Priority Return

September 26, 2017:

After the bombing at Rizza's house Jessica Jones has a single request for one Zatanna Zatara. Will Luke Cage be pissed? Jones' money is on, "Yes."

Birnin S'Yan


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Luke Cage

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Many hours before a hospital rumble which might ultimately change the course of events in Wakanda for the better (?) the man known as Rubicon strides up to the home of Rizza of the Sinjaan and fires a cyanide-gas and firebomb missile combo into the front room, killing the old woman and obliterating much of the house. The smoke column reaches the sky almost instantly, making it easy to spot Trouble, capital T.

Two more people were in the house.

These two people come bursting out the back of it in a shower of glass. It's not clear which one initiated the slam straight through the window. Was it the tiny dark haired woman who can lift a car over her head? Or is it the man she is literally entwined with, arms wrapped around his neck? The giant black man she's clinging to like a koala certainly winds up on top of her. It would be romantic if not for the fact that he goes into seizures, passing out atop her, and she, who had one place to bury her face so she wasn't exposed, namely his big bulletproof chest, has herself a coughing fit before turning her head to vomit. Neither are burned, at least, though the fire rages above them, flames whipping in the windy air as the sounds of emergency service drones toll across wide streets.


She had decided to leave John Constantine in the library to finish their research when she teleports back to Rizzi's bed and breakfast….only for it to find the unfortunate end of a rocket launcher.

The resulting fireball has her flying backwards, an uncontrollable missile of dark hair and pale skin, ice-blue eyes wide and her scream of surprise and no small measure of terror lost in the devastating wake. Her body hits the ground with a solid thud, her breath leaving her body. Smoke, fire and chemicals invade her nostrils, stars winking in and out of her vision. Her ears ring; for a moment, she can't hear anything clearly.

Finally, she manages to roll over and push herself off the ground, inching her way up until she finds her feet again. When everything rushes back, including the realization that people might still be in the building, her gaze widens.

"Oh, god. Oh god. Oh god oh god…" Her obsidian obelisk spins back into her hand, and she does her best to call the flames off, a few words enabling her to douse out the fire - but the damage is too late.

"…Rizzi…?" she can't help but whisper.

Nobody was home, was there?

Through the haze of smoke, she spies two figures on the ground, both down. One is familiar, and it doesn't take much for her to recognize Jessica Jones.

"Jess!!" she cries, aghast, rushing towards her direction. Oh god. Oh god. Are they dead? Her heart lurches into her throat, panic scourging through her amidst the unceremonious dump of adrenaline.


"Rizza," Jessica coughs, thinking exactly the same as Zee. She gently pushes Luke off her, then gasps, "Kitchen. Was in kitchen." All she can think is maybe Zatanna can do something, because she's Zatanna Zatara, and if anyone can she can. That sweet old lady can't be dead. The old woman who made her food and talked to her about Wakanda.

Then she pukes again, convulsing a little bit, some frothing blood coming out of her mouth.

Jess gathers Luke close in a rather protective fashion, shaking him a little, dark eyes going frantic as she spits blood away. Not in good shape, but he's in worse shape. The big black man is completely unresponsive.

The house is swallowed in an inferno now, crackling and burning. There is no way in Hell the old woman survived that. The kitchen was near the blast point, near the point where that missile came soaring through. She would have been directly in the path of the thing. She probably got to see it in the split second before she died.


Jessica's rasp tells her that she is alive, and relief surges within her so powerfully that Zatanna can't help but feel somewhat lightheaded. Choking on it, she's about to reach for the private investigator and the person she is holding when the single word leaves her lips and a possible location. The young woman turns to look at the flames she had put out, a sinking feeling at the pit of her stomach. The kitchen…?

"Stay here, don't move." She doesn't know if she has broken anything, or the condition of the other victim, but she's had enough first aid lessons to know that they ought to stay put just in case. She slowly rises from the ground, and starts moving into the site of the blast, picking her way through what remains of the house carefully, to try and find the old woman who had opened her home to Jessica.

She steps into the kitchen, and while she holds on some hope that maybe a miracle has occurred, every step has her stomach sinking lower and lower, her lips pressing into a thin line. She finds where the window is, first, reduced to nothing but ash and splinters.


The house is a crumbling edifice, blackened in an instant. Dangerous, structurally, but she can see Rizza's body. The woman is hardly even recognizable as a person anymore. Just ablackened husk. There's nothing at all to save. Despite Jessica's insistence that the woman can be saved. There is something on the floor that might have once been broken dishes. She had just been in there cooking. Prepping the evening meal for her two guests.

Meanwhile, the PI stays put, gagging a little and twitching.

"Luke," she says, pat patting his cheek. "C'mon man. You're the Man Mountain. You're Mr. Invulnerability. Don't tell me a little gas is going to put you down. Come on, wake up."


When she returns, she says little else. But Zatanna does crouch next to Jessica, and turns her attention to Luke; mentioned however briefly in the lengthy briefing the private investigator had given her, she lifts her hand to press it on the big man's chest, watching the way it rises and falls under the pressure her palm dispenses. Soft, white blue light emanates from her pores, to knit together what's broken and to expel whatever damage there is in his lungs. If there is any damage to his spirit, she won't be able to fix it here. But thankfully, there doesn't seem to be.

"You're next," she tells the other woman, and the syllables carry with it a kind of tone that will tolerate no argument. The warmth of the young magician's healing magic envelopes her soon after, erasing her bruises and sealing the cuts left behind by flying glass and debris.

Lowering her hand, finally, her expression softens. "I think he'll be okay," she tells Jessica of Luke. "But Rizzi….Rizza." She uses the name instead of her nickname. "She's….I'm sorry, Jess."


Jessica doesn't argue. She'd rather not die of cyanide poisoning today. Or even sit there gagging from it. She's silent during the healing, and takes a deep breath. Her arms tighten protectively about Luke for a moment. She's not protecting him from Zatanna. But rather from the pain she imagines he might be feeling. She well knows the pain of healing matches the pain of the injury, though in this case it's just misery all around until it isn't.

Zee tells her what she already knows, deep down, and she bites her lip. She struggles to force the tears back before she finally bows her head. "I shouldn't have stayed with her. I should have known I'd bring trouble down on her head. I should have pitched a tent. Or slept at SHORO. Anything but…"

She sniffles it back, swallowing around a lump in her throat.

They come anyway, the tears, silent but present, the PI's heart breaking a little bit as she stares up at her friend. "God damn him," she whispers. "God damn that fucking bomber to fucking Hell."

For once, she seems like she might actually be making that exact wish, instead of spouting profanities.


The words are on her lips, ready to be deployed in her usual way; that this was not Jessica's fault. That Rizza had opened her home to her willingly, and that she had made a choice. But she knows it is not that easy - there are others in her life who have carried similar burdens, struggling up their mountains while weighed down by the lives that they failed to save. People who have chosen to get involved, and let in, only for her friends to lose the in the end. She has yet to suffer something like this, kept innocent largely in part that there are many in her life all too willing to dirty their hands for her, but her emphatic nature can't help but slip herself in their shoes every time something like this happens. Her chest tightens up; at hearing Jessica's heartbroken whisper, she can't help but feel the ache underneath her ribs.

A hand reaches out in an effort to rub the private investigator's back. For a while, she says nothing, looking at the decimated remains of the quaint bed and breakfast, and the slowly crumbling body within, lost to a sudden flash of fire.

"We can't stay here," she reminds Jess. Because they can't. Police will be around soon and their status in the country is tenuous enough as it is. Glancing down at Luke…

"Any ideas as to where to put him?"


Jessica Jones accepts the hand to her back. She even takes a moment to lay her head on the shoulder of her first friend, allowing herself an all-too-short moment of comfort. She swallows, and then she wipes her arm across her eyes. And with that, as she smears her mascara and her eyeliner into a raccoon mess…

She gets back on track. It's a skill she's been employing again and again since she got here. Meanwhile, Zee asks a question.

It's a very important question. Jessica reaches down and strokes her hand down his face in a very tender way.

She looks at Zee, then bites her lips. She is, as ever, reluctant to ask for magical help. As much as she loves the magical enchantments and gifts she's received, it always feels weird to her. But this time…

She rattles off an address. In New York.

"Would you take us both there? Just long enough for me to get him situated?" she says quietly. "I trust in your healing, I'm sure he'll wake up fine, but…he's done. I can't let him sit here getting hurt for me again and again. He's stubborn as shit, but it's not right. Can we do that? Will it tax you too much? There, and then right back again?"


The address is not one that she recognizes, but then again, Jessica Jones is thorough. While given a just a glimpse of her messy past history with Luke, she wouldn't put it past the private investigator to know exactly where the man lives. For a moment, there is nothing but silence as Jessica looks upon the man's features, and the tender way fingers drift against the side of his face.

"Alright, and no, it's not taxing." Pulling out her smartphone, she types in the address, looks up the streetview image of it - she always needs a visual, for places that she has never been to before. But with Google technology being what it is, what she finds is enough to give her some direction as to where to go, or where to expend her magic.

She traces the air with her obsidian obelisk, and she opens a doorway - the space beyond the portal is a familiar room to Jessica; Luke Cage's bedroom and whatever mess he had left behind before tagging along in Wakanda.

"I'll close it," she tells her, probably to give the two privacy. She's not so insensitive as to not see the signs. "Just text me when you're ready to come back."


"I'm just going to take his shoes off," Jessica says with a sour glance. "And write him a note. You can stay. I promise I'm not going to be that long. I don't have any soulful speeches to give him or whatever."

She scoops him up and carries him into bed, and she indeed does pull his shoes off. She drops them on the floor, then covers him up. Another scowl.

"He's going to be fucking pissed when he wakes, but that's just too damned bad for him. Hopefully he's too broke to try to come back. Hopefully we'll have this wrapped soon."

She blows out her cheeks, then glowers in Zee's general direction, looking more like the woman the witch met almost a full year ago than ever all of a sudden. "Emotions are dumb and they suck," she declares, as she finds a piece of paper. She scrawls the word: "Sorry," on it. Then: "JJ."

Real intimate, tender stuff.

She folds it into a paper tent and places it by his head, then crosses to the fridge, finds him a bottle of water, and places that by the paper tent. Then she says, "Take me back, please. I have to case the neighborhood around Rizza's place."


That small glimmer of the acerbic Jessica Jones that she knows is enough for a smile to manifest on Zatanna's lips briefly, inclining her head at her before she follows her through the portal. There's no way she can carry Luke, but considering the private investigator's skillset, she is confident that she would be able to do this no problem. Easing through the opened pathway in time and space, they are, briefly, back in New York again as they venture into Luke's apartment.

The portal shuts behind them, just in case.

She leans against the wall, her hands sliding into the pockets of her jacket, waiting for Jessica to arrange him as she sees fit, takes off his shoes, and ensures his overall comfort before he wakes up in a rage. At least it's something?

Emotions are dumb and they suck.

"You're just going to have to live with them, Jess," she tells her with a slightly exasperated smile. "No going around it, unless you somehow lose your soul. And trust me, you don't want to be losing that."

She would know.

But with the request to take them back to Wakanda, the obelisk is out again, tracing the door way to lead them back to the site of the decimated B&B. It is an easier way to travel than teleportation, but one that Zatanna is still trying to master. Still, it isn't shaky, and it's relatively stable; a subtle reminder that the young woman is still learning how to use the finer points of her near-limitless ability to bend reality.


Since Jessica sure can't trace portals halfway around worlds she has no critique to make. She grimaces as Zee reminds her of that particular time, stomping through and pulling an armored blazer out of her phone. She throws it on, opting for it over her old fashioned leather because it is body armor and not just bulletproof. She shoves her hands in it, and looks up at the neighborhood for a long moment before she looks back at Zee, opining:

"Yours is a glorious and shining thing. Mine is a crusty black lump of calcified monster ichor that has definitely never even imagined a god damn unicorn, and so nobody wants it. I think we're safe on that front."

That opinion given, she lowers her head again. Seeing Wakanda just drives the fracture of the dead grandma home, one more time.

"Casing," she mumbles. "You take the north half of the neighborhood, I'll take the south? This time someone saw something, and this time maybe, just maybe, they'll tell us a thing or two about it. Unless you need to get back to shaman searching."


Mine is a crusty black lump of calcified monster ichor.

"One day, you and I are going to have to talk about your self-esteem issues," Zatanna tells her, so seriously that it has to be a jest. With that, both women basically just ditch Luke Cage back in his apartment, the door sealing shut. Hopefully he won't be able to get back to Wakanda any time soon, but considering the headway Jessica and Jane have already made in their efforts there, she thinks, and fervently hopes, that this will come about to a resolution soon.

And with Bucky brought back to where he belongs.

The leavings of smoke, fire and death find her nose again when the door to New York closes behind them. Giving Jessica a sidelong glance, pale fingers reach out to touch her back lightly in a soothing gesture. She did not manage to get to know Rizza well, but the woman next to her is taking the loss as hard as she allows herself, for the time being. And while she is often never at a loss for words, there is little to say when grief is so fresh. Her hand tracks upward to rest on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

"I'll help," she promises. She doesn't even question splitting up; Jessica can handle herself, and so can she. "We'll meet back here when you're ready, yeah? Text me."

And with that, she's off - to do as she's instructed, and to play detective. She's seen the rest of her friends in action often enough that she's relatively confident she can give a good go at it.

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