Lines Between Dots

June 02, 2018:

Foggy Nelson needs a sounding board after his confrontation with Matt Murdock. He shows up at Jessica's door. There's more than one important conversation to have here tonight.

Alias Investigations

Home of the heart-to-heart.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Matt Murdock, Trish Walker, Luke Cage, Pietro Maximoff, Wanda Maximoff

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Calling ahead is wise with one Jessica Jones, especially if one intends to come by any earlier than, say, 3 PM. The Detective's hours often keep her out until nearly dawn, which means she spends the morning hours sleeping more often than not. A call means she has gotten decent, thrown on jeans and a navy blue tank top, thrown her bedhead best (thankfully black once more), into a messy pony tail, and gotten some Red Bull into her system so that she may speak and interact like a real live grown-up human, not like a Neandrathal.

It does not mean shoes on her feet, or her at her desk being professional. Foggy's a friend anyway, so she is curled up on the L-shaped couch waiting for him, reading a book on her phone. It's probably something non-fiction and probably something seemingly random or ecclectic. The old maxim of 'no knowledge is ever wasted' is how Jones runs her business. Sometimes surface level knowledge leads to the right questions and an understanding of the right people to ask said questions to, which is what a detective really needs to do her job. No knowledge at all means missing clues and connections and possible leads, so she reads voraciously, far more so than anyone usually would suspect upon meeting the scrappy detective, a woman who barely dragged herself out of high school with a passing GPA and made it into a warm-body community college only to quit a week later.

Of course, nobody would guess directly after that she spent time as a criminal, either, a two-bit shoplifter and ATM bandit who chose this as her method of proving she could definitely make it without her loaded sister. Whether they'd guess that in the modern day she is skirting dangerously close to that line again, if for much better reasons and much bigger and more important payouts, well. That's up to you, Gentle Reader, and all that jazz.

*

It has been several days since Foggy Nelson cornered his very best friend about being the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, and all the weight of Matt's lies have settled onto the shoulders of the man's frame. He seems a bit more heavy in his sneakers as he trudges up the stairs to Alias, and he's not in his usual suit and impressive tie. Today is all about flannel and canvas work pants — the kind he wore when he did summer work at his dad's shop. The blue and gray flannel shirt is opened to reveal a LEGO Movie T-shirt beneath. And while, everything might be awesome according to the merrymaking minifig dancing on the heather gray background, Foggy looks like everything is totally shit.

He knocks just once at the door before he pushes on in, bearing a large brown paper sack under one arm. He pauses just inside before his tired green eyes alight on Jess, and his smile becomes a little crooked. "Hey there, Daphne. Where's Scooby at?"

*

"Really? Daphne? She's the dumb one!" Jessica protests with a scowl. "I get to be Velma or I'm getting the Hell out of this Mystery Machine."

But it's a faux scowl. A smirking one.

She waves him to his seat and peers at him. "You look like shit," she observes. "Trish told me you helped kick the ass of the guy who attacked her." Trish missed the nuance of Nelson figuring out who the real Devil was though. Soberly: "Thanks for that, Foggy. You really are tougher than most people give you credit for. I won't forget you looked out for my family."

She waves him to any open spot on the couch, even as she shuts her phone off all the way. People who look the way Foggy looks warrant sending everyone else to voicemail for the nonce.

*

"Okay, does that mean Trish has to be Daphne? I think she'll hate that, too."

Foggy slumps down into the seat beside her, setting down the paper sack on the couch opposite. He is about to reach into the bag and pull out his offerings when she mentions that night, and his jaw flexes a bit. "Yeah… about that…" He wrestles with the comments flying around his own head before he sighs out a heavy breath. "Yeah, you're welcome… I didn't do much. I had help."

With a deep furrow of his brow beneath the shag of his forelocks, the lawyer looks toward Jess. "Matt helped me. You know… as his alter ego." He pauses, frowning. "Or is Matt Murdock the Devil of Hell's Kitchen's alter ego?"

*

Jessica looks at Foggy with some compassion, one of her rare open expressions of it. Usually one has to look at the subtle twists of her mouth and eyes to find it. And while under some circumstances she might close her mouth right up until she was absolutely sure this wasn't a fishing expedition, the general state of the lawyer in front of her tells her that no, this has been blown wide open.

And now Matt is under even more stress. I think it's time I stopped keeping an eye on him from afar and risk that talk.

Because after Six texted her, Jessica had been keenly aware of a few things. One of them was that she can either make this worlds better, or she can become extremely toxic to the man. And she's not entirely sure whether she will rise to the occasion or fuck it right up yet, but she knows that she would rather cut off her right arm than hurt Matt Murdock.

Meanwhile, there's another friend who is under immense stress right here, and she considers how she's going to answer him, how she's going to alleviate it. She takes one of the offerings first, buying time with the simple act of nodding her thanks, taking a bite, chewing, swallowing. Then she says, slowly, at last, "They're the same man, Foggy. I think it would be a mistake to treat them like two different people as anything other than a mechanism for protecting his identity." An identity which is getting increasingly well-known. The circle is widening, slowly and inevitably.

"You're scared for him," she observes.

*

Foggy finally busies himself with the bag, letting the weight of Jessica's stare penetrate him as it often does. He pulls out two bottles of cold Coca-Colas — the good stuff with the real sugar — and two paper-rolled sandwiches from that bodega a few blocks down. They are both Bahn Mi, and fragrant even through the paper. He hands her one.

Foggy has entered the seas of uncertainty. He doesn't know who does or does not know that Matt is a caped-sans-cape crusader. Except for Jessica. He knows Jessica knows. And so that is why he's here on her couch, perhaps trying to find a companion to all this upheaval.

He thoughtful comment draws his eyes back up to her with a slightly surprised look. Then he looks slightly around, gesturing out toward the city out Jess's window. The city, the world. "Of course I am, Jess. Matt is, well… Matt. If he treats being a vigilante the way he treats being a lawyer, he's going to get himself killed." Beat pause. "No, martyred. So, yeah. I'm scared for him."

Then his jaw sets again. "Oh, and I'm fucking pissed at him, too."

*

"What do you mean the way he treats being a lawyer?" Jessica asks, gently. She has learned to ask as many questions as possible when a friend is in distress. She didn't always know that. She'd start prescribing before diagnosing, assuming she knew exactly what every statement out of another person's mouth meant, not realizing that being a good friend and being a good detective usually require exactly the same skill.

It was a hard won lesson.

And she is gentle. She is speaking with a gentleness not many credit her with. Foggy is now seeing a side of her he has maybe never seen. She stomps, she swears. She smokes, and she stomps. Growls and grumbles.

But under that there's an a woman who cares a lot, and sometimes she lets other people see that person. Today, that's Foggy.

*

"Matt's dedicated. He sees a cause and he beelines for it. That's how he explained it to me." Foggy rubs his hands over the butcher paper wrapping slowly, glancing slightly toward Jess. "He could hear them… the pain and suffering around the Kitchen. He decided just being their lawyer wasn't enough. He had to be more… aggressive."

He had run through Matt's excuses several times by now, letting them all filter through him. He thought looking at the excuses like a lawyer would help him accept them, but he keeps going back to the bare, simple idea: Matt never told him. If he told him, he could have helped. There are ways Foggy could have been an actual help. And he wouldn't have spent the last year and a half wondering if his friend was getting himself into serious trouble: the bruises, the cuts, the disappearing for days on end, the abrupt departures or late arrivals. He at least would have known what Matt was doing.

He looks up toward Jess, recognizing the tenderness his friend is offering him. He's always known Jess is a softy — under a thick, iron-clad exterior. He's thankful for that now.

"So, now that Matt has made this decision and has followed through with it… he's going to play it out. Until it kills him."

*

Jessica nods at that and says, "Thing is, Foggy— he could have died even if he never put on the mask."

She puts down her Bahn Mi, crunchy perfection that it is, and settles forward. She sits with her knees apart, her elbows on them, her hands draping between, leaning forward. She meets his eyes.

"You know, in the early days of knowing Matt, meeting him last year, I met his lawyer face. We were exchanging business cards, chit chatting, I was struggling to small talk. Well, he got caught briefly in the crossfire of one of my case problems that very day. He was at the wrong place in the wrong time and bam. Just like that? In their eyes? He was associated with me. So when they wanted to extract some information about my client? They went after him. Not the Devil. Him. Matt Murdock. And they got him. Not because he's weak, but because they had abilities that are damn hard to counter. You might remember. The official story he was mugged. And a few days later I was following you around. I barely caught up with those bastards that day, and we barely got him to the hospital in time, and even then it took a meta-friend with healing powers to make him better. And that could have happened, would have happened, even if he wasn't the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. And they were already mentioning you. Foggy Nelson, lawyer, no mask required."

She tries to catch Foggy's eyes. "So I mean. The world sucks and it's dangerous and I for one am glad he can defend himself in a world like that, and is not a helpless blind guy. More than that, man, if it weren't for the Devil of Hell's Kitchen I wouldn't be sitting here. We've traded a few assists now, but I can name at least 5 times off the top of my head that he kept my ass alive, like, honestly and truly I would be dead as nails without him."

*

Foggy listens, head slightly cocked to one side. He looks at Jess through the fall of his blond shag, not yet teasing it back out of his eyes. He hasn't gotten into his sandwich yet, just letting it sit between his hands. Only when she brings the story back around to the fact that he — Foggy Nelson — was already attracting attention. He frowns.

"Alright, I get that." He fixes Jess with a serious look. "And I actually get it. I'm not trying to deflect. I stick my neck out without having an association with Matt — or Daredevil."

He frowns then, finally raking back his hair out of his eyes with one hand. "But here's the thing, Jess… I'm not mad at him for being the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. I think it's dangerous, and life-threatening… but you're right. So is walking across the street. I'm mad that he didn't trust me enough to tell me what was going on, and even after I knew… you know what his instinct was? Cut ties. I know who he is, knowing is dangerous because we're friends, so the best course is for us not to be friends anymore."

*

"Yeah. I know," Jessica says. "When I found out that was the first thing on his mind you know. 'If you're not careful with this secret, Foggy will get hurt.' He didn't have to beg me to help him try to keep it under wraps, but I mean, he did. Because he cares about you."

She smiles faintly. "Cold comfort, I'm sure. But…"

She chuckles faintly. "Well. I came to him one day just absolutely in a froth about something. Some shit Trish pulled I think, getting herself into trouble and not telling me a damn thing about it. Oh right, I remember, and then she went and confided to him about it, and of course I found out, cause finding out is what I do. And he said, looking like a kicked puppy, that it was easier to talk to people you don't know well about some things. You've got nothing to lose. That the fear of someone finding out and then rejecting you for it was so great that it just became impossible. I mean we both know he was no longer talking about me and Trish at that point. He was talking about you and him. As for Matt's Martyrdom bit, where he wants you to run in the other direction while someone hits him a few dozen times figuring you should just ignore the spitting blood parts, well."

She exhales. Here's one from experience. "Look, Foggy, when you feel like absolute shit, like everything is your fault, and like the world would be better off without you, reason and rationality and sense don't figure into it, okay? Don't take it as an insult on you. Understand that's the moment he needs you not to be mad. That's the moment he needs you most. It's not something he can help. It's not something he can stop. He's trapped by it. It's got him by the throat. Shaking him like a dog. No matter how much he might wish he could do something else in that moment, his gear is stuck. Push away, isolate, that's it, that's all he's capable of. It takes patient people to just sort of ignore it and be there for him anyway."

*

"The whole 'keeping a secret to protect someone' is absolute horse shit." Even as Foggy says this, he knows there's truth to it. There's secrets out there that are kept to keep people safe. Just not between best friends.

He needs to do something, so he takes his coke and pops the cap. He takes a drink, wishing it was a beer, but drinking every time he faced Matt's deceptions and reasonings was one sure-fire way to end up drinking way too much beer. He glances Jess's way again, this time with a frown.

"Well, I already told it's too late. I know, and now he's stuck with me knowing, and I ignored every attempt he had to convince me that I should just take the firm and run."

He takes another drink from the bottle, rolling it between his hands once he was done. "I'm not going anywhere, Jess. Matt knows this. Furthermore, I told him he's going to have to get over it, and let me help him. I'm his sidekick now and he's stuck with me."

*

"Good," Jessica says firmly. "So. You'll get over being pissed eventually. You already knew he made shitty decisions and took the weight of the world on his shoulders." She says this with great fondness, despite the words.

"So. Now let's talk about how you're going to survive it. Because yeah, you're gonna end up doing shit that paints targets on your head while trying to support him that would not have happened had you remained in the dark. It's just the way it is. You might as well stop focusing on being pissed and worried and start focusing on how you're going to up your own game."

She arches one dark eyebrow at him. "Taking any new precautions or business as usual? If so, what precautions?"

*

"He always makes shitty decisions." Foggy smiles ruefully at Jess before he sets down his coke, and finally starts to unwrap his sandwich.

He looks up at the mention of how he's going to survive it, and he frowns a bit. It's more of a thoughtful frown than a concerned one. "Is this when you offer to become my Sensei? Because, that's cool, Jess… but I'm not going to wax your car. Or Trish's car. Or paint your fence."

He sobers after taking a bite and chewing his way through it. "Self-defense probably isn't a bad idea… that low-rent wanna-be Daredevil could have killed me a lot sooner if I hadn't gotten in a lucky punch. I'm surprisingly nimble, but absolutely shit when it comes to coordination."

*

"Fuck no," Jessica says. "I've got too much shit to do and I'm a lousy teacher. No. This is where I let you know I'm going to check in with you periodically to make sure you're okay, where I suggest you start taking a different god damn route to all your regular spots every day, where I tell you to update your security system on your place, and where I strongly suggest you jump through whatever legal loopholes you gotta jump through to get a taser or a gun or something you can pull to defend yourself as a last resort. Where you put some sort of panic button app on your phone to call Matt or me or both if you're in trouble."

Dryly. "Use the phone. I have more fancy panic buttons from various good people than I can shake a stick at, and none of them are close at hand when I am actually in the shit. Phone? Always got my phone. Set it as a Siri shortcut, maybe. Even easier to yell, Siri, call backup, where backup is us, and any other hard hitter you trust, than to dig it out and hit a button."

*

"Okay, Mom." With another crunchy bite from his Bahn Mi, the shaggy lawyer offers Jess a small and understanding smile. He gets it. He will put in some precautions. He'll get a panic button app, he'll change up his routes around town, and he will even look into a gun — and probably some training to go with it. The look in his green eyes promises that.

"Hey, that Siri thing is a smart idea. Who knew you could be so smart?" The gentle glib is offered with a smile before he takes another bite of his sandwich. He chews through it before he clears his throat.

"Matt did give me a… we're going to call it a task, because 'mission' sounds a bit spy, and I only accept quests from Kennis." He licks a bit of sauce at the corner of his lip. "We need to talk about Dillard, and how she's a probable connection to the guy who sent the thrift-store Daredevil after Trish."

*

Jessica smirks at being called Mom. But she kind of takes it as a compliment. It's a dig she's heard before, but it never bothers her.

The other dig produces a, "Shh. Don't tell anyone. I get so much mileage out of everyone thinking I'm goddamn Daphne in leather."

"Kennis is the cutest. But okay. Let's definitely talk about this. What do we do about the lawsuit, then? If this is just some more shit this guy is flinging?"

She gave her advice.

Now she is attentive to his, respecting every ounce of his legal expertise.

*

"We use it as an in to get more information. Walk me through the whole thing again… with Dillard. Because now we need to find a good reason to counter-sue, and use it to try to shine some light on some of those dark corners in hopes we can figure out who this guy is, and what to do about him." He takes another bite of his sandwich, chasing it down with a swig of coke.

"The way I see it is… we find the right case to put in front of the court as a counter, and we control where it goes next. If Dillard suing you for harassment was just to get you entangled because you're a friend of the Daredevil, then they're hoping to just get us spinning for a while until she decides to drop it, or get some petty win. No offense, Jess, but you're too easy a target for this kind of lawsuit." He grins a bit then. "So, what we need to do instead is find something to spin back at her that puts her in the spotlight and threatens, in turn, to reveal something. It's bait for him to make a move, but this time we're watching for one."

*

Jessica shrugs her shoulders. "None taken," she says. "I mean, when I know I'm working a case where testifying is actually a concern, and not some weird meta thing, I do follow the law to the letter, and I did with her. So. This Friends of Compassion group hires me. I don't get very far on the case. Actually, let me get her file."

She reaches for her phone and switches it back on, then pulls the digital copy of the file up as a hologram so Foggy can see it. "As you can see I did a basic TLOxp background work up which just produces a shitload of public records, pulled her credit, it's all clean, she's a politician, whatever. Nothing out of the ordinary here."

She swipes a file over. "Started shadowing her. Tricky bit about being a PI is you do have the right to follow someone, but you can't tresspass. You can surveil someone, but you can't tresspass. So I had the options of being parked in my own car, standing on a building with a landlord's permission, or standing on public land. Now this…"

She pulls a Google Maps photo of the street in question, "Is where her guy confronted me that day. This is a construction site where she was taking what looked to me like a possible bribe, though I had no evidence yet, just this picture…" she pulls it up and to the side, "of her taking an envelope. Which, whatever, it's one puzzle piece, but right now she could be accepting a birthday card, right? Anyway, this red X is where I had parked myself. It's a community garden, just a little vacant lot that the locals renovated. As far as I knew it was in fact public property, anyone is allowed to go into and out of it and it is for neighborhood use. Well, dude revealed she'd bought the thing, so it was actually her property, and next thing I know, bam, tresspassing and stalking. With some scary meta rhetoric thrown in, but now that she's done a 180 on her stance I don't know if she'll bang the latter half of that drum anymore."

*

Foggy takes another bite of his sandwich, mulling through both the mouthful and his own thoughts. He looks up after a moment when Jess adds in the little bit about the anti-metahuman rhetoric. He bypasses right by the fact that Dillard changed course, and hones in on the rhetoric itself. "That's our in." Foggy looks at Jess now, half-eaten sandwich still in his hands. "We use that. We go for hate speech."

He sets down his sandwich now, turning fully toward Jess with a gesture of both hands. "We go after that, because that's going to turn multiple perspectives at Dillard… first those who agree with her earlier words, then those who always knew she was a bigot, and finally those who are waffling because she did, after all, reverse course. People will start poking around other things she's said, trying to find a pattern of bias. It's enough that it will drag Dillard back out into the spotlight, and that's where we want her."

*

"Sounds fine by me," Jessica says thoughtfully.

"What do you need from me? And should we talk about what we do if we get to a point where that court date's pretty close, if they haven't backed off because of this move? What's the strategy there? My thought was maybe they assumed I'd go into court fists swinging, but dirty or not, coming to us live from our enemies or not, I feel like depending on whether it's something I'm capable of paying I'm willing to pay a reasonable settlement if need be. Cause I'm thinking court's a trap for me in the current climate, and I don't wanna play chicken with. If we go to settling it might just get down to the negotiations at that point, but if I let this get to court at any point I'm afraid the jury's going to take me to the cleaners and suddenly hit me with about ten times what I would have had to pay in a settlement, and then all I've got left is playing games with how Alias owes that money and not me, so that Alias can go out of business and I can work under a new name. And I'd rather not go there."

She frowns at Foggy and says, "Am I crazy to think this?"

*

"No." Foggy then smiles gently and gives Jess's hand a squeeze. "You're probably not right, but you're not crazy to be worried about what might happen if you step into the lion's den where the lions are probably really hungry." He's got that smile about him that's not just for clients, but for friends. "I won't let it go that far, Jess… cm'on. I am the infamous Foggy Nelson… the Nelson half of the defense of Bucky Barnes. I got you."

He then takes another swig of coke, and breathes out a slow exhale, wrapping his hands around the warming bottle. "But if our move doesn't work? We settle… but only after I take Dillard through the ringer."

Foggy still wants to beat someone up, apparently, and he's chosen his weapon.

*

Jessica squeezes his hand in turn, and it's just a gentle squeeze, no stronger than any other person's hand he might shake on any given day. Her control is finely tuned to the point of being as unconscious as any normal strong person's control, anyone who can lift a tea-cup or bench an incredible amount of weight with ease.

And she appreciates it, because guiltily she thinks she knows how Matt would react to hear that she's considering caving if she has to, because the pittance she'd have to pay to get this off her back probably benefits them a hell of a lot less than the ruinous amount they could extract from her if they really got their jaws around her throat. Matt has more principles than she does. She's just too much of a realist to do more than walk the tightrope between right and wrong while trying to help people.

"You are incredible, and I mean for sure, normally you and Matt in a courtroom? I'd flip them the bird and say 'bring it', but since people are making fucking collars for metas right now. Well. Let's just say if Bucky had to go to trial I'm glad it was done, wrapped up, and over with a year before this shit hit the fan."

She touches her arm, feeling for the security of the implant she got Tony to stick in there. Here's hoping his counter works.

"But you take her through the wringer all you want, and tell me what you need from me. If I need to take Lois Lane up on her interview thing I will, whatever you need."

Here's hoping she doesn't get caught and end up going on trial for some of the vastly illegal things she is doing trying to walk that tightrope. Which prompts a quiet, "You'll still represent me if I get in deep shit doing the right thing, right? On a totally different and unrelated note? If I end up doing something on the ill side of legal, trying to save a bunch of lives, even though I'd be guilty, you'd still show up in my interrogation room and do your thing?"

*

Foggy actually feels a bit of his old self come back at the praise. He chuckles a bit, rubbing at the back of his neck. "Thanks, Jess." Then his smile slips and he shakes his head a bit. "Yeah… things are going to shit right now, and it's all fear driven, Jess. Since the dawn of time, we've had to be afraid of the other… we've just found a new other."

Then he gives Jess a comforting smile that only Foggy can. When she mentions the press, he nods sharply. "Get Lois involved the moment we start this ball rolling. We want all the press we can get."

The question though almost startles Foggy, and he blinks at her. "Jess, that's like… the stupidest question you've ever asked. That's all I live for… representing someone who got into total shit doing the right thing." He grimaces. "I've already told Matt I'm ready to be his defense for all kinds of 'ill side of legal.'"

Then he frowns. "What's going on, Jess?"

*

"These are," Jessica says quietly. She opens up her phone again and draws out a holographic picture.

It looks like some sort of a slave collar. It's attached to a firing device that looks like it could be used to force it around someone's neck at any moment. "It's a slave collar for meta humans," she says, swallowing, rubbing that spot on her arm again. "All those politicians who back registration and testing and lists? A lot of them are funding the company that's doing it. Trask Industries. I've already gone undercover under false pretenses to dig up dirt on them. I've already backed a hacker and made sure that if it's traced it'll come back to me, not her. I've found a location I intend to break into to get evidence of illegal weapons work, which I think people will currently give a shit about more than us metas. I intend to put concrete evidence into Trish's hands so she can yell about it on Trish Talks. Lois Lane's too, if I can make a good contact out of her after meeting with her. And then? I intend to find some other way to poke at them."

She chews on her lower lip and says, "And the people who set me on the trail? I didn't initiate contact with them. They showed up and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it, but I don't know how much a jury would care. They're wanted terrorists. Like. The heads of the Brotherhood of Mutants. In fact. So. I'm way in over my head. I think I'm already basically officially a criminal. And I mean…I won't lie. I've pulled some shit before when lives were at stake. Big shit. But this feels different, because the stuff I did before I think everyone would have understood if it had come to light. They might have still put me away, but they'd have gotten it. This time…I'm not so sure. It feels different. And I'm still doing it. I would risk anything, everything, to keep even one person from suffering like that. I can't let them win this. I can't."

*

"Holy… shit." Foggy says those words as he leans in close to get a look at the picture. He stares at it as Jess discloses all the details around it, and then he looks up sharply at the words Trask Industries. He leans back then, totally forgetting his sandwich and coke. He is too focused on the fact that Jess is about to tell him all the parts of this ill side of legal that she suggested.

"Brotherhood of Mutants? Jess… I've heard about these guys." Who hasn't? But the way that Foggy says that suggests he's probably heard more than he's really ever wanted to. "And so… my guess is they tapped you because they are at the same risk of being… collared… as you are, and you're the do-gooder type." He frowns. "You're keeping track of all your communication — recordings, photos?"

*

"I've only had one communication," Jessica says. "When they showed up at my office. They outmatch me, and so I listened rather than get my ass handed to me again. I mean. We could count the interaction where their giant bruiser who can survive being dropped 20 stories and laugh at me beat the shit out of me in public, if that counts. I still have the video footage of their arrival, no audio, and I have been tempted to delete it about fourty thousand times because I'm afraid of how incriminating it is and that it could be hacked, but…I have it. And that's it. We haven't talked again. They're in some sort of arrangement with the man behind Dillard too, but they said it was just a marriage of convenience, basically, and that they'd leave me and all the other people this guy has been targeting alone if I went after Trask. Which was just icing on the cake, cause frankly I would have anyway."

She smiles faintly. "I haven't gone and joined the Brotherhood of Mutants or anything. But…suddenly I can't hate them either. They don't hate normal humans, they don't want them all dead, they just don't want to be subjugated. How can I even argue with that?"

She sighs. "Sorry. I'm digressing. You came so I could be your sounding board, not the other way around. I don't think I've really discussed the side of this where I feel all manner of misgivings over what I'm doing. I've just recruited all the help I could get, while keeping who I got the info from mostly to myself. Except from Luke. I meant to bring Matt into the loop too, and everyone else who has been involved in this thing, but then that Jameson article came out, and I had that opening to go undercover, and yeah."

A pause, and she admits, "I'm scared shitless. I'm scared these people are going to win. And I'm scared of who I'm going to turn into trying to stop them."

*

"Who the fuck is this guy, the King of New York?" Oh, sweet Foggy. At least he now knows that this guy is in the gangster side of things, or was Jess just being metaphoric? He rubs at his head, scruffing up his hair in the process. Then he reaches for his coke, draining it in one last hope to get his thoughts together. How deep is this rabbit hole?

"You can still hate a group's means of communicating and working toward their goal, but maybe not hate the group's goal." He's apparently thought about these things lately — the complexity of the universe has been on Nelson's mind, the tiny ant that he is. "I get it."

Then he looks back up at Jess, ducking his chin to catch her eye this time around. "Jessica Jones… I'm your lawyer. I'm like the ultimate sounding board…" Then he reaches out to squeeze her hand again, lingering with his own mortal strength around her hand. "Tie a string on the things that make you, you, Jess… then you can just follow it back if you get too deep. Or just give me permission to smack you solidly upside the head if you start getting a bit lost in the weeds."

*

"Naw, he's just the King Douchebag," Jess says, on the identity of 'this guy.'

As for what she can do to get out of the weeds? "I'll go with both," Jess says with a smirk. "It'll probably take both."

She holds his hand a moment more, and lets him go, then says, "You're a good man, Nelson. And an incredible lawyer."

And then she pops the last of the Bahn Mi into her mouth, as if putting a pin in all this human side stuff she's been displaying. The fact that she can tell him exactly what is up with her, give him the heads up, not be judged, and know that he'll be prepped and in her corner if shit hits the fan?

Yeah. It's big to her. Really big.

And talking to him seems to have put her back at her ease, seems to have lifted a stone out of her stomach. Which is good. Too many stones in Jessica's stomach lead to the moments when she gets stuck in her gears, when things get her by the throat until she can't stop doing things she knows she shouldn't.

"Get some sleep tonight. He'll be okay. I've seen that man face down gods, dragons, and aliens without breaking his stride. I'd put money on Matt over just about anyone or anything. And based on my experiences trying to protect Trish into the ground…well. The day will come when he realizes how much he's come to rely on you, and while he'll always be scared for you, he'll be glad you decided to stay."

*

"So says my tombstone." Nelson smiles a bit wryly before he starts to clean up their trash. He stuffs everything in the paper sack he had brought. When he looks back up toward Jess, the comfort she offers makes him smile a bit. "I'll get some sleep," he promises. "And I know… I mean I don't know everything, but I know enough to make lines between dots." He slowly starts to stand, giving Jess a bit of a sheepish smile.

"You're a good friend, too, Jess… in case you didn't know by now."

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