A Place in Hell's Kitchen
Roleplaying Log: A Place in Hell's Kitchen
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Jessica Jones calls Matt Murdock for help when bad news sends her spiraling to the brink of an alcoholic binge.

Other Characters Referenced: All the Defenders, plus Trish Walker, Bucky Barnes, Jane Foster
IC Date: July 08, 2019
IC Location: Jessica's Apartment, Harlem, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 09 Jul 2019 04:49
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's around 10 PM when the series of texts come in through Matt's phone. Siri's helpful voice reads them out, and they sound completely incongruous with the subject matter.

"Need help. @ My place."

(Several seconds later)

"No bad guys. Not hurt."

And of course she reads the net speak which Jess rarely engages in. Which means Siri cheerfully announces that Jess needs help at "ampersand my place."

Whenever Matt gets there, the door's unlocked, as is the window, depending on his chosen method of egress. They might have already been unlocked, rather than something Jess did consciously. Given her phone just sort of on the floor next to her, it looks likely, like she just let it fall and didn't move. There is a distinct lack of the heat and electrical hum that would tell Matt the lights are on. She's sitting there in the dark. She's sitting on the floor, back to the couch, forehead resting on her knees, her hand curled around the neck of a half-opened bottle of whiskey in what in anyone else would be called a white knuckle death grip. The paper seal is gone, but the smell isn't strong enough to indicate a cap that's been twisted off. Her adrenaline's up, she is breathing harder than normal.

The breezes caused by the AC rustle a plastic bag by her feet, one that's full…of more full, unopened whiskey bottles, as if she'd gone on a sudden hard shopping spree.

Leather jacket, vanilla, a fading piney scent clinging faintly to her jacket and boots, indicating contact with plant life that is not native to New York. Or at least, that Matt has never smelled in the state. That comes from maybe a day or so ago, maybe several more.

Not actively crying, but she smells of saline.

And…she smells like someone who was already having trouble staying on the wagon before this. The faint traces of the half-drunk Dixie cup of beer she'd downed on the night of her disastrous confrontation with Psylocke. What couldn't have been more than a few quick, stolen sips taken several days ago. But nothing to indicate she's been on the kind of binge she seems to be gearing up for tonight…or which she's trying hard not to gear up for, because clearly, it's a whole lotta both.

Luke's scent is still here, clinging to furniture and the apartment in general. But fading. He hasn't been here for at least a day. Maybe more.

Matt is working his day-job when the texts come in, even though it's after dark. That's been the story of the last few months: his vigilante life has taken a backseet to the arduous, meticulous work of building a mammoth case against New York's registration law.

But when he hears the text in Siri's sing-song voice, he is confronted with a choice: does he go as Daredevil, or as Matt Murdock? Jessica's first, terse plea contains a vast range of possibilities within it, and her elaborations only limit that spectrum by a little.

In the end, he errs on the side of caution — and speed — even if it chances looking silly in a devil suit. He comes to Jessica and Luke's building as the persona she first met, three years and several lifetimes ago in the posh suburbs of Gotham City. The scarlet shadow slips through the open window and into the living room, where a recovering alcoholic sits surrounded by an array of unopened booze bottles.

Shit, he thinks. But what he says, and he rises from his crouch and takes off his horned mask, is: "Jess, what happened?"

She doesn't even hear him till he says something, not a great scenario for someone who makes as many enemies as she does. But then again, this apartment is not as public as her office was, is not in her name, and has been remarkably free of trouble at all.

The moment she does hear his voice, her hand eases, just a little, on the bottle she's clutching.

She raises her head to look up at him, her voice thick and unhappy, and says, "Luke left. He took off while I was chasing a case in friggin' Alaska. And I guess he picked up more about how missing people get found than I thought, because other than the Dear Jess letter, he didn't leave anything. Not one lead, not one trail."

She looks away from him then, the silhouette of her face dipping down towards the bottles, a hint of shame mingling with the misery in her tone as she adds:

"I didn't call you to whine…I just…can't stop. Myself. From doing this. On my own."

She shakes her head, like the sentiment sounds ridiculous to her now that she's saying it out loud. Except it doesn't ring any less true.

The news his Matt right in the solar plexus, as hard as Wilson Fisk's meat hammer of a hand once did. It'll take days for him to understand why, beyond the obvious concern for one friend on the precipice and the potential outright loss of another, it strikes such a chord with him. But it does, and he feels it reverberate.

Luke left.

He swallows, blind eyes ticking downward as thoughts race. "Oh, God, Jess…" he murmurs, running a hand through brown hair slick with summer sweat. "I'm so sorry."

The man in red walks slowly over to where she's sitting on the floor and drops to a crouch beside her. He has a million questions he wants to ask, but all of them can wait. "I'm glad you reached out," he whispers, reaching out with a gloved hand to rest it on her smaller one, the one that clutches the bottle with outsized strength.

"Thanks," Jess says, and the gratitude in her voice is as much for him getting it as it is for him coming at all.

She'd chosen Matt for a whole host of reasons. Because he's been successful in talking her off the brink in the past. And without judgement of any kind, even though he's seen her at some of her worst, including her worst binges, and she can't think of anyone in their circle who has. For the most part, she's always kept it at least down to a dull roar in front of the others. Well, except one friend who found her in her trashed apartment after one of her drunken fits, but she hasn't spoken to John in months and months.

Matt also exists in the small universe of people whose opinion she values, landing him dead center in the Venn diagram of people she would reach out to.

And in just getting it, just like that, he demonstrates exactly why he was the right one to call.

The upshot being that she keeps her death grip on the bottle for a moment, her tiny slim hand unmoving beneath his gloved one…and then she turns her hand beneath his to give him the bottle, dropping her head to her knees again for just a moment. She won't let go, of course, until he takes it, but it is nevertheless unequivocally turned over into his care.

She lets out a long sigh as she does, swallowing, and says, "Can you get rid of them all? Please? I can't. I just…I can't."

There are reasons Matt understands the way he does. Once, Jane Foster told him that his senses were miraculous: that they made him witness to "the entire human stain." She framed it as a blessing; Matt frequently sees it as a curse. He's heard the murmured words, "just one more drink," more times than he can count. He knows the stench of withdrawal, the scattershot heartbeat of an addict confronted with temptation.

And he knows, in his own way, the gleaming lure of taking on another mental state, another way of being, when the one you're in is just too hard-going. He indulges in it frequently, on rooftops and in alleyways, to the discordant song of fisticuffs.

So yeah, he gets it. Besides, his earliest encounters with her were all marked by profound compassion, the kind that only comes with finding a kindred, struggling spirit. And knowing the weakness of the flesh better than most, he does take that bottle from her, gently, and nods to the rest.

"Yeah, I'll take care of them," he assures her of the rest of the bottles, his voice quiet, and sightless dark eyes soulful. A beat, and then: "You shouldn't stay here, and you shouldn't stay alone," he starts. "Grammercy, with Emery. Or you can crash at my place. It's not far from the office."

Yes, after nearly a year hobo-ing it, Matt has a place.

She sort of unfolds as he does, swallowing, looking up at him as he tells her she shouldn't be alone. She obviously recognizes the wisdom of that, because she says: "Trish is back in town again," she says. "I'll go over to her place when I'm a little more pulled together. Thanks for the offer, though, Matt."

She knows he doesn't offer his place lightly, that he's far more inclined to keep his home as his private sanctuary, carefully segregated from anyone but himself and maybe Kinsey. As best she can tell he has met virtually everyone else virtually anywhere else: his office, rooftops, her office, this apartment. So she's touched by it, even as she gently declines it.

A quirk of humorless humor in her voice as she adds: "Calling her for this wouldn't have worked. I'd just bowl right over her, you know? We have a long history of being shit at keeping the other from putting shit in our mouths that we shouldn't."

And then: "I'm sorry too. He's your friend too, and so this sucks for you too."

Hearing that Trish is 'shit' at keeping Jess from the bottle doesn't inspire much confidence in Matt, as much as much as he's fond of the radio host and secret meta. But Jess sent for him because she desperately wanted to escape the yawning maelstrom beneath her heels. That want may be enough, and so he assents with a slight nod.

"Good," is all he says.

At least, all he says on the matter of Trish. She opens the door he had deliberately eschewed. Jessica is one of his closest friends, and has been for years, but the solid presence of Luke Cage had become a fixture in his social firmament as well. The two have battled countless foes, including the less palpable enemies of depression, grief, and temptation.

And so when she does open that door, Matt can't help but ask: "What happened, Jess? Did he say — did he say why?"

Not that Luke Cage, escaped felon, conscripted spy, didn't have a million reasons for leaving. But to leave like this, with a note for Jess and not a word to another soul…

Jess nods and says, "Yeah. The long and short of it is he said he learned something about Stryker. The only way I can figure that happened is Stryker had to have reached out somehow. But not on his phone, cause I did the phone dump. Luke didn't find him on his own, that's not really Luke's area. Whatever got said or whatever he found out upset him enough to take off, and for good. All his clothes are gone, he left the bar to Owen and apparently got the whole damned building over into my name. He said he didn't want to get anyone involved, and especially not me, because I guess that sniper tagging me last year really did a number on him, and he didn't want to see it again on his behalf, which is just bullshit. And then he broke off our engagement. I'm really glad I didn't go around announcing it to the world."

Hell. This is the first time she's even mentioned it directly.

She clenches and unclenches her fists, sadness no doubt warring with her considerable temper. "I'm afraid the big idiot's going to get himself murdered, and we'll never even know. He over-relies on the bulletproof thing, even though there are plenty of work-arounds, and what he can do is not exactly an unknown quantity."

She hesitates, and says, "There's one avenue I didn't try: I didn't call anyone I know up at SHIELD to ask if they knew where he was. Since they probably don't. And since it would just draw attention to the fact that he's just borked the deal you set up, so even if he lives, and even if he does come back, we're right back at Square 1 with his dumb ass going back to jail."

The anger wins out in the end, sending heat creeping into her tone, turning some of her words into small, vehement explosions.

Some of Jessica's subdued but obvious frustration with Luke Cage finds its echo in Matt. He spent months trying to get Luke off the hook for that felony in Georgia, and eventually arrived at a novel legal strategy that was actually working. For Luke to just up and throw it all away — throw away the life that so many people were so invested in besides himself.

For him to break Jessica's brittle, tender heart, and drive her to this state. It galls.

And on the opposite side of it all… hasn't he been there? Cast away those who love and care about him for the sake of vendetta and vigilante justice? Gone off the deep end and severed all meaningful ties for fear of wanting others to get hurt in the middle of 'his' fight?

Others reached to him back then, including Luke. Shouldn't they at least try to do the same? But it sounds like their best tracker, Jessica herself, already has done exactly that and come up empty. There's time to take stock and rethink and drum up fresh leads…

…but it isn't today, with Jessica seated on the floor of her broken home, surrounded by bottles of fucking booze.

"Jesus," Matt mutters eloquently, his head briefly bowed. "Well, look. If we can find him and knock some sense into the thick-headed son of a bitch, we will. For now, we just need to — take care of each other."

A beat, a half-smile. "It's what we do, right?"

The PI chuffs a little, when Matt speaks of knocking sense into the thick-headed son of a bitch. It's one of those expulsions of air that auditions for a laugh and doesn't make the callback. But it is also a sign that the echoed frustration makes her feel a little better. "It's what we do," she agrees.

And then with her own, pained humor: "It's not a total loss. I mean. You know. In-unit washer and dryer, man, that's not nothing."

But her attempt at levity can't last very long. She flops her head back on the couch, is silent for a moment, and says, "You know, after the bombing…he wouldn't let me anywhere near Hell's Kitchen. Begged me, cajoled me, ordered me until I agreed to stay out of the worst of it. But I used to have— there was this quilt, right? It was my mother's one and only attempt at domestic shit. She was about as good at it as I am. Anyway, I called it the shitty quilt, both because it was pretty shitty in design and execution…and because whenever I was feeling super shitty I'd pull it out and, I dunno, Linus around with it, watching TV or sleeping or whatever. There was no reason to think any of it would have made it, but he dug through all that rubble until he found what was left of it. This singed square, which he very carefully got into a plastic baggie and brought back to me."

She rakes her fingers through her hair and rests her elbow on her knee. "And I felt…just…well. I mean that mattered. A lot."

She swallows around a lump in her throat and adds, "I think it would have been easier if he'd left because I'm a pain in the ass, you know? But if that was it, he'd have said it, and to my face. It wasn't some dumb ass attempt to let me down gently, he's really out there facing down something that scared him enough to do this."

She suddenly shakes her head hard, shoving all that down, raking her fingers through her head again. She said she wasn't going to whine.

Matt places the bottle of liquor on the side-table and rises enough to take a seat next to Jessica there on the couch. He holds his mask in between his spread knees. If you didn't know he was blind, you could swear he was looking down at it while Jessica talks.

His brow knits when she speaks of the quilt. The little tokens that matter so much in the aftermath of loss. A yellow and red boxing robe. A little oragami bird. A little silver crucifix of a necklace from someone you never even knew. Matt knows exactly what that quilt meant to Jessica, and how much it meant to her that Luke saved it.

"Yeah, he loves you," Matt agrees quietly. "He's not that fucking dumb." Not that love changes a single solitary goddamn thing here.

He lets out a breath. "We built the Defenders to fight the shit we couldn't face alone," he says after a long beat. "But facing things alone is what each of us knows how to do best. It's our knee-jerk reaction. You, me, Danny, Luke, Kinze. All of us."

A beat. "Which. You know. Makes me super impressed you reached out to me, for what its worth."

"I brought Emery along to Alaska, too, but he drove me absolutely apeshit," Jess says dryly. "He does not like doing things the subtle, patient way, and it's a shock to me that somehow I'm the one who does? He damn near got us arrested. You're doing much better."

Another joke, but she stares down at the bag on the floor when he says he's impressed, and says, "I'm just glad you weren't put out. It literally should have been physically possible for me to dump them out. Or never get them in the first place. It was just like this runaway train I was on that I could barely stop. Even though I know it won't help. Even though I know I don't want on that road again. I've been slipping, here and there. Only a little, but…a little really is enough. I needed you to come pull me to the right side of that fence I was sitting on, I guess. Knowing I'd called you made it easier not to open that bottle. You being here makes it way easier not to."

A pause, and she adds ruefully, "Would have been hypocritical of me not to get help. Last time Owen fell off the map and nearly overdosed himself I told him he should have called one of us for help, somewhere around calling him six kinds of dipshit."

What she says about Emery sends Matt's eyebrows aloft. "You'd think he'd be a little more patient, with his background." Shouldn't hundreds of years give you the long view? And he might even press forward, dig in with questions about 'the Alaska job,' but then…

Then she says what's next. He puffs out a gentle, wry breath. "Put out?" he says, incredulous. "Jesus Christ, Jess. You could never." She talks about the slip and slide, the teetering on the edge of the abyss, and Matt winces. His jaw works briefly before he adds: "I'm, ah, glad. That it made it easier. I know how, ah, hard it can be. Not from personal experience, not that way, but just from — being in the world. Like I am."

He angles his stubbled features in her direction. "You know I'm always here, whenever you need me. I've got your back. Kinsey does too. She'll want to see you, when she's back on the East Coast. And Danny. Even Owen, God bless him."

His incredulity raises her head, and elicits a quick, light, friendly shoulder bump. He stumbles through the indirect explanation of how his unique way of experiencing the world gives him an inside view on all kinds of struggles. Like her peering into windows to see all of humanity's ugliness, only multiplied by about 100. But he must see a good bit of humanity's goodness, too, given how much he cares.

"Shit," she mutters. "I'm going to have to tell Owen." In his own way, she suspects he might take it maybe even harder than she did. She at least got a note. But she doesn't dwell on that, adding:

"I wanna see Kinsey too," Jess says, only she stops for a moment. Pausing, she reaches up to rub at her head. "She's out of town? Did I know she wasn't on the East Coast? I don't— where'd she go? I'm sorry if you've told me this already. I— This isn't something I'd forget, she must not have. You must not have."

There's real uncertainty in her tone on that last.

The shoulder-bump wins a smirk that's somehow both world-weary and fond at once. It subdues when she mentions Owen. "Danny may take it hard too," he offers of the karate-chopping billionaire who had formed such a tight bond with Cage. "I can handle that one, maybe."

The conversation veers towards Kinsey, then, and something in Matt's expression closes. It's either because of the subject matter, or a sudden concern that Jess is fearful of losing details — a first if there ever was — or some combination of both. "She's been out this week, yeah," he says with a roll of his shoulder. "But I know she'd want to see you, yeah."

A beat. "It's good that Trish is back. How is she doing?" A loaded question. They're two of the few who know what Trish can now do.

Jess drops her hand, concern evaporating. If it was only this week she probably didn't know. But talking about Trish definitely gets her off the Kinsey train, if only because there is a positively explosive noise of exasperation.

"She's lucky she's not dead, is what she is. Do you know what she did? Back when she took all those goddamned pills out of Kelt's house, and told us she turned all of them over to get evaluated? Well, she kept some. And she just kept right on taking them. Apparently she's got some new suite of super powers to go with her old one. I was so pissed off at her— and so relieved she hadn't turned into a cancer monster— that I even forgot to ask what the Hell they were. I suspect what she got was a little too minor for her so she pushed the envelope. And now that she's got…I dunno, bigger, better…"

Here her hands raise to make quotey fingers, "Super powers…I suspect she's going to be all gung freaking ho to do the job. So that ages old offer you made me about her? When you're done working 45 hour days it might be great if you can work with her so she doesn't get her face shot off or get thrown in jail. Patsy definitely has to wear a goddamn mask. And maybe you'll be able to smell if she takes it into her head to drink…I don't know, radioactive amonia tinged with spider's piss to see if she can upgrade again."

Matt winces a little when Jessica redirects her ire from her erstwhile fiancee to her surrogate sister. None of what she says sounds good. He tries, as a lawyer, to put himself in the frame of mind of the people he is evaluating. To spend a minute in their shoes. His powers of empathy are already on record in this very conversation.

But this is too close to home. For him, IGH was equal or greater parts curse, not gift. It cost him his sight, and maybe indirectly his dad, and altered the trajectory of his whole life. He can't imagine taking more of it. Not for anything.

"Find a reason to get me over to her place sometime soon," Matt finally says in that somber, soft-spoken tone of his. "I'll be able to tell if she has more pills at her apartment, and where."

A longer beat. "And yeah… if she wants to train, Daredevil can train her." Because, if Jessica is right, Trish "Patsy" Walker could use the help.

"I already have a reason. She wants Nelson & Murdock to be her law firm. You've already got a history of making house calls, and she's got a history of not realizing how entitled she is," Jessica grumbles. "If you tell her you're in the neighborhood and on the way and willing to go over some things with her at her kitchen table, this won't strike her as unusual. This will strike her as the normal course of the world falling at her feet. For all that she hates it, she sure makes use of it enough."

Then again, Jess can't really talk on that count. She uses all sorts of things she feels uncomfortable using when she thinks it will help fulfill some aim, shamelessly drawing on any and every connection to get things done. The saving grace may at least be that this is almost always benevolent and in the service of someone else who needs help.

She realizes he just said he'd do what she asked, and she says, "Thanks, Matt," again.

She exhales and decides the 'enough about her' point has been reached. She stands to rummage around for a bag, figuring she might as well get packed. It's a fine outlet for some of the energy all this ire and upset is causing her. She yanks a load of clothes out of the drier. The smell of Luke says that one of his shirts was still in there, a fact that's confirmed when she balls it up and hurls it across the room. But even as she does, she asks, "How are you? How's the case going?"

"Yeah, Fog mentioned she wanted to hire us," Matt says with a faint nod. "It — could work." Is snooping around your client's apartment for drugs and ratting her out to her sister in compliance with American Bar Association ethical guidelines? Probably not. But then, taking and ingesting experimental and illegal drugs that give you superpowers isn't exactly elevated behavior either.

Matt's eyebrows shoot up when she asks him how he's doing. It seems such a strange question, given the context. Luke's sudden departure has him so off kilter that it's hard to even take stock.

But she asks about the case, and that he can answer. "It feels a little like — no, a lot like — I'm on top of the Chrysler building and about to take a flying leap."

Not that he knows that from first-hand experience. Perish the thought.

"Foggy was saying the other night that we weren't really ready for the Barnes case either," Matt says with a little shrug. "And that's true, as far as it goes. But so much is riding on this, for so many people. It's about more than a Manhattan school teacher."

As ungraceful as the conversational switch is, Jess' tension level reduces when he takes it. Even if it likely hasn't done much for his, she realizes in rueful retrospect. But Jessica Jones being bad at any conversation that doesn't relate to digging info out of someone isn't that new, so she just focuses on him for a minute, even as she shoves wadded clothing into her bag without bothering to fold anything.

"You can't think about that," she points out. "The more you think about it the less able you're going to be able to do right by those people. You know your shit, you both do, you won't leave any stone unturned, and you know Archer's moves. You know he's an arrogant prick who probably slept his way to the top or something."

Archer definitely did not sleep his way to the top.

Despite the harsh words, she's offering her own gruff version of empathy. "And sometimes it's not about winning the fight. Since we both know the best man and the best case don't always win in the courts…I think it matters that all these people have someone fighting for them at all. I don't see anyone else stepping up to the plate."

"I can't not think about that," Matt says with a wry twist of his lips. "The need — their need — is what drives me. Always has. On the streets, or in the courtroom." There's a twitch at his cheek, the subtle expression of some complex cocktail of emotions roiling underneath. "The fear too. My fear." Says the man purportedly without it.

He runs a gloved hand through his sweat-slicked hair again, making a further mess of it. "Anyway, it's coming soon. A few more weeks and then we'll be in it." Win or lose, for better or worse.

He looks over to her, gives her an upnod. "Working any good cases?" he asks. He understands the value of distraction, of small talk.

He speaks of what drives him, and she stops slinging her clothing long enough to look up at him. She gives a gentle nod of understanding, though she admits dryly: "I'm mostly driven by being pissed off, but…that does make sense. I just worry about you, you know?"

He probably knew those things. Both of them.

But he asks about good cases, and it does switch her gears once more.

"I don't know about good," Jess says. "A bunch of telepaths have gotten themselves kidnapped. Perps are former military, real pros, in an operation that's so far pinged here, in Kiev, and in the ass-end of Alaska."

A pause, and a growl of: "Two of the victims are just…college kids. That's how I caught the case at all. Her Mom and Dad show up at my doorstep just frantic because…well. Here's one for your case. Even though she registered just as legal as you please, checked in with her DPS agent, who is a pretty good guy as best as I can tell, the police refused to handle it. Because they are just shrugging and saying all sorts of metas are disappearing, she probably just ran away to get away from registration. Without telling her parents. Who she lived with. The cops are on the second vic, but probably only because they don't know yet he's a telepath. I may have forgotten to let that detail slip to the detective in charge of that one. Emery's in a froth over it because I guess Emma Frost is one of his clients, and she's been taken too."

The aforementioned anger that bleeds through when she talks about the kids is an entirely different quality of anger than the one that had her exploding over Luke's leavetaking and Trish's foolhardiness. Righteous anger on behalf of someone else's pain. Granted, the changes in her tone say she pretty much hates Frost, but will try to rescue her anyway.

She worries about him. With her heart broken, jilted, surrounded by materials procured for an aborted backslide into dependence. The breath he puffs out contains equal parts humor and wonder.

But then she's diving into her case. Missing metas. Missing telepaths. That does get his brow furrowed, his head bowed as he listens intently to the story unspool. "Police officers looking the other way when metas are the victims is as old as — metas," Matt says grimly.

Then she names one of the missing telepaths by name. Matt is probably dimly aware that there is a Frost Industries, but the woman herself? Doesn't ring any bells. It's telling enough that the part that surprises him is: "Wait, Emery has clients? I thought he was Danny's — guy." But that's a minor point in the scheme of things. "That sounds like a messy one. Let me know if I can help with any leads. It sounds like two of the team are already on the case anyway."

"He's like part time for them both or something. I don't know why, except maybe they just both don't need him as much as he'd like. I think creating a nice home and good food and happy people is his, I don't know, like his bliss, or something," Jess says. "I think, in addition to Kennis, it just…helps him balance out the shit that's been done to him and the shit that he does. And he doesn't like to sleep, so he's as big a workaholic as either of us. Given Danny spends hours either meditating, practicing, or smoking weed…and asking for lentils to purify himself…he probably needed another outlet. Even with him trying to stock every one of our fridge's, too."

Despite admitting Emery exasperated her on the last mission, she is fond of the butler. She zips up her bag and says, "I will. It's not just us; I've tripped over several others involved in the case. I think with the trial coming up in a few weeks I wouldn't pull you off of it unless it's dire. Or…well."

She chuffs a self-deprecating laugh as she waves a hand over the detritus of her near-binge, as if to indicate it as…one of the things she clearly will pull him off his work for.

As for her broken heart and her jilted self, there is definitely a moment. She's still wearing the titanium engagement ring Luke gave her. She turns it once or twice, staring down at it. And then, with the air of a woman ripping off a Band-Aid, she just pulls it off. But she's clearly not ready to let it all the way go. She zips it into the inner pocket of her jacket instead of throwing it into a closet or a drawer. But then, for good or ill, letting go isn't something she does too easily.

Months after the fact, it still takes some getting used to to imagine the happy-go-lucky, flirtatious butler as the most driven and tormented of the whole lot of them. But Jessica gets it, and explains it in detail, and Matt accepts it.

Jessica then acknowledges, if silently, the reasons that brought Matt here in the first place. The literal cry for help. Matt's lips press together, and his careworn brow knits when he hears her pull that engagement ring off her finger. It seems at first like a punctuation mark — full period, hard stop. That drop in her pocket turns it into something else. A semicolon, perhaps, or an ellipsis.

Matt tries to place a light hand on her shoulder, slow and cautious and sensitive as ever to her sensitivity to an uninvited touch. "You should call Trish over," he murmurs. "I'll clean this stuff up, and hop out the window when she gets here. Fair enough."

It's a sensitivity she appreciates, though if nothing else her skittishness is mostly evaporated around Matt and the other Defenders. Bucky and Jane, too. So she doesn't flinch when his hand falls on her shoulder. She just reaches up to place hers atop his and squeeze it lightly. Though he can't see it, her lips quirk into a rueful half smile when he has her call Trish over. He knows her far too well to let her just travel there herself, knowing there's a 50/50 chance she'll just end up trying to sleep on the subway all night rather than explain things to her sister right now…or end up back in a bar.

She glances at her phone on the floor, gives Matt's hand another squeeze, and scoops it up. "Morgan, call Trish," she says. Instead of dialing. Why? Because Morgan Freeman's voice saying that it is his honor and pleasure to call Trish Walker for her offers a modicum of cheer, and she'll take what she can get, that's why.

She doesn't explain a damn thing to Trish. Just pick her up. No, she's not hurt. No, she doesn't want to talk about it right now. Yes, she will want ice cream. She needs to stay for…some amount of time, she doesn't friggin' know, just pick her up, please.

Then she drops the phone into her inner pocket too, wincing when it clinks on the ring.

Then with that done, she heaves a sigh and looks over the apartment like she's not sure what to do about it or what it even is, other than to say, "Maybe I'll move back to Hell's Kitchen."

In-unit washer and dryer not withstanding.

When Matt found her just an hour ago, Jessica was poised on a knife's edge. He's confident enough that the balance has tipped towards the dull side. There will be an inevitable descent, the way there is any time something that's the source of so much hope and expectation turns suddenly sour.

But as he hears her call her sister, he's confident enough that what's happened here tonight won't cut her to the bone.

"No rash moves," suggests her friend — and her lawyer — when she takes stock of this home she built with Luke Cage, and ponders what to do with it now. Yet before he stands to start gathering perfectly good, unopened bottles of whiskey, he adds a quiet, wry: "But Jessica Jones will always have a place in Hell's Kitchen. I know that much."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License