AKA Soul Cooties

November 25, 2017:

Jessica Jones interviews Emery Papsworth about the demon bear. He offers a disturbing revelation or two.

Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, New York

It's nicer on the inside.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Dani Moonstar, Owen Mercer, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Steven Strange, Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes, Daredevil, Luke, Captain America, Danny Rand

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Jessica Jones is addicted to many things. Cigarettes, maybe. Booze, undoubtedly. Answers, indubitably.

And Emery at least seems to recognize it, to know that she's not going to be satisfied, now, until she has them. Cake won't stop it. Her own sense of his right to privacy won't, not anymore, not after that last dance with the demon bear. She might have told Luke Cage she thought she had come to the end of what she might be able to accomplish on this case, but the answers she wants from the fellow stand as an undotted 'I', an uncrossed 'T' that she intends to get dotted and crossed PDQ.

She asked him to come to her stomping grounds. It's pleasantly toasty in here, and if the building is kind of a dump, the interior of this place is pretty nice.

She'd rearranged the furniture but now she's rearranged it all right back to its proper configuration. Rearranging furniture annoyed her more than helped her. Emery might realize she's doing this by virtue of the fact that she has a couch over her shoulder when he arrives, one that she's simply setting back into place.

"Come on in," she says. "Make yourself at home. Can I get you a coffee or something?"

Despite the nagging need to know, he's always shown her hospitality and kindness, so she tries to do the same, to the best of what may be, admittedly, a limited capacity. She is, at the moment, dressed in a white tank top and an oversized, ratty grey sweater. Its collar has been so stretched that it simply hangs to either side of the white straps, falling down to her knees in a shapeless mess. The jeans she wears are just as ripped, though her feet are bare. It makes the panther tooth necklace at her throat something of an oddity, but that never leaves. She might hide it from those who might be upset by it, or unhappy that she's held on to it and all it represents, but it's always there about her throat.

Working 2 jobs, raising a 5 year old, drinking, smoking, getting a car fixed, shopping for explosives on the black market…doing research about Native American myths related to reapers, go to mass…its alot but Emery's been juggling hats along with swords for many years, and he manages. His battle wounds have mostly healed by now and he shows up with a dark blue cloth cooler hanging from a strap across his back like a gym bag.

Casually dressed, he wears a soft dark blue sweater and fitted black jeans, stylish black boots and his long hair is kept out of his face by being tucked into a dark blue beanie. A dark brown leather coat is tossed on over it all and he offers a small half smile as he notices her forray into interior decorating with a small impressed raise of an eyebrow and a soft chuckle.

"Ahh, Miss Jones, don't ye look lovely today. Thank ye kindly for your hospitality." He offers a small bow as he moves further into the space. "A coffee would be lovely dear." He unslings the cooler and sets it down. "I brought a few tings, I hope you don't mind. Its just rabbit stew and some porter cake, wee bit of ice cream."

"I'll never turn you down when you're offering to feed me, Emery," Jessica says dryly. She's never had rabbit stew; she has no idea what porter cake is, but she suspects she's going to love them both. It's also hard to get ice cream wrong.

She pulls down a pair of coffee mugs— both of them with sarcastic slogans on them— and asks, "Hey how do you take yours?" She forgets not everyone goes for black coffee.

The comment on how lovely she's looking is just flat out ignored; if she looks lovely today, she's frankly failing in her objective. But that's nothing she's prepared to discuss, either. As she fixes it up, she says, "How's Kennis?"

Because before she starts in with questions she would like to know how the Fairy Princess is doing.

"Black as coal." Emery responds softly to the coffee question, offering a wink before he's pulling containers out of his bag. The rabbit stew is in a deep dished tupperware container with a lid. "If ye want, you can save the stew for the week. It's hearty and fortifying and something good for the colder months." Then the porter cake is pulled out, still in the cake transport plastic dish, covered.

"Oh, Kennis? She's adjustin' to the new condo. A wee bit sad because she hasn't her usual nanny but teres an agency used by some pretty important people, I can't keep 'em permanently but somebody owed me a favor. Until I can figure out somethin' more permanent ting. She's wantin' to get back into fencing again now." The Irishman shrugs a shoulder, looking around to find a flat surface to put the cake on, the half-gallon of ice cream beside it.

"Thank ye again for watchin' her for that spell. It let me be more comfortable goin' to sleep knowing someone strong and kind was lookin' after her."

Black as coal it is. This is brought over with a minimum of fanfare. As for where to put it all, there is a coffee table. Jess brings over bowls and silverware too, but plucks up the ice cream to put away in the freezer, so it doesn't melt. She may be able to eat it for a week, but she's going to have some right now. She rolls her office chair over to the other side of said coffee table so that she may get a bowl of her own. She inhales the smell, and is apparently pleased, because she takes a satisfied bite as she listens.

Childcare sounds like a bitch and a half.

But she smiles fondly. "She's a good kid. Smart." That's all she'll say about that, too.

Because now she's got questions. "You thought you could free the souls from the demon bear. You asked her to let you eat, what, Moonstar's pain?"

She takes another bite of the stew, dark eyebrows lifting. He had a few minutes of Jess, who really isn't as pissed about anything as she may have come across when she was simply afraid, but who can absolutely be bribed with all manner of treats. Now he's getting Detective Jones, and if she's no kind of authority, if she's nothing but a private investigator with a license obtained over the course of a weekend…she nevertheless has now worked enough serious, intense cases that she more or less thinks the same way, approaches things the same way, and makes the same sort of shift someone who got their cred the more conventional way might make when she's ready to start asking questions.

All the same, there's nothing confrontational or sharp about it. She just lays it out there, even in the way she has quietly and evenly asked questions of clients in the past.

Cup of coffee is accepted as he pushes the fluffy yet dense version of an Irish fruitcake to the side and then Emery pauses at the question, eyebrow raising a fraction but he just gives a tiny nod, taking a sip of his coffee. "Mm." A soft smack of his lips parting after the sip. "Actually, I was askin' to take the pain of the unfortunate bugger that Mister Mercer managed to wing with sharp exploding weapon ting." He gestures vaguely with a hand.

That hand dips into an inner pocket as he takes another slop sip of coffee. Then his flask is slipped out, an elegant and slender silver deal, the lid screwed off with a finger as he continues. "And the soul ting is a tad more complicated than I originally thought. When ye release a soul from the body…it has to go somewhere else. The damage and torture done to a soul when its suspended wit no destination in sight can be…devastating and if teh body is still alive, then its like being permanently stuck at the front of teh queue, not able to go to the back of the line or move forward."

Sometimes, when Jessica Jones asks a question, she comes out of it no more enlightened than she was when she first asked. This is one of those times, but that's okay. The conversation has begun. It's a starting point.

"The songbird?" she asks. "You wanted to take the songbird's pain? What might that have accomplished? Just— freeing the soul from the queue? Are you saying the bird is one of the souls the demon bear ate? Does that mean the person it belongs to is dead?"

This is rather in medias res; she maybe should have started from the beginning, way back at Emery's tattoos, or his line up of strange enemies, or the reason he was spray painting funky symbols on the wall. But the demon bear is, after all, the case.

Still, they overlap. "What were you trying to accomplish with that trap the other night? It surely wasn't to get one moment of asking if you could take the pain from the bird."

The flask is tilted to pour a bit of the alcohol of the day into the coffee before the lid is screwed back on and the flask is tucked away. "No, that was to get an idea of who it might be if teh bird is actually one of the souls the demon bear ate. I have a theory, that the animals that we see…beyond the bear, might be projected representations of the different souls that were taken. I don't tink they are strong enough to actually host or hold a soul. Which means their bodies probaly are still alive. But I get a feelin' the clock is tickin'."

The Irishman tilts his head to the side. "I wanted to see…how important Dani is. When trapped, the Demon Bear didn't show up, but 2 other tings did. That tells me that Dani is important enough to have backup, or protection. We learned that the attack used was effective against the birds, takin' them out of the equation early in a fight is critical as well."

"Well, my theory is she's the one with the curse, right, the member of the family line it was supposed to be passed to. So. It would make sense for her to gain some protection."

Jessica eyes the addition of booze to coffee. She would love to do that. She decides against it, steadfastly eating instead. The alcoholic tears her gaze away. Cake. Ice cream. She can have that in a bit.

"If they're not the soul of the people taken, why would the clock be ticking? Has this representation shadow thing happened to every one of us who has come into contact with this thing? Are we all in danger of fading right away because this thing's been chomping on is?"

That doesn't quite track with what Strange said about how her soul would probably heal, nor with the way she's feeling stronger than she did ten days or so ago, but she's open to all possibilities. She also knows damn well what someone looks like when their soul has been flung about. Or at least. What Zatanna Zatara looked like. It wasn't super pleasant and she was definitely dying.

Still, Jess herself feels fine, physically, even going so far as to poke at her side a little bit as if she could ascertain her own status via this method.

There's a small nod in agreement to what Jessica's theory happens to be and he takes a slow sip of coffee, considering how best to answer. His lashes flutter. "Havin' something tear at or damage your soul if different than havin' something actually remove it." He eyes Jessica for a moment, studying her more closely before shaking his head. "There's alot of mebbes here. But…say someone had a job, and that job was to reap. And by reap I mean…release a soul to wherever its eternal destination is supposed to be. If somebody like this, found the body of one of the soulless victims and killed it to release the soul…teh question is, would it yank the soul out of the Bear or by then will the soul be in the new representation body?" He worries his bottom lip. "At this point, those…tings that fight us, they really aren't people. Dani is a person but those tings, those…avatar like tings. The bear and the bird. I don't feel like if I killed them, anyting at all would be released."

"Constantine must have stopped the process during our fight," Jessica says thoughtfully. "Kept it from getting yanked out. My nightmare didn't finish, it got stopped, like a photo still. I've felt like absolute shit for days, but I've also felt myself healing. I thought maybe it was all psychological, that I was just weak and losing my shit, but some of the sensations I had made no sense even for that. So, good. No cowardly turtles popping out of Dani, or whatever it is I'd be."

She is, probably, the most anxious, fear-ridden, and cowardly superhero any of the superhero set knows, and she knows it pretty well too. But it doesn't bother her. What she prides herself on, in all actuality, is not on being a bruiser. Being tough, maybe, in some ways, but really she prides herself on being an investigator. In using her brain and her words to bring order to the world, to solve problems. She can be an anxious ball of crap and still do that.

"I'm not even sure we have a partial list at this point of everyone it's been near. It seems to be…rampaging. Have you gotten any sense of all of what this thing actually wants?"

And then, backtracking, "Wait, someone's job is to reap— is that you?"

The Irishman takes another sip of his coffee, exhaling softly in something akin to relief at hearing Jessica's symptoms and he ahhhs softly. "Eat enough stew and ye will be right as rain in no time dear." He should've brought soup too. Soup is healing right?

Emery then has to take another looooooong sip of his coffee. Buying himself some time. "Souls are power, power is addictive…souls give it more power. Did ye get any information about…historically, what or why this family curse was put into place? I know there was somthin' in there about havin' to off somebody."

Ahh, that last bit is what makes him laugh softly. "No, me job's to clean up after, protect, cook for and mind the lives of the rich and powerful." He toys with his mug and stares at the liquid within. "But the Bear hates me, doesn't want me soul. Wants me to suffer and to be beaten because well." His lips twist wryly. "We share certain skillsets."

"They enslaved the spirit of a bear. Strange thinks they enslaved The Great Bear, from the other story. He thinks that star connection is important too, he said he got portents and mentioned elder gods, which just did not put a smile on my face."

She is eating the stew, quite hungrily now. Right as rain sounds really good to her. She'd like to remember what that feels like.

Meanwhile, he deflects with butler talk.

Jessica gives him a skeptical look. "Emery, look. I respected your privacy when there was no need to poke at you, your tattoos, any of your business. Even in the midst of a kidnapping attempt. Your past. Your choice. But at this point, you're dancing around talking vaugeries like reaping and skill sets and that this bear wants you to suffer, and I don't understand any of it. What skillsets? What is it that you do exactly? What was the deal with the symbols on the walls? I'm not asking to spread your business about."

She leans forward, earnestly. "I'm asking because we have a killer magical bear on the loose that's apparently stealing people's souls."

There's an entire argument that takes place with Emery against himself, and it flickers in his eyes as he shifts his weight from one foot to another and he starts softly. "Tere isn't an official name for what I do, the closest ting you will find is mentions of 'Reapers' and tings like that. There were only 10 of us ever born. My skillset, revolves around releasing souls from their mortal coil so that they move on to wherever they are meant to be. Not all of us had the same dominant ability. Some were extremely strong like Michael, some could hear what people were tinking and good with finding out the truth like Gabriel, some could heal like Raphael…but my curse, my gift, its…"

He rewinds and drains the rest of his coffee. "Its complicated. But there isn't a soul to release…there's many. I couldn't pin-point where the bear's soul was in all of it."

Jessica almost asks if those are code names or if he's some sort of archangel, but she decides 'code names.' Archangels probably don't have kids and make stew. Then again what would she know?

She listens carefully, nodding. "Okay," she says slowly. "So your skill set is sending a soul where it's meant to be— and here I thought that happened all on its own. The bear's skillset is…the opposite? Holding a soul back and then making itself a soul soup? Turning itself into the final destination, period point blank?"

She's working her way towards an understanding, at least, and true to her word she's pretty focused on the bear bits, not the part where he's some sort of angel of death. Or some metahuman approximation thereof.

Is she discomfited by it? Nope. Pretty much takes all kinds.

She has heard of and met weirder.

There's a soft exhale as he shrugs a shoulder. "Aye, lets go wit' that." And avoid the long explanation about a secret organization sometime deciding to send those souls on a bit earlier than their actual expiration date.

A pause. "That's where I need to know what is happening. The souls are goin' into the Bear, aye. But they can't stay there. And that's why I tink there are these other vessles being created and used."

Emery does have to laugh softly, exhaling again in a staccoed huff. "I was going to ask Dani what the Bear wanted. But, ye saw how all of that went tits up after the bird was hit. Then the bird was pissed off…only tings connected to or are manifestation of souls feel emotions like that." His nose wrinkles. "I'd normally just say 'eh, fuckit…let the heroes and metas and people wit' powers and what not handle it. But it took me Nanny's soul…and childcare's a bitch in this city." A pause. "And also, because if we can find the source of where and how the souls are being held and the key to why they can't move on or why they aren't being allowed to move on…I might be someone who can help wit' that."

"To be fair, I don't think she was exactly in the mood to answer questions no matter what happened," Jessica says quietly. "But. Okay. That's good."

Cake time. She puts the bowl aside and dives into that, then gets up to get ice cream. She brought him all the dishes to eat any of his own stuff he wants, but if he's not? She's going to indulge. "Because that sounds like the piece of a solution. So. Let me ask you this."

Her art is the art of asking good questions. And so she says, "You think the other vessels are being created and used— the wolf and the bear and maybe these maggot-crows— " She's starting to get used to that, the whole maggot thing, apparently. "They're vessels being created and used to hold souls. But you also sound like maybe you're talking about a physical location or item where the souls might be— held or anchored?"

"I'm not sure what the fuck the maggot-crows are." Emery blurts out with a grimace. "I just, no. Its darkness and dark tings often manifest in horrific ways. But the wolf, and the nightmare singin' bear. Dani herself turns into a bear as well." The cake is there and he is a gentleman and so he's cutting slices of cake with the cake knife he bought with him because, hello…butler.

"Step One of me mental ideation. Ye gotta figure out who all is missin' their souls, and make sure their bodies are safe and secure. Why? Because as I said, the clock is tickin'. If the bear can control the vessels he creates, wouldn't it be normal for him to make sure he kills the original hosts so the souls can now reside in teh vessels?"

He plates himself a slice of cake. "Step Two of me mental plan. Ye gotta find out exactly where…the demon bear and the souls he's reaped actually reside. What plane or invisible place or shadows or nightmare land or wherever. Because that's where he'll be the most powerful and where he's the most vulnerable. Mebbe there is a location there as ye said."
The Irishman pauses to lick his fingers.

"Step Three…Ye gotta find out exactly how the original demon bear was enslaved…by what binding, and release the bear from that. Or. Else, ye have to figure out how to kill the demon bear, and ensure the souls that were eaten are released into their original bodies and not into the hereafter."

She brings the ice cream over, seeing he's cutting cake for himself as well, and scoops it out for both of them. She does not own an ice cream scoop. She bends a giant soup spoon that came in the spoon six pack like a big damned bohemian. But it gets the job done. She nods thoughtfully to each of these points. They are, in part, a lot of what she's been trying to gather information to accomplish, in all of her investigative work. Where does the bear live. How do you kill it or un-enslave it. Whose bodies are missing souls? That one's new.

"If you get close enough to someone can you tell if they are soul-less?" It seems like a natural extension of everything else he does, but it's worth clarifying. Because otherwise, they might have a Hell of a time. They'll be relying on guesswork. "Or are they going to be out cold or sick or something so you couldn't miss it anyway?"

"Seein' as I know what a body wit' a soul feels like, it is easy to tell what a body without a soul feels like." Emery grimaces. "Its always been a nonissue up until now because I dun necessarily hang out around people with no souls. Now, aye. I could tell." Emery answers easily enough. He points to the cake. "If ye ever want to make a fruitcake that cannot also double as a weapon, this is how ye doin it." With the currants, raisins, and sultanas and asll.

Oh right, Demon Bear. "Do ye have some type of list of teh people you think may have been attacked by the bear?"

"Dude. I patted myself on the back the day I mastered a scrambled egg, macaroni and cheese, and tacos out of the kit," Jessica says with a laugh. "I am nowhere near 'how to make good fruitcake.' I get by on the kindness of friends who suspect I'm starving and bring me good food. And take-out. Lots of take-out."

She can laugh about that, because she has to laugh about something. But he makes a good point. A list of everyone he can check.

"I have a partial," she says at last. "I mean I haven't been everywhere the bear has, so it could have gotten to all sorts of people when I didn't see. But it started with Dr. Jane Foster. Then me, Bucky Barnes, John Constantine and the Devil of Hell's Kitchen went after her and got her back. Dr. Steven Strange was the next to tell me he'd had an encounter."

She closes her eyes, going through the steps. That's when she went to the library and found the two legends. And then she went to the X-Mansion and met Lorna and discussed Dani Moonstar. Dani's kind of obvious, no mentioning her. Professor Emily after that.

Then…"Then me again, you, Owen— I can only assume we're clear— and I guess your nanny also. Luke Cage. That's my list."

"I'll make you up a few to wrap up. Give 'em out as pressies during the holidays. Ye will get invited to all the best parties with all teh good gift bags." Emery winks and flashes a dipped grin. He counts off on fingers the names that are listed, expression thoughtful. "Dr Steven Strange, saints preserve us teh man in gorgeous. But he tended me wounds, and he's actually keeping the body of my nanny safe."

Hs does have to blink and re-wind for a moment. "A girl named Jane, Captain America's Best Friend, A man named after an ancient emperor, and teh Devil." Blink Blink. "Teh Nanny and then Luke Cage as well." Then his expression pales. "Did Dani know any of these people before she became Miss Stab You In the Back?"

"Is he? I didn't even notice," Jessica admits, on the subject of Steven Strange. Then again right about then she was on her fifteenth shot of Vodka, and didn't ever want to look at any man that way ever again, so her mileage probably varies. Not to mention the total snarl of her love life, if she decides to have one. A thought for another time and another day.

"I don't know," she says, on the matter of Dani. "I'd never met her or heard of her until Strange dropped her first name and that she rode a Pegasus. It's possible? But if any of my friends met her before now they never mentioned her. John…I think…we'd know if he had no soul. He's— we'd know."

He and Zatanna have that psychic link that struck her as such a nightmare. "He's hard to get ahold of, but I'd have already gotten the frantic call, and we'd have had a lot more warning than this."

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen is the biggest problem, maybe. Jess can't exactly call him up and say 'come meet Rand's butler, he wants to see if your soul is still tucked neatly inside of your body.' Well, maybe she could at that, but she can imagine the look that's going to produce. So, to that end:

"Would there be any external symptoms?"

Emery mms softly. "I tink I met the Bear even before it got to Dani. She came lookin' for me after me first fight with it and that pegasus of hers came swoopin' in to keep my arse from getting stomped by Smokey the Dick."

Then the Irishman is just listening as names are explained and presented. "Ye ever as a PI get a gut feelin' that ye just cannot shake or explain, but ye know something is wrong or up?" He gestures with a forkful of cake. "Its like that. I just know. But outside of unconsciousness? I guess mebbe if their moods are suddenly very different or if they suddenly take up vaping and using the word 'macrobiotic' in regular every day conversation…"

Jessica snarfs a little bit. Smoky the Dick. Macrobiotic. Emery, good at putting people at their ease as he is, seems to be producing quite a bit more humor from the detective than she's been able to produce in days.

"I was around Daredevil somewhat recently," she says. "And Luke just this morning. Both seemed pretty much precisely the same to me. More stable than me, for sure. I mean it would be good to check, but…"

She realizes what she's doing though; she just wants everyone to be fine, so is immediately ruling out all her friends. "Is it just two? To correspond to this wolf and this songbird? Or could it be any number, because soul-soup? I'm sorry if these questions are repetitive in some ways. I've seen souls ripped out of bodies before, but…I mean this is new. When I saw it happened last time the victim just started fading like a black and white photo. But they were also stuffing it into weird machines all over town— long story. We got it back. Not important."

"Invite them over for a nice calm meal. Include mebbe Danny or someting, be all Friendgiving or sommat. Then very subtly or quietly, I serve them their potatoes and see if I can tell if someting if off. It needn't be a production." Emery offers helpfully before he squints at the question. "He has more than two in there. But I've only seen the physical manifestation of teh wolf and the songbird as new additions to Dani."

He just stares though at that last bit, lips parting as he swallows and licks his lips, giving a tiny shake of his head. "Is it…like normal in America for people to fuck wit' souls?"

"Possible for most of them," Jessica says, rubbing the back of her neck. Daredevil showing up for Friendgiving or sommat in the Man in Black outfit or the Devil outfit while Emery Papsworth serves potatoes. She supposes he did run around Wakanda for two months wearing that thing. It might be the easiest and the best way.

Sure. Sure. No problem. Bucky and Jane and Daredevil and John and Owen and Luke Cage. That motley crew would be just fine at a dinner party. Well, maybe not Owen, theoretically Emery has already checked im out. Bucky and Jane and John do alright. Bucky and Jane and Daredevil do alright. John calls Daredevil 'Zorro.' Daredevil and Luke Cage and Danny obviously do okay, but then there's the awkward that the last time she and Bucky sat and talked she told him Luke despised her, because that's what she'd believed. God knows how Luke would mix with any of the rest of them…Danny and Bucky. God. Holy crap. That would be…just holy crap.

Not to mention all the lifted eyebrows if she does this kind of a party. There was movie night.

"Christ," she mutters.

Is it normal in America for people to fuck with souls?

"It is not normal," she says, popping a piece of cake into her mouth. She chews, swallows, and says, "That was a whole year ago, it's not like it happens on the daily. The proportion of 'weird shit in New York' and 'weird shit that lands in my lap' is also kind of high."

Since coming to this country, he's been attacked by the mob, the mafia, fought off kidnappers, had to help fight off kidnappers with metas, been attacked by a demon bear 2 times and tried to trap a demonic bear's soul generated bodies or whatever…while working for two polar opposite employees and remembering to wash the blood out of Danny's clothing. It is a bit of a relief to find out that soul stealing operations aren't a regular occurance.

"Ah, well that's a relief. Not that it happened but ah more so that it doesn't happen daily." Then he falls quiet, regarding Jessica for a few moments. "When ye face that bear. You have to be able to face your fears and your nightmares and own them as your own. He cheats, because he's a predator and the goal is the kill. I do not know ye very well, but I know that physically you are the strongest woman I have ever met. I know that type of strength some may only tink is physical but I'm willin' to bet its not. It is good to be afraid, fear can be a motivation. Remember that, eh?"

Cake and Icecream make it onto a fork and then into his mouth as he chews and salutes with the fork.

"Let me know if ye ever want to do the party ting. I may actually be able to get Danny to send out the invitation if ye'd prefer it done that way and then ye can bring whoever he doesn't know as your plus one, two or more." He flahses a grin. "We'll roast up somethin' tasty. I promise."

Jessica puts the empty plate on top of her empty bowl on the coffee table as Emery lays this out. About nightmares. And strength.

She gives a wan smile. Does it go beyond the physical? She sucks her arms up into her sleeves, letting her hands hide there, wrapping them around herself. Fear can be a motivation. She's not personally sure she can do Round III. Round I damn near broke her. But saying it pretty much is all physical, that she's a mess, that she is the only one she knows who is barely a functional adult in the best of times, sounds like a woman fishing for compliments, and so she doesn't. She just nods; she's listened and heard at the least, but she does not look like a woman brimming with confidence.

She had a little, after Wakanda. The bear ate it.

As for the party, she says, "I would almost have to bring them all as my plus 7," she says dryly. "And the ones of them with Significant Others might…Jesus, I don't even know. We gotta check them. Is there any reason we can't just call them and say 'let's do a soul cootie check?' Just tell it to them straight, without all the damned rigamarole?"

Emery worries his bottom lip again, regarding Jessica with a hint of concern and a tad of confidence in a woman he barely even knows. Someone who took the snippets of his confession about his abilities without batting an eyelash. A woman so kind and considerate she looked after a child she barely even knew without a bunch of questions or hesitation.

Back to the party he offers carefully. "If ye choose to do the 'come by and let this devilishly handsome and oddly charmin' Irishman check to see if ye still have a soul' routine, just let me know."

Jessica exhales and says, "Yeah. I'd just…I'd rather play it straight. I mean we can have food here, that's not a problem, but just…I don't like lying to my friends, not even for their own good. It's one thing to pretext the clerk of court to get a document I need to solve a case or something, it's another to just start pushing bullshit. I owe all of them too much for that. That might mean you have to hang out a bit here or— I guess I can set up appointments or something. I mean you could go by Luke's bar anytime and do that bit. He'll be around, most likely."

Protecting certain people's secrets is also at the forefront of her mind, but she is doing all she can on that front.

"Ye never have to lie. I don't have much tolerance for bullshite, so ye do what is best. I'm only a ring away." Emery reassures Jessica, a small smile dugging at his dimples and his own plate cleaned as he rises to his feet automatically. More than prepared to help clean up dishes if need be.

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