Is That What We're Calling it Now?

November 06, 2017:

Kate Bishop and Jessica Jones reconcile in the wake of their disastrous encounter at the Checkerbrick.

Hell's Kitchen, NY

Never a dull moment in this neighborhood ever.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Elinor Ravensdale

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Jessica Jones has largely left Kate Bishop alone since their confrontation at the Checkerbrick Building.

It’s not that she takes what happened particularly personally. Indeed, she has a great understanding of what went down thanks to John Constantine, and has already excused the younger detective’s behavior. Actions taken under the influence of things which impact the mind are always given a pass in her book.

At the same time, she’s not sure if the paranoia will continue to impact Kate even after she’s left the building. If the opinions she formed about one Jessica Jones will continue to ferment and fester.

And so she’s simply backed off of her plans to ally with the other PI. The investigation has taken a hard right turn into the occult anyway. She’s not even sure how useful Kate’s evidence will be at this point.

Still, she has continued to surveil the building, mostly to see if anyone who might be the Shapeshifter comes back. She sits on a rooftop across the street, back to a chimney, watching the building. It’s boring work, but it’s necessary work. She also racks her brains for ways to get people the Hell out of that building till this is fixed, but she keeps coming up empty.

Kate Bishop has not enjoyed the days following the whole incident. She ended up in SHIELD headquarters, being sent through the entire list of check-ups to make sure that whatever fucked around with her was gone. It took her a day to feel normal again, and part of her hated that most of all.

There was nothing else left to do beyond collapsing back into work. She had a lead, and she was trailing after it in hopes of finding out what the hell happened. Doppelgangers and magic crystals were some serious changes to her normal pace, but she also isn’t one to give it up.

Almost as if there’s some divine power at work, Kate ends up just one roof over. Being a bit of a freerunner has its benefits as she ended up on the roof without even entering the building. She is squatted down behind the half-wall that encircles this rooftop, taking a few pictures of the window that once looked into the happy home of a happy couple. She snaps a couple pictures, and then looks down into the screen on her high tech camera to look over each shot, and she keeps frowning to herself. She starts to straighten, looming into sight for the building next door.

Jessica Jones assumes she’ll be seen eventually. So when Kate is close enough, she just says, “Bishop.” The tone is even, guarded, but not at all acerbic. She has one leg stuck out, one knee propped up, and one hand draped over her knee. She’s taken all the photos she really needs to take of the place.

She’s losing hope that the shapeshifter will show back up, really. But due diligence is due diligence.

She makes no moves at all, lest Kate flip out.

Kate — because she’s mortal and a bit jittery herself — jumps when Jessica says her name. Doesn’t matter how much effort goes into preparing someone to not be startled, she’s startled. Her nerves are a bit more toasty than expected.

She whirls around to blink at Jessica, her vibrant blue eyes wide. “Shit, Jones,” she breathed out sharply, and grasps at the center of her chest. Good thing her cameras on a sling, or it might be on the roof in pieces. She breathes out a slow breath, settling herself. She glances toward the building and then back to Jess, and her mouth tightens.

“Always comes back to Checkerbrick, huh?”

“Yep. Building’s fucked.”

Jones watches Bishop very closely. Her body language. Her mannerisms. She looks for signs of hostility, of paranoia. She stays very still, because the last thing she wants to do is escalate the situation.

“Building’s fucked, that Shapeshifter seems to be amplifying the effect, and the one thing I don’t know is fucking why.”

She hitches a shoulder. It’s hard to talk about it, though, when Bishop vehemently rejects the one explanation Jessica Jones has for the problems inside. And she doesn’t necessarily want to poke that bear again.

“Is that what we’re calling it now? A shapeshifter?” Kate grimaces. Then she looks over across at the building once more, and her mouth thins. She bobbles her camera a few moments before she just lets it fall back along her side. She shifts slightly from foot to foot, and she then glances back toward Jess. “Shapeshifting is like the epitome of paranoia… every culture has some kind of shapeshifter.”

She rubs at her chin a bit, dropping her focus toward the gravel turf of the roof. She scuffs it up a few times before she glances back up to Jess. “Hey, um. I’m sorry… about what went down. I know you’re going to give me the whole spiel about it not being my fault, but… um, yeah. Sorry.”

“You can call it anything you want, Bishop. You see what it can do. It’s impersonated at least four people we know about. It’s not paranoia when they’re really out to get you.”

Jessica watches the scuff of Kate’s shoe, and she gives a chuff of a laugh.

“Whole spiel? No. I actually know very well how hard it is to feel something like that didn’t come from you, even if it didn’t. How feeling it’s yours can actually be a little less disturbing than realizing it wasn’t. I’ll just say apology accepted. I have some defenses against that shit, or I’d have been right there with you.”

She looks up at the woman. “Besides. Under the influence or not you pretty much came through, didn’t you? Did what needed to be done.”

“Then I’m gonna call it ‘Fred.’”

Bishop slumps into her hips, arms folding protectively around her middle — a victim-like posture she hasn’t occupied in many years. She glances precariously toward the building. When Jess mentions her defenses, she casts a glance sidelong to her and her mouth thins a bit. “Guess I thought I did, too. Oblivious, overconfident, human bullshit.”

Jess’s words of encouragement are met with a underbaked smile. “Yeah. Ain’t I just the best.” She gives a acerbic swing of her fist that is only best accompanied by an equally acerbic, “Woohoo.”

Then she huffs out a breath and draws herself out of her own state of loathing to reconsider the building. “Alright, so what’s next then?”

Jessica’s lips quirk into a smirk, and she chuffs a laugh. Kate really does remind her of a slightly younger version of herself.

“What defenses did you think you had?” she asks, curious.

But then Kate is asking what’s next, and she gives a sour huff, before suddenly sitting up.

“Well…what’s next is we really need to get everyone out of that building so that it stops impacting people. I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out how, but…maybe you’ve got some authority to get it done. I mean, I’ve got contacts in SHIELD, but nothing I wanna push my luck with. But the Avengers work pretty closely with that organization, right? Maybe you can get that building quarantined.”

Getting people safe always has to take priority over even the investigation.

“I don’t know… the indomitable human free-will. And the ability to power-level when a new World of Warcraft expansion comes out.” Kate’s words are tired, and obviously filled with snark. She shakes her head. “I guess I had hoped that I was smart enough to notice when something was going sideways. Guess I’m not.”

Or she’s just human, like everyone else. Or, well, most everyone else.

She regards Jess now with a cock of her head. “SHIELDs already kinda involved. I mean, I’m a Mini-Avenger… and getting paranoid-smacked is enough to draw attention. I was given the full ringer of medical and psychological tests to make sure I wasn’t compromised.” She shrugs a shoulder. “I told them that I was on the case though, because all I need is to be handing this off.”

She then frowns at the real request there, and she nods. “Yeah, I can put in a request to, um, the higher ups for that. I’ll make sure they get a beers out of the deal. I hear that works when putting in for favors… though, really, I guess this isn’t a favor but one of those formal request dealies.”

“It’s not about smart,” Jessica says, sounding maybe a little tired. “And indomitable will isn’t always enough. Let me put it this way, it took me months of exposure to things like that to build up a physical tolerance, and I’ve got abilities that tend in that direction. It also took a specialist to build up psychic resistance, one who took hours of time to research how, and then to actually implement it.”

She looks off into the distance at the building, and adds, “Human will has a breaking point, always. And it’s tied into the body. Always. What you ran into impacted your physiology in a way that impacted your mind. A little like getting rabies. Right? Human gets rabies, they foam at the mouth and lose their shit like anything else, no matter how smart they are. Smart isn’t always enough, strong isn’t always enough. I’ve seen dozens of ways people can have control over their own mind stripped from them, and in no case did it ever have to do with any failing on the part of the target.”

She nods in thanks at the note that Kate will get that building shut down, though, and finally turns to fix the other detective with solemn brown eyes.

Kate listens with a building frown on her lips, and only when the pair lapse into silence does the other PI breathe out a slow sigh. “Remind me not to get rabies,” she says in a low, smirking tone. She knows that’s missing the point, as evident by the quirk of her smile.

“Alright, so I’ll call in for an evac on the building.” She shrugs a shoulder slightly. “But how are we going to get Fred and make sure those crystals don’t end up in some other unsuspecting building?”

“I’m not sure the crystals would do much good anywhere else,” Jessica says. “They’re exploiting a specific weakness in that building.”

She sighs.

“Look, I don’t know how else to explain it other than stuff you’ve already rejected. But I have two specialists on this problem. It might be a good idea to sit down with both of them, go over everything we all have, all four of us. There’s got to be a solution. And one of my contacts did suggest giving data to someone who could run some facial recognition stuff on ‘Fred’, though I imagine you have access to that yourself. Maybe there will be some unique markers this guy or gal carries that gives them away when they shift.”

Kate blinks, and her usual demeanor drops a bit. “Jess, I didn’t mean to reject anything. I’m just… fuuuucccck.” She breathes out a sigh and rubs at the back of her head. “Alright, yeah. Talking to some experts might be good.” The mention of facial recognition draws a small frown to her lips, and she nods slightly. “Guess it would work to just cross-check if the same face is showing up at the same time in different places.”

Then she gives the gravel another small chuck of her foot, scratching a bit more pieces up. “Tell me when and where, and I’ll show up to meet up with your experts.”

A slight upward quirk of Jessica’s lips at the long, drawn out ‘fuck.’ She relates. She really does.

“Ok. I’ll set it up. You work on the facial recognition thing. They’re going to couch it in magical terms. There’s no avoiding that. But they also get results, so maybe it doesn’t matter what they call stuff.”

She rolls her neck around, stiff after hours of sitting. “We’ll get this figured out. It’s not just a case anymore, right? It’s someone bad doing bad shit, and something bad doing bad shit. We stop that kind of shit. That’s who I am, that’s who I think you are too. And no matter how sticky it looks, there are solutions. There always are.”

“You mean like… Harry Potter?” Kate’s eyes widen. “Dude, if you tell me there’s really a Hogwarts, I’m seriously out… like out. Because then I have to seriously mourn the fact that I really never got my letter from Hogwarts.

Then she nods slightly and re-slings her camera so it’s hanging under her arm. She nods soberly. “Yeah, we’ll figure it out… because we’re the Rescue Rangers.” She gives two goofy thumbs up that includes a stupid smile before she sobers back into her normal demeanor. “Yeah, I know we’ll figure it out.”

She looks at the building, freely glaring at it. “I really hate that place.”

Jessica smirks. “No Hogwarts. Promise. Besides, what do you need a letter for? I looked you up, seems you kick a lot of ass without a need for any of that.”

And then her brown eyes sparkle as she teases. “You know. For some spoiled rich girl born with a silver spoon in her mouth and all.” Like Jess really has room to talk. Her family was plenty well off, before they all died.

Still, she’ll give the gentle dig anyway.

“And yeah, I hated it before I knew it had a ruptured ley line in it. The color scheme. The actual checker brick color. Scheme.

“Yeah, but imagine how much more ass I could kick with a wand and a hippogriff named Buckbeak.” Kate’s put a lot of thought into this. She is, after all, of the Potterhead Generation.

Then she scoffs at the spoiled rich girl bit. “You ever actually put a silver spoon in your mouth? It tastes disgusting. I mean, just disgusting. There’s a reason things are all stainless steel now.” Which is not Kate’s means to refute what Jess said. She’s a spoiled rich girl. She knows it.

The mention of the ley line draws a frown to her lips. “Ley… line? Like… we’re talking magic again, aren’t we?” Kate’s mouth thins. “One day, there’s not going to be so much new shit for me to learn.”

The comments earn a pleased, appreciative half of a grin from one Jessica Jones.

“Magic again,” she confirms. “I don’t have the best understanding of them. Rivers of magical energy running through the earth. And there’s a rupture in the one under that building, which creates paranoia, edginess, everything we’ve seen.”

But she has some sympathy. She leans her head back and says, “I was playing this kind of catch up a year ago. Zatanna Zatara walks into my office, asks me to help her find her Dad. The case started with her waking up a corpse for me to interrogate. A few cultist attacks and people trying to kill other people to possess magical books later…” She spreads her hands and shrugs.

“Weird is weird. This is not the weirdest thing you’ll see within the next year or so of your own career, I guarantee you. Not by a goddamn longshot. You just pretty much are gonna have to take it in stride. Even if you don’t get to ride around on Buckbeak.”

“You… interrogated a zombie?” Kate’s eyes actually widen a bit. “Wow. They don’t have that on The Walking Dead.” She starts to shake her head, scratching her nails a bit through her hair.

The advice is given a rueful look, but Kate appreciates it all the same. “Yeah, thanks… though you’re really breaking my heart about Buckbeak. Talk about an underrated hero, that big monster of fluff and feather.”

She kicks a bit of gravel again. “Alright, I’m gonna go check in with SHIELD. I’ll let you know the minute I find something.” She hesitates. “And let me know when we’re going to go talk to the Ministry of Magic.” Which is now what she’s calling Jess’s magical contacts. Codename, dubbed.

Jessica Jones ducks her head with another smirk.

John Constantine is just gonna love that nickname. Should she warn Kate? She should warn Kate.

Or maybe she should just…let Kate get the full John experience for herself, complete with his disgust over the Potterhead phenomenon. Really, warning someone like Kate is going to make her just want to poke at him more, isn’t it? Yes. Yes it is.

So all she does is lever herself up and say, “You got it.”

Then she just steps off the building. Hits the ground, walks off, hands in pockets. This…is gonna get interesting.

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