When You Hate the Sound

March 26, 2018:

Owen Mercer fully expects Jessica Jones to yell at him when she finally decides to talk. But that's not quite how things go down.

Stark Industries, New York City

So many labs! So many drones!


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Alice Walker, Emery Papsworth, Spoiler, Tim Drake, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster, Luke Cage, Harley Quinn


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Well that was utterly humiliating. Owen has been trying to keep things separate, his old life from his new life, his bad habits from his heroic attempts, etc. But things keep slipping. First it was Robin showing up to break up Harley and Owen's fun night out, of course it was Tim. And then he gets sloppy and goes to Alice Walker for a fix and Jess shows up. The lies about how he has this under control are starting to show cracks. He physically feeling a bit better after the 'work' that Alice did, but he's still a mess.

And somehow in his mind he thinks that he can still fix it. He can smooth it over, explain it. First step in this lousy plan is to get back to Stark's and get to work on Jessica's shock bracers. She had asked him to see if he could amp them up and add some variable levels of output. Considering he has been tweaking and fiddling with his shock boomerangs for years, it shouldn't be too hard. Sorry Kennis, your sparkly yellow taser wand will need to wait.

Holed up in one of the labs in Stark towers that Owen has claimed for his less than cutting edge work music is blaring. Owen sits at a work table, a can of beer open on the table in front of him and a lit cigarette hanging from his lips. A small bot hovers over him, trying to filter the smoke out of the air and ready to extinguish the cigarette or Owen if need be. The gloves themselves are on the table along with a few dissected shock boomerangs.


Jessica Jones did give Owen some space.

Despite her apparent anger when she met up with him at the Walker house, she left him alone. She didn't call or e-mail or text or anything, not even to chew him out.

And when she shows up, she shows up wearing a dark blue hoodie with the hood pulled up, with her jacket over it, purple scarf dangling to either side and looking a lot like she did the other night. And when she comes in, she hangs out at the door, hands in her pockets, leaning against the frame. The music is blaring, she doesn't tell him to turn it down. Indeed, he'll have to look up to get an initial greeting, because she just sort of raises a hand.

But she has a bag in her hand with food. She brought some. It looks like a bag of companionable food, as in food for both herself and him.


It takes a while. Owen's immersed in his work and it's not until he stubs out his cigarette and raises the can of been to his mouth that he notices Jess. His look isn't one of surprise, but he also doesn't look exactly excited to see her. He raises the can in a half greeting / salute maneuver and then uses a gloved hand to motion and the music turns down to a more manageable conversation level.

"You really are a great private eye. You found me."

It's a weak attempt at humor that is half hearted at best. But Owen's not exactly thrilled at the prospect of what Jessica might be coming to talk about so it's jokes or business and he figured he would at least attempt the humor first.


Weak humor is good for a weak snort. "I did."

She walks into the room and says, "I brought you a sandwich from the most fantastic deli in Hell's Kitchen. Sal's. I have also brought a soft drink. So I hope you like either ham or roast beef." She likes everything Sal makes, up to and including the vegetarian stuff, and it's of no nevermind to her.

"Thanks for working on my gloves for me." She looks for a place to set the bag, then pulls over a stool. "Sorry I gave you shit the other day. I thought we had a plan, and I was caught off guard when we suddenly did not have a plan."

She shrugs, awkwardly, settling into said stool. Her face is a hard read, but there's some twist of actual embarrassment on there, actual awkwardness on her part.


Owen narrows his eyes at the fact that she actually laughed at his joke first of all, but then offers food and an apology? Maybe he can pull this off. He starts in the correct order by first discussing the food though.

"Roast beef sounds great. I love Sal's.. miss it since I left the city." He used to have a place in Hell's Kitchen not that long ago, but after Luke's blew up he had to go back to his place in Gotham full time.

"Sure, no problem on the gloves. I don't think it'll take me more than a day or two. I'm still not used to having access to all of Stark's gizmos and gear." And he still has no idea how to use more than half of it, but he's learning.

At the last part though he looks at her with a little hesitation and confusion in his face. "No problem. We did, I just.. was freakin' myself out about it. Not sleepin' and figured I'd take a shot at asking her." He's normally a damn good liar. This, is not his best work. Mostly because he feels like she's trying to lead him into a trap or something, baiting him to tell the lie she didn't even wait for him to get out last time.


Jessica takes her own sandwich and bites into it. She listens to Owen lie to her a little more, but this time without all the anger. Her face is grave, and she lets him say the whole thing. And for a few beats? It's almost like she believes him.

Then she drops her head. And now she has a bit to say to him.

"I know about the heroin and the meth. But I'm not here to give you shit about it."

A ghost of a smile.

"I want a drink so goddamn bad I could scream. Have ever since I got my injuries healed. I spent the better part of the morning curled into a ball in the corner of my sister's room not moving and growling into my goddamn knees to stop myself. I'm almost at six months. I am at five. Never gotten this far before. Got to 90 once before. More often would get to 60 or 30, and then bam, something would knock me on my ass, and bender. I have been an alcoholic since I was 17 years old. So if you think I have some sort of self-righteous or condescending bullshit to throw in your face, or any judgment at all? Forget it. I don't."


"Meth?! What the /fuck/ Jones!? What kind of backwater hilly billy no teeth rapist do I look like?"

Because even among drug addicts meth heads are considered the lowest of the low, at least in the circles that Owen moves in. But once the righteous indignation fades he calms down at looks at her, really looks at her for the first time tonight.

He gives a half shrug and says, "I'm not in a great spot right now." It's as much a confession as he has ever given anyone, except maybe Emery. He hears her talk about her drinking, and actually listens because it's Jessica. Anyone else and Owen would likely just bark at them about not being the same thing at all or thinking that they know him.

"Thanks." It's small and it's quiet, but it's meaningful. He fully expected a lot of yelling, or badgering questions or just being dropped. But a confession of her own is quite disarming, and he finds himself opening up instead of shutting down.

"Can I ask you something? How did your card end up in my girlfriend's jacket?" For now, the identity of that girlfriend is still guarded. "Were you lookin' into me?" Another paranoid theory that's been haunting him. Is Alice working with Zoom? Was Jessica just playing some weird long con on him? Why did Harley have her card otherwise?


Jessica furrows her brow. "She lied about that? Jesus Christ. I don't trust that goddamn woman. I should walk away from this case."

She won't. Because kid. But she should.

Such a stupid thing to lie about too. First 'oh I won't tell you' and then 'oh no here let me make up something.' To Jessica, that says Alice Walker is a pathological liar. Someone who needs to add little details just to add them.

She's beginning to have real doubts about who the wronged party is here. Maybe it's not Alice at all. Maybe it's Mab.

But the question about his girlfriend produces confusion. "Uhhh, depends on who your girlfriend is," Jess says. "I give a lot of cards to a lot of people. I talk to a lot of people. I didn't even know you had one. A girlfriend, obviously, not a card."


Owen rolls his eyes a bit. He is not exactly Alice's biggest fan after she tried to hard talk him about his addiction the second time they met and started doing something to him without any explanation or asking. Yes, part is that he doesn't like being called on his shit, but then here's Jess implicitly calling him on it, just like Emery did not that long ago. He sighs and says "I don't know. I don't think she's with Zoom. I kinda don't care, I just need to put that shit behind me."

Obviously he's still bothered by the fact that Zoom can turn off his powers and choose to kidnap him basically whenever he might want.

Owen shrugs off the talk of a girlfriend and says, "Yea. It's new. I'm seein' someone in Gotham…" He frowns a bit and tries to think of how to describe it. "It's a bit complicated. But.. she's great. It just freaked me out to find your card. It was probably the lack of sleep…" here he realizes that he doesn't have to actually stick to that line anymore. "And the fuckin' drugs."


"Yeah, I'm talking to people all over Gotham right now, sorry. I've got three cases there, and one of them is this really weird sitrep sort of thing that doesn't even seem to have an endpoint. Just sort of an esoteric 'help me understand Gotham' from a foreign national. I must have given out thirty or forty cards on that case alone. Half 'call me if you think of anything' and half 'marketing.' I'd probably recall her if you gave me her name, but it wasn't about you, promise. If I want to know something about you, these days, I'll just ask you. You could probably ask her what we talked about too, if you're worried."

He acknowledges the drugs, and she nods, adding, "Don't blame you for getting a little side-eye though." And she doesn't. She smirks. "Detectives can be real inconvenient, unnerving people to be around."


"No, no worries. It's your job and there's nothing weird about you handing out cards. I just got all tripped up." He does tilt his head at the foreign national asking about Gotham, but it's work stuff and he won't want to pry.

He considers briefly opening up to Jess about Harley. About the fact that he's kind of dating a criminally insane murderess? But then it feels so fragile and not long for this world anyway, for a myriad of reasons, that he figures why bring it up. Instead he half-shrugs (again) and says "Nah. Give a month or two and if it's still a thing I'll introduce ya." Yea, no. There is almost zero chance of that happening in Owen's mind so he's fine committing to it.

"Yea." He agrees to her point about detectives. It's crossed his mind more than once that she might still dig into his funky criminal history if something happens and might get too close to Task Force X. But at least for now it looks like he's in the clear.

"It was losing my speed." The confession just pops out, almost surprising Owen. He finally starts in on the food now, as if stuffing food in might stop more words from coming out.


And believe it or not, Jessica gets the reluctance. It was huge for her to suggest Luke should meet Bucky and Jane, even, and despite the fact that he spent four months in Wakanda helping her help them, she still hasn't exactly gotten right on that. It's easier to keep her life in neat little compartments. That way, when things blow up, only parts of her life blow up. For starters.

The confession comes out as Jessica is chewing and swallowing, and she nods slowly, as if that makes perfect sense to her. "One minute you're absolutely confident in something, something fundamental about yourself. Suddenly, someone's fucking with that."


Owen's life was up until very recently very neatly compartmentalized, and now streams are crossing and things are leaking into others. All things considered it's not the end of the world that he envisioned, but it's still not what he planned.

"It fucked me up good." And now that there is some distance, and his powers have returned he can at last admit that outloud. He sighs and says "I didn't want to talk about it. Luke was still a mess from the bar blowing up. Emery's kid almost just got kidnapped." He realizes now those are just excuses. There were plenty of people he could have reached out to, obviously Jessica for one. "I just wanted to escape it."

He goes back to his food. It's easier to talk about it than he had expected. Maybe it's because Jessica already knows about the drugs and about his father. Whatever the case, this is certainly the most he's ever spoken about the topic to anyone.


She listens to him, does Jessica Jones, and she nods in understanding. "Sure. And then when you try to talk you feel like you're whining, or exposing your belly, or that people are going to get all weird. And sometimes they even do get all weird. Or try to tell you what to do. Like they think if they just repeat the PSAs enough times you'll magically not be in so much god damn pain that you maybe need a way out of it. Like they think you can just logic your way out of an addiction. Or yell at you. And who needs that shit?"

She takes a bite of the sandwhich and adds, "I mean. Nothing wrong with taking it. The help. When you know who you can trust. That's not what I'm getting at. I just get why pouring your heart out isn't exactly your first instinct. Cause people can either be real assholes who use that shit against you or real good people who just turn stupid. Like my court-ordered therapist, busting out coloring books. Oh okay, you really want to end my pain or whatever but you don't have the slightest god damn idea what the fuck you're doing or how to fix it, cause truth is it can't be fixed. It doesn't go away. You just…eventually figure out better ways to deal with it, 's all."

She smirks and says, "How's your apartment? You're doing better than I was last year when I got so drunk I broke every piece of furniture in mine, threw paint everywhere, ripped the sink off the wall…I nearly got my ass evicted, it was a mess. Friend of mine finds me face down on the floor just covered in paint, booze, and my own snot, just gross as fuck."


And Owen has to laugh. Because of course she would understand. "Seriously. I hate the sound of my own voice talking about my shit." A psychiatrist might say it's the internalization of years of no one caring about Owen's problems. Owen would say no one like a whiner. He then almost growls, "Oh fer fuck sake. People who want to just hug it and make it better. I can't. I can't deal with it. It makes me want to scream."

He puts the sandwich down and really focuses on her again. "But the truth is?" Here his smile gets almost a little sinister. "I just wanted it. I could have gone to .. hell, a lot of people." For Owen even having a handful of people that he feels like he can actually trust is a damn near miracle, and very much a new thing in his life. "But I didn't want to. I wanted H. I wanted it…" And with a look of screw it, I'm being honest. "I want it. Every. damn. second."

Taking a sip of beer to at least distract himself and change the subject, he smiles at her as she tells her tale. "Nice." He snorts at her about being found in that state. "Yea.. it's different.." He has plenty of booze induced episodes, which aren't pretty, but heroin is a different animal. "I got kicked out of a tittie bar the night I shot up again. Started a fight just to have something to do… so that I wouldn't get high. And fuckin' knock-off my little pony batgirl.." here Owen realizes he might want to clarify. "Spoiler. She comes in and busts it up. All heroic… And there goes my distraction." Yes, he is in some ways ridiculously blaming Stephanie for this. It's not logical, but well neither is doing heroin.


It really is a small world. Owen tries to bust up a tittie bar and Spoiler stops it. Jessica sucks her lips in and tries not to laugh at the moniker, eyes twinkling. Stephanie has been too kind to her for her to allow herself that laugh. "Maybe next time find a distraction that doesn't require someone in a domino mask to come and bust it up," she says dryly.

"I mean…you know. You opt for this instead," Here she waves a hand at the work he's doing, "you get to keep going to tittie bars. I know there are a lot in New York and Gotham, Mercer, but sooner or later you'll run out. And then you'll be a real goddamn sad panda."

The woman who cut her teeth on infidelity cases doesn't have a whole lot of pearls left to clutch. And if she doesn't much make, participate, or enjoy sexual jokes for a wide variety of reasons, e-very now and then she can find herself in the neighborhood of one without feeling weird and uncomfortable about it.

But shocked that he wants it every second? Not particularly.

A little more seriously, "Look man, ultimately what you do is your business. We're cool if you're on H and we're cool if you're not on H. But if you want me to help you find your way to some methodone or some shit, from folks who won't preach at you or judge you, well. I have a few sources here and there. And that's pretty much all I got to say about that. My sister was into hard core shit for a real long time too."

Not exactly a secret, poor Patsy's problem was major news until Jessica's adoption after all. "And she knows people. But only if you want, and only when you're ready."


Owen smirks, considering Tim doesn't wear a domino mask anymore but he did just have to break up another one of Owen's fun time distractions. He says "Yea but it's good for 'em. At least I'm not tryin' t'kill 'em." Is Owen's poor defense of harassing would be heroes. Owen pretends to be very frightened by the idea of running out of strip clubs and says "I can't even think about it Jones."

The fact that she starts with clearly stating that it's not an ultimatum means a lot to Owen. It means he doesn't try to cut her off or get too squirrelly when she broaches getting help. He sighs and says "I got clean before." Swallowing hard he clarifies. "Twice." It's not really a response to her offer, at least not directly. More like acknowledging that there is work to be done, and he knows what it entails.

And then, because he can't help himself the mischievous smile creeps back on his face, "Does that mean I get to meet Trish if I go clean?" He raises his eyebrows in mock hope. Come on, it's Trish Walker! Who wouldn't be excited by that?


He got clean before. Twice.

Jessica looks down at her Coke. She isn't even prepared to say she's ever been sober, not for long enough, not really. The dipped head is an acknowledgement both of the work he has to do and the work she still has to do. An acknowledgement of what may well be a lifelong god damn project, for all the milestones she may make it through to, today. But she leaves the topic for now.

Instead, Jess laughs and says, "Sure, you can meet her. She's in DC right now and I hardly get to see her, but eventually, yeah, I'll introduce you. She scored this NPR deal that was pretty major for her. But she kept the apartment." In case he's wondering how she came to be sitting in the corner of said apartment all morning this morning. Smirking, "Don't try to play her at Poker, either. She'll destroy you. All those acting lessons turn her into the Queen of Bluffing. She usually plays for cookies, but she'll bruise an ego real quick."


Clean, it should be stated for the record, refers solely to his opioid usage. He has a sliding scale of sobriety that he uses to define such things.

Owen raises his eyebrows again at the thought of meeting Trish. He may not have listened to her shows much, but he was a big fan of both Patsy and her music career. There may have been posters involved. Considering the poker bit he says, "It would just have to be strip poker then." Has suggesting strip poker with anyone's sister ever been appropriate? No. No it has not. And does Owen really think Trish would want to see him naked, BOOMERANG tramp stamp and all? Really?

"But thanks for the offer." He looks back down and almost leaves it there before admitting, "I needed this shit." Just not having things come crashing down around him because people found out something he'd been keeping back. That alone is a relief. But after the other night he assumed her reaction would be way more harsh.


"Ugh. Dude. Don't make me break you to protect my sister."

But for now it's said mildly enough, with just a grimace and a wince rather than any true anger.

Owen says he needed this shit, and Jessica finishes the last bite of her sandwich. She crumples up the paper and drops it into the bag it came in. While she's no mind reader (and would gouge her own eye out, possibly, if she ever found herself burdened with that power), she also knows what getting 'caught' can feel like, and what the anxieties surrounding such an event can look like too.

In a roundabout acknowledgement: "Always turn into an extra-pissy bitch right after certain things. And then it's like…a switch flips. And I can't stop. Temper just gets worse and worse until it's spent. It's not always worth worrying about." Not that she's never rightfully angry. It's a matter of control. And how she wants to treat people, versus how she sometimes does. Sure, the dynamic between her and Luke is built on snark, but it's all gentle snark, with no real barbs thrown in, humor they both enjoy.

She hitches her shoulder up in a shrug, aware she came on strong and snappish.

She stands up though. "I should get a move on. These cases aren't going to solve themselves."


Owen laughs at the threat about breaking him. Really what sibling would want Owen hitting on their sister? He understands.

Though his food is only half eaten, he re-wraps it and sets it aside, clearing off his work surface again. When it finally dawns on him what Jessica is referring to he just shakes his head, "It's fine. Not like I didn't deserve it." Because he does. He knows he deserves a good shouting lecture about what a twit he's being. But deserving one and being ready to actually listen to one are very different states of being.

"Thanks for the food too. I should have these shocky gloves up and running soon." And then he looks off to the side and asks "Do you want me to add anything else? Acid grip? Talons? Glowing middle finger for extra oomf in flippin' people off?"


Jessica snarfs at the last bit, the glowing middle finger. "Naw, I think I'm good. I just want to pump enough voltage through this bitch who jumped me to make her think twice about ever touching me or anyone I give a shit about ever again. They need to take their Brotherhood bullshit elsewhere."

Now she sounds like she's in a turf war, she realizes, but she is. She suddenly realizes how much she loves her neighborhood. And just like that, decides she can finally go back to her apartment tonight, after just days of once again being too goddamned scared to approach it.

She pauses thoughtfully, "Actually, you know what? It's truth. I might need the glowing middle finger."

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