The Things We Do

February 11, 2018:

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones reconnect in the aftermath of her rescue.

Crest Hill, Gotham City

Not a bad place for a walk.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Matt Murdock, Kitty Pryde, Tony Stark, Danny Rand, Zatanna Zatara, Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes, John Constantine

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It takes awhile to deal with dragon remains, to offer thank-yous and to see various friends and mini-dragons off, and in general to deal with the aftermath of an unstable magical gem doing what unstable magical gems do. Give people headaches. But the end of this process ends with Jessica standing near Luke with her hands sort of tucked under her arms, watching the very last of these efforts before she finally exhales and looks up at him. Still awkward, always so awkward under certain circumstances— she shoulder bumps him gently.

"Hi," she says. "Sorry I had to go and be a pain in the ass damsel again." She shrugs uncomfortably, glancing at him sidelong. She will never not be embarrassed to need help of this nature. She transfers those hands to the pockets of her jacket, and flounders as she asks, "So, how are you? Magical gem shit makes it hard to. You know. Catch up. Go on dates and shit. Text crazy things to one another. Do the things we do."

*

"Pfft." Luke's body rocks congenially at the shoulder bump, she one of the few people that could actually move the mountain with such a maneuver if she so chose but thankfully it's friendly. "Like I had anything better to do." He slings an arm around her shoulder, squeezing her against his side as he turns them in direction of her home. "Here I thought you were just working a case. I think it's time I talked more seriously to Stark about that tracker." 'How is he' is a different matter, easier to skirt around it with as much awkwardness as she treats needing help. "Hey, but now I can say I slayed a dragon for you. I'm one step closer to being knighted. Three more quests and I fill out my punch card."

*

Jessica smirks and allows that sidelong hug, wrapping her own arm around him in turn. "Does that make you a Squire? Were there five quests? Are we counting the hospital?" She stands up on tiptoe— because she has to— to offer a kiss, looking not-so-secretly pleased.

She's even pleased that he just thought she was working a case. This is good. "Trackers in the ass don't work when you're in some other dimension," she says dryly. "And if I'm in this dimension Stark can easily just track my phone." It's not that she's adverse to them, though.

In general, people coming after your kidnapped ass is a good thing when the shit hits the fan. She's not a proud woman. She's got too much experience with being in over her head.

*

There is a subtle grin from Luke at the kiss, like a quiet calm is brought in its wake. "I think if we're going to look at the actual score, we're pretty even. Admit, Sir Luke Cage has a ring to it, but knowing my luck I didn't read the fine print and all I'm going to get is a toaster. Do you think somewhere there's now a pile of gold without a dragon sitting on it? If so, we should look into that, then I wouldn't feel so weird about Danny giving me a loan to rebuild the bar." It's his way of subtly telling her what's up and how he is without having to directly tackle the question. But now he's busy twisting and craning his head to not so casually check out her back side. "Yeah, we'll just stick with the phone thing. It'd be a shame to dimple that with an implant."

*

Jessica smirks as he checks out her backside, making no move to stop him.

It's good, this update. "I'm glad you're rebuilding," she says thoughtfully. "Maybe get some security cameras internally and externally that you didn't have before to make sure that unholy asshat doesn't start another fire. But I'm glad you're doing it. I also think if there is treasure, it is sitting in some bullshit ice realm we don't want to travel to."

Her head sways from side to side in the motion she sometimes gives when she's smirking and at her most smart-ass.

"In general, I do tend to veto interdimensional travel. It's never fun. I've never had a hole suck me to some other time or space or even show me another time or space only to go, oh hey, that's badass, I wanna vacation there. It's always Hell's front porch or some shit."

It's sad. That she's done enough interdimensional travel in some shape or form. That she actually has opinions on this, and enough experiences to point out that it's always sucktacular, never good.

*

Luke lifts his hand from around her shoulder to cap her head of wavy dark hair, threading fingers into it until the locks are swallowing up his knuckles, pulling her closer to give the crown of her head a kiss that lingers long enough for him to get a breath full of the way she smells. "Because most of the time, people are trying to kill you or get you out of the way, not set you up with an all expenses paid to Tahiti. It's sort of who you are." He loosens his grip on her before it treads dangerously into the needy realm. "I'm still weighing it out, but Rand offered. I haven't even been back yet."

*

"Of course Rand offered. I'm surprised he didn't offer to pay for the whole thing. That sort of seems to be his style. See problem, buy problem."

It doesn't seem to bother her in particular that he's like this; it's just an observation. She chuckles at his observation, not minding the touches, but finally slipping her arm around his to do some walking. Crest Hill is far from most things, and she can't just sweep him into Shadowcrest without a Zatanna, but neither does she want to stand around the site of a recent rumble.

She also peers up at him thoughtfully. "You're okay with it," she observes. "Like really okay with it. The your girlfriend routinely baps powerful bad people in the nose and ends up getting shot at with various things bit." It's always been something she's been aware of, after all, that anyone who wants to deal with her in that way also has to deal with the fact that she isn't exactly the average PI, that her job routinely trends into the realm of not just the dangerous, but the downright insane, and that she can no more stop herself from pursuing all those things now than she can stop herself from eating, or sleeping, or breathing.

*

"He did. Offer to pay for the whole thing, I mean. The loan was a compromise, and we still have to do it in a way to keep my name completely off of it. It's…going to be mess." Walking. Walking is good. Not that he's in a real hurry to get anywhere. When Jessica turns to look up at him, he casts his face down to meet her gaze. "I don't know if I'll ever be okay with it, Jess, but I understand it. I accept it. Do I get warm and fuzzies at the thought of the possibility that one of these times the powerful bad guy might get the upper hand? No. But the fact you just called yourself my girlfriend is a nice salve."

*

She shrugs her shoulder, a little casually. She's not sure how to address that, the fact that she just said that, the fact that he wasn't sure about it.

I'm so bad at this shit.

At last she says, "I don't let just anyone stare at my ass that way," and leaves it at that; their relationship has been fueled and jumpstarted by banter in the past, why not right now too?

"You want a login to my case files so you always know what's going on, just in case I can't tell you? I'd have to list you as an 'Associate' of Alias Investigations to avoid tripping confidentiality concerns, but I don't mind doing it. There are a few people I work together with all the time that would also be in there, it's already all set up for that kind of access." She appreciates his acceptance, but will at least do what she can to…what? Put his mind at ease? Make things a little easier on him? Let him know where to start looking if she falls off the face of the earth again, assuming it isn't two of her friends who have gone off the deep end? Maybe a little of all of the above.

*

"I should hope not, because now as your officially minted boyfriend, I'd be obligated to smack them into next Tuesday for such an ogle." Banter makes things easy, and Luke is also comfortable enough falling into it that he doesn't need to need to append his statement with a 'just kidding'. Jess can decide on her own who gets ogle privileges and defend her self if someone crosses a line. "Wait, access doesn't mean that I have to have one of those Phones of Holding, does it? Because that shit scares the hell out of me. I don't want to, like, try to take a picture of a cute puppy or something and all of a sudden it gets zapped away to some suspended state of animation."

*

"No," Jessica says dryly. "You can use the plain old mundane Internet. I'll e-mail you the credentials."

She smirks at his boyfriend comment, and his obligations thereto. She gives him another gentle one-armed squeeze, shaking her head. She is so used to magic that it no longer discomfits her. It did the first day. After that she just started taking it as the New Normal.

But this leads her to another thought, and she says, "Pretty soon I have to see if I'm still employed on a missing persons case which may involve the Queen of the Unseelie Court. I also may well be going undercover within the next several weeks. Which is my least favorite tactic ever, but…some group of magicians plus a tech company are trying to cause the end of the world. I've been on a team with that one for over a year, and we've reached dead-ends on finding information any other way. I don't know how long I'll be under or if I'll be going home at night or staying 100% in character."

And more than looking at her ass, it's a measure of where she thinks they're at that she is telling him all this, is aware that telling him all this is right, and necessary, and something worth doing, rather than just walking off and doing it as she's always done. "Those are my only open cases right now, besides the routine stuff Stark sends me. Christ. My electric bill was due just before Jane and Bucky swept me off into fucking Pleasantville. I bet my utilities are off."

*

"Inter…net?" Luke jokes, but even at the bar he tended to prefer paper and pencil than any of the technological advances in business until Owen came along and basically hit him over the head with it. "Your files better come with cheat sheets and flow charts, or I'll never be able to keep track of what you're supposed to be doing where. I don't even know how /you/ do it. I'm sure you have it all well handled, but if you need my help, let me know. Right now all I got going is the bar and, you know, waging full out war on Fisk. Which reminds me, I need to reach out to Murdock and …" That reminds him of something, and how much they've missed of each other's lives in the past month. Now he's looking all narrow eyed at Jessica.

*

"My files are meticulously organized," Jessica says, snorting. "They have case notes of what's happened so far, in date order. They have my to do lists. They have lists of physical evidence and witness statements. They're all named like…like if I were opening a case for you, it might be CAGE022018. Even a child could make sense of my files. Because they are also the basis of the work product I give to my clients. I spare them all the scribbled notes and wandering speculation and swearing I put into my private ones, but they form the basis. They also have to be organized because the originals could be pulled up as evidence in court at any time."

Jessica is a lot of things. She is stompy. She is messy. She is often uncouth. But when it comes to her job she is a consumate professional.

And then: "I'll try to keep it in mind? Asking for help, and me…" She grimaces. She barely knows how. He has observed it about her before. Usually she just assumes she can handle anything until the moment where she can't.

But suddenly he's narrowing his eyes at her. "What?"

*

There's a sudden growl from Luke and he's reaching to lock hands on her waist. In one sift movement, he has Jones over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and he gives her a quick playful swat on the butt as he's determined to continue walking and toting his prisoner. "Weren't even going to give me a hint about our Devil friend?" He's not actually upset about the fact, likely knowing the whole need to keep secrets thing, but it gives him a reason to tease her. Now if she'll just refrain from breaking his nose.

*

"The Hell, Cage!" Jessica splutters. It's probably safe to say nobody has pulled this maneuver on her before. And for this long moment, she tries to decide if she's going to play along or not. She listens to the nuances of his tone, to the way he chose to do this. Being goofy rather than say, whisking her into an alley and getting onto her case.

"Carry me right, asshole, this is sending all the damned blood to my face." She's not really meaning he's an asshole; she doesn't sound angry. "You're getting it all mixed up, this is the fucking villian carry, you need to do the god damn hero sweeping me off my fucking feet carry."

What did she just admit to? Shit.

And she won't tell him another thing until he complies. Assuming he does, she crosses her arms, settles into his, and looks up at him seriously. Her tone turns serious, too. "No, I was not," she says, surprised that he knows. "I made promises. I know the identities of several more capes too. They aren't mine to tell, I won't crack my teeth about them, not even to you. I find them out by accident or, more rarely, I'm trusted with them, but the reason anyone trusts me is they know that I will guard their secrets to the grave. Beyond if I have to. I never even would have admitted to knowing who he was unless he did that first."

Her eyes search his, trying to determine just how big a problem this is going to be. Or if it is one, at all.

*

Luke swings her around until she's cradled in his arms, her legs draped over one elbow while her torso is held by the other. The obstinate cross of her arms causes the grin on his lips to split wide just shy of a laugh cackling out of them. "I know, I know, I just wanted to give you hell. But when he told me, I swear the bottom fell out. And I wouldn't have even brought it up to you, without knowing for sure from his lips that you knew. Heavy is the burden." He does an arm curl to lift her up to his lips instead of bending over into her, giving a firm kiss. "Feel like shit that Danny doesn't know yet, but like you said. Not my secret." Then he's swinging her around again, this time to try and just hitch her onto his back, piggy style. "You know, you could just fly us home. Or. We could find a cab."

*

She kisses him back, smirking a little, then nods once at the knowledge that he's going to keep the secret. That prevents her from having to have a long talk with him about how she hopes he's going to defend it as assiduously.

He suggests flying them home, as he piggybacks her, and she contemplates it. "I don't know how comfortable it will be for you, but you are probably the only person on the planet who won't be hurt by my suck-ass landings. It's kind of a long flight from Gotham to New York. We might have to stop for dinner halfway there or something."

Course now she's got to figure out how she's going to carry the Man Mountain and still see. Or not dangle him like an eagle with prey or some shit. Flying is fun though, one of her few non-substance related hobbies now, and she won't pass up the opportunity to fly around with someone who wants to be flown.

Finally she hops off and puts her arms around him from the side. "Ok. This seems smartest. Ready?"

*

"Oh lord, I think I was just joking." Luke says to her now that she's actually taken the idea and ran with it, or rather is prepared to fly with it. "Because this won't look ridiculous. Hey, can I pretend like I'm on the bow of the Titanic while you yell about being the queen of the world?" Ready. Ready, she asks. No, no he most decidedly is not. She might as well be handing him a sandwich out of her phone, only this time there isn't his hunger as a driving force to accept it. "Okay, okay. Be a man, Cage. But if you drop me, some poor schmo is going to wake up with a Luke-sized cannon ball done on his Volvo."

*

Jessica smirks. But then she launches into the air. She takes them vertical, soaring over the city with him, doing her best to hold on. It was awkward the day she gathered John and Zee up and grasshopper jumped them across town on an emergency basis one night. Time will tell if this will be equally awkward.

She takes deep breaths of the air, cheeks flushing, nose turning pink, a grin tugging at her features. Now that she can do it? She loves this. She has an easy grip on him; she's not sure how much stronger than her he is, but she's sure she's strong enough to avoid making Volvo canon balls. "I did not see that movie," she says dryly. "Someone spoiled it for me by telling me the boat sank at the end."

*

"Wait don't we have to…" Too late, they're airborne and Luke has a death grip on her hips, that he's barely remembering to keep in check. She's strong, he's strong, but she's not unbreakable as he is even if she's resilient enough to avoid bruising from his grasp. She loves it? He hates it, just much as he's loathe to really embrace any of the oddities he's come into contact with since knowing her. "Review the emergency exits! Can I use you as a flotation device in case of a water landing?!"

*

Jessica eyes him. Is he really scared? She decides he is.

She swoops him back down again, setting him on solid ground. She can feel the bruising but doesn't complain about it in particular.

She does this before she tries to land. She lands in an ungainly heap though, and picks herself back up, brushing herself off. Landings suck, but she still enjoys it. "Right. So no picking you up from the air and flinging you at targets," she says, as if this is some sort of an original idea.

*

There's actually a laugh from Luke as she sets him down and he goes rolling from the inertia, doing nothing more than knock a bit of wind out of him which makes the sound breathy as it escapes from his lungs and shakes his frame. "I'm fine. I'm fine." He assures, not so much of the landing but of the flying. He rolls over onto his side and looks up to her as she stands and brushes herself off, propped up on one elbow. "You're incredible."

*

She grins sheepishly as he says that, putting her hands in her pockets again and ducking her head. "Thanks," she says. "You're pretty fantastic yourself." The laughing reassures her; she seriously would not continue something she's been clearly told he doesn't want to do, especially not in an area where he'd essentially be held hostage, like the sky. She's relieved he thinks it's funny; otherwise maybe she carried things too far without meaning to.

She offers a hand to him if he wants it, which would be ridiculous except that with her it's a serious offer. Color keeps touching her cheeks, but this time it's not wind and the chill of a higher altitude. She won't admit to it being a blush, but it pretty much totally is.

*

Luke takes the hand and with her help is hoisted easily back to his feet, back to towering over her in the natural order of things. A thumb reaches to brush over the coloring on her cheek, just as much in awe of that as he was her ability to set them airborne in the first place. "I mean it." His voice quiet, falling into the lower part of his registry that makes it more a vibration than a noise.

*

"I know," Jessica says, and if she manages to sound both pleased and surprised it's mostly just because compliments sometimes knock her right off balance. She wraps an arm around him and snuggles in close, then comes to a decision.

"It's cold. My apartment is dark and cramped and may not have hot water. I don't want to scandalize Rand, even if in his palace of 400 rooms there are likely several where nobody can hear nothin'. I can't get you into the place I normally stay while in Gotham City."

And he'd be freaked out by that one anyway.

"Let's find a hotel, preferably a chain that won't be all up in the creepy Gotham motif. Spend the evening on a totally different form of flying." She looks up at him. "Want to?"

*

Luke gladly gathers her up again, wrapping the bands of his arms around her and holding her tightly even if it is an odd sensation to be in this sort of situation with someone again. Far beyond just grabbing a 'cup of coffee', that's for sure. "Now you're a mind reader, too." He teases, pawing back hair from her forehead so he can look down at her face. That smile on his lips turns more into a smirk. "Maybe some place with room service." He suggests, "So we don't have to move for breakfast."

*

"Perfect," Jessica says with a flash of a grin, smiling up at him.

She's been in this sort of situation basically never, unless one counts a doomed fling and a year fixated on someone who was already in this situation with someone else. She's not sure how to navigate really. She's fumbling blind. But for right now she's back in her own reality. They've had a nice time. He's got a life to go piece back together and so does she, but for now she's content to let it sit for one more day.

She's not always in a mood this good, but when she is? Luke Cage apparently reaps benefits.

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