Late Night Lowdown

May 09, 2018:

Jess visits Luke at Danny's to share everything that's on her plate.

Danny Rand's Guest Room

Danny's never going to get the Luke smell out.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Valkyrie, Trask, Decimux, Danny Rand, Tony Stark, Carol Danvers, Zatanna Zatara, Iron Monger,


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

90 minutes after sending the text Jessica arrives at Danny Rand's, the first time she will ever take advantage of his hospitality for more than a few minutes of sandwich time. She feels awkward as she wanders around looking for Luke's guest
room, but she eventually finds it and slips inside.

The awful deep-cover blonde dye-job has been amply discussed right? Right.

She looks tired, and smells of stale cigarette smoke, but these are things that are often true.

Luke is waiting up, though he had no intention of meeting her at the door and sparing her the awkward conversation with Emery or the uncomfortable navigation to his room. It’s the little joys in life. He’s sitting up against a padded headboard surrounded by lush bedding he wouldn’t have chosen if his life depended on it. Floral print really isn’t his gig. Clad in a pair of plaid pajama pants and a smile, at least he has cocoa waiting as promised. “You look like a deep fried Barbie doll.”

Define amply.

"And you look like Ferdinand the Bull," Jessica retorts, though with no real heat. She figures out which cocoa is supposed to be hers and then settles down next to him on the bed with it, kicking off her shoes so as not to mark up the pretty floral print. Well. Pretty to some.

To Jessica it looks like a field threw up in here.

Still, she rests one companionable shoulder against him and actually does give cocoa the attention it deserves. Which is a fair amount of attention. Chocolate is pretty great when you feel like deep-fried ass.

Luke lifts one arm so she can settle into the void it creates, kissing her bleach frizzled hair as she sips on her cocoa. He’s being good, he didn’t even put some Irish into his own that he now balances on a thigh with his free hand. “I will take that as a compliment.” Because he has no other way to take it, besides looking out of place in the mansion he’s called home for …months? now. “So you wanna tell me what’s up, or are we doing the wall staring bit?”

"No, I don't need to wall stare. It's just complicated and a long story and I feel weird telling it. And I'm going to freak you out, probably, and I've already asked you to accept this Trask thing. And this is way weirder and more dangerous than that. Also: 60% chance I'll feel sorry for myself, or spiral, or in general act like a not-very-well-adjusted person, and I'm kind of trying to put that moment off because I like it better when I can give you a person who acts and thinks like a functional adult."

It's all pretty blunt and honest, all things considered, the Jones version of opening up, even as her mouth and shoulders set themselves into grim, tight lines.

She exhales.

"Sooner or later you're going to get sick of this shit, I bet."

“How can I get sick of it, when you’re constantly redefining what ‘it’ is. This unless this ‘deep undercover’ thing isn’t you going into witness protection where I never get to see you again…?” Luke asks, tugging on a lock of hair. “If you need to spiral? Spiral. I’m not going anywhere, but sitting here and making sure you don’t get too dizzy if you do. Got it? So. Freak away.”

"No. It's just me looking like a frizzled Barbie Doll and you know. Trying to get a job at a place that wants to collar metas. But that's not what knocked me off my game."

She hears a reprimand in 'you're constantly redefining what 'it' is' that maybe she shouldn't hear, and she scowls. She downs the cocoa like it's a shot and says, "Second problem, different case. Throwback to a last-year case. And I'm going to sound fucking insane talking about it."

She narrows her eyes and finally says:
"There's a machine god trying to eat our dimension."

Luke is about to scoop her up and no doubt try to reassure her as soon as that frown appears, but the she goes and says something like dimension eating machine god. “I’m sorry, babe. I thought you said a machine god is trying to eat our dimension. I swear I haven’t herbed out with Danny today, honest.”

"No. That's what I said."

She paces around and rubs a hand over her face.

"Look, I know it's nuts. But this is the case that got me on Stark's radar. I don't…"

She throws up her hands. "People get mad when I go full briefing mode. Their eyes glaze over. I don't know. Do you want the Cliff's Notes or the case briefing? Or do you just want Today's news? I don't even know. There's a lot of resolved stuff I'd leave out either way, it can get confusing fast."

“I’m not ‘people’ a’ight? So you lay on me what you need to. Hell, more than you think you need to. Because even if I go a little cross eyed or cuckoo, this is the sort of shit we need to be able to tell each other. It may even make some of your case notes make sense. So. Bring it on, girlfriend.” Luke finally pops up from his lounge on the bed, if only to snag something from the bedside table drawer and cross to one of the windows in his guest suite and pop it open. A pack of cigarettes and a black plastic Bic brand lighter are held out for Jessica.

He receives a truly grateful look.

Something hits her then, really hits her. "Jesus Christ. I do love you," she says, as if someone threw a baseball and knocked it out of her head. Not the 'oh, I love you' people give when someone is giving them something they need or want, but a full on fall of words that is torn from her throat as if she didn't even know they were there.

Not even relevant right now, but there it is. Welp, Jesus H., she is actually in love again, not just in like. With someone available. Who isn't a criminal. Even if some people think he is.

Jesus H. indeed.

She lights the cigarette though and gets settled, taking a long drag before offering the lighter back to him. "Stark came to me because a bunch of his tech was getting stolen, and four of his employees had died. On the surface, they looked like suicides, but they were all suspicious. I'll spare you all the gory details of how I figured it out, but it became pretty clear right away that they were all killed by someone with Kilgrave's powers. Not Kilgrave, I had a physical description already, but same nasty skillset. The killer looked a lot like he was trying to frame SHIELD for the thefts, but that was ridiculous enough from the outset that it didn't seem too important at the time."

Setting the stage.

Luke makes a feeble attempt at hiding his smile by rubbing his lips with his fingers, muttering, “Try to sound a little happier about it.” Being in love with him, of course. The smile and what levity and warm and fuzzy feelings that moment brought about are quickly fading as she goes on to explain about Stark, and he’s taking back the lighter with an arm that suddenly feels heavy. Normally he’ll just steal an errant drag off her cigarette when she smokes, but tonight seems like a good time to have one of his own. He reaches for the pack as he settles onto the window seat to listen, giving a bit of a nod of encouragement for her to continue.

"I will, when I'm done being gobsmacked," Jess says, but she pauses to press a kiss to his forehead.

But right. Story.

What's next?

"Problem is, beyond determining that I have no leads. Or rather, I have so many leads I don't even know what to do with them all. And the only important one? Was one I prioritized dead last. I committed the cardinal sin of investigation."

She blows out a smoke ring, eyes darkening with memory.

"I made an assumption."

Luke accepts the kiss with an amused little rumble of an ‘mm-hmm’ when it comes to her being gobsmacked. It’s going to take an adjustment period, and they’re both taking baby steps through it such has they haven’t said the words directly to each other yet. It seems to suit him just fine, even if he can’t let the opportunity pass to tease her about it.

He lights up his cigarette, not able to do any fancy bar tricks with the smoke, but he holds the little paper roll like a tried and true New Yorker who’s used to smoking outside in windy avenues. He holds it between forefinger and thumb, shielding the cherry with a curve of his other fingers and when he exhales he does so towards the gap of the venting window.

“If you were really drowning in leads, you had to start /somewhere/. You couldn’t have known one lead was more important than the next when you first started off.”

"Yeah," Jessica says, sighing. "And I was. One of the vics was funneling a bunch of money to her aunt back home in Maryland. A little digging said the vic had a kid, Annette; her Aunt Cassandra was taking care of her and that was the reason for the transfers. Due diligence said I needed to go, but there were a thousand other things happening too. I prioritized local leads first as I expected what I'd find was as straightforward as what I learned."

She smokes in much the same way, looking a bit haunted.

"When I got there, though, baby was missing— found her later, saw her to a new family safely, may have technically committed about three felonies to make it happen, but she's fine— and Aunt Cassandra was dead. Beheaded. It was one of the most gruesome things I've ever seen in my life. Still haven't found her killer. It wasn't the person who killed the first four vics and it wasn't the people I'm about to tell you about, who showed up next. Pretty sure killer was Fat Iron Man, an opportunity-thief who built his own Iron Suit and flies around in it. I'm pretty sure he was looking for what we found, but couldn't find it."

Another long drag on the cigarette. Is all this truly relevant? Jess isn't even sure anymore. She can't brief a case without briefing a case, and if she's leaving out huge bits of how she got to certain things, and plans on leaving out a whole swath of the story to protect certain people's privacy, it's still a lot.

"Vic had this whole lab hidden under Aunt Cassandra's house. And as we explored it— Peggy was with me— well. That was when shit got weird."

Luke settle down on the window seat, making it look no more comfortable than if he were sitting on the edge of a ledge. No doubt his new apartment will be built more to his frame, along with the furniture he chooses for it. One of his paws juts out to curl around the back of one of her thighs, rubbing reassuringly. It’s not much comfort he can give, but he still offers it. At least to his credit, his eyes haven’t glossed over yet. “If you’re saying shit got weird…” His eyes round out and he gives a low whistle, but is ready to listen to what was found.

She chuckles at that, and accepts the comfort.

"Yeah. So. She built this sort of mini-portal to a parallel dimension in her basement. We ended up just dubbing it Universe B, we being Stark and SHIELD too, because of course they were all in it. Anyway, she was there talking to herself. So we get down there, we activate some of her stuff, and suddenly I'm talking to a dead woman."

She takes another drag on her cigarette.

"Who thinks I'm Agent Jones of SHIELD. And so she throws a bunch of shit through the portal at me and we have to shut it down cause she says someone is coming. I'm thinking the murderer, but that wasn't it at all. Anyway, so now we've activated a portal, and this team of strange mercs show up. They call themselves the Agency and they attack. I accidentally killed one, but you know. He got better. Because…reasons, I don't really know. They all have weird-ass powers, and they all serve the machine god Decimux. And it turns out our murderer? He's a defector from these yahoos."

She’s right. That /is/ some weird as shit.

Even if he had to travel into a scene straight of the hell dimension of Pleasantville once to retrieve from being imprisoned in a stone, full on parallel dimensions are another layer of messed-upness. What she says leaves him rubbing his bald head like all that information literally hurt and his cigarette burning down between his knuckles now, nearly forgotten.

“There is some dimension where you’re a SHIELD agent.” Luke processes.

“And now this Decimux is coming to …eat us?” He asks after that lengthy pause, more so to test that he’s been able to follow along.

“Yeah. It’s his thing. Sieve, the killer, did all this horrible shit to try to save as many as possible from Universe B. When I tracked him down and gathered some folks to deal with him he was opening a giant portal with his stolen tech. To get to refugees. I saw her. Agent Jones. Talked to her. That was a trip.”

She puts the butt out on the window and flicks it away. Lights another.

“Two hundred survivors on a space station. Children, mostly. We pulled 80 of them through before the portal collapsed. Win of a sort. Sieve starts telling me Decimux will eat us next if I didn’t kill him. Broke his link with the machine god instead. He still didn’t make it, but I tried.”

She stares out the window. “All 80 of them, plus this one chick trapped with the Agency? They all look at me like I am their only goddamn hope. Because they know this other me. Who apparently had her shit together. Like I’m the second goddamn coming. Agent Jones will fix it. A whacky stance considering she…I? Apparently let them down before. But I owe it to them to try. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I’m a private dick with a booze problem and virtually zero experience with angry machine gods. Or to tell them Decimux has a win percentage of 100%, according to the second defector I found. Anyway I mobilized the troops. Made Stark call the Avengers and everything. And. Nothing. Crickets. Silence. It seemed we’d fixed it, at least for our dimension, and honestly, one at a goddamn time right? I’d dared to hope it was over.”

She blows out a long, hard stream of smoke.

“Until my latest crime scene. Tonight.”

The truth is, Jess could tell a thousand tales right now that would put hair on his head. Ever since Zatanna Zatara walked into her office her life has been a touched by aliens, cultists wielding dark magic, evil secret societies, distant cultures, alternate universes and gods. She supposes, sometime, she should.

There is thinking he knows what it means to be with her, and then there is the singular experience of listening to shit like this. Or realizing the scruffy private eye apparently thinks it’s her job to save their reality, or at least to be on the front lines of that.

“So what you’re saying is that the honeymoon is over.” As far as Decimux goes, that is. Not applicable to their current romantic relationship.

Luke just uses his fingers to pinch out his cigarette, flicking it out the window and dusting the ash off his skin. What’s the use of having a super power if you can’t use it for mundane things like that that make you look cool? He opts not to light up another one for the time being, but says nothing of Jessica chainsmoking.

“Same type of thing then?” He asks of the crime scene, treading carefully around the subject. She wouldn’t be here if it were just so cut and dry. “All for the sake of more refugees from Universe,” God, that’s painful to comprehend much less say, “B?”


She furrows her brow. “The first four were that. Cassandra was a murder of opportunity by a third party who wanted the tech. But this? I’m not even sure if my vic is dead.”

She watches him do the cool thing with the faintest of smirks. She is distracted, but she enjoys watching him do that shit.

“H.M. Halsey. Best selling author. Writes about alternate dimensions. Found at crime scene: one pile of ash, nature unknown. Key. Thumb drive. This item.”

She holds up a small metal disc about the size of a bowl, which she pulls out of her phone. It has a button on top. “Portable portal, used only by the Agency, as far as I know. Shitload of blood. A notebook containing nonsense, and code, possibly binary. And this.”

She flips to the last page. The word Decimux has been written out, clearly.

“Not found at scene of crime: a body. Could be a kidnap victim, could be a recruit. One thing is for sure. Decimux has not forgotten shit, has not been cut off from shit and still needs to be handled. And bodies hit the floor when the Agency is around. They killed Annette’s foster parents. And would have killed the baby too, had Itzpapalotl not saved her. The Obsidian Butterfly is another long story though.”

She finishes her cigarette and frowns out at the street. “Eff it. I gotta check in with a hacker friend in Gotham, see what she can make of it. Gotta talk to Tony. And Carol. She specializes in aliens. This time I am talking to Wakanda too. If anyone has the tech…eventually we gotta go in there. Take the fight straight to him. Gods aren’t invulnerable no matter how much they seem it. Az. She’d be a good one to bring. You, if you want. Some others. He sends assassins after other gods so. He can be hurt. He can be taken down. Every other world waited around to be eaten. I think it’s time to see how ours does taking the fight to him. I’ll analyze the evidence of course. And I gotta deal with Trask. But too many people died on my watch last time. I’ll be damned if I sit around deferring to more important people again. I’m making this happen. That’s all there is to it. 120 dead refugees. 9 murder victims, 1 of whom was my fault, 1 dead perp. Too many fucking bodies. Not again. Not on my watch. And he sure as fuck can’t have our world. Fuck him.”

“Could he have gone through this?” Luke asks of the portal thingie, tapping it distrustingly with his finger but staying far away from anything that looks like a button. He glances up with a bit of a guilty look on his face, “Sorry, babe, sometimes you rattle off names like I should know who they are, but the best I can do is listen.” In this case likely ‘Annette’ ‘Itzpapalotl’ and a baby that features in here somehow.

He watches her finish her cigarette. “Sounds like you’re doing anything but sitting idly by, Jones. If you want, I can introduce you to Valkyrie because she /is/ an alien. Don’t know if she’d be of any help though, but that’s all that I got as far as extraterrestrials besides a working knowledge of the plot of ET. And you know if you want me to go, I’ll go. Anywhere. So yeah, fuck Decimux.”

"It's fine. Sometimes I forget what I have and haven't told you, too," Jessica says wearily. "I think he was dragged through it. And that's good. I like introductions. I like connections and giant teams and punching gods in the face. At least Fat Iron Man is dead. I saw him blow up on some footage from the Stark gala. It didn't let me prove he did for Marx, but at least he's out of the way for good."

She sidles closer, until she's legitimately snuggling up against him. "A little time to analyze. A little time to recruit. And then…yeah. Maybe we really do end this. Maybe John and Zee too."

She closes her eyes and smiles up at him. "Never ends, does it?"

“See, look at that. Less than an hour with me, and you’ve already got a plan. It’s like I’m good for you or something.” As Jess snuggles in next to him, he slings an arm around her shoulders and pulls her tighter.

As for the fun fest never ending, he comments with a rumble of amusement in his voice, “I’ve long ago giving up the idea of a dull mundane existence a long time ago, now I don’t even have to settle for boring evening once you came into my life. And you know what? I’m okay with that.” He easily slips his other arm underneath her knees and plucks her off the window seat to tote her back to the bed and unceremoniously toss her onto the fluffy top. “Now get some sleep, woman.” He instructs.

"Hey!" Jessica cries, as he tosses her, but he's got her laughing.

She reaches for him, pulls him down, and kisses him. "Ass," she grumbles. "You know what though? You are good for me. So you know. I think I'll keep you around for awhile or something."

And then:

"Holy shit, this bed is comfortable. Why were we ever sleeping in my place?"

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