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as old as your omens

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Those early days - each one like surfacing in a pool of quicksand and having to drag herself out of it. The sunlight always felt like knives to her eyes, the air too cold and too warm at once. It made her shift irritably, wanting to pull her skin off. And every time she woke up she would always ask the same thing: Where's Jessica?

Where is she?

"Patricia," says the therapist. Trish feels a spike of fury, and keeps her head down to conceal it. "Patricia, are you listening? Patricia?"

"Yes, I'm listening," Trish says, clipping each word out.

"You haven't heard from Jessica in months. And yet for days - days - you've been asking about her."

"She's my sister," Trish says. "I care about her."

The therapist raises an eyebrow.

"Adopted sister," Trish says, furious again. Leave me alone, she thinks violently.

"Ah," says the therapist.

"Fuck this," Trish mutters, and the therapist leans forward, raising an eyebrow again. "Fuck this," she repeats, louder so as to be audible. "I'm in a hospital, detoxing, and this is what you want to talk about? Me being worried about my missing s-sister?"

"You seem to have trouble with that word."

The therapist wants her to respond; Trish refuses. After a moment of staring at her lap, she hears a sigh.

The therapist says, "Maybe she doesn't want to be found. Maybe that's why she's gone."

Trish's lips feel numb. She turns away from him and stares out the window. "Are we done yet?" she asks. "Are we done?"

-

Trish is supposed to rest. Trish is no longer interested in following directions; whenever she has a free moment, she's up out of her bed, doing sit-ups and jumping jacks and jogging in place.

Exercise is brutal. Her body has forgotten how to do these things; she can't find a rhythm anymore. She doesn't have a trainer or a gym; the best she can do is a makeshift punching bag out of sheets and pillows. She spends long hours with it, hits it over and over again, but her arms are weak and thin, ineffectual. She keeps hitting it.

After only a few minutes, her shoulders ache and her arms burn, though her fists only sink unsatisfyingly into the soft surface.

"Come on, come on, fuck you!" she snarls.

She hits harder, faster, harder. Even trying her hardest, her hands are stupid and slow, hitting the pillows with quiet, anticlimactic thumps.

"Come on!" Trish yells, and hits it again, and without making a conscious choice, slumps to the ground and begins to sob.

Where are you, Jessica?


 

Jessica walks and each step is a miracle. She can walk, or not, of her own accord now. She can run. She can skip.

She's laughing now, and people are staring; she finds the presence of mind to hide her bloody hands in her coat pockets.

It's snowing. It hasn't snowed in a week or so, and all that remains from the last snowfall is brown slush and crusted, icy snowdrifts. They are slowly being covered, piece by piece, by a shimmering white, and the air is cold and clean and quiet. Jessica sits on a snowy bench and laughs and shivers with the cold.

Eventually someone calls the cops on her, which she learns when a squad car pulls up.

"Are you alright, ma'am?" asks the cop.

"I'm fine," she says, in the low, smooth tone that Kilgrave loved. Then she realizes and yells "I'm great!" in the tone he called shrill and piercing.

Act like the woman I know you are, Jessica.

Jessica shakes the memory forcibly.

"Probably you should get moving," says the cop, unsure. He looks very young.

"Yeah, yeah," she says. "You're doing great, man," she says with sincerity; she's giddy with possibility and she wants him to feel as good as she does. She's grinning like an idiot, and he backs away from her. She looks insane, she realizes. Jessica raises her hands, alright, alright, and moves on.

She meanders, eventually finding a payphone. She sifts through the garbage in the booth, looking futilely for coins. Idly, she picks up a crumpled newspaper from a few days ago, and the headline reads: Former Child Star "It's Patsy!" Still In Hospital For Undisclosed Reasons. The breath goes out of her like she's been hit; she drops the paper and she runs.


 

"I don't need to be here," Trish says. "What the hell am I still doing here?"

"Your mother was worried that you might be a danger to yourself," says the therapist.

"Are you kidding me?" Trish says, after a moment of wordless anger. "You're taking my mother's word - I've told you what she - are you kidding me?"

"We take these things seriously."

"There's nothing to take seriously! It's my mother, trying to control me, again. And you're letting her."

The therapist just looks at her.

"You're all fucking useless," she says.

"We're trying to help," the therapist says. "Trying to help you with this - obsession with Jessica - with your addiction - "

"Obsession?" Trish laughs disbelievingly. "I didn't know worrying about a missing person was grounds for institutionalization."

"That's a bit dramatic," says the therapist. "You'll be free in twenty-four hours."

"You - " Trish begins, and then silences herself; he isn't going to listen to her.

"Yes?" says the therapist.

Trish says nothing, and the therapist sighs. "Eventually you're going to have to accept that she isn't coming back," he says.

The therapist leaves after a little while, after it becomes clear that Trish isn't going to be saying anything else.

Once he's gone, Trish stands. She starts with jumping jacks, slow and easy, then drops down to do push-ups until her arms ache and wobble. Her head is spinning a little, but she pushes herself further and further, doing sit-ups and shadowboxing until her blood is thrumming hot in her veins and her whole body aches with tiredness. Only then does she lie down and allow herself to sleep.

_

Jessica runs, and tries to shut out the voices.

Run, Jessica.

"Shut up," she growls.

Jump, Jessica.

"Shut up!"

Now, Jessica. Jessica. Jessica.

"Jesus fuck," Jessica says, and runs faster.

She gets to the hospital, panting and sweating. "Trish, Patrica Walker, where can I find her?"

"I'm sorry," says the nurse, "visiting hours are closed."

"Come on," says Jessica. The nurse raises a defensive hand, shaking her head. "Who - just let me in, dammit. My name's Jessica, just put me on the damn list and let me in."

A tweed-clad person getting water from a cooler starts at that. "Jessica Jones?" he asks.

"What," Jessica says in a flash of terror, backing away. "Why? Who are you?"

"Let her in," says the man. "I - well." And he doesn't say anything else, shaking his head to himself.

The nurse looks skeptical, but rolls her eyes and says, "Room 314." Jessica doesn't wait to thank them, just heads for the stairs.


 

Trish is half asleep in the cool and quiet of her hospital room, fading in and out of consciousness. She doesn't really know what time it is - it's like her memories of when she was sick as a child; warmly nestled in the smooth soft sheets, distant activity going on that she didn't need to concern herself with.

She wakes late (or what feeks like late) and then falls into a fitful doze filled with dreams. She dreams Jessica is there holding her hand. She's wearing a fur coat that looks more expensive than anything Trish has ever seen her wear, and her hair is shiny and styled. But the hand holding hers is raw and bloody and bruised and she's crying. Trish, feeling safe and suddenly very sleepy, drifts off.

When she wakes up, Jessica is still there.

"Jessica?" Trish says, her voice rasping.

"Hey," Jessica says. Her thumb traces circles on the back of Trish's hands. She looks at Trish and smiles, and says, "Wanna get out of here?"