Background Checks
Roleplaying Log: Background Checks
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Jessica Jones and her assistant call Tabitha Smith to her office to answer some follow-up questions in connection with her background check for her prospective employment at Nelson & Murdock.

Other Characters Referenced: Luke Cage, Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Dazzler
IC Date: February 12, 2019
IC Location: Alias Investigations, Hell's Kitchen, New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 13 Feb 2019 05:14
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 for language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The next phase in Tabitha's interview process goes about like Matt Murdock said it would. She gets a call from a crusty-sounding woman who tells her she's Jessica Jones, PI, and she just wants to do a routine follow-up interview before passing her findings on to Mr. Murdock.

"Just come on down to my office," Jess had said. "It's right under his. My assistant Navi will be there to help with the interview; she's learning the ropes and I want her to get to see what goes on and participate."

Once the date and time were set, that was that.

Once she arrives Jess offers a bottled water and just sort of waves an expansive hand around the office to indicate Tabitha can pick any client's chair to sit in. Where Matt radiates equinamity, muted, wry humor, warmth, and professionalism, Jessica Jones radiates a hardboiled air that could come straight out of a Noir novel, and is in jeans and a Pink Floyd t-shirt. But she does offer a, "Great to meet you, Tabitha, come on in. Want something to drink? Got Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, coffee that's…" sniff sniff, "burnt…Red Bull, and bottled water."

And once that's done and they've settled in, she pulls out a file folder and refreshes the notes she's already taken, nodding to Navi to go ahead and jump in while she observes.

Pacing around in the bathroom is not what hard-boiled detectives do before they put the screws to a hardened criminal. And certainly, not when they're just doing a routine background check. "Okay, don't spazz. It's all good. You can do this. Pretendy smile? Check. BDE? Check. Notep-.. oh my fucking god where is my- Notepad, check!"

And that's about when Jessica Jones had five minutes to really take in the sight of Arnavi Mehta in an actual, factual pantsuit. Black and pinstriped with a white blouse, she looks every bit the professional who has been doing this for at least more than five minutes.

SMASH CUT TO FIVE MINUTES LATER, WHEN TABI ARRIVES.

With Jessica making sure Tabi is comfortable, the would-be apprentice investigator goes to work, scanning a list of questions she has written out on her pad and very conspicuously keeping the cover of the pad up so that Tabi can't see them, she glances up at their guest, then back down again, then reaches down to scratch something out.

Brown eyes narrow, seeking to dig into the very truth of every one of Tabitha's expressions, searching her eyes for anything that might indicate she telling a falsehood. And you know how she knows how to do that? Trick question, she doesn't. She hasn't had that super powered lesson just yet, but she watches all the same.

"Is that… your real hair color?"

When she arrives, she isn't wearing a suit, but she manages to pull a few things from her closet that could count as 'business casual' - namely a sleeveless, collared button-down dyed a deep green with a ruffled front, tailored to fit her dancer's frame, and a pair of fitted black slacks pulled over heels. She keeps warm with a tweed, double-breasted coat, which is now draped over the back of the chair that she intends to occupy.

Really, though, the entire ensemble would be boring were it not for her hot pink earrings, dangling from her lobes, and the stylish aviator sunglasses perched on an artful mess of pale-gold hair.

"No thanks, I'm okay," Tabitha tells Jessica with a smile, and to Arnavi's inquiry, she squints. "Mostly, yeah. I mean, I get the color touched up regularly. It's tricky being a blonde, you know? Gotta take care of the roots, the ends, and without the right colorist, it can look like a carpet. Going au naturale isn't really an option if you wanna look like a million bucks, you know?"

There's an inquiring glance over at Jessica - was that an actual interview question?

There's this skeptical look that Jess gets on her face when Navi opens that way. Her face is an expressive thing. She even draws back a little as one eyebrow raises and one draws down, her mouth a perfect expression of 'what exactly the fuck.'

"Moving on," she suggests to Navi. She won't dive in and take over just yet, and she half shakes her head at Tabitha. No, that was not a serious question. Jess…stands and moves around Navi and tries to get a look at what her padawan has written on that clipboard. Clearly, she should have had a look before this began.

The slow change to Navi's expression as Tabitha takes it in stride and answers truthfully leaves her eyes slightly wide, and completely focused on hair. So much so that she barely seems to notice as she tears off a bit of paper and begins to sliiiiiiide it across the table.

"Alright well, we need to make sure we're super thorough so if you could just write the name, number, and address of your colorist we c-right moving on," says Arnavi, with her au naturale hair she is suddenly super self conscious of. "Yes. Right. Let's see. Uhh…."

Navi crosses out the next question, and then the next question, peeking up and backward since Jessica is now peeking at her notes, and so she makes super duper certain to cross out those next two, one of which may have been about her thoughts on the Superbowl Half-Time Show, and which side of the Spongebob controversy she falls on. So what's left?

SNAKES ON A TRAIN. I MEAN ALIENS ON A TRAIN.

Pay attention to her confidence. Pay attention to how she carries it. 'It' is circled.

I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY.

"So, your transcripts are pretty darn amazing, but if you don't mind my asking, how'd you get on this track? I mean, what pushed you in this direction? What interests you about the law? Any one person, place, or thing in particular?"

Her pen comes down, preparing to write something. But it's hard to write what you see when you can see so much and don't really know how to describe it, so Arnavi just listens, pushing Jess out of her peripheral and drawing her focus in to Tabitha's answer to her mostly innocent, if maybe unorthodox question.

Arnavi's not-so-subtle attempt to get her colorist's contact information earns Jessica's assistant a sudden laugh from the blonde would-be lawyer, picking up a pen and scrawling name, number and hours. "Sure. I'd give you her card, but I don't have it anymore, I kind of just have her in my head for emergencies."

So, your transcripts are pretty darn amazing.

Darn?

There's a bit of a sheepish grin, the young woman lifting her fingers to rub the back of her neck. "More like being sorta directionless after Dazzler's career tanked. I was her backup dancer for a few years while I was doing a bunch of online university classes to get a degree. Nobody ever really gave a shit about my education, you know? So I took care of it myself. I honestly thought that once I got a degree I'd see to putting myself through auditions at someplace good…Julliard or something for dance. But after she got outed as a mutant…"

Tabitha shrugs. "A lot of people in her dance troupe had difficulty finding gigs. I wasn't exempt. Finally a couple of friends said 'hey you should go to law school' so now I'm giving it a shot. I'm definitely not one of them who knew they were going to law school immediately after college."

As Navi actually asks a more sensible question, Jessica relaxes just a little bit. She draws away from her with a little pat-pat to her shoulder, opens the window, takes out a cigarette, lights up. She is watching and listening keenly though, and she isn't going to stay silent forever. Questions are nothing she has ever been able to resist, and it's no shock that sooner or later she'd end up inserting some of her own. "So rough life, aliens, stardom, law school," she says, and maybe there's a hint of amusement in her tone. It is kind of A Progression.

"And now you've had a few months of it. Which class is your toughest? Any professors that are particular hardasses?"

And if it just sounds like small talk, well…it's probably not. Jess doesn't do small talk, a fact which Navi, at least, will know just fine. "Any that have taken you under their wing sort of? Inspired you? Mentored you? Encouraged you?"

"Yoink." It's just a whisper as she steals the colorist contact info away and tries to stuff it into a pocket, only to find that the pockets on this jacket are fake, and so are the pants pockets, her tongue poking out of her mouth as she tries to math through why the FUCK anyone would put fake pockets on on her jacket, because clearly she's never bought anything like this before. And then Tabi casually mentions being one of Dazzler's backup dancers.

Time shrinks away, her mouth hangs open, and she visibly sits back into her chair. Oh. My. God. Wait, is that.. is she? The urge to grab for her phone and check a music video intensifies. It takes all of her willpower, and she really has almost none at all, to sit still. Thankfully, Jessica is asking questions. Rapid fire chit-chat questions, while she smokes. Her nose wrinkles a little, and she casts a look at Jessica, because the other detective has to know for sure what that smells like to her.

"Yes. Right. All of that. All of those questions." Here she gestures to Jessica emphatically, and nods her head once, clicking her pen a few times before she begins writing little footnotes. They are likely as absurd as her 'list'.

"Also what's your favorite place to go dancing?"

There is no way Arnavi looks up as she asks that question, still trying to process that this person knows DAZZLER and was in THE BUSINESS and had a promising DANCING CAREER that was derailed when…

But she does look up eventually, when she realizes what she should be asking, and yet she holds her tongue for just a moment, giving Tabi time to catch up with the rapid fire.

"No stardom for me," Tabitha says, lifting a hand as if she can wave that off. "Backup dancers are backup for a reason, we were on stage with her, but Ali is…well. Ali. Once she's up there, it's hard to yank the spotlight away from her." There's no resentment there, other than that twinge of envy. Seriously though, who wouldn't be jealous of the Dazzler? At the time, she was just happy to be able to dance and for a brief moment in her life, was able to pursue something she genuinely loved…and something she wouldn't have known she loved were it not for an angry young Brazilian runaway who taught her how before she put him on a train back to his destiny.

"They're all tough, but the toughest is probably federal civil procedure," she says. "Which is like bureaucratic red tape in law form. It's just as horrible as it sounds. And since it's Columbia, all the professors are hardasses, even the seemingly nice and softspoken ones that kick your ass when it's time to grade. Professor Plummer in Contracts will flat out kick you out if you don't know whether the Uniform Commercial Code applies the moment he asks you a random question, and Professor Chester in Torts is a dragon lady - she flat out told us in the beginning that her aim was to fail out a third of us."

She shakes her head. "Not to say they haven't been encouraging in their own ways. I just try not to stand out too much especially when something I say sounds particularly brilliant to them and it gets highlighted in class and everyone turns to stare at you. You'd think graduate school of any kind would be different from middle school or high school socially when it comes to shit like that, but it's not. It's worse because everyone's competing with one another. I mean, I find some of the material interesting, and I'm grateful for the schooling, but the overall vibe is annoying - I mean, who sabotages books in the library just so you're the only one with the right answers to a practice test given three years ago? It's nuts. I figured if anyone's gonna mentor me, might as well be lawyers in the trenches like Misters Nelson and Murdock."

Her favorite place to go dancing?

Tabitha's expression lights up and she laughs. "There's tons," she tells Arnavi. "There's Beat Street, where I've been going to since I was a teenager. There's the Black Cat Jazz Club, Studio 54 because it's a classic. I also go to some of the underground events and I still take classes at the Broadway Dance Center whenever I can."

Jessica's lips twitch at Navi. At this point she can't tell whether the younger woman is trying to conduct an interview or ask Tabitha out for a date. She also looks faintly bewildered at Navi's look. It's possible it has not in fact crossed her mind what cigarette smoke does to Navi.

She nods to the answers and jots down a couple of the names, arching an eyebrow at some of this law school bullshit. "Wow," she says, and she means it. "What a bunch of turds."

She jots down a few of the professor names, or maybe all of them. But at this point she seems pretty relaxed.

But now she looks directly at Tabitha and asks, "Keeping in mind I'm not worried about your sealed juvenile records: they're sealed for a reason and I don't give a shit about those…is there anything at all you'd be concerned to see me and Navi digging into, or digging up? If so, you should probably go right ahead and tell us now, so we've got your side of the story in its full context. There's not much I can't dig up— " this is said with no particular hint of bragging or pride, it's just stated as raw fact. "—And I'm pretty protective of both Nelson and Murdock. Given in five minutes of talking to you I think you're someone they'd both strongly consider adding to the crew? I'm gonna put in the work, just as I have for a couple other candidates who seem like they'd be the strongest."

She tamps her ashes out the freezing window, and adds, "Already had cause to tell them to strike one of 'em for what I found, too."

There is not a sufficient tool for measuring the look on someone's face when they talk about something they love, even when they're trying to wave it away as a part of the past. But Arnavi's brain tries to measure up, to extract all the differences she might see or hear when Tabi speaks of that brief time, before moving on to… THE LAW. As she drifts from subject to subject, she forgets to pull back her focus a little, and it is almost hypnotic in how absolutely, absurdly horrible it sounds. BOOKS AND TESTS AND TEACHERS AND OH GOD.

She stutters a little breath as she pulls back just a little, pretending to scribble something on her pad, but finding only that she'd drawn a dickbutt. She immediately frowns. Clearly her subconscious is telling her exactly how good she is at interviewing people.

But then there is an epic recovery, because Tabi is talking about the places to go dancing. Her gaze ticks up, and she looks a little overwhelmed at the list, some of which she is not sure she could ever get into in a million years. Now it's her turn to look a little envious.

"Those sound.. a-awesome. I'm from Gotham, so I haven't.. if you're ever over that way check out the Electric Highway or The Midnight Coil, both are pret-" And then Jess is looking at her, and talking about Nelson and Murdock. You know, the ACTUAL JOB. Which brings her back to the question unasked, her pen rattling with a tap against her notebook, because it's a hard question to ask.

But isn't that what this job is about?

"How did it make you feel, when Dazzler was outed? What was the first thing that ran through your mind, and what did you do immediately after?"

On her pad, a line draws from that circled word, the 'It', to where she prepares to write the answer to that question.

What a bunch of turds.

"Some of them are super shitheads," Tabitha replies with a drawl, though her voice carries little heat. "It's an Ivy so there's a lot of classist rich kids trying to throw their weight around also." She knows, she's already got an incriminating audiotape on one of them.

When asked about her juvenile records, she shakes her head. "No, not really, save for the fact that I was an angry and aggressive kid with a penchant for getting into trouble," she tells Jessica. "I always had problems with authority, it wasn't really something I could shake - I have trouble doing that even now. I already told Mister Murdock about that and really it's up to him to decide whether he'll still want me after that. A lot of it has been…fights." She shifts slightly on her seat. "Violent altercations, but I never instigated any of them, I'd just run away if I could. But if someone gets right in my face, I tend to fight fire with fire. I don't like being abused in any way, is why."

If there's any apprehension to what Jessica says, and the not-so-subtle aside that her career at N&M is on her hands, she nods, though she does look somewhat nervous - who wouldn't be? "Yeah, I'm well aware it's your job to find red flags. At this point I'm hoping the flags I've got aren't too red to knock me out of the running entirely." After all, not many people would give anyone with a record a chance - probably why she was so upfront with it.

Arnavi's aside about good places to go dancing in Gotham has her flashing her a thumbs-up. "I've heard of them, but I've never been! I'll have to check them out."

But now the assistant is asking about Ali.

"Furious," she tells Arnavi, her face expressive in its anger and grimace. "Not because she was outed, but rather that she was, and it mattered to the point of nearly destroying her. Ali could have done anything with her powers, but instead she made the choice to be an artist. To create thngs that people enjoy." She takes a breath. "I did what I could. She and I are pretty good friends off stage, I tried to be there for her, but Ali's not…she's more protective of her internal life than anyone thinks, and she's not the sort to show weakness, either, when she's feeling wounded." Something that she and Tabitha have in common.

Jessica is anything but disturbed by a confession that Tabitha will finish fights if someone else starts them. She nods thoughtfully, crushes out her cigarette, flicks the butt into the alley and closes the window, coming back to her desk. Navi hits on a good question and she listens to the answer with another thoughtful nod. "I remember how you two interacted at the bar," she says, on the matter of Tabitha and Dazzler being friends.

Her lips twitch. "Don't worry. I don't feel the need to mention the cake to Matt."

But it was a confirmation of at least one of Tabitha's statements, that they were good friends, one she doesn't even have to bother to try to verify. That one, she got a chance to see.

Not that Tabitha was likely to notice her, either at the bar or behind it.

This might not be the job for her. It crosses her mind as soon as Tabi says the word 'Furious', because part of this job is bringing up bad shit, and watching people go through it, relive it, and talk about it in ways that makes Navi feel it too. It's all over her face, the very opposite of someone who could ever tell a meaningful lie or pretend everything is fine when the opposite were true. It harrows her to imagine a day like the one Tabitha describes. Arnavi blinks it away, and puts a check mark down next to that circled word.

Then she draws a line to one thing Jess couldn't see while peeking over her shoulder, tactically hidden by her thumb - a picture of a broken bone. That done she carefully clicks her pen to put it away and cover up her notes, her gaze shifting to Jessica to watch how she conducts the back half of this, while Arnavi stays uncharacteristically silent.

At least until there's mention of cake.

It sends her eyes darting between them, her expression catching hold of a nascent smile, the kind that could brighten almost anyone's day if allowed to come to fruition.

"Wait, what? A cake? Was it a bad cake or something? Do you bake too? Because let me tell you, we're down here, like, all the time. And if you get hired up there and accidentally bring us a bunch of cake by accident I'm sure that."

She looks at Jessica again.

Then looks back to Tabi.

Her expression drops into a morbid seriousness.

"I was not suggesting a bribe."

But then, why is she slowly nodding?

Mention of the cake has her groaning. "It was a favor for a friend's birthday and I got delivered to the wrong place," Tabitha tells Jessica, before she pauses and squints. "Wait…you were there?"

Arnavi's aside has the blonde laughing, shaking her head once. "I wish I could bake," she says. "But my skills in the kitchen are a little lacking. I mean, I can make an okay breakfast, I guess. Eggs, pancakes, simple shit, but cakes are way too complicated, even the ones that come from a box. No, no, what Miss Jones was talking about was when I jumped out of one as a surprise for a friend, except…I was delivered to the wrong place. So there I was, tits out with pinwheels spinning around. And then some Asgardian chick ate it and made Dazzler sign my butt. It was a pretty wild night."

Her grin broadens. "But if you want a bribe, I could do that. I mean, bringing in baked goods and shit is pretty expected office worker behavior anyway, yeah?"

Jessica smirks faintly. "Luke, of Luke's Bar, is my fiance," she says. "So yeah, I was. I just am a wallflower at big parties. And I watch everything."

She makes spooky hands. She wriggles her fingers and everything, even as she wriggles her eyebrows. Under all that crust is a warm sense of humor, a woman who likes and feels protective of intelligent, badass young women who want to make something of themselves and who have already faced a bunch of adversity, and people who don't take themselves too seriously.

Witness Tabitha going right ahead and explaining the cake incident to Navi.

"It's true," she says easily, another smirk twitching across her lips. "I mean. I think Foggy will expect the bulk of them, but I think they might tolerate you slipping Navi here a cupcake or something every now and then."

But her easygoing manner says that for her part, she's pretty well done with the questioning. She shoots Navi a quick, questioning look to see if the young woman has more. Some of her questions have been swings and misses, but others have been really insightful. And everyone has their own style.

No, this is absolutely not the right job for Arnavi Mehta. It is absurdly clear when she stares all through Tabi's story, one finger swirling in an air-circle when she says 'pinwheels', utterly entranced by this absurdity that she describes, as an actual, real-life event THAT IS FAR COOLER THAN ANYTHING THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN TO HER OH MY GOD.

Stunned beyond words, she takes a breath, then eventually she holds up that same finger, her expression of utter incomprehension turning to that look a kid gets when they realllly, reallllly want something and are about to bounce around asking a parent for it. She pivots on her chair and looks right at Jessica, head tilted back a little. Grin intensifying. She's really trying. She soooo is. The question false starts in her mouth before she takes a different route.

She makes a face at Jessica, an overzealous smile as she lifts her notebook and turns it to Jess, just to turn it to a very specific page with a great big '10' on it.

Did she right that out ahead of time?! Is there a '1' in there somewhere?! These questions will forever go unanswered, as she closes the notebook quickly and beams a smile in Tabi's direction, her hand finally extended when she stands to reach across the table, since she skipped the official greeting at the beginning. Look she didn't want to shake her hand until she was certain she was a perfectly innocent normal person, which their investigation has clearly revealed.

"Okay you sound awesome, and it's probably unprofessional to tell you that so if the lawyers up there ask our investigation was completely professional and I don't know anything about your pinwheels, right? Cool? Alright cool. It was darn awesome to meet you in this totally professional manner pleasebringmeacupcake."

It really is fortunate this interview is about over, or else, this rambling would go on forever. Instead she catches Jessica watching her out of the corner of her all-seeing eye and stops the vigorous hand-shaking before it can get any more awkward.

Jessica's smile earns one of her own. "I didn't know that! I mean…I also didn't really know I ended up at Luke's Bar until I saw all the flyers out for Ladies' Night. It was fun, though! I'd definitely go again. Also, noting that for Mister Nelson."

As Arnavi extends a hand, Tabitha reaches out and clasps it back, her grin intensifying to mirror the other young woman's. She has no idea what she wrote in the notebook, but she pretends not to have noticed, nevermind that the gesture isn't subtle in any way.

"Well, good. Because I am awesome," she says, brimming with an exaggerated sort of confidence that's both honest and somewhat comedic. "But uh…yeah. Yeah. Don't tell them about the pinwheels please." Pause, beat. "Because I want to tell them about the pinwheels at some point just so I can see the look on their faces and sure, I'll totally bring you a cupcake. Those bastards in the bakery owe me."

With that, the blonde stands and flashes both women a smile. "Thanks for calling me in, and if you guys need to ask me any more follow up questions, you know how to reach me." She wiggles her fingers in a wave, and unless there isn't anything else, she'll exit Alias Investigations.

Jessica waits till she leaves, smirking. "You should have asked her out while you had the chance."

But she tips her finger at the paper reading 10. "That's not our job to decide. What is our job is for you to head over to the law school. Go interview all the professors she mentioned about her. Find out who else might share a class with her. Let's make sure she's not inflating how well she's doing or how insightful she's being in class. Let me know if you hear anything weird, but if it all checks out yes, we'll pass along a positive recommendation to the guys upstairs."

Another pause. Another smirk.

"Which I guess is all to the good, if you'd asked her out and one of those red flags had popped up that would have sucked. But once she checks out, it's not like you can't find her."

As Jessica lays out the plan, Navi quickly scrambles to pick up her notepad and write it all down. She's nodding, and smiling. Wait, did she miss something? No no, it's impossible for her to miss something because she remembers everything now and so.. Wait, what? Wait, what?!

"Wait, what?!"

The horror dawns and Navi clutches that notebook close, her free hand coming out to shake in front of her. "Oh nonnono, dude, I don't do any.. of that. Like I don't, you know. Seriously, I am pretty sure I'm just hentai-sexual at this point. Seriously, just give me a good comic."

Assuredly Jessica wants to hear this.

"Maybe an ASMR stream."

Oh no.

"For real, dating isn't a thing I do AND OH MY GOD I WOULD NEVER ON THE JOB, I mean didn't you hear how I didn't say fuck even once? I said darn! It was so professional!"

Navi's version of deflection has her whispering 'nailed it' before she turns to immediately run into the the other room to get her bag so she can start on her new HOMEWORK assignment.

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