Be Careful What You Wish For
Roleplaying Log: Be Careful What You Wish For
IC Details

Jessica Jones gets the clear-cut case she's been wishing for, but it forces her to confront a deep-seated prejudice of her own.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: May 04, 2019
IC Location: Alias Investigations
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 04 May 2019 21:25
Rating & Warnings: PG
NPC & GM Credits: Mr. & Mrs. Ortiz (emitted by Emma Frost)
Associated Plots

It’s the middle of the afternoon on a Monday. Ah, dreaded Monday, you’re half done! The sun shines. A soft breeze is blowing. Pigeons coo along the fire escapes. A cat sings her displeasure for being kept inside. Loudly.

But then, on the front door of one Alias Investigations, there is a timid rapping. And then a murmuring of voices on the other side. A deep baritone is the more easily heard; the other is so soft that it can barely be heard. It sounds like an argument, if a gentle one.

And then, another rapping—louder and more certain, with all of the sounds of more mass behind it.

Jessica Jones only made it into the office an hour ago. And she's mostly stared at the wall while sipping on a Red Bull.

The timid knock snaps her out of her reverie. The truth is, she hasn't been getting a lot of work of late. Her contracts, her retainers; these are the things saving her business and her ass. Too many people know what she is. They knew before, and they didn't always care, but many care now.

She frowns, wondering if it's certified mail, a bill she needs to pay, a subpoena for another lawsuit. But when she hears gentle argument, she tilts her head and puts a more professional look on her face. She opens the door and says, "Welcome to Alias, please, come in."

She can exercise some modicum of basic courtesy, when she concentrates.

On the other side of the door is an older couple, in their late forties or early fifties.

The woman is on the smaller side with salt and pepper hair that’s been pulled up into a very matronly bun, but her face is flushed. The man, on the other hand, is tall with a head full of thinning dark hair and the soft frame that speaks of comfortable living.

Wedding rings, so married. Probably to each other, if the proximity in the doorway or the protective way he lets her pass through it first is any indication. He’s uptight, to say the least, and he takes in everything with a shrewd eye.

“Thank you,” says the uncomfortable woman, looking to the floor as she moves inside and only glancing up long enough to get an indication of where she’s supposed to get next.

The man holds out his hand towards Jones as soon as he’s near enough, very ready to break the ice. “Edward Ortiz. And this is my wife, Susana.”

See? Married. To each other.

Jessica shakes Ortiz's hand. The hand which could crush a thick bar of rebar and tie it into a pretzel shake is gentle, giving no sign of that ability at all. "Pleasure to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Ortiz. I'm Jess Jones."

With two other detectives named as working out of this office she figures it's not too crazy to introduce herself.

"Please, sit." Uncharacteristically gentle. But then, old people might well be on Jessica's list, right there with children and animals, of people she likes without a lot of reservation.

Padding over to the detective side of her desk after gently closing the door, she takes out a legal pad and a pencil. She scrawls down the date and looks up at them attentively. "Tell me how I can help."

In ratty jeans and a grey tank top and combat boots, there's little about her dress that screams professionalism. But her expression, her voice, her dark eyes all do. The way she sits forward, and waits for them to spin their story. "Just start at the beginning," she adds, a phrase she's said a hundred times, still delivered in that gentle way.

“Our daughter didn’t come home,” Susana starts, once she sits down in the chair. She tugs the lacy cardigan of her lilac twinset a little tighter over her shoulders.

Edward fusses a little more than is warranted to get her there, but then sits down in his own chair. He sits on the edge, tries to settle back, but then reverts back to his forward lean. “She was supposed to be home late, from a party.”

Susana interrupts right back, in a murmur. “Which is fine. She’s a grown woman.

Then back to Edward, frown on full display as he speaks to Jessica… but also to his wife beside him with a firm insistence. “Except that she always comes home.” He turns his gaze back to Jessica, and continues. “We’ve reported to the police but they seem…”

He trails off.

"I specialize in missing people," Jess says gently. "And if she's an adult who is just off being an inconsiderate adult, I can find out and let you know she's safe. I have stepped in quite a few times where the police aren't feeling it."

Mom wants to believe everything's fine. Because admitting something could be wrong makes a horror she's not prepared to face. Dad determined to plow ahead. Notes Jessica makes. "How old is she? What's her name?"

Basic details first, with no prescriptions or qualifications other than to reassure them she can resolve things, to reassure Mom there's still a chance that yes, her child is just preoccupied or something. Which is possible. Not something that happens often, in Jessica's experience.

But possible.

"And when's the last time you heard from her?"

Susana’s eyes crinkle just a little more at the corners as she looks to her husband in his chair, and in a heartbeat she looks ten years older. She deflates just a little more in her own seat, her fingers occupying themselves with trying to find the perfect way for her purse straps to lie as the large, worn bag sits on her lap. “Liliana. She’s twenty-two. Just had a birthday two weeks ago.”

There’s a muscle that jumps along Ortiz’s jaw as he clenches it. It takes him a moment, with a deep breath, to unclench it and continue where his wife leaves off. “This was supposed to be some belated thing with her friends. A week ago.”

He sniffs, and runs the back of his hand along the side of his nose. “We didn’t want to go to the police, but we didn’t know where else to start. Her friends say she left to go home and no one has seen her since.”

The woman lifts her eyes to, again, interrupt. “Her friend. We only had the number for the one.” Then she looks back to Jessica. “She says she spoke to the others, but we only talked to the one. Her best friend, Gigi.”

The pace of the interruptions is swift, with all of the easy turns of a couple that knows each other and has done this for a trip or two around the sun.

And through it all, Jessica takes notes. "Gigi's last name and phone number? Is Liliana in college, or does she work? What's her address and phone number? Do you know where the belated party was supposed to take place?"

But she raises her head and tilts it at them, her brows furrowing.

"You didn't want to go to the police. Not that I'm complaining," the police are morons, "but why? Most people who walk through my door go to the police and then get turned down before they come to me. It's not often someone doesn't want to right out of the gate."

And now she's not looking at her notepad at all.

There’s a long look that is shared between the two. Then Liliana’s mother just closes her eyes and hangs her head, leaving her husband to answer without interruption.

“Because we’ve seen enough to know that a mutant is…” He stops as his voice cracks, then rubs his nose again. “She registered. Like she was supposed to. I have always told her, the law is the law. But I did not think that following the law would ever…” His hand tightens into a fist, only to find Susana’s on top of it without her even needing to look.

“The officer said that there are many missing people right now, that are not missing. That they are running from registration. But she was already registered! So why would she not come home?”

Empathy crosses over Jessica's face and eyes. And something grim and angry too, but she pushes it down. She's not angry with them.

"There are a lot of missing metas right now who are also missing," she says darkly. Plenty of fringe elements out there being dicks. "It's okay. I'll do everything in my power." Making a decision, taking in their clothes. Whether they look wealthy or not. Most people who make this determination are sharks, but Jess is trying to make the determination for entirely different reasons.

If they aren't wealthy, she can just do it for free. If they are they'll be insulted by the offer.

Either way, she asks, "Do you know the name of her DPS officer? And what was her power, if I might ask? Do you have a picture?"

Wealthy? Probably not. But a solid middle class, likely. Their clothes are clean and neat, but long past the clothing store starch. No visible brand marks, save the Rockport logo on the man’s loafers.

Mrs. Ortiz opens up her purse, reaching inside to unclip her wallet and pull out a worn senior photo and hold it out for Jessica to take. Even dolled up for her last high school picture, Liliana isn’t particularly memorable. Darkly tanned skin, like her father. Her mother’s full cheeks. “Ana likes digital photographs. I always ask her to print them for me. How many times have I asked? I ask, and I ask, and…”

“Not now,” Edward softly chides, then getting back to the matter of Jessica’s questions. “We don’t know anything about the DPS, except that she’d gone.”

“She had a lot of headaches as a little girl,” Susana cuts in to say. “Still gets them. We go through more ibuprofen than the corner mart. But then she… she started hearing people’s thoughts. Not all the time, but sometimes. Feel their feelings, more. But… But mostly… Mostly just the headaches. She… She is just starting to get past them, and has been talking about going back to school…”

Middle class is close enough. Jess isn't cheap.

She takes the photo and takes a picture of it with her phone so they don't have to lose the picture, too. She passes it back to her.

She looks down at her pad to record a detail, and is glad she did. Her heart stops. Something tightens in her throat. Telepath. Her heart thrums and beats, the shadow of a faint British presence crawling over her left shoulder for the first time in months and months.

And an argument inside her head.

Stop that. You don't even know that he was a telepath. You don't know how he did his bullshit.

From the lizard brain:

It's close enough, isn't it?

Headaches. Birch Street.

A nice kid with worried parents. Or she seems nice. Higgins Drive.

Cobalt Lane. She hasn't had to do that exercise in a long time either, but by the time it's done, she's calm. You asked for a case, Jones. You railed at the sky for something with a clear beginning, middle, and end. You asked for someone to help, directly. Someone Up There has a sense of humor, and you've just proved it, but you did ask.

"I'll take the case. And if it is okay with you, I'd like to offer it up as one of my allotted pro bono cases. Missing kids need to be reunited with their parents."

A kid. A young woman. A young woman who needs help. Maybe. Maybe she's just off being an asshole. But someone should look for her, and that someone is going to be her. Jess Jones. "We'll need to get a few more basic details nailed down, but I'd like to offer it to you."

The picture is taken back in Mrs. Ortiz’s hand, the fingers short and soft. She tucks the picture neatly back into the place from whence it came, safe and secure within her purse, after a brief rub of her thumb along the barely-tamed falls of thick black hair captured on the paper. It, unlike her daughter, is safe within her hands.

The offer, of all things, is what sends the older woman’s face racing into those same hands.

Edward looks to her, and then back to Jessica with another twitch of that muscle on his jaw. “We’d appreciate it.” There’s a twinge against the man’s pride, to be certain, but it’s not insurmountable when he takes into account the budget already stretched tight.

“Anything you need, we’ll get it for you. We just want Ana home.”

"I'll do everything in my power to get her home." If she's alive. "But I need you to understand…"

Jessica leans forward, trying to catch their eyes. "Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes I find them in a matter of days. Those are my favorite, and those are the best. But sometimes…it takes longer. No investigator, no honest investigator, can promise anything other than hard work and expertise. Nothing's certain. I can't sit here and promise you everything will be okay. It may be. It may not be. What I can promise is I'm on it, I've got a very good case close record, and I have an incredible network to reach out to. When I'm not smart enough to take the next step, they usually are. I will give you guys everything I've got, and that's the promise I'll make and can make."

She leans back and makes a judgement call. A few of the questions she's asked already have swirled away on the currents of their emotional distress, gone unanswered as they try to reign in their reeling minds.

But some of them are on her standard intake form anyway, and the rest she can take another swing at. The physical act of filling out the form is a grounding one, so she takes it out, slides it across the table on a clipboard, with a pen.

"Get that filled out for me, we'll get through a few more questions, and I'll get started today. You've already given me a couple of leads, so that's the good news. I have starting points."

She moves to the mini fridge, brings over a pair of bottled waters, setting them down. Something else to ground them, to calm emotions.

It’s the father who ends up taking the clipboard in hand and leans back into his chair for the first time since he occupied it. “We don’t need promises more than that.” His leg crosses and he starts writing dutifully. If he sees anything of that pause as he mentions his daughter’s peculiar talents, Edward makes no visible sign of it.

There are a couple of sniffs as he works—his handwriting sloppy but just on the legible end of it. He pauses just long enough to open up both bottles of water with a soft word of gratitude, and to take a long sip from the one in front of him.

Susana doesn’t lift her head, murmuring a thing here or there when needed through her hands.

He nearly says something more, but then he changes his mind to just finish writing in silence. Once he’s done, the clipboard turns towards Jessica’s side of the desk and then pushes it forward.

Jessica reads over it, and nods her head. "Good. Okay."

She takes out business cards and slides them over. "Call me if you think of anything more. I might email you some additional questions. For now? I'm going over to your daughter's place, and to talk to Gigi." One of the questions on the form covered the last person to see the missing person, and their contact information.

At least, whatever pause she had was gone now. Jessica is sure and clipped, ready to get on with the job. Though she could wish she were a little better at the comforting aspect. Still, they have each other for that sort of thing, and maybe a therapist. They have her to go take care of the thing they actually need done.

There’s a ghost of a smirk that crosses Edward’s lips, even as he moves to recap Susana’s bottle and tuck it in her purse for her. “Wanna catch the bus with us? Ana still lives with us, over in Queens.”

He ducks his head down, trying to crane it to the right angle so that he can look up into his wife’s face as he tuts softly and moves to take her hand. “We’ve done everything here,” he tells her, not sure if she’s noticed. “Let’s go home.”

His attention comes back to Jessica, and he shrugs. “We can feed you at least.” He tilts his head beside him. “Susana stress cooks. We are up to our chins in food. We’ll be drowning soon.”

"I'll take you up on that," Jess says, with the half smile and tilt of her head that denotes warmth, rather than sardonic disgust. She has two, and this is the kinder one. "I rarely turn down food either, especially not food as good as I suspect Mrs. Ortiz's is."

She locks up after them all and falls into step with them in friendly fashion. Again, as unprofessional as her dress is, the way she walks isn't. It's a clipped, confident stride, one that says she's got everything under control. As much as anything can be controlled, anyway.

"I stress punch," she jokes. "Seems you've got the more useful coping mechanism, Mrs. Ortiz."

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