An Awkward Introduction

October 15, 2018:

Jessica Jones brings Azalea Kingston back to Danny Rand's home. The introduction goes a lot less smoothly than anyone might have hoped.

Danny's Mansion

Mints on the pillows, y'all. Mints. On. The. Pillows.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Robin, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It won't be too much longer before the rooftop patio is no longer such a pleasant place to be. So Danny can be forgiven for taking some more time up there. Besides, despite the cacophony of car horns on the street below, it's actually rather peaceful. Many of the plants are fading and hunching, but a small maple tree and several bushes are on fire in shades of red and orange. The herb and vegetable garden boasts a few fat pumpkins, some squash, turnips and sweet peas tangled along a lattice. The sunset is as brilliant as the garden.

And there's Danny Rand, in his little meditation garden….holding a handstand, legs firm and pinwheel-positioned, core muscles engaged, elbows bent slightly. His eyes are closed. His loose cotton pants have drooped down to his knees, exposing bare skin to the crisp fall air. It's a wonder his shirt isn't up over his head. And he's trying his very best to look peaceful in this rather extreme position.


Jessica had gone to get Azalea from Titan's Tower a bit earlier, in a rented car because she felt running over demons was superior to punching them all the way to Danny's. Once inside the newly warded mansion she had frowned and said, "I don't know where everyone is but…the roof is usually a good bet for our host. C'mon. We'll have you set up in a cozy room in no time. Just wait till you get a load of the showers."

It had taken actually very little to get her out. One conversation with Red, one conversation with Zee, and it was done. She'd wanted to stop and get Az some new clothes and toiletries and things, since Az lost that in the bombings as surely as everyone else did. There just happened to be a sort of…delayed need for them.


Shedding the trappings of one life and finding something new is familiar to Azalea. But not often in the same skin. Still she does not seem the mourn the passing of items, even those cherished gifts given to her by close friends. Except for that one book. You know the one. It had a bullet in it. In many ways her trip to the roof is a trip through the past, because in every which way that she loathes herself right now, at least it is part of her pattern. Attack a friend. End up on a cage. Get taken in.

It's like starting over.

Well, at least she doesn't have some of her previous burdens. Once they make it to the rooftop, she sets her bag down, her cargo pants and new boots, both in black, compliment the grey of her tank top. As chill as it is out, she seems to prefer it, a little pink bringing color to her cheeks but she doesn't exactly have makeup. Not unless dark rings around her eyes count from a sleepless night, one that started an eternity ago, on the other side of the universe.

The moment she sees Danny Rand doing a handstand her eyes narrow. Her lips draw into a thin line, and she drops her new duffle bag to the rooftop to cross her arms with with a solemn finality.

"What's his deal, anyway?"


It is a stew, warm fresh bread, and roasted vegetables sort of day and from the kitchen wafts the scent of a hearty beef stew, fresh and still warm brown bread, and roasted potatoes and carrots. The badboy of butlers is bustling around the kitchen, wearing a pair of fitted black jeans, doc martins, a long sleeved light grey henley…and his long hair pulled back and tucked under a light grey beanie.

The sound of 1940s swing/jazz is playing softly the tune 'Ain't misbehaving', all instrumental for the time being as Emery hums along, tugging a tray of oversized cinnamon buns out of the oven. They get placed on a rack to cool before the Irishman moves to start putting together a simpler dish, steamed rice and lentils placed in a bowl and a cup of green tea is poured before he finally sets it down, wiping his hands off he makes his way towards the door that leads up to the rooftop patio and raises his voice. "Master Danny! Yer Celibategenic Meal is ready! Shift your kungfu ferret arse and get washed up for supper if you would? And tell whoever came in that there's stew to be had and the bread is fresh, I've just got to glaze the cinnamon buns." Then he is back to the kitchen.


Danny is drawn out of his feet-in-the-air meditation stance more by Emery's bellow than by Azalea's question. He extends his legs up, then curls them around and executes a rather smooth dismount from the headstand. But then he gets to his feet a little too fast and has to reach out to grab the back of a chair. "Whoo! Headrush. Oh, hey Jess. This must be your friend. THANKS EMERY!" He bellows down the stairs, grins, shakes his head to clear it and then reaches for a bottle of water. "Let's go downstairs. Emery gets crotchety if the food gets cold."


"Yes. Danny Rand, Azalea Kingston, Azalea Kingston, Danny Rand. And he's…a kungfu ferret, I guess," Jessica says, in response to Az's question. Borrowing Emery's words because they're as good a way to describe Danny Rand's deal as anything else. "Thanks again for this, Danny," she says.

Then, to Az, she adds, "We should get down there. He does get crotchety, and Emery's food is pretty much to die for." She never did get the memo that Az didn't need to eat anymore, if that is still true Jessica nevertheless still doesn't know. And she needs to eat, in any case. And she'll start heading downstairs, ready to make a new round of introductions.


The sound of music that follows Emery's call is enough to draw an eyebrow up. watching him turn himself upright and then glancing to Jess before she moves to follow. Just the thought of food sends some renewed sense of humanity burgeoning from her soul, the kind of hunger she hasn't felt since…

Her eyes close for a brief moment, and she tries not to think about it.

The words 'kungfu ferret' help her out of that moment and into the next, and the corner of her mouth curls into a smirk. "Nice to meet you, Kung-Fu Ferret. Finally, someone with a worst code name than me."

As flat as her voice is, and maybe an octave deeper than most might expect, she's kidding. Into the kitchen they go, and as they enter that space and spy Emery working away at a meal, she comes to a stop and once again drops her bag to her side.


Emery moves around the kitchen with his usual grace and speed, by the time they come down, he has the plates and utensils and extra fixings of salt. pepper, butter and such set out on the counter so the island can be used for eating space as has become tradition. There is that bowl of lentils and rice, set in a place beside the cup of tea and the utensils and napkin.

He looks up from where he was taking down glasses for juice or water, then freezes up for a moment, eyeing Az for a moment, a faint…the barest hint of a glow in his eyes as the essense within him surges and recoils in something familiar yet something he has not felt in years. He pauses though before slowly lowering the glass to the counter and he shakes his head quickly, to try to shake away cobwebs or something. He forces a a smile that cannot be genuine because his dimples do not show.

He probably does not even realize he has done it but a knife slips from up his sleeve into his right hand, knife held pointing down and hand tightening and loosening in its grip as he just stands there, frozen in time and space. "Ah…right. I haven't glazed the buns…yet…"


"No, that's not…" Danny stops. He's learned by now that if you protest a nickname too much, that's what makes it stick. "There's a room made up for you upstairs. Last one with an ensuite. There's a cupboard in the hallway with extra stuff. Blankets, toothbrushes, that sort of thing." Because enough people are showing up with only the shirts on their backs that it seemed like a good idea to ask the housekeeper to make a drug store run.

Danny may be excellent at reading people in combat, but he's not so good at doing that in interpersonal interactions. He enters the kitchen and takes in a lungful of delicious smelling air, then looks at his bowl of lentils and rice. Right. Clean living. Get back on track. No thick, delicious, comforting stew and sticky buns. Tea is just…just as good.

"Uh, this is Emery. Emery, this is Jess' friend Azalea who'll be staying with us for awhile. Can I get you two something to drink?"


Jess does not miss Emery's tension. She misses the palming of the knife, but not the tension. She steps a little in front of Azalea and says, "Az has been like a sister to me for awhile. She used to live with me at Alias and is my partner PI. I didn't realize she was still alive after the bombings, but only just found her. She's a good person," she adds, stressing that last bit as if her words alone could diffuse the tension that's rolling, suddenly, through the air.

She looks back at Az in confusion, as if to silently ask whether she knows why Emery is suddenly missing a step. The butler normally is all smoothness, after all. This was the last thing the detective expected.


Time seems to stop for Emery, and inside that singular focus he finds in front of him, the billowing essence of something dark and corrupted that will never leave Azalea's soul. Murder most familiar. An endless path of misery carved through the ages, with a stopover most personal for the would-be butler. Azalea's jaw tightens just a little, because she can see it in his posture, all the platitudes of a man going through the motions when his intentions veer elsewhere.

Fingers curl slowly at her sides, and as much as her crystal blue gaze might seem intense to most people, to those who know to look, it is downright predatory. Pupils flux, and Jessica will feel a hand curl over her upper arm to gently ease her aside. If she knew what this was, she would be lying. Of all of Xiuhnel's gifts, a clear memory is not one of them. Things come in time. Some things, like violence, more readily than others. Something about his face hangs on her consciousness, as sharp as that knife.

It tells her that somewhere here is a price to be paid, and so her muscles tense, and she prepares to pay it, one way or another.

"I'm not that good."

There's no hint of sarcasm, but it's a hint to Jess at what's going on here.


"Ahh, right. Ye told me that we would 'ave a new guest. Look at that, here she is." Emery does not take his eyes off of Az, he even makes a soft sound, when Jess is standing so close to her. To it. To the shadows of memories repressed. Memories that haunt him and remind him of his failure, his weakness, his sins and the prices he has paid for them. Where he usually has protectiveness, caring cautiousness, or even danger flickering in his eyes? In this moment, there is a fear and a vulnerability.

He licks his lips almost nervously and just lowers his eyes. "There's stew. And ah, bread. I…I will get it, sit. Sit." He takes a deep breath and then another, that Irish lilt thickening just a tad as his mind and body are in conflict with the flashes of blood, bodies, blue eyes, screams that whirls together to create a shroud on what should be his soul.

That knife twirls slowly in his hand as he begins to edge around the kitchen towards the pot of stew.


"Uh…do you…do you guys know each other or something?" Danny may not be a great people-reader, but he is starting to pick up on the ready stances of Azalea and Emery. He enters further into the kitchen, somewhat between his new guest and the Irishman. He shoots Jessica a confused look. He doesn't quite mouth 'what's going on?' but that's certainly the sentiment he's trying to communicate.


Jessica could explain what's going on. Maybe. Sort of. She's certainly drawing some deductions.

"Emery," she says softly. "She's not a threat. A lot's happened." Now she's got to figure out what to say next. But it's Az's story to tell, and she's not sure that should be co-opted.

She darts a glance at Az again.

A glance back to Danny as she finally plows past her uncertainty to say: "Az is bonded to an Aztec god. It happened against her will. She spent most of last year trying to control him while we looked for a cure. She trained herself to become a hero to that end, tried to use the strength that bond gave her to help people. And succeeded. The cure turned out to be finding and restoring the god's heart. It…created a different entity. He's not even the same entity that certain parties might have run into in the past, but I imagine it…feels, or looks, or sixth senses about the same."


"Sure I am."

Azalea refutes Jessica's assertion that she is not the same entity. It is complicated, certainly, but she finds herself at the end of someone who is familiar with a part of her that only ever has penance to pay. And so she does not deny the wrongs of Xiuhnel, for what kind of Aspect of Redemption would she be if she couldn't say she was sorry? And yet, she does not say that.

Instead she simply watches Emery as he meanders through his inner turmoil in a way that she must admit is far better than Az ever handled it.

She doesn't move from that spot, despite the promise of food and a growling stomach. Despite realizing, quite suddenly, that whatever divinity had held her from knowing hunger or perishing at the edge of all creation may not be with her at all. It lends a certain danger to this that simply was not there before.

It changes nothing, and Azalea holds her ground, waiting to see if the words of Emery's friends can draw him to the here and now, despite her own words perhaps throwing a small bump in that road.


The knife is shakily placed on the counter as the Irishman begins ladling stew into bowls and setting the bowls on plates that he places slices of bread on. Then a small pile of those roasted veggies. Emery counts backwards in latin, from ten before he just ducks his head almost sheepish. "Me apologies, my apologies. It isnt me-my place to um." He pauses and frowns. "To judge. Its not my place to judge. My judgement is not, it is not always heh, sound anyways. I know it was my fault, it is….its…" He swallows and moves each plated bowl combo to the counter. "Its here." He nods towards the food.

He brings a hand up to his cheeks and acks as he wipes off each cheek with a sleeve. Catching the few tears that have escaped.. "Eat eat eat. It will get cold. Welcome Miss Azalea…" He nods and folds his hands together before moving to the cinnamon buns. He has to glaze the,.buns.


"Aztec…" The only thing that stops Danny from questioning that more is the fact that he got his abilities by fighting a dragon. Gods really aren't that far off when you start from there.

He looks between the parties gathered in the kitchen, expression suddenly serious and clenched. All that meditation, right out the window. "Is this…going to be a problem?" He steps towards Emery, then reaches out to carefully touch the other man on the arm. "Tell me the truth."


Jessica stares. This has just gotten even weirder, with Emery crying. As Danny steps forward to tend to Emery, Jessica steps back to tend to Az. "Hey," she says softly. "Are you going to be comfortable staying here? Because I mean…I probably have another option or two up my sleeve if necessary. I…Sorry."

For a myriad of reasons. She looks deeply concerned all around, and her brows have furrowed down while her mouth makes the 'I have fucked up' line. She shifts a little on her heels.

Emery's most excellent stew remains completely untouched for now. As does the offered chair.


"I can stay at Trish's apartment."

You know, if that still exists.

In a near definitive motion, Azalea picks up her bag. Xiuhnel's heart, a gemstone that might have given an infinite stone a run for it's money, was an excellent shield against the weakness of the mortal coil. Among those weaknesses, Azalea counted the well of emotion that she feels now, seeing this man shed tears as he spirals back and forth to some memory from the past. With that heart utterly destroyed, she knows her humanity in ways she could set aside before, and it turns her stomach to know that memory is one she's responsible for.

Her gaze shifts downward, cast into the floor as if it might hold some answer, and then she turns as if to leave, slinging her bag up and over her shoulders and turning her back on them all.


Emery shakes his head again and inhales. It almost sounds like a sniffle. "Master Danny. It will be okay." He raises his hands to reassure people, exhaling slowly as he collects himself. "Everytime I fall asleep, I am tortured by the souls of all the people I have had to…usher to their after life. They take out their pain, their hatred and their revenge in whatever way they please. Boiling, burning, breaking, cutting, stabbing…skinning….and much more. Everytime I am unconscious. Who am I to do the same to someone when they are awake?" He clears his throat as he finally admits why he does not sleep like a normal person,to two people he trusts. And Az.

He swallows and shakes his head. "She deserves a place of refuge, a sanctuary. I will be fine." He ughs and wipes at his eyes. "Now for fucks sake, do not let this dinner go to waste. I spent time putting getting her room ready and there is even a mint of her pillow. So, none of this go somewhere else ting. Alright?"


If they were alone, Danny would be a big sappy labradoodle and pull Emery into a bear hug. But as they are in mixed company, he instead squeezes the man's arm and looks at him with open concern. He drops his voice and murmurs, "I…have some meditation techniques that might help." A beat, "…I also have some, uh, really good weed."
He clears his throat and straightens up, then looks back to Azalea. "Jess vouched for you. She said you need a place to stay. She said you're like a sister to her. That means you can stay if you want to." He learned his lesson after he tossed Owen out on his ass when he found out about the man's sins. He's trying to grow, trying to be less morally rigid. If there's one thing hanging out with this crew has taught him, it's that there are a lot of shades of gray.


"Come on, Az," Jess murmurs. "You're welcome here, and the stew is really good. I heard your stomach growling. I don't think you should isolate yourself in Trish's apartment. It's empty again." Still standing, but empty. "She's out doing some documentary project on the west coast. Short-term, it's not like the DC thing, but…it's still empty."

She puts out a hand, not quite dropping it to Az's shoulder. Not because she isn't willing to put it there, but because she's very sensitive about the times people want to be touched, and the times they don't. About offering unsolicited touches, or touches without warning. It's just a courtesy that leaves it hovering there, ready to fall. "It…sounds like it's going to be okay. Really. Kind of a rough introduction, but Emery definitely did put a mint on your pillow."

Why she thinks the mint on the pillow thing is the thing to default to she doesn't know, but…that's what she goes to. Straight to the pillow mints.


Hearing Danny bring such kindness to his friend, and a moment later, to her, gives her pause. But so too does Emery's words. Every once of them gives her a new chill inching up her spine, goosebumps forming on her skin as she listens to a familiar tale. The haunting, but not from people she's shepherded along. She hears each and every one of them, her shoulders slouching a bit as they all have their reasons to ask her to stay, and each do so in their own way.

Finally her humanity calls to her in another way and she turns, reaching out to give Jess's shoulder a squeeze before dropping that bag for the third time and moving towards the stew.

"Yeah lets get high as a fucking kite and not talk about anything important for awhile. Nice to meet you, all of you. And.. uh.. thanks. For giving me a place to call home."


Emery reaches out for a moment to pat the hand on his arm, bowing his head and exhaling with a tiny nod. "I…" He trails off. "I will take you up on that. But tonight, I need to go get my daughter, and hold her while she sleeps." He then exhales again and clears his throat.

He bows deeply and nods shortly to each person in turn and goes back to icing the cinnamon buns.

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