Visiting Jessica Jones

September 16, 2018:

Babs comes to visit Jessica at Stark Tower, and the two catch-up.

Jessica's Room, Stark Tower

See RP.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Punisher, Luke Cage, Tony Stark, Peter Parker

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Barbara Gordon has been spending a lot of time commuting between NYC and Gotham lately. She had plenty of cover stories to assuage her father's constant worries about his only daughter. Taking her motorcycle to New York City for some library workshops, and then to visit Zane and Bette, and then to catch up with old college friends, and then to check out an exhibit at the Met, and… the excuses went on. Jim Gordon was starting to suspect that maybe, just maybe, his daughter had herself a New York City boyfriend.

Ha. Yeah… and his name is Frank Castle. Right.

This time, she told Jim Gordon the truth: she needed to check in on her friend who was in the hospital. There was no fibs or shades of truth. Jessica Jones was a friend, and she needed to visit now that she was awake. Jess being in Stark Tower was just an added bonus, because it also meant she could meet up with Peter Parker about this little computer program she was working on. When she arrived at Stark Tower, she went through security still in her biking leathers, motocross boots and gloves, helmet hooked to her travel backpack on her back. All of that was searched before she was shown to Jessica's room.

Stuffing her gloves back in her bag and adjusting it over one shoulder, she knocks gently on Jess's door before starting to push it open. "Jones? It's Babs…"

At first it may look like Jones has gotten fed up with all this hospital business and has flown the coop in defiance of all sense and sensibility, because she's not in bed.

Except seconds later it's clear she's just making it back from the shower. She's holding on to the wall with her right palm, slowly making her way back towards the bed. She's dripping wet, but dressed in soft black pants and a black tank top. Barefoot. Her left arm hangs just a little stiffly, but there's no visible signs of the injury that put her here. There is a look of frustration on her face that she wipes away in favor of a humor-filled smirk. "Hey Babs, how's it going? If I'd known you were coming I'd have baked a…"

The pause is long. Finally she tilts her head to one side and the other, smirk growing. "Well, you know the rest," she adds. She finally gets to the bed and settles down into it with a fairly awkward series of motions. But it's bedlike, moreso than hospital bedlike, with real blankets and this nest of pillows someone has built up for her. The room is pretty roomy, with a big leather couch and nice huge leather seat. Along with the standard small by-the-bed chair that looks like it has been bent, just slightly, at some really awkward angles. There's a television on the wall that is currently off, and some flowers which actually look like they're getting water. After a moment it's easy to see why: a little drone robot is bobbing and weaving between them with a tiny watering can.

It was a sure bet it was not Jones suddenly adopting this adventure in botany. Though in truth, Jess wildly appreciates both the flowers and the help keeping them alive.

She heals fast, as a rule, so for her to be laid up this long at all is both a surprise and a frustration for her. Every small improvement is nevertheless relished. Like being able to get her own ass both into, and out of the shower.

Barbara hesitates at the sight of the empty bed, and she starts looking around with a slow-building frown on her lips. The nurse had said she was in here, and yet — oh, there she is.

The Gothamite vigilante flashes her friend a broad, lopsided smile at the sight of her, but she can see that frustration just before it vanishes beneath the smirk from the PI. "Casserole? Pie? Fish? There's lots of options there of all the things you would not have baked for me." The redhead steps fully in now, unshouldering her bag and helmet to a chair. Having been at Dinah's side during her own recovery, Barbara has learned that she waits for the last possible moment to offer help. Jess doesn't need her at all.

She looks over the room, whistling slightly with a note of admiration. "Man… Stark needs to start owning hospitals. Almost a bummer that you have to know Tony Stark to get this kind of treatment." The Bat steps in close to watch the little drone, hands on her thighs as she admires it. "I need one of these… maybe I'd stop killing Dinah's gifts if I had a plant nanny." That's about when she wanders back to one of those sad looking chairs, and she gives it a look before arching a brow to Jess in silent question.

Jessica smirks and says, "Yeah, all that," to the list of crap she could have baked.

She chuckles at the chair. "My um. My boyfriend. He's huge and stronger than me, and he apparently wanted to be right next to me while I was taking the long scary nap. So he got it all bent out of shape. They bring in all the more comfortable stuff, and he decides he won't use it for the most part because he couldn't get it right up to the bed. He wanted to loom this coma right out of existence, it seems. But hey, I'm awake so it apparently worked?"

She glances around, almost embarrassed for her good fortune here. But nods in agreement. Stark probably does need to start owning hospitals. "As he's one room over in a coma of his own," she says grimly, "he might have cause to get a renewed interest in them soon enough. Ace, say hi to Babs."

The little drone burbles and bobs in the impression of a bow, then zooms out. Talk of Tony has reminded the robot-formerly-known-as-Dunce that it's worried about Tony, and he is going to go zoom and hover over his friend's bedside now.

"You know, is it sad that I actually have to run through a long mental list of potential supers with abnormal strength? What kind of world are we living in when there's easily a dozen of those?" The Bat chuckles wryly as she settles into a chair that hasn't been malformed yet. She tucks up a knee to her chest, crisscrossing her fingers around the shin of her motocross boot. "Looming is really cute, J… when it isn't creepy."

Her lips twitch with a half smile, and then she starts to look around with Jess, but the mention of Tony's status makes her mouth thin. She nods soberly. "Yeah… I heard about that. Harder to convince Dad that I want to pay Tony Stark a visit because we're friends after I hacked his mainframe." The twenty-something rubs at the back of her neck wearily before she looks back to Ace.

"He's adorable, Jess. Please say you're going to keep him?"

Jessica laughs at that. "I got to borrow him for a few months once, but he and Tony miss each other. Still, it was a close call. I really did want to keep him."

She tilts her head at Babs about the hacking and the issues with her father. She gets the look she gets on her face when she tries to decide if she's going to say something. And ultimately doesn't. Her parents are dead. What would she know about parental approval, and the struggles of being a grown person who still wants it? Or the difficulties of dealing with parental concern. Jack and crap come to mind. So rather than giving the unsolicited advice, she just says, "You can feel free to piggy back any and all visits to me with visits to Tony. I mean. He's a lousy conversationalist at the moment. I know, cause I tried. I go hang out over there sometimes. Asked him for help with the crossword. I mean you know, if anyone knows a six letter word for an engine part it's that guy, right? He wouldn't wake his lazy butt up to help at all. This is what happens when you go most of your time without sleep. When you finally get some it just goes on and on."

Joking is how she copes with all sorts of stuff, and the trend continues. The eyes say she's way more worried than her words would indicate, though.

"Well, thanks for the OK there, Jones… because I'm using visiting you as a cover to go see Peter Parker about a vigilante operating system that can be put on any smartphone. Black Canary gave me the idea." The casual way that Barbara talks about two other vigilantes suggests that Babs knows this is a safe place to talk. She actually is pretty sure Tony keeps tabs on all and every vigilante in the Tri-Cities. She just doesn't use Dinah's name out of respect for the Lance girl.

Then she smiles ruefully. "Not that I'm not here to actually visit you."

At Jess's coping mechanisms, her expression softens. "He'll wake up. No way that Tony's ego would let him stay vegetative for too long… because you know that means HammerTech and Wayne Industries is going to corner his territory, and no way Stark is going to let that happen." She starts to laugh through her words, but only another street vigilante would detect the soft tiredness that is laced in that casual laughter.

She leans her head back slightly before she refocuses on Jessica. "Alright, you gonna tell me how you're doing? How many people do you want to punch right now?"

"I want to punch 982 people. Or maybe one person 982 times: the friggin' physical therapist," Jessica says with a weary grumble. She exhales and flips the covers over her body. "Though the truth is she's a very nice lady."

She hesitates, then shrugs. "Jane Foster warned me once brain damage was something I might end up with one of these days. And that's about what it is right now. The gunshot wound healed. But apparently I left a whole lot of my blood all over the floor and my noggin didn't like that much. Apparently it's pretty similar to having a stroke. Words don't always word right, I feel like sleeping constantly, I honestly didn't get more than three words on the crossword on my own, and the left side of my body appears to be taking a mini-vacation. Don't even get me started on the way goddamn noises get me right now."

She shrugs in irritation. "I'm not stupid or anything though. Things are just glitching. And I'm making steady progress so Doc thinks my healing factor will clean it up eventually. She just says it's not going to be as fast as a gunshot or a break because. Brains. So I mean I dunno. I'm lucky. Most people would have died. Most people wouldn't be able to expect full recovery. So I'm trying to keep the bitching and grousing down to a dull goddamn roar and am following medical instructions for once. I'm grateful my friends brought me here and not to Metro Gen, where I probably would have died for entirely different reasons. So I guess, on balance, I'm honestly okay."

The thing about Jess is she rarely shies away from the direct question. She'll tell it like it is if asked directly, and Babs did.

"Note to self: do not become a physical therapist."

Then Babs listens with that dutiful ear, and each detail thins her lips a bit until she's frowning. "I… damn. I'm sorry, Jess. Who cares if it'll sort it out soon; that would be drive me insane, too." Then her smile resurfaces with a gentleness. "You know you can bitch and grouse to me… because I can always just go back to Gotham." Then she reaches out to gently touch Jess's hand with a companionable gesture before she sinks back into her chair.

"I read the paper this morning… Fisk is going to spend his life behind bars, you know? Either in New York, or in some other facility."

"Yeah, Daredevil and the others did real good," Jess says with a flash of a grin. The grin is more for Babs' assertion she can just take off back to Gotham when she's tired of listening to Jessica grouse. "The paper ought not to have mentioned me really. I was a lot more tangential to that effort than they made it sound. Daredevil and the others chased that son of a bitch for two years. I was usually on other cases, and there was that whole period during the trial last summer where I basically couldn't work at all. I mean I helped here and there, but the others did a Hell of a lot more on that front."

She runs her fingers through her hair and adds, "And I agree. He's not weaseling his way out of there this time. I'm glad his real estate bullshit came to light before a lot of that legislation could get pushed through. I feel like it would be political suicide for any Councilmember to vote 'yes' on the gentrification of the Kitchen now. Except Dillard, who kind of has to since she's the sponsor."

"You're very adorable in that modesty you got on right now, Jones." Barbara is all laughter through those words. "I'm sure you did all you could before you were shot. Good job, by the way… getting shot. Might be time to really consider some kind of body armor to wear under your snarky t-shirts and Old Navy jeans." She smiles patiently for whatever response Jess has for her with that.

Then, she shakes her head. "I'm from Gotham… I assume that public opinion means jackshit when it comes to political decision. Maybe New York has better sense about them."

"I ran into DeeDee when I was hanging around NYC a few weeks back." Oh, there's that forced casual voice she uses whenever she starts to edge into Frank Castle territory. Someone's going to call her on it one day — the way she sounds like she's talking about the weather… really, really badly. "He seems like a good sort, and Hell's Kitchen is going to really need someone to be keeping an eye on it. Whatever that lawyer said, it's wounded. You might be saved from gentrification, but there's worse things than boutique hipster bars and fair-trade chocolate shops."

Jessica smirks and says, "What's fun is…I was. My jeans and jacket are Starkweave. But the sniper didn't hit me anywhere I was armored." She touches two fingers to her neck, just above her collarbone, a place that would only have been covered if she was completely bundled up. Not likely in the height of summer. "I probably should have pulled on the jacket," she says ruefully, "but it wouldn't have helped. The dude knew what he was doing. Really I got lucky. I probably shifted just a little at the last minute. He was probably aiming to put one between my eyes. Snipers don't generally fuck around, you know? And the thing about being a PI is nobody's going to take me seriously as an investigator if I jam a helmet on my head."

She suddenly smirks and puts two fingers up by her head. "Especially those with adorable ears or horns or whatever. Various animal and other motifs."

She doesn't rib her friends about their costumes often, but sometimes she does. Nobody will ever get her into a mask. Or a helmet. Or any body armor that doesn't involve clothes one could wear just about anywhere. No names other than her own. That's been her thing forever and it's not going to stop now.

Still. Forced casual gets her attention. Babs can see it. Her father gets the same look, when he switches from being a person to being a detective. The detective just sat up and took notice.

"Whatever you were doing around NYC," she says thoughtfully, "is something you think I'd either be really worried about or wouldn't approve of. But see, you've already lost that battle. Now I know something's up. Spill."

"Which is why I wear a cowl and helmet," Barbara points out rationally. It is a matter-of-fact statement that is laced with an unspoken understanding: sometimes, there's nothing that can be done. Someone is going to shoot you, and that's that. Then she nods soberly about snipers. "I know. I've been learning quite a lot about them recently. Snipers that is."

The mention of her adorable ears incites a small scoff and rolling of her eyes. "Those adorable ears are quite sophisticated… and besides, we're blaming Batman on this. If he hadn't picked the theme, we wouldn't all be abiding by it." Which probably says a lot more about the Bat Family and their loyalties to the Father Bat. Plus, deep inside, Babs has actually grown quite fond of bats. She even follows the Australian Bat Rescue on social media.

She would probably bring up the rescue if Jess hadn't noticed the change in her demeanor, and honed it on it — like a good detective would. Her throat tightens a bit, she clears it, and she shrugs her shoulders dismissively. "No one seems to be approving of it, so I don't see why you would either. But…" She rubs at the back of her neck with both hands, leaning her elbows into her knees.

"Zane was going to poke around the Punisher. I took the job instead… at the time, Frank Castle was just another murdering lunatic taking vigilante justice too far. I was worried Zane was going to get himself killed." Her mouth tightens a bit. "I got… involved. Really involved." She curls her fingers into the muscles on either side of her vertebra, almost anchoring herself there. "He knows who I am… I told him I would help him." She looks up at Jess now, expression expectant.

"The guy's a lunatic, but he probably won't shoot you," Jessica says, furrowing her brows thoughtfully. "It's not that I don't think sometimes some people just need killing, you know. Some people are monsters who can't be put down any other way."

Which she knows is not exactly sympatico with Bat Code.

"But that guy? He feels perfectly fine shooting up petty assholes who just fell into crime with no other option. So what the Hell inspired you to help him? You must see something in him the rest of us aren't seeing."

One thing about her honing in is…she will, sure. But judgement? That's in short supply. Jessica needs multiple pieces of paper to list out all her bad decisions. So she's not really quick to name someone else's decisions as bad. She just wants to understand them. Understand everything that's going on around her, really. That's not to say she'll necessarily support a course of action she doesn't agree with after understanding can be reached, but she can at least sometimes be inspired to stay the Hell out of the way. A fine line to walk. Of course, sometimes she can be talked right around into helping, too.

Some people just need killing. Barbara drops her eyes away from Jessica so she won't see the struggle. That maybe, this Bat isn't entirely trusting in her own code anymore.

"There has to be a point when the petty assholes are actually no longer redeemable… like the ones who shot-up Central Park and killed Castle's wife and two kids." It's defensive and Barbara knows it; she also knows that it isn't exactly true. Some of the younger members of all three gangs could have been redeemed. She half-wonders if Frank even considers that, only to immediately assume he doesn't. "He has a code of ethics… a belief system. You kill innocents, you die. It's like a balancing of scales. He was even after Fisk for a while, hunting down Cartel kids who set the bombs. He would never kill someone who hadn't violated his own ethics. I'm pretty sure he's linked to the death of a pawnshop owner who was suspected of dealing in trafficking kids."

She sighs out a slow breath as she leans over her knees, elbows resting on her thighs and fingers curling around the back of her neck like an anchor into her muscles. She rubs at them slowly, feeling her tension build as she thinks over everything that has happened since June with this case. Jess's prompting — the slight dig to understand what Babs is seeing is enough to get her to say the things that have been roiling about in her head:

"We're supposed to help those who need it the most. So what if this guy isn't helpless, can actually handle himself on the streets… not every person we help has to be helpless. Castle… if he does this alone, and he sees it to the end… then he's just a husk. There will be nothing left inside him, and what kind of life is that? If I'm there as an ally, maybe he will see that he's not alone in this."

Only then does she drop her face to her hands, curling her fingers into her forelocks. "God, now that I've said that aloud, it sounds so stupid."

Jessica listens to all of it without interrupting. Her brow furrows down when she hears about Castle’s children dying. Clearly she hadn’t known that, and it has been filed away. Jessica adores kids. Killing them is definitely a good way to end up on her shit list too, but something doesn’t track. “Okay, kid killers are god awful, but he has to have killed what, fifty people by now? All those assholes didn’t shoot up his children. We kill everyone who ever killed an innocent and we just kind of turn into mass murderers ourselves. The fact that they killed can't be enough. But..that’s my code. And we um. Defenders…we spent months and months grappling with who we were going to be. Our answer is why Pinhead is in custody, not dead. But…that’s also our answer.”

She frowns thoughtfully, studying Babs. “I get empathy for the guy. But empathy alone can’t be enough either. It can lead you some pretty dark places. It had me running with terrorists a little while.”

She says it as if it were years ago and not…this summer.

But all she looks is concerned. “I’m not saying you are wrong exactly. That your impulse to help him is bad or anything like that. Or even stupid, which I don’t think it is. I’m saying you are at a crossroads here. One I guess everyone like us gets to eventually. Frank’s answer is screw the system. Kill an innocent and he will be judge, jury, and executioner. Is he a good enough detective to know everyone he is killing is guilty? Is every last murder worthy of the death penalty? Is everyone defined by the worst thing they ever did, or can some lives be turned around, create value past that and even come to do a lot of good? Are we really deciding every part of the justice system can only handle cigarette thieves and con men or is it good for more than that? These are things you have to make sure you’re thinking about, because they are going to define who you are. Problem with fighting monsters is you can start to become what you fight if you aren’t real mindful. So…just…be mindful.”

Barbara rubs her hands across her face, through her hair, and resumes hooking her fingers into the back of her neck. She looks up at Jess, her blue eyes holding a storm of emotions. "I know… I know that he's killing everyone that had anything to do with this, but I've got a name: Blacksmith. He's the one who is really behind it, and I'm trying to narrow Frank's focus down to him. I asked Owen Mercer to help me out."

That confession incites the laughter. She starts chuckling, but it is a broken and tired laugh. She has Mercer helping her. What kind of alternate reality is this?

"I was supposed to leave this alone, you know." Babs sighs out the words. "Bats told me it isn't my business, that I should hand this off to Daredevil, and the Defenders. And I did… found DeeDee, handed him Frank's entire file… but it was like this itch I needed to keep scratching at. I can feel it, Jess… in my goddamn gut. There's some reason I got to be on this path with him…"

The redhead drops her arms dramatically across her knees, still folded over herself. She looks at the drone, watching in with a sightless focus. When she looks back at the PI, the storm has settled a bit — not dissipated, but calmed. "We create villains… sometimes. Sometimes we get so fixated and focused on doing the right thing, we miss an opportunity to stop something worse from coming around. Castle… Frank… he's at this crossroads, too. I could absolutely turn on him, drop him at the nearest precinct, and let the system sort him out… or I could try to help him choose a path that isn't… this. And maybe he's always going to go for the killshot, but if he has the right kinds of people around him… maybe we can help him not become just the monster."

Because, as Babs has come to terms with, Frank is a monster… but not all monsters are villains.

"Batman said that?" Jessica asks, eyebrows lifting. "Huh. I didn't think we were anywhere on that guy's radar. Look, if you feel it in your gut, do it, you know? If you think you can narrow his focus, that's a good thing. The other shit of all this shit is that sometimes you can't…"

She frowns. Damn it. This is not a good time to grapple for words. She closes her eyes, trying to find the thought she's trying to find.

"Sometimes you gotta," is what she comes up with. Jessica hasn't come to terms with not all monsters are villains yet, but…they also define monster differently. She wouldn't have called Castle a monster. An unhinged asshole who has watched too much Rambo? Absolutely. But not a monster.

"Alright. So…Blacksmith," she says. "Mercer's a great guy to have helping you. But you're saying we, not I, so. Keeping in mind I probably am here for a bit longer…"

A hand waves expansively around the medbay room…

"And my brain is braining at about 40 percent…how can I help?"

"Everyone's on Batman's radar… I'm pretty sure he knows about the vigilantes on the West Coast at this point." There's a shy hint of both pride and deprecation there, all directed at her mentor.

Her expression settles into patience as Jessica tries to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in her own head. Testing Jones's ability to actually problem solve was not why she came here, and to see Jess immediately go to helper mode while also still healing twangs the guilt strings nicely. She smiles a bit apologetically. "I'm sorry, Jess. I really just meant to visit, not to dump all my stuff on your shoulders."

When the PI starts in on helping, Babs shakes her head. "I know. And honest, you don't need to worry about this. I got it, really." Her throat tightens a bit. "But, since you're offering… I don't know what this Blacksmith guy might have in store, and I think I can get Mercer to offer us some back-up. Do… do you know anyone else who could offer some back-up when this gets going?"

Jessica snorts. "Yeah, except I like helping. I'm a workaholic. Bringing me anything even tangentially work related when I haven't been able to work for nearly a week is pretty awesome truth be told. And the only way anyone would do that right now is by accident."

Her lips twitch. "So. Score."

But she sits back to think about that. "Daredevil is already in on it, and he would have been my first thought," she says slowly. "But. You can also ask Luke Cage."

She gestures to the chair by her bedside, as if to indicate he's the one that bent it. "He and Mercer are tight anyway, and have worked together on stuff before. And he's bulletproof, so you know. If Castle just loses his shit and starts firing his guns everywhere because he can't take it anymore, Luke can just shrug and ride out the tantrum."

"I know you do." Barbara flashes her a broad, but comforting smile. "I bet it's driving you bonkers that you can't be more help… but the fact that you still want to help is a real… well… thanks." It is one of the rare moments where Babs looks honestly awkward — at the whim of a social situation is not her comfort zone.

When she offers up her ideas, the Bat nods noncommittally at the mention of Daredevil. Considering the choice words Frank has when he's brought up, she's not convinced that he's a good choice, but then Jess offers up… "Luke Cage is your boyfriend? Crap, have I totally missed that, or were you keeping that under your hat?" She looks at the chair with a new appreciation.

And Jess's pro-points for Cage earn a quick nod. "Yeah… I think he'll be a good fit."

Jessica shrugs and says, "That word is totally juvenile, but yeah. And I wasn't keeping it under my hat. I just don't go gushing about my love life or whatever, is all. But I mean it's serious. We're moving in together. So there's that."

Jess quirks a smile and shrugs. Now it's her turn to feel awkward. Not because she's not genuinely happy for the situation, which she obviously is, but just because she's not entirely kidding either. This is the type of topic she's not so sure how to just jump in on. The personal, the casual, other than some jokes here and there, are always things she's been socially awkward about, a little bit. Case stuff? Case stuff is easy. She looks genuinely baffled that Babs looks so touched she wants to help. What the Hell else would she want to do?

"You really need to be gushing about your love life," Barbara says dryly. "I'm not convinced that vigilantes know how to have a love life, so now you're the case I'm going to use to prove the contrary, so if you could get married and have babies soon, that would be great."

Her mouth twitches with a small smile before she starts to stand, grabbing for the shoulder-straps of her backpack. The black helmet bobs a bit about on its carabiner hoop attached to the top of her bag. She catches the baffled look and smiles ruefully. "I'm going to go talk to your boyfriend now. Should I mention the babies thing to him, too?"

And there it is. The face. The face Jessica makes when irritation and saltiness are making a comeback. "How about no," she says. "We have not discussed the M-word, or the B-word. We have discussed the L-word. And the K-word, as in here are your keys. You want a vigilante to get knocked up, you get right on that. Not sure how it will work out with the spandex or whatever it is your armor is made out of, but be my goddamn guest."

And isn't that the surest sign this woman is going to make a full recovery anyway? The grouchiness? Probably far more than all that taking a stab at a healthy attitude stuff.

Barbara cannot help the smile that blossoms at the saltiness from Jones. It is like finding something familiar and letting it ground you. That's what Jones does for Gordon — and she actually feels a bit relieved. "I'm sure Stark can come up with baby bump armor." She says this as casually as talking about the weather, and then flashes Jessica a wry smile. "OK, no more talk of babies… though, good to see that even at 40%, you're still ready to wring my neck when poked."

She slings on her bag fully now, and reaches out to squeeze Jess's shoulder. "Gonna go hunt down a nerd now. Good to see you, Jess. I'll reach out to look about Castle, and…" Her expression sobers. "I'll be careful."

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