Mutant Tiger Tank, Was It?

March 15, 2018:

After Frenzy's attack, John Constantine is the next one to pay Jessica Jones a visit. He's concerned, and he's ready to move forward on their longest running case, when she's ready.

Trish Walker's Apartment, Manhattan

#1904, with the good security.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Frenzy, Daredevil, Zatanna Zatara, Red Robin, Hulk, Tony Stark, Johnny Blaze, Jane Foster, Bucky Barnes

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

John Constantine is on a very short list of people Jessica is willing to see when she is feeling shitty and vulnerable. Maybe it's because after nearly a year of teaming up together off and on to face down various weird things, he's certainly seen her in that state more than once. She texted an address, noting it's her sister's apartment, and a door keycode. She noted several things: that she's in bed, and that she probably doesn't look super great.

But by the time she answers him, and/or by the time he gets there, she's had a little medical care and has at least staggered to a bathroom, taken a shower, however doubled over she might have been for that exercise, and changed her clothes into something cleaner before levering herself painfully back onto Trish's bed. She's got the covers mostly drawn up, so it's really only possible to see the bruised mess of her face, shoulders, collarbone…but her eyes are almost swollen shut. "I'm awake," she'll call, helpfully, when she hears the door, because she's pretty sure it's not that easy to tell. The bedroom light is off, though the hall light is on to provide some illumination. The rest of the apartment is both very lavender and relentlessly immaculate, a silent hint, through the magic of interior decoration, that Jessica Jones and Trish Walker really are night and day.

It has been…a while.

Outside of the gifts John distributed around the holidays he's been scarce. He turned up twice for the latest crisis to involve Barnes and Foster, but otherwise he's been missing more often than not — and that's John all over, really, always coming and going, reluctant to put down roots. Anyone to share more than a year of history with him would say so: this is how he is. That it's remarkable he wasn't absent before that, after a solid year of accessibility amongst the tiny group of compatriots he's established in the time since first setting foot back in New York.

It's still unusual in its scope and thoroughness, that distance. And yet: here he is, once he learns Jessica's finally free of that crystal prison — only to find herself in dire straits.

The tupperware containers in his hands, once he's shed his coat and he's standing in the open dooframe leading into that room, are probably from Chas.

"You know," he reflects, after a moment of slightly tilt-headed study, "There's a lot of distance between 'don't look super-great' and 'Violet Bauregarde,' Jones."

John's distance hasn't really bothered one Jessica Jones. He's always been there for her when she really needs him, and she understands better than most the need to have space. She also understands being busy. When she can't get ahold of John or Zee she assumes they are firing magic at some sort of great Cthulhulian Void, keeping humanity safe in ways that super-strong detectives cannot help with. And should there be something she can help with, they will call her. The gift was thoughtful, and moreover it was useful.

She also keeps herself pretty busy as it is. The woman is a bonafide workaholic. The workaholism is neatly replacing the alcoholism, but it was always there. It's just the lack of booze has made it worse. It wouldn't be the first time she's looked up and went 'oh yeah, we last did see each other at some weird math museum thing months ago, didn't we?'

It's what makes her, in some respects, a downright terrible friend. Then again, maybe not a downright terrible friend for John, all things considered.

Her response to his quip is a laugh that has her throwing her arm around her stomach. "Ow, Jesus, ow, don't make me laugh, god damn it," she says. It's not a loud one or an audible one; shoulders shaking and a series of hissed breaths. Wryly: "I'd say you should have seen the other bitch but she looks just fine."

"Had to," he says idly, pale blue eyes breaking away from her to circuit her sister's room. It looks like aloof curiosity, but it's also force of habit. He takes two shuffling steps in and sets the tupperware down on the closest thing to a clear flat surface, then slides his hands into his pockets. "If you can laugh, you're not dead. The undead have no sense of humor whatsoever. Had to be sure."

With his expression deadpan and his tone offhand, it is, as is so often the case, very difficult to tell whether or not he's joking.

…Until he's closer to the bed, anyway, and cocks his head again to look down at her. There's just enough narrowness in the corners of his eyes to suggest subtle humor, an undercurrent of it beneath his assessing study. She tells him the other bitch looks just fine, and that produces a faint grimace, followed by a soft tch. "Well, that's only a little alarming. What did you pick a fight with, exactly? I Heard 'mutant.' Mutant tiger tank, was it? Mutant atom bomb?"

Jessica now has to take a moment to try to figure out what the kindnest course of action would be if she ever finds out she is undead. She comes up with pre-recorded video message sent to all phones on a timer after walking into the sunrise. She's not about to make, say, John stake her, for example.

Unless there's a cure. Something to ask about later. As she is not undead today. He is right.

She reaches for the food in careful fashion. She misses it, but feels her way back to it, and opens it up. She does have an incredible appetite while healing; gifts of food do not go at all amiss.

"She picked a fight with me," Jessica grumbles. "Stepped right in front of my car and crumpled when I hit her. Mutant, stronger-than-me. Stronger-than-Thor, mabye. I mean, she felt about god-strong and she was basically a cat playing with a toy the whole time. This was to send a message, not to kill me. That being said, I dropped her off about a twenty story height? And she went…I shit you not…woo. Hoo. She is weak against electricity though, but the voltage in a power line wasn't quite enough to do more than produce a grunt."

The food is finger food, and it's soft: spanakopita, hand pies and pasties, things of that nature. There will be crumbs, so they were never meant for eating in bed, but clearly Chas and John had no idea what state her teeth would be in and were erring on the side of caution.

While she fumbles her way through it — John does not actually offer to help her or unlid any of them for her — he tilts his shoulder into the wall, hands still in pockets, and loosely crosses one foot with the other, toe propped into the ground, to watch her.

"Fantastic," he finally says, after mulling over what she describes. "Bet she's not immune to magic." She'll probably hear the quiet rasp as he thumbs at the stubbled line of his jaw, eyes tightening. "Should I ask how and why you've managed to incur the wrath of this, as you yanks would say, brick shithouse, or is that a subject for another day?"

John is a wise, wise man for not helping. Or at least, wise in the ways of touchy Jessicas who can only tolerate so much help. She dives in with every evidence of gratitude, and just eats over the tupperware to try to keep the crumbs to a dull roar.

"I don't know how, and I don't know why," she says, and that produces an undercurrent of frustration. Not knowing is a kind of Hell for her. "John, I haven't had shit to do with the Brotherhood of Mutants."

Did she even say that before? To him? She's having trouble remembering. She's had different versions of this conversation.

"As far as I know nobody I know has had shit to do with them. And here she comes, telling me to make sure my friends know not to mess with them. So yeah, as far as I'm concerned this was like being hit out of the blue by a flying fucking brick. Pretty much repeatedly."

But the thought that she's not immune to magic causes a smile to flash across her lips.

"I did think on it, while she was smashing me into things. I just. Wasn't in a great position to make a phone call or anything. Should have just run away, but was afraid she'd start hurting humans to yank me back into it."

If John's sigh sounds put upon as he tilts his chin ceilingward and retucks his hand into his trouser pocket, that's because it is. Not for personal reasons, so much, but because-

"Oh, so it's political. Even better." Disdain wreaths the words. "You ought to enlist one of the tights crew to keep an eye on you while you're in here looking like your face is made of jam. Eyes, Jones. They're important in self-defense. Plus-" He pauses just long enough to give into an impulse that would almost certainly have Chas shooting him a flat look: leaning to pluck up one of the little bite-sized meat pies meant for her, and pop the whole thing into his mouth, "-you've got all sorts of fans, haven't you? Not just mutants. Last thing we need is some other brand-name goon popping in to find you indisposed."

"DHK brought me here, I think he's already kind of keeping an eye on things." Jessica admits. And there are one or two others, but she's not at all sure where John and Bucky stand and she's not about to mention how furious Bucky was at seeing her state. Nope, nope, nope. She's too tired to even wade into everyone's no doubt varying reactions to various bear-shankings.

She just smirks fondly as John pops something into his mouth. Eating alone sucks. He's not wrong, not by a longshot.

"Cause yeah. I do manage to piss off a whole lot of people. Don't know why. I'm fuckin' delightful. Thanks for the gifts, by the way. You not only indirectly saved my ass with them but…all of Nebraska? Apparently?"

She goes after another pie and asks, "How are you and Zee doing anyway? Anything I can help with when I don't look like I'm made of jam?"

Sure, she assumes he'll tell her, but sometimes offering is a thing.

The wordless sound he makes probably passes for something like mollification when she mentions the man he still thinks of as Zorro, though the costume has evolved by leaps and bounds since then. There's another sound in his chest for her thanks, this one less engaged than the last one — not especially adept at soaking expressions of gratitude, John — and then a blink, and knit of his brows. "Nebraska?" His eyes lift again, the skeptical look well-paired with the dry, almost offended tone of his voice. Like he's trying to decide whether or not saving Nebraska was the ideal outcome.

Again: probably a joke, but if so, he doesn't make it easy to tell.

There's a short pause in the wake of the Zatanna question. "Busy, as usual. Titans things. School. She turns twenty in two months." And John turns — well, whatever John turns — but he's not going so far as to point that out. "Adjusting to that bloody Isis incident and a little bit more like herself again. You know, she could probably do for this whole jam business, if you asked her." Of course, Jessica knows perfectly well that Zee's capable of healing people's wounds, so she must have her reasons for not doing that, and he knows that, but still: he mentions it casually and sidelong, without any apparent expectation of her following through.

"I will if just laying here and the patching up I've already received doesn't get the job done. She's busy, I know she's busy, and she's not my personal doctor," Jessica murmurs. "She'd probably roll her eyes to hear me say it, but she spreads herself thin and she's generous as it is. I've already been mooching off her by using her guest room as it is, since I've been working Gotham more often than not lately."

Her brow also furrows. "Isis incident? I feel like I missed something. Is she a goddess now? Cause if she is, tell her from me that really is spreading herslef too thin."

"And yeah, Nebraska. Heard of the Hulk? Someone apparently gave him some sort of magical-something-something-I-dunno-maybe-space? ring that turned him into a flying even more destructive even more pissed off Hulk. They had some mental effect, so your wards on my brain got rid of that, I used a Pinch cause no lie, my job that day was to fly around punching missiles out of the air, and then this one idiot mage chick decided to do some weird…blood magic…thing after hearing the ring did something-something-to-the-heart-and-blood which made him worse and resulted in a big energy something…anyway I figured Holy Water never hurt a magical foobar, and so I flung one at them and it did seem to help. So congratulations, whether or not you wanted it saved? Nebraska is saved."

"Not exactly," is the perhaps alarmingly vague response to her question as to the present status — divine or otherwise — of the Zatara heiress. "Coming into contact with bits of gods has side effects, is all." Pause. "Drinking their blood maybe sort of pushes that a little bit further than just keeping some holy knucklebone in your drawers, but, at any rate, it's not a permanent state of affairs." He thinks.

He's pretty sure.

With a clearing of his throat he levers himself up off of the wall again, taking a meandering path around the bed. Toward a window if there is one, and if not just to look at everything without any real aim in mind, restless as ever. It occupies him while she explains his bizarre part in the events in Nebraska.

"Space ring." Not a question. He just repeats the words, in the toneless tone of voice that acknowledges what an absolutely ridiculous universe they live in, and also that he's glad that it was, for once, not his job to deal with. 'Space rings' fall well outside of his wheelhouse. They'd better, anyway.

There is, in fact, a single window with billowing purple curtains. John might observe it also has bulletproof glass and a shatterproof film. Trish takes security seriously, whatever one might think of the general floofiness of her apartment or even her show, now broadcasting out of DC and somewhat syndicated. The view is whatever a view of the expensive part of town looks like from the penthouse suite of a formerly highly paid child-star.

But even with her face such a mess, her eyebrows just climb as he starts going on about drinking the blood of Goddesses. And how that doesn't exactly make her one, but it's apparently still somewhere in the neighborhood. And then musing on the relative merits of doing that versus just keeping a bone or two around. Yeah. See. This is the kind of thing that makes Jess think don't bug Zee when she should be fine in a week or two anyway. John doesn't seem alarmed enough for it to be dangerous…but. Jessica is glad she's as unlikely to ever drink a god's anything than she is to ever…well. Keep a holy knucklebone in her drawers.

"I actually don't know what kind of ring," Jess says ruefully. "It went down sort of like this. I went to check in with Tony. He grabbed me by the arm and threw me on the plane. I get a half-ass briefing and it was welcome to Nebraska, get to work. But the problem got dealt with. I didn't have to hug anyone, and that was apparently on the list of useful actions that might have been taken. I count that as a win."

If he notices that look — and John tends to notice everything, so it's a fair bet that he does — then he pretends not to, anyway, and twitches the curtains aside just enough to lean his head and look out through the seam he creates, illumination sliced across pale, sharp eyes. It renders highly visible the grimace he puts on at mention of Tony Stark, which only settles in for the duration moments later.

"Sorry?" Again with the dry, vaguely offended tone. "Hugging? This is how we're solving 'problems on the order of destroying Nebraska' these days?" Quieter, almost to himself: "Christ almighty. And the capes like to say my line of work is strange."

He lingers at the window for some silent moments more before finally pivoting to look at her again. "All sorted, then? Any other outstanding crises to know about? Once you're back on your feet we ought to put this iDol business to bed, Jones."

"I'm more than ready to put this iDol business to bed," Jessica replies. "It keeps me up nights, man, wondering if half the world has been eaten yet. I got a god damn Rosetta Stone program full of Spanish in case I need to speak it to put this thing to bed. I got with Red, it looked like undercover was the only way to go?"

And it's a sure bet the moment she's well Jessica will be texting him. To put this iDol thing to bed.

"Haven't run into much else in your wheelhouse. Unless you know anything about a flaming skull guy who likes to whip chains around. Which are also on fire. He seemed alright, but…you know, not everyone turns their face into a flaming fucking skull."

But she only says that offhandedly, and lets hugging go by the wayside entirely, fixing him with her darkeyed gaze which says she's far more interested in hearing whether or not a plan less vague than 'go undercover' has been nailed out.

"We'll talk about it soon." That's all John has to say about her discussions with Red and their tentative plans: that's for when she's recovered, clearly. Until then, he's leaving it aside.

Flaming skull guy, she says. Whip chains around, also on fire. He hesitates, like he might be considering whether or not to make that his problem…and then decides, very visibly, that he is not. He sweeps one hand through the air like a blade, horizontally, as though he could cut off that entire line of discussion physically. "No thanks."

And then, because John is John and bottling him up only works when there's some puzzle he's attempting to take apart, he's shifting his weight and putting his hands on his hips and generally looking like he's about to leave, which he is. "I'll send over replacements for some of the shite you used up in Nebraska." He glances down at his wrist, cuff of his shirt dragged back by the bend in his elbow, to have a look at the watch he's wearing. "You didn't overshoot my prediction for using it all up by very much, did you?" He punctuates that remark by cocking his brow at her, and then starts to stride for the door: about as close as John comes with most people to telling them he wishes they'd be more careful. "I'll see you when you're on the mend. You can always text if you need something." He's in the next room by the time he amends that offer: "'tanna, obviously. Unless you're keen on waiting days before you get a response."

It's still not clear whether or not he's joking.

After that, there's just the sound of him putting that coat of his on, and shortly after that, the door.

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