In Deep

September 04, 2018:

Captain Carol Danvers finds out about Jess' condition and rushes to her bedside, only to be met by the unmovable force Luke Cage has become.

Stark Towers Medical Ward

The noise of the EKG machine goes beep beep beep.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Wilson Fisk, Danny Rand, Matt Murdock

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It was the most harrowing moment of Luke's life, finding Jessica like that and the precious minutes it took to get her to Stark's and the time it took to get her stable. Now that the percussive onslaught of medical personnel has died down, the nightmare continues more subdued as she is unable to wake from her coma. Each beep from the heart monitor should be a gift, but it's the lingering threat that at any moment the rhythm could stop and turn into a keen that has the bile clinging to the lining of Luke's throat.

He's sitting at her bedside now, wedged into a chair that's drawn so close his knees touch the mattress. Her limp hand is engulfed in his mighty ones, caging fingers that seem so delicate when they aren't filled with her normal vim and vigor. His attention is solely focused on her, forgetting for the moment there is a war being waged that sent her here. If there was emergency contacts he was supposed to notify, he dumped all that responsibility solely on someone else simply by checking out of reality.

*

One of the cruel realities of military life is that you're out of touch with friends and family for weeks, if not months at a time. Captain Marvel was out-system for several weeks on a mission for SWORD. She had barely set her baggage down in her quarters within The Peak in geosynchronous orbit above New York City when she noticed a series of notifications on her sleeping computer system.

Her curiousity quickly descended to a shocked denial as a few friends at SHIELD forwarded her the report. Internal reports within the clandestine organization are not disclosed amongst agents willy-nilly but Danvers has very high clearance and more than a few agents at the Triskelion know of her close friendship with one Jessica Jones.

Jessica has been shot.

Captain Marvel reenters New York airspace in what might be her new record. Only hastily blurted excuses to air traffic control keeps the military from responding to the 'incoming missile'. Similarly blurted communication to JARVIS gives Carol access to the landing that the Iron Man himself often uses when returning to the tower on the higher floors. It takes all of her discipline to not simply fly down every hallway and down the elevator shaft to minimize travel time, only slowing her pace when JARVIS emphatically tells her that Jessica is stable.

If only just.

It is the image of the famous superhero Captain Marvel that greets Luke Cage as the door to the infirmary bedroom opens. There is a brief moment of confusion as steel eyes fall upon the stranger hunched so closely by Jessica's bedside. While she's never met the man in person, the puzzle is quickly solved as she recalls her friend's mention of him. She steps in after a moment, "Luke Cage?" Requesting one more layer of confirmation before her eyes drift past him to the convalescing woman unresponsive in bed.

*

At the sound of someone coming into the room, Luke bristles from his vigil. It's like he's fighting every instinct to growl like an alpha wolf to warn away who'd dare draw too close to his fallen mate. Slowly the man gets to his feet, uncurling himself from the chair to his full height and rolling back his shoulders to make his broad form block as much of the view of Jessica in her bed as possible when he interposes himself between her and Carol.

All in all, Luke's universe is rather small and often his view of it is restricted to his own borough, thus there's not a light of recognition for Captain Marvel in all her red white and blue patriotic glory. Still, this is Tony's house, and so he behaves. "Can I help you?" The words rumble low in his chest, a deep baritone that seems frayed at the edges by loose threads of emotion.

*

While Captain Marvel is not nearly as imposing as the tall, powerful man, she does not back down a fraction. The look of unveiled threat and protection in his eyes is familiar to her. One she herself would wear if the roles were reversed.

As such Carol softens. Her hands rise inoffensively, "I'm Captain Carol Danvers. I'm a friend of Jessica's." She states peacefully. She had wondered how much Jess had told her new boyfriend of her friends and acquaintances. She must never have gotten to the SWORD Astronaut before all this happened.

"I've.. Been out of town for awhile. I came the moment I heard. How is she?" Her eyes trying to move past him but his imposing frame succeeds in blocking all view.

*

There is a subtle flare of his nostrils, as if Luke is forcing himself to relax just a hair when Carol announces herself as one of Jessica's friends. Still, it's a moment more of his eyes twitching over the Captain's face before he finally relents and steps to the side so she can see her friend. Jessica's been cleaned up post surgery and bandaged, the bulge of it apparent beneath the hospital gown she wears. She has leads and wires and tubes but it just looks like she's sleeping peacefully.

"Sorry." Luke mumbles an apology as he brings a large frond of a hand up to cup the back of his neck, rubbing ruefully. If he /should/ know Danvers, those sort of details have slipped out of his mind at the moment, it seems. In the end, he'll blame it on giving Owen Jessica's phone as to why he didn't contact anyone outside of the Defenders. "She's uh," Small. So small. The big man just shrugs helplessly. "In a coma. She lost a lot of blood, but they got her stable. Repaired what damage they could. Now they say we just have to …wait."

*

Captain Marvel tentatively moves around Luke, giving him a respectful berth to get a better look on the comatose Jessica. Eyes falling upon the tubes and wires keeping her going. She could be sleeping. Someone as full of life as Jessica shouldn't be sleeping.

Her gloved hands tighten at her sides as she stands rigidly. A coldness veils her expression as she asks quietly, "What happened?"

The report she read before blasting her way here was vague. SHIELD does not have primacy in the investigation as such their information is limited.. For the moment. Not that Carol put on her detective hat for this. Instead, she just assumes.. Perhaps wrongly.. That Luke knows more.

*

Luke doesn't try to intervene when Carol comes closer, and his wariness starts to fade into just a dull instinct rather than sharpened protection. The Captain stands rigidly, but some of the tension has eased out of Cage's shoulders so they roll forward again as he gives in a fraction to his exhaustion that etches itself in the blood shot cracks in the whites of his eyes and lines of worry in his forehead.

What happened? Well, that's a tricky question. Whether or not Cage has the answers isn't so much as a factor as if he can trust Carol with them. Something he's apparently mulling over with a roll of his jaw side to side. Finally, "We're in deep with someone who doesn't play nice. Near as we can tell, a sniper took her out and left her for dead while they focused on kidnapping another acquaintance of ours."

*

Carol weighs this response in her mind solemnly. Her eyes never wavering from Jessica's mute form. Her thoughts punctuated by the beeps of the EKG monitoring her heart. While Luke has had days now to fester his worry and exhaust him, Carol has only just begun the process of grief.

As a woman of the military, Captain Danvers tends to focus the stages of grief on the 'Anger' step. "Who?" She asks simply and directly.

Danvers knows the kind of world that Jess lives in. The street she grew to love and focus since she left a world of colorful heroes years ago. Carol hates to admit she's turned a blind eye to crime of the streets and the cities but her head has been in the stars. For some reason, strange as it may seem, she never thought someone would get the better of Jess. She seemed smart enough to keep her nose out of the worst of it, especially after.. Incidents of old.

That illusion has been shattered. "I want a name of who set this up." Her tone, even and chill.

*

Thick arms coil together across Luke's chest, twining around like the thick dark bodies of anacondas that bite into opposing biceps with a squeeze of fingers. "No offense, ma'am, but I think the naming of names to a ranked military personnel such as yourself is going to make me killing the son of a bitch a little more difficult." His head tilts slightly, studying Carol's face as she looks down at Jessica.

*

A pause, a momentary beat.

Carol then turns on her heel, steel blue gaze directly looking into Luke's eyes with a stone expression. There are long, uncomfortable seconds as she matches that stare. A hundred emotions roil behind her eyes but they all seem to cancel out into this hardened neutrality playing over her features.

Maybe she doesn't know what to say to that, exactly?

Only after some time does she break the tension by returning her gaze to Jessica, hands placing on her hips. "We aren't in the business of killing people." A voice reciting rote truth, convincing herself as much as Luke, "Death is for the court to decide, not us. But there needs to be an understanding that there are lines you don't cross."

*

It seems like ages ago that Luke was in that same camp. Take them down, but don't take them out. No one dies. There's already enough death. Then his bar exploded, then Hell's Kitchen exploded. Then Rand got blackmailed. Matt got kidnapped. Jessica got shot. Thousands of lives ripped apart, all by the jaws of the same beast. Her recitation has the opposite effect on Luke. It doesn't make him cow down to the righteousness of the legal system, instead he just answers cooly. "I'll remember to tell the same thing to your loved one, if you're ever laying in a bed like that."

*

"I've known Jess a LOT longer than you have Luke!"

In an instant, Carol is eye level with Cage, her feet a short distance from the floor as she soundlessly hovers, turned to face him and rose as fast as an eye blink. A brief wave of outrage threatens the lines beneath her eyes as she gets a grip on herself, and her tone. Her jaw works as her feet slowly return to the floor, eyes drifting away from a dangerous confrontational stare.

"She told me about you. I haven't heard her happy and amazed to be with someone in a long while." She offers in a tone forced to calm. Acknowledging the reason and depth of his hurt. "Do not think you're facing this thing alone."

*

Luke really isn't used to looking at someone at eye level. It's amazing his neck even bends that way. He gives a slow blink of confusion before his eyes shift down to notice the hover maneuver and then back up to that steely gaze that matches his own. He lets out a huff of air that might normally pass for amusement when she eases back to solid ground, but considering the tension in the room it just comes out as sardonic. "You're right, Captain." He uses her rank almost as an epithet. "I'm standing with others who are prepared to do whatever it takes to put it to an end. So do Jess a solid, and stay out of my way on this. I'll let you know when it's done."

*

Carol Danvers stands bolt still. The kind of stillness a fighting animal would use before launching into violence. A thick tension electrifying the silence. A storm passes behind her eyes but she fights it to stillness.

She breaks the tension as she moves a gloved hand toward Jess, wordlessly reaching to touch the back of the broken woman's hand amidst the wires and tubes. Eyes offering a wordless promise.

Then, perhaps astonishingly to all involved, she seems to take Luke's offer. Without further speech she simply turns on her heel away from them both and walks out the door. Not another breath or glance is spared for him.

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