AKA Morgan Freeman's Voice

September 06, 2017:

After an evening spent watching over Jessica Jones and contemplating what might be most useful, Melinda May chooses to leave Wakanda for good in order to see what might be found in Armenia. She offers Jessica a few gifts on her way out the door.

Birnan Zana

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Elektra, Captain America, Zatanna Zatara, Peggy Carter, Tony Stark

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It had only been around 7:00 in the evening when Jessica Jones had stumbled in last night, only to fall asleep (bad side up) on May’s couch, courtesy of May’s blanket and May’s drugs.

And because she had pushed herself, kind of the opposite of what she’d said she was going to do, she slept, and slept, and slept. Which is all to the good. It’s what her body needs. Desperately needs, in fact. She hadn’t been sleeping too well even before she was injured, interrupting her sleep to take or make calls as she was, or dealing with the occasional nights where her meds were unable to overcome the nightmares.

So it is literally far past the breakfast hour when she finally raises her head in some bleary confusion, 11:00 in the morning to be precise.

Why did I sleep on the couch?

Her stomach rumbles with the force of 8 semi trucks; now that she has slept she is hungry as fuck. The healing factor makes demands.

You got spoiled, Jones, hanging out with wizards.

But first thing’s first. She stumbles to the bathroom, not really paying attention, yet, to the fact that it isn’t hers. The good part about literally keeping every bit of her life in her phone is clothes, toiletries, everything is at her fingertips immediately. Thus, May might find herself temporarily locked out of her own bathroom by a guest who is clearly not with it yet. They all look pretty alike, those bathrooms.

Inside, she checks the wound for signs of infection. The burns, as it happens, are prime candidates for that. But they’ve already dropped a degree, looking no worse than a stove burn, and while she can still see the circular puncture wound with its half-circle gashes thanks to Elektra’s stab-n-twist maneuver, they’re looking smaller. They’re less tender. Stabbing pain has faded to a dull ache, which tells Jessica that the internal bleeding she’d suspected is probably done with. Her blood is probably pumping through fully restored veins or arteries or capillaries or whatever.

She’s healing well.

Nevertheless, she does what she’s done every morning since she read that cauterization only closed the wound while making infection more likely unless one happened to have a chemical cauterization stick (which she hadn’t)— she slathers Neosporin all the hell over it.

Then she pulls on another pair of bulletproof jeans and a bulletproof olive green tank top, puts the panther necklace back around her neck, brushes her teeth, even puts on her make-up…only to finally notice something of May’s in that bathroom.

Shit! Did I sleep with someone last night? Did I get drunk? Did I have a one-night Wakandan stand? Fuck! I don’t remember. Wait.

And then she does, and she lets out a sigh of relief. Painkillers, fantastic painkillers. She’d just fallen asleep on May’s couch.

Isn’t it just a measure of your past that you had to stop and make that assessment, too.

She comes out looking sheepish. “Sorry,” she says into the room, though for all she knows May stepped out, cause she just demonstrated the situational awareness of a sleepy 5-year old. “I forgot I wasn’t in my own room.”

“It’s fine. I’ve roomed with worse people before.” She’s been doing missions for SHIELD for multiple decades, after all. May is seated at the small breakfast table set in front of a picturesque window, though the window itself has been left closed and the agent has pulled her chair around so she’s up against the wall and not in the window’s direct line of sight.

“I didn’t know how long you’d sleep so I picked up breakfast.” The spread on the table is clearly all items that hold up well to be left out for possibly hours on end — fruits, breads, nuts, even a container of what could be either granola or cereal. “But I can probably call down for something else if you want.”

“You’re rapidly working your way onto my list of Most Favorite People, Agent May,” Jessica says, with a rare flash of a grin.

The woman goes straight for one of the breads, taking a huge bite with every evidence of relish. She takes the other seat at the table, and for about five whole minutes that’s all she’s doing. Eating as if she hasn’t eaten for a month. She soon tears into the fruits as well. Her color is much better than it was last night by far, but the food isn’t hurting either.

She abruptly notices the way May has positioned her chair. She herself? Stuck her head right in that window without thinking about it.

She slooooowly pulls her chair back and out of the window’s line of sight. Moron. The assassin is a sniper.

May doesn’t move, and she doesn’t comment on Jessica’s slow realization of why the table is arranged as it is. Though personally, May would rather have moved this table to somewhere completely away from the window, but she’ll tolerate it.

As the younger woman tears into the food, she moves toward the mini-fridge in the room and returns with a covered plate that contains small heaps of cubed meats and cheeses, setting it on top of an empty dish on the table. She also brings back a smallish carafe of juice, just enough below full to show that she had already partaken of her share of this rather extensive meal. How did she know that Jess would need this much food?

After giving Jones a little time to get some food into her system, May starts the conversation on a not-so-good note. “I did a bit of checking with a friend, and I think in order to find our chemist friend, I’m going to need to have access to resources that I don’t have here.” Veiled reference to SHIELD’s resources. “There’s only so much I can share over the phone or by email.”

On this count, Jessica assumes there’s no mystery. She spent 5 days in a SHIELD hospital back in January after some sort of weird action against cultists with Captain America in Switzerland. She’d been in shock after being burned, electrocuted, frozen and beaten near to death with telekinetic force.

Zatanna Zatara had given her some preliminary healing in the field, but short of turning back time she’d been unable to do for all of it; her healing exacts the same level of pain that was taken while receiving the injuries, and if she’d done too much too fast Jess probably would have died of shock then and there.

Instead, Captain America brought her to SHIELD, and SHIELD had kept her under with drugs and eased her healing factor gently through the process…and had found they had needed to get her calories fast, that a standard IV wouldn’t cut it.

They’d also had ample opportunity to study her, volunteered time, because they’d needed it to work up the special anti-depressants she’s on. She’s normally back at SHIELD medical once a month for refills and check-ups.

Her medical records and her SHIELD dossier were more than available to May, and Jess assumes she pulled them up from the moment they had that texted conversation. Really, at this point she is used to having few secrets; the details of a certain incident in Bradenburg, Germany and maybe the fact that some of her dimensional twins actually ran with that Jewel shit being the two possible exceptions.

And. Of course. Reva Connors. But she banishes that thought for now.

She looks up at May’s words, and grimaces, her focus once again snapping exclusively to the case.

“I don’t think we’re going to find much of anything outside of this country. I’m pretty sure whoever did it was here. This place has been hermetically sealed forever.”

The spies, Jessica can’t help but note ruefully as she loads up on meat, cheese, and juice, are incredible people. But they’re used to working with a network, with endless resources at their fingertips, and all three of them tend to want to go back to that well.

It’s how they’ve been taught, how they’ve been trained, and she can hardly blame them. But she already knows it’s not going to work.

“The only clue that’s outside of this country now is this hacker’s terminal in Armenia. I thought about asking you to go, because that seemed like a place where you’d be crazy effective,” and where her normal spy trade would work the way she was used to, “but Michael was concerned you wouldn’t be able to get back in once you left. And that there’s only so much that can be communicated with phone and e-mail.”

It’s true that May looked up Jessica’s dossier as soon as she’d spoken with her on the phone in that phone call to Peggy, and she can’t help but be inwardly very glad that she’d done so. She’s seen what going without food can do to people with enhanced metabolisms, and it’s never pretty.

As much as it rankles her to think that Jessica is right about outside resources being useless, she knows it’s absolutely true. However, making a side trip to Armenia is something she CAN do. “I’ll go to Armenia, then. And as far as keeping in touch…” she stands and again walks over to her suitcase. This time, she pulls out a clearly old and well-read paperback book. The title? The Art of War.

“Think you can get your hands on a copy of this? If not, you can have this one. I have an electronic copy.” She sets it on a clear section of the table. “It’s a good read.” She uses one hand to open the book to a random page where Jessica can see, and there are passages underlined with handwritten notes in the margins … in Chinese. “If you want, I’ll email you and we can talk about it as you’re reading.”

While what she’s offering sounds strangely out of context, the intent way she’s looking at the younger woman will likely prove that there is an underlying meaning.

“I don’t think I can buy books in Wakanda,” Jessica says, taking the copy. She gets it. She’s playing along.

In a way, she’s not sure about all of her friends and their concerns about surveillance. She’s been pretty much just assuming WIS knows everything, and not worrying about it too much, pretty much just figuring it was all inevitable. But…maybe some caution is very much called for.

A book. With code in it. It generates an idea for later.

But for now, she says, “I’d love that. Emailing. Talking.”

She pulls out a hotel pad of paper and writes the words: I don’t know how to read Chinese.

She passes that to May.

May takes the pad of paper and writes back: You won’t need to, just match the symbols. Aloud, she says, “Here’s my personal email address, it’ll be easier to keep up there.” She adds an email address as well then offers the paper pad back.

She gets up again and goes back to the suitcase and sets a hardcover book on top of the paperback. “Here’s something else to read when you feel like a change.” It’s a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. She opens the book again seemingly randomly. At first the pages just look like the normal literary tripe, but then she presses on the page’s edge gently and it opens along the top like an envelope sleeve and she pulls an American $100 bill out before sliding it back into place.

“I know they’re an eclectic combination, but I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy both.”

Fifty Shades of Grey? -Really-??

At first, Jessica is wondering what she missed about the stoic Agent May. But then it dawns on her. That damn piece of garbage was sold in every airport, every bookstore, every god damned grocery store across America and maybe even around the world for months. Finding a copy wouldn’t be that hard.

Okay. So this is like what Peg taught her, about keycode phrases, and the right phrase will be in the book.

Now she just has to figure out how to make sure nobody in her circle ever finds out she’s got a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. EVER. She doesn’t need what they might imagine about her. As it is, her face has adopted a look of utter disgust and aversion, and she looks a little unwilling to even touch the book.

Don’t be a fucking baby, it’s a book.

She exhales hard and stacks them both up. See? No book cooties. No weird…tentacles or whatever popped out of said smut novel to grossly caress your wrist. You’re fine.

The $100 bill confuses her though. So she writes: ????? on the pad. And underlines the question marks. Just in case May wasn’t sure what she meant by that.

May takes up the pen and writes a single word: reimbursement. Then after a moment of consideration, she adds a second word: retainer.

“How are you feeling, by the way? You clearly needed the sleep.” She finally can’t resist the spread of food any longer and steals … a single grape. And, it now also occurs to her that she heard Jessica brushing her teeth. Which toothbrush did she use? Well, it’s much too late now, but still. Loopy pills and a good night’s sleep does not make for close enough friends to start sharing toothbrushes.

When May checks her toothbrush later she will find it completely dry, devoid of any new water that might indicate an unfortunate trip into Jones’ mouth.

Meanwhile, Jones frowns in even more confusion.

“It was fantastic. I really did need it, thanks.”

But she writes: ‘That’s backwards. You’re here, or in Armenia, investigating my friend’s case, in the normal course of things I should probably pay you. Unless you’re doing it as a favor to Peggy cause you’re SHIELD bros, but even then…?’

A pause. ‘Or…future work for SHIELD?’

She will take work from SHIELD. Yes in-freaking-deed.

May circles the ‘future work for SHIELD’, and then adds next to Peggy’s name: ‘Not just Peggy’.

“So. Since I’m going to be heading back toward home soon, do you have any plans for the rest of your time here?”

She takes a moment to peel the written-on page from the notepad and hand it to Jessica, then starts pulling the next several pages as well, until the indentations from their words are no longer apparent. Those extra sheets are folded and tucked away into a pocket.

Jessica stuffs them into her pockets absently. “Uh, yeah. I gotta talk to a gangster’s Mom, and I have some ideas for things to try in Birnan Azzaria.” She nods to work for SHIELD and gives the thumbs-up.

For just a moment, she feels disoriented. Surreal. Just eleven months ago her most exciting case was a cheating state senator. Now, yet again, she’s looking at her life over the past several months, and a client list that would make any PI drool with envy, and she’s wondering how it all happened exactly.

Spies are giving her crash courses in the tricks of the trade. Wizards and inventors have gifted her with enchantments and gadgets. Part of her feels too small for all of it. Even this case seems like it should be run by a real cop, not someone who took a $375 community college course and a test. Someone who graduated from college. Someone who didn’t waste ten years of her life.

But here she is, and there’s just no time for this disorientation, no time for her fucking impostor syndrome, no time for anything but getting the job done. It’s getting stupid, anyway, to keep wondering if someone else should do stuff when she’s basically doing it.

She gives the disorientation the mental finger, gives the whole damn thing the mental finger, and decides that this is her life, and damn right SHIELD is gonna put her on retainer.

Which is damn good, cause travel is expensive and she’s slowly accumulating what could only be described as ‘crushing debt’ trying to stay here, even with the Avengers retainer she’s also pulling down. There’s the Stark operations fund, but she still doesn’t really understand what constitutes ‘fair use’ for that thing, so it remains untouched.

She shovels a few more bites of food into her mouth. “Any chance I can convince you to part with a few more of those pain killers?”

“Be careful. Just because she’s someone’s mother won’t mean she isn’t just as dangerous herself.”

At Jessica's request for more of those painkillers, May brings her the entire cylinder of pills and sets it next to the books. “Never take more than two, and take only one if you’re by yourself.”

She then pulls her Starkphone and sets it on the table, clearly planning on exchanging contact info here and now. And why not? They’ve clearly established that they intend to stay in communication so it’s not about to be anything out of the ordinary.

Jessica nods to the cautions, tucking the pills away. She'll even pay attention; it would take months of taking those things to build up the kind of tolerance that would render some of that advice moot. She murmurs, "Jarvis, send May our contact info." This produces both an office line and a regular line. They aren't actually two phone lines; she's just got an app that splits business and personal calls so she doesn't spend all her time out here fielding requests from clients she can't serve right now anyway.

On the matter of Momma Jam the Cut she says, "Yeah, no, I fully expect that she might aim a machete in my direction. Or some sort of ray gun capable of microwaving my brains. But I could luck out."

She shrugs her shoulders. It's the job. The lead needs to be spoken to. She pauses to make a note…if May has decided her best contribution is Armenia then home, she'll have to work on finding that chemist or find someone else in their little band of heroes who can.

Jessica's addressing Jarvis has May raising an eyebrow, particularly because her own cell phone doesn't have a Siri-like helper voice in it. Not that she's sad about that, but still. She was under the impression that that particular AI was Stark's assistant and only his assistant.

"Machetes are easy to deflect, and because their blades tend to be thin, you should be able to bend or break it with a good strike against the side." She mimes a blade with one hand and demonstrates by hitting her 'blade' palm with her other hand. "It takes timing and aim, though. Any chance you can take Peggy with you?" That's not against Jones's capabilities and more a declaration that she knows Carter's capabilities better.

Then, about her imminent departure, "Is there anything else you'd like me to look into besides Armenia?" Because, if there's intel she can gather outside the country's borders, she is more than willing to do so. And with a method of communication established, it should be easy enough to share the intel back and forth.

"Little j-Jarvis," Jessica says, to May's raised eyebrow, shrugging. "As far as I know he's not connected to big J JARVIS. But maybe? Because he's suddenly busted out with all sorts of AI like things. I got it from Stark when he hired me to work his case. He doesn't seem to have JARVIS' capabilities in full. He gave me the option to change his name even, but I just couldn't figure out a better one. Told me I could change his voice too. Almost went for calling him Morgan Freeman and giving him Morgan Freeman's voice. I guess that's still kind of an option, but then people would think I was really weird. I'd be all like, 'Morgan Freeman, dial the pizza place,' and he would be all like, 'it is my honor and pleasure to dial the pizza place for you, Miss Jones.'"

She does a credible Morgan Freeman for someone without the voice range to get into the bass, it's worth noting.

"Maybe. I've got Peggy on some other stuff, but I'm trying not to travel alone right now as it is. I'll be okay. Hydra's assassin led in with teargas. I doubt Dandy-Momma will."

She shakes her head though. "No. Armenia is the last and only thing that ties back into Wakanda from outside the country right now. And I don't even know if it reliably does anymore."

At the explanation about the AI-like helper on Jessica's Starkphone, May ohs faintly and nods. "Fair enough. And… I kind of like the Morgan Freeman though. Go for it." Of course, now she's contemplating getting her own phone to record every time Coulson is speaking so she can set HIS voice on her AI helper thing. But really only for amusement value. Those AI helpers usually annoy the daylights out of her.

And back on topic. "Then I'll check Armenia out and make sure we get any intel that does relate back." Of course, back on work topics has her contemplating for a moment before going to her suitcase once again. This time she returns with a garment made to resemble a linen blazer, though it is oddly unwrinkled considering it had been in the suitcase. "Here, try this on."

Jessica picks up her phone and presses a few buttons, then tries it out. "Morgan, verify?"

Morgan Freeman's rich voice rolls out of her phone. "Verified, Miss Jones."

Jessica smirks. Yeah okay. Turns out that was the right choice all along.

But back on topic indeed. She grows serious, putting her phone back in her pocket.

May pulls out a blazer, and Jessica pulls it on over her tank top. She tilts her head with just a little confusion. The fit isn't exactly tailored; May both is a good 5 inches shorter than Jessica, and more muscular. May works out, Jessica half-asses it and would look like some sort of willowy model-thing if she didn't dress in a way that downplayed that to make her appear more substantial. Thus, it's a little big in some places and a little small in others.

Wow. NOT a good fit, but it's not like May has the ability to tailor it here and now. "Well, better than nothing. That jacket is armored. It won't stop everything, but it will turn aside a blade easily enough and stop smaller caliber bullets." And if this linen looking thing is that protective, what does that say about the leather-like jacket May normally wears?

"Nice," Jessica says, with real appreciation. She doesn't give a shit about being fashionable really. The Starkweave helps with bullets but like Kevlar doesn't do crap against bladed weapons, as has already been demonstrated. She buttons the thing up with gratitude, glad that she's already gotten accustomed to the heat. "Thank you for loaning it to me," she adds. "I'll get it back to you when I get home to New York."

She is all for avoiding 'stabbination, round 2.' And given she's contemplating actions which might cause her bulletproof bodyguard to also take an early exit from Wakanda, if he so chooses…

Well.

She sticks out her hand. "I'm glad I got to meet you, Agent May. I'd heard a thing or two about you before from a few people I met along the way, always positive. Seems like the reputation matches the woman."

"When you get back to New York, I'll make sure you get something that fits better." Not if, when. May considers, then adds, "You should take the first aid kit also. I'll have SHIELD resources close enough that I won't need it." And if she does need medical attention, she'll probably have backup by that point.

When Jessica offers her hand, May shares the handshake without hesitation. "Likewise." Well, not the reputation part. She'd not heard of Jones before the phone call from Carter. But, whatever. "We're trying to achieve the same goals here, no point in acting at odds. Right?"

Jessica grins and ducks her head at the prospect of a gear upgrade. Sometimes when she gets gear she's just in a mood where she's all 'great, that's pragmatic, thanks.' And sometimes the part of her that is much dorkier and which was touched by images of herself in a world that never happened doing things she'd never done gets a little excited because that sort of thing is like, straight up Superhero Gear, and furthermore it's sensible stuff that doesn't demand masks or names or any of that other nonsense. "I'm going to take you up on that," she promises sheepishly.

Well, because who the Hell wouldn't?

"No, but you've gone a bit above not acting at odds." Agent May has added to the Litany of Impossible Kindnesses that Jessica keeps in her head now. The Litany of Kindnesses is what she goes back to when she needs a boost, needs some strength. It's all the times someone complimented her, reached out to her, cared about her, saw her as better, went out of their way to take care of her. And it all still feels impossible, because for 14 years that was not her experience of the world in the least. Like some sort of dark cloud had passed over her entire universe, and just stayed there until the sun broke out, and when the sun broke out suddenly, weirdly, there were just…good people. Good people, everywhere, where only shitty, opportunistic, cruel people seemed to have existed before.

Sometimes it's enough to make her wonder if she's still in someone's strange, surreal maze, if she's just laying there, trapped in her own pipe dreams. But it's real enough, and she knows it is.

Oddly enough, May is kind of used people being surprised that she's willing to help them or even show a hint of caring. It's like they think she's an emotionless android or something. "I have reasons for everything I do. I might not be able to tell you what those reasons are, but they exist nonetheless. But, if you're done with breakfast, I'd better pack and get ready to go. I have a feeling getting a flight out of here is as convoluted as getting a flight in was."

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