Pots & Kettles

June 14, 2018:

Luke Cage lets Jessica Jones know when Owen Mercer turns up. Result? Lots of rooftop snark, of course.

Danny Rand's Apartment Building

Everyone just kind of lives there, now?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Harley Quinn, Emery Papsworth, Danny Rand

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The plan, or as much as a plan as Owen Mercer has ever formulated in his life, was simple. He was going to drop whatever that magic dragon amulet off with Rand and then be on his way. He hadn't thought much about why it was so important that Danny have it and Amanda Waller didn't, but seeing the symbol of Shao-Lun the undying, or as Owen remembered it Kung-Pao the Undead, triggered something. But the ambush by the ninjas meant that Owen was feeling a little spent and it was just easier to crash at Rand's. And one night turned into a day or two. And then Waller texted him. On his burner that she ostensibly didn't know about.

"Enjoying the city? Thought you were done with that?"

Trying not to think about what it means that Amanda is both aware of where he slipped off to and why she might be taunting him with the fact that she knows, Owen is up on the roof for some fresh air. Well, cigarettes, booze and an entire pizza from a local place that has been calling his name ever since he beat tracks out of the city a few weeks ago. The air is cool and the night kind of the perfect early summer night but it does little to improve Owen's mood.

I should have just left.. I should just leave… What the fuck am I doing?

*

It's a big house. That's the excuse that Luke is going with as to why he wasn't aware that Owen was there for at least the first portion of his stay. It wasn't until he noticed Emery washing three sets of linens that it brought up the question as to who was staying in another of the guest rooms. The answer it turns out was his erstwhile bartender having been blown back into town.

Jess got a short message not long before he heads up to the roof to find the elusive houseguest, just a quick 'Found Mercer. At Danny's. What's my finders fee?'

"So the new place is going to have a ward on it. No flames or incendiary resemblances. Nifty right?" It's as good a greeting as Owen is going to get after all this time from the big lumbering man. And lumber he does. And tower. There is some towering too as Luke just stands over the man and frowns.

*

Jessica texts back the kind of flirtatious and racy response one might expect from a sassy girlfriend who runs on Vices n' Snark.

Owen will get a few moments before the detective arrives. She exhales and pauses to send a text to his girlfriend. Seems Emery already knows he's okay, so she doesn't worry about informing him.

Found him. -J.

That's what Harley gets.

Then she locks up her office and heads over, because it's time to figure out a whole lot of what the Hell.

*

"You did what?!" Owen's drunk, apparently he's been at this a while, and in truth for most of the day. That's probably not the most expected response about taking a reasonable precaution but Owen explains. "That's why my damn tech failed!" It doesn't take long for him to put it together, partially because Owen has checked and rechecked his equipment three times since the fight with the ninjas at the new building.

He calms down easily enough though and offers up a pack of cigarettes to Luke. "You joining me up here for a smoke? Or coming for a 'talk'. You can only pick one."

Yes, it's clear that Owen's already feeling a little defensive, despite the fact that he is also obviously hanging out somewhere he's likely to be found.

*

Luke's mouth opens slightly like he's about to give an eloquent response but his brain misfires on the delivery and he just opts for the cigarette. After all, the 'talk' part will likely be covered by his bitter half when she gets here anyways. "You'll have to stand ten feet away from the entrance of the bar if you wanna light up there." Smug? Maybe a little bit. Being lord and master over people's nicotine fits have given with a new power and sense of high and mighty that he is currently relishing. "But you should have a job by the end of the month again. That is. If you still wanted it." Which is dangerously close to a talk without getting talk like.

*

Indeed. The bitter half flew over. And so she just sort of drops onto the roof. Drops is the word, because she tries not to hit it too hard, which means she ends up stopping before she should, which means she sort of ends up in a hands-and-knees heap before the pair. She grunts, then wipes roof crap off on the torn and tattered jeans she was wearing. She crosses her arms and glowers at one Owen Mercer.

She heard the last bit.

She'll let him answer Luke.

But the thunderclouds are there on her face.

*

"I—"

Owen means to say yes. He has always had every intention of getting back to Luke's. But somehow working at Luke's became associated with the new life he was building. The one that he smashed to bits not that long ago for reasons he can't even put into thoughts let alone words.

His long past due answer is not forth coming though, interrupted by Jess's appearance on the roof. All of the hurt and betrayal that he can muster flashes across his face as he mouths at Luke, «Really?» As if Luke had called the police on him or ratted him out to some other authority figure. No wonder he was going to accept a smoke and make small talk about the bar, he was just playing good cop!

But that look is quickly wiped off his face, and the bottle is picked back up and he takes a long swig before he nodding at Jessica.

"Jess. Good t'see ya."

*

The Man Mountain has the audacity to actually smirk at that mouthed word. "Oh, hey, you remember her name. I was beginning to wonder." Luke shows zero remorse for having tag teamed in Jessica on this little reunion. "I mean, you did sort of fall off the face of the earth to the point where she actually was /hired/ to /find you/." He does a little lean thing, an aside to Jessica without really lowering his voice, so it becomes a stage whisper. "I think I'll take my payment in you, wearing a Mountie hat."

*

"Mountie hat? That's oddly specific," Jessica mutters as an aside.

But she thrusts out her finger at Owen and says, "Good to see you too. You know. Not dead in a ditch, which is what I thought. Do you know two people called me looking for you on the same day? Where the Hell were you? What the Hell were you doing? And for the love of crispy crap, why didn't you drop the people who give a shit a goddamn line so we all knew not to fucking worry about you?"

Yes, this time Jessica Jones is going to read the man a riot act. She doesn't yell, but there's a real edge to her voice, her hard-bitten alto taking a half-step up into the next octive as she starts in.

*

"Gross. No being schoompsie. It's fuckin' weird on you two."

Owen, never being one to stop digging holes thinks it's the right time to criticize the relationship that he has been kind of aware of growing but oddly not around both of them at the same time. Also, to note that there are no pet names or actually lovey-dovey words exchanged for Owen to really object to.

"Why? Who the fuck was actually surprised that I dropped off for a bit?" Owen knows of one. The cameras installed in his old place picked up Harley breaking in and Jessica on camera. Which makes it even worse that he didn't call. But somehow it was already too late then? There is not much rhyme or reason to Owen in that regard.

"Besides, I'm here now."

The thought that he might be assumed dead did at least cross his mind, but he hadn't even mentioned the 'clues' to anyone. Unless they just assumed he O.D.ed somewhere like a punk. Somehow in the face of more violent death he hadn't taken into consideration the more mundane ways to bite it that others might ascribe to him.

Overall his tone is defiant but even.

*

Luke lights the cigarette he was offered from a trusty zippo he's started toting around since he's been spending more time with Jessica. "It's our one party trick we got. We pull it out during lulls of conversation and see how many stomachs we can turn in a single round." Speaking of doing schmoopsie things, the lit cigarette gets offered over to Jessica but it's really more for Owen's benefit than Jones'. After all, there might be less finger pointing if her hand is busy. But then again she has two hands. So that's as far as this mastermind has gotten. As for Cage himself, he doesn't seem particularly incensed about the whole ordeal now that his good deed of alerting Jessica is done.

*

Jessica takes the cigarette. Swoops down on it like a (schmoopsie?) hawk. "Thanks, babe," she says, and maybe the 'babe' is punishment too. So very schmoopsie. See the lovie dovieness.

And one hand is in her pocket at least, so there's that. She takes a long drag, and that calms her down. "Emery was worried. Harley was worried. I was worried. People were worried. So yeah, you're here now, but when you drop off the face of the earth like that people go 'oh holy shit,' and stop what they're doing to make sure you're okay. And so just doing that? Is shitty if you weren't in trouble. Were you in trouble? What happened, Owen?"

She paces a little bit, back and forth across the rooftop, adding, "Harley's pissed, by the way. I suggest you get the real big fucking flowers for her. You should have heard the rant on my voicemail when you left her that package."

*

No fair trying to make Owen laugh, he's very intent on being all hard and tough as .. something, Jess? Right now. Owen shoots a baleful glance at Luke as he talks about weaponizing their schmoopsie-ness.

"Super. Really makin' me want to come back to the bar their big guy."

He takes a drag off his own cigarette and lets Jess talk. He has at least the good sense to look a little guilty when Emery is brought up. He exhales and says "Yea.. I owed him that. I thought I .. " No, Owen definitely meant to call him but then the whole not wanting the sobriety talk got in the way. Maybe Emery being his sober coach / sponsor thing wasn't such a good idea?

But then Jess brings up Harley and Owen, "Don't talk about her like.." Owen, so unused to even acknowledging his relationship with Harley outside of Squad life is touchy about Jess bringing it up, despite the fact that he's aware they at least talked and met. But his touchiness fades.

"Yea, I'm sure she's pissed. I'm pissed too." He doesn't exactly get into why, but again, he's never actually mentioned her by name to anyone on this side of the Hudson river.

"I freaked out. That's it. I got spooked by some past shit and I booked it…" It's half true at least. A bit more shiny than the truth and has that air of practice that Jess would likely recognize. Owen's a good liar, but he's not perfect. Especially ever since he's started hanging with the hero set and started acquiring these weird moral things that keep trying to attach to him.

*

"Wait, we're talking about a girlfriend scenario here?" Luke picks up on the context clues that in order to make amends with this Harley person (who turns out to be a person and not a motorcycle) it will include flowers. "Oh yeah, man. You're screwed. Looks like your first gig back at the bar will be hosting your own wake." He goes in search of the bottle Owen's been imbibing from, walking a pace away from the other two. "In the mesh shirt of atonement."

*

Jessica Jones takes her free hand and rakes it backwards through her hair at Owen's explanation. Her lips quirk into a sour expression. And then into an amused one, at the mesh shirt of atonement.

She takes a long drag on that nicotine stick and then stares over at Owen as if trying to decide how big an issue she's going to make out of this.

Problem is…

She sighs and drops down. It sounds too much like something she did back in November. She didn't exactly stop talking to everyone, she didn't exactly let anyone think she was missing or dead, but if she'd been one iota more spooked than she was and had one iota less of a support network than she did? She totally would have.

And so it's enough to stop the rant and the digging. "Look man, where you go is your own fucking business," she says, dropping heavily down on the roof next to Luke and leaning on her massive boyfriend like he's a backrest.

"But next time just…drop me a text so when people start pinging me I can say 'he's fine and just needs space' instead of 'let me go make sure he's not a corpse.' I was seriously checking morgues for you, man. It sucked."

Plus. Bonus for cutting off the Jess-tirade…

He's totally got to have that girlfriend reckoning. All the really good snarling and yelling is someone else's perogative.

*

Never one to let Luke out do him on a joke, Owen looks at Jess at the mention of the mesh shirt. "I dunno Jones, I think it's a little weird how often your boyfriend tries to get me into a state of undress. I'm just sayin.." As if Owen has not made more than his fair share of jokes about Luke … in all states, every state and anything in between.

Seeing that Jessica is at least pausing the lecture for now lets Owen relax a little. He realizes he's been sitting up instead of leaning on the wall behind him so he deflates a bit and leans back, taking another drag.

"I will. And f'r fuck sure Emery. That was.. shitty." he knew it was. Other people he would go that long without talking to no problem, but not Emery. And that's before he even realizes that he stiffed Kennis on a call back to.

"But yea." Here Owen half turns to Luke to get it out there. "I was seeing Harley.. Quinn. I was fuckin' the Joker's ex and I realize.. that probably ranks highly on my extensive list of bad decisions. But.. it might also be one of my best ones..? Or was? I dunno." Most people would speak more graciously about their relationships, but it's Owen so this is his best romantic talk.

Bah. Feelings! Owen makes a super speed grab for the bottle that Luke has absconded with. Feelings must drown!

*

"Keep going, big man, and we're adding in the guy-liner. But then again you seem to wear it even without losing a bet." It's probably good that Jessica seems to realize that she can't get too hard on Owen for the stunt, because the one she pulled led to flowers being delivered in a certain newspaper article detailing her exploits. And it's better that Luke doesn't have to comment to that fact, because he rather likes the fact that Jessica is now leaning against him. The possibility of Owen tossing his cookies be damned, because he's dropping a kiss onto the dark waves of her hair. The bottle gets lifted in Owen's direction, "I don't even know what to do with that information, so I think you might need this more than I do." The Joker. That crazy fucker. His ex. "You'd have been better off sticking your pecker into a electrical socket coated in razor blades." A pause. "Just saying."

*

Oh. Right. November and March.

Yeah. Jessica has no room to talk. Not really. Then there's all the times she goes off on dangerous investigations and doesn't really clue anyone in, other than whatever she types into her files which may or may not be updated when she goes to do the thing.

Fuck, she's losing moral high ground just by breathing.

She takes that kiss though, and smiles up at Luke with some genuine tenderness. It's subtle and understated, but it's there.

Then Luke is describing Harley, and she opens her mouth. The way he puts it is funny, but…

"Q.'s not that bad," she says softly. She has her own reasons to have a soft-spot for the clown princess, it seems, however ill-advised that soft-spot may be. "She's been through a lot," she adds. Not that she's gleaned the entire story.

But what she's gleaned has shown her some parallels to her own demons. Quinn is demonstrably crazy, and yet.

*

"No. She's fuckin' great." Owen is quick to agree with Jess, and go one up. "And she would murder me if she knew I shorthanded her as just his ex. I mean, like she's still probably gonna murder me, but like she would extra murder me f'r that." Yes, because Luke and Jess are somehow the model of a healthy relationship while Owen discusses the likelyhood of extra murder in his.

"And shit yea, she's been through it. And unlike some of you stuck up snobs, she totally gets the boomerang thing." He's joking of course that they're in anyway stuck up, but also it's painfully clear that he wants to explain without explaining.

"I'll call her though."

He says it to Jess, in a way that sounds like an apology. He is sorry. Unless she's tracking him down for the Joker. But that'd be crazy, right? Shit. Is it crazy? Owen tries not to get all twitchy eyed at the thought that he's not sure what is or is not paranoia anymore.

At least Luke gave up the bottle easily enough, which Owen takes another swig out of. "And first off, it was eye black. From a mask, like the one your dumb-ass should have worn so that my bar didn't get blown up." Yes, his bar. If Luke thought Owen wasn't going to let that paperwork go to his head, or at least pretend to, then he doesn't know him very well. "And second. It's not my fault it brings out my eyes and makes me look fierce."

*

"Oh I wasn't talking about her. I'm sure she's a peach. I was taking about that Joker guy. I mean, one thing worse than dating your best friend's ex, is dating a psycho killer's ex." Which gives Luke immediate pause and reason to look askew to Jess. "I withdraw my previous remark in favor of keeping all my important appendages." Even if Kilgrave only sort of counts in that regard. He clears his throat. "Well, I'm glad you're back, man. If only because I didn't want to have to go through the annoying process of finding a replacement heir to the Cage fortune. Which, by the way, is somewhere in the negative four hundred thousand dollar range to the Rand Corporation. So you and your fierce eyes have that to look forward to."

*

"She was real worried the psycho killer got you," Jessica says dryly. "But she wouldn't give me jack shit for information about Various Activities You'd Been Up To Which Could Prompt That Response."

One can almost hear the capitol letters.

She shoots Luke a long, steady look. And takes a drag on her cigarette. There's so much she could say, but none of it allows any humor to live in her eyes.

But neither does she want to say the things dancing through her mind, and she finally lets the matter of Kilgrave drift into the wind. Truth is she never wants to talk about it. Not anymore. Not that it's resolved. Not now that he's never coming back.

Instead she says, "Next time I can't get my eyeliner straight, that's what I'm going with. I'm going with 'it's eye-black, you dumbass.'"

Getting eyeliner straight without poking herself in the eye. By now, Luke knows just how many curses and snarls that simple feminine activity causes in the morning.

*

The response is automatic and predictable at least for Jess who heard some rendition of it a few times from Harley. The tone is slightly incredulous as if it were common knowledge.

"You don't talk about a job."

And unlike the rules of fight club, this one seems to actually be taken seriously. Though Owen does allow that the preceding statement might make it sound worse than it is.

"Not that I've gone back to that shit."

But there are other things he has gone back to, and certain things that aren't as clear as maybe they should be. His head is already a little fuzzy from the drinking which means he is actually talking about some of these things instead of just clamming up like he normally might.

The exchange between Jess and Luke is mostly lost on him. He's aware of some of the history but not enough specifics to get it. But he at least gets it's a no-go for joking.

"Really Cage? Who is negotiating these deals?" Owen laughs it off as he stands up. He cracks his neck and says quietly and quickly as if trying to get it over and done with "I gotta make a call. But uhm thanks for checkin' up on me. Sorry, f'r that." And with then he's heading inside, to call … well, maybe text. Or maybe tomorrow.

*

"Nelson & Murdock." Not that Owen was exactly expecting an answer to that, but Luke supplies one. As to the rest and the apology and all, he just repeats. "Glad you're back." And then he's ringing Jess around the neck with one arm in prime noogie position to try and wrestle a toke off that dying cigarette. "You spending the night or flying back?" Her relatively new found ability certainly cuts down on cab fees.

*

"Night, Owen," Jess says, accepting the apology and leaving it at that. What happens from here is no longer her business. And his close-mouthed nature about the job, and Harley's, might be a good thing, given later she's going to want him on a job of her own. But for now, he's retreating and retiring, and she won't throw her desire to hit a Trask facility into the air at them just yet. A conversation for another day.

"Spending the night," Jessica says, letting him take the cigarette. And his noogie.

"Maybe for a few nights," she adds. This is as close as she'll come to saying outright that she's missed him and kind of enjoys the whole waking up beside him deal. Not that she won't go right back home midweek, which is her way of saying 'but don't think I like, depend on you or anything.'

It's a good thing Luke is the walking definition of chill. Or he'd never survive this relationship.

Jess had no stones to throw about freaking out and going off-grid. Luke might not have any about where he sticks certain portions of his anatomy.

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