Detective vs. Detective

October 12, 2018:

Jessica Jones stops by Wayne Manor to get more information out of the surprisingly involved Bruce Wayne during the attack on the TCLEC

Wayne Manor


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Wayne Mansion is imposing in many different iterations. It's less so when Manhattan is covered in demons, but it still looks like it belongs somewhere in the middle of Europe or elsewhere rather than in Gotham.

It's a large place for a man with not much in the way of family. However, Jessica's approach is met with the polite and proper greeting of Alfred Pennyworth. "Miss, please do come in. Master Bruce is dealing with some of business matters. He will be with you shortly. If you would be comfortable in the sitting room I would be glad to provide refreshments. Water, tea, coffee, bourbon?"

Alfred is sure to take her coat and whatever else she is wiling to part with before he ushers her inside. There she will wait for a little while, able to inspect or sit as she wills. The room is plush, filled with antiques and on a place above the fireplace, a large portrait of a family: Thomas and Martha Wayne putting their hands on a bashfully smiling young Bruce Wayne.


Here's the truth. Jessica Jones had expected to have to bully her way through the door. She'd expected the butler to play gatekeeper, not welcoming host. So she's a little off balance when he is so accommodating. "Ahh…coffee, please."

The bourbon is briefly tempting, but she's so close. 40 days. 40 days and she can say she's been sober for one year for the first time in her life since she was 17 years old. So the temptation comes and goes, fleeting, more a function of lifelong habit than need or desire.

She parts with her leather jacket, leaving a plain blue scoop-necked short-sleeved (bulletproof) shirt in its wake over (bulletproof) jeans. Nothing ripped or torn. Just because she didn't get dressed up for this visit does not mean she showed up looking like a rag bag.

And in truth she's familiar with the mansion, if only in the sense that she's seen its outside. For one thing, Shadowcrest is right next door, and she's been a regular visitor to Zatanna's on more than one occasion.

Some might say she's slacking. She's here. She's pursuing the much smaller Frank Castle case instead of doing more than maintenance beatings on demons. But there is a lot to that. There is the clumsiness in her left hand she's basically concealing from everyone whenever she can, still there to remind her that a stroke triggered by massive blood loss may take her healing factor far longer to tackle than anything it's ever had to tackle before. At least the aphasia is (mostly) gone, the sensitive hearing (mostly) resolved.

In addition to feeling way too small and even somewhat frail to tackle a huge demon problem (and she is, after all, Not a Goddamn Wizard, nor has she heard from any of her friends who are as of yet) she has been quietly fighting waves of depression since the Hell's Kitchen bombing, kept very carefully concealed from every friend, and even from Luke. So a smaller problem to chew on, to get back in the saddle with? Suits her just fine.

It's not like the body count attached either to Frank, his enemies, or the TCLEC conference is exactly miniscule. It's well into the high sixties by her count, when everyone's accounted for. It's a major case by some standards.

Left to wait, of course, she inspects. She gazes at the portrait, and her eyes soften. She has of course done her research. She knows the public story of Bruce Wayne. Knows that though he lives in a posh mansion in a foreboding city, is a billionaire in a way that Tony and Danny are not, normally very inaccessible and mysterious, and is a public figure, they have one thing in common. The experience of being orphans. Of losing family young.


Bruce Wayne is a rather mysterious figure when it comes to Gotham public life in a certain sense. He is often at events and often in the tabloids with women on his arm. However, when there is anything of substance on the CEO, it has to deal with his company and the strides they make in one way or another. TCLEC was one of those ventures. Due to his very public past, Bruce has always been a very public and impassioned advocate of law enforcement. As such, TCLEC was a natural extension of such generosity.

Jessica is rudely made to wait almost half an hour before Bruce arrives. Alfred has made sure her coffee is filled whenever she wishes it and attends to ensure she has water or food should she request it by the time he finally makes his entrance. The master of Wayne Manor is dressed simply. It's not exactly a far cry from his public gear, which is always a well tailored suit. Right now he's in comfortable slacks and button down shirt: this may simply be how Bruce Wayne dresses down.

"Miss Jones, I would like to say this is a surprise, however I assumed you'd come to visit me eventually. However, it is a pleasure. I must assume this has to do with the TCLEC. How may I help you?"


Jessica doesn't…seem to care.

She has spent hours crammed six stories in the air between buildings to get a single camera shot. She may speak with impatience often, but under that lies the relentlessness of a born detective. She would have waited another six. She's aware she dropped by unnanounced, but expected to be permanently turned away if she didn't just show.

He gets right to the point, and so does she.

She holds up a thumb drive when he asks how he can help. "I learned you managed to get into a portion of the building I got ushered away from. One of the camera lens paint jobs wasn't as thorough as it should have been. Sadly that gave me jack crap on the perps, but it did give me a glimpse of you carrying out your own investigation. I'm hoping you'll be willing to tell me what you found back there, if anything."

While her words are devoid of the pleasantries Bruce offers her, they're spoken in a courteous enough tone. Or at least, not in one that is overtly rude. She's just focused.


As Bruce is used to speaking the language of business and of deals, this does not throw him off at all. Instead, he makes his way toward one of the comfortable chairs but he does not quite yet sit in it.

Interest is given to the thumb drive that she holds up. "Did you pass this along to the Gotham PD?" he asks her. It's not a chiding tone, but he does seem to want to know where he stands before moving forward with this conversation. "I did make my way into the tunnels by one of the conference rooms, I was entirely cooperative with the detectives when I made my statements."

Bruce certainly knows this form of focus and determination. However, he does not tend to let on to that sort of thing. Instead, he nods his head with a bit of a bashful shrug. "Honestly, I was scared, but also thought I could help. My investigation wasn't really worthy of the name. I found very little of use."


"While Jim Gordon," Jess says dryly, "is one of perhaps 50 cops in the entire Universe who does not have his head stuck so far up his ass he can't even smell a hotdog vendor, no, I did not. And will not."

She finally sits down, bouncing the thumb drive on her palm while he gives the rest of what he has to say. A briefly frustrated look passes over her face.

"God, Wayne, can we please just cut the crap? It's real lucky you didn't pull whatever mask you use while you were down there I guess. Everything about you screams cape. The only billionaires who run towards the danger, instead of away from the danger, the way you did, are the ones who like to moonlight as badasses. I've even got my guesses as to which one. You weren't scared, you were hoping to find something, and if you didn't find something there I bet you've already dug up something else somewhere else. In the interest of saving a whole bunch of lives from something that's looking more convoluted by the minute, is there any chance I can get you to drop the mildmannered posing-for-the-cover-of-Time-as-we-speak act in favor of you just shooting straight with me about what you know?"


"Then I am not sure what else I can discuss with you, Miss Jones," Bruce tells her very pointedly. "I am cooperating with the Gotham Police and I would be obliged to tell them about this very meeting if you are withholding things from them."

Jessica's question is met with a look of annoyance and a shake of his head. There is a grimace as he continues. "I'm not a badass, Miss Jones. My past is something people have discussed for years. I have experience with what happened at the TCLEC and I have been hoping to prepare myself for something similar ever since. No, I was not scared and I certainly was attempting to find something: a resolution, a way to atone."

As for what he's dug up, what's he's found, he shakes his head. Perhaps the thought of shooting straight allows him to disclose: "I found an x-ray on the table. I only looked at it briefly, but it was of a head wound. I surrendered that to the GPD. What I noticed was that someone spray painted the cameras in that hallway. That was what I was following in that video I believe you saw. It wasn't intuition or an intense detective mind, I was merely following signs. I followed them outside and there was nothing there. No cameras, no people, no shooter. That is all I know, Detective Jones."


"An X-ray," Jessica murmurs. "Of a headshot wound…that's strange AF. Well, it's something. Maybe I can find a way to talk Gordon into letting me have a look. You didn't even take a photo with your phone? Man."

Does she even notice his annoyance as she tosses back her coffee? Not one bit. Does she buy it? She gives no sign. She certainly doesn't look repentent or apologetic in the least. "And you go right ahead and tell them all about it. Doesn't worry me a bit. Maybe he'll make me another job offer." That seems to strike her as relatively amusing all over again as she drains her coffee and digs out a card. At least he told her something. It's a scrap. It'll have to do. She lays it down on his coffee table. "Given the cop killing that went on I know they're as pissed as ants in a kicked-over hive, but I suspect they're going to swarm every picnic basket but the right one, because. That's mostly what cops do. So. If you think of anything else and feel like sharing with me as well as them, there's my contact information."

Well. It's not like she hasn't gone right on public record with her opinion about cops.


And Bruce Wayne gives Jessica Jones a tilt of his head and look of confusion. "Why would I take a picture on my phone when the police would handle it?" While her own thoughts on police officers may have come across his ears, he does not seem to hold her sentiments. Perhaps that comes from being a rich white guy with an almost literal white tower in his favor.

A head tilts. "A job offer?" An eyebrow raises. "You're a skilled detective." That part he has even heard from Jim Gordon and that is someone he trusts quite a bit. "What is so wrong with wanting to join the police force? They may be imperfect, but they bring order to the chaos."

The card is taken and he studies it for a moment, though he already knows all the information already. However, after an intent look, his eyes move upward to study the woman in front of him. "Why don't you wish to cooperate with the police?"


"I cooperate with the police. I'll be glad to turn it all over to prosecutors or whomever when I've solved the case. They don't solve cases. They build them. Against whomever it's convenient to build them against. And half the time, the people who go to them for help end up worse off than if they'd just kept their mouth shut."

She doesn't make it about money, or privilege. She can actually think of quite a few scenarios where even the likes of Bruce Wayne wouldn't end up being taken seriously. Could see the tables turned on him. More than a few. It's just the nature of things. "It's how the system sets them up to work. They're not stupid, mostly. They're good people, mostly. But the system encourages certain behaviors. Wants certain behaviors. And those behaviors? Only lead to peace in the way that any group of armed government people roaming around does. They have their place. I'm not saying they don't have their place. I'm saying I've seen them let people down, good people, one too many times. Seen them screw good people over one too many times."

She shrugs her shoulder. "I know not everyone shares the opinion. But here's the other thing. This started? As my case. It now makes zero sense, but it did. In my city. So it's my responsibility no matter how many badges start peeing all over it to claim it as their own. I've given my word to people I care about to this one. And something about it stinks in ways I can't put my finger on."

The scrappy PI shrugs. Despite her earlier accusation that he's a cape, which she seems to have either let go of or never cared very much about in the first place other than as a tool to perhaps shake something out, she adds, "I…really don't expect you to understand. Any of it."


Unable to help himself, Bruce smiles. "That doesn't sound like cooperation so much as mistrust and 'I can do it better.'" However, despite the dryness of his tone, he doesn't sound judgmental, exactly. Instead, he is observational.

"You consider Gotham your city?" It's possibly he hasn't heard of the Punisher's travails in Manhattan, or he is attempting to figure out what Jess knows or believes. He finally settles into the armchair nearby and folds his hands in his lap. While he is still calm and reserved, there is a poise of readiness about him stilly.

"I think I get it," he tells her very firmly. "You want to know an answer. You want to get to the bottom of it. It's how I felt about my parents' murder. It's what draws me to this case as well. I'd appreciate if you found anything about it. I was there…I feel as if I have some responsibility in what happened. I will also give you whatever information I may glean from my time with the detectives."


"No. New York. Hell's Kitchen. Though as the card says, I work here too. This started way before TCLEC. And yeah. I can and often do in fact do it better."

Jessica has no modesty about that, but neither is she bragging. It's all she does. It's all she's made for. Being a detective. It's the only thing she knows she gets right. And so she says it boldly, without hesitation or reservation.

But he asks for information, and she sits back down. "Sure. I've got loads. At the TCLEC conference one of the NYPD officers, rookie, comes running out and tells me a vigilante named Punisher's shooting the place up. He's sure of it. But. I happen to know the Punisher. I know what he looks like, who he targets, and why. His whole family was killed in a gang crossfire, initiated by some drug runner called Blacksmith. Real bad news, into designer drugs. He goes after gangsters. Criminals. I think he's a Rambo dumb-ass who is out of control, but he would never, ever open fire into a room full of fucking cops, right? Cops aren't who he is after. And if there was some dirty one complicit in the death of his wife and kids, he'd go after them surgically. Anyone else can walk right up to the butt of his gun, call him a stupid son of a bitch, tell him to lay off, and glare at him, ask-me-how-I-know, and he won't shoot."

She shrugs her shoulder. "Anyway. He recently got a tip about Blacksmith, but it sounded like a set up to me, cause he and his backup nearly got their asses handed to them and Blacksmith was nowhere in sight. So. Now we're here, in Gotham, where he has shown zero interest, at a conference full of cops. Someone's sure it's Punisher. The guy I handed over to Gordon even kind of looks like Punisher. And the whole thing ends up turning into a very lucky PR stunt for a private security group called…wait for it…ANVIL. They're crawling all over the place as if they just can't wait to get in there and save the day. Now, Punisher, he's an ex-Marine. So is the leader of ANVIL, Bryan Russo. Everything about both their careers is shrouded in so much redacted top secret bullshit it's about to shit a black marker, but low and behold they were discharged right around the same time. Now of course all that could be coincidence. There could be zero link between ANVIL and Blacksmith. There could be no good reason why a conference full of dead cops gets pinned on Punisher just in time to serve as free advertising for a group of mercs. Maybe these two Marines never had a damn thing to do with each other. And maybe Punisher's family was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I don't buy it. I think there's something deep going on here. Something big. And this piece you've just handed me, about the X-ray? Intriguing as Hell, though I don't know where it fits yet."

She shrugs. It's not the neat, clean case-note work product version, but…it's her case in a nutshell. "I was asked to discover if there was more to the Punisher's story. If he was more than just a psycho who needed to be taken down stat. I'm starting to think there is."


Bruce listens to Jessica’s rundown of her facts from the case with a polite silence. His hands fold in his lap and he makes no interruptions, nor does he seem to be bored. Instead, he watches with the focus of a man in an important board meeting. If there was a large conference table in front of him and he was sitting in a wheeled office chair instead of a comfortable armchair, the clock would be complete.

“I see. This encounter certainly does not sound like the Punisher, you’ve described, no. However, killers can escalate. What I’ve read about this Punisher is certainly disturbing, much like most vigilante and criminal activity that plagues Gotham. I’ve heard of ANVIL. I would not be surprised if they did not use some technology from Wayne Industries for their group. We actually have quite a specialized research division for private security.”

His own analysis is serious and measured. “I am sure something strange is going on here. However, this is Gotham. Something strange is always going on here and there’s always something happening beneath the surface. As for the X-ray, I’m not sure what that could indicate. Perhaps a calling card of sorts, or it is a means to link the Punisher to this event.”


"Yeah. I don't know either. If we knew, there wouldn't be a case. We'd just know."

She sounds exhausted, suddenly, not at all snippy. She reaches up to rub her head. It hurts. A symptom of damage she's still hiding from her loved ones but can't entirely hide when she's out and about like this. She had been doing great about following doctor's orders until a dragon landed upon her place of convalescence and a sense of responsibility drove her out into the field. Evidence seemed to indicate there wasn't much to be done but physical and occupational therapy. And allowing her brain to heal. Evidence shows it will, but that the damage is deeper and more complex than she might like, probably by virtue of being a brain. She needs rest, she knows she needs rest.

So she says: "Thanks for seeing me. I'm sorry if I pissed you off. I'll show myself out, I'm sure you've got better shit to do."

And she starts to do just that, in a way that, to the practiced eye of the World's Greatest Detective, might seem a little weirdly deliberate, even as she tries to make it look anything but. Like she's afraid she might trip, or take a wrong turn only to end up lost in his massive estate.


The change in demeanor is something that Bruce can certainly detect. While not owning up entirely to his own endeavors on the case, he’s an observant man.

“You haven’t pissed me off, Miss Jones. I’m glad you’re taking this seriously, you seem to have a keen mind for the work. The person or people responsible for these attacks must be brought to justice sooner rather than later. Gotham has enough troubles of its own without an armed conspiracy. If I can be of any more help, I’d be glad to be of service.”

As Jessica moves toward the doorway, Alfred does not suddenly appear despite the fact that he is usually quite an attentive butler. Instead, Bruce steps toward her elbow and in a gentlemanly fashion offers her his arm. While it’s clear to him that she’s being deliberate with her steps, there’s not a lot of ways to help without either letting her know or insulting her. Deftly, though, with a bit of a rakish smile, he gestures toward the mansion. “As you’re here, if you have the time, I would be glad to give you a tour.”

He lets the invitation hold for a moment. “Or you can allow me to escort you to the door.”


She takes his arm. And that might be the biggest indication of all that she is not at 100%. She sees the gesture for what it is, but accepts the help…and her ability to save some face, with real gratitude. “No, thanks, on the tour,” she says. “I think I’ll just pop next door actually. Look in on Zee.”

Zee isn’t there. Zee is hardly ever at Shadowcrest anymore, between school, the Titans, and John’s apartment. What she means is she is going to make use of one of the guest beds she has a standing invitation to use and sleep for a couple of very needful hours. Her head is pounding, bright flashes of light in her vision making it clear she has overdone it today. “But…another day I’ll take you up on it. Thanks, Mr. Wayne. You’re alright.”


As Bruce does not have much of a baseline for Jessica, her taking his arm holds little data. However, from his observations he could deduct that for her to accept the help might be a rarity for a woman who came into his house and insisted he was a vigilante without hesitation. For his own part, he remains a steady arm to lean on as he guides her toward the front door. His arm, through the suit, is surprisingly muscular, but he would strike her as the type who works out. Or her hunches are right on the money.

“Of course. Give my regards to her, then.” He gives little indication as to whether he knows as much as Jessica about Zatanna’s own whereabouts, but he certainly doesn’t poke any holes into her excuse.

Standing at the front door already with Jessica’s jacket, Alfred holds it out for her properly so he can help her put it back on before heading out. After this, Bruce holds out his own business card for her to take. “I’m sure you’d know how to find me, but this has my personal number on it. It’s been a pleasure, Miss Jones.”

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