Searching for Plan B

January 25, 2018:

Kinsey Sheridan, Jessica Jones, and Matt Murdock discuss what to do about Kinsey's virus if Jane Foster is beyond help.

Kinsey's Place


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes Tony Stark, Wilson Fisk,

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Twelve hours after Zatanna Zatara put the brakes on whatever changes the magical portion of Jane Foster's virus may have been creating in the paired former soldier and her on-board AI, Kinsey finally wakes up and consents to have something to eat, likely ushered into a shower and change of clothes not long afterward — things she'd been sadly neglecting in favor of work since she and Murdock went their separate ways to pursue leads.

She's still… different. It's only with some reluctance that she agrees to venture back up into the main part of the garage to wait for Jessica to arrive.

Today, they'll meet in the small building located in the back right-hand corner of the facility. It's a place Matt has been previously, but Jessica has not, and there are reasons that most people don't usually wind up there: it's something of a false front. There's a lofty-style bedroom and en suite bathroom upstairs and a small, combination living room/kitchen area downstairs, and little else. Anyone with any inside knowledge of Kinsey's interests at all would recognize that for however cozy it may be, it cannot possibly be where she spends most of her time: there isn't a single monitor or computer station to be seen anywhere.

The living area is comfortable, though, with overstuffed furniture situated around a low coffee table and a wall-mounted flatscreen. Everything is second-hand — probably to provide that 'lived in' look — but spotless.

Kinsey is stretched out on the sofa while they wait, wearing ladies' pajama boxers and a t-shirt, a (thin) blanket over her bare legs. She hasn't been saying much.

Jessica has no idea what to do in this situation to be honest; there are things she wants to talk about to be sure (though she's second-guessing that decision too), but also she wants to try to do something for her friend. Twelve hours saw her back to Shadowcrest for awhile, where she discovered she couldn't concentrate for shit. She finally arrives.

With fudge.

Because…fudge apparently helps everything?

Granted, if Kinsey's been having trouble eating fudge is a terrible idea. This is Jessica flailing. If the answer were 'please go throw yourself in that maw of fire that leads down into a dark pit and go fight things for four and a half hours armed only with a toothbrush', hey, no hesitation whatsoever.

It's this other crap that's hard.

Still, she knock knocks on the door and sticks her head in. "Hey," she says softly.

It's really really good fudge?

Nobody befriends this woman because they think she's an adept and deft nurturer good at talking people through shit situations, right? Right.

Matt Murdock has been awake most of those twelve hours, throwing himself into the role of caretaker with the same intensity that he throws himself off of Manhattan high-rises. Shower? Check. Food and fluids? Check. Mother of Christ, sleep. Double-check, as much as he can cajole her into. At the moment he's presiding over the careful, precise steeping of some loose-leaf tea blend of his own concoction in the side-kitchen, a mix of black and green leaves.

He's dressed even further down than he was during the pseudo-exorcism: a simple, unlettered black t-shirt and a well-worn pair of jeans. His feet are bare.

Though he's mindful of what he's doing, it's safe to say the brunt of his unusual powers of attention rest on Kinsey. "Hey, Kinze, you want anything in this? I don't really recommend milk — oh hey, Jess is here."

Five seconds later comes the knock. "Come on in, Jess!" he says from the kitchen as he pours the tea into two cups, and heads to the cupboard for a third.

Behind Jessica the Garage doors lock again, bolts audibly thrown by remote contact, and as she steps through the door into the living space in the back, all of those glaringly bright, sterile fluorescent lights on the main floor cut off at once, pitching the entire space into darkness. The interior of the rear apartment is lit with floor lamps rather than overheads for the most part — the tiny kitchen is the only exception — so it's a far kinder sort of illumination, anyway.

"No thanks." And then, with the smallest quirk of the lips. "…I know." Kinsey Sheridan, Big Brother of the Gotham waterfront: she's always watching. It's only a little creepy.

Her mostly-lidded eyes open a little, waiting until Jessica is within physical line of sight before lifting a hand to wave. "Hey, Jess." For a moment it looks as though she's thinking about sitting up, planting a hand on the cushions, but after a moment's thought she gives up on the whole idea. "Grab a seat."

And so, she comes on in, whereupon she takes in the scene before them.

This entire scene represents a new view of them both, almost charmingly domestic. It would be comfortable, homey, if not for the darkness lurking in Kinsey and her on-board computer, if not for her general listlessness and the circumstances surrounding all of it.

Even so, it brings a fond smile to her lips, a burst of warm feeling for the pair of them.

She sets the fudge down. The fudge is dumb. It'll just…it'll just be over here. On this table here. Being fudge. She grabs a seat as indicated.

"I won't take up too much of you guys' time, I just wanted to check on you both, see if you guys needed anything— I can totally run some errands, I don't mind— and maybe run something by you both."

It's a view few enough get to see, at least of Matt, and probably of Kinsey. Both of them are private people out of necessity, double lives being what they are. Outside of Foggy and Kinsey herself, no houseguest has stepped inside his absurdly spacious Hell's Kitchen loft, much less caught a view of him dressed-down the way he is here.

But from the way he seems to smile — tired, but white-toothed and genuine, even fond — he doesn't begrudge Jessica the entry. "That's thoughtful of you," he says as he walks in from the kitchen-space, one steaming tea-cup in one hand and two handles deftly carried in the other. "Come on in. I was just, ah, making some tea." A beat, and his brow wrinkles even if the smile persists. "Did you bring chocolate?"

One cup is set by Kinsey, the other he sets by the seat Jess claims. He himself doesn't answer the question of whether they actually need anything. Most of their basic necessities are taken care of, but it seems flat-out insane to say they're in any way, shape, or form 'fine.' Instead, he walks over to the spare space left open by Kinsey on the couch and claims a seat, tea cup in hand. "What's on your mind?" he asks.

"All I've got right now is time," Kinsey tells Jess, a reassurance that manages to be inadvertently morbid. They don't know that — they specifically don't know that — but for the duration of her altered state, she certainly isn't adhering to her usual working schedule.

Kinsey may have an idea of what's happening out on the street, but for all of her love of chocolate she's not equipped to sense it in a box a room and a half away. "Chocolate?"

Her appetite is terrible, but the trial is getting her to eat nutritionally complete food: all she wants right now is sugar. So: maybe not such a dumb idea, after all.

She extends a hand out to touch the mug on the side table just beyond her head, propped on pillows by the armrest, but she doesn't pick it up. Too hot, maybe. "You're sweet, Jess. Sorry I, uh…" Pause. "Couldn't say thank-you last night."

Jess brightens. Chocolate is a good thing? SCORE.

"I did," she says shyly, holding the box back out to Kinsey. "Fudge," She adds. "From that one fudge shop in downtown Gotham. Not um. Not the one the clowns keep blowing up, the one they seem to like well enough to leave alone. And I didn't need a thank-you, I promise, Kinsey."

She takes the coffee with gratitude, and then bites down on her lower lip for just a second. Here goes.

"I um." She glances between the two of them, radiating anxiety for half a second. "Um. Our Plan A is not a bad plan, but it's hardly a sure thing. For a variety of reasons we won't get into. There should maybe be the foundation. For a Plan B. If part of the problem is a lack of information about you and Five, Kinsey, well…maybe we should rectify that. I know…we had this conversation what, way back in February? But back then everything was different. I have contacts. Crazy contacts. If you can tell me any piece of information, anything I could acquire for you that might help, I might be able to do it for you. Legitimately, without getting hurt or arrested or bringing anyone down on your head."

A pause.

"I also have a disavowed spy who probably could use some work and who I could probably pay who could do things a little more underhandedly, but in a way that is smooth and subtle. The point is, I've got resources, and I would like, with both your permission, to put them at your disposal."

Matt takes a sip of his freshly-brewed tea. With his sensitivities that water just cooled from a boil must scald his taste buds — but he takes a slow, savoring sip anyway while he listens to Jessica lay out her thoughts. His brow knits as she describes the necessity of a 'backup plan' — what are these backup plans everyone keeps talking about, really? — and his unguarded eyes betray a certain caution and wariness as he thinks her offer through.

Much of it is beyond his frame of reference. Kinsey has only confided in him what she's been hunting for in the very broadest strokes. He's not remotely qualified to comment on the particular puzzle pieces in question, or the most efficient and/or ethical way to acquire them. After a swallow of that tea he says, "I imagine D.E.O. keeps most of its high-level research programs pretty secure," he offers with a shrug of his shoulders. A bland, obvious observation that leaves the door open to Kinsey's reply.

And that one? That one Matt will watch closely.

For chocolate Kinsey is willing to slide herself further up onto the ramp of pillows, but she still doesn't sit up. She doesn't look wan — at least, no more than yesterday, and the shower has actually improved things, so it's anyone's guess as to why. Conservation of energy, possibly?

But she wastes no time popping the box of fudge open and beginning to pick at it with index finger and thumb, brows stitching slightly together as she wonders, "Clowns?"

Gotham: it's a really, really weird place to live.

She listens to the careful, halting, anxious explanation without any real change in expression, and her eyes are largely on the chocolate in the box. The pause after Jessica finishes speaking and Matt makes his reply is long enough to verge on awkward, but she does eventually answer.

"The biggest leads for me are probably in Fisk's control right now. He obtained footage ages ago of my attempt to liberate it from the DEO during a transfer to a secure storage facility up north. Spider-Man intervened. He made me put it back even though it was my work. …I don't blame him, he was just…" She lifts a hand and waves that off. "Anyway. Later, Fisk somehow obtained the entire railcar's contents from the secure facility, which has very ominous implications."

"Yeah, I didn't think it would be easy, but like…um. I mean the Avengers have a DEO liaison, for example; I've um. Got some clearance with them now. I've got multiple friends in SHIELD who might also be able to lean on the DEO a little…"

This is embarrassing, truly. She clears her throat. "Whatever, the point is I don't see that as insurmountable, Matt. Just…sort of a reason to be careful."

But the Fisk control thing…she chews on her lower lip thoughtfully. "Where'd he put it?" she asks, as if this just Ain't No Thing. But then, when Jess takes it into her head that she wants to help, 'where there's a will there's a way' pretty much rules her life.

"If that dickweed has it then do we even have to worry about the DEO anymore? I mean I guess the implication is he has DEO guys on payroll. Man. I wonder if that has anything to do with the murder of one of their agents. News alert on that popped up on my phone just this morning."

As tired as he is, and as wound up with worry as he might be for the young woman reclining beside him there on the couch, Matt can't help but crack a smile when Jessica starts outlining the extent of her connections. Dark eyes sparkle with mirth, and the corners of his eyes crinkle. "Well, look at you," he says wryly, the curl of his lips partly obscured by the teacup he summons up for another sip.

Most of that good-natured humor vanishes when Wilson Fisk's name comes up. "Fisk is already on a warpath, Jess," Matt warns. "He blew up Luke's place, and I he has something to do with this lawsuit the councilwoman filed against you. I meant to tell you, but —"

But then the city's power went out, and his girlfriend's personality got rewritten by a demonic computer-virus.

"That's not to say we shouldn't act," he adds quietly, though it probably is to say that he'd vastly prefer they act when he could be a part of it, and didn't have to worry about whether he could put his life without jeopardizing Kinsey's mind and soul.

"The problem with using official channels to contact the DEO is that they don't know what I am, and they're probably the last people on earth I want to have that information. I still have contacts all through the DEO, but…" Kinsey quiets, puts a piece of fudge into her mouth, and then shrugs one shoulder, letting the sentence die.

She hasn't offered anyone else any of the fudge.

Where'd he put it?

"I don't know."

…the murder of one of their agents.

Kinsey looks up, finally, verdant eyes locked onto Jess for a long, long moment. She lowers the box. Her voice is quiet. "Vernon LeGrasse?"

Matt's tease turns her bright red, embarrassing her to the degree where it ripples through her body temperature and flames over her skin. "Augh, it's not like that," she protests, spluttering. "I just meet a lot of people or whatever and I mean…" She knows he's teasing but she still feels so weird over it all that it really hits home. "I'm not trying to name drop, I'm just— laying out resources! It just happened, damned if I freaking well know how! I've just been working, I swear!"

But then he drops the bomb about that damned Dillard lawsuit. Her reaction is a predictably grumpy: "Jesus. What a douchenozzle." At least it wipes the embarrassment away.

Though all physiology points to her seriously considering going and using Fisk like an oversized kickball over, say, keeping her head down and being careful, what with the upticks in anger, but she doesn't say anything so stupid, which might be an indicator she'll avoid getting that bit in her teeth for real. She even says, "Yeah, okay, this is a dumb ass idea. Maybe now that Tony is back, definitely not kidnapped and definitely not dead he can sort of get at things another way for you or something? I mean there's more than one way to solve a mystery, always." The only thing she knows are mysteries. This is just the Mystery of How the Eff Kinsey and Five's Heads Work.

Then Kinsey's asking about the DEO agent. She holds her coffee cup and shoots a glance over at Kinsey. "Yeah, how'd you know? Got his throat slit in the dead of night in his own apartment."

In other circumstances, Matt might apologize, assure Jessica that he was only poking fun. But she doesn't give him time, too busy is she dropping bombs on the conversation. "Stark is back?" he says, setting his empty tea cup down on the coffee table coaster and sitting back in his seat. "We'd, uh, talked about bringing him in on it." A beat. "Possibly."

And there's the matter of the DEO agent. Unlike Kinsey, this name rings no bells for Matt Murdock, but it's grisly enough to pique his interest. "How'd you know him, Kinze?" he asks her.

Absolutely nothing in her expression changes, but Kinsey's eyes lower to linger on the box she's holding for long, silent, motionless moments. There are a few quiet changes to the machine-like regularity of her heartbeat, but it steadies again quickly enough.

"The guy I was tailing. He was part of the briefing I gave you in your office. The- he was divorced, had a load of kids he spent time visiting on weekends." Well-kept brows knit very faintly, her eyes unfocused. She could be reflecting, or she could be off searching for confirmation. There's no way to tell.

"He's the one I narrowed down as likely having given Fisk access to the servers. He had access and got a payout from that fake television productions company.

She did hear that Stark is back, but she has mixed feelings about that, too. …Probably, anyway, given the lack of anything that looks like relief. "Is he definitely not possessed? I'm still not sure I want to give him access to Five. He will take what he sees there and reproduce it. He will. It's not a 'maybe' kind of thing."

"I can have Emery have a look at him," Jessica says contemplatively. "That's the only way we'd know for sure. As for him doing that…"

Well, she can't deny that. "He might not if I make him give his word he won't," she says slowly. But the truth is she's not sure about that. "Though…that's maybe," she admits, unwillingly, "A bit like locking me in a storeroom full of the world's best Scotch, telling me it's all free, and then obtaining my word I won't touch any of it."

And that is what it boils down to, that maybe they'd just better hope to get Jane down, maybe there really is no sensible Plan B. Which leaves Jessica very uneasy indeed. She has to lay down the unpleasant truth, has to show them why she came to pursue this avenue anyway. "Ja— Fos— they— they might not survive what it takes to free them from that bear. Emery has very similar powers to it, only used for good instead, and he says that just getting them out of limbo and on to some kind of afterlife would be a victory. It's why I thought maybe…maybe not banking on that 100%. And um. Even if we do, just— I mean— she's— it would be like putting her in the same room, I think."

She stands up, casting concerned gazes at both of them. "I wish I had better avenues or news or— any of it," she says. "But…it's all out there for your consideration anyway, and I think you both know if you say the word I'll do anything you need me to do. I'm close by, this damned missing kid case is keeping me in town save for whatever bear-punching forays we end up going on, so just…let me help if I can, okay? Small help, big help, just…let me. If I can."

"Jesus," Matt breathes on the matter of the DEO agent, the one Kinsey Sheridan told him about just minutes before he got a fateful text from Jane Foster and whisked himself away to Wakanda for three months. "Fisk covering his tracks, you think?" he asks, but it's a rhetorical question — pure speculation for now. Still enough to summon some embers of ire in him, tightening the edge and angles of his jawline. Murdering a DEO agent, blowing up homes of indestructible men. Nothing gives this guy a second's pause.

It's almost like he's fearless.

His attention turns back to more pressing concerns when Jessica suggests that her Plan Bs are all equally problematic. "These are all good leads, Jess," Matt tells her, and he isn't patronizing or bullshitting her. "I think the course we're on is the right one. Try to get Jane and Bucky back — I refuse to believe that in a world where souls can be stolen by giant bears, there isn't a way to steal them back. But if we can't… yeah. We go to Stark. We beat down Wilson Fisk's door and make him cough up the information, or sneak into the DEO and see if it's there. We do whatever it takes to fix this."

Whatever it takes. There it is — that choice of phrase that gave Kinsey pause when he used it back in Fogwell's. The suggestion that he'll cross any number of formerly held lines to undo what's been done to her. And from the tightness of his features, the quiet assurance in those words, he means it.

Hazel eyes tick back and forth between Jess and Matt. The former gets something like an actual expression out of her, sympathy creasing her brows. She's been in that position many times before: feeling as though no solutions stick, unable to fix a problem, unable to find the key that unlocks every door without any downside. "It's good to just to know what kind of resources might be available. Things change quickly. You never know what might be useful."

Matt, though…

Matt gets a different look altogether. Reluctant, holding something in reserve — something she could say, and isn't sure she ought to say. She glances once at Jessica, as though the PI-who-is-more-than-a-PI might have the answer to whether or not she should open her mouth.

In the end she seems to swallow it down, reaching for the mug of tea, finally. If she puts it into her mouth, nothing else can wind up there instead.

"It's really good fudge," she says, once she's swallowed.

Jessica Jones has no compunctions about doing whatever it takes.

Whatever one may think of her heroic status, she has routinely lied, impersonated government agents, broken laws against pretexting her way into bank accounts and e-mail accounts, has committed forgery, has technically committed kidnapping (for VERY good reasons), and has even committed murder (in defense of self and others, but bodies hit the floor) on foreign soil. Always to defend others, always to help others, but she does it.

She has no problem with 'whatever it takes.' The truth is, ages ago when USA Archer threatened to go for a deep dive in her activities that was a threat with some teeth. If Matt ever had to defend her against criminal charges he might have his hands full, because this entire list has come about while she was of sound mind and body. She's not gratuitious about it. If she _can_ do things the legal way, she will.

But she really doesn't have a problem doing it any other way.

What she does have a problem with is stepping into the middle of what seems to be a veeeery thorny issue.

Newp, newp, newp, noping out now, nope.

Matt's reassurances draw a thankful dip of her head. He said 'we', which means he won't cut her out, or at least she thinks it means that— he could be talking him and Kinsey— but either way, she's done what she came to do. And there's Kinsey with the out.

"I'll bring more next time I visit," she promises.

"Call me if you need me, she adds insistently. She walks her own coffee cup to the sink and even rinses it, then takes her leave.

She takes off when she does. Matt might hear it, Kinsey's Big Brothering might see it.

She sucks at flight. She clips the side of the building.

"OW! God DAMN IT!"

Up, up, and away?

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