The First Step
Roleplaying Log: The First Step
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The Defenders meet at Luke and Jessica's apartment to discuss how they will deal with New York's registration law.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 03, 2018
IC Location: Harlem
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 Dec 2018 14:23
Rating & Warnings: R (For language, because it's a Defenders meeting.)
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

No one really wanted to talk about registration at Thanksgiving and risk ruining the festive mood when there was good food and good conversation to be had. Plenty to be thankful for. Luke, for one, was thankful he has a fiancé that can carry him to bed after his run in with Asgardian mead and was actually tickled the next morning that he had his first hangover since Seagate. (Overall he'd rate the experience A+, would do again, despite the fact that he swears he was praying in rainbow colors to the porcelain gods the next day).

Now, the Cage/Jones apartment has been offered for the group to meet and tackle this debate. The doorman has been alerted that there will be a lot of traffic tonight headed up to the top floor of the building. There is only one apartment there (although Luke doesn't like to call it the Penthouse), and the door is unlocked for people to drift into. The apartment itself is modern industrial and the living room that spills into the open kitchen and eating area is more than large enough to accommodate the Defenders et al. The motorcycle has thankfully be removed to the basement. Off of this main room, a corner has been sectioned off with multi colored paned glass as an office and the rest of the living quarters are off to the back from a hallway. There's coffee in the pot, beer in the fridge and whiskey on the counter.

Luke for his part is sitting in the open window in the living room, having a cigarette as he sits on the sill with one leg dangling out over the street below. "We need…books. And records. And stuff. I had the great idea to put in all these shelves but they look naked. People are going to judge my naked shelves."

* * *

A black sedan pulls up outside. It's one of those cars that tries to be nondescript, but you just know someone important is inside. The illusion is somewhat broken by the figure that emerges. Danny's wearing a green winter hat with a pompom on top and his green puffer jacket from his winter vigilante phase last year (AKA, what he wore out on the street before Owen made him body armor.) He's carrying a reusable bag and his driver cycles around to hand him a…tiny tree?

Not long after, there's the sound of Dannyfeet up the stairs, then a head stuck inside. "Heellooo?"

* * *

Since Emery provided them with these lovely dishes, Jessica figures they should use them. Of course, the chips and salsa she's putting out aren't exactly Emery-level fare by any stretch of the imagination. She does have some avocado to mix up some fresh guacamole. It's hard to mess up guacamole after all. Unless you dump a bunch of crap in it that does not belong in guacamole, anyway.

Barefoot and dressed in ratty jeans and a green tank top, she looks comfortable enough in the space. She finishes spooning out the salsa and throws the jar away, shaking her head as Luke speaks.

"You're fretting," she says. "That's ridiculous. Nobody who we care about has fucks to give for shelving. I mean sure, we can put some stuff up there, whatever, but nobody we'd let up here is going to be judgmental about them."

Suddenly she smirks though, and, as she cuts an avocado in half (not to be confused with an abrogado), she says, "Do you need to get some emergency decorative cushions and towels next?"

But there's Danny, and she beckons him inside. "Come on in," she says.

* * *

Of course he's fretting, it's something that Luke does only in Jess' presence because she can call him on it and he not be offended. Spurred by Jess' words, Luke makes an exaggerated face. "Oh god, I forgot to buy fancy guest towels.." He feints as if he's going to dive off the sill and go rectify the problem RIGHT THIS SECOND, but he is just chuckling instead and blowing a stream of smoke outside.

"Heeeeeyy, Danny Boy! Come on in man." Danny has been here before, so therefore he doesn't technically count as a guest anymore. Which means Luke doesn't have to put out his smoke and greet him at the door. "Are you…taking your meditational herbs for a walk?"

* * *

"Hey Jess. Hey, Luke. I was gonna say careful, but if you fell out that window I think the only thing'd get hurt is the sidewalk." Danny grins and toes off his shoes. Doesn't matter if this is a shoes-on house or not. Habit.

The plant in his arms looks like a miniature Christmas tree and smells like… "It's uh…rosemary. Trimmed like a Christmas tree. I already have a million decorations at my place, so I thought you guys might like it. I got like, this box of tiny ornaments too." He sets the wee tree down. Bottles clank in the bag.

"Oh, this is for you, Jess." He hands the bag over to her as he shrugs off his jacket. "It's kombucha. One of 'em is apple cider and cloves and vanilla and stuff. Tastes really festive. Thought you might like something celebratory to drink over the holidays that isn't booze. The other one is uh…I forget. Something not too sweet. I think orange and cranberry?"

* * *

Jess gets a laugh out of Luke's 'almost zoom' act. But then Danny comes bearing gifts, and she comes around to take the bag. "Thanks, Danny," she says warmly. "On both counts."

There it is, that look, that holy crap, good things are happening, where's the other shoe, for about half a second. Or 'how will I screw it up.' But it eases off her face quickly enough, in favor of one of her rare, bright grins.

She contemplates the two bottles, then decides to try some of the apple cider-clove-and-vanilla combo. She pours some into a glass, sniffs at it, then takes a taste. "Hey, this is good," she says. She's one of those people who will try anything once, and in this case, it actually goes over well. That's now going to sit next to her on the counter while she gets to the business of smashing garlic and chopping it. It's a little clunky, that garlic chopping, but it's not so bad that anyone's going to get huge bites of raw clove. She is learning, however slowly.

* * *

And just like that the whiskey bottle moves, maybe three inches to the left. And like some even worse neighbor entrance is complete when the door closes though few if any saw it ever open in the first place, leaving one Owen Mercer on the window sill with Luke, a cigarette in his mouth, a glass of whiskey from the counter in his hand and him leaning forward demanding/asking, "Gimmea light?"

Always one to ignore social customs like knocking or other such politeness things when possible Luke is probably at least used to this type of ridiculousness, as much as one can get used to this much Owen Mercer.

Owen's dressed in his usual ripped jeans, lime green retro sneakers and thread-bare rock tee-shirt, in this instance black with "the Runaways" written in simple white text. He looks for all the world like he might have just woken up, his hair stuck in the usual multi-directions.

* * *

"Look at that, our first Christmas decoration. It's official, now it's a home." Luke says brightly, clinging to that holiday spirit even if it kills him. He takes one more puff off his cigarette before he goes to flick it out the window and then suddenly. Owen.

He hands off the butt to so he can light up. "Late night?" Luke asks with a chuckle, reaching out his big paw of a hand to pat that scary hair 'do.

* * *

If there's one thing Danny has learned, it's how to choose what hippie-natural-zen things he introduces his friends to. A fizzy drink that's not too sweet seemed a safe-ish bet. Underneath the puffy jacket is a collared white shirt. Between that and the teal slacks, that suggests he was once in business casual and therefore at Rand. He grins when Jess seems to like the kombucha. "It's looking good in here, guys. Oh…hey Owen." Blink. That's still kind of hard to get used to.

* * *

The front door to the not-Penthouse opens again, admitting one suited and spectacled Matt Murdock into the space. He looks like he's just gotten out of the office: briefcase in one hand and red-tipped walking stick in the other, brown hair blown out of order by the winter wind.

"Ah, hey, everyone," he murmurs with a brief flash of a smile — warm and genuine but more muted than his outright festive spirits during Thanksgiving. They are here to talk business, and serious business, and that gravity seems to hang about the sharply-cut shoulders of his slim-cut, charcoal-grey suit.

He enters the room with more confidence than you'd expect from a blind man visiting for the first time. He sets his walking stick near the coatrack and makes a beeline for Jess. "Nice place you two have here," he says, with absolutely no explanation for how he'd know any such thing.

Just roll with it, people.

* * *

"Hey Owen," Jess calls, hearing him out on the balcony. But she's not going to keep yelling conversation or greetings, so she gets back to what she's about.

By the time Matt is making his beeline for her, Jess has gotten to the stage of adding cilantro and lime to the mix, and is mushing it up. This is neither happening evenly nor smoothly, but it'll taste the same, right? Everything going into it is fresh, though the salsa definitely smells like Pace Picante Sauce.

As for Matt's assessment of the apartment? She figures he likes the configuration of where stuff is, or the smell, or any number of things that don't rely on sight, so she offers a quick welcoming smile he'll probably pick up on somehow, and says, "Yeah, seems Mr. Luke Cage knows how to put an apartment together." Far more than Jess herself, who took years to get much more than empty booze bottles onto her shelving at the former Alias Investigations. The current one is spartan too. She does not know how to create home-like environments. That skill is firmly allotted to Man Mountain. But she's nevertheless sheepishly proud of it, and of Luke, if the voice is any indication.

"Make yourself at home, Matt, we've got drinks, and…"

She sets the guacamole bowl on the chip and salsa platter with a flourish, "snacks."

Sure, it's business, but this is also the first time they've ever had anyone over to their apartment officially. There's some determination on Jessica's part to make a stab at being a proper hostess.

* * *

Taking the butt from Luke to light up his own cigarette, Owen doesn't seem to even notice the hair ruffling. He mumbles something unintelligible that might be "..was..Gotham…bananas..no…sleep." along with a few other words here or there. The other people get a half-wave of greeting. And finally after he gets long stream of smoke out, he starts to perk up some.

And then his phone buzzes and he pulls it out to read it, which apparently takes some effort and then starts to cough. He announces with a leering smirk, "Yea. Emery's tied up at the moment. He'll be a bit late."

"It needs books!" Luke calls into the kitchen to interpose himself into Jess and Matt's conversation before he looks back to Owen slyly. "I thought you were walking funny." Luke swings his other leg back into the apartment from the fire escape, leaving the window open for Owen as he smokes. "If you tell me he's literally tied up, I'll appreciate Emery in a new light."

It's a relatively large apartment for Harlem, but Luke can still cross it in a few strides and he's coming over to Danny and the little Rosemary tree. "I'm guessing we'll have to water this." Which might prove problematic, he's never tried to keep a houseplant alive with Jessica before. It's like getting an egg to prepare for parent hood. "Let's put it on the table." And decorate it. Because if they don't decorate it, Luke's glee might explode everywhere.

* * *

True to his word, Danny does produce three boxes of tiny lights, garlands and ornaments. It's all a bit too adorable. To the point where even he is making a bit of a face at the cuteness of it all. He hands them over to Luke. "I…guess? Ask Emery when he gets here. I bet he knows how to take care of rosemary." He looks up as Sir Ruffled Lawyer enters. "Hey, Matt."

* * *

"Full of surprises, isn't he?" Matt says to Jessica of one Luke Cage with a crook of a smile. She presents chips and salsa to him, but his hand reaches for the beer. No whiskey or Asgardian mead tonight, but a little something to take the edge off of increasingly edgy days wouldn't go amiss. "Don't mind if I do," he says when she tells him to make himself at home.

"Hey, Danny," the rumpled lawyer adds with an upnod to the shoeless billionaire. "Good to see you. Good to see everyone." And when Owen mentions Emery — uh, tied up? — Matt says, "Yeah, Foggy's going to be a little late too, and gave us permission to start without him." That last part is punctuated by a little 'look' in Jessica's direction that more-or-less says: Want to get this party started, hostess?

* * *

You know what Jess isn't touching with a pole of any size? Emery and his current state. Newp. Not touching it.

Matt is giving Jess a look. Jess starts. She gets a wait, what? Look on her face. The lawyer might feel her heart jump in surprise. She glances over at Luke and Danny, decorating the adorable rosemary, and Owen, looking like he just rolled out of bed but in a much better mood, apparently, now that he can leer about Emery.

She puts the chips and salsa down on the coffee table, then retrieves her kombucha, which will definitely not take any edges off. She's used to Matt launching these meetings, and sitting in a corner saying very little.

But. Never let it be said that she shies away from difficult issues.

"So, not to put a damper on the festive spirit," she says, "But…we all know why we're here. We might as well get into it and talk about this Registration bullshit."

* * *

Luke is holding up a tiny angel at Jess as if silently bidding her to look at the adorableness. Of course it looks even more dainty hanging from his thick finger and he makes it dance all the way to the top of the tree where he caps it. "Bullshit is right." Ooh! Itty Bitty candy canes. Who knew he could be so amused by feeling like King Kong.

* * *

Owen places his glass down on the ledge as Luke walks away, he waits to catch his eye to mime his hands together and mouth *hand cuffs* at the big man. Yes a more discrete friend wouldn't share details, but Emery texted Owen so he can deal with it. Owen finishes up the cigarette as things look like they are taking a turn for the serious. He closes the window and takes his place in the living room.

"Utter bullshit. Unfortunately, I ain't gotta choice in this. I'm registered, on account of my priors." Funny exactly how many rights and freedoms go out the window once you knock over some banks and kill some people, or at least are a party to an event in which people die. Okay, maybe not funny. Interesting? And the lack of a choice is thanks partly to his record, but mostly to one Amanda Waller. A normal ex-con might be able to fly under the radar, but not one that Waller is personally aware of.

"Which I haven't looked into it.. but if that puts you all in a shitty situation. I get it. I don't exactly understand all the uhm.. legal shit." Ramifications. The word Owen was looking for was ramifications, in that he's not sure how it works if a registered meta is associated with unregistered. And that's not even counting the fact that Waller could trace him, which he still hasn't disclosed, because it didn't seem to matter before. They were good guys. Are. They are good guys.

* * *

Let's be honest: regular ornaments would look tiny and delicate in Luke's hands. Danny watches his friend with a grin he can't quite hide even in the face of the serious topic. He does try to straighten his expression when Jess takes the floor. He rubs the side of his cheek and then worries his lower lip.

"Yeah, uh…keep this quiet guys, but the Merit Center was the target of anti-meta graffiti and broken glass doors. It happened overnight and one of the staff called me in before the cops found out. I was…actually going to ask if you'd look into it, Jess. If it's just some kids being stupid, I don't want them to get in trouble. But I'm worried there's worse people behind it."

* * *

"Yeah, it is bullshit," Matt thirds with a spread of his hands, the free one and the one holding an uncapped bottle of beer. He walks over to one of the seats in the living area and eases into it, adjusting his tie on the way down. He leans back into the cushion and adds with weary resignation: "But it's also the law, at least in New York State. And it's important everyone knows the rights, responsibilities, and risks involved."

Owen mentioned that he's already registered, and Matt nods a little. "Everyone's situation is going to be a little different. You're already registered, and some of us are so public — so out there — that they may have a hard time not registering when the deadline rolls around. For others, it's going to be a harder call."

He's about to say more before Danny's news of the Merit center draws his attention. "Looking into it's a good idea," he says, likely to Danny and Jess. "Has there been any press on it?"

* * *

"You got it, Danny," Jessica says somberly, on the matter of looking into the Merit Center. "I'll have to get some basic details from you later, and then when we're done here and done with that, I'll go take a look."

Matt asks an incredibly salient question, and Jess glances to Danny to hear his answer. Even as she laments, "Honestly I didn't even think about getting legal representation to go and do it. I pretty much fit that 'too public' condition, and given my arrest two years ago," the one that Matt, in fact, managed to talk around so brilliantly that Blake Tower dropped all the charges, "I figured they'd start harassing me early."

* * *

"I gotta get my name cleared before I go registering for anything." Luke says to the Rosemary tree, his joy abating even as he arranges teeny tiny red and green faux packages beneath it. "What does it mean if we do and what does it mean if we don't and get caught?"

* * *

Christ on a Cracker. Emery has had an evening, but when he quietly comes through that door smelling of fresh clean soap and some european aftershave, hair still abit damp from a shower, he doesn't bitch or moan. He just whistles sharply to get Owen's attention and tosses a set of black, red, and gold padded handcuffs in Owen's direction. Simple white t-shirt, pair of dark jeans, black chucks that get removed at the door leaving him in black socks. He's off duty, and his hair is still wet but its combed back and tucked into a black beanie.

He is not going to interrupt what is happening though as he sets a bouquet of fresh flowers on the kitchen counter, along with a container of brownies. Then the Irishman is unslinging his messenger bag and settling down on the floor, setting his brown paper bag down. From it, he pulls a packet of chocolate covered dried fruit. Ignore the hickeys, they will be gone in an hour or so.

* * *

"No, thankfully. We managed to get the graffiti cleaned up. I didn't report the broken glass. I'm bringing in Rand corporate security to give the place as much protection as possible without making it look like a prison." Danny's shoulders tense. He sighs. "I'm treading the line between the place being a refuge for people and worry about turning it into a target."

He has an excellent brow furrow, and that's on full display right now. "I don't know what I'm going to do about registration. I…" his jaw clenches. "…I'm going to tell Ward. Someone at Rand needs to know the truth in case it comes out. And…Ward is better at keeping secrets." He looks up and blinks a little at Emery's entrance. But frankly, after quasi-living with the Irishman for months now, this doesn't surprise him.

* * *

Matt takes a long sip from his beer while the others go around, respond to what he said, talk amongst themselves. It's followed by a sigh, right on the trail end of Luke. "If you register under any name other than Carl Lucas, that's perjury," Matt says, tone quiet and full of regret. Of all of them Luke is the one caught in the tightest of spots. The only way to comply with the law and not go to jail for doing so is to solve a years-old cold case down in Savannah, Georgia.

What happens if he doesn't comply, Luke asks. Matt nods a little. It's a more than fair question. "First thing's first — there's a timer attached to all of this. March 1 is the deadline to register, and I wouldn't tell anyone to register before then unless they absolutely have to." He draws a breath in through his nose that flares his nostrils, juts his jaw. "The penalty for failure to register after that date is — well, it's a felony, Luke. People could see fines. Jail time. And not a county jail, or a federal prison, or even supermax. I'm talking about the Raft and places like it."

Danny's talk about the center, his intentions to talk to Ward get a little nod from Matt. "Just know you're putting an awful lot of faith in whoever you tell these days," he murmurs. "If you don't register, whoever knows will have something over you."

* * *

Catching the cuffs that are thrown to him, Owen looks confused for a second before asking "Dude? What? I don't what yer dirty sexy handcuffs?! … I mean unless you cleaned 'em." Owen tries not to derail the meeting as he places them down on a side table next to him. And then he tries to focus on the meeting. He understands that this is a major life changing thing and that it might derail this whole Defenders idea, right as it 'starts'.

"So is the New York thing based on residency? How crazy is it to just setup residency somewhere else? Like a tax fraud thing … but I mean, like legit." Not that it helps those who want to remain under the radar. Suddenly switching states of residence is basically a big ol' HEY I'M A META! flag. But like all Owen ideas he hasn't thought that far ahead.

And then there is a woman's voice emanating from Owen's pocket. A shrill, Jersey-accented call of 'HEEEEEY SWWEETCHEEKS!', a voice so distinctive to be easily recognizable to Emery or Jess. And Owen stops, frozen for just a second before he yanks out his phone. His already stony face, lets slide only a little emotion in the form of widened eyes and slightly flared nostrils as he reads the text. And as much as he doesn't mean to interrupt the somber tone of tonight, rules are rules. And so, Owen steps up onto an end table, and then makes a less than graceful slump into an armchair, his feet balanced on the arm. At which point he tries to look thoughtful, at this very serious thing.

* * *

The TMI continues, rolling on like a freight train, and Jess steadfastly ignores it.

Jessica nods about the cold case, grimly. "Honestly, I'm thinking we'd better get down to Georgia just as soon as possible. And we pretty much can't wait for the perfect time. There's always going to be some flaming shit hitting the fan, and this deadline…"

She had told Luke. It often takes her months, even over a year, to solve a cold case. Much of the evidence she'd rely on for a fresh case is gone. People have moved out of the area. Witnesses have forgotten things. The odds aren't great.

She about hits the ceiling when she literally jumps at the sound of Harley Quinn's voice screeching out of Owen's phone. Fortunately she stops herself in time. Her own eyes are wide. She shoots him a look as he does his whole routine. Well, at least she didn't spill much kombucha. Like the bohemian she is, she just wipes what she did spill on her jeans and says, "That's a great question, Owen. Matt, could domiciling people on paper buy some time?"

* * *

There's a soft snort from Emery as he shrugs a shoulder to Owen and idly chews on a chocolate covered piece of papaya with a squint, listening to the conversation going on around him with a soft sigh. The screetching familiar tone however make him just glance over to Owen and quirk an eyebrow. Then he looks back to the group. "So…Miss Jessica and Master Luke will be headin' down to Georgia…" He trails off and looks between Matt, Danny, and Owen. "Do /you/ all 'ave something ye need to tell me in regards to your plans on how to deal with this epic shitshow?"

* * *

After the whole text from Harley and his little odd duck moves, Owen very pointedly was /not looking/ at Jess. And so when she references his question, he's confused. He's especially confused because of the phrase 'Thats a great question, Owen' is one that is rarely, if ever uttered. The fact that she refers to it as domiciling people just adds to his confusion, but he tries to play it off like he knows a) what his great question was and b) anything about the word domiciling.

At Emery's question, Owen just reiterates for the Irishman's benefit "Yea, already registered. No choice." He gives a half-shrug as if he's not pissed off about it. In actuality he's just gotten used to his terrible choices having worse consequences. He punctuates that thought with a sip from the glass of whiskey that he managed to not spill a drop of in his earlier performance.

When Danny mentions having a lot going on, Owen's eyes widen a bit. Crap, he knew there was something he was forgetting to do. He pulls out his phone, remembering to silence it this time lest Harley decide to go for a bonus round, and queues up a text to Danny.

* * *

Matt quirks a little half-smile, amused and exasperated, when Owen and Jessica jump in on that question of whether it's as simple as leaving state lines. Spoiler: it isn't. "It's complicated," Matt answers with a wave of his beer. It's the quintessential lawyer's answer, but it is also true in this case. "It's not just about residency, it's about domicile. That's a — an old legal term of art with centuries of caselaw and precedent behind it. But the sort answer is that if you move temporarily or on paper to escape the law, but don't intend to leave New York permanently and still retain significant connections here, then they can theoretically still prosecute you. They'd have to be real assholes to do it, but they could."

He rolls one shoulder before adding, "But if you do leave permanently, my guess is New York will say 'good riddance.' But look — if there's some mass exodus of metas, Jersey and Delaware and Connecticut and wherever else will just go and do the same thing."

The son of Hell's Kitchen, the perpetual New Yorker, looks tired and ten kinds of pissed off as he quietly adds: "Leaving's not an option."

Emery asks what he intends to do, and Matt straightens from his forward lean, sits back in his seat and aims his aspect squarely at the off-duty butler. "I'm not registering," he murmurs, jaw tightening, fingers drumming once on the neck of his beer bottle. "Who I am. What I can do. It's none of their business."

* * *

Franklin Nelson is late. So many balls in the air, he's not sure how this one dropped. He had actually been on the train home when his phone buzzed to remind him he needed to be at Luke's. Days are blurring, weekends totally forgotten, and after shoving his way through to the train doors, he reverses course to get himself back to Harlem.

He's looking a bit disheveled and flushed when he finally gets to the door, knocks, and enters with a tired, "Just Foggy." All it takes is Matt being Matt and a glance from everyone else to tell that this Lawyer has a serious cold that has settled into his upper respiratory system. His nose is red, his eyes are shadowed, and he just looks a bit like a bowl of Foggy Nelson that was put through the microwave defrost cycle.

"Sorry I'm late," he says, the vowels long and consonances blurred. "Got on the wrong train." He shuffles into the room with the gang. He checks the furniture carefully, then everyone else's demeanors, and he smiles a tired smile. "Luke or Jess haven't broken a chair yet, so we must just be getting started."

* * *

Luke is sitting at the table decorating a miniature rosemary Christmas tree with extra care not to snap any of the ornaments or branches with his big fingers as he works. "That can work for you," he replies to Matt, "because you have the suit. There aren't a lot of big bullet proof black men in Harlem that I'm aware of. Thanks to that and Vigiwatch, people like me and Jess would be tracked down like animals if we tried to slip the deadline." He glances over as the door opens again, giving a brief up-nod of greeting before he goes back to his tree, the only solace he has given the current topic of conversation.

* * *

Danny's phone makes a little kung fu 'hi-ya!' sound (probably Luke's idea.) He looks down and tries to text something subtly, but he hisses a noise, looks up at Owen, turns a little pink, hits another button and then tucks his phone away. "I know it's a risk to tell Ward, but I need to know how it could play out if I come forward. Or if I get found out." He shakes his head. "The other complication is, I can't just reveal myself. If I register, there's going to be questions. And that could lead to K'un L'un." A place he's sworn to protect.

* * *

A mental note is filed for everybody's potential plans, a look of concern going to Danny and he gives him a 'we'll talk about it later' chin-up of understanding. "Don't…tell him. Yet…" Is his only advice. Emery glances over to Owen for a moment and then finally back to Matt. "Aye, I'm sure there's no category in that registration form for 'Legally Blind Adorkable Lawyer in Suits by day and Still Legally Blind Godddamn Ninja in light bondage gear with an Arse that can stop traffic by night'. Ye 'ave a suit, a pretty mouth, and big brains. I'm sure you'll be fine." But then he pauses and smoothly jumps to his feet when he hears Foggy's voice and he opens his mouth and closes his mouth. "Oh you absolute and complete dipshite. Why didn't ye call me to say you were feelin' under the weather?" He's making a beeline for the kitchen. Calling out over his shoulder. "Keep talkin', I tink I have some tea in my bag. We've gotten to the bit where Master Danny isn't sure what to do, Miss Jessica and Master Luke are goin' to look for the devil in Georgia, Owen's already registered and Master Matt is being all resolute, determined and doing that ting with his jaw where if ye argue with him he's about to tell you to 'fuck off' in lawyer speak."

* * *

Jessica Jones nods with a grimace to Matt's answer. His exasperation produces a spread of her hands. 'It was worth a try,' says that spread. And if she and Owen have gone parallel on that point, well. She has said before and will again that he reminds her very much of her younger self. Not everything about that younger self has been outgrown.

Meanwhile, there's Foggy. She frowns at him, and that big sister, motherly side of herself that does exist in there peeks through in the concerned furrow of her brow. But Emery is up and taking care of it. She chokes in laughter at his summary, then gets herself under control. Danny's somber tone cuts the laughter short.

"Well, now that both halves of Nelson and Murdock are here…how does this registration representation thing you two have going all over the city work exactly? Is there anything you can do for people who have already just gone ahead and done it, like Owen and me? Or are you talking about representing people who don't want to register, and get caught?"

* * *

"Hey, Danny?" Matt says, the attorney's voice schooled to casual, oh so casual neutrality. "Let's talk about that soon. Some other stuff too." Then he turns his attention back to the group.

Emery tells Matt he'll be fine, in the midst of a whole lot of other things that make the lawyer's lips twitch at their corners. He shrugs his shoulders, his face showing resolve but nothing like certainty of outcome. This is an entirely new kind of high wire act for him, and he knows it.

And has it easier than others, as Luke points out. "Trust me, I know," he tells Cage quietly. "That's what I meant earlier about some of us being too far out there to evade registration. That's why —"

He 'looks' towards one sick-as-a-dog Foggy Nelson. "You want to tell them our plan, or should I?"

* * *

"Emery, no it's — " And then Foggy sighs and slumps down into a chair that isn't occupied. He seems to just melt there, taking several deep breaths that are all kinds of congested. He listens to Emery's summary, then he gestures off-handedly before he gets himself a tissue from the wad in his pocket. "Well, the Devil did go down to Georgia. It is known."

He blows his nose expressively into his tissue before he rubs at the back of his head, looking vaguely on the verge of a headache. "Glad we got to Matt's jaw bit, because that's about where I figured I'd walk in."

When Jess pegs him with the question, he looks toward Matt once and then back to Jess. "Registration is just the first step." He clears his throat a bit, sitting forward more. "And I think right now we're talking to anyone who needs to unpack this. "Ultimately… Matt and I need to find the right case… the one we can take up through the courts. We haven't found the right client yet for that…" Then he looks around at those in the room seriously. "And I don't think any of you should be that client," he clarifies this carefully.

* * *

Owen as if noticing for the first time that Danny and Luke are currently decorating a rosemary bush for Christmas looks at them and head tilts. Luke was smoking a regular cigarette when he came in and he hasn't gotten a whiff of anything of either of them, but they're totally stoned right? Owen is currently sitting in an arm chair, sidewise, with his legs flopping over one arm.

"Balls. I was really hopin' yer plan involved overthrowing the New York government in a bloody junta." Of note, why does Owen know the word junta? Ignoring that, Owen admits, "But yer plan is probably better in the long run." Probably.

* * *

When Foggy says this is just the beginning, Jess nods grimly. As for the rest? If Jessica Jones has any problem with not being the ideal client, it certainly doesn't show. For one thing, she'd have been the first thing to say the same. Instead, she idly watches Danny hang tiny candy canes on the rosemary tree, her brow furrowed thoughtfully.

"I might be able to help you find the perfect client," she says after a moment of thought, "if you can describe what that client might look like."

She meets, as she's been known to say before, a really ridiculous number of people. Somewhere on that list she figures there's a shining example of the client Nelson and Murdock are hoping to score to fight the Man. "I mean, you probably need to find the right one sooner rather than later?"

* * *

Hot water? Check. Kettle? Check. Because Emery's daughter stays over here and like hell he's going to let her stay somewhere with no kettle even if it does not get used. He moves smoothly from one 'station' to another, a couple of tea bags pulled from his own bag. Who carries tiny pots of honey around in their messenger bags? Best not to ask why. Oh look, there's some whiskey. So a cup of tea with honey and whiskey is made. A couple of brownies are set on a plate and a peppermint stick is offered to Foggy before he offers the plate and the cup of tea as well. "There ye go luv, just have a suck and a sip and take it easy."

Then he's looking up as the Wonder Lawyer Twins start discussing their master plan. And he hmms softly and then offers carefully. "I like this plan, where the plan is to find someone to make a plan with or around…"

* * *

Matt's lips quirk again, appreciative when Emery fusses over Foggy and gives him tea and whiskey, but he focuses the brunt of his attention on Jessica Jones and her offer. If you can describe what that client might look like.

"We're working on that," Matt says of the ideal client, with a shrug of one shoulder. "A lot of it depends on the kind of case we want to put forward. There are pluses and minuses to having a mutant versus someone who was altered, like us. To someone who was masked, versus one who is out there in plain sight." He takes another long sip of his beer. "One thing's for sure. They're going to have to be prepared for some serious limelight, on the order of Bucky Barnes."

He takes a breath, sets his beer down on the table. "But you can help us by investigating abuses. Documenting each and every one. We will need a massive factual record showing pervasive discrimination against metahumans by the government and private individuals if we want a shot at making them a protected class under the Constitution. Good P.I. work could be a huge help."

* * *

Luke somehow got his fingers tangled in a knot of tinsel that he leaves Danny at the table with to figure out how to make it look appealing on the tiny tree. He moves like a dark storm cloud into the kitchen to grab a beer, popping the cap off into the trash before he steps towards the living room and finds a slice of wall to prop up. "What happens /after/ people register? Are they then prohibited from using their powers? Are they going to round us up and start experimenting on us if you can't find a way to get us protected?"

* * *

"Dear God, those brownies look great." He sits up just enough to start to eat one, balancing the plate between his chin and navel. He just looks more tired in that moment despite the fact he's eating with some energy. Only then does he take a sip of the tea. "This is really why I came… I knew Emery was here. To hell with the rest of you… I'm human."

He does not mean it. At all. He just nurses his cold with food and tea, and then breathes out a slow exhale. "Look, this is how it starts… and honestly… it may feel like shit now, but I've been thinking about it, and this could really be an important pivot. We just have to approach it intelligently, which means…" And he nods to Jess. "Finding the right client." Then he nods to Matt. "And monitoring abuses, and bringing it to our attention." He glances toward Matt. "Tower says hello, and you get to call the asshole next time."

* * *

Jessica heads to her desk to pick out a legal pad and scratches a few notes down on it, smirking faintly at Foggy's joke. "On it," she says, and it's safe to say she already is thinking about where she can start. The relief in her voice can't be overstated. She needed to do something, and now she can.

Luke is asking his very concerned questions, though, and she pipes down to let him get a thorough answer. She scribbles down another quick note about Danny's center, a third about Georgia, plans shaping up and coming together to get everyone as protected as possible. She can worry about documenting, and they can go through the documentations to find the right person. Or the right person might come wandering in.

Either way, evidence is what she does. And she can pick up some of these stories over her morning coffee and her news feed.

* * *

"For fuck's sake. They put ye on a list so they can do whatever it is they want. Its metrics and body counts. It starts with 'oh to keep people safe' and it turns into 'oh to experiment on them' and then into 'ahh, here we have some good scapegoats already lined up'. It happens every century for as long as I 'ave been alive, there have been different names for it. Only now, now ye've got technology and media to make it even harder to avoid the round up." Emery offers softly, not even caring right now what hints he drops to his age, gently patting Foggy's shoulder before smirking gently. "The question is, what side of history do ye want to be on when they are tellin' your story."

Then he is turning to look at each person in turn. "The point is never the registration. The point, is exercising power, control, and setting up the chessboard and choosing where you put all the pieces, yours and theirs. Meddling arseholes like you two, help one or two lucky bastards from being moved to a place they don't want to be. So, pick a pawn, any pawn. Get them to the other side of the board, and they become who you want them to be…except the king. But at that point, ye choose wisely enough, and you'll take their's out anyways."

* * *

Tower says hello, and you get to call the asshole next time. To which Matt makes a brief, emphatic OK sign with the hand not holding his beer.

Luke's questions raise all kinds of ominous specters, and Emery gives them full shape and historical context. The lawyer's brow knits as if pained. The fears expressed are nothing he hasn't felt himself these past few weeks. The parallels to some of history's darkest moments too real and glaring to responsibly ignore. "In theory, they won't be able to do any of that without further statutes or regulations authorizing it," Matt begins, because he's a lawyer and it's his job to give them a full and sober picture, absent scare-mongering or hyperbole. But then: "But you'd have to be pretty na?ve not to see the other shoe dropping. The things Emery is talking about never happen all at once. They build."

He takes a swallow of his beer. "Which is why this lawsuit could be so important, really. If we get this law thrown out, it will be because the Court recognizes the constitutional rights of mutants and metas, and gives them protected status under the Constitution. That's more than just a shield. It's a weapon that could allow us to create affirmative, proactive legislation and legal precedent to safeguard metahuman rights."

* * *

"So that means I leave you guys to do what you do best and make damn sure none of that happens to my girl." Luke says to Foggy and Matt, motioning to them with his bottle of beer before he takes a swig. "But make sure you save some of your legal hours for making Luke Cage legit, and I'll help out as much as I can. For a bunch of powered people, we're all about to feel really powerless here real soon about what happens to our futures. No pressure or anything."

* * *

Foggy flashes Matt the same sign, though there might be a slight uplift of his middle finger in the last moment. Then he's back to the brownies, tea, and peppermint stick. He's really in a great mood tonight.

He then nods soberly with Matt's words. "Which is why we need to get on this now before more laws come through… or worse, other states start to follow suit." He sighs out a heavy breath. He looks between the Defenders, glancing over each face in turn. Then he shifts awkwardly. "But, guys… you need to know… the likelihood of everything going back to the way it was before this… we get past registration, but there's still going to be changes… you guys just have to know that, and expect it."

He tilts his head back now, leaning into the chair deeply. He looks abruptly relaxed… though he does blow his nose in the most attractive way possible.

* * *

Luke frets over her, and Jessica comes to offer a soft pat-pat to his shoulder. "I'll be fine," she says. "Right this second? I'm probably the safest of any of us. Even Foggy there, for a whole host of reasons. Hell, right this second everything I do that isn't blatantly criminal is folded into law enforcement. That's a benefit, and one I'm going to make good use of."

There are a whole host of reasons why she feels like her position is not at all anywhere near being the worst one, and she doesn't lay them out right this second, but it echoes a sentiment she gave to Emery.

Foggy says his piece, and she makes an acknowledging head tilt.

"I have absolute faith in you two, you know I do," Jessica says. "But since there's no such thing as certainty in court cases, maybe we should talk about what point that we, as a group, decide the government has…I dunno…broken the social contract with us and what we're going to do to defy it. Get out? Stick around and help others get out? Owen's junta joke might not be so far off. Maybe we don't discuss it today, but…"

She shrugs uncomfortably. "Maybe it's just something worth keeping in mind. Even if it brings us right back into more debates about who we are and how far we're willing to go to accomplish what things."

She exhales in irritation. "Someone ought to remind them one of the biggest disasters in modern history was caused by a perfectly genetically normal asshat with lots of money making a fucking phone call."

* * *

Emery then finally brings up his one and only concern in all of this. "I am legally employed by Rand, not by Danny Rand, as a part time employee. A sub contractor so to speak through a more pretigious Butlering agency. I've come real far in me life ducking and dodging tings that get too far into me personal life because its only been me. Last six years have been different. Remember, ye both get paid a weekly retainer fee of baked goods of Kennis's choice to fight against the bad fairies. Don't fuck this up." Then he's back in the kitchen making another cup of tea.

* * *

I have absolute faith in you two.

Don't fuck this up.

No pressure or anything.

Matt admits all that weight onto his shoulders with a ghost of a smile, beer bottle rim hovering just above upturned lips. He lifts it up to say, Here's to that, and takes a very long drink. "We're going to do everything we possibly, humanly can." A beat, and then a dry: "Maybe even superhumanly can."

His expression darkens. "But — it's going to be an uphill fight. We could lose, and if we do we'll be worse off than before. But since things keep getting worse on their own anyway…" He shrugs a little. "What do we really have to lose?" Aside, perhaps, from their livelihoods, reputation, and freedom.

Jessica's question has him swallowing his cheeks, careworn brow furrowed. In some ways it's just what the authorities fear: In an innocuous looking apartment in Manhattan, a group of metahumans are debating the overthrow of the government. "It's not just the government," says a man who is willing to blame the government for all sorts of overreaches. "This law was passed after an election, and the results of that election were in response to the demon attack, and the Brotherhood, and demonbear snowpocalypse, and the Chiutari. People are scared right now. Of what we represent — a world beyond their immediate understanding or control. End of the day? Forget courtrooms and coups. That's the terrain we're fighting on — hearts and minds."

* * *

Foggy's head is still lulled backwards, and he might look as if he's found some happy almost-sleep place, until he speaks, voice directed to the ceiling as he does. "Wait. Was I there for the demonbear snowpolcalypse?" He looks up vaguely toward Matt, and then his head falls back down.

"What we really need is Batman as our client," Foggy says, albeit a bit tiredly. Then he frowns. "Is he a metahuman?" He then lifts his head toward Matt. "You can ask him, right?"

* * *

"He's a meta douche," Jessica grumbles. "World's Greatest Detective my ass. If I drove around in a car that cost more than a small fucking country indicating I in fact can buy more fucking crime lab resource shit than the effing City of New York I could get called the World's Greatest Detective too. Anyway I'm about 100% sure he's not in fact a meta. The Bat Crew does what they do on intensive training and enough wealth to choke a pony."

* * *

"I don't know Batman, Fog," Matt says in perfect deadpan, now entirely sure between that and Jessica's patented anti-Batman grumblings that the dour part of the evening is done. And that's alright. This is a marathon, not a sprint, even if it sometimes seems like time seems to be bearing down on them relentlessly. The groundwork's been laid for future action: whether it's compliance, defiance, or more likely, some combination of the two.

He sets his empty beer bottle down and pushes himself to a slow rise and arcs his back in a stretch. "What I do know is that I want another beer. Anyone need anything?"

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