An Uncommon Reaction

September 07, 2017:

Jessica Jones decides to follow both her heart, and Matt Murdock's advice, and tells Luke Cage the truth about Reva Connors even knowing that the response could hamper the mission to clear James Barnes. The reaction both is, and isn't, what she expected. Then, back on the job, they find some evidence and make some promising new connections.

The Jungles of Wakanda

Now with some reasonable wear and tear?


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Daredevil, Michael Carter, Melinda May, Elektra

Mood Music: Until the Levee

Fade In…

Jessica Jones is hard to keep pinned down for long. A stab wound resulted in a lot of sleeping and a lot of eating. She'd chased Luke back to the quest to find out about those drugs, leaning hard on his promise if she had to. But she'd texted him from time to time.

'Daredevil's here, I'm fine.'

'Out with Dr. Foster. I'm fine.'

'Out with Agent M. Carter. I'm fine.'

'Was in Agent May's room all night. I'm fine.'

This morning's text: 'Need to talk to you.'

This resulted in asking him to meet her in front of the hotel, for a robot-car ride programmed not to a city or a street, but to a pair of GPS coordinates she's getting off of what looks like an inked drawing with a translated poem. There are a lot of coordinates on the drawing, of which these are the first. The drawing seems to have a lot of strange lines; rivers, apparently, by Jessica's identifications in pencil. The car runs them down jungle roads until there are no more roads, and it draws to a stop. It can't go further. The rest is all but rabbit trails, demanding a plunge into the jungle. Jessica, who has been silent and pensive for someone who said she wanted to talk, finally gets out here. She adjusts an ill-fitting black blazer over a black tank top. She's all in black today, despite the heat, to match her mood. The blazer is too short in the sleeves and a little too short to fall to any fashionable length, but is roomy enough to be slightly baggy on her. She'd explained it was armor, something she was willing to say. She's moving like she's no longer hurt, just a handful of days after a wound serious enough to nearly kill her. She was not kidding about that healing factor.

She hops out of the car and finds a tree. She sits down. Back to it. The car is left to sit there at this point of no return. From here one could either take the car back, or plunge deeper into the jungle. It's a point of no-return, a point of decision, and Jessica has chosen it all for that very reason.

She drapes her elbows over her knees and looks bleakly down at them. She wets her lips. And then she says, "I've decided I'm not going to make you wait. I've decided I'm going to tell you. About Reva. I'm going to tell you here. Now. Today."

It's a long car ride, as far as car rides go, especially when any conversation there was took place in clipped sort of snippets. Luke finally settled for looking out the window and letting any attempts at small talk die away. Even when driving became walking he just muttered his ever favorite phrase, "Jessica Jones," in a tone that carries a warning with it of a man not really keen on surprises.

Then they get to what is apparently their destination and she just …sits.

The big man just chooses to remain standing like a looming storm cloud beneath the jungle canopy, his arms slowly crossing over the expanse of his chest when she finally explains what they're doing out there.

"Something told me you weren't just trying to reconnect me with my African roots. When someone drags another person out into the middle of no where, it's usually so they can hide the body." A hint of humor? No, it doesn't show in his eyes like it normally would. Perhaps the mention of Reva was a sure fire way to surgically remove his funny bone from conversation.

Maybe so you can.

Jessica may be over 80% sure that Luke won't just kill her and dump the body here in the jungle, but he has to have his say, and that 20% or so is an awfully big 20%. And while she wouldn't go to Tamaochan and risk the investigation falling apart, this has become part of it. Bucky told her he did not want her to become something darker than she already was to help him. And using a man, continuing to string him along, lying to him when she might well die here through other factors…well. She can't become that. Can't sit with that anymore. The danger has ramped up, and it would also be wrong to enlist his help only to die to a Hydra assassin without giving him his answers.

There is a clue deeper in that jungle, but if he decides to attack her, he can take the car and make it to the airport, with nobody to prove who did the deed. People might suspect, if they ever found her, but they'd never prove it. They are far from the surveillance state.

She'll have to hope, if he does, she's taken this far enough that Jane and the others can finish what was started here.

So she doesn't laugh. She just gives him a quiet, pained look before she drops her head again. She actually removes the armored jacket, laying it to the side.

She could explain all this, try to explain why now, but instead she says, "He did have her under mind control that night. Kilgrave. And I was there." It's hard to know where to begin, hard to know how to begin. It seems cruel to bury the lede, but equally cruel to just launch in with no context.

"I'm sorry, what?" It's clear that's not what he was expecting in the slightest. He even looks physically blindsided by the sudden turn in that conversation, blinking as if to get his vision back. This quickly escalated from where Jessica went from having to look into the answers about a possible Kilgrave/Reva connection to slapping him across the face that she knew all along. And that she was there. That night. The bus accident. His hand is poised in front of him, fingers bouncing like he wants to say something, but the words just aren't coming beyond, "You were there…"

She swallows hard.

I told you. I told you not to like me.

The lump rises in her throat, making her voice hoarse. "He forced us both to follow him to a construction site. One he forced her to tell him about. He was after a thumb drive. A little yellow thumb drive. I don't know what was on it, or why he wanted it, or how exactly he determined she'd had it. She'd shoved it into a box in wet concrete, apparently meaning for the thing to be lost forever. Built over. He made me take up a sledgehammer, dig it up while she stood there."

She takes a deep, shuddering breath. She will not cry. She has no right to cry. She is wearing fingerless gloves today, with circuits running through the cloth. She seems to realize that, and strips those off too. She lets them fall atop the armored jacket. She clenches her fists hard enough to make her nails dig into her flesh.

It had been a cold night. Like a January cold. She can still feel the tickle of the hated fur coat against her skin. Impractical. The smell of the perfume he favored, cloying her nostrils. The look of anguish on Reva's face with every fall of the sledgehammer.

One hand goes to his head, then the other. It's as if his brain is going to explode out of his skull and only by the benefit of a lace of fingers is he keeping it together. The honest sweat on his bare scalp from their walk to this point in the jungle now starts to feel cold and clammy beneath his palms. With perhaps realizing it, Luke starts to pace, his footfalls looking confused and fumbling as he traipses back and forth in his boots. He has no words, no questions. He's waiting for the story to continue.

There's not much more to it. He won't have long to wait.

"Once it was done, we all walked outside. He turned to me, and he told me to kill her. I fought it. I fought it like I fought everything he ever told me to do, ever forced me to do, and for half a second I thought I slipped his leash and then…then I realized I'd already stopped her heart, somewhere in the middle of that fight. One punch, painless, falling back into the street."

Wasn't January. The cold had been unseasonable. Reva's face, filled with peace. Forgiveness? Resignation? No fear. Maybe she hadn't had time to figure out what was happening to her. Maybe it was just the blank look someone adopted when Kilgrave's control was good and tight. Body, hitting the street. Blood, roaring in her ears. Making it impossible to hear.

She tries to say it all without much inflection, because it's not about her.

"It was me. His powers. But my hand."

Luke's eyes snap up to find her there, still sitting with her back to the tree, but it's as if he'd lost track of her somewhere in the maze of things in his own head. They're already bloodshot with the sudden spike of blood pressure and adrenaline, cracking the whites of his eyes with angry red lightening bolts that give them a pinkish hue against the contrast of chocolate skin. He can eat up the distance between them with one long stride, "Stand the fuck up. Stand the fuck up, Jessica Jones, and look me in the eye when you tell me you. Killed. My. Wife."

He gets to have his say.

She stands up. Looking him in the eye is almost psychologically impossible, but she manages. She knew this was going to be awful, had spent time either not thinking about it or girding herself for this, and she thinks maybe she should have saved it for the end after all, put it off a little longer. And then she thinks she should have said it way back in New York. Or years ago.

She can't stop the tears from running down her face, bracketing it, one on either cheek. She tries to, but they get away from her. "I killed your wife," she says softly. She tenses, sure that what happens next is not at all going to be pleasant, waiting for the rest of the explosion to come. She can't say 'I was the murder weapon' outside of a joke. She can't say 'Kilgrave made me do it.' It was her hand.

Her hand. And her weakness.

It's also physically impossible for them to see easily eye to eye, because even with Jessica on her feet, Luke is looking down at her to keep the gaze locked when she says the words again. His eyes close when it's uttered again, shutting out the image of her with the twin tracer tears rolling over her cheeks as his chin falls.

It's subtle the way it starts, nothing more than a bunching of his fists at his side but then it's like the tension rides up his arms into his shoulders and makes them roll towards his ears. The rumble of noise in his chest claws it's way up his throat, finally splitting through his lips in a howl of pain and pure rage.

She can't help her responding flinch. The sound he's making claws into her.

She ends up looking down, and away, all but baring her throat. That's all the stand-up and face-him she's got right now, though she remains on her feet.

There's only so much shame a person can bear. In this moment, his pain churns the freezing waters of a self-loathing she has managed not to feel in months. The weight that bears her shoulders down is both invisible and greater than any car she can lift, any wall she could hold up with her own person. The shadows inside her lengthen and grow deep until she is consumed with the darkness inside; consumed, lost, and inwardly drowning, though outwardly she doesn't move from her wounded stance. He roars, thunder and fire. She shuts down, retreating into some inner cave as his roar melds with the answering one in her ears.

A better person, she thinks, would have some sort of comfort for his grief.

But what comfort is there? There's none. There's nothing. There is only air, and darkness. And water, in the form of a few more tears hitting the dirt, an icy whirlpool's silent contribution.

It's as if he doesn't even see her when he opens his eyes again, blind in his rage and fury and pain as his fist strikes out, connecting with tree just behind her. It would be true that he doesn't know the limits of his own strength, as the trunk yields to the force behind the blow that's aimed at the inanimate object so that when he pulls it back there is just pulp and bark flaking off as if it were ash. Luke turns away then, lest the next strike fall to bear on her and instead takes out his wrath on the vegetation around him. It's a blur of wrath, tearing up saplings and cracking branches and wrecking anything within arm's reach.

Anything but Jessica.

His screams echo into the jungle, scaring a distant bird into flight, but finally the man just stands there panting for air at the exertion. When there is nothing left, his massive shoulders just sag.

She stays stock still for that punch. She'd already resigned herself to letting him hurt her however he wanted, if that's what he needed to do. She'd already promised herself she wouldn't resist. Splinters fly right into her hair, and she makes no move to brush them away. She can't help the traitorous adrenaline spike, but she tenses muscles inward, rather than outward, anything but flinch or flee or run. It takes strength she didn't even knew she had, because the truth is she wants to run. Less from the fist or the anger than from his pain. It's that which makes her want to fling herself high, whip through the treetops, swallow herself in swiftness.

Physical pain is bothersome. She doesn't love it. But it's managable. It's emotional pain that slices the soul, that hurts more than anything in the world.

He chooses not to hurt her even as he proves why taking him out to the jungle was perhaps not a bad option. She notices this choice, and eventually her eyes lift beneath the curtain of dark lashes to briefly track him at his wild-bull destruction. That he breaks the trees rather than her bones is little more than evidence of what she already knew.

He is a good man.

How much more of this does he need or want to know? How, seconds later, she was freed due to her horror? That in some way, Reva freed her, as if she'd all but sacrificed herself to save her from even one more day of that nightmare? How she'd felt the need to make amends somehow, and had clumsily done it by following Luke Cage all over New York, trying to keep trouble away from his door in secret, until the day she'd realized he was completely bulletproof and capable of handling his own business, without her foolish shadow by his side? (Rumors of Hoodie Girl had no doubt abounded, there and then abruptly gone).

She has no idea.

And then he's standing there. Rage spent, shoulders sagging, only sadness left. She realizes her jaw hurts because her teeth have been clamped together. She has so much to try to make right, from denying him this very answer to the point where he came out here and actually helped her, to all the rest of it. She doesn't know where to start, and she finally crushes under the weight of it. She slides down the splintered tree once more, her legs unable to bear the load, her head falling forward to rest on her knee, her arms falling, limp, to her sides.

He's rendered part of his verdict. He won't kill her, or hurt her, but that doesn't mean that judgment is complete. Bucky would stand and face it all without blinking, she knows. She does the best she can. Her body is heavy, too heavy. Her soul is cracked. A tsunami aches to explode from within her, and holding that back, that thing she has no right to, takes all the effort she's got.

No sooner does Jessica fold herself over sitting again then there is a pair of mighty hands clasping her on her shoulders to haul her back to her feet like a rag doll. There is a very real threat that he might just shake her like that until her aching teeth rattle in her skull, but then he's scooping her up like he did just after they were attacked by Elektra and before she can even think to protest, he's just muttering darkly for her to, "Shut up." He's replacing their combined masses back down where she was sitting, only this time her on his lap.

She doesn't resist. She just hangs there when he hauls her up. Limp, emptied out. And then he's…then he's…


Shut up, he says, perhaps to prempt her protests, but it's as if he's speaking not to her, silent as she's been, but to all the pounding darkness in her mind, spilling out of her from every pore. She at first she's just frozen, head to toe. But then slow, cold fingers curl into his shirt, clutching, hanging on as if for dear life in a way she hadn't even when her life's blood was spilling out all over him. She turns her head into his chest. She presses her lips together good and hard, trying to hold it all back, ever-so-still except for those small, careful motions.

But the levee breaks. The shaking sobs are silent, but present, the rush of the tears she still feels she has little right to forming a big wet spot on his shirt.

One wide palm just comes up to pet at her hair, long strokes starting at the crown and running down the back of her neck as his nose buries in those same locks. It's confusing. Too confusing. All of it just piled into one and poured like salt into an open wound. Still, his other arm tightens around her as the tears start to flow and he just holds here there on the jungle floor until they can both breathe again. It might be a while.

It might indeed. She's never let all of this out at once. She's had tears here and there. She's had a few moments where they'd fall, only to be dammed up again. She has drank this away, smoked it away, taken various pills to help her sleep through it. She has poured herself with all her might into trying to bully the world into absolving a man who has lived the same nightmare time, and time, and time again, the nightmare of hands being used in the service of someone else's murder as will is stripped away. Because of her great philia for that man, it's true, but also because of her wrath over what they have in common, and the world's common reaction to it.

But she has never, ever poured it all out.

He strokes her hair, and it soothes her and brings up more of it.

She is not, it's worth noting, a graceful crier. Silent, because while anger gets top volume sadness and grief do not. But not graceful, any more than she demonstrates grace in any other way. There are a few times when there is sound because she's coughing and choking on her own snot. Whatever shirt he's wearing today might not be dead, but it might need some real rehabilitation when all is said and done.

When there are no more tears left she's dizzy, headachy, achy, but somehow cleaner inside. She struggles to find words, but ultimately can only suck down air, still shaking a little. The confusion is mutual. Luke Cage. And his uncommon reaction.

When the deluge finally stops, he jostles her just slightly to sit up so he can mop at her face with the edge of his shirt that he peels up from his stomach. It's a sloppy thing, fingers perhaps a little too rough as they rub cloth under her eyes and nose until he's satisfied. "You're an ugly crier." Luke finally declares, in a voice that's rough like a thousand razors of emotion have cut up his throat and left it raw. "Better?"

An incredulous almost-amused something comes out of her throat, a quick breath. Luke has a knack for swiftly stepping in and lightening a burden, whether it's with his hands or with statements like that. She is not a woman of great particular vanity. He wipes her tears, and she nods quickly a few times. As it is, mascara and eyeliner have run great dark marks down her cheeks, her lipstick is smudged all to Hell and back. Red-rimmed eyes probably make her look even worse now that he's gone to work on her face. Finally she finds a word, not just a nod, and she acknowledges, "Better."

It comes out a rough croak, but it comes out. It seems surreal, that he should be comforting her, and the confusion and guilt steal onto that messy face. "I— you— "

A fabulous and most articulate start. That has no finish, not from her. Words just hang there.

"Yeah, I have that effect on women." There is a swat to her hip, incentive for her to get up off his lap now. "We're not done with this, Jessica Jones, not by a long shot." And then he's standing up too, whether or not she's fully vacated or he'll just end up dumping her back on her feet as he examines the damage done to his shirt. Deciding that he's just better off without one, in the middle of the jungle as they are, he just crosses his arms over his midsection and just strips it off. "We've got work to do. We're going to finish this, and you're going to get my ass back to New York where shit makes sense again."

She glowers a little at the swat, and briefly shoves at his chest. It's knee-jerk reaction. It's blessed indignation she has no right to feel. But at the same time, it clarifies, it gets her moving, it breaks the weird spell, it reminds her of how unbalanced their scales are.

She gets up and glances back at the car, parked as it was for him to make his getaway to New York City on his own if that is what he chose. But he chooses to stay, and James Buchanan Barnes still needs the help. He says they're not done with this, and she has no idea what that means. More questions? He seems to have passed judgment, even to have acquitted her, but perhaps he has not, yet. No public trial could ever clear her path; he is the only judge and jury that matters, and has at once been prosecutor and defender in a single conversation.

With a puff of breath she brushes herself off, grabs her armor and puts it back on, pulls her gloves back on. Bucky has existed with the Doom of Damocles hanging over his head for this long, she can exist with a little anxiety over what 'not being done with this' means. She gives the Man Mountain's bare chest a dubious glance, but then remembers mosquitos, snake bites, and every other bit of jungle foolishness isn't much bar to him. She checks her map against the flow of the nearby river, programs the second coordinate into her phone, and narrows her eyes as the map starts to make some sense.

"You can fly home with us," she says. "Charter. More legroom for ginormous men."

She does not, it is worth noting, produce a machete or anything to deal with thick vegetation. Nor does she rip anything up. It's a bit of a small game trail to begin with, so there is some room to walk, but nevertheless when the going gets rough she very carefully simply moves the vegetation slowly and respectfully to the side, lets him step through, then comes through after.

Wakandans have a connection to the land. She will not ravage it, not even to get to their uncertain destination faster.

So long as no one judges them on the havoc he wreaked in his fit of rage.

With his shirt tucked into his belt, Luke follows after Jessica and the GPS directing them where to go. It's odd, taking back up the 'hunt' after the PI decided this was the best place on Earth to get things off her chest. What's worse, is they're both left to their own thoughts while they traipse down the trail. His eyes are red rimmed and bloodshot, his muscles exhausted, and less purpose in his movements than there were before. Get this done and get home. That's all he has the energy to care about now.

Wakandans are funny about stuff like that; they might just see judgment and rage and note it as good. But Jessica can't claim to be an expert. She's just careful about doing more damage than she's already done.

In more ways than one.

There comes a rhythm to this, step and push, step and push, check the map, step and push. It becomes meditative. He's exhausted…

She has compartmentalized. She has given him the choice to go or stay, he is no longer giving his help on the unfair conditions she set up for the man who came around the world for his answers, and she has indulged all the emotion she can indulge. The doors have shut.

Jessica is gone. Jones, the detective, remains.

At length: a small, battered cabin, either about a zillion tech-levels lower than what they've seen in Wakanda or left so long to disrepair that it looks pretty much like any shack anywhere in the world. Corresponding directly to that set of coordinates in the phone.

"Careful. There was another bomb at the drop site yesterday."

Says the woman who mentioned no bombs at all in recent history until…well. Now.

Luke pauses in his footsteps to just give Jessica a look as she tells him to be careful. "I'm unbreakable." He just says rather flatly and then starts back up to that little cabin. Sure, he doesn't have any idea what a bomb would actually do to him. But then again he's never had the pleasure. There is a certain amount of cocksureness when it comes to approaching the unknown and his condition. Thus, he goes directly up to the door, ready to fling it open and asking, "What are we looking for, anyways?"

"You are, but my evidence isn't," Jones replies in a half-mutter. "And I don't know. If I knew, we wouldn't have to walk in there and have a look around."

The place looks largely deserted. It's equipped for living. There's a light panel, which Jess touches, but the lights don't come on. The fridge is running though; evidence more of burnt out bulbs than a lack of power. Still, it's dark in here. She produces a flashlight and swings it around. There isn't a lot of dust yet. It's a simple studio type place; kitchenette, bed, a dresser, a desk, a bathroom. She produces evidence collection gloves for both of them, swapping out her taser gloves for the more practical version here, and says, "Do me a favor and check the expiration dates on any of the food that's in the fridge."

Meanwhile, she gets down on her hands and knees and swings the flashlight beneath the bed.

Weirdly, the next thing she says has nothing to do with the evidence she's finding or not finding under that bed. She jerks up hard enough to bonk her head, and hisses the word 'shit', but is soon spilling out her revelation.

"Wright. Wright brothers. Airplanes. Flying. Jesus Christ. I wonder if Blackstone is Kupaa."

Look, sometimes connections are made in odd ways and at odd times. She hadn't found much of use in those genealogies, but it was WRIGHT that kept bouncing around in her head. Kupaa, the sky-tribe. He chooses a name as an external actor to honor them? An English name with an English connection to planes?

Luke looks a little silly snapping on the gloves that she gives him, flexing his knuckles in the tight confines that - while they would fit her - he looks like he's auditioning for a role in O.J. Simpson, The Musical. She tells him to check the fridge and he does so, but not without looking the slightest bit disappointed there wasn't a bomb in here. Maybe it's in the icebox. He yanks it open and starts pawing through the contents when she seems to have her head bump revelation. "You lost me, Jones." Of course, that isn't very hard to do. He's not one much for this detective stuff.

"Bhekizizwe 'Beck' Wright: codename, Blackstone. He's Akili. Wakandan Intelligence Services." Jessica finally gets tired of scooching around under the bed and just picks it up to look under it, frowning down at the bare floor for a moment. "He was what my spy-friends call an 'external' actor. He normally completed operations abroad. But he came back to work Mizizi na Nyasi when WIS launched their counter-intel operations there. Counter-intel operations which were called the Staff of Orisha."

Down goes the bed, up comes the mattress.

"He disappeared. Kagiso, head of Intel, seems unconcerned. We know he's important. If there is a traitor in WIS, it could be him. Or he could know who it is. He's fiercely loyal to the Wakandan state, but that doesn't make him an isolationist. Of course, it doesn't make him loyal to the 'moving forward' agenda either, right? So we don't know if he's friend or foe. Finding him has seemed pretty damed vital, but he's in the wind."

To the dresser, opening one door at a time, feeling around inside. "Back home, when I need to find a skip, I start with the family. Here, family and tribe are pretty intertwined, so I spent the better part of yesterday evening trying to scour geneaologies to see if Bhekizizwe appeared an inordinate amount of times in any line. No dice. Maybe it doesn't even matter, cause it could be an alias on top of an alias. But…well when I make an alias it's often meaningful to me. I was 'Jessica Knight' once because for a little while I toyed with calling myself the Knightress— actually forget you ever heard that. And then once I was Alisa White, because Alisa White is my Mom's maiden name. Sometimes I just make up stuff that seems good to me on the fly, but for a long pretext? Something with meaning to you, something that matters to you, makes it easier and more natural to respond to that other name. So. Wright. Obviously an alias, not a Wakandan name. Michael and I were joking that he was an airplane enthusiast, but then why would a Wakandan, whose technology outstrips ours by leaps and bounds, care about Kittyhawk? But maybe he kept his tribal name when he took a false one. He just Anglified it. Kupaa. The Sky-Tribe. They seek the high places. How did Sizani put it…The Kupaa are people of the sky. Perhaps sometime soon I will take you to our skies in one of our jets. It would be just like her to tuck two clues into one. Jesus. I really think I'm right. He's Kupaa, and he might well be hiding out in Kupaa lands. That's where I gotta go next."

She reaches the bottom drawer of the dresser. A false bottom, which she opens. Nothing obvious inside of it. She shines the light of the flashlight inside, her excited commentary stilled as she eye-narrows.

"Fake a job." Luke says to the depths of the refrigerator, opening a container and giving it an experimental sniff. It's clear he's focused on this one particular task, so he's just sort of rambling on, "When I needed to find someone with a particular skill set, I fake a job. Put it in the right ear of the right people and shit gets spread by word of mouth. I need to find a drug dealer, I don't follow him around waiting for him to make a drop. I organize the drop." This whole Wakanda thing isn't exactly Luke's purview. He's used to the slums of New York, where aliases are just your street name. "Knightress." Gets repeated to a carton of questionable eggs. The rest might be over his beautiful bald head, but he caught that.

The food seems to be just on the verge of going bad; not quite so abandoned that it is all bad, but not quite so good that anyone would want to eat it. This place hasn't been tended to for several days, but it hasn't been abandoned for weeks.

This bit of street information surprises Jones, she pauses in the act of pulling a swab and a vial out from her evidence collection kit, her flashlight in her mouth, though she manages to talk around it.

First thing's first, "You were supposed to forget that," she chides, but it's with a half-smirk of faint, self-depricating humor. It was, in fact, one of the names she toyed with after rejecting Trish's 'Jewel' proposal but before meeting Kilgrave put paid to her ideas that she could be a Superhero, capital S. Remembering the timing of that makes her smile fade just a bit, but she covers it by turning her attention back to the act of running the swab across the surface of the true bottom of the dresser.

Then, next: "Faking jobs to find drug dealers…I take it you have a side hobby beyond bartending these days. And not just here in Wakanda."

She had, after all, put him in charge of figuring out how those extra drugs made it into the borders.

There is a shrug from Luke's shoulders as he abandons the fridge. "I take care of my neighborhood as much as I can. If that means running someone off the corner that's dealing to kids…you should see the look on their faces when they pull a knife or a gun on me." He closes the door, turning to face Jessica as he hooks his thumbs in the pockets of his cargo pants, waiting for his next directive. "Someone's going to have to go grocery shopping soon, but the food's pretty recent." He reports back.

"I imagine it's pretty epic," Jones agrees.

She takes swabs from every corner, ten of them in all, puts each one in the vial, caps and bags it. She's not fond of cops, but that doesn't mean learning all she can about their techniques hasn't been damned useful; someday she'll work on learning even more of them. Any tool she can get to become a better investigator, she'll take.

Since she's already on the floor…"Would you pick up this dresser for me so I can look under it?"

She could get it, but then she'd have to stand up and move it and do a whole deal. She closes the drawer though, taking her flashlight out of her mouth and wiping it on her jeans. First ugly crying, then make-up disasters, now she's getting covered in dust and cobwebs and gunk as she crawls around on floors looking for clues. Truly, the most glamorous of all women.

Pick this dresser up for me, she asks. Luke gives her a sort of bland look again, not used to just doing things simply for the sake of doing them when it comes to his particular brand of skills, but he's never been the type to show off. Still, if it helps her investigation, he'll suffer through it. He still braces with his legs wide, using them instead of his back as he lifts the furniture as easy as if it were the miniature doll version. There he holds it while she does whatever. "I go through a lot of shirts." He comments off-handedly again about drug deals, so maybe one being used as an oversized tissue isn't that big of a deal.


And there is some broken glass back there. Could be nothing, but she pulls out tweezers, plucking it up for analysis. Could be something, too. Right now she's taking anything that looks even remotely like some sort of evidence. "OK, you can put it down now."

A thoughtful pause. "May be able to help with that when we get home. If you want." He might not want a damn thing from her when they get home, but…this is one problem she can solve for him.

To the desk. She starts pulling drawers out, shining the light inside of it. She finds a pad of paper, devoid of anything on it. "Here, will you do the pencil rubbing trick on this? I'm going to dust for prints." An activity that would have been wholly useless to her in her past investigations, having no crime data to compare prints to. Here, she has Shoro though, so she'll enjoy prints mattering for shit while that lasts.

"Let's just get home first." Luke rumbles distantly as he sets down the dresser, looking down to make sure he's gotten it back in approximately the right place and gives it a wiggle until he's happy. Even a brute can be particular about some things. As he takes the pad of paper from here, he snorts. "Like the thing we used to do in the third grade, trying to pass notes?" But apparently he assumes she's serious as he goes to the desk in search of a pencil to do just that.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," Jones says, shrugging. She takes prints wherever she finds them.

He gets something, once he finds that pencil. It's not a full word. Nyg—z-.

"But don't worry. I'll handle the part where I go through the garbage personally." Which is far more familar PI grounds. Even Wakandans have to have some sort of garbage, especially in a cabin where someone actually took a paper note instead of doing it all through his Kimoyo beads. Which makes sense, she supposes. If you don't want your Kimoyo beads storing what the hell you're doing, you take the note on paper.

She can relate to his need to just get home, to just have things over with. She'd felt that in Germany. Now? It's done when it's done. The looming deadline concerns her, but home just seems…distant. Not even really there to her sometimes. It's a sensation she can't explain, one she hasn't even shared. She's not a fan of travel really…some fairly predictable and irritating things happen every time she leaves her stomping grounds. But she has felt more or less like she's where she's supposed to be. Maybe it's just because it's pure, 100% detective shit, all the time, and so in a way she is still home.

The pink tip of Luke's tongue makes an appearance out of the corner of his mouth as he sets pencil to paper, lightly rubbing the graphite across the page until some letters emerge. He holds it up to the light to get a better look, repeating them to Jessica as he makes them out. "I don't mind getting my hands dirty." He tells her as he sets the pad back aside, now that it's given them all it can.

She frowns at the letters. "Thanks," she says. She tucks that into evidence as well, not sure what it means yet.

He says he's not afraid to get his hands dirty, and her smile is at once tired, warmed, pained. "I know."

But this is her fight, not his, and he's already suffered enough in her estimation. She finds the garbage can beneath the sink and dumps it all over the floor, picking through it with expert hands, not blanching at coffee grounds, broken eggs, or the some-kind-of-tomato sauce that is not sphaghetti sauce, surely, but might well be its close cousin. Sadly, this is not bearing much fruit.

Or rather, it's bearing some rotten, old fruit cores and peels, but no actual evidence. Her expressive face twists into something like irritation and disgust. If she's going to have to dig through garbage, it could at least have the courtesy of being good garbage.

She stands, strips off her gloves, washes her hands in a sink that's still working.

Luke looks around the tiny confines of the cabin, sort of turning on his heel and able to take it all in with a single rotation. "So that's it?" He asks, now that she's stripped off her gloves. He frowns down at his own, trying to pluck at the little band around his wrist so he can do the same. "Put some bigger gloves into your phone thingie for me, for next time." He grumbles. Luke Cage, the shirtless detective.

"Yeah. If I thought someone was coming back and if we had all the damned time in the world I might want to surveil it, see who came back, but. That's it." He gripes about the gloves, producing another one of those pained smiles. "See what I can do. I bought that back home." Right now, she's rather doubting there will be a next time he'll want to tag along for back home in New York.

She'd glances at the bathroom again, but she'd checked the spartan water closet back when she took her prints. She pulls on a second pair of those gloves though. She sweeps all the garbage back up, and mops it, all with tools she finds around the kitchenette. "No need to advertise we were here."

And then she's just exhausted. She strips these off too. It seems she's got a whole section of her phone for 'garbage' now, because she throws her gloves in, and holds out her hand for his. She's not keen on leaving much behind in Wakanda. Peggy in jail was a wakeup call for increasing her caution levels. Probably leaving evidence behind when she's got such an easy method of carrying things out is stupid in any city.

"I gotta roll back to S'Yan," she says, the tiredness bleeding into her voice. "Hit Shoro. Let's get back to the car."

When Jessica holds out for his gloves, he deposits them in her palm, and then just sort of holds her hand for a second with a thumb curling under her hand. It's just that. Just a second and a sigh before he releases his minor hold and drags that same hand down his face. "Yeah. I need some time alone." With a bottle, most likely. But better to leave that part out, considering her whole 'recovery from addiction' thing.

If she had time, she'd be nursing a fucking bottle too. Those pain pills are looking awfully great, maybe about 5 of them, whatever May said about dosages. He takes her hand, and her eyes soften even as the lines on that very dirty face deepen; the cut of her mouth goes uncertain; she hardly dares to breathe. Then he's gone again, and she says softly, "When we get to the car just order me another one, Luke. It'll come right to the same parking spot. Give you a head start on time to yourself. I don't mind waiting." A long drive trapped in a car when what he needs is alone time…it seems like a bad idea. And waiting a little while for her own ride to pick her up is the very definition of the least she can do for him right now.

Luke considers that offer for a moment. It's a lifeline, really, the ability to just ride this out on his own back to civilization. Still, the man just shakes his head. "I'll see you back safe, if it's all the same to you." He speaks in that low tone of his, surprised even at himself that the words come rolling out of his mouth. But he's never been the type to just leave someone on their own, especially when he's sworn to body guard that someone. He's not going to start now. Hitching his head towards the door, he heads in that direction himself.

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