Back in the Loop

December 07, 2017:

Red Robin and Wonder Girl stop by Alias Investigations to get Jessica Jones caught up on the iDoL case once more.

Alias Investigation, Hell's Kitchen, NYC

It's clean sometimes!


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Bart Allen, Luke Cage, Zatanna Zatara, John Constantine, Stephen Strange

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Alias Investigations is clean today.

That's worth noting, because it isn't always. It's always spartan, but it's not always particularly clean. The woman who both works and lives here is not exactly Suzie Homemaker. When Red dropped off his thank you card (which was apparently a rare enough event to earn it a place on one of the little wall-shelves, right below the one that now holds a statue of Athena that's new) it probably was too, because Silk still lived there. But now it's left to Jessica. And, when she's around, Azalea. So as often as not the garbage overflows, the sinks overflow, the floors go unscrubbed.

But given she asked Red to swing by and update her on the iDoL work she couldn't get anywhere near while either a witness for the Barnes Trial or deep in Wakanda, she made the effort. Now she sits at her desk, Stark Phone projecting a holographic keyboard that she's rapidly typing into while she waits. A pot of coffee is on.

She can't do anything about the case of the soul-stealing bear. Maybe she can do something about this. She can at least get up to speed.



"She's the one who brought the cake," Red Robin explains to Wonder Girl, on the subject of the woman they're going to meet. There's a lot of explaining to be done, really, and that's something the young man - as one of the Batman's best students - tries to avoid whenever possible. At least, when it comes to explaining his own actions, especially lately: Things like why he isn't referring to anyone by name, or why he keeps himself masked even when around the people who know who he really is. Or, if one were to check, why all the mirrors in both his townhouse in Gotham and his penthouse in New York City have been taken down.

Somehow he manages to shave just fine though. Maybe it's a ninja thing.

"Zatanna and I have been working with her for a while on a few things, and she's the one who was looking after Silk. She's trustworthy, reliable."

Both things he would rarely say about a PI. It is, after all, a career that attracts a certain type.


Even with winter's chilly grasp starting to sink into New York, he doesn't use the front door. He did that one time, but subsequent visits to Alias have been done via the superhero's favourite entrance: The window off of the fire escape. It's the faint puff of cold that would announce the appearance of the two Titans, Red Robin sitting on the windowsill in his lightweight costume (they flew over, naturally) before clearing his throat to draw the attention of the potentially distracted Jessica.

"Miss Jones," he says. "I hope you don't mind, I brought one of my teammates along. This is Wonder Girl."


Maybe that's one of the advantages about having Wonder Girl about; she rarely asks questions to Tim since he, frankly, always gives the impression he knows what he's doing. Maybe one day when she realizes he's faking it, she'll ask for lessons, but for the then her response is, "Oooh! Got it."

Which brings us to now where Wonder Girl, whom is not exactly dressed for the chill, is introduced and she raises her hand, "Hey there!" with a friendly, winning smile. A pause. "I'm a big fan of your cake."


"It's nice to meet you, Wonder Girl," Jessica says, with no evidence she's got any problem with it whatsoever. She even offers a handshake like someone who has some manners rattling around in there somewhere. It's Red's information to control, after all, not hers, and she has gotten into a mode where she enjoys meeting new people and having them around, in sharp contrast to what she was all about months and months ago.

"You two want coffee? And…" Here she smirks. "You're a big fan of the bakery down the street. My cake is nothing anyone would want to eat. But I'm glad it went over well. Anyway, make yourselves at home."

For seating, there's the couch, the client's chairs. Her rolly chair too. A couple of bistro chairs at a little tiny table sort of between the office area and the kitchen. That's where the coffee pot lives.

"Oh. Real quick. Before we dive in. Bart Allen— you guys know him? He applied for a job with a friend of mine. When he put down his address I assumed he was vetted about 400 times more thoroughly than I ever would, but I just wanted to make sure the kid wasn't lying about it. I mean. He'd have to be ballsy to do it, but better safe than sorry and all that."


The vigilante does, at least, shut the window behind them.

He observes silently as Wonder Girl and Jessica Jones meet, his expression mild and his eyes completely hidden by his domino mask with its white lenses; maybe this was the whole reason he brought the demigoddess along, to see what would happen when her perky sincerity came face to face with the investigator's often more blunt nature. Probably not, though, right? He wouldn't introduce people just to observe the results, like mixing two chemicals together. That would be horrible.

Red Robin's mouth does open, about to say something, when Jessica interjects her first bit of business. The question about knowing Bart Allen sends his thought processes immediately to WHAT DID YOU DO, BART but the answer to that question is far more surreal than he could ever have imagined. Bart… Getting a job?

Briefly, he glances towards Wonder Girl - more out of the hopes that she's as bewildered by this as he is than some sort of wordless discussion about whether or not they should admit to knowing him, though this is one of those times when different individuals putting different levels of emphasis on their secret identities can be prickly - before he looks to Jessica.

"He used the Tower as his address when he applied," Red Robin says, not a question. "Yeah… It's fine. We know him."


"Ooh, I see! Ah ha hah…" Wonder Girl can only chuckle away her blunder as her cheeks flush just a bit- Hopefully it won't leave this room that she managed to confuse a store bought cake from a home made. "No coffee for me, but thank you for the offer."

Make herself at home? Doesn't mind if she does as the couch is her target but on the way to moving there does she notice the statue of Athena. Funny thing about being a demi-goddess, one sees these sorts of things in a complteely different light. The hair isn't quite right for one. The other, it's just kind of.. Weird. She snaps out of her staring following the last question. "Wait, what?! You're kidding!" she predictably (to Red Robin) interjects before she shares his glance. "Does your friend make pizzas? Is it a delivery job?"


The windows, Red might note, have been updated with better locks. No match for him, but updated all the same.

"Pizza? No, Luke runs a bar down in Harlem."

The statue gives the impression of a classical statue slowly being revealed through tendrils of stone. Some parts of Athena's body are entirely entwined in organic whorls, while other parts, like her upheld sword arm and distinctive helmet are delicately rendered in full detail. The whole sculpture is the colour of polished ebony, but when the light hits it, small details are revealed. It stands about a foot and a half high.

Jessica grimaces at Red's flat tone. The last thing she wants to do is cause strife, and blunt and rough as she can be she does care about that. Buuuut that's their thing to work out, and she stays out of it. She shoots Cassie a smile as she does indeed settle in, even as she claims her rolly chair and shifts back behind the desk, mostly so she can crack her file open.

Talk about Allen and his new job can't hold her for long. She turns her head to Red and says, "So that last thing we did on this case was good on the helping people front and terrible on the info front. You had more?"

A grim look. Talk of that reminds her she has something grim she'd better share with Red, too, while she's about it. But she'll save that for a sec.


No, Luke runs a bar down in Harlem.

There are just so many problems with this entire idea that even Red Robin's powerful brain can't process all of them at the same time. He'll probably have to actually talk to the speedster about it, though… He supposes that if Bart wanted to get a job there was nothing wrong with it, just… Yeesh.

There's a faint sigh from the vigilante, before he lifts his hands and shakes his head. It's probably not the weirdest idea that Bart Allen ever got into his head, he tells himself. Of course, that means he might need to look into things on his own…

"I was following the money, so to speak. That iDol Outreach organisation needs further investigation, but the man Miss Montrose mentioned, Justin Roquefort… He doesn't exist. The whole paper trail around him is forged, kept deliberately bland and moderate enough that most people wouldn't bother poking any deeper, but I have some ideas on where to look deeper. I don't know about the other one she mentioned, we'll have to ask her when she's more stable."

Even talking about the woman makes him aware of the other presence, asleep though she is. Of the feeling of the tyet inside of him. Still, he knows that with enough time one can get used to almost anything.

Maybe even this.

"Mn… The actual code of the iDol program is weird. I've been taking it apart and putting it together and looking at it every which way. It's like a hybrid of mundane computer code and magic, like the code is calling on sorcerous functions, but it's difficult to say exactly what since we only have access to some of it."


Wonder Girl ends up staring at Jessica. It isn't a look of horror, per se, but it's pretty clear that wasn't what she was expecting in the *least*. A Bar. In Harlem. What is even happening right now? ".. I see."

She doesn't see.

Rather than imagine all the possibilities of how things can go horribly wrong, Cassie opts instead to get a closer look at the statue with furrowed brows while half-listening to conversation. Whatever she needs to know she's pretty sure will be broken down in more digestable chunks later on. The real question is, how far in the future will there be statues of herself on shelves?


Jessica is nodding at the notion of Roquefort being a pseudonym. She'd figured. She frowns about the code, and she types the notes into her system, fingers flying over the desk. "So they're…what, technomages? Has Zee taken a look at the magic half? But. More to the point— where can we go to look deeper? Because I admit man, we hit that wall and other than that risky plan I suggested, I'm sort of stumped. Much as I hate admitting it. These guys covered the crap out of their tracks."

She just ignores all reactions about her pronouncement about Luke in the bar. Yep. Leaving herself out of it.

"Got her from one of my clients," she adds to Cassie, somewhat sensitive to the fact that the young woman may be coming into all of this a bit in medias res.


"Zatanna let me use her library and helped out, there's just not enough of the magic side of things available to really decipher it," Red Robin says, half-raising his left arm and then typing on the holographic keyboard that appears there with his other hand. "But… They're not as good at covering their tracks as they think they are, Miss Jones."

He would've stuck to 'Miss Zatara' for Zatanna as well, an intentional choice to maintain some appearance of distance from the gothic witch, but it would certainly strain credulity now that she was in the Titans.

"Doing what they did in Auspex was sloppy. It left a trail, drew attention. It also means they're in the market for a new analytics company. You suggested starting one, but there's another option: We find out who they're looking at, and infiltrate them. I might be a liability currently, if so we could send, say… You, Zatanna and Spoiler. Maybe Wonder Girl if you might need extra muscle. Roquefort's fake history left threads to pull on. A story about a family killed in a plane crash, the only anomaly in what's otherwise the world's most boring autobiography, which leaves the flight in question with three passengers too many. And I know where they seem to be based out of, or at least where the actual iDol servers are, in Argentina. It's an aerospace and defense contractor, Nostromo Defensa. I can hack it, but… They'll know. They might not know who, or where, but they'll know someone got in, and that could make them go to ground."


"Hmn? Oh! .. Oooooh." Is Cassie's surprised response, with the instinctual follow-up being 'who's the client', but seeing as Jessica didn't offer the name she assumes it's not something she's supposed to know so she'll let the be. For now. That said, WG appears perfectly natural in her position, not seeming the slightest bit bothered by the duo's (especially Tim's) investigation talk; though she does miss the simpler, younger days of being the Maya to Red's Phoenix.

The interest is particularly evident on her face the moment 'Spoiler' is brought up though, which she quickly brushes off with a gentle cough.


Jessica Jones works through the mental litany of what happens every time she leaves the country.

1) She will absolutely get a call from Juno and Juno will be doing something alarming.

2) She will probably get mauled or maimed in some terrifying fashion.

3) Someone will throw up. She will end up holding that someone's hair.

But at least they're not taking that step just yet. Still, she makes a note to brush up on her Spanish. She might need to be able to say more than 'burrito,' later. "I'm down for it, and that's a good team line-up. To infiltrate their next analytics company we gotta find them, though, and there are a shitload out there," she says thoughtfully. "Got any ideas on how to do that? Some way to figure out what 'outreach' will target next? Or are you about to draw that rabbit right out of your hat because you already have?"

Seeing Cassie is okay though she shoots the woman another smile, then stands up to get herself a cup of coffee. She's listening intensely though.


Even if he isn't looking at Wonder Girl, he can practically feel the way she reacts when he mentions the Aubergine Avenger. He hasn't forgotten (indeed, he seldom forgets much of anything) what Spoiler had told him about her encounter with the demigoddess months ago.

"I'll leave the pulling rabbits out of hats to Zatanna," Red Robin says. "But no, I've been keeping an eye out to see who they've been contacting, and as soon as I have something concrete we'll make a plan. iDol Outreach seemingly operates aboveboard, though, so it shouldn't be too difficult. If I have to search more aggressively, well…"

He will, of course. He's been careful with the 'big red buttons' around this case so far, but he's well aware that they're there, just waiting to be pressed by someone with the know-how and the will to do it. So, basically, himself.

"Listen, Miss Jones… Something came back when we returned from astral space. When Zatanna opened the door in Miss Montrose, it applied to all of her. Even the blood sample in my lab. There was something in the Nest when I went to unlock it. A piece of that thing we saw. I destroyed it, but… It was trying to use my computer. I'm still figuring out for what. Trying to make contact with someone or something, I suspect. And it… Made a prophecy. To Spoiler. Maybe it was just trying to mess with her head, but it showed her the group of us in astral space, and said that two of us will die."


"It prophesized *WHAT*?!" Wonder Girl quickly slaps her hand over her mouth, then draws it away just enough to utter, "Sorry.." then an even quieter. "sorry."

Suddenly feeling hot and finally appearing more on edge, Cassie can't help but feel just a little annoyed she hadn't heard about that last bit sooner.

She's left with two options: Either losing her cool and storming out in a huff, or be mature and keep her cool until this meetings over. She'll opt for option two for now, but she can't help but start to fidget, drumming her fingers along her opposite arm while resisting the urge to mumble to herself.


Jessica sighs and looks down as she hears that prophecy. Cassie's reaction makes her mouth tighten— but it's a tightness of unhappiness, not of anger. She hardly blames the reaction at all. Her tone drops to something quiet and grave.

"No. I don't think it was just fucking with her head. I think it was telling the truth. That's something I wanted to tell you, before you left. Warn you about, and tell you."

She hesitates.

"Red, Jane and Bucky's souls have been stolen by some sort of…demonic bear. They're on borrowed time. If we can't get them restored they'll die. Worse yet, they're basically in thrall to the thing. Bucky tried to kill me a few days ago, Jane may or may not have tried to poison me too, and I may only be here cause either the bear recalled him or something I or my ally did at the time were doing caused them to beg off. He's…turning into some weird shadow wolf thing. And that was probably the case when we went astral. That…might have been what Emily sensed."

She frowns, taking a sip of her coffee, and adds, "Zatanna had the…thing she had you swallow. They were just…empty." The common thread makes sense now, snaps into place because she now has information she didn't have.

"I've been working the bear case for a month. Numerous experts are in on it. John and Zee, another wizard called Strange, a whole bunch of people it's tangled with, some of the X-People, even. And none of us are any closer to having one damned idea on how to fix it."

She's compartmentalizing well. It's a skill she's finally learned. She can talk about statues and smile and offer coffee. She can switch gears to new cases. But as her eyes tighten and as she looks down for a moment, one thing's clear.

Jessica Jones isn't real sure, especially now that she's heard this, that they're gonna win this one. This news has given her a new, sinking feeling that they'll be losing Bucky and Jane, in spite of everyone's best efforts.


Having spent nearly a third of his life dealing with horrible situations, it's probably not surprising that Red Robin takes what Jessica tells him in stride, at least outwardly.

He knows he's going to end up regretting having not told Wonder Girl, and others, about what happened sooner, but at the same time if he could've gone without telling anyone… Well, of course, he would have. The explanation about what's happened to Barnes and Foster because of some kind of demonic bear is horrible, but it does seem to fit with what happened in astral space the way Jessica suggests.

But there's no outward exclamation of surprise or anger, like Wonder Girl's. Just the faintest tension across the knuckles of his suit's gauntlets as his fist works, tightens. It's not the first time they've dealt with someone losing their soul.

And of course there he is, with a spare rattling around in the back of his head.

"Strange, he's Justice League," the vigilante says. Of course, he keeps tabs on the Justice League. Thanks to his mentor, he's probably been hacking their systems since he was fifteen. If the Sorceror Supreme has taken an interest in this, it's some kind of extreme bad news.

Obeying a neural impulse, the holographic projection from his gauntlet vanishes, his hands dropping to his sides. Silently, he watches Jessica. Compartmentalised, yes - an important skill in their line of work. But still…

"They won't die," Red Robin says. Confident, certain. "Not now, not from this. Old and grey and years down the line, maybe. We'll stop it, we'll save them. I won't accept anything else."

Other people think he's pragmatic… And maybe, in some cases, they're right. But this? No, never about this. Never about the lives of others.

"I'll let you know what I find out about iDol outreach, and if Miss Montrose supplies any useful information," he says, moving towards the window again. "Try to keep me in the loop about this bear issue. Don't start thinking like they're beyond hope, Miss Jones. You're not out of the fight until you give up."


"I'll just forward you the case file," Jessica says. "It's a whole lot of not very much, but I'll forward it."

Still. Red Robin's chivvying has the intended effect. She looks up and nods sharply, grimacing at herself. She ought not to have had that moment. Then again, she supposes she's allowed to have one moment of doubt. She had about a million during the trial and the Wakanda thing, after all, and none of that stopped them.

This thought produces her dry commentary:

"You know me. Bulldog. Giving up. Doesn't happen. Can't let go for shit. So. Old, grey, sounds just perfect."

Let's face it, she won't accept anything else either. And neither will anyone else they work with.

"See you guys soon. I'll look forward to a little relaxing infiltration ASAP."

Well, compared to some of this shit? Yeah. Infiltrating a company to do some basic investigatory work sounds real damn relaxing. If. She doesn't think too hard about the stakes of that.


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