Sympathy for the Devils

September 17, 2018:

Carol Danvers visits Jessica Jones recuperating from her coma. Jessica offers a shocking revelation that strains their friendship.

Stark Tower, New York City


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Agent Coulson, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Jessica Jones has not been easy to visit over the past several days. She may not be in a coma anymore, but she's been sleeping. And while Stark's doctors won't tell anyone much…there is nobody alive legally entitled to Jessica's personal medical information…they will say Jess needs that sleep.

She's been comfortable though, and a glance inside shows she's well taken care of. Real blankets on the bed, her own PJs, flowers everywhere. Food trays look like they are being heartily attacked, and not all of them look like they came from the employee cafeteria.

But today she is awake. Soft sounds drift down the hall from her room.

Male voice: "I'd like to buy an A."

Jones: "Oh for fuck's sake, dude, really? Apostrophe on the board, one letter behind it. Spin the wheel and call for a T or an S. Buying a vowel this early is for chumps."

Pat Sajak: "One A."

Male voice: "I'd like to buy another vowel…"

Jones: Disgusted noise.

The volume is turned way down, way lower than she normally listens to anything, but the sounds are there to be heard. And you know. Jones-level-grouchy means she's probably getting very close to getting back to normal for any given value of that word. It's certainly not lying pale and nearly lifeless.

Carol demanded Stark's medical team message her the instant that Jessica snapped out of the coma. Not if but when.
That they refused to let her see her best friend once she did recover raised her heckles but she had no choice. She had half a mind to track down Luke Cage and see if he at least had a chance to see her but.. There was ultimately no point. Things had gotten tense enough between the two that she decided against reaching out to him until things had cooled down a bit more.

Even if she did want to secretly offer him congratulations for taking down that bastard Fisk.

Finally. FINALLY the Doctors called ahead to let Carol know Jessica was open for business. Unfortunately she was delayed due to undergoing operations but she managed to get planetside as fast as she was able. She even bothered to switch out to plain clothes attire - blue jeans and an aviator's jacket.

Rounding the doorway into Jess's room and seeing the woman grouse about Contestant A does Carol's heart much good. She just takes a second to watch her, feeling the weight rolling from her shoulders and a smile returning to her face for the first time since.. awhile.
"Hey you." Carol speaks over the iconic clicking whirl of the wheel, "See? This is what I was worried about. A real job would keep you away from the evil's of daytime TV." Marching in over to the bedside, "If Days of our Lives reruns are up next you might as well go back into the coma."

Jessica chuckles and reaches for the remote. She clicks the television off and tosses that thing aside. "Usually not wanting to be up during the day takes care of that just fine," she says dryly. Her tone is warm as she says, "It's good to see you, Carol."

The detective suddenly smirks and says, "You know, of course, that this statement you just made tells me you've watched at least a little bit of Days of our Lives. Cat's out of the bag now. You did a stint as a soap opera lady. Tsk."

Banter is back too. And there's no grousing for Carol. At least not initially. Easy enough to get her there eventually, probably, if Carol really wanted to, but for now it's all smiles.

Carol reaches over for the chair, "Yeaaaaah.. Well.." Carol murmurs as she spins the chair about briefly before straddling it backward, facing Jess over the backrest as she crosses her arms over the top and fearlessly rocking it forward. By the laws of gravity and leverage the furnishing should completely topple over but those two trivial physical laws don't hold much sway on Captain Marvel. "We all have our deep dark secrets." Leaving it at that with a smirk that suggests no more hidden cards will be played.

"It is damn good to see you upright Jess. It was scary seeing you under." The sly expression evaporating into pure warmth. Steel eyes gleaming, "But hey.." She reaches out to give Jessica the slightest pats on the arm, "They got the bastard. Your boy toy and company got 'em."
Captain Danvers is military through and through. Others may reproach Jessica for taking risks, but risks are what you take to defeat evil men. Carol knows this and accepts it. And by the grace of God its all managed to work out.

Fortunately nobody's tried to chastise Jess for taking those risks yet, but every time she doesn't have to hear it she appreciates it. She smirks as Carol pats her on the arm and treats her like a fellow soldier, which is basically all she wants. Even if she's not a soldier. The fact remains. She doesn't want to be coddled, nor does she want to be told she needs to go find herself some bubble wrap now.

But she tilts her head and says, "You and Luke met?" Contrary to popular belief she did not in fact hear the entire exchange between them in the deep dark reaches of her coma. If she had she might have woken up just to stop the bickering, truth be told, were it possible. "And yeah, they did good. All of them did. The bastard. And all the bastard's horses and all the bastard's men. And how are things going for you, anyway, besides being afraid I'd never wake up and give you any more shit ever again?"

Danvers can't say she's never been worried for Jessica and the occasionally dangerous life she leads. She does know that Jess is one damn tough girl and is more than capable of fending for herself. After all, Carol was once an unaffiliated 'cape' in a one-woman-war on crime years ago. She wasn't going to take shit from anyone telling her what she can't do and she affords Jess the same courtesy.
That said, a few decades of hard knocks taught her how to slow down a bit. It's hard to not play nurse-maid from time to time when you see friends and loved ones on the same path to a serious battering. In Carol's estimation, Jess has already learned that lesson a dozen times over so she trusts her judgement.
"Ha ha, weeeee did." Carol draws out as her smile broadens, looking down as she chortles, "Damn girl. How did you score a guy like that?" If there is more to how that exchange went down, Carol does not bring it up here and now. In a lot of ways, as Carol thinks on it, it's moot anyway. Luke did good and that's all there is to it.
Carol nods emphatically as Jess recants the entire Fisk Kingdom fallen to ruin. She can only imagine her people have come in to inform her of how it went down but she does not pry.
As an Agent of SHIELD she had best not pry into what must be one hell of an investigation. Sometimes the best thing she can do for Jess' friends is make a note to not listen to things she'd best not hear.
As the subject switches to Carol, the Captain gains apprehension. She takes a moment to think before admitting, "Things are weird right now, Jess. There's a lot of strange things going on. Did you hear that Tony got hit? Damn near same time as you. It was some mutant terrorist from the Brotherhood we think. He's in pretty bad shape last I checked."

'Damn girl, how'd you score a guy like that?'

Jessica bites back on the tongue-in-cheek 'oh you know, got mind-controlled into murdering his evil-scientist wife who was treating him like a lab rat. And stalked him. Also stalked him. No big.'

It's one of those things that's darkly funny until examined too closely, and then it just sucks all the air out of a room, and it's something people can barely get. Stuff her and Luke understand, but which just makes no sense to anyone on the outside looking in.

So instead she says, "It's more like he scored me, I think. In that he kept ignoring my attempts to push him away and shut him down and you know. Do what I do."

It's said with a twitch of a smile, a rueful understanding of exactly what she does. Fling up the walls. Run and keep running. She's never had someone patiently tear the walls down before. Never found them jogging by her side, full of understanding and unruffled affront.

But then Carol is talking about something else entirely, and Jessica pales a little bit. "What? It was Brotherhood? That makes no sense. Tony's been busting his ass to help mutants and metas. He came up with counters to the Trask collars. He's one of the best allies to their cause out there. Why would they suddenly attack him? I knew he was next door in a coma, I knew he'd been hit, but I didn't know they'd done it."

This news rattles her more than it maybe ought to. But meanwhile the voice of another friend floats to the surface of her mind, spinning a cautionary tale that turned out to be prophetic.

'If they did it to you, Jess, they'll do it to someone else. Me, maybe, next time. Or one of the others.'

It was no Defender, but close enough. Tony has been good enough to Jessica that this hits home in a big way. And while she'd already cut ties with them, opting to just stop seeking encounters with them rather than to make any sort of grand announcement, which struck her as a stupid strategic move. One never knows, for example, when one might need to actually get in there and talk to someone for any number of reasons.

Case in point, the man lying next door.

Jessica scrubs her fingers through her hair. Her brief association was no secret to Tony, confronted and admitted and tacitly accepted. But Carol had been kept in the dark.

"Okay," she says slowly. "I might need your advice. And I might need you to. You know. Forget you're an Agent of SHIELD, a bonafide law enforcement type person, while I ask you for said advice. Just. Temporary amnesia the crap out of that."

Carol grins brightly at Jess' hesitance, eyes searching for a blush as she states whimsically, "Well he's got great taste! I can absolutely confirm the guy is nuts about you. He was glued to your side." The whimsy evolves into sincerity, offering her best friend blessing to the pairing. The other details about the guy apparently being involved in a vigilante hit on Fisk? Well, in the end he did the right thing and didn't pass sentence with his fists. Carol is willing to leave it at that.

As the subject switches back to sobering, Carol's expression darkens as she lets the news work through Jessica's process. She herself can only shake her head, the growing threat of mutant terrorism is largely not her beat but it's getting harder and harder for people like Captain Marvel to ignore. She adds, "In the report I think it was mentioned something about mistaken identity. Which.." Her lip snarls for a moment on the word, "Isn't an excuse for attempted murder."

As Jessica seems to stews on this, rubbing her temples, Carol was a half-second from reaching out and offering the 'this isn't your fault' platitude that Danvers knows must be circulating in her head. But Jessica's sudden request stops her cold.

Steel blue eyes widen as she straightens in her chair. She does not answer immediately as she searches Jessica's expression. Several beats pass.
"One sec Jess." She states quietly. Rising from her chair and walking away. Hands move to her neck, fingers making commanding gestures as the rim of her digitized helmet appears about her throat. The truth is, Carol is always in 'costume', which is part of her .. oddness. She removes the helmet which reconstructs fully into the red-repainted Kree helm. The fully connected device she uses to communicate with SWORD in a constant data stream, as well as SHIELD. Staring at it a moment she places it just outside the door of the room and closes it.

Only then does Carol sit back down in her chair and faces Jessica with a sober, curious expression. Unplugged from the system, "Okay."

"If it was just mistaken identity maybe I don't need the advice," Jessica says slowly. But she watches Carol unplug, and either way, at this point, she's said too much.

Now she owes Carol an explanation.

She sighs.

"But if it wasn't, I maybe could get in to talk to them to figure out what the Hell. And I may be able to talk them out of future attacks. It may be I have some…loose ties with them. It may be that they dropped a collar on my desk months ago, and you know how I feel about slavery in general."

It's not like Carol doesn't know Jessica's entire awful history with Kilgrave. Though Carol probably knows something Jess doesn't. SHIELD took Kilgrave into custody in a hospital bed (the part Jessica knows) and then it looks a lot like one of the Agents might have accidentally-on-purpose-plausible-deniability-etc.etc.-pulled the plug on the guy, deeming him too dangerous to live. There's no way Jess would know that latter part.

And it would hardly matter. Since ending her life of drunken self-pity Jess has all but devoted herself, as a sort of Stone 1, to keeping other people from going through the Hell she's been through, and helping people who have gone through similar troubles. She was the one who first uttered the words 'mind control' in reference to one Bucky Barnes, Winter Soldier, two years ago, and to SHIELD no less. If anyone wanted a hot button she'd respond to immediately, dropping a meta-human slave collar on her desk would be the surest way to do it.

And while Jessica would like to pretend to be the world's crustiest, angriest, misanthrope ever born…

The truth is she is highly empathetic. It also probably only took one conversation to start seeing their reasons, to start seeing people. It's not only that it is detrimental to her work as a PI, the thing that makes her reject the label of being a quote-unquote vigilante. It's also the fact that being a 'cape' requires a certain amount of judgement. And Jessica has very little to give. Between the crimes-with-good-intent she commits to help people and her own litany of mistakes, with her it's always about deciding what she will and will not allow to happen, more than judging the person making it happen. There are exceptions. Those she calls the 'monsters' of the world, people so far gone, abusing their power so much, and so utterly beyond what the justice system can manage that there's little left but to put them down like dogs. But even then she doesn't have much hate for them. She solves her cases, she helps people, and she boils the whole world down to wolves, sheepdogs, and sheep.

All of this means that the threads of righteousness which do in fact run through the tapestry of the Brotherhood's questionable activities would have jumped right out at her.

There is that small hint from Jessica as Carol removes SHIELD from the conversation, but its a statement that confuses. As a soldier, Carol knows when to shut up and listen and this is one of those times. Not to mention the fact that her best friend is in serious, serious trouble.
And this is above and beyond having been almost shot to death just days ago.

Carol forces herself not to jump to conclusions as Jessica begins. After all, not long ago Jessica went undercover with Trask. That Jess may also have gone undercover with the Mutant terrorist organization is not out of the realm of possibility and she's more than willing to give Jessica the benefit of the doubt. Even if the legality is.. Well she can understand why Jess would leave her out of it.
What Carol did not know is that the Brotherhood is what put Jessica on the trail of Trask in the first place.
As the association is now out for Carol, she hangs her head. Hands running rapidly through her short locks, hunched in her chair before exhaling. Arms crossed on her knees as she looks back to her friend.
"So what are you saying exactly? What else have you been doing for the Brotherhood?" Not a judgement, at least not yet. She clearly just wants to know the whole truth.

Jessica shrugs her shoulder. "Not much. Passed them the same information on Trask I passed to Tony. I may have gone to help them free some prisoners in the South Pacific. But you know, the X-Men showed up to do the exact same thing. I…don't think the X-men would have blown up the building, but there was no good reason for the building to remain standing, and it was an empty building by the time the boom happened. And I guess there was that day I was sober partner to one of them. Did you know they helped in Hell's Kitchen? From the day of the bombing onward. For weeks."

She shakes her head and says, "I'd decided to cut ties though. They're willing to do stuff I'm not willing to do. I just sort of stopped, though, rather than writing them a memo or offering a big dramatic 'good bye.'"

Jessica is aware the list she gave could get her put on the Raft herself for life. But she trusts Carol not to do that now that Jess asked her to put her badge down for a second.

There's a long pause as Carol forces herself to listen. Eyes focused on Jessica as she recants past actions with not only the Brotherhood but with the X-Men. Once the information is absorbed she exhales mightily, eyes unfocusing to an indeterminate point between them. Deciding finally to speak up on the matter she begins,
"I have a lot of sympathy for Mutants. What the Genoshans did, what assholes like Trask wanted to do, was completely appalling. I know Jess, I know the kind of stake you have in seeing every one of those collars break. I know the personal risk you took to make sure that happens."
Her attention returning to her friend, "I'm glad you found your limit with them. The X-Men? Believe me, I owe them a lot but these days from what I'm hearing they're barely better than the Brotherhood themselves anymore. Shit is getting really polar, really fast, and they can't sit on the fence anymore. That asshole Fisk tried to pin Hell's Kitchen on the mutants and more than a few bigots still want to swallow that story even with facts to the contrary.." Her voice trails, jaw shifting as she begins to realize this is all beside the point that Jessica is actually trying to make. Bowing her head a moment as she stares into her knitted fingers between her knees she then looks up, changing topic,
"You wanted advice from me?"

Jessica shrugs and says, "Well, no, if it's mistaken identity now I don't need it. They'll sort their own shit out and even will try to make amends in their own way."

Carol saying the X-Men aren't much better has her tilting her head. She really only knows the one, after all, but she files that away. She'd always thought they were kind of a trustworthy benchmark.

"It…might be something to keep in the back pocket though," she says slowly. "Maybe it's not a bad thing, having someone who can…I dunno. Keep the lines of communication open between opposing parties. Keep people talking. People don't use their words enough, Carol."

It may seem an odd thing, really, from the stompy bruiser, but like the idea that she hates people, the idea that she thinks with her fists is a wildly inaccurate one many believe when they first meet her. In truth, words and brains are Jessica's weapons of choice, always.

She shrugs her shoulder again. "And I know I'm a strange choice for that, maybe," she says. "But uh. I've played diplomat before."

Her lips suddenly twitch into a smile. "Once in your neck of the woods. Aliens were going to go to war with us because some kid nearly killed their planet or dimension or whatever trying to grow better tomatoes. Can you believe that shit? I didn't understand the science, but I did get them talked down. So. You know. There's no reason to do it now, looks like, but…it might be a good sort of back pocket thing."

Carol's gaze lingers on Jessica as she states she doesn't need any now and the Brotherhood will sort it out for themselves. There are words in her throat for that but Carol bites them back.
She grunts then as Jessica elaborates as keeping lines of communication open, leaning back into her chair with a withered slump, "God Damn I miss Coulson.." She mumbles, fingers pinching the bridge of her nose as she mumbles, "He was always the best at that kind of thing." Offering that before sitting up straighter, "You know the position I'm in, Jess. I'm Captain Marvel. If I ever see any member of the Brotherhood in the open I'm taking the shot. I have to. SWORD, and by extension SHIELD, can't be seen talking to avowed killers and racial supremacists." She then continues on with the very points Jessica herself made minutes ago, " Oh.. And they also tried to kill Tony. After everything he did for them they tried to kill him anyway."
Tilting her head forward, "They will be caught. They will be put in the Raft. That is the only reason we would have you talk with them, Jess. To set them up. Do you really want to do that?"

As for the extremely improbable space adventure, Carol offers a wane grin, "Hey, if you want a job in SWORD I can put in a good word for you. You would .. probably be shocked to know how often crap like that happens."
She really wishes she was joking about the 'killed their planet and nearly got Earth into a War' being a common thing. She really does.

Jess grimaces. "No, not setting them up," she admits. That's not what she means about using words at all. Preventing mistaken identity, maybe. Stopping escalation before it begins.

She shakes her head. Maybe she's still a bit of a sympathizer. Maybe she's a lot of one. It's complicated. She waves her hand at the helmet, indicating Carol can put it back on, adding only, "I'm pissed about Tony too. He's been good to me. Good to my family."

Which just makes it even more complicated. She sighs and rubs at her head. The fact that she had a case to work for him only to have fallen into a coma that put her so far behind she will never catch up on it, a case she's sure others are working on it, complicates the guilt.

"I think I'll stick to street crime," she says. Of SWORD, but…also of the complex world of political violence unfolding. Brotherhood. X-Men. Other interests. Bullets flying so hard and fast they're now hitting people who ought to be allies, not enemies. And through it all: wounds. Wounds getting ripped open that nobody will soon forget, wounds with labels like 'racial supremacists' and 'avowed killers.'

Words that mean much, and yet little at the same time. Jessica has been a killer herself.

Though, admittedly, never a racial supremacist. Racism of any kind makes zero sense to her.

She sighs and lets her eyes half lid. "Of course if I'm going to return to anything besides apple sauce and…damn it. What's the word. A. A…Anastasia? No."

She probably means aphasia.

"Whatever. Point is I probably should try to sleep."

Which means Jess is feeling worse than she's letting on.

As Jessica waves to the door, Carol offers a saddened look. Perhaps misinterpreting the offer to regain her helmet as dismissal, but with Jessica's obvious exhaustion perhaps this conversation was all too much anyway.
Carol rises, not saying anything further on the Brotherhood of Mutants. Jessica was honest with her and Carol was honest right back. Captain Danvers laid out her position in plain english and none of it is surprising. Carol is a creature of Duty. First to her country and now the United Nations that SHIELD serves. She takes all that seriously and the Brotherhood has made it very clear on what they think of the rule of law that Carol has sworn to uphold.

The only compromise Captain Marvel is willing to make with criminals and terrorists is turning themselves in for justice peacefully. Let not Jessica Jones be confused on that point.

"Yeah.. Just get some sleep Jessica. You've been through a lot." Giving the woman a lingering look before turning and heading to the door. To her Kree Helmet and her duty beyond.

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