How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Maximoffs?

April 18, 2018:

The Defenders — a loose association formed to take on Wilson Fisk last year — meet to discuss another threat to their city.

Alias Investigations


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

When Matt had said he wanted to get all the gang together (or most, with Six currently held up at Stark Industries) to discuss this incursion by the Brotherhood into Hell's Kitchen, Jessica had offered her place. She knows he's pretty private about his own flat, and people are in and out of Alias all day long. And there's the big couch with the big coffee table.

Ok, in retrospect, Rand's place would have been cushier. But it didn't occur to her to suggest anyone else's place, the same way it rarely occurs to her to ask for help, and the same way that she's a little uneasy about any of this being sparked by her getting her ass handed to her.

But you know what cuts uneasiness? Pizza. Which she ordered. Lots of drinks and breadsticks. If she's going to have them all over, she might as well feed them, right? That's what normal people do, when they have more than one person over at a time in a semi-social, semi-are-we-kicking-anyone's-ass-soon meeting, right? Why is she still so awkward about doing things like this? Probably because she will be awkward till she's ninety-two, and that's just how it is.

Dressed in jeans and bare feet, a black tank top and a blue and black plaid shirt, she's pretty casual at the moment, though. It's what she wears when she's trying to pretend she knows exactly how to act like a normal person.

Luke rolls out of the bedroom, presumably having just come from the restroom as he's drying his hands on the seat of his jeans. "So they're just about ready to start forming out the new basement. It's not too late to add that rompus room to the floor plan." Joking? Likely, judging by the grin on his face and his preparedness to duck in case she finds something to lob at him close at hand.

Danny Rand is on the phone when he enters. He's wearing a pretty fashionable cream coloured suit with a burgundy t-shirt underneath. The fact that he looks put together suggests someone else had a hand in picking out his clothes. With that suit and the neat loafers, plus hair that looks remotely under control, he actually looks for a moment like he might be the CEO of Rand Enterprises. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Julia. I'm sorry. Back up to the part about uh…the brand…standards thing?" Illusion broken.

Danny Rand enters Jessica Jones' apartment through the front door, like a proper guest. Luke Cage comes from the bedroom like — well. A regular guest. Matt Murdock? Matt Murdock crawls through the open window in full devil-red regalia. His true identity may be known to everyone currently in Jessica's apartment, but presumably he has his reasons for keeping his double-lives carefully segmented. They are here to discuss business involving Daredevil, so it's Daredevil who arrives, slipping through the window and behind Jessica's desk like some burglar.

Or almost like a burglar. Thieves probably don't quirk their lips and lift their chins towards the occupants of the house they're stealing into. "Glad to hear repairs are coming along," Daredevil says to Cage. He turns his red-lensed regard to Jessica, and there's the briefest hitch of pause — as if he noticed something that surprised him. "How are you feeling?" he asks.

"Sweet," Jessica says, of the new basement. She is sort of lounging on her corner of the couch, curled into it, and she lifts a hand to Danny when he comes in, just motioning that he should close the door. She surely can't help him with anything relating to brand standards or anything remotely like them.

Daredevil comes in through the window, and indeed, it was left open for that purpose. And that sudden hitch of a pause? Well…she glances down briefly, then says, "Me? I'm fine. I've managed not to get my face broken or anything for a good month, so. You know. Good stuff. Come on in."

They are in, Jess.

Flustered once again by her attempts at hostessing, she just waves a hand at all the food. There it is. Have at. You know what to do.

"I gotta go. No…" Danny rolls his eyes skyward and winces at the voice on the other end. He mouths 'sorry' to Jessica and Luke, then, "Mmmhm, Tuesday. I won't forget." A beat, "…my phone won't let me forget." Pause. "Yes…Pete will put it in my phone. Yes. Okay. Okay. Bye. Gotta…bye."

He pulls his phone away from his face and jams the 'hang up' button firmly. He does this just in time to see Matt steal through the window. "I feel overdressed. Ooh, pizza."

"Anybody ever tell you that's kinda creepy." Luke says with the grin obvious in his voice as Daredevil climbs in the window. "Jess and I could have been … moving furniture … and you could have heard everything." He's already at the pizza, because the man doesn't need to be told to eat. A slice is lofted at Danny by way of greeting, "You should wear a bib so you don't get any sauce on those fancy duds."

"What, you didn't know it was a pajama party?" Daredevil says, dark and dry, to Danny Rand. He eschews the pizza, instead making his way over to the bookshelf corner where Jessica's finer booze collection once lingered, and where pictures of her family remain. He folds his arms over his chest and leans against the wall. It would be an almost lazy posture, if his body didn't communicate a certain restless tension even in repose.

To the matter of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage moving furniture he offers no comment at all. "Thanks for hosting us, Jones," he says. Nearly always Jones rather than Jess when he's wearing the mask: professional. "Glad to hear you've avoided any other run-ins. It's that one from a month ago I wanted us to get a chance to talk about, though."

"Luke! Jesus!" Jessica says, flushing as he just makes this comment about what they might have been doing. She claps a hand to her face and groans. Sure, he makes those jokes to her all the time. In private. In front of Matt and Danny she doesn't take them quite so well apparently. She gives him one of her signature grimaces of just sheer irritation. She now eschews the pizza, not that she hadn't already been into it, grabbing up a pillow from her couch and curling around it.

But Matt is Matt, getting right down to business, and she's more than grateful for it. She'll just pretend her face isn't flaming. Sure.

"I'm not sure what to do about her or…I guess anyone else she's attached to," she admits, uneasily. "I haven't seen her or anything either. Not. That I've really gone looking."

She admits this like it's a personal failure, the detective who is not looking.

Danny is normally someone who is fully engaged and is not one to be distracted or to glue himself to his phone. But his handlers have been snugging up the leash more lately, by way mostly of his phone. He frowns at it when it makes a noise. He totally misses most of the exchange and any quips. It's okay, he wouldn't have had a good comeback anyway. He looks around at the others, blinks, then, "Who's…she? Who? Sorry. Sorry, guys. I feel like I'm missing some things." And with that, he very purposefully mutes his phone, puts it into the pocket of his jacket that he carried in, and sets said coat out of reach. There.

The couch makes a noise of protest as Luke lowers himself down onto the cushions besides Jessica, still grinning despite her grimace, "I was talking about feng shui, judging by your blush get your mind out of the gutter, Jones." But that's enough teasing her for the moment, as they get down to 'business'. As for Rand's question, he feels it's better to let Jessica field it, and his gaze swivels that way.

"'She' is the person who did all the damage to Jones that you undid a few weeks back," Daredevil answers Rand from his shadowed crook. "Strong, maybe unbreakable." That said with a slight tip of his head towards Mr. Unbreakable himself, Luke cage. "And apparently member of a mutant terrorist outfit called the Brotherhood. They were responsible for blowing up the Stark Expo, and other acts of terrorism. They're led by a brother and sister. Twins. One is… fast." Fast enough it gave the vigilante's extraordinary senses whiplash just to trace his rapid-fire footsteps that night they brought Tony Stark's world down on his head. "The other can do — magic? Or something like it? I don't know."

A beat. "But the woman they sent after Jess bore a message," Daredevil maintains grimly. "That they were moving into Midtown — to Hell's Kitchen. The attack was their greeting card."

The look Jess shoots Luke is again exasperated, but she lets it go.

"I have heard some folks on the street mention that they think they've seen them around," Jessica says quietly. "I mean. I don't know why Hell's Kitchen. Not exactly some kind of poster child for metahuman maltreatment or anything. Maybe it's just because our police are even less effective here than cops usually are? They aren't attacking people out here that I've heard of or anything. Except. You know. Me."

She grimaces and looks down again, frowning at her hands.

"Oh," says Danny. He's quiet a moment, his face bunched in concentration. "Do they…have accents and are they kind of…weird?" He sounds like he's really not sure. Despite his recent leap of deducing Daredevil's identity, he's still not confident in his own ability to put things together. And no one would ever accuse him of being a detective. "Because if so, I think they maybe broke into my house?"

Luke has finished his slice of pizza - let's be fair it probably took all of two bites, three if he's being polite - so that frees him to reach over to rest a big hand over Jessica's and give a squeeze of silent support. "If they aren't being quiet about it, that means Fisk is bound to know too. So they are either working with him, or there's about to be an ugly ass turf war…"

Whatever else he was going to say gets clipped off as Danny's words sink in."Ninja say WHAT?"

At what Rand says, Daredevil slowly dips his head forward, and even if an onlooker had no idea what face lay behind that mask, they could still imagine the crease of consternation that neatly bisects his brow. "They do," he quietly, evenly confirms for Rand on the matter of accents and seeming weirdness, carefully trying to keep anything longsuffering out of his voice. It's the starkest contrast with Cage you could imagine. "So why don't you tell us about it, Danny?"

Jessica turns to stare at Danny herself. Her what the actual eff is written all over her face. Loud and clear. For those who cannot see her face, well, that person probably knows her well enough to see it screaming in the set of her shoulders. Right? Right. But Matt has asked the salient question here.

She slow reaches for a Coke. She hasn't smoked in nearly four weeks, Matt would probably appreciate it if she doesn't take it up again. Coke shall be her vice today instead.

She does mutter something.

It sounds suspiciously like the words 'baby monitor' and 'toddler leash.'

"I thought they were friends of yours, Luke. Or Owen. Or Emery. I mean, my house has a pretty fancy security system. And they were in my kitchen." There's a little bit of defensiveness that creeps into his voice and posture. "I thought someone had texted me they were staying and I just missed it." Which, given how his phone was chirping earlier, doesn't seem that far-fetched.

He takes a slow breath, then, "I started to figure out that something might be wrong when they said they knew you," he nods towards Jessica. "Which, you know, you haven't ever crashed at my place. They said they got my name from you. And then shortly after that they just sort of…disappeared."

"I think that's even more unsettling than Jess getting the smack down," says Luke. Mainly because if they were right there and Danny had no reason to have his hackles raised, they could have done some serious damage. "But they didn't…hurt you? Or. Then what were they after?" That makes his brain hurt, and he starts massaging his bald dome with one hand. "Shit, I'm just glad you're okay, man."

Daredevil seems a little less perturbed by the notion of the twins waltzing into Rand's apartment, under Rand's nose, than Luke is. He may, quietly, wonder on some level how the man who guessed that blind, mild-mannered Matt Murdock was the brutal vigilante Daredevil, could somehow have missed that the two hipsters hanging out in his apartment building were actually mutant terrorists. But on some level he realizes that's just the magic and mystery of Danny Rand.

Still, he shares Luke's curiosity about one salient point. "What did they ask you?" he says. That's a different question than 'what were they after.' Honestly, he doesn't trust Danny to know, or properly interpret. At the moment he's in Dragnet mode: just the facts.

"Yeah, I sure as Hell have never met them personally," Jessica says sourly. "Jesus, Danny, why didn't you text or call for help or something? What did they do? Why were they there? You could have gotten your ass handed to you!"

The Big Sistering is coming out. Good and hard. She scowls at him in concern and says, "Did she hit you with any spells? Anything? Do I need to get someone to check you out? We should get someone to check you out. John or Zee or someone. Danny! You can't just let people wander into your house! Luke, if you're staying at his house you've gotta put a stop to just…whomever inviting whomever! Do Owen and Emery seriously just invite random strangers to just wander around in there? There's hospitality and there's just…terrorists showing up!"

Says the woman whose home is routinely broken into by friend as often as foe. Just either missing the defensiveness or just rolling right over it. She stands up to pace, all agitated energy. "I can't believe they used my name. Just. God damn."

She seems to realize that far more important things are being asked and said though, so she snaps her mouth shut.

"When they started talking about activism, and about registration, I knew something had to be wrong. I mean, I felt it a bit before that." Danny looks a bit sheepish, but his heckles are also a bit up.

"They…broke into my house somehow, past a pretty, uh, extreme security system. I wasn't going to suddenly confront them. Because best case in that situation, it ends up a draw and then they know I can fight." Worst case scenario is obviously much worse than that. "They left when they realized I was getting suspicious. I don't know why they broke in or what they were after. I couldn't find anything missing." He looks over at Jessica. "No one gets in without someone letting them in. That's why I thought they had to be friends." Then he takes a moment, corrects, "No one is supposed to be able to get in. And people do tell me but my phone… just never stops making noises these days. I need like, a phone just for you guys."

You know that annoying thing that happens when people hang out a lot with each other, that they start to pick up certain mannerisms from each other? Well Jess gets leveled that 'look' from Luke that she can dole out out when she suggests he puts a stop to the revolving door of Rand's house. Take some of your own medicine woman! Still, his hand squeezes her knee. "What did they talk about, besides name dropping Jones?"

Daredevils' jaw — the one visible stretch of his skin in that dull-red getup — shifts and tightens as Danny answers questions and the rest of the team asks more. The questions and their answers are important, but one fact is impressing on him. "This is escalation," he says. "First in the streets, then in our homes. Picking a fight with Jones could have been a signal to any number of people — Stark, the Avengers, even Constantine and Zatanna. She's connected. But her, then Rand?" He draws in a breath that flares his nostrils, like some bull getting ready to charge.

"We're the targets," he finishes. "Either because they want Hell's Kitchen and they link Jones, Cage, and I with it — or because it's us." Which, given the nexus of their association, means this could very well involve Fisk in one more layer of payback for last year's antics.

"Danny. Please. Trust your instincts and your gut," Jessica grumbles, coming back to the couch in time to get a Look (TM) and a knee squeeze from Luke. "I mean it obviously worked out but, Christ."

But Matt is drawing the reasonable conclusion, and she exhales and leans back on the couch. She flushes a little as he mentions she's connected; she just meets lots of people, is all. But…"Well. Shit. Well, okay, so what do we do about it? Because um. I mean…I don't know if the four of us can take this bitch. And if she's got Speedy and the Red Woman with her? We're actually probably toast."

Jess can be a coward sometimes. Or, at least, way more anxious and cautious than most of the people in this business, one can take one's pick depending on how charitable he or she is feeling.

"I did," says Danny to Jessica. "And my gut told me not to confront two strange people who I realized shouldn't be in my house and somehow got around my security system." He swallows and shakes his head. "They seemed to care about registration? I mean, maybe they were just saying that. But they seemed to like my answer when I told them I thought it was wrong. They weren't there long. We talked for maybe five, six minutes?" He eyes the pizza, but either he doesn't have an appetite or Luke's comment about his suit stops him. "Why would Fisk send them to my house? That doesn't seem like his style. I feel like I've been chasing shadows of him all through Rand's finances. But the Jehovah's Witnesses of Metahuman Rights thing? Doesn't seem like his style."

"Mutant registration is wrong," says a jaw-clenched Daredevil with his horned-head bowed, never sounding more like the ACLU-interning Matt Murdock than he does right now. And then? Then the voice shifts back, coils into something tighter: "But whatever their reasons, they punched us. So we still punch back." The lawyer may be speaking, but he's articulating cold logic of the schoolyard, of the rough-and-tumble streetcorner and its eternal mantra: No weakness.

"If we can't get their bruiser with them as backup, we get her alone," he continues softly. "I can do that. I can track them in the neighborhood, and tell when they're apart. But all of us need to work together if we're going to take on even one of them."

Danny says he did listen to his instincts, and Jessica finally relents. "Sorry," she mutters. "Just. Worried about you."

But then, Daredevil is laying out his plan, and Jessica looks down at the ground briefly. Everything about her radiates uneasiness.

"Are we trying to bring her into someone or just…send a message of our own?"

She looks over at Daredevil after a moment. She chews slowly on her nail. "What stops them from punching back for round three?"

No arguments from her that registration is wrong, of course, but since that's obvious to her she doesn't spend any time on that.

She hunches her shoulders just a little bit, and finally puts both her pizza and her Coke aside. She squeezes Luke's shoulder, but crosses to the window Daredevil came in through. She settles into it, the window she thinks of as Bucky's, and looks over at the rest of her friends, brow still furrowed.

"Jessica, I know I don't really show it sometimes, and I know…me spending the last ten years in another realm does put me at a disadvantage, but I am able to take care of myself." The fact that Danny Rand is still alive speaks to that, if nothing else.

He frowns more as Matt outlines his plan. "Is talking to them out of the question? If they wanted to hurt me, they could have. They proved that they can get to me. That they can take on Jess. Going at them head on seems like a bad idea and might force their hand. And if we decide to go against a larger and stronger opponent, we have to think carefully about how we do that." Spoken like someone who thinks in a martial artist's terms. "Maybe there's a way we can take on their force, but redirect it. At the very least, we need to figure out how their powers work before we can even start thinking up a plan."

Luke's hands both go up in some sort of capitulation, "Hey, you know me. I'm all for busting a few heads if they need busting and right now I feel like we're getting all sorts of walked over. If they are rolled up with Fisk, it means it started with my bar, then busting up Jess, and then trying to show some dominance with Rand. So. It's time we let them know we're not just going to take it on the chin."

"No, talking to them is not out of the question," Daredevil says as of 'talking to them' he vaults into a forward-pace from his recline by the bookshelf. He practically seethes, breath rising and falling in quick and steady pace. "But unless you're going for some truly masterful jujitsu, Rand, all it'll do is show our belly to them. And if this is a long con, then we have to be prepared for all the shit we'll have to let them pull on in our city while we pretend to be scared of them."

Or maybe not pretend. He registers Jessica and Danny's sensible caution.

But Luke's suggestion sings in his ears. It distills all his impulses down to their core. And then, it provides a moment of utter clarity, so perfect that it forces a breath out of his chest. "We should beat the ever-loving-daylights out of the woman who thrashed you," Daredevil affirms. "And then ask them to meet. Because — I think — we'll have things to say."

Jessica exhales. Luke is all for it, and him pointing out that it's also about the bar, about the stuff that's going on in Rand's company, eases some of her responses. Daredevil's fury puts her in the mind of a caged panther, just waiting for something to strike. Luke is all in. Rand suggests talking, and though she's normally a fan of using her words…she's not sure that will work either.

Fact is, she's not sure what will.

"Look, I'm…I'm real sick of being a victim," she admits, in a strained voice. "I'm just…real worried one of you will get killed trying to get some back for me. And I'm not worth getting killed over. But if it might stop shit from happening to all of you…just…it had better be a damned good plan. I don't think you guys are really…parsing. What it was like. To fight her. I mean yeah, I made that comment about electricity but she just…grunted when I threw her into live wires. I just…I don't want any of you getting killed."

"I agree that we don't want to seem weak. But what if we are?" Danny looks around at all of them for a moment. His expression is its usual earnestness, but marked with something a bit more measured, a bit calmer. Not quite wise, but perhaps teasing the edges of wisdom. "What if they already have us by the throat and all they have to do is bite? Lashing out is only going to make them bite down. Even if we beat down their heavy, what would that accomplish? They can walk past any security system, burn down Luke's bar, infiltrate my company." He sighs deeply. "We have some potential common ground with this registration issue. Why not try to use it? Punching at them would make us feel better, but it could also make things a whole lot worse."

He thinks for a moment, then snaps. "What if we got something that they want? It might make them back down. Some dirt on a legislator or something else that the media would love to get its…" and then his phone starts making a particularly shrill sound. He winces. "Sorry, that's…the emergency…noise." AKA Joy when she really really needs to reach him. She doesn't abuse it because she knows if she does, Danny will just start ignoring it. He crosses to get his coat, then checks the message. "I have to go. I'll try to get back. Just…think about the talking thing?" And before anyone has a chance to say anything more, he's out the door.

Luke sets his feet wide, leaning over his knees and resting his elbows on the meat of his thighs as Danny leaves. "First thing you've got to realize Jess, we're all in this for ourselves as much as we're in it for you. And by our own free will, and because surprise surprise, we sorta like you. Now as for exploring our less violent options, I'm still with the Devil on this one. Strike first, make truce later."

But what if we are? Danny says of their purported weakness, and it twists somewhere in his red-clad compatriot's gut. So much of Matt Murdock's life is spent in gentle, wry deference. To allow people — however powerful — to run ram shod over his friends and everything they've built, or to redirect that evil and trick them into running ram shod over someone else? It galls at a conscience formed in Catholic schools and on Hell's Kitchen's mean streets.

That quiet sentiment finds force when Danny tells them that they could find 'dirt' on a legislator, as an example. "We're not going to get them off our backs by helping them to be better goddamn terrorists," Daredevil says through clenched teeth to Danny Rand, and then ducks his head as the blonde CEO goes. His privilege means he can afford to fake weakness, Murdock thinks of the billionaire heir, uncharitably.

Then Luke is not only agreeing with Matt, but trying to raise Jessica's subprime self-worth, single-handedly, with his not-inconsiderable shoulders. It wins a rare, slight smile from the devil-suited man, before he turns to the substance of what Jessica is saying. She doesn't want anyone to die because of her. He dips his chin, mulls that thought. "This is also bigger than you," he adds quietly on top of Cage. "They hurt people before. Non-powered-people. They'll hurt them again. Unless we step in."

Bigger than her and people who have been hurt is indeed the way to get Jessica's buy-in. Not only does it sort of redirect off her…Luke's attempts not withstanding, even his appeal to free will, do not entirely take the sick look of worry and fear off her face…but it also puts it back into the realm of things she does care about.

"Yeah. Yeah, okay, M— DHK. I'm in. I wouldn't let you guys run off and do this alone anyway."

She has the distinct feeling Cage and Murdock would form themselves a partnership and go to town whether she agreed or not, and that scares her even more. "Let's hope hitting them back really hard helps those people. I guess it will at least keep them focused on us instead, which isn't the worst thing in the world. I do have some taser gloves with voltages that really ought to be illegal, just in case I run into her again. Maybe with you guys' help we'll actually give her something to think about."

Luke gets to his feet and paces the distance to Jess's side. "Good, because we're bullheaded enough to go off and do this without you otherwise." Luke says, seemingly echoing her thoughts. He bends to give her a quick kiss to the top of her head. "I've got an early morning meeting with the concrete guy and if I don't catch him tomorrow, it sets us back a month until the crew is available again, so I'm going to pack it in. Devil, my man, keep an eye on my girl. Make sure she doesn't chew her nails down to the quick worrying about us worrying about her, would you? We'll crack heads soon."

Daredevil's frame shakes, once, when Cage makes his quip. "See you, Luke," he says, with a note of irony in his voice. Then he's turning his attention back to Jessica, who has seemingly acquiesced, against her better judgment, to 'Powerman' and 'Daredevil's' recommendations on how to handle a challenge.

"When it comes to voltages, Six is going to be our MVP," he continues with a smirk. "Or we'll work through Jane, or even — I don't know. Stark. Either way, redirecting these uber-powerful people's wrath isn't enough. There has to be some justice."

"Sleep well, Luke," Jessica says. As usual, she doesn't know whether to scowl or be touched by his attempts to take care of her, and she finally settles on touched, more or less. "I'll be fine," she assures.

She will take the kiss but doesn't really do anything more than a quick touch on the arm, feeling as awkward about PDA than ever. Especially in light of feng shui comments earlier.

No comments on justice. She's agreed, and she's doing it, which means the reasons presented are already good enough for her. Now it's just a matter of planning, and there? She's got nothin'. Fortunately, Matt seems to have the start of somethin'.

She pushes off of Bucky's window, because she knows that's Daredevil's way out, and says, "I do want to borrow you for just. Two seconds, DHK," she admits. "Before you go home. Not to babysit my worry though, at least."

Rand is gone, Luke slips out, and some of Daredevil's edge softens with it when it's suddenly him and Jessica Jones alone in the room. It's not quite Matt Murdock reasserting himself — not fully — but he's here to be found in the space between them. "Yeah," the red-clad man says quietly as he turns towards her, one shoulder rolling up in shrugging agreement. "Of course. What's on your mind, Jones?"

She doesn't answer right away. Jessica hesitates. Really, really hesitates.

Then quickly digs in her pocket and withdraws a small, round object which she passes over to him. She lets him get a chance to 'look' at what she's just handed him, everything in her sort of reflecting awkwardness. But something else, too.

"So," she says quietly. "Six months ago I came into your office a damn mess, worse off than I'd been in a long time. You didn't judge me, but you did talk me off the ceiling. And honestly I don't even remember half of what you said. Just that I wasn't scared to go home anymore after we talked, and the image of you doing that kind of stuck with me every time I was tempted. To drink. I've been doing this AA thing since last February, trying to get my shit together, and I never got this far before. Best I ever did was 3 months before I was back at it. So. I just. Wanted to show you, I guess. And thank you. Because I think if you hadn't been there that night, I'd have given up."

She gives an awkward shrug, but the gratitude is there all the same.

Daredevil accepts the token from her hands, briefly taking in the weight and texture of it through the thinner-than-thin, state-of-the-art gloves, even as he listens to her lay her breakthrough partly at his feet. There's a tightening to his jaw, this time born of more complicated emotions than the tension or frustration that predominated just a few minutes before. "I'm, ah, glad I helped," he says, and now it truly is Matt's voice coming through, quiet and kind.

"But this?" he adds with with a gesture of his upraised palm before extend the hand to return it. "This was all you, Jess. I remember that night. The demons you were facing. Literal demons. But you did face them."

The corners of his lips twitch. "Like I said — toughest person I know."

She takes it back from him, turns it over and finally chuffs an appreciative laugh at what he says, even as a little embarrassment raises her body temperature just a hint. That slight tightening of his jaw has her tilting her head just quizzically, but in the end she decides that she can't decipher it.

She'll just offer a joke, and offer she does.

"Demons," she agrees solemnly, "suck ass."

But slides the token back into her pocket. "Here's to October," she says. And for once, she sounds confident she might just make it, too.

But now, of course, enter awkward. She has no more idea how to gracefully end this conversation than she knew how to start it. This whole struggle with the sauce is something she has a hard time talking about in general really, made all the weirder by the fact that her beau is busy building a place where he will…serve lots of booze. Sticking her hands in her pockets like the graceless individual she is, she says, "Anyway. That was it. I know it's been a long night already. Say hi to Six for me; I fully intend to kidnap her for a bad-guy and demon-free girl's night again soon."

"To October," Daredevil agrees with a rueful lift of his chin. Whatever complicated cocktail of emotions seems to have passed, leaving only wry affection in aftertaste. His lips flicker towards a smile when she brings up Six. "You should," he says without reservation of her whisking away his girlfriend, and then explains why: "She's been a little cloistered since she — ah. Faced her own demon. She doesn't act like it… but she could use some company beyond mine."

Then he's walking towards her window, stealing through it with the grace of a cat — or cat-burglar. Take your pick. "See you around, Jessica Jones," the man in red murmurs, and then he's gone in the wind, one more shadow in the noisy, nightime streets they share.

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