Roleplaying Log: Suits
IC Details

Following the directives of the Maximoff twins, Tabitha Smith applies for a clerkship at Nelson & Murdock, but what happens when an experienced con artist meets a walking lie detector?

Other Characters Referenced: Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Foggy Nelson, Winter Soldier, The Kingpin, The Dazzler, Jessica Jones
IC Date: January 25, 2019
IC Location: The Offices of Nelson & Murdock, Hell's Kitchen, New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 28 Jan 2019 02:08
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Nelson & Murdock is hiring. You can see it on listservs and LinkedIn, at the career counseling offices at venerable law schools like Columbia at Fordham, and even in the modest building they occupy. They've leased the office across the hall from them, with an open-door policy on both ends. There are two new associates, three new paralegals, and soon enough there will be five new interns.

All the signs say the same thing. After two years of being a two-man operation, the defenders of the infamous Winter Soldier, the Hell's Kitchen duo that brought down Wilson Fisk, the reps for defendants ranging from evicted tenants to Tony Stark — are looking to level up.

This bright, crisp Friday morning finds the office bustling. Bars of weak winter sun shine through the windows and play out against the green-grey walls, the potted plants, the framed newspaper and magazine clips of Matt and Foggy's greatest hits. There are sounds of phones ringing, keyboards clicking, heels and oxford shoes clacking on the ground, and overlaying all of it the low hum of animated chatter.

Applicants — of which there are a steady stream — are asked by the office manager to take a seat on chairs lined up in the office foyer.

Among these applicants is Tabitha Smith.

And unlike most of those in an office filled with hopefuls, she does not appear nervous or eager, seated patiently until she's called and looking through her smartphone. There's a hint of a smile at a text window that she has open, returning the sender's message with a reply, before she's left once more doing what she usually does when she's forced to wait - listen to tunes and quietly worry a piece of gum in her mouth.

She's dressed to kill at least - it would make little difference to the blind half of Nelson and Murdock, but she has always been fashion forward as a teen, and it has carried over as an adult; she dresses well for herself, and not for anyone else. Her signature earrings drip from her earlobes, something decidedly less flashy than her usual wont though they follow the chandelier styles she favors, a pinstripe navy blue Chanel suit with a silver silk blouse underneath, and matching stilettos with hot pink undersoles that add a glaring pop of color - as if in rebellion to an overall silhouette that would have been painfully conservative without it. Her Ralph Lauren sunglasses are perched on her hair, pinned back in a deliberately careless fashion.

When she's finally called, she puts away her bluetooth earphones and stands up, walking towards the office of one Matt Murdock, resume and purse in hand. She has two copies, one printed in ink, the other printed in braille.

"Hi, Mister Murdock, it's good to meet you." Whoever she is, she seems cheerful enough - and young, the way most first year law students are. She'll take his hand if he offers it and delivers a sturdy handshake. "I'm Tabitha Smith."

Matt's office is a humble thing. There's a desk and three chairs — one behind and two in front — a laptop and a braille display. None of the usual accoutremants of law partner: no diplomas on the wall, no pictures of friends or family, no bookshelf with his old law school casebooks. Even the view is unspectacular: a parking lot. It's Foggy's office that overlooks the thoroughfare.

Murdock rises from his leather seat when he hears her enter the room, offering a brief and affable smile. "It's a pleasure, Ms. Smith. Please, take a seat."

He looks just about like he did in all those TV clips from the Barnes trial. The charcoal-grey suit is slim-fitting and well-tailored but off the rack. The white shirt is a textured Oxford cloth with a button collar; it would be a faux pas if it didn't seem to be a deliberate bit of unconventionality introduced into an otherwise conservative outfit. The hair is perpetually windswept and tousled, but cut short enough at the moment that it doesn't seem unkempt.

When he circles his desk, and when she takes his offered hand he gives it a short, sharp shake. He accepts the resume with another little nod, lips quirking appreciatively at their corner when the pad of his thumb finds braille.

Thoughtful, but unnecessary. He'd reviewed the e-version of her application before she'd ever been called into his room. "Please," he says as he steps back again, anchoring his place in the room with a light touch at the edge of his desk as he makes his way towards his chair. "Have a seat and, ah — tell me your story."

He talks like he does on camera too, that soft-spoken and deliberate cadence that runs the spectrum from warm and empathetic to cool and professional, but always leavened with just a hint of wry humor.

The office is a blank slate. Normally one glance, just a few minutes in a space with one person would give her a clue as to what is truly important to the subject, but the lack of personal effects is almost jarring for someone with such rising acclaim. Despite the lack, however, it tells her something important: the work is his life. There would be many that place a tremenduous importance in the milestones overcome to get to this point and even brag about what they've accomplished, but not Matt Murdock.

Then again, considering she knows about his nocturnal activities, that wouldn't be surprising either. Why give anything away if you were a costumed vigilante?

He is as handsome as they say he is, though, and as he rises and flashes her that affable smile, she can't help but stare at him. He had the kind of jaw line that would open aluminum cans.

It takes a few moments for her to find her words, given her overt appreciation, snapping out of it when he speaks again. "What? Oh, yeah. I guess I should…" She quickly takes a seat, tugging at her skirt to straighten it before settling into it, crossing it by the knee and leaning back. She has to fight not to slouch.

Tell me your story.

"Uh…well." Tabitha links and unlinks her fingers. "I mean I guess this is the part where people tell you all the good things that make them stand out, right? I'll level with you, Mister Murdock. I don't got any of that. Not a lot of good anyway? Honestly, I was kind of surprised I was even given a chance to interview. I looked up some samples in Google, you know, just to figure out what to put in a resume, and even with the template examples, I don't have that kind of…clout, and I don't even have enough experience to even make something up even if I wanted to. But if you want my story, that I can give you. I can't promise you that it'd be impressive, but I can at least promise you that it's all true. Weird…but true."

She chews faintly on her bottom lip. "I ran away from home when I was just sixteen," she tells him. "My mom didn't care, and I got tired of my dad beating me up all the time. All the care I knew when I was a child came from healthcare professionals who set my bones and sent me back to the trailer. When I found out I was special, it got even worse. I had to go before he killed me."

"I stole some money from my parents, enough to get a train ticket to take me to New York. I always wanted to see the big city, you know? And I heard that there was a school upstate who could help kids like me. But I never made it there. Something attacked my train…this absurdly powerful guy who came from the stars, and he took me. You know how there are guys in the military and in the university who train for years before they could even be allowed up in space? I didn't have any of that, the training, but I ended up there anyway. In space. And I was terrified."

She pauses, and she grins at Matt sheepishly. "I swear, Mister Murdock. I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me or anything, but you asked, and I wasn't kidding when I said it was weird."

Matt reclaims his chair as he listens to her begin to spool out her tale, leaning back into the plush leather and clasping his knick-knuckled hands over the center of his tie, just below his sternum. She's right that much of his daytime life is about hiding as much of himself as he can from view, making sure no one person can ever see too much. Even the circular, red-lensed glasses are born of that impulse. They wink light and her own reflection back at her.

Which isn't to say that he's totally sphinx-like and impassive. That would be impossible, given the story she ultimately relates. He's pretty sure at about the, I'll level with you, Mister Murdock, I don't got any of that, that this will be as unusual a job interview as any he's sat in. And it is. His forehead creases in empathy and concentration when she speaks about her abusive household, his full eyebrows push upward above the glass rims when she talks about an upstate school for 'special' kids, and then — and THEN

There's a pause when she's comes to a slowing point, three full heartbeats of of collecting silence. "I asked you to tell me your story, Ms. Smith," he says, keeping his voice calm and cool and careful. He speaks with his hands while he talks. "And you aren't the first person to walk in these doors with an usual one. So, keep going. Tell me how you got from, ah, outer-space, to this office."

Keep going.

Matt can practically sense Tabitha scrunching her brows faintly, as if she can't believe that he hasn't cut the interview short already, though there's something to be said about morbid curiosity. Still, she had expected that she wouldn't last this long in a formal interview with a famous partner of a growing law firm. "Uh…" she says; her hesitation here is genuine, and slightly disbelieving. "…okay."

She clears her throat and then continues. "I don't know if he ever really…interacted for any significant length of time with a human before, so he tried to show me what was out there. He even made me watch as he did battle with some other powerful entities - beings with all of these phenomenal cosmic powers. At one point, he thought I'd be happy if he just gave me what I wanted, so he tried to change me - said he could make me look however I wanted - older, or younger, or prettier…but all I wanted was to go home. I managed to convince him, finally, after a while. So we returned to Earth and the moment I got to Earth…well. I didn't know a lot, I was just a kid, so I knew I was way in over my head, so I tried to have him drop me off at the school upstate and…the people there saw a threat when they saw one. I was so terrified of the fight that broke out that I just ran, and ran, and I didn't look back."

"When I got to the city, I found a phone and I called the Avengers because…I mean, who else was I going to call? They sent him back, I think. Anyway, I guess the point I was trying to make is that I spent my childhood scared. I fell in with a bad crowd for a while….I was acting out, maybe. I always felt small from the moment I could understand and when I was kidnapped and sent to space, I felt even smaller. I mean…what could anyone do, faced with something like that?"

Her voice trails off, but only for a moment.

"I didn't feel like I really fit in anywhere. I figured that if I wanted something, I would have to take it myself. Education…my parents were never interested in my development, and since I figured nobody was going to teach me, I taught myself. I found some support from a couple of friends, but they have enough to worry about in their own lives and I didn't wanna bog them down, so whatever I could do for myself, I did it. I got my GED on my own. I always loved dancing, so I took a lot of classes…I wanted to be a professional dancer, not a lawyer." She laughs. "I was good enough that I made it in the Dazzler's dance troupe for a while. I was in some of her music videos, performed with her in concerts. But ever since Ali got outed as a mutant and her career took a dive…that revenue stream dried up too. Finally my friends were like 'hey you should go to law school'. So I'm giving it a shot. And all I heard from my professors are how clerkships are super important so…"

She takes a breath. "I ended up in this office because I figured if I was going to do this, I'd throw my weight behind something like what you and Mister Nelson are trying to do. I'd really like to not be scared anymore….and I like the idea that one day I wouldn't have to hide what I am."

The tale only gets stranger as it goes on, really. Supremely powerful extraplanar beings! X-Men! Avengers! Dazzler's dance troupe! (He's going to have to put in a call to Alison for a quiet reference check.) But at its core, it's the story of a young woman surmounting incredible obstacles and her own fears through grit, intelligence, or even —

Well. She didn't say what her particular gifts are, and it's not polite to ask.

But what she says at the end of her tale comes at the same issue from a different angle, and it is relevant to this interview, even if it's something that has to be broached with care and consideration.

"You've been through a lot, Ms. Smith," Matt finally says, in what's probably the understatement of the year. His voice is quiet as ever, but you don't need supersenses to hear the respect in it. And why wouldn't he? He struck a similar path, pulling himself out of a no-win scenario, catapulting from a Catholic orphanage to their shared alma mater. In some ways, her personal story, with all its travails and strange happenings, is tailor-made to appeal to him.

He's conscious of that appeal, feels its tug, and for the moment he resists it. He strives for objectivity.

"We'll get to the work Foggy and I are doing in a second," he says with a gesture towards the wall behind her, the general direction of Nelson's own office. "But before that, I guess one question I have is… you say that one day you're looking forward to not having to hide anymore." His head cocks ever-so-slightly to the right, almost as if he were trying to get a better vantage of her — or perhaps more like a cat that hears a far-off sound. "That's a fine thing to hope for. But does that mean you're not planning to register before March?"

Part of her, deep down, was rather hoping that the story would be too weird. Who says this sort of thing in a job interview? He could practically feel her surprise that he hasn't thrown her out already so he could get to the other candidates who know exactly how to get a job at a law firm.

You've been through a lot, Ms. Smith.

"I hear what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Tabitha tells Matt with a faint shrug. "And I know you probably hear this all the time, Mister Murdock, but I like being alive." There's a hint of wry humor there.

She falls quiet when the man speaks - and really, she's surprised that the man hasn't asked her what she could do. But when he asks her another question instead, he'd sense all the signs of her reluctance. The creak of the chair as she fidgets, the way her heartbeat escalates a little - she has been truthful when she was telling her story, but this is the first time that she's demonstrating some kind of nervousness. And with good reason, perhaps, considering the colorful, ridiculous history she had just given him.

"If I get this clerkship and you and Mister Nelson insist on it, I would have to, wouldn't I?" she wonders. "But I would…prefer not to. I don't…after everything, I've been really reluctant to give anyone else any cause or reason to abuse me more."

But I would…prefer not to, she says, making her inclinations about registration known, but leaving the ultimate decision in his hypothetical hands. It's a risky move in an interview already full of them, even knowing what she does about Matt's own undocumented state. For all his evening-hours heroism, he could easily be a hypocrit who would blithely demand she register as a term of employment without even considering doing the same himself.

And perhaps worryingly on that count, he isn't quick to take up the gauntlet she throws down. "Your grades are good," he says in an apparent non-sequitur. "You've got a decent chance of making law review, if you want it."

He brings his chin up in her general direction, prelude to another volley of questions: "But what about after that? You wanted to be a dancer, once. Now you want to stay alive, do some good, maybe someday be able to own your abilities in public, outright. That's all commendable. But what else do you want for your future, Ms. Smith? Where do you see yourself in ten years?"

Why hasn't he kicked her out yet?

That's possibly the most disconcerting part of all, especially from a young woman who largely grew up under the shadow of oppressive personalities who believed that she was no good, a child who wasn't worth anything, who wouldn't amount to anything. That someone else other than those she keeps close would actually see some value in her that he's doing his best to feel her out is a novel experience that's both relieving, exhilarating and uncomfortable at once. Tabitha fidgets again.

You've got a decent chance of making law review, if you want it.

"Maybe I'll give that a shot, too," Tabitha remarks with a faint grin.

But what about after that? She purses her lips faintly, falling silent for a long moment - someone who knows when to pause and think, when she has to. "Honestly, I don't know," she tells him. "It's only just recently that I felt like I actually have a shot at a future instead of just…drifting and trying to get by every day, and now that I'm getting somewhere, I'm making an effort not to screw anything up. I'm sure there's a lot of kids in my class that have their entire life plan mapped out - when they're gonna graduate, which law firm they're going to work in, when they're going to get married, how many children they intend to have. But that was never me, I was always more of an adapter and improviser, not a planner. I'm smart, I have really good instincts." She must, to survive this long under her circumstances, and still maintain an overtly cheerful disposition. "…and I love surprises. So outside of maybe having a place I actually own and a really hot boyfriend, I guess the long and short of it is I try not to think about it too hard, and there's enough going on in the now that I prefer to focus on that."

It is an honest answer, as all of hers have been so far, and Matt receives it with a twitch of a smile. "The truth is that even the people who script their lives out to the end don't know what they actually want," he tells her with a shrug of one shoulder. "Not really. Besides, a little improvisation isn't a bad thing, in and of itself."

Says the consumate improviser whose entire alter-ego is built around ill-advised, adrenaline-courting acts of improvisation.

But for all that he isn't kicking her out the door, and in fact seems to be seriously entertaining her application, they're clearly not done. "Look, I'm sure you know that we handle a lot of sensitive cases here. Some of our clients have high profiles, and serious concerns about privacy. I know they start drilling attorney-client privilege in to your head at day one at Columbia — but it's built into our whole DNA at this firm. You wouldn't be able to share a single thing you hear or read within these walls with anyone else."

There's an inch of one eyebrow over a rounded eyeglass rim. "Are you comfortable with that, Ms. Smith?"

"Yeah?" Tabitha wonders, smiling ruefully as she leans forward on the chair. "Does that mean you didn't always want to be a lawyer either, Mister Murdock?" Inquiring minds want to know.

The interview isn't over, it seems, and there's suddenly a stumbling block before her, because of course there would be. She had not entertained any illusions that this assignment was going to be in any way easy, but she does nod when he gives her the usual caveats about working in a law office. That was actually something she knew before, if not just by watching old episodes of Law and Order. Attorney-client privilege was a thing.

You wouldn't be able to share a single thing you hear or read within these walls with anyone else.

"I understand," she says. "People need to be able to trust their lawyers, after all. It makes sense, doesn't it? That this is the kind of thing that extends even after you die?"

But is she comfortable with it?

It has the potential of complicating her assignment, but at the moment, her orders were to simply watch and observe Matt Murdock, not report on his clients and cases, and ensure that he is doing what he has promised to do - defend their kind from the registration law. By what she manages to find, he seems to be serious about it.

"Sure, Mister Murdock," she says simply with a smile - mostly truthful, but there is something. Secrets have a way of twigging someone's instincts, especially someone like Daredevil, a veteran operator even in a city teeming with metahumans. "I can live with that."

For the first time since the interview started, Matt cracks an honest to goodness smile, with actual teeth and everything. His features are so often schooled to severity, his emotional pallette restricted to greys. A real smile changes it all, lights up his whole mug.

"Me? I was reading Thurgood Marshall decisions when I was ten years old," Matt says with self-deprecating humor. "Law was always in the cards for me. But — you're never just your profession. There's always a life outside of work."

And boy, in his case, is there ever.

Even without the little biochemical hitch that accompanies deceit, there was probably a little too much aww-shucks in her answer to fully pass muster with Matt Murdock. That slightly unsettled feeling is balanced against the fact that he actually likes her, insouciant humor and bouyant personality and up-from-her-bootstraps personal story, complete with weird powers and weird people.

And what's more, he remembers a conversation he had with Alison Blaire and Warren Worthington just a few weeks before. You're saving yourselves with this lawsuit, he'd promised them, not merely relying on two white, human knights to rush in and save their people. We should have a mutant on our staff, if we're doing this.

He wrestles with all those contradictions for a moment after her answer, perhaps long enough to make her wonder whether she'd failed to convince him outright. But what he says is: "Look, I'm inclined to move you to the next round of interviews, Ms. Smith. I think you could learn a lot here. Next step is meeting Foggy, and —"

His lips press together, almost apologetic. "Our P.I., Jessica Jones, is also doing background checks on all candidates." His hands spread. "To say you've been forthcoming in this interview is a, ah, understatement — but we're doing it for everyone, and need to be consistent about it."

He really ought to smile more often.

All the pictures that Tabitha has ever found of Matthew Murdock in that tendency of hers to do her homework before she throws herself into a particularly reckless gamble has always shown him from the same angles, the same expression. But with the way his smile lights up the rest of him like a sudden lightning bolt, she can understand the appeal. She returns the smile, nevermind that he can't see it.

"Hopefully you got out some when you were at that age," she ribs him, unapologetic in doing so. "I don't even remember reading anything when I was ten, I was busy discovering the many ways you can drive neighbors crazy with a potato gun."

But when he falls silent, eyes like frozen lightning watch him quietly from where she sits. It's not the first time she has found herself in a window of stasis where anything could happen - like looking straight down from an impossible height, heart in her throat. When others would at least hesitate before making a decision to stay or jump, however, there's none of that from her; in such circumstances, her answer is always the same - to spread her arms out on either sides of her and leap.

She feels like falling, when he tells her that she's going on the next round of interviews. She can't help but feel the conflict; the aspects of her that made her perfect for the assignment in the Brotherhood's eyes - in Wanda's words, the most capable among them in functioning in normal society - are also the ones that tend to hold her back whenever it was time to become truly, unforgivably ruthless. She doesn't doubt that he wants to help her people, her cause.

…but what if he reneges on the bargain with the Maximoffs?

As per fucking usual, I'll just wing it when the time comes.

"That's no problem, Mister Murdock," Tabitha says with a smirk. "I mean, she'll probably come across some really pathetic pictures of me in the hospital when I was a kid, and hear about a few fights in really seedy bars. I don't know how she'll be able to corroborate the part about me going into space though, but maybe I can find a really alien rock in my knick-knacks and I can give it to her if it makes her job easier."

Matt's powers let him measure heartbeats and breaths, hormones in the air, the nuances of a person's health and the contents of their day. But it doesn't give him insight into their mind, much less their soul. Tabitha's conflict is invisible to him, whatever telltale signs of jitters it produces in her are virtually indistinguishable from any other job applicant in an interview. He has no idea about her mission, or her motives.

Which isn't to say she hasn't raised some red flags. She gave the broad strokes of a story that's ripe for finding undiscovered nuance of color and texture, and there was no disguising her conflict when he asked her about confidentiality and client privilege.

But enough of what she said and the way she said it resonates with him that he'll risk the hire, here at this precarious moment for him and what he's building with Foggy. She isn't the only one in the habit of taking flying leaps.

"I did alright," he says of getting out as a ten-year-old. No megawatt smile this time, but the good humor remains.

She's fine with a background check, she says, and he nods once. "Good, she'll be in touch." A beat, an ever-so-slight tilt of his head. "Okay, then. Is there anything else you think we'd want to know about you before we make our decision, Ms. Smith?"

It's an innocuous question, really. Practically boilerplate for job interviews, save for the slight twist of 'want to' for 'should.' It forces the respondent to consider not just what they want to express, but what they have a responsibility to convey.

"I did alright.

"I would hope so, Mister Murdock." Her voice is light, and laden with genuine good humor.

Is there anything else you think we'd want to know about you before we make our decision, Ms. Smith?

Tabitha grins as she rises from the chair, reaching out with a hand for another parting shake. "I'm trouble," she tells him simply, laughter implied in her tone. "I got into plenty of scraps in my day, I have a temper, and I'm the kind who fights fire with fire. If you could see, you'd probably know it without me telling you, but considering how you and Mister Nelson handled the Barnes case, and what you did in putting the Kingpin away, I think I'm in relatively good company."

Once accepted, she squeezes his fingers. "Thank you for the opportunity, Mister Murdock. Even if you decide the other way, this was fun."

This was fun. Matt's forehead crinkles at the answer. It's a far cry from, 'thanks for your consideration' or 'looking forward to hearing from you' or the half-dozen other perfectly appropriate niceties that punctuate a meeting like this. He adds it to the pile of idiosyncrasies that is Ms. Tabitha Smith, mutant space-explorer extraordinaire.

Besides it was fun, wasn't it?

He rises from his desk, puts out his own hand so she can find it, and gives her a close-lipped half-smile when she claims his calloused fingers with her slighter ones. "I don't need to see it to know it," he tells her of trouble.

"But the good kind of trouble is always welcome at Nelson & Murdock. Take care, Ms. Smith. And good luck."

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