One Long Grouchy Sigh

October 17, 2017:

The title almost says it all. But is any other reaction really possible when Jessica Jones takes a meeting with Danny Rand?

Danny Rand's Apartment

The furniture has left the building.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Emery Papsworth

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Danny Rand doesn't really get texting. His parents were old fashioned enough that he didn't have one as a kid, and anyway, back then you had to hit each key three times to get a single letter. A far cry from the predictive texting of today. But as Joy patiently explained to him, a lot of people prefer to text or email these days.

The thing about him is, he may be a giant derp, but he genuinely tries. So he types out a message to send to Jessica.

"Hello Jessica, it's Danny Rand. Can we meet up to talk? Thanks, from Danny."

It's a little-known fact that Jessica Jones has an acute love for the English language. She was, in her youth, determined to become a reporter. Her Mom was a lit professor. She tends to text in full complete sentences herself. Not always— sometimes she gets lazy like anyone else— but often. So seeing full, complete sentences is okay. It's a little odd that he uses his name, but he might be assuming she disn't save his.

Either way, she texts back: Where? Got time now.

And true to her word, she shows up wherever he chooses in a reasonably timely fashion.

What Danny texts back is probably a little unexpected given his unfamiliarity with his phone. The message that pops up is a map location of, well, it's his place.
A text comes through a moment later to add, "Oh wait you've been here."

Derp-a-herp Danny. Jessica shakes her head with a half of a smile, then just goes to meet him at his place. She knocks thrice on the door. "If you forget you invited me, freak out and try to ninja me to death I'm going to be pissed," she says dryly through the door, though the tone is light, teasing, and not really as mean as the words themselves might indicate. She steps back, looking far more herself in her jeans and leather jacket than she did the night she tried to fight off kidnappers in a red party dress.

The door opens. "I don't have short-term memory loss," he says. But apparently he's not really good with sarcasm? He's dressed casually too, in drawstring pants and a gray v-neck t-shirt that hangs loosely on his torso. "Come in. Sorry, I forgot that Emery fed you a sandwich. They're pretty good, aren't they?"

He leads her in. The place is giant, opulent, and…mostly empty. It's like he's living in a museum. But things get homier towards the kitchen, as she experienced before. He's only really living in one corner of the expansive house, including the kitchen, a den off the kitchen, and the bedroom and bathroom across from that.

"What he fed me was the Sandwich of the Gods," Jessica says dryly.

The jury is still out on whether or not Danny Rand shares certain characteristics with a blue cartoon fish.

Jess follows him to the kitchen at an easy-going amble, and says, "What did you want to talk to me about?" She smirks. "Did someone steal all your furniture?"

She knows that's not really it, but sass is her default setting, even when she's reasonably happy. It only gets a bitter edge when she's not. But right now he seems to have gotten himself a big dose of kinder, gentler— or at least relaxed— Jessica Jones.

"Well, I thought we should talk about what happened the other night, for one. That was a great dress, by the way. I didn't get a chance to say. The boots were a bold choice." Did Danny just tease? He can't quite keep a straight face and ends up grinning. "You want a drink? I'm still figuring out what I actually like, so I have a lot of stuff…"
Just when you think he's getting quicker. Danny takes a moment to process her joke. "Oh. A lot of that stuff belonged to Joy. She finally came to get it the other day."

Jessica grins at the joke, and says, "Yeah yeah, touche."

Shit. It's decided. She likes this kid.

She hesitates over the matter of the drink. They're always fraught for her, drinks. Danny doesn't know that she's an alcoholic yet, so she can have one in front of him without distressing him. On the other hand, the more she cheats the harder it's going to be to stay in control, and she knows it. "You know what? A water would be great, if that's okay."

And then? Straight to business. "I've gone to one of my contacts at SHIELD to see if she can't dig up anything about a South African meta using electricity powers; that might turn something up. It sure wasn't expected, finding someone like her there. She had to be an expensive addition if she wasn't part of the organization all along."

Danny walks over to the giant stainless steel fridge. He paws aside a wide assortment of designer waters, confused by each. Instead, he decides on the spigot from the front of the fridge, which he adds ice to before filling up the glass. He does the same for himself, and sits at a stool tucked up to the island.

It's a small, small thing. He's often accused of not being observant, and that is not undeserved. But sometimes he can be quite intuitive. He's not going to drink if his guest isn't.

"You know if they try something again, they're going to bring more than one meta. And more than one guy in that body armor. Which was a surprise. It had to be made of some kind of material that absorbs kinetic energy." He frowns and then goes kind of distant again. "I haven't trained for this."

"Just what exactly have you trained for?" Jessica Jones asks, watching him closely. She takes a sip of her water.

She can't help it. She pries. She probes. She asks questions. Sometimes she can reign it in, sometimes she can't. But Danny is a client who now has kidnappers after him, and so she doesn't even bother to reign it in. Answers help her understand the bigger picture, and even if they intended to keep Danny alive the situation is pretty damned dangerous as far as Jessica is concenred. Plans change, and people don't generally survive once they get put in the back of the van.

Thus, she'd really like to know everything she can, just to make sure it doesn't happen.

Danny stands there, hands wrapped around the glass. It's dappled with condensation. His fingers press patterns as he moves them. He works his jaw to the side.

Wait for it.

Waiiit for it.

"I'm the Immortal Iron Fist."

He says that almost like he expects that to be the answer to a question rather than something that just raises a whooooole lot of other questions.

Jessica looks at him.

It's a long look.

It's increasingly flat.

And then: "Danny."

Pause. Beat.

"Two things. One? You sound incredibly lame. Like you got that off the back of a cereal box. The whole superhero naming business is tough, but 'the Immortal Iron Fist?' Do you know how many jokes people can make out of that? Emery was already covering a great good many of them, and they just get worse from there."

She holds up a second finger.

"Two, that didn't tell me jack squat. Wanna give me the expanded version instead of the WTF Digest?"

Danny looks a little exasperated. "No, no I didn't name myself. It's not like…Iron Man." He takes a deep breath. "The Iron Fist is a title given to the protector of K'un L'un." Again with the explaining things like this should mean something to her. To be fair, for him it's like patiently explaining what a president is or why Santa Claus is a thing.

But he does realize he needs to take it back a little further, but it's clearly a bit painful for him to do. "The monks of K'un L'un rescued me after the plane crash. They took me in. But the way to the city closes. So once they brought me in, I couldn't return home. Not until recently. They trained me to fight."

Jessica has seen and experienced a lot of strange things in her time, so a magical monk city that closes off the way every now and then and trained Danny Rand to fight is taken in stride.

She does, however, ask what is, to her, a glaringly obvious question.

"How the Hell are you protecting K'un L'un from New York City? And why do they need a single protector at all? It sounds like they have an army of bad-ass combat monks at their disposal. Of note: Baton Betty seemed awfully excited to learn about your justice fist there, so…"

She spreads her hands. "Might be good to consider what they think they're going to do with that information."

"It's…complicated. Look, I just…" Danny doesn't have a good answer. Or he doesn't have a good way to explain his answer. Either way, puppy looks flustered. "I don't know if they know what it is, or if they just think I'm a meta. Probably best if they just think I'm a meta." Which means he has to avoid telling people his title, which he's done OK at so far.
"And a meta at the head of a major corporation isn't exactly unheard of these days."

"No, not particularly unheard of," Jessica agrees.

"Alright, so backing up to your concern. Yes, they're probably going to come in harder and faster next time. You could find some reason to fire Jakes. He has ties to the criminal underworld, was putting pressure on your board member, and as best as I could tell was supposed to swoop in and earn trust by saving you. I don't think we have enough proof to get him arrested yet, but simply firing him might collapse the whole plot. They'll have nothing to gain from it. Some sort of retalitory thing could be a waste of resources. I'm not sure if that's the right course of action, but it's an option."

"Joy was telling me about uh…wrongful…dismissal?" Danny doesn't sound confident that he's got it right. "There was one guy who gave me a bad vibe who I wanted to fire but Joy said we could get in trouble for that. I wasn't sure if it was the truth or she just said that to stop me from firing anyone." He looks a little dismayed by that.
He pauses for a minute, then flattens his palms on the counter. When he does that, his swollen, hardened knuckles are more apparent, and the overhead lighting illuminates old scars. He might act like a typical Millenial in some ways, but he isn't one - not by a long shot. "I saw that you brought the cheque back. I have to find a way to pay you that isn't going to mess things up."

"Emery said he'd give me cash for it," Jessica says, waving her hand about dismissively. "He was concerned the Board Members were going to find out you hired me. It's a legit concern. But okay. I'll keep digging and look for evidence Jakes is involved in criminal activity. If we can get that before your next attempt, we should be fine." She decides not to mention Emery seemed fairly sure he could come up with something himself. Jessica still needs to check in with him and find out if he did, in fact, get anything at all.

She's going to have worked, she rather thinks, every sort of case that there is to work before it's all said and done. This one is a brand new ball of wax, to be sure.

"I just want to make sure you're getting fairly compensated for all this," says Danny. He looks her in the eye when he speaks. This is the bit the board likes in him, and sees potential in. The focus on, and faith in, individuals. That's the part that's most like Wendell Rand, and what inspired loyalty in others. It was about the bottom line, sure. But his father's philosophy was that the way to get there was to invest in people.

"I trust your instincts. And I'm glad this isn't something someone on the board is doing directly." That doesn't mean people aren't still working against him in their own ways, but something that overt is off the table for the moment.

"They've brought kidnapping into it now, money is not my concern. They're assholes and I'm pissed," Jessica says. Though she does like getting paid, she also pretty well trusts that it will happen. And she is, at this point, so well taken care of herself that it's not even funny.

Her mental health may be hit and miss. Her love life may be in the toilet. But her career is going pretty damned great.

"I do have to tell you that I haven't hunted down too many criminal syndicates. I feel like I'm capable, but I'm no expert. And it might come to that before it's all said and done."

Danny's eyebrows arch and he grins a little. "Well, I haven't talked to him yet, but I feel like Emery's got more experience with this sort of thing than he's letting on." He scratches the back of his head. "Although I'm not so sure he's going to want to keep working for me the deeper he gets into this."

He then slumps forward, chin on arms, stool pushed back on two legs.

This seems to have crossed from PI territory to Danny maybe needs a friend territory.

"I don't think he's going to abandon you. I think he likes you for you." She has some good signs of that from their conversation, after all. "That's a rare thing, probably. He's got some secrets, no doubt, but I think he's genuinely looking out for you. Well. I mean I'm 70% sure. I wouldn't be 100% sure until I dug into every one of his secrets and laid them out on my coffee table. Unconditional trust, absent hard evidence, isn't really my thing."

But she can guess that this kid has got to be lonely, whatever else is going on, whatever his reasons for being here in New York instead of back in Monk Town doing Monk Things for Monks. So she offers what reassurance she can.

It's hard to tell if people are sticking around for your own benefit when you're a billionaire and you're paying them money to stick around. That's not a thought that Danny has articulated to himself, but he feels the effect of that thought that hasn't been put into so many words. There's literally no one in his life who doesn't have something to gain by associating with him. He's not brooding about it so much as…it's making his forehead bunch up.

"If nothing else, maybe what happened the other night will scare them off for awhile. Might give us a chance to regroup and actually figure out what's going on."

Yeah. And Jessica's one of them.

"It's going to force them to re-evaluate, yeah."

She watches him. And siiiiiighs.

"Look, tell Emery not to worry about the cash. I don't really need the money. I think you could probably use someone in your life who literally does not give two shits about your bottom line, and you can't have that out of me if you're paying me."

Because she can't. She can't stand it. She's aware of it now, and her natural empathy makes it impossible not to act on it. Even as she scowls, as if scowling could make him believe she has a crusty black heart instead of a big warm one.

Danny drops the two legs of the stool down a bit louder than intended at that. "No, Jessica. You're doing your job. I hired you to do a job. You need to get paid for that. Especially if you're putting yourself in danger because of me." And then he adds, a bit wryly, "Even if you can sort of…jump really…high. I thought you were going to fly for a second."

"Man, I wish I could fly for real," Jessica gripes. "I can just…leap. Fall with style." Grumble grump. And then a snort of laughter, because she's complaining about shit some people would kill to be able to do. People really will complain about anything, it seems.

She also shrugs. "I put myself in danger all the time, Danny. It's kind of in the job description." It's not in the run-of-the-mill PI's job description, but she is not run-of-the-mill. "Stopping bad people from doing bad shit."

Not exactly the standard PI tag line, at all.

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