The Third One

January 12, 2018:

Jessica Jones and Emma Frost enter one another's orbit as employees at Frost International begin to disappear. They get on about like one might expect, but a tenuous alliance of convenience does form.

An apartment in Manhattan


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Kimberly Katz is the third one.

She works in marketing. Or worked, depending on how pessimistic one is feeling. An energetic and creative woman fresh out of college as the first two have been, she is, just as the first two, widely considered to be an up-and-coming talent.

This time, though, there's someone in the woman's apartment ahead of Emma, someone Emma has seen but briefly. Jessica Jones crouches on the floor, running a flashlight under the bed as she talks to a red-headed man who looks like he could be Kimberly's father.

The woman's voice drifts to Emma's ears.

"How long did she work there?"

She's asking the man, of course.

The pale, raven-haired woman is paying full attention to answers even as she runs a search for anything unusual. She's dressed in Starkweave; bulletproof jeans, a bullet-proof grey V-necked t-shirt, bulletproof leather jacket. Fingerless gloves, boots, a series of various other items on her belt and on cords on her neck, though the fall of her shirt hides some and the collar the rest.


As a woman who has her fingers attached to numerous strings professionally and in her
personal life, and who enjoys the insulation that comes from running a large corporation worth several billion dollars, an employee not showing up for work wasn’t exactly the news that Emma Frost’s assistant—the impossibly efficient Miss Tasha Beaumont—felt needed to be across Emma’s desk.

Young employees do stupid things sometimes, like quit without notice.

Except that, no, this was very much not like the girl. Her manager made a big stink about it. Her manager had tried to track her down himself, but had given up when no one answered the door. Then he came back to the office and made more noise.
The head of marketing was the one who brought it upstairs and put it on Emma’s desk.

“And what precisely do you want me to do about it?” she’d asked. And then she counseled him to keep trying to call.

Even as she privately committed to at least go poke a little deeper.

Which brings her to now, where she stands outside an apartment in an outfit that would be surprisingly mundane to anyone who knows her well, in an ivory knit turtleneck, similarly hued straight legged slacks with an immaculate front crease, and a heavy cream-colored wool coat with a thick white fur shawl collar whose flecks of grey stand out all the more for the tone-on-tone of the ensemble. Her white knee-high boots—boots whose tops are list beneath her pants—are stiletto tall and sharpen then curve of her toes to points.
She should announce herself. Frost does not.

Instead, she simply lingers in the hall and leans against it, fingering the chain of her purse as she closes her pale, kohl-framed eyes and begins to listen to the conversation… differently. She listens to it physically, but also in the psychic waves. In the resonances of truth and lies, searching for the places she might care to dive deeper.

Reading the man is easy. He's flooded with worry. His little girl is gone, the police aren't taking him seriously, and his only hope is that Jessica Jones is going to be able to do what they can't or won't. She comes highly recommended, and she's acting calm and competent. The thing that's really freaking him out is she had to have disappeared from here, her car is still downstairs.

But reading Jessica…

The moment Emma's mind hits Jessica's there's pain. It will come as a sort of stabbing migraine. If she backs off immediately, it ceases immediately. If she pushes, the pain increases in direct proportion to how much she pushes. She might get a sensation of red.

Red blood blooming like flowers.

And then she hears Jessica say: "Son of a bitch. Someone else is here. Some goddamn psychic. Stay put, don't move."

Jessica closes the bedroom door behind Mr. Katz and comes cautiously prowling through the rest of the apartment. Her mind can be tracked, coming cautiously closer to the front door, at least, if one is willing to endure the pain, but the thoughts behind it are well-shielded.


The grimace is one that Emma doesn’t do so well a job of hiding, even if the sound of it is fairly quiet. Oh, she’ll try to push, but no more than a moment. Brain security means that there is a high likelihood that she is about to be notic—

Ah. Yeah. There it is.

The words are spoken and Emma doesn’t really wait around. She simply puts her hands in her pockets and nestles into the fox fur about her neck, blonde curls mingling in the nap of it. And then she starts to wordlessly walk away.

Because that doesn’t look at all suspicious.

Jessica leaps to get in front of her; she looks exactly suspicious.

She lands in a crouch, and lifts her eyebrows. "Speak of the CEO and she appears," she says.

After a moment she offers a hand. "Jones. We met on the astral plane or whatever, briefly. You saved us from a Lovecraftian horror, good times."

She may not want anyone in her brain, but she's at least talked herself past the idea that every last telepath on the planet needs to be treated with distrust. It took awhile. A long while. But she did it. And there's no call not to be professional, especially as Emma might know things she doesn't know yet.

As Jessica leaps in front of her, Emma stops abruptly and narrows her eyes into equally suspicious slits. She doesn’t like being known in both of her capacities, not without her explicit consent, for precisely the reason that Jones herself has forced herself into overcoming. But, of course, the blonde doesn’t know that there’s been any such epiphany regarding psychics since there’s a blinding headache trap sitting in the brunette’s skull.
She only knows what she sees. And she doesn’t like that state of affairs, either.

“The very best of times,” she quips dryly. “And you have a penchant for remembering faces. Behold, my unbridled and overwhelming joy at meeting again. This is me, positively radiant with it.”

Jessica gives Emma a flat look. To all this sarcasm she offers a flat, "Kiss my ass, lady."
She folds her arms, mouth twisting.

"You're the one who just tried to invade my privacy, and for all I know, my autonomy, without my consent," she says bluntly.

She shifts her weight a little, and after calling Emma out on that one adds:

"Do you routinely make social calls on your employees, or are you here because Katherine Katz is missing? Because if we can cut the shit, she's probably in danger. If your priority here is finding her, and not just covering your ass, I'd like to ask you some questions."

“Oh, I’m certain you would,” Emma says in response to Jessica’s voiced desire for answers to questions, actually smiling. It’s not a kind smile. It doesn’t even feel like a smile. It’s sharp and cutting despite its gentle, exquisitely painted curve.

But then? Then the amusement is all gone. Drained out of the conversation—what little there was—as that tall blonde sighs for its departure.

Serious things. They ruin so much.

“I’m here as a favor to a very upset manager who does not do his best work when he’s distracted with trying to save damsels in distress. Nothing more.”

"Damsels?" Jessica puts that slight emphasis on the 's,' silently asking if that was a figure of speech or if that was an indicator that more is going on here.

Truthfully, as long as they're talking business her mien is workmanlike and professional. If pushed she will push back. When the pushing stops, she has no need to be shitty, so she stops. She doesn't step aside yet, but she sort of shifts to the side, indicating a willingness to walk with, rather than to block.

She is trying, as much as is possible for two strong-willed women who are complete opposites of one another, to meet Emma Frost halfway.

Emma’s jaw sets.

She doesn’t really need to say more beyond that, does she?

And yet… She does anyway with a very literal prickling at the confession. “Damsels,” she confirms in the plural. Her shoulders square just a tiny bit more under the thick wool of her coat, daring the detective to level some refreshed accusation in her direction.

There's no accusation. Just thought. "How many? Who?"

Jessica tilts her head at her. "How long? Were they all like this? Cars in the driveway, no sign of forced entry? Any patterns between them besides working for you? Though if they all work for you seems like you might be in someone's sights yourself."

In truth, she is in full Detective mode now and she doesn't have time for game playing. There isn't any censure now. She is concentrating.

She genuinely gives a shit anyway.

At the barrage of questions, Emma starts walking with a tried sigh of frustration. She hates questions on a good day. This is an onslaught of them.

Professional enough, but numerous.

Over the sharp click of heels grinding against the salt on the sidewalks, she finally deigns to answer one of them. “There seem to be three, but I don’t have more information than that. I only learned about Miss Katz a couple of days ago. I figured the more recent instance was the better place to start.”

There’s a pause, and then a sideways glance to Jones beside her with all of the haughtiness that one should expect of a Frost.

“And I highly doubt that there is someone targeting me.” Because, her tone and posture suggest, no one would be that stupid.

Jessica Jones just laughs. It's a weary laugh borne of hard experience. "It doesn't matter how powerful you are, Frost. Everyone's got their weak spots. Everyone's vulnerable sometimes."

She shakes her head.

"Look, it doesn't matter. If you're willing to release the names to me I'll look into their disappearances for you too. Free of charge, Mr. Katz has already paid me a retainer and it's arguably part of his case. I'll offer you full disclosure on anything I find."

She arches her eyebrows.

"Cause. You know. You might want someone trying to wrap this up PDQ. If someone starts talking to the papers about a pattern of missing Frost International employees…"
She spreads her hands. Emma can fill in that blank just fine, she's sure.

Emma’s lip curls into the start of a sneer at the mention of papers. Is that a threat? That sounds like a threat.

But it is, it seems, one that she is willing to entertain.

“Fine,” she allows, albeit begrudgingly.

She turns a corner, and a small distance ahead there’s a sedan running with its rear windows tinted darkly. The telepath isn’t more than a few paces down the new direction before a sharply dressed young man is rapidly pulling himself out of the car to open the door for her.

“Tell me where to send it, and I can have the relevant parts of their records transmitted. The other two have already been terminated, so.”

Now it's Jessica's turn to sneer. "You terminated them because they went missing? Nice. Nothing like going through something traumatic only to find out you've been fired."

The thing is, maybe it was a threat and maybe it was just an observation. With Jones it's really hard to tell. She didn't speak it like a threat, but neither does that mean she is not willing to leverage that very fact to get what she wants.

In fact, all signs point to the idea that Jess would do just that, if she thought it might save lives.

But she pulls out a card with every last scrap of contact information. "Send it here," she says. "Alias Investigations."

She slips on a pair of sunglasses against the sun glare and zips up her jacket.

"Might wanna tell your people to send my calls right on through."

“Oh, for pity’s sake. Don’t give me that bit. Blame HR. I’m the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation. I wouldn’t likely have seen this at all if my marketing manager hadn’t made such a fuss about it. It’s not anything that isn’t reversible.”

Emma does extract one glove-wrapped hand from her pocket to collect the card, however, and takes it into her possession. She reads it, flips it, considers it… and then tucks it into her pocket as she steps up to the car.

“But I would certainly appreciate being kept appraised.”

"Thanks for promising to reverse it," Jessica says, smiling sweetly, her head tilting to one side and then the other as she turns on her heel. "If they're still alive, they're going to appreciate that. Your multi-billion dollar corporation has an EAP who can help 'em out with the PTSD if they're not, right? Sounds like it can afford one, if not."

But she's walking away, tossing a wave over her shoulder. "I gotta finish with Katherine's apartment. The sooner you send me that information, the less cold the other two cases will be when I jump on them. Maybe have HR inform me as soon as someone else doesn't call in."


"Nice to meet you, Frost. You're every bit the real peach everyone says you are."

There are plenty of quips that Emma could make pertaining to Jessica’s lack of reputation in those upper echelons of society that the telepath occupies. But all of them require Jones caring about it.

Frost highly doubts that is the case, and so instead what the detective gets is a transparent mockery of a smile. “And a good evening to you, too, Miss Jones.”

And then she’s gathering up the folds of that luxurious coat she’s wearing, tucking herself into the backseat of the warm sedan. And as she passes him, there is but a quiet murmur that nearly sounds like a grumble, so thick is the frustration in it. “Take me home, Alex.”

And to his credit, that driver registers none of it. Instead, it’s just a respectful ‘yes, ma’am’ as he closes the door behind her and then races to get back into the car and out of the cold. A car that pulls off moments later.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License