he's feeling right this second, just as he's done so many times for her. As it stands, the fact that they share a tendency to feel guilty over things that are perhaps beyond their control has never been plainer to her than it is now. She's never seen him show so much of it before. Usually, in front of her at least, he has been a sphinx carved of rock, betraying nothing of his own feelings, of his own hurts.

Her voice loses its dry edge, becomes gentle. Her gentleness isn't always easy to identify for those who don't know her well, which is a function of the hard-bitten edges of her natural voice, but it is gentleness all the same.

"Hey," she says, a slim hand reaching out in his direction. "Hey. I'm okay. It's okay. This is kind of the job, right? We stop bad people from doing bad things and sometimes they decide to stab us. Her decision, not yours. You didn't do anything wrong, and I've had worse."

It's an unfortunate fact of their relationship that she's always been an easier read for him than he ever has been for her. Right from the start the man in red has always been fiercely protective of Jessica Jones, not the least because in the aftermath of that first meeting at Sal's, she exhibited the same kind of wracking guilt and thinly-veiled vulnerability that he displays now. He's always known they were similar in how they bore their weights — or took on the weights of others. He's just always been better at hiding his up to now.

Back at Sal's, and after, he provided her with assurance born of empathy and understanding. She does the same here. He's too swept up in gales of conflicting emotion to notice all these parallels or resonances — that will come later — but even in the moment her quiet words and the reach of that slender, strong hand for one of his crimson gauntlets move him, drawing a knife-sharp breath from his lungs. You didn't do anything wrong, she tells him. She might be right, but it still feels wrong to hear it — in part because she's the one who was almost killed, and he should be comforting her.

He draws in a breath: centers himself, steels himself, before cutting to the heart of why he knows she called him, and why he's raking himself over the coals. "I… don't know that it was her decision," he says finally, quietly. "It may be, in which case she's, ah —" a beat, a wince, and then the admission: " —a very different person from the one I knew years ago." Knew or thought you knew? comes the internal critic. Either's damning, really: either you knew she was evil and loved her anyway, or you were — well. Blind.

He forces himself past the roadblocks and hitches his own mind sets for him. It's suddenly dreadfully important that he finish the thought, elaborate on — all of it. "But HYDRA is involved, and given what we all know HYDRA could do — I, ah." A fresh wave of self-recrimination floods him. "I stopped Jane from killing her when she had the chance. Saved her. Which let her get away, and get to you. I took a gamble, Jess. A not-so-carefully calculated risk. And this time you paid for it. That's fucked up."

Jessica keeps his hand in her smaller one as he tells his tale, mostly because she's trying to communicate by touch what he can't see on her face. She can't look into his eyes and convey anything, but she can do this. She listens to his halting explanation, and it clears up almost everything. He knew her, they have history, and thus her sing-song taunts and her seeming willingness to kill everyone but him. The lingering question: is she a mindcontrolled victim or a willing associate of the people who have engineered so much pain and torment for others?

It's a lot, and this means he's been ripped apart by all of these questions for days now.

Only when he finishes does she squeeze those fingers once (as gently as her voice is gentle) and let them go. She sorts through what she's going to answer first, and she says softly, "You're not a killer. And that's no bad thing. You can't uncross that line once it's crossed. And even if Jane's finger pulled the trigger you'd still feel like an accessory because you were there fighting her too."

Don't I just know something about that.

"And if you later found out she was just like Bucky all along, that would be even worse. You made the right decision. You're never required to murder people to protect other people, okay? If all you ever do is stop them in the moment and run them off, you've done the important part— saved a life. And I'm still kicking, so it's not like you traded her life for mine. All that would have happened, had you put her blood on your hands, was Hydra would have sent another assassin."

She touches his hand again, for all the same reasons, fingers resting lightly on his knuckles before flitting off again. "We all gamble. That's the job too. You did the best you could with zero point zero seconds to make a choice."

Matt's eyes shut tight behind the demon-visaged mask as Jessica Jones carefully and deliberately absolves him of his sins with the same gentle cut of logic that Father Lantom might in the shadows of the confessional. To let Jane carry out her plan was to become an accessory, and cross the line Matt had always sworn not to cross. That is true. And while logic always makes headway with his lawyer's mind, it's the added element of touch — compassionate fingers grazed upon fingers — that draw the harsh but cleansing rasp from his chest. His jaw sets, and resets before he decides to allow her words to stand without protest or pushback. "Even if you're right that stopping Jane was the right move, I don't buy that my duty ended with running her off," Daredevil says, tone quiet and rueful. "She's my responsibility, Jess."

The man at her bedside drops slowly downward to a crouch, bringing himself parallel with her. "What happened, exactly?" he asks, both wanting and not wanting to know the answer. "Did she — did do anything beyond the obvious? Say anything I should know?"

She wants to know who exactly this woman is, but he needs answers of his own. Of course, Jessica doesn't think he's really asking what her tactics were.

She cuts to the heart of what she thinks his biggest worry is first. "She didn't reveal your identity. She used Daredevil, when she spoke of you. I'm not even sure what she said raised any questions for Luke. He might have just assumed her to be an old enemy of yours, or was just distracted.'"

But Jessica, of course, had two reasons why she didn't make those assumptions, why she immediately had questions. First, she has pretty good notions on the shape of Matt's heroic career; they basically started the crazy stuff right around the same time. And while she certainly knows he hasn't shared every last detail of his rogue's gallery with her, she nevertheless felt this one might have made the 'heads up' list way back in Hell's Kitchen had that been the issue.

Second, of course, is that she is a detective, and thus it only took a few phrases for her to realize there was something going on here. The dryness slips back into her tone as she reports, "She said she's insulted you chose Luke and I as your friends— I think cause we weren't enough of a challenge for her or whatever, but you know, bi— uh— lady did hit us with freaking tear gas before she got up close and personal— and she intends to kill all your friends. I got the impression you were off the kill list though. So…I guess she's maybe a bit posessive of you."

And then, here it comes, the uncomfortable question. But she asks it with that same gentle cadence that she's basically been using since her realization that he is hurting over this. "Who is she?"

She assures him that Elektra didn't use his name. The remark catches him by surprise, because for once in the last nine months since he started wearing a mask, Matthew Murdock's secret identity is not at the forefront of his concern. He's taken precautions while he's here, but he's acutely aware that coming in either guise put his double-life at severe risk. He judged it worth it, even now. His concern about Elektra knowing who he is stems less from whether she might expose him than the fact that it exposes others. To wit:

She intends to kill all your friends, says one of his friends, with the puncture wounds to prove it. For a moment, while the shock of those words sinks in, Matt Murdock is in perfect stasis: his his lips won't close, heart won't beat, lungs won't fill. He's every bit as motionless as if he really were a gargoyled sentinel. Never, in all his wildest imaginings of what happened to Elektra — and he did imagine, for years — could he have pictured this reality.

"This is a god damn nightmare," he murmurs in disbelief, with what little available breath is left to him. There's a kick-starting inhale after, though, and a complimentary surge of adrenaline. "I've got to track her down and — stop her," he says, an ordinarily taciturn man giving his stream of consciousness voice for once. "John and Zee could help, maybe. Witchcraft, scrying shit."

The revelation that not only has Elektra decided to continue hunting his friends, but to continue hunting them because they're his friends, is so paradigm-shifting that it leaves the pertinent question that follows and lingers unanswered for a span of beats. A hand reaches behind him to rub at the back of a neck stiff from tension. "When I knew her? She was an heiress — old world, European family. In college we were —" he swallows.

He hates saying it for a multitude of reasons: because he's an absurdly private person, because acknowledging their connection and his one-time feelings for the woman makes him feel culpable, and because it's Jess, and any discussions of affairs of the heart are bound to be thorny. But it's an honest and fair question, and he gives an honest and fair answer: "We were together for a semester in my senior year. Then some awful shit happened to her family, she dropped out of Columbia and… just dropped off. I haven't seen or heard from her in more than five years."

He says he has to stop her, and Jessica isn't at all surprised. He may be the only one who can, in fact, given he's the only one she doesn't want to kill. Except she might change her mind. She didn't exactly sound stable. Still, he has already declared this woman to be his responsibility on the basis of— well, precisely nothing as far as Jess can see, even hearing that the woman is his ex girlfriend— and she knows he'll never move from that stance anyway, so she doesn't bother trying to talk him out of it.

Meanwhile, he's worried about it getting thorny because of the history between him and this assassin, but there's no rush of hurt, or jealousy, or…much of anything new, really, from the woman propped up on the bed beside him. Just attention, really. Total, focused attention, and the same empathy that she's been displaying. But the revelation of a romantic history with this woman prompts something which might get thorny for him, for all her calm acceptance of…pretty much everything relating to Matt Murdock these days.

It took…well. His presence here in this room to let her know that her attempts to talk herself out of loving him are bullshit, that he's just going to have that unasked for piece of her for the rest of forever. But maybe that's what first loves are about…and maybe they call them first loves for a reason— because they're rarely meant to be last ones. It was, she's found, the hope that he'd eventually roll to her that hurt, not the love, and a thing doesn't have to be eros to be important anyway. So, she loves him; she's laying there simply loving him to pieces right now. Turns out it doesn't have to rip her apart, and so, she can move on to something far more important than her feelings, anyway, in her estimation.

"Have you considered," she asks, very carefully indeed, "calling Six," because he's in costume, so she uses Kinsey's costume name too, "to warn her this woman has made her reappearance in your life? Because I don't think she's just going to fuck off after Wakanda now that she's come face to face with you again, and there's a chance you won't be able to stop-slash-help her in Wakanda. If she is insulted about who you're friends with, and intent on killing people in your life, your girlfriend would be a prime target. Furthermore, Six can get busy trying to find the thing that might tell us if this lady is under control or not. As far as I know, Bucky didn't get paid for anything he did. They equipped him, sent him out, but he owned nothing. So. If she has bank accounts, five years of massive payouts for killing people…that might be a clue, and Six can probably find that shit even if it's all in the Caymans or something equally obscure. You kind of need that information before you try to do a thing."

Jessica lets the revelation roll right off her, and Matt feels a sudden and powerful surge of gratitude. Slowly, he comes down from his hover and loom, bringing himself parallel with a crouch at her bedside. "Yeah — yeah, I know," Daredevil says softly of telling Six, a matter that has crossed his mind more than once in the days that followed Elektra's attack, even before he knew that those close to him now had a marker on their backs. That Jessica knows enough to suggest it does not seem to shock him. He didn't know for certain whether Kinsey had told Jessica about them — their own post-trial reunion had been cut short by the news of Bucky's abduction — but it's entirely in character for her to have addressed the matter with her friend quickly and forthrightly.

"It's a good thought," he finishes of telling Six, and setting her on the hunt. "I'll try to figure out a safe and secure way to do it." Communicating with anyone, internally or externally, while under a microscope in a bona fide security state is a challenge. Matt can hear a listening device in a room, but on an international call — how do you begin to safeguard against snooping? Kinsey herself will probably have some thoughts to that end, of course.

A beat. "Cage was there?" he asks. "Is he alright?" It seems odd to even ask — the man had just virtually showcased his invulnerability on their very first meeting. But he also knows how smart and resourceful Elektra can be.

"Yeah, I let him play bodyguard like he wanted to," Jessica says, and while all things Elektra and Six may be rolling off her, it's Cage that is super-fraught for her right now, sending an uneasy churn through her gut almost at once.

"He didn't like the tear gas, much, but he handled it all like a champ. Still had his sense of humor after, too. I think he was all geared up to sleep across my fucking doorstep, so I'm glad I got that promise out of him first."

She's given her (unsolicited) advice, and he's given her reassurance that he's going to do right by her friend, something that matters even more to her now because, well. She has lots of people. Six has them, the two people in this room. And she's gotten her answers.

Now she solicits some advice in return. Matt is one of just two people she can ask about this, and the other is off in another dimension, not caught up, and is going to be awhile before he can even show up to help with Elektra. She resolves to tell Matt that tidbit in a second, perhaps when she inevitably circles back around to the case. But for now, with both their pasts coming home to roost uncomfortably at the worst possible time, she says, in soft, anguished tones, "I don't know what I'm going to do about him." But she leaves it at that to give him a chance to respond, aware that maybe he might not really want to listen to her pour out her anxieties about the Man Mountain, giving him a chance to signal that if that's the case.

God knows he has already dealt with enough of her stuff to last a lifetime.

In truth, the change of topics is a blessing to a man who has been stuck in his own head for forty-eight hours, and allows him to do what he does best: fixate on other people's problems while ignoring his own. With just a few short sentences about sleeping on doorsteps and playing protector, Jessica Jones paints a fuller picture of Luke Cage, and puts her anguish and anxiety over him into starker relief. I don't know what I'm going to do about him, she says. The crouching man's jaw shifts as he mulls the matter, even if his lips bend briefly downward in a muted show of sympathy.

"The man followed you across continents for answers," Daredevil says at first, the cadence of his words careful as ever. "Either you need to tell him you don't have them and then cut him off, or you need to give them to him sooner rather than later." He offers her the space to lie, because of course he does. Choir boy he may have once been, but this was never a friend who would teach the virtues of radical transparency. There's a pause before he adds: "He likes you, Jess. It didn't take me more than ten minutes with him to see it. And — " a faint, good-natured smile catches the corners of his lips — "he seems like a good guy — knowing the full truth may not change much." He shrugs a little. "Or it may change a lot. But either way, going beyond this Wakandan business without telling him the truth or shoving him off is going to poison you, and eventually, inevitably, him."

"I already lied to him once, the day before I left for Wakanda," Jessica admits wryly. "You. See how well he believed me."

The thing about asking for advice is sometimes you get to hear someone else tell you exactly what your heart is already telling you. Like being told that maybe waiting until this entire Wakanda thing is done is a shitty thing to do. Daredevil confirms what Luke was already pretty blatant about with all his talk of flirting, and Jessica's body temperature rises in reaction, perhaps shedding a little more insight into reasons why she's able to be a even a little bit 'cooler' about Matt lately; she has discovered she can like someone else back, even if in her estimation that represents what probably has got to be the next bad decision in her life, should she pursue it. Just knowing that has also offered…perspective, like casting light on how very dramatic it has been for her to assume she will just be alone for life or whatever. Luke and Matt sure share some qualities, to boot.

"Yeah, sure," she jokes. "If you can't find a good man who isn't taken, just become the murder weapon that destroys the life of one who is."

She winces. The joke is not funny. She all but curls in on herself with how not-funny that is, the guilt suffusing her.

"I— at first, when he came knocking on my door, all I could think was 'I don't have time for this man to kill me right now. Or beat me up, or even press charges.' And when he showed up here, I thought it again. That I just needed time, then he could have his say. But…I can't really believe he's going to do. Any. Of that. The more I get to know him. So now it just feels like I'm using him, and…I mean I keep telling him over and over again he shouldn't even try to be my friend, but he won't listen."

She swallows. Damn it. Fuck. Shit. Damn it. Well, she's just going to have to bite the bullet. "Thanks, though. You're right. And. I'll tell him. So in the meantime…got time to talk about the case?"

Because the other truth about everything right now is she just has no time for her own feelings about any fucking thing. They're in there. They're happening. But eventually the case just consumes it all, leaving no space for much of anything else. Something he can probably relate to, given Phase I of Saving Sergeant Bucky.

No, it isn't funny; it touches on too many sore spots to be. But it is honest in the way that only a joke — even a bad one — can be. Moving from a man with a significant other and — let's face it — a host of emotional issues onto a man whom you have wronged, however involuntarily, is ready-made for some literal gallows humor. The crouching man dips his head briefly and lets out a quick puff of breath in recognition of that fact, and moves on to —

The case: the actual reason they are here, not their mutually fucked-up love lives. "When Jane nabbed me," — through a wormhole — "I was looking for some of those drones. Didn't find them, but I did find traces of the accelerant," he begins, outlining his findings from fishing around a Wakandan garbage dump.

As he speaks, she grabs a pillow. She balances it on her chest, throws a book on top of that, plucks up one of those sheets of paper, and starts scrawling down every single last word of what he's got to say about how the drones were filled with oxyacetylene/acetone. "So. More fucking welding materials. And trucks. God. Of course they're trucks. I imagined tiny, cute flying Dunces with…I don't know, fire extinguishers, but that was…super dumb."

She still hasn't realized the poor man went dumpster diving instead of walking through a scrap yard or plucking something off a curb like she'd envisioned when she made her ask, and this talk of trucks actually drives the realization of his sacrifice in that regard even further from her mind, sadly.

"I wonder if .hackersays<3 is responsible, but I've already got Peggy trying to chase down that calling card."

She drums her pencil against the book, staring over the makeshift and poorly positioned murder board that she's made out of her own bed.

"Well, I might have an idea of what you can do next," she admits. She tells him all about Dandy Jam the Cut, adding, "This case is definitely taking a turn, but here's the shape of of what I'm starting to see. Someone, maybe Hydra, maybe someone else, gives the Lost Boys a fresh new drug supply; drugs, one of the very few underworld vices Wakandans even seem to have. The Red Soil Boys, patriots, go to war with them over it. Red Soil Boys lose. Meanwhile, this conference is getting planned, and traditionalists hate the shit out of it. Red Soil Boys maybe see a way to strike back, so maybe they do the actual deed. But Bucky also said that he knows Hydra framed him, how he wouldn't say cause obviously he wasn't much in the mood to talk, so that forges a big questionmark. I'm going to see if I can get Jane to tell me everything she can remember about the conference, now that she's…ah…feeling a little less reclusive. And we've also got this big Aikili shaped questionmark; I'm still not convinced they're not involved somehow. But given everything here runs on tribal, family lines…maybe it's not so hard to understand at all. Anyone in WSS could have ties to the Red Soil Boys too."

She exhales, and adds, "But I'm thinking maybe you and I can divide and conquer on this issue of Dandy Jam the Cut. I am going to talk to his mother just as soon as it's safe for me to get mobile again. I doubt he'll talk to any of us, but…maybe he's a good target for your next round of surveillance. He's in Azzaria, which is where we got attacked last night. Who knows if she's still lurking around there or if she's still moved on, but…being out there might also allow you to gather more intel on her while you're at it. But if you've got better ideas, I am all for them. You've still got more insight into gangs and drugs and all that mess than I do, for one thing."

Even if she were to know the full extent of his dumster diving, she shouldn't feel too badly for directing it. Momentary discomfort passes, and while it'd be a stretch to say that Daredevil looks well: even with the mask it's easy to tell he's weary and haggard. But he still looks (and smells) clean enough. Wherever he's found to hole up, he must be able to take time to wash himself and his suit on the regular.

He listens to her current working theory of feuding gangs — that the Red Soil Boys may have played some role in HYDRA's plot — and offers little addition to it besides, "You should try Jane, but she's on the move so it may take her a while to get back to you."

And to the rest — especially the prospect of a move that puts him in proximity to where Elektra was — the vigilante offers a ready nod. "Sounds good to me. I can trail the guy and see what I hear and pick up. The language barrier is what it is, but you'd be surprised what I can still make out." There's a beat, a press of his lips. "Just — don't push yourself too hard before getting yourself back out there. I know you're on a timer, but you're no good to Bucky if you take yourself out of commission. Let others do as much legwork as they can, OK?"

He offers sage advice about not pushing it, and she sighs. "Yeah. I know. I will, I promise." She has recieved him in her hotel room at all instead of say, on the roof, simply because her one defense against any internal bleeding that is surely happening is to stay very still so that things that need to be pushed together in there can stay pushed together long enough for her body to rebuild those conduits safely. Fortunately, being a fairly anxious human being does produce some caution some of the time.

Of course. Then she proceeds to talk all about footwork she intends to do. Detectives!

"I'll probably head back to Azzaria myself after talking to Jane and Dandy Momma, but at that point I'm only doing some light reading. Or heavy reading. We're missing shit about this case cause we don't understand Wakanda yet. I hope finding a book and reading up on all the tribal lines and stuff won't be a waste of our time, but it's got to be less of a waste than missing what would be glaringly obvious to any Wakandan, and I can only lean on Sizani so much." And if she's hoping for, say, a sixth grade textbook that will break it all down for her quickly, well. It is what it is.

Wryly she adds, "I'd just ask you to go bring me a book so I could be productive right here, but I think the librarian may raise her eyebrows at the get-up." And might not let any non-Wakandan remove a book from the library anyway.

That brings her back around to the issue of the wizards, and she adds quietly, "Zee and John will be a bit, if they get here at all. Zee touched base the other day. Az is on a deadline just like Bucky is." It's also not funny how she mentally emphasizes the word 'dead' in both cases, enough that she stumbles over the word. "They're off to another dimension to go fight the Itzy-bitzy-goddess. They say they'll be in after, but…I just thought you should know." Just in case resorting to witchcraft— and really, nothing, to Jessica's mind, displays just how desperate he must be feeling than the fact that he'd willingly turn to magic much more than he already has— was his Whole Plan.

How she's healing — internally, externally — is likely something he could suss out with a laying of the palms. It's a thought that's lingered in the back of his mind throughout their conversation. But she's got enough spark in her, sitting there and banding theories and plans, that he doesn't — for now — see a need to play doctor.

"I'm definitely not the person you want interacting with the locals," Daredevil agrees as he pushes himself back upward to a rise. Besides, that seems a role she's appointed to Luke, to judge from their last conversation. "It's good to know about John and Zatana — though it's a shame. As I recall, she could have fixed you right up." The news about Azalea brings up a swirl of conflicting and unvoiced emotions. He doesn't know the girl or the goddess; just the effect they had on him one wild night five months ago. And, given all his current tumult, perhaps he sees no reason to revisit his last bout.

He smiles briefly, wearily, and takes a step back. "Text me if anything comes up, OK? If anything even looks like it's going to come up. Now that I'm back in town I can move pretty fast."

It is a shame, and Jessica has lamented Zee's absence more than once. But nobody can safely be two places at once, at least, outside of certain mutants who can make copies of themselves or whatever.

As for Az, he's not the only one with conflicting emotions about the girl, but she's already done all she could. She has committed herself to this issue, to this case, and that's all she's doing right now, a singular focus that is almost refreshing, given her crazy juggling act of a few months ago.

For now, though, she reads between the lines of anything. Call or text if it looks like someone is about to come finish the job. She puts the pillow and her notes aside. He's on the way out, they've covered everything, and she's feeling beyond beat, all of a sudden, her body demanding still more god damn sleep. Her breathing shifts to signal it, and her eyes might even already be drooping closed as she makes her final quip of the night.

"Careful, Daredevil, or I'll think you want to stretch across my window. Would be a hell of a thing, I guess, you and Luke stretched out like a pair of cats. Or bookends. Worrywart bookends…"

She hopes, at least, that joking around about it will alleviate some of his worry. But it's no bad thing to have friends that care, either. No bad thing at all.

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