Jessica considered the bottle of Jack resting on her bedside table.
The past few months had been grueling; between Kilgrave’s death and the subsequent trial Jessica hadn’t gotten a fucking break. There was no longer the warm embrace of true drunkenness; her life was now a media circus. She knew the flash of a camera like an intimate friend, and Hogarth would’ve torn her a new one if she were caught with a visibly inebriated client.
So Jessica spent litigations sober and unhappy, drinking coffee like a fiend in the hopes of wiring herself to ignore the pull of the whiskey. Hogarth was the worst kind of person to spend time with sober, and while her recent hire (Jessica thought his name was Nelson?) was a breath of fresh air, he wasn’t unlike the sun piercing through her window on a particularly bad hangover morning – entirely too much.
This weekend, though, she had nowhere to be for once. The bottle was getting more and more tempting, but Jessica had no idea what kind of harm falling off the wagon would do her now, and she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to figure it out. She even kind of hoped Malcolm would come knocking.
Being alone fucking sucked, honestly.
On top of all of this the phone was practically ringing off the hook with folks seeking her help, and Jessica couldn’t bring herself to answer any of their calls. Her door was still busted; a black trash bag taped over the opening obscured the fact that this had ever been a detective agency. In fact, now her apartment blended in even more with the shitty tenement building that housed it. Jessica stared at it dejectedly. Jesus fucking Christ. Her life since Kilgrave had never been normal, but even in death he was finding new and interesting ways to fuck her over.
Her cell phone buzzed, startling her, and Jessica groaned as she dragged herself across her bed to answer it, not bothering to look too closely at the caller ID.
“Hello?” Her voice was a lot raspier than she remembered. She wondered if she was getting sick.
“Hey,” said a familiar voice. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
Trish. Christ, they hadn’t talked since Jessica’s arrest. It was her fault, honestly; Trish was constantly trying to call her during those first few weeks where it felt like all Jessica saw was the inside of an interrogation room. She didn’t know if the reason she didn’t try to call her back was because she didn’t have time, or if. Well. If what she’d done made Trish scared of her.
She could still feel the crack of Kilgrave’s neck under her arms. Kilgrave was a monster, yes, but Jessica had never killed anyone before that. Not of her own free will, anyway.
She blinked. How long had she gone without saying anything?
“Uh, yeah. I guess it has been a while.” She cringed. At least try to sound like a human being, Jones. You have no right to sound like this when you haven’t even been drinking.
“Your lawyer isn’t holding you hostage on a perfectly good Saturday, is she?”
Jessica snorted. “Hogarth had mercy on me, for once.”
“Cool, I’m coming in.”
The line went dead almost immediately, leaving her to contemplate the tragic state of her apartment. It wasn’t as if the place was never a shithole, but it definitely was now the spawn of a tasty combination of depression, anxiety, and laziness. A couple bottles from her nightstand were sprawled on the floor; she couldn’t remember the last time any of her clothes had made it into the hamper, let alone the laundry. There was a gargantuan stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and Jessica had resorted to eating her meals straight out of the pan she’d cooked them in.
Jessica’s quiet mourning was interrupted by sharp rapping on the undamaged part of her door; for a second she considered just being an asshole and telling Trish to go away. Instead she hauled herself off her bed and stumbled over the debris to her door.
“You’re playing yourself if you think I’m cooking for you,” Jessica called, swinging the door open. Before her stood Trish, her arms stretched up and out like a victorious prizefighter’s. From each fist dangled a plastic bag full of Chinese.
“Gotcha covered,” Trish said, and Jessica swore she never loved Trish more.
They ate in silence, at first. Jessica shoveled down dumplings like there was no tomorrow while Trish worked at a quickly diminishing bowl of wonton soup. Jessica didn’t have a TV, so they mostly just stared at the walls, both too awkward to make actual eye contact. She didn’t mind, though – she hadn’t been able to enjoy a full meal on her own time in a while. Too many dinners with Hogarth in high-end places that made her feel extraordinarily out of place. Hogarth had been footing those bills, sure, but Jessica knew she was an alluring case to a fancy defense lawyer always looking to expand her portfolio, and she resented it.
“You hear about that Punisher guy?” Trish said, after what felt like an eternity, through a mouth full of broccoli. “They say he mowed down the entire Irish mob in one night. Crazy, right?”
Of course Jessica knew about him. He was practically the reason Nelson was working for Hogarth now. She knew Nelson used to have his own partner – Murdock, was it? – who never showed up until the final hearing and botched the whole thing. It was even beginning to look like the jury felt bad for the Punisher, before the whole trial blew up in their faces.
God, was she going to become the next Frank Castle?
“If I’d known you’d come over just to talk about more legal shit, I’d have invited Hogarth over.”
Their eyes met, for the first time that night. Dropping her gaze apologetically, Trish speared a piece of broccoli out of the tray of chicken and broccoli.
“You know I didn’t mean it that way, Jess.”
Jessica couldn’t help but feel shitty. Trish didn’t know what else to talk about, so it was to be expected that she’d switch into Talk Show Mode. Neither of them wanted to discuss the giant, purple-suited elephant in the room, anyway. “Yeah, I know.”
Silence followed. Jessica looked outside. It was getting late, and the dull light filtering through the window was turning Trish’s hair into a pale halo. Jessica wanted to scream, throw something, anything to break the horrible din of the quiet. She knew she had something to say but the words just wouldn’t manifest, as if some part of her was still clinging to normalcy. Whatever semblance she had left of it, anyway.
“Ah, fuck,” is what she finally settled on, dumping her chopsticks into a plastic container. “Is this what we’ve come to?” She didn’t clarify what. Trish had been there; she knew exactly what they were both dancing around. The hearing and legal nonsense was nothing compared to what went down. Jessica had looked Trish dead in the eye as she snapped Kilgrave’s neck.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Are you scared of me?”
Trish stared at her. “Why would I be?”
Jessica tensed, her jaw tightening. “Because I killed someone, Trish, do you not remember that? You were right there, you saw the entire thing!” She was confused and angry. The room suddenly felt too small. She contemplated jumping out the window; she was willing to gamble on her powers giving her a safe landing, even if it was reckless.
“Jessica,” Trish said, and suddenly her eyes looked huge and serious. “You and I both know that fucker deserved to die.”
Jessica opened her mouth. Finding nothing to say, she closed it again.
“He destroyed your life,” Trish continued. “His bullshit came with a body count. Do you think I could truly feel bad that you took care of someone like that? Someone who hurt you like that?”
“'Took care of?'” Jessica snapped, slamming a fist on the table.
Crack. Jessica looked down. A long stress line had formed down the center of the table, threatening to splinter the piece of furniture in two. She shook her head and lowered the offending hand back into her lap.
“It’s a life, Trish, no matter how good or bad that life was, and I ended it, personally. They have places for people as dangerous as Kilgrave and we didn’t take him there. I snapped his neck because I thought it was the safest way to go, and now here I am. His blood is on my hands. It’s my responsibility. My…albatross.” Shit, that was a corny way of putting it. If she started waxing any more poetic, she might be in danger of putting on a stupid costume and beating people up at night.
Trish didn’t say anything for a while. She studied the crack in the table, then Jessica, before finally speaking. “If you’re looking for the truth: no, I don’t feel bad that Kilgrave died and no, I’m not scared of you for killing him. And I don’t blame you for making that call. So if that’s off the metaphorical table, I say we eat our food before the table actually breaks on us and move to your room. I’ve got an entire bag full of Criterion DVDs and a laptop with a disc drive, and I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Jessica couldn’t help but laugh at Trish’s million-dollar smile, but she still felt like shit, and she wondered if her best friend would understand, or if there would always be this gulf between them, this lack of full understanding. Jessica had killed someone; Trish had not. And that wasn’t likely to change soon.
“Okay,” Jessica agreed, and got up to wash the dishes.
“Okay,” Trish echoed.
They didn’t mention it again, that night.