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aka: that's how I show affection

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The chapters, from least to most recent! 

  1. aka: sleeping beauty
  2. aka: crooked
  3. aka: don't you dare
  4. aka: care and feeding
  5. aka: maybe
  6. aka: persona
  7. aka: self-actualisation
  8. aka: philia
  9. aka: takes two to tango
  10. aka: care and feeding, round two
  11. aka: double oh seven
  12. aka: raspberry absolute
  13. aka: truth
  14. aka: there is a time
  15. aka: cookies and cream
  16. aka: the reports of my death
  17. aka: blood guilt
  18. aka: the morning after
  19. aka: special
  20. aka: hell is empty
  21. aka: confidence
  22. aka: it'll last longer
  23. aka: met the comptroller
  24. aka: it takes a village
  25. aka: a modest proposal
  26. aka: fire and rescue
  27. aka: vulnerable
  28. aka: my funny valentine

That's it so far, folks!

I can't believe it all started from one tiny little one shot. Thank you for all of the comments and kudos, and I'm so glad that you've enjoyed the ride so far. 

As of the 5th of November, this story is a wrap. Not because I think the story ends here, but because I frankly need to take a break from fanfiction. There’s a lot of stuff going on in my personal life that I’ve been running away from, and I love the Defenders, but I imagine Luke and Claire would disapprove. And if they do, it’s probably a sign to stop whatever it is I’m doing. (Matt and Jessica would approve, but Matt would feel guilty about condoning it, and then Jessica would tease him. Guys, one of you write this! Make Peter Parker talk to the Defenders about escapism and the legitimacy thereof!)


Anyway, back to the point. Point is, I need to take a break from all this, and focus on my personal life for a while. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed “that’s how I show affection”, I’m grateful beyond measure for all of your comments and kudos, and I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed reading the relationship between these wonderful, sarcastic, traumatised dorks we all love.

Thanks for everything.

Love,
Clueless

 

PS: as of the 7th of November, all I can say is: I have a very, very restless brain. And the personal life is going better. Slowly.

P.P.S: As of the 15th of November: Yeah, it's a wrap. Enjoy, you guys. I love you all.

P.P.P.S: My brain does not know what the words "it's a wrap" means. 

Chapter Text

The thing is, Jessica isn’t blind.

(…fuck, now Matt has her doing the blind jokes as well. Jackass.)

But she’s not, is the thing. She’s a PI, she reads people, and that isn’t limited to everyone but her.

So when she meets the man, she is perfectly aware of the little part of her mind that sits up and takes note, because you don’t see guys with that jawline or that shoulder-to-waist ratio everyday. And the smirk is kinda working for her, too.

But it’s only a part of her, because shit, ninja assassins in her office?! What the hell, universe? She’d said "no" to the Call to Adventure, or whatever the hell it was Malcolm calls it. No, with an impressive string of profanity to follow it.

And her noticing his attractiveness continues to be really fucking stupid because every sign of evidence points to him still being at least a little in love with his ex, the fact that she’s brainwashed trying to kill him notwithstanding. And hey, she really can’t judge him for that.

(Luke’s jaw, clenched so tight it seemed like it was going to snap, throwing her to the ground–)

But God, when they’re in his apartment and he’s looping the tie around his neck, he’s gorgeous when he smiles. A wide grin that’s bright, and wild, like her prickliness is funny, like her snark is the best thing he’s heard all day.

(To be fair, the day isn’t setting the bar very high.)

So Jessica rolls her eyes, both at him and at her libido, before locking that little spark in a box and shoving it into a corner of her mind. Not the same corner as where he is stored, though. Matt may run around in a devil suit, but anyone who loves someone so much that he’s willing to pull – well, all of the frankly insane shit that Matt pulls – in the name of redemption doesn’t get to be lumped in the same world as that bastard, let alone the same corner.

It’s innocent, this little maybe in the corner of her mind.

A little spark of hope, of anticipation, of looking forward to a possibility, for the first time since she met Luke in his bar.

Maybe, if they all survive us.

And if they save the city.

And, of course, if he’s not seeing anyone.

…Maybe. Maybe, a night at a bar over drinks.

But in the mean time, there are ninjas to deal with.

Chapter Text

When Elektra Natchios walks into Jessica’s new watering hole, she pinches herself hard enough to bruise and blinks several times.

The image doesn’t waver.

She’s not dressed in the same outfit as when Jessica saw her last. The swords, if they’re there, are hidden. She’s wearing dark blue jeans, flats, and a maroon coat over a crisp white blouse. Business casual, understated designer chic. Jessica recognises the aesthetic; Trish had been a fan, during their junior year of college, when she’d scored her first internship. 

She’s alive. A building collapsed on her, and here she is, walking into Jessica’s favourite bar – or the one she hates the least, whatever, it’s practically the same thing – like she hasn’t a fucking care in the world instead of like…

She’s a foot away from her, her hands balling into fists, when Elektra speaks. 

“I can see that you’re angry, but perhaps we should do this outside? The bartender looks ready to throw you out.” 

Her words are precise, like glass with sharp edges, and Jessica really wonders how this woman ever made it work with the man who was the closest approximation to a puppy in human form that Jessica had ever met. And Jessica had met Danny Rand.

She swallows, and Elektra takes that as assent, yanking her by the elbow out of the door of the bar. Jessica breaks her grip, easily, and throws her up against the brick wall. Elektra grunts as her head hits the brick, but makes no effort to break it.

“Jessica, isn’t it? Jessica Jones. You know, I was instructed to kill you,” she says, casually. Like she’s not being pinned to the wall by someone with super strength.

“Yeah, well, you wouldn’t be the first,” Jessica says, her voice low and cold. “That’s not why I’ve got a problem with you, actually. He loved you. And you killed him.”

“Not quite,” Elektra says, a small smile quirking the right corner of her mouth, and what the fuck does that mean? “The reports of his death have been rather exaggerated.”

Jessica’s fist is moving, because she thinks this is funny, and it’s at this point where Elektra’s fist moves, catching hers in a grip Jessica can already feel will be more difficult to break than the last one. Not impossible. Probably. But difficult.

“Explanations, Natchios,” Jessica says. “Now.”  

Elektra shrugs. “I’m not quite sure what there is to explain. We thought we were going to die, and I was very surprised, after all the rubble had fallen, to find that we were both alive. Matthew needed medical attention, however, and he loathes hospitals, so I found a place that would suit him.” Hesitation crosses her face, and she purses her lips. “I believe I miscalculated on this point.”

She’d thought she was mad before, and Jessica realises that she was wrong on this point. Because now, she is seething, a coil of rage that is unfurling in her gut, making the hair on her arms and neck stand on end and her flesh prickle, a thousand points of electricity.

“You think?” she asks. 

Sarcasm isn’t an adequate vehicle for expressing her rage, but it’s the first that comes to mind. 

Elektra exhales slowly. “I was…not in a particularly good frame of mind, at the time,” she offers, and Jessica almost wants to laugh at how inadequate that explanation was. Yeah, she’d figured out that Elektra hadn’t always been quite so murderous – or at least that there’d been another side for her – for Matt to have fallen for her in the first place, but Jesus, woman. 

“How long has it been since Midland Circle?” she asks Jessica.

Jessica snarls. “Four weeks and four days.”

“He came out of his coma two days ago.”

She catches Jessica’s fist again. “Christ, Natchios!” she snaps.

“Must you pronounce it like that?” Elektra asks, lifting one impeccably groomed brow. 

“Your ex-boyfriend–” Jessica feels a twist of satisfaction in her gut at the way Elektra’s eyes dim at the syllable ‘ex.’ “–was in a fucking coma and you haven’t told any of the people who cared about him? He wasn’t your property, Natchios! Not some fucking toy that you got to play with and get buried under fifty storeys’ worth of rubble!”

There’s a faint light of regret in Elektra’s eyes, an almost imperceptible flinch, even though the tilt of her head is determined. 

“Do you think,” she murmurs, “that you could have saved him?”

And all of a sudden, it’s getting really fucking difficult to breathe.  

“You did, didn’t you. You’ve been thinking it, this entire time,” Elektra says, her voice like silk over her sai. There’s a slight twist to her lips, a smirk. She’s seen Jessica flinch, now. “You’ve been kicking yourself for not just slinging him over your shoulder and carrying him out. You would have gladly left me to die, if it meant that he would be by your side.” 

Jessica’s free hand curls into a fist.

“Tell me, how long did it take you to fall in love with him?” and Elektra has a note in her voice that’s both amused and pained. 

Mistake, Elektra.

“How long did it take you?” Jessica deflects. 

“About ten minutes,” she says. “Of course, I didn’t realise until about six months later, and by then, I’d truly ruined everything, and things were never quite as they once were after that.”

Jessica pauses at that, because there are three forces that rule her emotional landscape: rage, PTSD, and the insatiable curiosity she can remember experiencing ever since childhood. Puzzles tug at her, and she’s pretty good at not following that urge when it will lead to trouble, but, well, trouble’s already found her for the night. 

“He stayed under a falling building for you.”

Elektra snorts. “He’s terrible at stopping to care about someone, once he starts. If you’ve found a place in his heart, then you may lose that location, that little niche you carved, or you may find the pieces reshuffled. But you will never, ever manage to crawl your way out of it entirely.” 

For some reason, her tone carries the tang of a warning. 

Jessica considers the woman before. “Why did you do it? All the deaths?” 

She keeps her voice quiet, and her eye contact steady. No more lies, Natchios. If you want me to keep talking to you, no more BS.

Elektra shrugs. “I was the Black Sky. It is what I was meant to do.” She hesitates. “But Matthew…he always did have a way with words. When we were fighting, in the cavern. His exact words, I can still remember them.’” She closes her eyes as she recites. “He said, ‘you are Elektra Natchios. And you’ve never been anyone’s slave.’” Dark eyes open again, and they lock on Jessica’s, remorseless. “Except that’s all I have been, a slave in chains. And only Matthew has ever been able to convince me that there was a way out of them.”

And if there’s anything that takes the wind out of Jessica’s sails, it’s that. Elektra might not have been Kilgrave’d, but there’s more than one way to strip a person of their will, and the dignity of their choice. Hell, the ability to choose in the first place. 

“So, what,” Jessica says. “Why are you coming to me?” 

Elektra’s brow is furrowed, and her mouth is pursed. It’s the closest Jessica’s ever seen the unnervingly expressionless woman come to exasperation

“Because the nuns will keep Matthew on codeine because of his injuries if he stays there, and that will lead to pure sensory hell for him,” she says, as though it’s obvious, and fucking excuse Jessica for not having the intimate knowledge of Murdock’s senses and how they work. 

“You want me,” Jessica says, slowly and carefully, just to make sure she has this right, “to rescue your ex-boyfriend with you from a bunch of nuns.”

“No. I want you to rescue my ex-boyfriend–” the word comes off with almost a stammer, and Jessica wonders how Elektra thought of she and Matt before instead. Lovers, maybe? They definitely had the whole star-crossed angle going– “from a bunch of nuns. I will disappear.”

And the rage swells again, sending the hair on her arms prickling, her jaw clenching. 

“He stays under a building for you,” Jessica says, her voice quiet, each word coming out like chipped ice, “and you plan to repay him by disappearing from his life.”

Elektra closes her eyes. “I would have thought you of all people would understand.” She opens them again, and there’s a hint of a plea there. The very faintest spark, sure. But it’s there. “The Chaste told me I was a soldier. The Hand told me I was the Black Sky. For Hugo and Christina, I was the perfect society princess. And to Matthew, I was something worth saving. But even he could never truly see me for all of who I am.” She takes a deep breath. “I do not know who Elektra Natchios is, to herself. And I do not know how to discover the truth, while receiving input from Matthew.” Now her jaw clenches. “So yes. I will disappear from his life, again, and I will never waltz back in. He and I will part ways. Perhaps he won’t even remember meeting me again. But I will learn what it is like, to not be a slave.”

Jessica doesn’t allow herself to close her eyes – Natchios has allowed her to keep her pinned to the wall for this long, but the woman walks like a predator, and no weakness is acceptable – but she grits her teeth, because fuck. Fuck if she doesn’t relate to that. 

“Start with coffee,” she says, and as soon as the words are off her tongue, she realises that, without intimate knowledge of the past two years of her life, they make absolutely no goddamn sense

Elektra tilts her head to one side, in silent, imperious query. Jessica is tempted to clam up on principle, but then swallows. Ah, shit.

“You’re not the only one who’s been enslaved,” Jessica says. “Start with coffee. Experiment with the different flavours. Really think about what you like, what you don’t like. Pin down what’s your favourite, even. You have to start with the little things, with, y’know. Choices and shit.” 

Elektra nods. “Thank you for the advice,” she says, shifting a little under her hands, and Jessica sets her onto her feet. “You’ll find him at Poor Clares, in New Jersey.”

Jessica takes a deep breath. “I take it I won’t be seeing you again.”

Elektra’s smile is wry. “Somehow, you don’t sound disappointed.”

Jessica snorts. “Good luck, and if you ever walk into my office again, I’ll bash your head into the wall.”

“I’m very glad we understand each other,” Elektra says, her smirk and armour now firmly back in place, all vulnerability banished. “Feel free to send the bill to me. I’m sure you can track my current address down.”

She walks down the street and out of Jessica’s life, her flats clicking against the pavement, the sound muted in the chill air.

Jessica lets out a long breath, and glances at the bar. Then she takes out her phone, and starts dialling. 

“Hey, Luke. It’s me. Listen, we need to talk. Can you call Rand, and meet me at my office tomorrow?”

Luke sounds sleepy. “Jessica, it’s the middle of the night.”

“I know, but…it’s about Matt.”

Luke lets out a long sigh. 

“Alright. I’ll call Danny. We’ll be at your office in the morning.”

He hangs up, and Jessica looks down at the phone, and then up at the sky.

She’s never been religious, but if Matt Murdock survived Midland Circle, then she’s forced to reconsider the notion that miracles don’t happen.

Chapter Text

 “Damn, he’s out of it,” Luke said, from the driver’s seat of the van, his voice reverberating in her ear-buds. “You’ve got him, Jones?” 

“Start the engine, Luke,” Jessica snapped, adjusting Matt across her shoulders as she landed in a crouch. Landing from a third-storey building wasn’t the hardest thing she’d ever done. Admittedly, it was a little more difficult with the unconscious (stubborn, idiotic) man slung across her shoulders, but damn if she’d let that stop her.

 He stirred, and she made a frustrated groan as she slid him over her shoulder, reverting from a fireman’s carry to a bridal-style hold. 

“You couldn’t make rescuing you from a convent of all places easy, could you, Murdock?” she grumbled, rising to her feet and stomping across the courtyard to the waiting van. 

“Where are you taking him! Get back!” one of the nuns yelled, from the shattered window. 

“You didn’t mention that they were crazy, either,” she said, keeping her voice flat. Any minute now, his eyes were going to flutter open, and they would go back to exchanging sarcastic banter, and this aching, cavernous need in her chest would go away.

Oh, and she’d kick his ass for playing the martyr, and making them think he was dead. That too.

Danny frowned, tilting his head up from where he was standing, leaning against the van. “Any other damage?” he asked her, as she passed him and opened the door.

“Just the windows. I was feeling restrained,” Jessica said, easing Matt across the second row of seats, and getting in after him. She lifted his head so that it rested in her lap, and felt for his pulse, refusing to let herself contemplate the fear crawling up her throat. Why the hell aren’t you awake yet, idiot?

“Luke, call Claire,” she instructed, swallowing.

Danny was already dialling, and Luke’s eyes met Jessica’s in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were wide in the glass, her jaw clenched tight. 

“We’ll take him straight to the clinic,” Luke said. 

Jessica shook her head. “No. My apartment.” 

She had never felt more sure of anything in her life. 

Luke raised his eyebrows, tilted his head slightly to the side and dammit, now she was remembering the way Matt used to do the exact same thing.

No. Not used to. Because she would live to see Matt Murdock do the exact same annoying gesture, and give him endless shit about looking like a puppy while he did so. She would.

“You sure?” was all Luke said. 

Jessica paused for a second. There was something knowing in Luke’s eyes. 

Out of reflex, she snorted. “Claire’s stitched enough of us up in different locations. We both know that the clinic is for legal cover, not because she needs it.” 

Luke’s eyes softened, and dammit, Jessica hated when people read her accurately.

But thank Christ and all his saints, Luke didn’t say anything. Just turned the key in the ignition, and yelled at Danny to get in the van.

Far away, she heard Danny yelling a last apology to the nuns, along with assurances that they should bill him for the window, before leaping into the passenger seat.

Jessica didn’t move; she just carded one hand through Matt’s hair.

Goddammit, Murdock, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare. Or I really will punch you so hard you see.

 

Chapter Text

aka: it takes a village

Summary: the one where Matt not being dead generates a lot of work for Jessica. The smiley bastard had better be okay. 


Finding Nelson and Page wasn’t even close to being the most difficult part. The most difficult part was picking up the phone to call them.

“Do you want me to do it?” Luke offers, his presence steadying as he sits in the client’s chair, while she stares at the cell phone on her desk. Malcolm and Claire are in her bedroom, nursing her – nursing Matt through the codeine withdrawal. Jessica’s pretty sure she’s never seen another human being be so disoriented as Matt right now, as he groans in delirium. Which figures, according to Claire. Something about how the drugs must completely rearrange his sensory input, and it’s not like he has a high tolerance for that kinda shit anyway, especially going from full doses to nothing. The list of symptoms would be pretty unpleasant for most people, but for Matt, it’s a ticket straight to sensory hell. 

“Maybe,” Jessica sighs, taking another drink of her whiskey. “Fucking hell, Matt.” 

Luke chuckles. “Boy has some talent for entropy, you gotta admit,” he says. “The offer stands.”

She sighs, and slides the cell phone across the desk. “You take Page. I’ll go see Nelson in person.” 

Luke nods, already dialling the number on the blue Post-It note on her desk.


 

Nelson’s office at HC&B is on the second floor, with the other junior associates. She’s only been there once in the month that’s passed since Midland Circle went down.

She knocks, shifting her weight on her feet, hands shoved into the pockets of her jacket. A few seconds later, he’s there, opening it for her. 

“Jessica, this is a surprise,” he says, smile tight. Genuine, but also strained, and hell if that isn’t Nelson all over. “How may I be of service?” 

She takes a deep breath. “You’re going to wanna sit.” 

Foggy raises a brow, but he’s heard enough about her history that he walks back around to his desk, sits in the chair, and takes a deep, calming breath. He reaches for something, a softball, and he squeezes it. 

“Alright. Shoot.”

She rips it off like a bandaid. That’s the theory, anyway. 

“Murdock’s alive and he’s at my apartment right now.”

Foggy blinks at her, brows knitting together. “Come again?” 

Which, okay, fair reaction, because she hadn’t been expecting that one either, not until Elektra showed up in her bar. Really, the only person who’d held out hope was Claire.

“Your friend, Matt Murdock? He’s alive. He made it out. He was at a convent for a month, and we got him out last night. He was in a coma for two weeks, and right now, he’s got withdrawal from codeine going on.” She takes another deep breath. “But he’s alive. And he’s at my apartment, if you wanna see him.”

Foggy takes a slow, deep breath, as his fingers go white around the soft ball. It takes about ten breaths, but he opens his eyes. She's never noticed how cold blue eyes can be before. “Address. Otherwise, I call an ambulance and tell them you’re having a psychotic break.”

She smirks – she really can’t blame him for that – and hands him her card. “Here.” At his quizzical look, she shrugs. “My apartment is my office.” 

He nods. “Give me an hour to wrap this up, and I’ll be there.” 

She shrugs. “See you there.”


 

She gets into the elevator, to find Karen Page already in there, her blonde hair swinging around her in a curtain, her breathing rapid and uneven in a way Jessica recognises. Even at this distance, she smells like alcohol. 

“Hey, hey,” Jessica says, pushing aside the thought of Jesus fuck, what the hell, as ingrained habit from growing up with Trish takes over. “Listen to me. Listen to my voice. My name’s Jessica. You’re Karen, right?”

Jessica hits the emergency stop button, but this makes the hyperventilation intensify.

“Hey, hey. Karen. I know why you’re here,” she says, slowly taking the other woman’s hands in hers. “You’re here for Matt, right? I’ll take you to see him, but I need you to breathe with me. Okay? Come on,” she says, taking in an exaggerated, slow breath. “In, two, three.” One, two, three. “Out.” She keeps the slow stream of words up, clamping down hard on her sarcasm, because.

Look, it’s not like she gives a damn. She just doesn’t want anyone suffocating in her elevator, alright? 

Eventually, Karen breathes again, and Jessica nods. Good.

“I saw him already,” Karen says, her voice quiet. “I – I came as soon as I heard, I just. I.”

Jessica studies the woman, her eyes bloodshot, her nose red, and her hands trembling. 

“I’ve got booze,” Jessica offers. 

Karen’s smile is a shaky flicker across her face. “No, no, it’s – it’s okay, I’ll be okay.” 

Jessica crosses her arms, and raises an eyebrow. 

Karen shakes her head. “I can’t. I can’t see him like this. Not yet. He’s. He’s alive?”

“Alive,” Jessica says. “Apparently, person he was trying to save–” because she has a funny feeling that Elektra is definitely private with a capital ‘P’ business for Matt – “ended up saving him. Except they have shitty judgement, because they dropped him off at a place where they kept him dosed to the eyes on codeine. They told me last night. We got him out about six hours ago.” 

Karen pinches the bridge of her nose. “I was this close,” she tells the ceiling, “to accepting him being dead. This close.” 

Jessica sighs. “Yeah, you and me both,” she agrees, and it feels almost like an olive branch.

Karen tilts her head, curious. Jessica knows that look from Trish as well: journalist in pursuit of mystery.

“Why is he at your apartment?” she asks.

Jessica shrugs. “His Catholic guilt is contagious, and…I owe him,” she admits. The last three words are like pulling teeth, but they come out a lot better than the rest of the truth. Which is that faster than anyone else she’s ever known to, with the possible exception of Luke, Matt Murdock had wriggled his way under her skin. Somehow, that ninja-kicking, smiley-faced, evasive-as-hell motherfucker had wormed his way onto her tiny, tiny list of ‘people she gave a damn about.’ 

Fact: Jessica was terrible at letting people onto that list. Or rather, she was excellent at keeping them off it. It was a combination of self-preservation and natural talent.

Fact: she was terrible at booting people off of it, once they were on it. 

But apparently, Karen bought that selective truth, because she gave a soft laugh, as she steps out of the elevator. “Yeah, it is. The guilt. I. Thank you.”

Jessica shrugs, hitting the elevator button again. “Yeah, well. Whatever.”

…look, the words ‘you’re welcome’ have never come easily to her, alright?


True to his word, Nelson stops by exactly sixty minutes after she’d spoken to him in his office.

By this point, Matt has stopped groaning, another bout of nausea receding. He’s still feverish and delirious, though, and Malcolm keeps swearing in French under his breath as he tries to simultaneously keep Matt cool and evade Matt’s attempts to fight off his imaginary enemies. It had been a delicate balance even with Claire there, and only her history with Matt able to keep him calm.

“For fuck’s sake,” Jessica sighs, gripping Matt’s wrists, as he tries to launch a punch and Malcolm dances back, damp washcloths in hand. The punch is nowhere near Malcolm, and that, more than anything, more than the smell of vomit or the heat radiating off of his skin, makes her throat burn with fear. Matt Murdock has better spatial awareness than most interior designers. 

She stomps down on the fear, hard, and tries to keep her voice level. “Dumbass. Quit fighting. It’s me, you know you won’t win,” she tells him.

“Holy shit,” Nelson breathes from the doorway, and she swivels to jerk her head at him impatiently. Either get in here, or stay out, but don’t distract us.

“Yeah, that’s about what I thought too,” she admits, turning her attention back to Matt, whose hands are twitching in her grip. Of course he’s trying to break the grip. He can’t help but pick a fight, can he?

Nelson notices, and he immediately adopts a calm tone. “Hey, hey, Matt. Matt, you jackass, you can’t hurt your nurse.”

Matt goes a little more still at that. 

“‘oggy?”

Nelson makes a strangled sound, and Matt frowns, the sound obviously making it through the delirium. 

“Yeah, buddy,” he chokes out, “it’s me. You’re safe, okay?” 

“N-not safe, Nobu, need to– need to–”

“Matt. Buddy. You’re safe, I promise. I promise. Listen to me, focus on my voice,” Foggy says, holding up one hand for the washcloth. “You’ve got a hell of a fever, pal, like you used to get in law school. I’m just going to put a cloth on your forehead, okay?”

“F-Foggy,” Matt manages, “n-not, not safe.”

Shh,” Nelson murmurs, voice low and soothing, dropping the cloth on Matt’s forehead. Matt hisses, flinching back like he was struck. How often has Nelson done this before? “I’m here, buddy. You’re safe, I’m safe,” he says. “I know it’s cold, but it’s what you need right now, okay?” 

Matt sighs. “Foggy.”

On a hunch, Jessica lets go of his wrists, and Matt’s hands slowly come back to his side.

Nelson sighs. 

“I’m gonna kick your ass when you’re better, you idiot,” he says. "Seriously. What the fuck." 

Matt smiles, just a quirk of his mouth, and Jessica shakes her head.

“Masochist,” she mumbles.

“What gave it away?” Nelson deadpans, reaching forward to card through Matt’s hair.

Apparently it’s familiar, because Matt leans into the touch. Jessica swallows the lump in her throat, and grabs for her flask. 

Nelson eventually passes out on the bed by Matt’s side, and a couple of hours later, Jessica hears a knock at the door. Matt stirs in response to the sound. That’s probably a good sign.

She goes, and sure enough, Karen Page is on the other side, her laptop bag in her hand. Her eyes are still red, but her jaw is set. 

Jessica silently motions her into the apartment, and leads her back to the bedroom, unsurprised when the other woman kicks off her shoes and folds herself around Matt’s other side, one hand combing through his hair gently. 

“I’m going to murder you in your sleep, Matt,” she promises, her voice thin and thready.

Jessica can’t help her interjection, she really can’t. “We only just got him out of the convent.”

Karen Page’s eye-roll is a masterpiece. “Always the Catholicism with you, Murdock,” she mumbles.

She closes her eyes after that, and Jessica sighs, looking at the array of blond hair spread across her pillows. Nelson and Page are twined around Matt. Nelson's chin is on Matt's shoulder, and Page has one leg thrown across one of Matt's. Their hair is playing across the skin of his shoulders, like if only they cling hard enough, they can bring him back.

She should go. She should leave the little family to it. She’s still working the Perdulovski case. 

She takes another swig of her flask, and settles into her corner a little further.

The case will wait. Her vigil will not.

Chapter Text

“Murdock, I swear to God, if you so much as think about moving again, I will string you up by your toes over the Hudson. I don’t care if you’re conscious or not.”

The threat jolted Matt from his sleep.

He blinked. Cotton sheets, like sandpaper against his skin. That he’d continued sleeping on that surface at all was impressive, and certainly spoke to his exhaustion.

A familiar, steady heartbeat, directly to his right, as well as the smell of whiskey, lipstick, jasmine shampoo and petrol– Jessica? why’s she here? which led to the question Where is here?–, and the sound of fingers tapping away at a keyboard, slowing now. Paper and manila folders, over the blankets around his legs. Lingering smells: vomit, sickness – me? – vanilla and strawberry chapstick –Karen – and cologne and hair gel, Italian leather and Chanel. Foggy.

“Jess?” he croaked. Shit, his throat hurt.

“Well done, you avoided long-term amnesia,” she said. The smell of whiskey intensified; her hand tightened on the bottle as she dialled someone. “Claire. Yeah, Sleeping Beauty awakened. No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong right now. He seems like he’s in one piece–”

“’m fine,” Matt croaked.

“Shut up, Murdock,” Jessica continued, sounding almost...cheerful. For her, anyway.

Well, that was eerie. Flattering, though.

“Anyway, is there anything I should know about? Just so we don’t have to ship him back to the nunnery?”

Matt blinked. He really hoped that wasn’t a euphemism, because his memories were still cloudy.

“Uh-huh. Okay. I can do that. Well, part of it. Thanks, Claire. See you in the morning,” Jess said, before she hung up.

“Nunnery?” he asked, voice cracking.

“Yup,” Jess said, curling his fingers around something plastic. “Drink up.”

Plastic, not glass, and it didn’t smell like alcohol. Fluoride, maybe.

...oh. Yeah, dehydration would explain a lot.

He unscrewed the cap and sipped at it. “How long?” he managed.

“You’re going to have to be more specific, Matt,” Jessica said.

Hm. That was a good point.

“How long ago did...” his voice trailed off, into the fog of memory. Well, shit. “How long have I been here?”

“About a day. You've been sick,” Jessica said. “Do you remember the building collapse?”

Frowning, he shook his head. “A building collapsed on me?”

Jessica’s pulse quickened to a rapid thrum. “Okay, clearly we’re going to have to have a talk with the nuns, and some doctors.”

“I’m fine.”

“You can’t remember how you almost died, Matt. There is no universe in which that qualifies as ‘fine!’” Jess snapped. “And if you’re ‘fine’, then congratulations, you’re clearly dealing with shit a whole lot better than me!”

His eyebrows shot up.

Jessica Jones was...willingly admitting to weakness.

Holy shit.

“Jess?” he asked, softly.

“Don’t,” she said, her voice shaking. “Don't say my name like that. Since you can’t seem to remember the recent past, let me illuminate it for you, you bastard. A building collapsed on you. You told us to protect ‘your city’, you played the martyr for the sake of your ex-girlfriend, who had been trying to kill us, because apparently you have a Messiah complex. 'I know I can get through to her', were your exact words.  Luke was convinced you were dead. So was Danny. So was I. So were Nelson, and Page. It was only because no-one found the body that someone else convinced us that you probably weren’t, because you are apparently the most stubborn son-of-a-bitch to ever walk this planet. We found you, in a monastery in fucking New Jersey. New Jersey, Murdock. Do you know how much I have never wanted to go to New Jersey?”

Matt swallowed, his brain reeling under the flood of information. Oh. Oh, God. “You would prefer hell?” he quipped, taking a deep breath to calm the flood of emotion. Elektra. Stick. Two of the people who'd been close to family – Elektra had known him, and even if Stick hadn't wanted him, he had seen Matt for who he was – he'd lost them both. Again.

He stomped down on the grief, hard. He'd mourn. Later. Alone.

Jessica snorted at the quip, her heartbeat slowing slightly, shoulders relaxing a little. “Nice try. But no, New Jersey is hell.”

“But there are monasteries there, you just said so,” Matt said, breathing a little easier.

“You asshole! Don’t make me laugh when I am yelling at you!” 

“You’re not yelling, your neighbours are,” Matt said, cocking his head to the side. “...are they really yelling about the merits of probiotic kimchi, or is my hearing acting up?”

“She's a chef,” Jessica said, each word coming out like shards of glass. “And you deflect when people demonstrate that they fucking care about you, you bastard.”

His throat closed up. “I–”

Her pulse accelerated, and she was trembling. “So don’t you dare say that you’re fine. Say almost anything else. But you don’t get to be fine after you almost died on us.

On me, hung in the air,

“Kyrie eleison,” he whispered.

“What?”

Oh. He’d forgotten how good Jessica’s hearing was. Well done, Murdock. Open mouth, insert foot. 

“It means, God have mercy,” he explained, taking a deep breath. “Jessica. I’m sorry. I never wanted...I never, ever intended...” he trailed off.

“To what, Matt?” her voice was hard, and filled with her usual tenacity. He breathed, and took the plunge.

“To leave you,” he said. “I’m sorry, Jess.”

A long, shaky exhale, and the smell of salt, the micro-vibrations of tears sliding down her cheeks, and now he was trembling, with the urge to hold her, wipe the tears away, because someone else he cared about was crying and it was his fault–

“Yeah, well,” she said, voice trembling. “Don’t ever scare us like that again, you asshole.”

“Stubborn asshole,” Matt agreed, as a slender, strong arm wrapped around him and pulled his head to rest against her shoulder. He breathed in, and listened to the soft shush of her hair as she tipped her head forward.

 And then, because he was feeling utterly, totally lost – in the smell of jasmine, whiskey and petrol, in the rhythm of her heartbeat, in the sensation of alive and awake – and more than a little reckless, he added: “Your stubborn asshole.”

She huffed. “Don’t make me fucking say it," she said, before she started typing.

Matt smirked.

"I'll let the others know you're waking up. I hope you're prepared for Rand. He's probably going to try and hug you, or something."

Matt smiled into the crook of her neck, and closed his eyes, listening to Jessica type. "I'll just use you as a shield."

Jessica scoffed, and the last of the tension broke. "Fucking try it, Beelzebub." 

Chapter Text

 

“Just give me a minute with him, will you?” Claire’s voice was soft. 

He sensed Luke’s nod, and him squeezing Claire’s shoulder briefly.

Claire stood in the doorway. He could hear Jessica and Luke in the other room, talking softly, trailing off in little half-sentences. She smelled a little different from when Matt last met her. She still smelled like saline, lavender fabric softener, but there Luke’s aftershave mixed in with it, and the smell of sex and tears.

Oh.

The knowledge hurt less than he had expected. His memories of Claire from almost two years ago were a bittersweet, maybe, if I’d done things differently. And Luke was a good man. He’d treat Claire like a queen. Which was no less than she deserved.

“Claire?” he asked. She was standing at the edge of the bed, almost trembling. He could hear the vibrations, the sound of her fingers wavering back and forth in the air. 

There was a muted sob, and then her arms were wrapped around his neck. Startled, he wrapped his own arms around her, leaning into the hold. 

“It’s okay, Claire,” he whispered. The salt smell intensified, and he felt the tiny vibrations of tears sliding down her cheeks. He tightened his arms around her. “It’s okay. I’m here.” 

“God damn you, Saint Matthew. God damn you, you stubborn bastard. Son’t ever scare me like that ever again,” she hissed into his ear. “I mean it, Matt. I will hunt you down and hide your body in a volcano.” 

Matt let out a surprised huff into Claire’s hair. That still smelled the same, like coconut. “Threats, threats, threats. I really scared you, huh?” 

“Worse than anything you’ve ever done before,” Claire said. “You stayed behind while a building collapsed. On top of you.”

“So I’m told,” Matt says, rubbing at his skull. “I'm not sure I remember how. Or why.”

“My best guess? Catholic guilt, your inimitable stupidity, and the fact that apparently, you’re a hopeless romantic,” Claire snapped, drawing back so that she was sitting cross-legged on Jessica’s bed, torso still angled towards him. She barrelled on. “While simultaneously forgetting that there are other people in this world who cared about you, who love you, and who damn well want you to live!” 

Matt swallowed around the lump in his throat. God. What fresh hell had he put them all through? 

“The others? Foggy and Karen? They’re okay?” he asked her, finding her hands. “They’re alright?”

“No, dumbass,” Claire said, tone harsh as desert sand. “They’re not okay. They were mourning.”

“...Shit.”

“Yes, Matt, shit,” Claire seethed. Her movement was sudden; Matt caught her fist inches from his jaw. 

Still, mourning meant that Foggy and Karen were both still alive.

“Okay,” Matt managed. “Wow. Alright. When did my life get this weird?”

“He says, years after he put on fetish gear and started running around Hell’s Kitchen,” Claire sighed, the anger draining away a little. Matt let out a soft laugh. 

“Point.”

He uncurled his hand from around her fingers, and winced as her hand promptly collided with his cheek. 

“You deserved that,” Claire said, tone flat and hard. 

Matt nodded. 

“Yeah.” He sighed. “The Hand, again, huh?”

“And your ex,” Claire nodded. “Began with an ‘e’, I think.”

Matt felt his eyes widen. “N-no, no. No way. Elektra’s dead. I – her body – I feltit, felt her heartbeat stop, I held her–” 

One hand carded through his hair gently. 

“I’m sorry, Matt,” Claire whispered, tucking his head into her shoulder. “But you’d know if I were lying.” 

And even if he didn’t, Claire wouldn’t lie to him. Of the two of them, he had always been the one to conceal. Not Claire. Claire was an open book, who wanted her city to be safe, her patients to be looked after, and her friends to be safe and happy and whole. 

He sighed into her hair. “Where is she?”

“She disappeared,” Claire said. “Far as we can make out, she survived, and took you out of the building. Somehow arranged for you to be spirited to a monastery in New Jersey. I convinced the others that you weren’t dead, when they didn’t find your body. You didn’t wake up – you were in a coma, for a month. And then they had you dosed on codeine, which would be fine if you weren’t, well, you. Your senses and sensory data were so disoriented that they took it as a sign you weren’t improving. So they kept dosing you up.”

Matt swallowed. “How’d you get me out?”

He heard the drag of her flesh over her teeth. She was smiling. “Jessica. She punched one of the windows out, picked you up bridal-style and jumped out. Luke drove the getaway van, Danny footed the damages. Malcolm and I have been trading shifts nursing you through the withdrawal. It’s been a group effort. Last night was the first time you were lucid.”

Matt smiled. Teamwork.  

“It takes a village,” he said, leaning into her shoulder. “So how am I, Doc?” 

“Seemingly, as insane as ever,” she said, “but,” without warning, her hand moved in a jab towards his solar plexus, and he caught it, grunting in surprise–“your reflexes are good,” she noted. “Some black spots in your memory. Those might come back, might not. We’ll have to see what we can shake loose.” Her breathing deepened. She was steeling herself to tell him bad news. 

“Claire, just tell me,” Matt said. “You know me. I don’t stay down, remember?”

She gave a single chuckle. God, he’d missed her laugh. He’d missed his friend: reliable, beautiful Claire, steady as the sunrise and just as warm.

“You might never get the memories back,” she said. She leaned back out of the touch, but she took one of his hands between hers. Still taking care with his heart, even after three city-apocalypses. 

He better take damn good care of you, Claire.

“Okay,” Matt said. “Okay. I’m gonna need to talk to Foggy. And Karen.”

Claire snorted. “Best have Jessica on standby to intervene.”

“And make her interfere in family drama? You’re a nurse, Claire, you know better,” Matt quipped. 

She chuckled, again. “We missed you, Saint Matthew.” 

“It’s good to be back,” he agreed, turning their hands around to squeeze her fingers gently. “You wanna tell Jess and Luke to come back in now?”

She nodded. “Yeah. Sounds like a plan.”

Chapter Text

 

 “You can’t put me up forever, Jones,” Matt sighed, kneading his temples. “Not that I don’t appreciate it, but Malcolm has to sleep sometimes, and I get the impression that between assisting you and hovering over me, it’s not exactly happening. And I’m not exactly at risk of passing in the night now.” 

Jessica’s blood pressure spiked at that, but all she did was snort. “Malcolm sleeps like the dead. What he lacks in quantity, he compensates for in quality. Trust me. And it’s nice having a human polygraph in the other room when I’m with a client.” 

“I’m still gonna have to find a new place eventually,” Matt said, pressing his lips together to suppress a smile. Jessica’s protectiveness was adorable, and she would set him on fire before she let him acknowledge such a thing. And if he read between the lines, that last remark could be read as almost a compliment.  “And as if you really need me for telling when your clients are lying.” 

"Yeah, but having confirmation doesn't exactly suck either."

“Do you not want your old place?” Danny asked, leaning his head on Luke’s shoulder. The bigger man sighed, but patted Danny on the head. 

Matt’s eyebrows flew up. “You say that like it's an option."

"It is, if you want it," Danny said. 

Right. Danny Rand, Rand Enterprises. Not exactly having had a lot of first-hand experience with real estate.

"It’s an apartment in New York City. The landlord hasn’t found someone else for it yet?”

“Oh, no,” Danny said, with a shrug. “I’ve been paying the rent.”

Matt’s jaw dropped.

“You what?” he asked, quietly.

Danny shrugged, and when he spoke again, there was a very slight edge of satisfaction to it. “It seemed right,” he said. “It’s ready for you. I, uh, did a bit of cleaning, though. Shards of glass everywhere, and all.”

“Right, the earthquake,” Matt said, huffing a laugh. “God. That feels like a lifetime ago.”

“It was a lifetime ago,” Jessica said beside him, her voice her usual alto blend of smoke and bourbon and switchblades,  “at least for me. Given that prior to that, ninjas never showed up.”

“Eh, well,” Matt said, leaning against the headboard. “You never forget your first time.”

There was a moment of silence, and then Luke’s low, rumbling chuckle filled the air. “Damn, Murdock. You always had jokes this bad?”

Matt smirked. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” 

"Quit it with the blind jokes. They're not funny."

“Liar,” Matt retorted. 

“Nosy asshole." 

Luke chuckled, again, the warm, mellow sound washing over them. It was a particular gift of Luke’s, Matt thought. Something about him – his gentleness combined with his strength – made almost any place he inhabited feel safe, never more so than when he laughed. No wonder Jessica liked him. 

“It’s good to have you back, Matt,” Harlem’s hero decided. “Jones, you got beer?” 

Jessica scoffed. “As if. I’ve got bourbon, or you can go home and drink your own shit.”

“She drives a hard bargain,” Danny noted, from the floor. 

“I play to win, there’s a difference,” Jessica said, rolling off the bed. For some reason, Matt felt the sudden absence of her from his side acutely. Like in the early days of training with Stick, when he’d been balanced wrong on his feet. 

He shoved that thought back into the farthest reaches of his mind. No way could he deal with that right now. Later, far, far later – when the terrifying list of things he had to do was pared down somewhat  – he could contemplate the thought. 

But first, there was something that needed to be said.

"Hey, Danny?" he said, softly.

He stopped in mid-sentence. "Yeah, Matt?"

"Thanks."

Danny's heart-rate spiked a little, skin heating, and Matt's smile widened. Oh my God, he's blushing, he thought, gleefully. Three, two...

Sure enough, there came the shutter sound of the camera.

"Jessica!" Danny protested.

Matt chuckled, leaning back against the headboard.

It’s good to be back, he thought.

Chapter Text

It’s the first time he goes back to work, since the Resurfacing, as he’s taken to calling it.

(He doesn’t care what Jessica says; resurrection is simply way too close to blasphemous for his liking.)

The process of Resurfacing has been made significantly easier by the fact that his original death certificate had disappeared. Matt suspects Elektra’s involvement, a kind of parting gesture. And people in Hell’s Kitchen still needs lawyers.

The first time he walks back into his office – he still can’t believe that Danny’s guilt extending to buying back his old office – there’s a woman waiting for him there, and he’s wondering how on earth she got in.

She smells like gardenias, mint toothpaste, and paper and wood shavings. The creaking in her joints puts her around her late fifties, maybe, and her shoulder grinds together in a way that’s painful to listen to.

“Mr Murdock?” she asks. “My name’s Angela Willis. I, uh, think I need a lawyer.”

“Please, call me Matt,” he says, expanding his senses, tightening his grip on his cane, because the door should have been locked

The smell of peppermint and incense hits him like a bomb, and he sighs.

“By any chance, Ms. Willis, were you let in by a young, blond man around 25?”

She nods. “He, uh, said he was the janitor.”

Ah, there it was, Danny’s truly terrible sense of humour and irony coming out to play. Not to mention his inability to lie well. Matt makes a mental note to rant to Jessica about the lack of boundaries. He appreciates that Danny wants to help, he really does, but he’s beginning to see why a guilt complex on someone can be so damn annoying for the people around said someone.

“I see. Well, come on in,” he says, opening the door to his office. “How can I help you?”

“I, uh, think I need a lawyer,” Ms Willis says, as he taps his way to his desk, sitting in the chair. Luke and he had moved his old case files in yesterday, whilst Matt had ranted about the procedural clusterfuck that had been Luke’s case, and he takes out a fresh file out of the desk drawer.

He blinks as he registers the fading smell of bourbon and leather and jasmine, as well as something else.

There’s something on his desk. A plant, of some kind, but he doesn’t recognise it from the smell.

“What’s going on?” Matt asks her, keeping his voice soft and low.

The story bubbles out of her. She works in a carpentry studio, and a few weeks ago, she had been packing up when the box of clamps had fallen on her, breaking her arm and creating a compound fracture in her shoulder. Without her income, she’s not sure how her family can make ends meet, and the paperwork process for the workman’s compensation is difficult to navigate. She shifts uncomfortably, her body language tensing, like she's trying to tread around an old insecurity.

“Well, I can definitely assist you there,” Matt says, with a professional smile on his face, keeping his face politely oblivious to her internal struggle.

From there on, it's more or less smooth sailing. They work out a payment plan, and it’s not until she’s almost out the door that it occurs to him to ask.

“By the way, Ms Willis?” he calls.

She turns back, still standing in the doorway of his office.

“How did you hear of me?” he asks.

One hip cocks. He’s not entirely sure what that means.

“Soledad Temple and I have coffee every Tuesday,” she says. “I told her what was going on, and she said her daughter knew an honest lawyer.”

…Of course.

He smiles, and thanks her for the compliment, gently ushering her from the office as he puts the pieces together.

Danny bought the office, Claire found the client, Luke and I moved everything in yesterday.

On a hunch, he starts whistling a tune.

The sound bounces off the plant, as expected, except for something on his desk beside it that absorbs it a little differently.

Carefully, gingerly, he reaches out, and finds a note. Braille paper.

Hey, asshole. Welcome back, or something.

Don’t touch the plant. It’s a cactus.

He chuckles. “Galaxy, text Jessica Jones: ‘Are you always this prickly, or am I just special. Question mark, end message, send message.”

Five minutes later, as he is pulling up the workman’s comp documents, he hears his phone beep.

“Message from Jessica Jones: ‘You wish, Murdock,’” Galaxy narrates.

Matt smiles.

Chapter Text

“How,” Jessica asks the sky, the trash bags around her, and the man in the dumpster beside her, “the fuck did I end up here.”

Her tone doesn’t rise even slightly to inflect it as a question. It’s more a statement of absurdity, rather than any attempt to actually question the universe. But she’s pretty sure Murdock won’t call her out on the lack of tonal indicators.

“Good question,” he groans beside her. “Ugh. Shit.”

“Hey, at least you’re not in a suit.”

Matt has dressed down for once, coming to the bar for their weekly tradition of drinking in near-silence. The dark blue jeans had done amazing things for his ass. Prior to them being thrown out of the bar, and into the dumpster, that was.

She’d been tempted to fight the barman on it, but she was pretty sure that it would have earned her a lecture from Saint Matthew. And for some reason, she wasn’t feeling like getting one of those tonight.

“No, I can genuinely smell the shit in this. Fantastic.”

“Huh. So, the super-senses really do have as many disadvantages as I thought.”

Matt’s laugh was more of an angry huff than anything else. “You have no idea.”

Silence for a while. And then:

“We should play truth or dare.”

“In a dumpster,” Jessica says, wanting to clarify this.

“Yeah. It’ll be fun!” Matt replies.

“I want you to think about the stories of our lives before you try reiterating that sentiment in any way, shape, or form,” Jessica tells him.

He snorts, amused. “Jessica, if I wanted to dig down into all the painful parts of your life, I would think of a much better cover than Truth or Dare. I am here, in a dumpster, with a friend. I am twenty-eight years old, and most of the time, it feels like I have the world on my shoulders, and for once, someone else has the Kitchen, and I do not feel like that. And I want to have fun and be juvenile. So: truth or dare.”

And Jesus, but he’s actually a good lawyer, because he stops right there, and lets Jessica sway herself. Which she (reluctantly) finds a little impressive. A little.

“Ugh, fine,” she says.

Across from her in the dumpster, Matt’s smile is a flash of sunlight, there and gone, warm and brilliant.

Jessica ignores the little squeeze in her chest in favour of lamenting just how terrible the dumpster smells.

“Do you want to leave the dumpster?” Matt asks her.

Jessica contemplates that. She’s nowhere near drunk enough to be unable to move, physically. She is, however, drunk enough to wonder what the point of moving would be.

“To get away from the terrible smells,” Matt points out, because he is a smart and logical man. Not that Jessica will tell him this, of course. His ego’s swollen enough already.

“…Nah,” she eventually decides. “Not worth it.”

Matt hums. “I disagree with you there. But as you wish.”

“We playing, or what?”

He chuckles. “Ladies first.”

“Oh, you asked for it. Okay. Truth or dare?”

“Truth, if only because I’m scared of contracting salmonella if I carry out your dares in this dumpster after that.”

“Jesus, it’s like you think I’m trying to kill you or something.”

“Only sometimes. Depends on how Catholic I’ve been this week, I think.”

And Jessica chuckles at that. “Alright. Truth. How the hell do the senses work?”

He hums. “Good question. You know the basics, chemicals splashed in my eyes when I was nine. But essentially, it’s just me doing a hell of a lot of analysis all the time. Acute hearing, acute sense of smell, acute sense of taste. The hearing helps me map things out – there’s always a sound bouncing off something, and it’s just a matter of concentrating hard enough to map out what it’s bouncing off.”

Jessica lets out a low whistle. She'd known he was clever, but shit. “Shit. So echolocation?”

“Kinda. I can sense vibrations, too. Temperature changes. Balance and direction. All that kinda stuff. My turn?”

“I guess so. Dare.”

“I dare you to get me out of this dumpster.”

Jessica groans, inclining herself to a sitting position and standing on top of the trash bags. “You’re sneaky, Murdock,” she says, picking him up by the neck of his shirt. “One, two–” the warning is for his sake, not hers, as she dumps him on the ground. He lands in a crouch, knees bent, absorbing the impact with ease.

“Only sometimes,” he says.

She thinks about flopping back down in the dumpster, and sighs, jumping out of it to join him in the alley, but she uses too much force and the concrete cracks beneath her feet.

Murdock gives her an intrigued look.

“My turn again,” she sighs, “truth or dare.”

“Dare.”

She tilts her head. “Do a handstand for as long as you can hold one.”

Matt’s grin is bright and wild, and in it she sees the ghost a tiny, cheeky, cocky smartass of a kid who just loved showing off, briefly reanimating an adult’s body.

“You’re on,” he says, and then he’s springing forward onto his hands. His glasses slide off and clatter onto the concrete of the alleyway, and he makes a noise of distress.

“Relax. I’ve got ‘em,” Jessica says, carefully squatting – keeping her balance is taking more concentration than normal, and she’s not wasted, but she is what passes for tipsy for her – and slipping them into her jeans pocket.

“Thanks,” Matt says, and his Irish complexion is already going a slight shade of pink. Ten seconds.

His breathing remains the same, even and easy, not even straining.

Thirty seconds.

Jessica huffs. “That all you got?” she asks, trying to keep the faint note of ‘I’m reluctantly impressed’ out of her voice.

Matt’s teeth are white against that oh-so-distinctive mouth and increasingly dark pink cheeks.

“You ever consider – going on the professional asshole circuit?” he grunts. The thing is, his arms aren’t even wavering, but he’s flinching, before he reluctantly flips back onto his feet, immediately swaying a little.

She’s moving before she can think about it, wrapping one arm around his shoulders. “Easy, there, devil boy,” she says. “Can’t have you fainting on me. What are you, a period romance heroine?”

Matt huffs a laugh at that, but he is steadier on his feet now. Reorienting himself, probably. “Yeah, that's me. Swooning left, right and centre. Truth or dare?”

“Dare.”

“Race you to the top of that roof,” Matt says, pointing to the roof of the bar, and Jessica sighs.

It’s going to be a long night.

But she finds herself fighting a smile anyway.

She beats him to the top of the roof, because no shit, Sherlock. She’s still slightly impressed by the way he scales the wall, and almost regrets the victory. If she were still down on the side-walk, her view would be better.

“My turn, Murdock. Truth or dare.”

“Truth,” he laughs, hauling himself onto the roof-top. His sleeves are rolled up, despite the chill of the spring night, exposing toned forearms and Jesus, Jones, he’s your friend, don’t screw this up with your libido.

“What’s the deal with you and Claire anyway?” she asks, because she’s seen the way Matt holds himself around Claire: stance a little softer, voice the tiniest of shades warmer, body language a little looser. A hint that from Claire, he would tolerate things that he would from nobody else. The way that she caught herself holding her own stance around Luke.

Matt looks up at the sky, sightless eyes staring through the lights of Manhattan. “I make terrible decisions when drunk,” he informs the air.

“That you do, Counsellor. So, the deal?”

He sighs. The words that follow are those of a man ripping off a scab at the speed of light. “She pulled me out of a dumpster, I saved her from the Russian mob, we could have had something, but Claire’s frankly way too smart to get involved with my Messiah complex. And that was that. My turn. Truth or dare?”

The question was asked much more quickly than last time, but Jessica could live with that. It’s what she got for prodding at one of Murdock’s soft spots.

“Dare,” she responds again, breezily.

Matt cocks his ear to the side, listening. “You picked me up earlier. But you used both hands. I dare you to do it with one.”

Jessica snorts. “You’re using kid gloves tonight, for some reason.”

He shrugs. “This is supposed to be fun. We can do therapy another time. For now, I want to shoot the shit with a friend.”

And with those words, Jessica feels a sensation like relief unfurling in her belly, along with a faint hint of disappointment that his interest seems so strictly platonic.

But, whatever, it’s probably for the best anyway. Shit gets complicated when sex gets involved – just look at the past eighteen months of Jessica’s life – and she likes having Matt around as a friend.

The attraction will fade. It will.

He cocks his head to the side. “You okay?”

She smirks. “Just thinking about how best to do this. Hope you’re not too attached to that shirt.”

He shrugs, but looks a little wary. “I have plenty of button-ups, it’s fine, but what exactly are you planning on doing–”

His voice goes up an octave, as she picks him up by the collar of the shirt, producing a ripping sound, and then slowly shifts her grip so that he is securely slung over her shoulder, held in place by one arm, as promised.

“Oops,” Jessica says, completely unrepentant. “How bad’s the damage?”

“I’m gonna need another button-up. Also your scarf.”

“Why?” she asks. “Mugging? Robbery?”

“No, because it’s freezing and I’m only wearing a T-shirt underneath this.”

She snorts, setting him back down on his feet and handing her scarf to him. “Whatever. You know, you could get your own.”

He shrugs, tucking it around his neck. She takes advantage of the fact that he can’t detect line of sight in order to study the picture he makes, profiled against the skyline of their city. “I like yours, though.”

She rolls her eyes, steadfastly ignoring the little flutter in her gut. “Whatever, Murdock.”

His smile is filled with mischief. “My turn.”

Chapter Text

She takes off her boots as she opens the rooftop door, carefully nestling her cargo into the crook of her right arm. Normally, she’d stomp down the stairs, because Jessica Jones has more important shit to worry about than concentrate on muffling her footsteps. But not tonight, because she is attempting to sneak into Matt’s apartment. When they’d hung out in her apartment yesterday, she’d noticed that there were dark circles under his eyes, in addition to the stiff way he was moving, which a little questioning had revealed to be because of cracked ribs. No super healing means more sleep is required, and calling Danny for back-up when he went out onto the streets, which means Matt would be a cranky asshole, if not asleep. Which means that, all things considered, Jessica is pretty damn invested in not waking Matt up.

Naturally, she makes it about halfway to the couch before his head is poking out of the bedroom.

“Jessica?” he asks. His voice is low and raspy from sleep; his hair still damp and fluffy from the shower. As he moves into the doorway, the light from the neon billboard refracts off of the bruising around his ribs and off his scars, like some strange psychodrama. 

“Hey,” she says, not slowing down as she continues moving into the kitchen, settling the bag on the counter. “I, uh, didn’t mean to wake you.”

He shrugs, and then winces, even as he pulls on a T-shirt. She feels a pang of disappointment. “Wasn’t really asleep. Just…that zone between meditating and dozing.” He sniffs. “…do I smell chocolate?” 

She sighs. Somehow, she’d been hoping to return the favour of anonymously-donated food in the fridge that he regularly did for her. She must have been more drunk than she thought when she came up with this plan. 

“Yeah, it is,” she says, squaring her shoulders, unzipping the bag. “I’m fucking terrible at this, but…happy birthday, Matt.”

And Jesus, the look on his face is priceless. Both somewhat cute – fuck, since when do I think of things as cute? – and also enraging, because he looks gobsmacked. Like this is genuinely something that no-one has ever done for him.

“You–” his voice cracks, and she closes her eyes, taking a deep, grounding breath. Nope. She is not gonna lose it at Matt for making this a thing. Birch Street. Higgins Drive. Cobalt Lane on a fucking cracker, Murdock, wipe that look off your face

“You made something for me?”

“No, I made it for Malcolm, and decided to torment you by bringing it to your apartment and depriving you of sleep,” she snaps. She bites down on her lip as soon as the last word has left her mouth. Do not yell at the sleep-deprived, cracked-ribbed, possibly concussed friend, Jones

Well, she’s never been good at the not-yelling part anyway. Trish can testify to that.

Matt, to his credit, takes it in stride. “Well, you are a self-confessed asshole,” he says, a slightly teasing lilt to his smile. That mitigates the fluttery feeling in her gut a little, but only a little, because the rest of the smile is…grateful, and awed, and his line of sight is pretty close to hers, and he’s looking in her direction like she’s done something exceptional. Something wonderful.

She looks away, hoping like hell he can’t sense the blush that she can feel creeping up her neck, and busies herself taking off the saran wrap off the log.

“But really, Jess. Thank you. You didn’t have to.”

She snorts, turning to face him, and catching his wrists in between her thumbs and pinkies. She’s noticed that touch is a big thing for Matt. Not that he usually lets it out unless he’s very drunk, and he’s respectful of the fact that sometimes, her personal space bubble will expand to a personal space planet. But he listens much, much better when she’s in his space. 

“Of course I didn’t have to,” she tells him. “I don’t have to do anything. I did it because we’re friends and – fuck you for making me say shit like this, Murdock – because I wanted to do something like this for you. So shut the hell up with the gratitude, and tell me where your forks are.”

Another smile, spreading across his face and pushing aside the previous one entirely, this one sweet, slow and warm. She closes her eyes, freezing it in her mind's eye, like a photo. 

“Top drawer to your left,” is all he says, though, thank Christ, and she snorts, grabbing at it. She boosts herself onto his counter, and pats the space beside her, even as she opens the drawer and grabs two forks.

They eat side by side, working their way through the log, with her leaning into the heat radiating off his skin until her head is more or less cushioned against his shoulder. 

“Long night?” he asks her, carefully settling the plate on his leg so it isn’t jostled. She takes another forkful.

“Mmph. Case. Cheating scumbag turned complicated.”

“So, the story of your career,” he deadpans, and she’s somewhat impressed he could decipher her cake-obstructed mumblings.

“Can’t all be world-saving attorneys, Murdock,” she teases back, swallowing the bite. 

He huffs a laugh. “You wanna stay here tonight?”

“I’m not kicking you out of your bed, Murdock,” she says. 

He shrugs. “I don’t mind sharing.” 

Jessica thinks of just how badly this could end, considering that she’s pretty sure she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell with him. 

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” she says, taking another bite, and he smirks. Goddamn, that smirk. 

She hates it. Hates the smirk, hates the subtle twist of that full mouth that means he knows he has her pegged, and the way his eyes crinkle ever so slightly.

(And maybe she’s pissed with herself that she doesn’t hate the smirk – or the man wearing it – at all.)

Chapter Text

He wakes to the sound of footsteps on his roof: a harsh thump, and a loud, ungainly stagger, the smell of muted jasmine and the smell of whiskey so thick that it forms a near-palpable cloud around the person.

Jessica.

He swings his feet onto the floor, pulling on a T-shirt. He hears a muffled curse, and a harsh clicking sound. She’s just broken his doorknob, then. He’s noticed that her control is excellent when it comes to people, but less so with inanimate objects. Her walk is never graceful, but he senses her trip, the involuntary movement, and he is already moving to catch her, one arm wrapping around her waist.

“Jessica?” He can’t keep the confusion out of his voice. He doesn’t want to give her the idea that she’s not welcome, but he’s frankly worried. “What’s up?”

She scoffs, her voice low and angry. “You fucker. ‘What’s up’, like you’ve got no idea.” She’s not pushing him away, though, or threatening to punch him, so he shifts more of her weight onto him as he walks her over to the couch. She flops down into the leather with very little resistance, whiskey-with-a-little-jasmine mingling with blood and leather cleaner.

“Pretty sure I don’t have any idea what’s up,” he says, padding into the kitchen, but she makes a noise that he’s never heard from her before, low and pained.

“Jess? Are you hurt?”

The nickname slips out, in the midst of the mounting anxiety he’s feeling, and he forces himself to breathe. In, two, three.

She scoffs, again. “Am I hurt. Goddamn idiot stays under a building, and he asks if I’m hurt.”

oh. He feels a pang of shame. Not for staying under the building, so much – he could no more have walked away from Elektra at that point than he could have cut his arm off – but he hadn’t wanted to hurt people either.

But he can’t apologise for his actions, because he doesn’t regret that.

But causing her pain? Yeah. That, he really does.

“Is that what this is about?” he asks, turning on the tap. One, two, three.

“You don’t know.”

He doesn’t sigh. He has a decent read on Jessica – so he likes to think, anyway – and if he’s right, she’s had more than enough of various people calling her a disappointment. He just turns the tap off, and pads back to the couch, sitting down beside her and setting the glass of water down on the coffee table.

“You don’t know. How the fuck do you not know?” her voice is more confused than aggravated. “In the cavern. Under Midland Circle.”

He nods. “I remember.”

He does, vaguely. The soul-deep knowledge that that was the moment where Matt Murdock ended, one way or another, because he would not have another person he loved die in his arms. Not again.

But then, he'd more or less lost her, just the same.

“Elektra did something. To cut the elevator. Make sure we wouldn’t make it out. Still dunno why she changed her mind about wanting us dead.”

His eyebrows rise. That’s new information to him as well.

“I stopped it. The elevator. I jumped and I caught the cable. But –” he hears the sound of her swallow, the sudden clenching of her hands into fists in the leather of his couch. “I had to let it drop. As soon as Danny and Luke were out. I had to let it drop. And for a month afterwards, all I saw when I closed my eyes – I thought I’d – you made me like you, you bastard, and I thought I’d–”

Matt holds his breath, as the puzzle pieces click together. Jessica’s overprotectiveness. Her reluctance to let him move back into his apartment – away from where she was sure he could be safe.

“Jessica, no,” he whispers, reaching for her hand. He’s sure she’ll push him away, but he needs her to know that it wasn’t her fault. “No, no.”

She grabs his hand, clinging to it, fiercely, tightly, and he grunts a little in surprise.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he says, because she has to know that. “Jessica. Jess. It wasn’t your fault.”

Her breath is long, and shaky, and he can feel the heat transference from her tears, even through the cloud of whiskey he is sure he can thank for this moment of startling, painful vulnerability. Then she is moving, straddling him, and he wraps his arms around her. Her hands are trembling, as she cups his face, the fabric of her gloves scratchy against his cheek, her fingers cool and trembling. The longing to lean into the touch curls through him. It would be easy. So easy.

…but she’s drunk.

He hopes that his conflict is not showing on his face. But if it is, Jessica seems oblivious. She is running her fingertips over his face, and he remains still under it, ignoring the sudden increase in his heartbeat. It seems ludicrous to think that she cannot hear it, as loud as it is in his ears. And as hard as she was gripping his hand earlier, her touch is startlingly gentle and intimate right now, ghosting over his eyebrows, to his temples. One hand leaves the right temple, and taps him at the very top of his nose, right between his brows.

“You’re frowning,” she explains, and he can’t help a soft chuckle at the remark, at how straightforward she’s being right now. It’s vulnerable, yes, and he’s really hoping she doesn’t remember this in the morning, because if he does, he’s pretty sure their friendship goes up in flames. But he also finds himself more than a little endeared.

“Better,” she says, a note of approval in her voice, and isn’t that a strange thought? Her hands continue their quest to map him – or maybe that’s not the point. Maybe it’s about hearing his breathing, making sure she knows him. Clinging tighter so that she knows that he is there, not buried among bones of extinct dragons and under fifty storeys’ of postmodern architecture.

Her thumbs swipe down his cheekbones, trailing softly, and one of them halts at the corner of his mouth, as Jessica apparently chooses to draw the boundary there, even while drunk.

The other trails down his jaw, and settles right over his carotid artery, and her breath deepens a little as she hears his heart thumping, fast, but unmistakably alive.

She lets out a long breath, and settles her head into the crook of his shoulder.

“Don’t fucking scare me like that, you asshole,” her lips move against his neck.

He smooths down her hair. “Don’t blame yourself for my issues and my choices, Jones. You don’t get to carry my shit.”

She snorts into his collarbone. “Hypocrite.”

He purses his lips. She’s got him there.

“Yeah,” he admits. “I should probably work on that.”

She nods. “You’d better.”

His eyebrows rise again. No wonder she rarely lets herself get this smashed. And just how much alcohol had that taken, anyway? Jessica’s metabolism was through the roof. She needed a lot of fuel; even with all the alcohol she drank, she was rarely more than so much as mildly buzzed while working.

But she has a point. They were both messes with – if you were being polite about it – trauma histories, and other issues beyond that. And at some point, they could choose to either deal with it or self-destruct.

And the last option kept not working out, which leaves the highly unpleasant option of dealing with it.

“Okay,” he says, settling his chin onto her hair. “I work on my shit, and you work on yours. You don’t beat yourself up for my shitty choices, and – the next time something like this is eating at you and I can help – you come and talk to me. And I’ll do the same. Okay?”

She gives a contemplative hum. “I’m not good at talking.”

“Neither am I,” he huffs. “Hell, it doesn’t have to be me. It could be Trish, or Malcolm. But just…I don’t want shit like this festering…in either of us.” There, that’ll work better. Jessica approves more of things aligned with self-preservation than altruism, as a rule.

“I guess.”

Silence settles after that. He shifts under her, gently pushing at her waist, and she gives a low, unhappy hum in her throat. “One second,” he soothes her, and very grudgingly, she climbs off of his lap. The absence of her legs against his, her head against his shoulder, her lips against his neck, hits him like a discordant note, like someone singing sharply off-key. He hands her the water.

“That,” Jessica tells him, a sour note in her voice, “is not vodka.”

He smirks at her. “What gave it away?”

A strange drag of teeth over flesh, and then the same sound repeating itself. “You can’t tell if I stick my tongue out at you, can you.”

“Well, I know now,” Matt says, and there she goes again, before she drinks the water.

She sets it down on the coffee table, and her hair swishes as she looks at him.

He stretches out, swinging his legs up onto the couch, and opening his arms a little. An invitation. If she wants.

And Jessica Jones – who, for some reason that Matt can’t quite identify, seems to very much give a damn about him – takes it, wrapping herself around him. Head tucked under his chin, her hair spilling across his shoulders, the ends tickling at his neck, one hand resting on his bicep, tracing tiny patterns on it, her still-booted feet tucked into his ankles.

The other hand inches back to his jugular, and hovers over the pulse point, her thumb pressing lightly into his throat.

Their chests rise and fall in tandem, their breathing like exhibits of evidence: alive, alive, alive.

It might be awkward in the morning, Matt thinks, closing his eyes. Hell, it's a little awkward now, at least on his end, without the alcohol to blur all social protocol into some kind of impressionist painting. But he wraps an arm around Jessica's waist anyway, and listens intently to the sound of her heartbeat.

Chapter Text

Ugh. Morning. There is light behind her eyes, and a thousand points of pain exploding behind them, fires upon fires and holy shit, how does her entire body hurt, did a hurricane rip through her head?

“Morning,” her pillow mumbles at her. The surface seems more solid than yielding today, for some reason. And also it's apparently talking.

What the fuck.

“Huh. That bad?” it asks her.

She cracks her eyes open. There’s a white shirt, a faint wet patch on it, her lipstick smeared across it, a familiar face with absurdly fluffy hair above it, and she groans.

“Shit. Kill me now.”

“Jones, you’re beginning to hurt my feelings,” Matt deadpans beneath her.

She decides to take stock, see exactly how much hell she’s put herself in for. Her feet are hooked over the arm of the couch. They’re in her socks now, not her boots. Her right arm is numb beneath her chest; her left hand is curled around Matt’s right arm, and his left hand is a warm heat-signature between her shoulder-blades.

“What the hell did I do?” she mumbles, hoping like hell she hadn’t embarrassed herself too badly. She doesn’t dare look at his face.

Matt must sense her mounting anxiety, because his voice is light and relaxed, and his hand moves in a slow, steady circle around her back.

“It’s Friday. You showed up around 3:00am last night, and were somewhat pissed off at me.”

She frowns. “Why, what did you do?”

“Uh, well.”

“Murdock.”

He lets out a sigh. “You hadn’t told me that you’d been blaming yourself for Midland Circle.”

She freezes, anxiety mixing with her hangover to create a nauseous sensation in her throat. She swallows, hard, forcing the sour bile down.

“I said what?” she repeats, her voice low and flat.

His hand is still rubbing circles into her back, his body is relaxed beneath hers. His breathing is steady.

“You said that you’d had nightmares. After Midland Circle. You dreamed about my body.”

She closes her eyes, and the sunlight turns darkness to red orange, the colour of his suit, his mask, and she sees it again, the way red glass eyes had stared at her, in her dreams, a wordless accusation of you did this.

“Hey,” his voice is soft. “Jess. Jessica. I’m here. Right here.”

She exhales, slowly. Birch Street. Higgins Drive. Cobalt Lane.

“You can hear my voice. You can feel my breathing. If you put your thumb to my throat, you’ll feel my pulse,” he says, voice forming a counterpoint to her survival mantra. Birch Street. Higgins Drive. Cobalt Lane.

Eventually, the panic recedes a little.

“So, what. We...cuddled?”

He shrugs, just the slightest motion of his shoulders. “You wanted to be sure I was alive. Which is flattering, I won’t lie.” Teasing, light, offering her a way out of the embarrassment. “And then I said that you didn’t get to blame yourself for my shitty choices.”

“You don’t get to dictate what I do,” Jessica warns him, because that is so non-negotiable.

He hums under her, the sound contemplative, and she closes her eyes because dammit. When the hell did she start caring this much?

“Good point. Let me rephrase. You shouldn’t blame yourself for my shitty choices. So I suggested a compromise, of sorts.”

All of her alarm bells start ringing. “What compromise?”

“We,” Matt begins his sentence with enough mock-solemnity that she could probably make a two-by-four out of it, “are both messes with trauma histories as tall as we are.”

Jessica smirks. At least he's not dancing around it. “Finally figured that out, huh?”

But we have the potential to do better,” Matt says. “If we start working through our shit. Or rather, if I start working through mine, and you continue to work your way through yours. I thought maybe an agreement would help.”

She sighs against his chest, and tries very hard to ignore the feeling of solid muscle beneath her mouth. From the way he twitches, he’s not entirely unaffected, and that thought sends a little shiver of satisfaction through her, for some reason that she is not going to dwell on.

“Cut to the chase, Murdock. What are your terms?”

He swallows, and takes a long breath, his fingers drumming a pattern on her waist, before he speaks. Is this how he winds up for an argument? “I work through my shit. I start talking about it when things bother me, or there are parts of my past that are – as you put it – actively trying to kill us. Or when there aren’t. We’re friends now – unless I am severely misreading this–” he cocks an eyebrow at her, and not for the first time, she marvels that a blind man has such expressive facial features.

“Yeah, we are.”

“Okay. That means that my shit will affect you if I don’t deal with it. And –” he cuts himself off, but she can already see where that line of argument is headed, and honestly, it’s true. If their positions had been reversed – if she had woken with him on top of her – she’s not sure what she would have done, even in her hung-over state.

“And vice versa,” she says.

His nod is tiny, almost involuntary. Which… says a lot about his end of things. She’s seen how calculated he is in public. Every tilt of the head, every inflection of his voice, the way he dresses and moves just on the right side of clumsy for a blind guy. And she knows better than to think he’s approaching a conversation this charged while switched off. But…his walls are down. He has chosen to leave them down, with her.

It’s a measure of trust, from Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, and it hangs in the air, fragile and sweet, like spun sugar. She ignores it, convinced that acknowledging it will just break it.

“So. You start talking about your shit. To me? ‘cos I gotta warn you, I can’t do the whole ‘make you feel better’ thing.”

“Surprise me,” he deadpans, and she smirks.

“Asshole.”

“Guilty. But honestly, Jessica, I’m not sure I need you to do the whole ‘tea-and-sympathy’ shit. You see through me, and you don’t flinch when you do. That’s – that’s rare.”

That hasn’t happened before, she sees, in the tilt of his mouth and the frown taking up residence between his brows. Like it’s puzzling that she’s not afraid of him.

“People flinch because you have a kink?” she asks.

He sighs, even as his hand comes up an inch and starts playing with her hair. She leans into it, chasing the touch, and he obliges, tangling his hand in a little deeper.

“Why does everyone assume I’m into BDSM?” he retorts.

Neither of them mention the touches. The moment will end soon enough, and they’ll be back to being Matt Murdock, and Jessica Jones, snapping and snarking and silent displays of affection.

She frowns as that thought snags her attention. Huh. Between her tips on his cases and occasional back-up, and his habit of constantly dropping by her office with lunch and “accidentally” buying more than needed, and “forgetting” food on her desk…

Maybe the touch does make sense, if it's just an extension of that. A way both of them could communicate, without the words that so often got stuck in their throats.

“You run around Hell’s Kitchen in red leather, beating the hell out of people,” she points out, in response to his question.

His sigh is defeated. “Point.”

She smirks. “Okay. So that’s your side of the deal. And mine?”

“Open to negotiation. But if there’s something I’m doing that’s bothering you, or if something’s eating at you, you tell me. And if it’s something…else…” he skirts around Kilgrave’s name like he’s trying to steer clear of a blast zone. “Then it doesn’t have to be me. Could be Trish, or Malcolm, or…well, whoever you want. But. Don’t let it eat at you, alright? And in the event something from your life tries and kills us, then…the same applies. Open communication. So we can deal with it.”

We. The word feels strange to hear, but…the terms are fair.

She sighs. “We should write this down,” she says, looking up at him.

His attempt to suppress his smile is almost painfully obvious on his face.

“I know a notary,” is all he says. “I think."

"You think?"

"Mmhm. Let me up. I'll make breakfast, and tell you about my study buddy, Amy Santiago. Her description of our friendship, not mine."

"How could I possibly refuse," she deadpans, savouring the feel of him under her for one last, fleeting moment. The sunlight spilling in across the room; her temple, against the edge of his collarbone; her fingers curled around his bicep. 

Then she stands and curses, as blood begins to rush into her arm, and she says goodbye to the moment.

Chapter Text

“Matt? Oh my God! How’ve you been? It’s good to see you!”

Eight years, and Amy still sounds exactly the same. Matt smiles, extending his hand.

“Good to see you too, Amy,” he says, as she takes his hand. Her grip is different, firmer, more authoritative. “Or should I say, Sergeant Santiago. Congratulations!”

“You too, Counsellor. I heard about the James case,” she returns, with her smile twined into her voice. “So what brings you to the 99 today? And who’s your…friend?”

Ah. That pause and uncertainty in her tone on the word ‘friend’ indicates that she’s seen Jessica.

“Jessica Jones,” Jessica says, shoving her hands into her pockets and taking a small step to the side, out of handshaking range. Slowly, Amy withdraws hers. “I’m babysitting his dumb ass and keeping it out of trouble.”

A pause, and then: “I want to disagree with you on principle, but I really can’t.”

Matt's brows contract. Oh, no. He hadn’t foreseen the possibility of them agreeing.

“I wasn’t that bad,” he argues. “In college, I mean.”

Amy snorts. “You keep telling yourself that, son.”

Oh, no. “So I’m guessing you’ve got some good stories about him?” Jessica asks.

Energetic footsteps, approaching from the left, a smell of sour candy, leather and cologne mixing in a frankly odd blend. “Ames! Who’s this? And wow, I haven’t seen someone with a glare that good since I first met Rosa.”

Santiago’s stance lightens further still, her heartbeat not changing a second, but her body turning to face the newcomer completely.

“Jake! This is Matt, my study buddy from college, and his friend, Jessica,” she says. “Jessica, Matt, my boyfriend–”

“Jake Peralta, but around here, they call me Hellhound, because I never give up the pursuit of justice,” the man cuts in, and Matt can hear Santiago suppressing a laugh.

Jessica stuffs her hands into her pockets again. “Let me guess: you were about five when you decided to become a cop?” she asks.

“Four, actually, but good guess, that was impressive, scary leather jacket lady,” he says, voice stuttering over the last four words.

“Meh. I’ve had worse nicknames,” Jess says, her tone flat. Her teeth bite down on her lip. Suppressing a smile.

“I’m pretty sure there’s a rule against nicknames being composed of more than two words,” Amy muses. “Anyway, what can we do for you?”

“I, uh, remembered you said you’d become a notary, in one of your emails a while back, like you planned,” Matt replies, fishing in his bag. “I wondered if you wouldn’t mind notarising this.”

And from the way Santiago is rocking back on her heels, she hadn’t been expecting that.

“Oh, no,” Jake says. “Here it comes.”

“Just to be clear. You want me, a police sergeant, in the middle of my incredibly busy day, to stop and notarise something?”

It’s at times like this where Matt really wishes visual cues were still something he could pick up on.

“If it’s too much trouble–” he begins, swallowing.

“I will absolutely do that. Come on, my desk is at your two o’clock, five feet forward,” Amy says. Matt taps his way over, thankful for the hint. The desks do, after all, sound identical.

He freezes in his path as two more sets of footsteps enters the bullpen. Two women. One gait isn’t familiar, a kind of arrhythmic saunter, and is accompanied by a very strong perfume of violets and hairspray and smoke. But the other is a graceful, easy walk, accompanied by a symphony of smells: motorcycle oil, leather, blood, petrol, grease, and laundry detergent.

No. No way. Of all the police precincts in New York City–

Diaz?” he blurts out.

She freezes in her tracks, her head snapping around to study him, and he feels her stance tilt to the left. Confused. “What are you doing here?”

Her words are blunt, her voice smoke and razors. The exact same as when he’d met her in a bar a few years ago.

He flinches internally, realising what this might look like, if you didn’t know about his connection to Santiago.

“You two know each other?” Amy asks, curiously, sitting down at her desk.

“No. I met him in a bar once. We drank,” Diaz says, continuing her walk to her desk. It's a half-truth: meeting and drinking had been followed by a very, very enjoyable one-night stand. “You two?”

“College friend,” Amy says. “Matt, pass me the copies?”

“You’ve got good taste, Rosa, I do admit,” the other woman said, with a sigh. “Amy, how? Could he not see how nerdy you were?”

Matt smiles, turning his head but keeping his line of sight just about a foot away, rather than the few inches of accuracy he could normally triangulate.

“Well, as it happens,” he smirks.

“Hmm, I guess that’d help,” the woman hums, not even so much as wincing at her mistake. And, what did she just say?  “Still.”

Amy sighs, flipping through the paper at her desk. “Matt, Gina Linetti. Gina, this is Matt, an actual human being who is not one of your victims. Ignore her, she’s always like this.”

“I think by ‘this’ you mean unfairly fabulous, and yes, yes, I am,” the woman says, fluffing her hair with one hand.

“Jesus, what’s wrong with this place?” Jessica mumbles beside him.

“You know, I used to think it was something in the water,” Amy says, in a confidential tone. “But then, about a year into working here, it all became clear. Then I realized that most of the weirdness could be blamed on Jake and Gina.”

“I love you too, babe,” Jake calls, from the desk opposite Amy’s.

There’s the sound of a pen scratching. Amy signing the agreement. “Do you want me to notarise the Braille agreement as well?”

“Nah, it’s alright,” Matt says. “I’ll be fine.”

He hears the drag of flesh over teeth. Amy’s grinning at them.

“Good luck,” she says, simply.

Matt grins back at her. “You too, Santiago.”

There’s another few minutes of mayhem, where Matt has to politely decline Gina’s attempts to give him her phone number, as she tries subtly blocking their exit from the bullpen. He can feel Jessica’s irritation swelling beside him, until she steps in front of him, snarling: “He said no, asshole, now go away or I fry you with my laser eyes before she picks Gina up with one hand and – presumably because she’s trying to be restrained – stomps across the bullpen, the secretary slung over her shoulder, before she deposits her at her desk. Matt has to duck his head in order to hide his grin, warmth curling through him at the gesture.

“Laser eyes, huh? Kinky,” Diaz comments, her smile twined into her voice from several feet back behind them.

Matt thinks it's a sign of maturity that he doesn't blow his cover by turning around and flipping her off. Why, oh why, is he always attracted to the women who rag on him for their entertainment?

“Thanks for visiting, guys. You’re welcome in Brooklyn anytime, if we haven’t scared you into thinking that we’re a borough full of loonies,” Jake says, a hint of embarrassment in his tone. Not much, though. 

Matt grins at the other man. He gets that. Hell's Kitchen has its fair share of crazies, too, but he understands the fierce love that makes such things like embarrassment irrelevant, because a place is just home.

“Eh, I always thought Brooklyn was full of crazies. You ever wanna come see the aliens, feel free to drop by the Kitchen,” is what he says.

“Fuck no, we don’t need any more craziness uptown,” Jessica argues, as Matt slips his hand into the crook of her arm.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say, Jones.”

Chapter Text

 She finds him at the cemetery, standing over the grave. His forehead is scrunched, his mouth trembling. There’s no audible sobbing, but there are tears coursing down his face. There’s no pathetic fallacy. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and there are birds chirping in the trees. It’s grotesquely picture-perfect, especially for when someone is in mourning.

Slowly, Matt turns to face her. He’s dressed in one of his suits, leaning a little on his cane. The sunglasses seem to be blocking him off more than they usually do.

“I’m really not in the mood, Jones,” he says, his voice low, shaky, angry.

She holds up her hands, slamming down hard on the urge to snap at him. One. Two. Three.

“Easy, Lucifer. I didn’t come here to be an asshole,” she says, instead. It’s the truth, and that much gets through to him, because he opens his mouth, and then closes it, evidently thinking better of what he was going to say.

Figures. Grief makes people do weird shit. She should know.

“Why did you come?” he asks her.

She swallows. Truthful is one thing. But answering that, in all its entirety, feels vulnerable, like she’s rolling over to expose a soft underbelly.

But then, that’s exactly what he’s doing, in standing at the grave, instead of walking away.

“I,” she begins. Hesitates. Steels herself to continue. “I didn’t want you to be alone.”

He nods at that, with no teasing or snarky remark. No way to alleviate the ache of empathy she feels clawing its way up her throat, desperate to bubble out of her: I’m sorry, I get it, I’m here. But Matt prefers stoicism. Expressing that is likely to win her a strained smile and a more-or-less polite brush-off. But you should never under-estimate the power of silence.

She waits. Counts, silently, in her mind, as a way to fight the urge to shift on her feet, make a snarky remark, do anything but settle under the weight of the moment.

Ten.

We’re really just gonna stand here all day?

She bites down on her lower lip.

Fifteen.

It takes all of her patience, and she resolves to reward herself with a nicer bottle of whiskey than usual, but a minute later, it finally comes.

“He was an asshole,” Matt says abruptly, not taking his eyes off the grave. “I wanted a father. He wanted a fighter. But…”

He trails off.

“But he was yours?” Jessica suggests, walking forward to stand beside him. It's the usual line when someone starts in on the flaws of someone they cared about, after all.

Matt shakes his head, with a soft snort. “I wanted him to be. But the second I showed him that I cared about him as a person, he left.” Matt’s jaw clenches. “I was ten. And he left.”

Jessica hesitates, and then steps around his body and turns to face him, wrapping her arms around his waist. She can feel the surprised jolt through his body, before he slides one arm around her waist, leans his head on her shoulder.

“But the worst part is that I still care,” Matt whispers into her hair.

Jessica thinks about Dorothy. About the slow, aching realisation that had sunk in over the years, that she never would have gotten her Mom back, but she could have had another mother. And then the dull ache that had settled into her bones, the realisation that Dorothy would never, ever give her that.

She tightens her arms around him, hoping that he gets what she’s trying to say.

I’m not going anywhere, Murdock. Even if you do scare the hell out of me sometimes. Even if you drive me insane. 

I'm not going anywhere. 

The thought resolves, takes a more certain shape in her mind. She breathes.

I'm not going anywhere.

She’s Jessica Jones, and she is done running.

Chapter Text

They’re walking down the street when it happens, past an Italian restaurant. She’s teasing him, and he’s laughing at her quip, when the doors of the restaurant open.

The smells of pasta and sauce mingle with the smells and the soundscape of New York City, and Matt opens his mouth to comment when Jessica’s arm goes completely tense under his fingers.

Her pulse spikes, her breathing increases slightly, and every muscle in her body clenches. She’s gone completely still, and he forces himself into his meditative rhythm of breathing as he starts analysing. Jessica is not Elektra. This isn’t a combat reaction, not an indication that he needs to be ready for a fight.

This is…oh, no.

It’s a flashback.

“Birch Street,” she grits out, so softly that it would be inaudible to anyone else. “Higgins Drive. Cobalt Lane. Main Street. Birch Street.”

She repeats the mantra again, still barely breathing the words aloud, and he slowly takes his fingers off of her arm. Being in her space is not a particularly good idea for him right now, if he doesn’t want to be thrown across the street. Even if he wants nothing more than to hold her until she knows that she’s safe now.

It takes three minutes and forty three seconds, but he can feel the change in her body, when she fully returns to the present. Her breathing slows, becoming more even, and her pulse levels out again.

But her hands tremble, when she digs into her bag for her flask, to the point where she fumbles it.

He catches it before the flask can hit the side-walk – his cover can go to hell in a hand basket, as far as he’s concerned right now – and presses it into her hand.

Her exhale is stronger, steadier.

“Thanks.”

He shrugs. You needed it.

 She sighs, unscrewing the cap of the flask, before she takes an enormous gulp. One of the drops escapes the corner of her mouth, and it trickles down the side of her jaw. His thumb is almost itching with the urge to brush it away, and before he can think it through, his hand is moving, slowly, telegraphing his movement, giving her plenty of time to step back, or swat his hand away.

She does neither, going completely still, her heart rate accelerating a little. But that’s interesting, because that rhythm is different from the panicky rhythm of before. It feels like…almost, almost like anticipation.

Before he permits himself to mull the thought over, his thumb is on her jaw, wiping the drop away, the pad of his thumb brushing over her lip. For half a second, she leans into the touch, pressing her jaw and her chin into his hand.

He exhales. The moment passes, and she withdraws from the touch, capping the flask and stowing it in her bag.

Then she shoves both hands in her pockets. “Come on,” she says. “My place.”

“You sure?” he asks, because her tone is so defeated that he wants to break a punching bag.

Her voice is normally so reflective of her – bourbon and switchblades and the smoke of New York City at night – and he has heard what it sounds like for her to be smiling, for her to be amused, for her to be impressed, for her to be angry and raging, for her to be sad or guilty. But he has never heard Jessica Jones – the most unyielding woman he has ever met, when Matt is a magnet for women who simply do not give way – sound defeated.

Her nod is slow.

“We made a deal. And its terms and conditions just became applicable,” she says, and his breath is stuck in his lungs, because there’s only one section of the pact that could apply here.

And that means that Jessica Jones – the woman who can lift a car with her bare hands, and whose emotional armour is stronger than the Iron Man suit – has inexplicably decided that he is worthy of her trust.

“Let’s go, then,” he says, slowly slipping his hand through the crook of her arm, telegraphing the movement once more.

She permits it, and he can’t focus on anything else except exhibit B for the fact that she trusts him.

Get up, Matty. Work to do.

They walk to her apartment in silence, except for the sound of Jessica’s breathing and pulse in his ears.

Chapter Text

“I can’t talk about a lot of it,” she says, without any pre-empting, as they walk into her apartment. 

She walks around to her desk, and flips her phone open, contemplating the take-out menus, before settling on Thai. Thai is safe. Thai is neutral. Thai has memories of take-out with Trish, in her apartment when they first moved to Manhattan together, them teasing each other on her couch, while watching The West Wing.

“Okay,” Matt says, sitting in the chair opposite her. She’s grateful that he’s not standing on ceremony. That he’s not walking on eggshells after what he saw earlier. She’s sure it’s a deliberate choice on his part – only an idiot wouldn’t have noticed her episode, and Matt Murdock, J.D, is many things, but not an idiot. Never that. 

He hangs his jacket on the chair, loosens his tie, unbuttons his shirt sleeves, rolls the sleeves up, sets the sunglasses down on the desk. Like that, he’s gone from suit model to artfully tousled and relaxed. The veneer of relaxation stops there, of course. Tension hangs in the air, thick. She can feel his concern, his worry, radiating from him, even as he tries to cloak his body language from her, trying to shroud it. And she appreciates the effort, she does, but…neither of them are quite foolish enough for the acts to work. 

But she can’t say that. So she unscrews the lid of her flask, swinging her feet onto her desk, and opening a drawer to find the bottle of Scotch she keeps in there for emergencies. 

She slides it across the desk to him.

“You like Scotch, right?”

He smiles, standing and going into the kitchen. 

“First thing I ever drank,” he says, rifling through the cabinets. He emerges again very quickly, and isn’t that irony, if she ever heard it. The blind man knows how to navigate her kitchen better than she does. He returns back to the desk, thunking the glass down. “I would have been about nine. My Dad came back from a match, needed me to stitch him up. Gave me a sip from the Scotch bottle.” 

She raises her eyebrows. “Life with a boxer as your Dad, huh?”

He winces. “He was a good man,” he says quietly, in a tone that suggests he’s had to defend his Dad from any number of comers. 

“I know,” she reminds him. The gesture feels strange, but she reaches across the desk and squeezes his hand anyway. She can only hold the gesture for a heartbeat, but the smile he gives her says thank you and I know, this is weird for me too.

“You have family?” he asks.

“I’m not talking about that.”

He holds up one hand, palm out. “Fair. Sorry, didn’t mean to step on your toes.”

She snorts. “It’s fine.” 

He sips at the Scotch, and she takes another gulp of her bourbon. 

The words come as the liquid burns down her throat. 

“Amatriciana pasta,” she says. 

Matt just tilts his head a little, focussing on her words and the sound of her voice. She closes her eyes, because she can’t deal with being seen to that extent right now. She can’t, not with Kilgrave’s accent still echoing in her head, his insistence of Smile, Jessica.

“It was Kilgrave’s favourite meal. And for a year, it was mine as well,” she says, gripping the flask hard. The divots left in it from previous flashbacks deepen a little, metal yielding to her stress. “He liked – screwing with my tastes. Making his preferences mine.”

Matt’s entire body has clenched, when she dares to open her eyes. Jaw, teeth, fists. “Shit.”

“Yeah,” she agrees, because that’s a pretty accurate summary of the situation. “Haven’t been able to eat Italian since.” 

He nods. “Okay,” he says. 

He moves slowly, as he stretches his hand across the desk. 

She takes a deep breath, as she meets it. The squeeze of his fingers around hers doesn’t make the creeping sensation down her spine stop. but it is warm. 

She frowns. “Thought the talking shit was supposed to help.”

Matt shrugs. “I think they say the benefit is long-term, not short-term.”

She sighs. “Shit.”

He shrugs again. “If you want to drink in silence, I’m fine with that.”

She shakes her head, harder than she intended. “No. Not silence. That’s – not a great idea for me right now.” Silence will mean her mind wandering back to Kilgrave, will mean his clipped vowels and sharp consonants and his let's start with a smile.

His eyebrows bounce, but he accepts the new information without comment. “What do you want me to talk about? The intricacies of New York worker’s compensation laws?”

“That the case you’re working on at the moment?” she asks, accepting the gambit.

And he rolls with it, because he’s Saint Matthew, the patron saint of Hell’s Kitchen, lost causes, and assorted strays. 

It’s not a panacea. But Matt’s voice washes over her, as he starts laying out the pieces of legislation and the history of the Acts, and she focusses on it. The pitch, the cadence, the softness of the way he forms the words, the smirk twined into it when he finds part of the legislation worthy of mockery.

And slowly, her focus diminishes until there is nothing but Matt’s voice, Matt’s words, the sight of him at her desk, hair ruffled, looking so relaxed that her fingers itch for her camera. 

“And that’s all, honestly,” he says. “It’s a pretty open-and-shut case.”

She hums, a little skeptical of that. “Okay, so. Rumour I heard in college once. Was there really a case where the state got sued for banning contraceptives?” 

Matt looks incredibly pained all of a sudden, and she can’t quite stifle a snort of laughter at the expression. 

Everyone brings up that one,” he grumbles, one hand going to the bridge of his nose, and she bits her lip again, because seriously? People confuse this man with the Devil? Matt Murdock?

The rest of the afternoon is spent in more of their usual vein, with Matt earnestly trying to explain case law and Jessica finding reasons to mock him.

And maybe that’s the whole point of the whole talking about it, thing, she thinks, as he stands a few hours later, collecting his jacket from where it had been slung on the chair. Not because it makes the PTSD go away. But…maybe it could suck less, with someone like Matt there.

Chapter Text

“Murdock, how’s your schedule for the night?” Jessica asks.

Matt pauses from where his fingertips are running over the Braille of his reader. He’s going through the depositions for the Fairfax case. Apparently, the James verdict had made him the go-to lawyer for harmful chemicals civil suits.

“I’m just going over some depositions,” he says. “Danny’s got the Kitchen tonight.”

Jessica huffs at that, and Matt smiles. Watching Jessica torment Danny is probably the highlight of when the gang gets together. The mediocre bourbon and the excellent Chinese take-out is a plus too, though.

There’s silence on the line, nothing but the static of the phone, for a moment, before she asks, somewhat abruptly:

“Got a tux?”

Matt’s heart flips in his chest. “I’m sorry?”

“I said, ‘do you have a tux?’”

He frowns. “Uh, yeah, as it happens,” he says.

“Good. I’ll meet you at eight.”

He says, “Pact, Jess.”

And she sighs, into the receiver. “Fuck. I did agree to that, didn’t I?”

His mouth quirks up. “You did. We even went and wrote it down, so that it would be binding. And then we got it notarized.”

“Weren't we drunk when we did that?” she complains, and he chuckles.

“Only a little bit. Why are you questioning me about my wardrobe, Jones?”

She sighs. “I need a date. For a case,” she says, but the addition is tacked on, a hurried after-thought, like a saving throw.

He rises from his arm-chair, one hand going to his stubble, and feeling it out with the pads of his fingers. It’s a surprisingly fine line to walk, the line between what Foggy called dishevelled anti-hero and either shave or grow a beard, dumbass but he’s definitely gotten more towards the latter point.

“What’s the case?” he asks her.

She huffs. “Usual cheating scumbag. He’s at a function at which his wife wasn’t invited. She wants me to follow.”

“How are you getting in?”

“Trish,” Jessica says. “She gets to appease the gala-hosters – the whole, “I couldn’t make it, but I value this, so I sent my adoptive sister” shit – and I get my case, and you get the privilege of keeping me sane. Sane-ish.”

“I’m honoured,” Matt deadpans, thankful that she can't see the grin on his face, which would give his remark away as being totally genuine. “Where and when do you need me to be ready?” She’s asking me for help. She could do this on her own, but she wants me there.

He’s not deluding himself. He knows Jess found him attractive, at least during the early days of their friendship, but it seems like she chose to not do anything about that, and her feelings cooled. Which is fair, and God knows he wouldn't give their friendship up for anything in the world. He of all people knows there's a world of difference between having a crush on someone, and wanting to start something with them.

That doesn’t stop a part of him from looking at each little moment like this – each gesture of trust, each second of vulnerability, each minute of laughter shared and snark exchanged – and curling up and purring.

She snorts. “You need to get your nails painted?”

“You caught me,” Matt says. “I fully intend to get a mani-pedi. If there’s time.”

“I’ll see you at the Plaza at eight,” Jessica says, and there’s a hint of a laugh in her voice before she hangs up. Pride, contentment and delight all curl through his gut, as he checks his watch.

He’d better get started. 

Chapter Text

She watched the cab pull up at the hotel, smoothing down the dress, even as she heard the buzz of her phone in her clutch. It really was a good thing that Trish and she were the same size. Admittedly, their colourings were different, but dark red was a colour they could both rock.

Matt looked oddly disoriented as he exited the cab. Probably wondering where she was.

“I’ll be right there,” she murmured. It was low enough that someone standing ten feet from her would have trouble with it, but Matt just quirked his lips.

She slipped off the heels, and walked to the edge of the roof, jumping, and landing in a crouch.

(“I’m gonna need to be able to move in this, you realise,” she’d said to Trish, an hour before.”

Trish had just smiled at her. “Won’t be a problem. Trust me.”)

I should have known better than to doubt Trish, she thought, slipping back into the shoes, and crossing the street to join Matt.

He looked damn good in the warm lights of the hotel. The tuxedo fit him well, and the bowtie actually looked good, which she’d thought wasn’t really possible on men.

“Hey,” she said, reaching for his arm. She was taller than him in the heels, she realized, her mouth quirking at the thought.

“Hey yourself,” he said, cocking his ear to the side, hand wrapping around her elbow gently. “Dress sounds nice.”

She huffed a laugh. “Can you tell what fabric it is?” she asked, curiously, adjusting the handbag at her shoulder.

He smirked. “Oh, that’s easy. Silk. The handbag’s leather. Not your usual style, I’m guessing you borrowed it from Trish.” There was a pause, before he asked, in a soft voice, “What colour is the dress?”

There was something in his body language – an intensity, a focus – that, along with the aching softness in his voice, made it hard to breathe all of a sudden.

“Red,” she managed, around the constriction in her lungs.

His smile was slow and warm, and she felt her pulse spike.

“We should go inside,” she said.

“Lead the way,” he said. A quiet challenge in it, almost.

Jessica took a deep breath, and walked to the besuited bouncer, who stood there with a list open beside him.

“Name?”

Oh, it was a dumb idea, and if it ever got back to Trish, she’d be in for so. Much. Teasing.

She glanced at Matt, dapper in his tuxedo, and looked down at her dress. Lady in red, Trish had teased as Jess left her apartment.

What the hell.

“Jones, Jessica Jones,” she said, dropping her voice a register, lifting her chin, making sure she got the cadence just right.

The look of delight on Matt’s face was entirely worth the you’ve-gotta-be-shitting-me look from the bouncer.

“Please tell me that makes me your Bond girl,” Matt whispered in her ear. Her pulse spiked, and she took in a single, calming breath, before she responded.

“Tell anyone, and I kick your ass.”

Matt hummed. “Duly noted, Jones.”


“So, the guy we’re looking for is about your height, one hundred and ninety pounds, in his forties – wait, can you tell–”

“Ages? Approximately,” Matt murmured, with a shrug. “Depends on how good a listen I get at their joints.”

“You’re still weird. He’s possibly with a woman about half his age, leggy, thin, five feet seven. The wife wears j’adore, he wears Hugo Boss, because he’s an idiot who likes puns, and apparently she wears either some kind of sandalwood, or Chanel N°5,” Jessica whispered back.

“It’s cute how you think super-senses mean I can identify every kind of perfume in New York City,” Matt retorted under his breath, even as he inhaled.

To his right, Jessica. The smell of bourbon, lighter than normal, lingering leather, and jasmine. Three feet to his right, cologne and Chanel, and a different cologne and another kind of perfume that was similar but not quite the same – less gardenia, more citrus – right beside him, talking to him. Way too much cologne on the guy. Ten feet to his right, a different kind of cologne, and a strong scent of vanilla. Six feet straight ahead, a woman was wearing essence of peppermint, and why the hell would you do that? The muted scent of champagne in the room, circulating in a distinctive pattern if only he could make it out…

Ah, shit, he thought, as the pressure began to build in his skull.

Her hand squeezed his forearm. “Matt?” her voice was low and almost gentle, his name was in her mouth, and he closed his eyes behind his glasses.

Get it together, Murdock, he told himself, harshly.

“Hard to tell. Everyone’s wearing something or other. It’s a recipe for a migraine. You’ll have to take point,” he told her.

The soft wish of her hair that meant she was nodding.

Most of the time, he didn’t dwell on losing his sight. Not when there was so much he could do with his senses. But some nights–

What had she done with her hair? It wasn’t sweeping across her shoulders in its usual waterfall. Did her lipstick match her dress, or was it a few shades lighter or darker? What shape was her face, and did it seem at odds or like it fit with her voice?

Hell, what colour was her skin? Her hair? Her eyes?

Matt exhaled, letting the questions, the yearning, the desire rush through his body, and then, very deliberately, letting go of it.

Focus.

Okay.

He could do this.


“You can dance, right?” Jess asked him, her nose wrinkling from distaste at the fruity tones of the champagne.

“Some,” Matt agreed, sipping from his own flute, “but if we’re maintaining my cover, you’ll have to lead.”

Jess’ teeth sunk into the corner of her mouth, the way it did when she was suppressing a smile. “Well, lucky for you, I had lessons,” she said. “My adoptive mom was a bitch with a hell of a curriculum.”

He felt her turning towards him, wrapping her fingers around his, as she plucked the glass from him. Her fingers were surprisingly soft. Without the Braille callouses on his fingertips, without his thickened knuckles from where they had punched and broken and healed.

How many guys held your hand, and thought that you were soft just because it was? he couldn’t help but wonder.

“May I?” the mirth was almost bubbling in her voice, and Matt bit down hard on his grin. One of these days, he would hear what it sounded for her to laugh outright, and he would find some way to immortalise the moment it finally happened, and keep it in his lockbox, right there with his memories of his Dad, and Elektra, and his 3D photo of Foggy and Karen, and everything else that was beyond precious to him.

His eyes widened at the thought behind his glasses.

…oh, he was so beyond fucked.

“Lead on,” was all he said. He forced a chuckle as she pulled him onto the dance floor. “You’re taller than me in those heels anyway.”

“Does that bother you?” her tone was arch as she continued to lead him onto the floor.

“’Course not. Why would it?” he asked, too baffled by the idea to continue contemplating his doom.

She shrugged, as she settled his hand on her shoulder, and her hand curled around his bicep. “I dunno. It bothers some guys. Something about their masculinity being compromised,” she said, stepping back.

Matt snorted, following. “I’ve been seen as weak for a variety of reasons throughout my life. Never because of my height.” He shrugged. “It’s just not on my list of insecurities. There’s a lot of stuff there. But height? Not really.”

She hummed. “Our guy is on the other end of the dance floor. He’s not dancing with his secretary, though, who’s his wife’s chief suspect. Some other woman. Her face is familiar, but I can’t place it. Can you filter through?”

“I’ll step on your toes, if I’m not concentrating,” he warned her, as they stepped back out of another couple’s path.

She snorted. “I’ll live. Focus, Mephistopheles. We’re not both running blind here.”

He would deny till the end of his days that he giggled at the quip as he obeyed her order.


“Bruno, surely you understand that there have been some delays, but that doesn’t mean–”

“Mariah, cut the bullshit,” the man’s voice was almost fond, and there was a sound of movement. “Bottom line is, I need those funds by end of tomorrow’s day.”

“We’re having some unexpected difficulties with our cash flow at present–” a woman’s voice, low, like water over stones, a cultured hint to her accent, but with the same edge he remembered from talking to Elektra, like it was one of many masks that could be switched between at a moment’s notice. All of them real, for a certain value of that word.

“Yeah, yeah, the street traffic’s down because Luke Cage got out of Seagate, and he still hates guns,” the man said, a note of exasperation to it. “Whatever, but I need the details and those funds transferred to me within forty-eight hours. Grease for zoning doesn’t come out of the ether, y’know.”

There was a hard note to the woman’s voice as she replied.

“Consider who you’re talking to, before you break out the patronising card.”

A beat of silence, then a chuckle from the man. Matt barely registered Jessica twirling him.

“Well-played, Mariah. Well-played.”


“Matt?” she murmured, as she turned him. For all his talk about stepping on her toes, he was very good at following her lead. Then again, he’d had a lifetime of following tactile rather than visual cues.

“He’s not here for an affair,” he said, leaning in.

We’re trying to be subtle here, man.

She spun him out, abruptly enough that if he didn’t have the reflexes of an honest-to-God ninja, he would have been thrown on his back, and tugged him back in. She slid her arm around his back, drawing him into a close hold. His hand was warm over the strap of her dress, and she forced her mind away from that thought, as the song came to an end.

On the plus side, he learns quick, she thought, as he leaned his forehead against hers. She could see the lenses of his glasses fogging from their mingled breathing. “Jess. Was it just me, or– the last time we went to Claire and Luke’s, did they mention a woman named Mariah?”

“Yeah, she’s a Councilwoman. Reportedly involved in some shady shit, but it’s hard to connect her,” she said. She closed her eyes. If she watched his mouth move at this distance, she could kiss her friendship goodbye. “He mention her?”

“No. He was dancing with her. Jess, is he a politician?”

His breath was ghosting against her lips. She snaked her hand up his back to rest against the nape of his neck, unable to resist the urge to play with the short hair there, and shit, she had not been expecting it to feel that soft against her fingertips, or for him to bite down on his lip when she did.

She closed her eyes again.

Fucking focus, Jones. You’re working.

“No, civil bureaucrat. Mayor’s chief of staff.”

She was pretty proud of how her voice had stayed level, even if her pulse was going through the roof.

“He’s dirty. Taking kickbacks from her, money that he knows is from arms trafficking,” Matt said. He hesitated. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said. “Okay. So we call Luke and Misty?”

Matt nodded. “We can do more than that, though,” he whispered. “At the very least, we should tail the guy.”

She huffed, felt her breath warm the air between their mouths. “We came here for a case, Matt,” and shit, she and Matt were friends, they were friends, so why did something as fucking prosaic as saying his name feel so–

Intimate. Not even sexual. Just intimate, like somehow, by speaking it aloud, she had wrapped himself around her, and herself around him. Like the sound had twined them together.

“And we will get the evidence for your client,” he said, “but Jess, we can’t do nothing with this information.”

“Calling Luke and Misty isn’t nothing,” Jessica argued. They needed to move off the dance floor; at this rate, people would be remembering them as the obnoxious couple who’d stood on the periphery of the floor and hadn’t even danced for an entire song.

“But we could give them more. Jess, please?”

She sighed. “No heroics,” she said. “You follow my lead. If I say it’s time to go, we’re going. My case. Understood?”

The asshole was smiling, like he was trying to contain his delight, like it was the best offer he’d had all day. Bastard.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, cheerful and cheeky and cocky. It shouldn’t have made her want to smile, and the way his thumb rubbed over her knuckles as she led him off the floor shouldn’t have sent her pulse spiking again.

Jesus, I should just see a cardiologist. All the ramen and fast food from college, it’s leading me to an early heart attack.

She snorted. Fuck. Even for her, that was a particularly weak attempt at self-deception.

“C’mon, then,” she said, “time to mingle and bear it.” 


Jessica Jones was an absolute genius at bullshit, Matt thought, fighting a smirk as she laughed at a truly terrible joke. The sound was obviously fake, to anyone who had heard her speak as herself for more than a minute. But the genius of it was that everyone had at least vaguely heard of her name and story, but no-one, except her clients, knew her personality. Which meant she could be about five different people in the space of ten minutes.

Well. Almost no-one knew her.

“Ms Jones, what a surprise. Did the back-alleys run out of interesting adulterers?” came a slick voice. It reminded Matt of overspills of cooking oil in the frying pan.

Jessica’s body went stiff, and she half-pivoted to face the intruder. Matt’s head snapped to the side.

“Mr Jameson,” she said, coolly. “It’s been a while. New York run out of people for you to vilify?”

Oh, not this dude. Matt stifled a groan, and put on his best confused expression.

“The word is “cover” and as long as you stay in business, I imagine I will too,” the man replied, and Matt didn’t need sight to know that he was smirking at the way Jessica’s jaw clenched. “How’s Patty?”

Trish is none of your damn business,” Jessica said, her voice low and flat. “If you’ll excuse us.”

“What, you managed to bring a da– oh. He’s blind,” the man said, in the delighted tone Matt normally associated with Foggy finding a reason to sue an asshole. “Well, that makes sense.”

The world went quiet. There was no sound except Jessica’s breathing, harsh and ragged in his ears, and his own pulse spiking.

“If you’ll excuse us,” Matt said, Devil-soft and low. The man’s stance twisted: surprise.

What, did you think I was deaf, too?

It took a little finagling to swipe his cane that far out of its normal path, and pretending to be left-handed. But Jameson’s yelp as his feet were swept out from under him was quite satisfying.

“You didn’t have to,” Jess murmured.

Matt considered the various ways to respond to that. Anything along the lines of “but I wanted to” would be the truth, but would probably not go over too well.

“Sure I did,” he replied. “What’s the point in being nicknamed the Devil if you can’t have a little fun?”

That won a soft, almost appreciative sound from her, and his breath hitched, as he realized that she was laughing.

He focussed on the sound: it fit her, in a strange way, it fit her armour of leather and alcohol, and the heart she fought so hard to protect beneath it. That’s what you keep hidden.

And either it had been unintentional, or she was permitting him to find it.

“Well, all the same. Thanks,” she said, a moment later.

He squeezed the crook of her bicep lightly. “My pleasure.”

Her pulse spiked again, and he frowned. It had been going on all night, and he wasn’t particularly sure how to read that rhythm. Was she scared?

Nothing to do but wait and find out, he decided.

“So, uh, where to next?” he asked.

“Time to play find and follow, he’s leaving early,” Jessica said. “C’mon, Asmodeus.”

“Pretty sure I’m Cinderella for the night,” Matt retorted, smiling at the quip.

God, you’re beautiful.

“Ugh. Hell no. That’d make me Prince Charming by default, and I don’t have time for that BS. Let’s go.”

He tried not to smile too hard as she wrapped his fingers around hers; ignored the way his gut churned at the feeling.

Let’s see where the night leads, he decided, zeroing in on the man’s conversation.

“Geoffrey, bring the car around. We’re going to Samantha’s.”

He relayed it to Jessica. She snorted and brought out her phone.

“Alright. Give me ten minutes.”

“You can find out where someone lives in ten minutes?”

“No, I can do that in five, as well as call Luke and Misty. The other five is for you to collect our coats and eavesdrop,” she said, patting him on the shoulder. “I’ll be right there, honey.”

He bit down on the impulse to chuckle.

“I’ll meet you by the desk, then, sweetheart.”

He didn’t need sight to sense her smirk.


“So, Misty says that if we do anything remotely ‘vigilanteish to put this goddamn case at risk,’ she will hide our bodies in the East River,” Jess narrated to him, as she held the door open for him. She gave the cabbie the address.

“Thank you. Tell her I said hi,” Matt requested, sliding in.

Her bare leg brushed his as she got into the cab beside him, and he strained his hearing. It was a slit in her dress, brushing against her calf, until it closed at her hip. Oh.

His mouth went dry, and he forced himself to take a deep breath.

“You okay?”

“Uh–” he cleared his throat. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Pull the other one, Murdock,” she said, dropping her volume a note. “Pact.”

Well, she’s got you there, said a sarcastic voice in his head that sounded a lot like Foggy.

“Just–” he sighed, pushing his glasses up. “You’re beautiful tonight.” He felt heat race up his neck as the words fell from his mouth. “Not that you’re not – I mean, you’re always – just – shit, it’s like I’m a freshman tripping over my tongue all over again,” he grumbled, kneading his forehead.

Jessica didn’t say anything. His tongue loosened by panic, he continued. “And I know we’re here for a case, and I swear, the last thing I wanted was to make this awkward–”

“Why would it be awkward?” there was definitely amusement in her voice as she cut him off. “Seriously. We’re both adults. And I can think of worse things to happen tonight than to learn that you find me attractive.”

There was a note to her voice that was almost…satisfied.

Why? Are you playing with me?

But no, that wasn’t her. Jessica lied and manipulated like moving: easily, confidently, but always with a purpose. She didn’t toy with people for the hell of it.

So given her history, saying that almost certainly meant…

The ray of hope struck him like the warmth of a sunrise.

I might just have a chance, he realized. At what exactly, well, that was a mystery. But a chance that whatever he felt wasn’t totally unrequited at least.

“I’m glad to know I rank better on the list of fates than the Black Death,” he said, allowing a hint of his delight to enter his voice.

“Your spot is right above ‘waking up in the morning and not having a hangover’,” Jessica said.

The tension in the air shattered, and Matt smirked.

“Jessica Jones, was that a compliment?”

“I plead the 5th.”

“Oh my God, it was. Alert the media, somebody. No, seriously, I should text Karen.”

“Text anyone and I kick your ass.”

“You’d have to land a punch first.”

“That a challenge? You know how I love those.”

“Bullshit. You like to wave at challenges as they pass by. On the occasions the challenge finds you, you punch it, make a sarcastic comment, and drink from your flask.”

“God. You do know me.”

“I try,” he smiled at her. “So how are we getting in?”

“We’re not. We’re going people-watching,” she said, her ‘don’t-fight-me-on-this-or-I-will-hand-you-your-head’ threat in her voice. “Because we are not on police payroll, and this is not my case.”

He sighed. “Fair,” he admitted, reaching for her hand, and squeezing it gently. “I’m sorry. I’m just antsy. It’s an…adjustment.”

Her head tilted to the side. “What is?” she prompted him.

“Learning to share responsibility,” he said, dryly. “Turns out, Claire was right. I do have a Messiah complex.”

She chuckled. “Well, congratulations on recognising your shit.” The tone was almost sincere, so he wasn’t really surprised when it was immediately followed with: “You want a cookie for that, or something?”

“You tellin’ me you bake, Jones?”

“No,” she denied, but her pulse was accelerating again, lie, lie, and he suppressed a smile.

“We could swap recipes sometimes,” he offered. “I can bake a mean batch of chocolate chip.”

“Do I look like I bake?”

He smirked. Three, two, one.

She groaned. “I bet you think I did that on purpose.”

“Didn’t you?” he asked, innocently.

The cab came to a halt.

“Okay, we’re here,” she said, opening up the door of the car. “And…perfect.”

“What’s perfect?” he asked, fingers scrabbling for her elbow.

“The rooftop,” she said, a note of satisfaction in her voice. “It gives me an excellent line of sight to their window, and I’m guessing your eavesdropping skills can extend to past the rooftop.”

Matt breathed in the night air, and frowned. “There’s no fire escapes, it might take me a little while–”

“Or we could continue with the general theme of the night, and I could carry you,” Jessica pointed out, amusement back in her voice.

And oh, he was screwed. “Um. Are you sure?”

“You seriously can’t be doubting whether I can do it,” she said, her tone a bit flatter now.

“No, no, that’s not it. I just – I mean – fine, sure, whatever,” he sighed, yanking one hand through his hair in frustration. What is it about this woman that reduces me to a stuttering sixteen-year old?

Jessica chuckled, and he closed his eyes. Low, and soft, unguarded, and happy, and Jesus, he was utterly doomed.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were scared,” she teased, and he opened his eyes again.

“Oh, I don’t know. I think there are worse fates in the world than you,” he said.

…that had come out much more flirtatious than it had sounded in his head.

But from the way she stepped towards him and her hands settled onto his hips briefly, she didn’t think it was an entirely bad thing.

There was no moment for her to take a breath, just her hands casually lifting him, before her grip resettled, one hand under his knees and the other under his back, in a goddamn princess carry.

He could hear the pull of her muscles; she was smiling, the expression almost certainly what Foggy called a shit-eating grin. He was cradled against her chest, and he’d never realized how slight she was before. But strong, so strong, because her breathing had barely changed through the whole process of pulling him into her arms. Her smell surrounded him. Coffee and whiskey. Jasmine from her shampoo, the lingering citrus of Trish’s perfume, the strange fruitiness of the champagne. Jessica.

“You trust me, right?” she asked, and her voice was teasing and light.

Well, there was only one answer to that question. He leaned in, resting his head against her shoulder.

“Of course I do, Jess,” he said.

You might as well ask me if dogs bark when someone comes to the door, he thought. Of course he trusted her.

Her breath hitched, and he smelled salt.

“Hold on tight, then,” she said, and she flew.


Five words. Five words, and the world had gone white, her brain unable to focus on anything else.

He felt right in her arms. Light as a feather. His head tucked against her chest, his nose pressing into her neck. This close, she could smell his cologne. He didn’t feel tense; he was relaxed, limp. Completely and totally trusting.

Of course I do, Jess.

Like he thought she was reliable. Like he thought she was steady, sane, good.

How?

How could he see her, how could he know so much of her story, and think that she was trustworthy?

They landed on the roof-top, the dress shifting with her, and God bless Trish for finding something that had a sufficiently loose skirt to let her move.

“Well, not much.”

She blinked. “Come again?”

“You asked me, and I quote, ‘what the hell do I see.’ At this point, you’re just trying to get cute with the blind jokes.”

Oh, shit, she’d said that aloud.

“That a bad thing?” she asked, trying to keep her voice level.

He chuckled. “Not really. I like not being treated like I’m breakable.” The words were muffled against her collarbone. “That said, you can definitely do better.”

Her mind was still on “not breakable.”

But you are, you jackass, she felt like screaming. You’re not unbreakable, you’re human, you’re just one man, and you’re not invincible, Matt.

“Are you alright?” he asked her, his body suddenly tensing in her arms. “Your blood pressure’s spiking.”

“It’s fine.”

He made a noise in the back of his throat. She was well-acquainted with it. “Bullshit.”

She sighed. “Should never have agreed to that pact.”

“Jess, please. I just want to know, so I can stop doing whatever it is that’s stressing you.”

She lowered him to his feet. “It’s nothing that you’re doing, Murdock. It’s just a stressful night. Not your fault.”

But damn him, because his head cocked to the side. “Why don’t I quite believe you?” he asked.

She huffed. “I don’t know. That’s on you.”

Matt’s jaw clenched, before he took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Promise me you’ll tell me, if I’m upsetting you. Please.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

“You know perfectly well that this is exactly the kind of shit I struggle with,” she snapped, “and that’s in the pact as well.”

“I’m aware. Which is why I want to be here for you. I don’t care how long it takes to find the words. You get to take your time. But you don’t have to do this alone. You can choose to, sure, but you don’t have to.”

The same offer he’d always extended to her, over the long nights of drinking and brawling and time spent curled up on the couch in his apartment.

She closed her eyes. Think rationally. You were the sober one. You went and got that pact notarised for a reason, Jones. This is Matt. Has he ever run from anything you’ve thrown at him?

Beside her, Matt winced.

“What is it?”

“You’re gonna want to get your camera out,” he said. “They’re, uh…starting.”

She spun around, and yeah, sure enough, the man was in the middle of some intense kissing. She took out the phone, focussed the lens and started photographing, glancing at Matt. There was a slight flush creeping up his neck, and she bit her lip to stifle a smile.

“Can you always hear it when your neighbours are getting it on?” she asked.

“I can normally filter it out,” he responded. “I had seven years of living on a college campus. I learned to filter it out really fast.”

She scoffed. “Right. Because you were never busy getting it on yourself.”

He shrugged. “Nowhere near as often as people seemed to think. I flirt a lot, yeah, but I think I spent around 80% of my undergrad being dragged out of my room by Kylie and Amy. Until I met Elektra, anyway.” There was a brief expression of…not longing, not really. More like a quiet wistfulness, before he exhaled. “And after that came law school, and there wasn’t a lot of time.”

“True, but between Elektra, Karen, that chick from the 99–”

“I told you, it was never like that with Santiago.”

“What? No. The other chick. Rosa.”

And he was absolutely blushing now. She felt her heart-rate slow at the sight. If Saint Matthew was being shy, then things were still vaguely in the range of “normal” for their relationship. “Great, discussing my entire sexual history. Definitely how I thought the night was gonna go.”

“We haven’t even gotten to the part where both our ‘sort-of-but-not-quite’ exes are now dating each other,” she said.

Matt’s laugh was a little louder now. “They’re good for each other, I think.”

She nodded. “Yeah, they are.”

damn. When had she become okay with Claire and Luke? She’d always thought intellectually that it would be a good thing for Luke, but there had been a knot of yearning in the pit of her stomach, for weeks after Midland Circle when she spent time with them.

When had that changed? she wondered, snapping another photo.

She exhaled slowly, as the answer occurred to her.

There was no defining moment. But somewhere along the way, it had stopped being the thing that she yearned for. She still cared about Luke, and would always remember him as the first man who had ever convinced her there might still be goodness in humanity, with his gentle hands and kind eyes.

But Matt Murdock had wriggled in under her skin, and refused to budge, matching her snark with a smile and an equal measure of the same. Had matched her, BS for BS; had somehow sensed her fault lines, and negotiated them, while pushing her to work on them. All without even flinching once, no matter what she threw at him.

He had made her laugh, she realized, with a sharp inhale at the thought. Twice, now, in one night, he had made her laugh. Not hard and bitter laughter, but soft, genuinely happy laughter. That hadn’t happened since…

Since before Kilgrave.

He knew her, he knew her in a way she couldn’t remember anyone – except maybe Trish – knowing her for a long, long time.

Of course I do, Jess.

She snapped the last photo, and turned to him. She wasn’t sure which part of her body language gave it away, but his head tilted back a little.

“It’s just,” she began. It felt like reaching down into her chest in order to drag the words up. She took a breath; steeled herself. Make yourself goddamn clear, Jones. He deserves that much. “I just. You trust me?”

“Yeah,” the word was soft, almost fond. “Yeah, I do.”

When she could breathe again, she said, “But you know me.”

“Kinda the reason why I trust you, Jess,” he said, his lips quirking in a smile. Surprised, with a side of confusion. Why the hell is he the confused one?

She felt a bolt of anger at the sight of the smile. Goddammit, you smiley-faced idiot!

How? Don’t you get it? I’m a fuck-up with a trauma history as long as you are tall! I don’t know how to be a functioning member of society. Hell, even before I was an alcoholic, I managed to get my entire family killed!”

She fought to keep her voice down, even as she heard it tremble, with the force of the emotion shaking her. He hesitated, an awful look of confusion on his face, before he breathed in, held it for three seconds, and then exhaled. His meditative breathing.

He stepped forward, and moving with an aching slowness, wrapped one of her hands in his, rubbing his thumbs over the knuckles.

“Jessica. Is that really how you see yourself?”

She flinched. She hadn’t expected him to sound so calm, so dispassionate about it. She wasn’t sure what she had expected, but she didn’t think it was that.

“You know it is,” she said, keeping her tone flat.

The horns, blaring in the street below. The argument of the neighbours below her. The yelling of a drunk man, stumbling as he walked along the sidewalk.

Of course everyone in New York City would start talking after that, she thought, closing her eyes.

But it didn’t fit. Matt Murdock was the patron saint of Hell’s Kitchen and lost causes. And if ever there was a lost cause in human skin, it was Jessica Jones.

“Not gonna say anything?”

Both of his hands were wrapped around hers now, rubbing slow circles into her wrists. It was a comforting pressure, almost.

He raised his eyebrows. “Would you honestly listen without bolting if I told you how I see you?”

“Yes.”

She would. She really, really would, even if it felt like every instinct was screaming at her to run, run away, and never come back. Because somewhere along the way, Matt’s good opinion had become so damn important to her, that she thought there was very little she wouldn’t do to have it, even though she was certain she never would.

“Alright. Then listen.” Gently, he slid the glasses off.

Oh, you fucking cliché, she thought.

“Jessica Jones,” he began, and why was his voice so gentle when he said her name? “I’m blind. But I’m pretty good at reading people. And this is how I see you. I see a woman who lets few people in, but who will go to hell and back for the sake of those she does. I see a woman who’s been through hell, and who cares for people anyway. I see a woman who will let nobody dictate her destiny to her. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t admire that.” He held up a hand as she opened her mouth.

“No. I’m nowhere near finished. Please, let me.”

Throat closing up, she gave a tiny, shaking nod. So tiny that someone sighted probably wouldn’t have seen it.

“Jess, you are brilliant and beautiful, talented and strong. So loving that you will stare down a horde of fighters, for the sake of the people you care about. So strong that you keep going, despite the shit you’ve been put through, despite your demons. Believe me, I know what kind of strength that takes. And so intelligent that you saw through me in about ten minutes.”

His thumbs were still rubbing over her knuckles, in that gentle, comforting rhythm.

That’s how I see you. And I don’t expect you to believe me. Not now. But…promise me you’ll think about it? That you’ll try?”

Another long silence, as her brain tried to process the flood of impossible information he’d just given her.

“I–” her voice broke. “I’ll try,” she whispered. “I guess it’s fair.”

His laugh was soft and warm. Comforting like…she smiled, at a very faint memory; hot chocolate and scratchy wool blankets with her mother on rainy afternoons.

Fuck it.

She took a deep breath, stepped forward, and wrapped her arms around him, leaning her chin on his shoulder. Slowly – giving her an out, because of course Saint Matthew would  his hands came up and settled on her upper back.

After a few seconds, she realized he was matching his breathing to hers, so their chests rose to meet each other in tandem. Is that normal?

She wasn’t sure. Neither Trish or she went in for hugs much. Trish wasn’t a big fan of physical touch – and still, all these years later, Jessica could cheerfully murder Dorothy for that – and Jessica, even before everything, had never been the demonstrative sort.

He showed no signs of wanting to move away, after a few seconds, which was how long most of the hugs she’d seen had lasted. Instead, when she tentatively shifted more of her weight into his hold, he tightened one arm around her back, increasing the pressure slightly.

She leaned her chin on his shoulder; felt his breath whisper through the tendrils of her up-do.

“Is there a normal time-limit on these things? I don’t really know how this shit works,” she mumbled.

Matt, freakishly enhanced-sense dork that he was, caught it anyway. “It works however you want it to, Jess,” he said, and oh. How had she not heard that in his voice before? It was tender, and sweet: the same expression she’d seen on a thousand people’s faces, wrapped in sonic form.

“Really?”

“Really.”

How the hell did I end up here? she wondered. She shifted her weight onto her heels, and almost immediately, Matt’s arms were slipping from her waist. She took a single step back, catching his hands in hers before they could return to his side.

His head tilted to the side. He was studying her, she knew that gesture.

“Jessica?”

She swallowed. “If I said I wanted to kiss you right now…”

An almost sheepish expression crossing his face, as his lips parted, and oh, looking at them too closely was a bad idea.

“I’d say I’ve been wanting the same thing all night,” he said, but her mouth was on his before he finished the sentence.

She’d be lying if she said she hadn’t thought of this before. She’d put it down to a long dry spell, and too much alcohol, to one degree or another, but none of the half-finished daydreams had prepared her for his fingers, fluttering up her jaw, stroking it softly, his calluses rough against her skin. Hadn’t prepared her for the way one hand slid around her neck, fingers teasing at the strands of her hair coming loose from its up-do. The way he tasted like mint and too-sweet champagne, and she could feel the split in his lower lip as she nipped at it, making him gasp.

More than anything, she hadn’t anticipated how comfortable it felt, how right. His hold around her, his soft lips against hers, it felt like…

Home.

His forehead rested against hers as he drew back, and their breaths mingled.

“Sonuvabitch,” she managed.

Matt feels like home.

Shit.

Matt, the bastard, smirked, and chuckled, the sound low, and pleased with himself in a way that sent a coil of heat through her belly

“I’m choosing to take that as a compliment, based on your pulse.”

“You’re still weird,” she told him.

He chuckled again, smile radiant. “So, should we talk about that?”

She exhaled slowly. Birch Street. Higgins Drive. Cobalt Lane. No, I fucking don’t want to talk about it. You feel like home, and safe, and I screw up everything I touch, and I’m terrified, you asshole.

He frowned, leaning back slightly. “‘No’ is an option.”

“Yeah, it’s an option. Doesn’t mean it would be fair to you, though.”

His expression went carefully blank, before smoothing itself back into its frown, as he opened his mouth.

“Yeah, I thought so,” she sighed, because she knew what was coming: It doesn't matter whether it's fair to me. But she had promised herself that she would not lose her friend to his martyr complex, and that wasn't changing because she was brainless enough to kiss him. “I’ve never really…done this before. A…relationship.”

“Ever?” he asked, tilting his head to one side.

She shrugged. “Dated maybe a couple of guys in college. I was a loner in high school, and I’ve never been great at the whole ‘emotions’ thing.”

He smirked. “I can relate.”

She snorted. “And then, of course, Kilgrave fucking happened, and. Well. There were a few moments with Luke. But what all of that adds up to is I’m twenty-eight, and I have no fucking clue how a relationship works.”

“I’m twenty eight. I successfully imploded two relationships before they even had a chance to start, and the one relationship that lasted longer than two months turned out to be half-built on lies, equivocation, and carefully selected truth.” His thumbs rubbed over her knuckles, and she shivered at the touch. Fucking focus, Jones.

“I – think I need time. To process it,” she said.

He nodded, not looking at all surprised.

“I know.”

She scowled at him. “The mind-reading gets a little old, you know.”

He snorted. “As if I need telepathy. I’d be surprised if you didn’t need time to think about it.”

Her scowl deepened. “You’re really not upset?”

He shook his head. “Why would I be?”

“Oh, why would you be upset? Maybe because I think you want something like a relationship, and I’m giving you mixed signals?”

“You’re not giving me mixed signals, Jess. You’re giving me very clear signals of, I like you, but I need time to think.” He paused. “Wait, do I need to go get Foggy to make me one of those ‘check yes if you like me’ cards he told me about once?”

“No, I spend time with you, drink with you, invited you along tonight, and kissed you because I detest you with the might of the Atlantic Ocean,” Jessica said, unable to keep some annoyance out of her tone.

Matt’s grin was filled with cheerful mischief. Her stomach flipped at the sight. “Well, that’d fit. You’re kind of a jerk.”

God, it would be just easy, so incredibly easy, to just grab him by that stupid bowtie and kiss him again. So easy.

“I’ll call you,” she offered, dragging the words out of her brain slowly. It felt harder than holding the elevator had been.

He shrugged. “No pressure. Just text me so I know you’re alive, alright?”

She smirked. “Saint Matthew, you really think you get to stipulate that?”

“I have no right to do so whatsoever,” he agreed, snapping on his glasses, and flashing another grin at her. “But I don’t play fair. Good luck with the case, Jess.”

“Hey.” She stepped into his path as he made to leave the roof. “Where are you going? No fire escape on this building.”

He sighed. “Shit.”

She smirked at him, and opened her arms. “C’mon, buttercup. I got us up here, you think I can’t get us down?”

“You’re not wearing the right colour to be Wesley,” he grumbled at her, but he stepped closer anyway.

She scoffed to cover a giggle, because she had not been expecting that. “The Princess Bride is in Braille?” she asked, putting the shoes in the handbag.

“Audiobook,” he said, wrapping his arms around her neck, as she pulled him into another bridal carry, walking them to the edge of the roof. “Foggy gave it to me in law school.”

The exhilaration of falling never got old, no matter how many times she did it, she thought, as she landed with bent knees. The concrete shifted beneath her and she grimaced.

She looked down at him, and couldn’t help a smile.

He was still utterly and totally relaxed in her hold; in fact, he seemed to be curving into it more than he had when they went up to the roof. Like he could telegraph with his body all the things he thought she wouldn’t want to hear: I trust you. I know you. I’m safe with you. I care about you. You matter to me.

She closed her eyes, and pressed a quick kiss to his lips.

“I’ll see you soon, Matt,” she said, setting him on his feet. And she would. Because the pact went two ways.

He hesitated, and then kissed her temple quickly. “Text me if you need anything,” he said, before walking away.

“I will,” she said, watching his shoulders straighten slightly as the sound carried to him.

She let out a long breath, watching him walk away.

I sure know how to pick ‘em, she thought, leaning against the wall of the building.

She still needed to transfer the photos from phone to laptop, print them, log the hours for her client.

But first, she needed a drink.

Her fingers were already dialling.

“Hey, Trish. It’s me. Can I come over? I need to–” she grimaced –“talk. And probably shots.”

Even though Matt was at the other end of the block right now, she could fucking see him smirking in victory.

Chapter Text

"What happened?" Trish asks, opening the door of her apartment. 

Jessica dumps the handbag on the sofa, walks over to one of the kitchen cabinets, and rifles through until she finds a shot glass and a tumbler.

“Jess, what happened? Did something go wrong with the case?”

“Jesus, Trish, don’t ambush me the second I walk in the door,” Jessica says, opening the liquor cabinet. She huffs as she takes down the bottle of vodka. The raspberry crap that Trish liked. Matt would probably like it too, she thinks, taking note of the brand.

She fills the tumbler to the three-quarter mark, and pauses. Then fills it to the brim, before filling the shot glass.

Trish looks at her phone.

“Pizza should be here in a few minutes,” she offers. “Meatlovers for you.”

Jessica wrinkles her nose. “You went with Hawaiian, didn’t you.”

“Look, you have your pizza, and I have mine,” Trish shrugs. “So. You said we needed to talk.”

“I need to talk,” Jessica corrects her. “But I’m not nearly drunk enough for that yet, the only thing I’ve had so far was some truly terrible champagne.”

Trish walks over to the couch and stretches out on it. “Alright,” she says, “I can wait.”

Jessica lets out a long, relieved breath, and drains the tumbler, focussing on the burn of the liquid as it slides down her throat. She walks over, and presses the shot glass into Trish’s hand, setting the bottle down on the coffee table. “Here.”

The clink of their glasses together sounds way more cheerful than she is prepared for.

“Cheers,” Trish says, as she grabs one of the folders. There are several, spread out across the clear glass. “Oh, God.”

“What?” Jessica asks.

“Oh, just this story that Karen and I are working on.”

“Because a life as a radio talk show host doesn’t keep you busy enough,” Jessica sighs, settling into the armchair. “You need to save the world as well.”

“I’ve grown cynical in my old age, I’ll settle for the fifth estate,” Trish smirks at her.

Jessica snorts at that, and grabs for the bottle again. “What is it this time?”

“Ah, a human trafficking ring, with possible political links,” Trish says. “It’s the second part we’re trying to nail down.”

Jessica stares at her glass again. “Humanity sucks.”

“This is, by and large, true,” Trish agrees.

“So why do people like you and Matt want to save it again?” Jessica asks, rolling onto her elbow, emptying the glass once more.

Trish shrugs. “Can’t speak for your boyfriend, but–”

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Jessica snaps, and –

Trish, the evil, manipulative woman that she is, smirks, and sips from her glass again.

“So. Something happened with Matt?”

“Not still calling him Daredevil?”

“Figured I should stop after the third time I came to your apartment and found him crashing on the couch. But damn, you’ve got good taste, I’ll give you that much.”

“Shit. We’re really doing this, huh? We’ve never done this before.”

“The whole, braid-each-other’s-hair and talk about boys? No, we haven’t.”

“I hate braiding hair.”

“Whatever. So apparently, we’re talking about boys.”

“What’s going on in the life of Trish Walker?”

“Karen’s fine, thank you very much.”

Jessica blinks. “How the hell did I miss that?”

Trish smirks. “Pretty sure you didn’t.”

“No, not the bisexual thing, I've known about that for fourteen years now, I meant the Karen thing.”

“I’m good at keeping a low profile.”

“I’m surprised you’re still dating blondes after Simpson.”

“It’s not dating. I’m pretty sure I’m still allergic to that,” Trish says, draining her shot glass, and sliding it across the table to Jessica. She refills it, and then slides it back across. It sloshes a little, and Trish laughs.

“So you’re sticking with friends-with-benefits arrangements that turn complicated when feelings inevitably get involved?” Jessica retorts.

“Basically.”

There is a knock at the door, and Jessica stands. “I’ll grab it.”

“Thanks,” Trish says, leaning her head back against the arm of the couch. “Do me a favour, grab a plate?”

“Fuck, no. We’re doing this like proper heathens and eating greasy pizza out of the box.” Jessica opens the door, and nods at the delivery boy, shoves a ten at him and shuts the door.

"Bitch," she hears him mutter, and the corner of her mouth quirks in a hard, bitter smile. At least some people can perceive her accurately.

“Not in that dress of mine, you aren’t,” Trish says, as Jessica sets the pizzas down on the coffee table.

Jessica rolls her eyes, but retreats to Trish’s room, grabbing a T-shirt and a pair of yoga pants. She shimmies out of the dress, carefully hanging it up, allowing herself to run a hand over the fabric.

Matt’s expression when he heard the sound of the fabric in the cab comes back to her. The slow, heated curve of his lips, a mixture of delight and hunger.

Shit.

She pulls the T-shirt on, and considers the yoga pants – it’d hardly be the first time she was pantsless around Trish – before pulling them on as well, and walking back into the living room.

“So, drunk enough yet?” Trish asks.

Jessica sighs. “Fuck it.” She half-fills the tumbler and downs it. Then:

“I kissed Matt.”

Trish raises her eyebrows at her.

“And?”

“And, what? I kissed him.”

The eyebrows rise higher. Fucking acting career, teaching Trish to be so damn expressive with her face.

“So? You guys have been practically dating for months now.”

“No, we haven’t. We’re friends."

“Right. Because I, too, have an attractive male friend whom I rescued from a convent, who I talk to my problems about when I hate talking, who calls me on my bullshit, who crashes at my couch, and around whom I don’t wear pants, and with whom I have regularly scheduled hang-out and brawling sessions,” Trish shakes her head, ticking off each item of evidence on her fingers. “Jessica, face it. You’ve been essentially dating him for the past few months.”

“No, we haven’t, because we’re friends. I can barely manage friends. I don’t– I couldn’t–”

Fuck, wasn’t alcohol supposed to make accessing the words easier?

“Is that what this is about? You’re denying that you want him because you’re scared of screwing it up?”

“You’re one to talk.”

“Just because I don’t want to deal with my bullshit doesn’t mean I can’t recognise it when I see it,” Trish says, opening the pizza box and ripping off a slice.

Jessica bites into her own slice, hoping that it will delay Trish for a few moments.

“Why are you afraid, Jessica?” Trish asks through her mouthful. Dammit. 

Jessica sighs, swallowing. “He doesn’t have powers. He’s not unbreakable. I could...”

“I don’t have superpowers either. You’ve never hurt me.”

Jessica shrugs. “Really bad sex?”

“You could talk about it.” Trish’s mouth quirks up. “Was the kiss really that bad?”

She closes her eyes. Remembering the feel of him, the contentment that had filled her, the calluses on his fingertips as he traced her jaw with a ghostlike touch and the way he had almost sighed into her mouth.

“No. No, it wasn’t bad,” she says, and dammit, her voice is a note lower than it had been before.

Trish smirks, picking up on it. “Coming from you, that means it was pretty good. Besides. Super-senses. You really think he wouldn’t figure out what you liked?”

Of course he would. That isn't the point.

“Screwing it up and losing his friendship,” Jessica says at last, throwing up her free hand in exasperation. Fine, Walker, you win this round. “That’s it in the nutshell.”

“Losing his friendship because he doesn’t feel the same way?”

“No. Screwing it up because that’s what I do, and then never having his friendship ever again.”

Trish shrugs, finishing the bite of her pizza. “I think it’s worth remembering that this is the guy who stayed under a building for the sake of a woman he loved once. I think he’d be pretty forgiving if you hurt him.”

Jessica huffs angrily. “He did that because he’s a fucking martyr whose ass I had to rescue from a convent because of that stunt,” she said.

“Partially,” Trish agrees, “and also because he’s the kind of guy who is clinically incapable of giving up on someone he loves.”

“That’s the problem. I’ll hurt him, and then he’ll be trapped in a relationship because of who he is, and–”

“Why are you so damn sure that you’ll hurt him?”

“It’s kinda what I do. It’s kinda what people do. Look at every single one of my clients.”

“Not everyone who gets hurt in a relationship requires your services,” Trish said. “Sometimes, they stay and try to fix things. Help each other fix their own bullshit. Matt’s been helping you with that, right?”

Jessica scowls. “How do you know?”            

“Because in eight months since Midland Circle and he got added to your list of friends, you’ve been drinking a little less, smiling more often, calling me more often, and sometimes, you even apologise for being an asshole.” Trish shrugs. “And the only variable that’s happened visible to the outside is that Matt Murdock has probably been challenging you on your bullshit. I’m gonna guess he started it after you started challenging him on his.”

Jessica’s jaw goes slack. “Have I ever mentioned I hate the way you do it?”

“Psychoanalyse people?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s just because I’m right.” Trish grins, a scrap of pineapple in her teeth, bright and happy and not perfectly put together for once, before she reaches for the pizza. “But Jess, seriously. Just…think, for a minute. What happens with Matt if things go right?”

Jessica closes her eyes. “I don’t know. He said…we hugged. Before. I don’t know, it was weird, I just wanted to. And I said I didn’t really know how it works. I meant the hugging, but…he said it works however I want it to.”

“And you don’t think he was being sincere about that?”

“No. I know he was sincere. Matt’s the type to say it and mean it too.” She lets out a long breath. “But he has wants too. Needs things too. That’s – that’s how it works, right?”

Trish shrugs. “Yeah, he needs things too. But it sounds like he’s saying he’s willing to set them aside for you. And I know a few people who’d classify that as–” she cut herself off.

Jessica closes her eyes.

“Just say it, Walker.”

She hears Trish let out her breath in a rush. Exasperation. “As love. Alright? There’s a significant chunk of the population who’d say that – regardless of what type it is – the very core of love is being willing to set aside your needs for the other person. And it sounds like he’s willing to do that for you!”

“And I don’t know if I can give that to him!” Jessica snaps, eyes opening, the tumbler shattering in her hand. “Fuck, Jesus,” she shudders. One of the shards has pierced her skin, and the vodka has splashed into the cut.

“Stay there. I’ll get the kit.” Trish rises, and walks to dig the first aid kit from out underneath the sink. “Do you think the vodka counts as disinfectant?”

“I guess.”

Her phone buzzes, and she checks it.

Saint Matt:

(11:23pm) Hey. Still alive?  

She snorts. “Well, I did promise,” she mumbles.

“Matt?” Trish asks, carrying the kit and a dustpan and broom back to the sofa.

“Yeah. I said I’d call him. He said just text, he wanted to be sure I was still alive.”

Trish chuckles, gently scooping the shards of the tumbler into a trash can.

“He’s a good guy, Jess. And we both know I don’t say that lightly. Not anymore,” she says.

Jessica swallows, reaching for Trish’s hand with her uninjured one. “I’m still – I’m sorry – I should have protected you better.”

“No.” Trish’s voice is firm, squeezing Jess' good hand, her grip strong and warm. “Simpson was psychotic, and that’s on him. I thought I could trust him, I convinced you, and I was wrong. You don’t get to put that on yourself because you’re my sister.”

“Yeah, well, whatever,” Jess mumbles, as Trish extracts the shards. “Galaxy, call Saint Matt.”

Trish’s eyebrows twitch. The tone barely rings once before Matt’s voice picks up.

“Jessica? Is everything alright?” and yeah, that is definitely a note of anxiety in his voice. Trish digs the phone out of Jess’ pocket, and flicks it on speaker. “Jess?”

“She’s fine, she’s at my place. She just can’t use her hands right now,” Trish cuts in. “She broke a glass.”

“Shit. Anything I can do?”

“No, I’ve got it from here. Why does she have you saved as Saint Matt?”

“You’d have to ask her that. Hey, Trish, can you put me onto Jess?”

Trish smiles. “Sure.” She picks the phone up, and settles it into the crook of Jessica's shoulder.

“Hey, you,” his voice is soft. “Doing okay?”

She snorts. “Hey. Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you. And I’m fine, it’s just a glass.”

“Forgot your own strength, huh?” and God help her, but that tone of gentle amusement makes a coil of heat unfurl in her gut. “I’ll, uh, let Trish get back to patching you up. Thanks for calling.”

She bites her lip. “Matt?”

“Yeah?”

“…Thanks. You know, for everything.”

There is a long, slow exhale on his end. “My pleasure, Jess,” he says.

The faint beep of him hanging up is somehow the one of the loudest sounds she's ever heard.

Trish says nothing, as she tapes the cut up, until she leaned back onto her heels, surveying her handiwork with a satisfied nod.

“Is there anything whatsoever about Matt himself that’s giving you pause?” she asks, rising to her feet again.

Jess bites her lip. “I dunno. He’s not perfect, I’m the first to admit it. He’s incapable of seeing his own strengths, he’s got a Messiah complex the size of tristate area, and fuck if he doesn’t have a temper.”

Trish tilts her head, scraping the dustpan's contents into the trash. “Worried he’d take it out on you?”

“Oh, God, no,” Jessica says, blinking at how easily the words came out. “No. Matt wouldn’t. That’s just not how he rolls. He’d go and find someone in the middle of committing a crime and then take it out on them.”

Trish smirks. “Well, if you’ve got it, may as well.”

“No. It’s not…Matt isn’t the issue. He’s not perfect, but he is…” Jessica buried her head in her hands. “He’s patient. He’s kind. He’s sensitive. He’s a hero, Trish, the kind you always wanted me to be, he’s good. He believes in redemption, and forgiveness, and mercy, and all that shit, and…” she lets out a long breath. “And he thinks I’m good.”

She looks at Trish. “It was the weirdest shit, Trish. He…he said he trusted me, and I snapped. Reminded him about how I’m an alcoholic screw-up with a trauma history as long as my legs. And for a moment there, he didn’t say anything.”

Trish's lips clench together for a second, in a tight line of displeasure. “Well, that lowers my opinion of him considerably.”

“No, no, Trish, listen. He was waiting for me, waiting to be sure that I’d listen before he said anything. That’s the thing. He’s smart. And he said…” fuck, there are tears stinging at her eyes again. “He said that I was loving. And good. And intelligent. And strong, and beautiful. Not like he was listing shit. He said it like I was something worth loving.”

Trish reaches out, smoothing down Jessica’s hair. “He didn’t say anything that wasn’t true, Jess.”

Jessica looks at her. “What the fuck do you two see? I can't – I can't–”

“We see the truth.”

Jessica closes her eyes, because she fucking can't right now. “Fuck. I’m gonna need the bottle, Trish.”

“If you’ll think about what happens if things go right.”

“In the morning," Jessica placates, with a sigh. "Right now, hand me the bottle and we’ll forget about our shitty relationship skills.”

Trish grins. “Throw in a shitty movie, and it sounds like a plan.”

"Hot Fuzz?" Jessica offers. It had enough explosions to make anyone happy.

"Not really shitty, but I'll take it."

Chapter Text

It’s the first time he’s ever taken a client that she referred to him. Divorce wasn’t usually his thing. But she had looked away, and said, in her most contemplative tone, “I could always just refer her to Stahl, I gue–.”

(God bless Foggy Nelson and his encyclopaedic knowledge of Matt Murdock’s buttons. The man was a Godsend.

Matt had promptly cut her off, mid-sentence, and said, “One, that won’t be necessary, and two: what did Foggy tell you about law school?”

Jessica had smirked, and then the client had been his.)

Their client was a man, for once. A surgeon’s husband. His wife had a long history of affairs, and he’d tolerated it, for a long time. But lately, she’d been getting verbally abusive with the kids, he had said in Jessica’s office, his eyebrows knotting together, a mixture of worry and shame that was almost painful to look at.

So Matt had, with a combination of slow-simmering fury, and frustration with Jessica’s pushing at his buttons, taken the case.

It's also the first time she's seen him since that night where they'd ticked off nearly every cliché in the book, down to a kiss on the roof-top. Although admittedly, the book was probably pretty light on one of the participants being a P.I. working on a 'cheating scumbag' case, which is why she has snuck into the courtroom today. Matt seems pretty focussed on the case, even though by this point, she knows he can pick her out – pick anyone he knows out, but absolutely her – from a block away. 

The wife had hired a psychiatrist, as an expert witness against her husband’s mental state and fitness to take custody of the children, and Jess settles into watch the show. The psychiatrist’s testimony seems fairly weak. Yes, the father has been diagnosed with anxiety, but he isn’t the one on the record as excoriating their son for screwing up at his music recital.

She sees Matt’s knuckles turn white on his cane as the psychiatrist backhandedly insults the children, in order to frame the father’s parenting as inadequate. Sees the slight hunch in the father’s shoulders. God, he believes that horse shi–?

He does, she realises, with a sinking feeling in her gut. But Matt’s jaw is clenching, tighter, and eventually, the psychiatrist’s testimony ends. That fits. From everything she's heard over the past year, if there's anyone who will fight for nontraditional parenting styles, it's Matt Murdock. So long as the parents are actually, y'know. Decent. 

Matt stands, the movement slow and coiled, like when he’s in the armour.

Times like this, she really wonders at how stupid people can be, if they can’t see that firestorm contained in the suit. Even if it is the two-piece one, instead of the body armour.

She’s seen Hogarth cross-examine people before, and it is, in its own way, a thing of beauty. Logical. Precise. Ice-cold. The epitome of the whole ‘law is reason without passion’ shit that she’d had hanging in her office once.

Matt’s style couldn’t be more different, she thinks, leaning forward. He is fire and passion, somehow bringing out unexpected humanity within the law. But with all the precision and razor sharpness of Colleen’s katana, as he finds the holes in the story and punches through them, totally merciless. She watches the set of his shoulders, the way he prowls the court-room, stalking his prey. She forces herself to breathe, calm and regular.

He wields his words like razor blades, nicking at the psychiatrist’s testimony in a thousand different places, each casting more doubt on his ethics, on the consistency of his testimony, and when Matt hurls the words "character assassination" at him, the man flinches, and Jessica's mouth goes dry.

For a millisecond, the corner of Matt’s mouth quirks up. Whether it's because he heard the man flinch, or sensed her reaction, is unknowable.

He continues to demolish the man, and by the end of it, the psychiatrist is slumped, looking at Matt like – well, like he was the Grim Reaper himself.

When the proceedings break up for the day, she waits until all of his notes are in order, and he’s finished talking to the client. Until the whole corridor is silent and deserted. When the last footsteps have faded away, his head cocks to the left.

“Jess?” he asks, sounding a little uncertain, but hopeful. Weird. No way he doesn’t know that it’s her. So why the uncertainty?

“Hey,” she says, feeling a little breathless and more than a little awkward, approaching him. “Figured I should come see how things went.”

His head cocks back to the side a little. It’s more like a twenty-five degree angle than the forty-five it had been before. “And? What did you think?”

She smirks. “The psychiatrist really pissed you off, huh?”

Matt shrugs, unrepentant. “Yeah.” He raises his eyebrows. “Not quite the question I was asking, though.”

“Oh?” she keeps her voice light, on purpose.

He suddenly looks sheepish. “Never mind. It’s stupid, it doesn’t–”

“Matt,” she says, her tone promising Bad Things if he doesn’t stop speaking idiot within the next ten seconds. “Pact.”

Matt blinks, and rocks back onto his heels a little. Then he gives a tired sigh. “I guess I just wanted to know what you thought about Matt Murdock. If you'd had any thoughts, since our last conversation.” There’s something soft in the slight opening of his lips, in the downwards tilt of his head. He's curling in on himself.

He thinks the answer's negative. He is waiting for rejection, like it's inevitable, despite the fact that she knows he has heard every time that her heartbeat races around him. He is expecting it, like he expects gravity to work. 

Her fingers curl into fists, because she wants to hurt whoever instilled that expectation in him, because he's a hot mess, but he's kind and good and sweet and reckless, and who the fuck told him he wasn't good enough?

He's curling in on himself even more now, and she forces her fists to unclench. She steps closer, and breathes deeply.

“Professionally speaking? Pretty good,” she says.

He goes very still, and she fights a smile, because that’s the same stillness he had in the court room, and before fighting Danny. She’d thought it was pre-battle, but no, from the tension in his shoulders, that’s just what he does when he thinks very, very fast.

“Professionally speaking. And...otherwise?” he murmurs, dropping his voice to something a little huskier than his normal register, lifting his head a little, something like hope in it. For the first time in a long time, her toes curl a little inside her combat boots.

She breathes, even as all the fears comes back. Screwing it up. Checkered pasts. Metric tonnes of emotional baggage, on both their parts.

But she’s Jessica Jones. And she’s done letting things control her.

So she takes one more step, and tilts her head up so that she’s whispering in his ear.

“Personally speaking…you’ll do.”

She tilts her head so that her lips brush against his jaw, letting them linger long enough to form a nonverbal promise and assurance, and then she steps back, to a normal, slightly more explicable distance.

“Come on. There’s whiskey at my place.”

His hand settles into the crook of her arm, and his smile is delighted. “Lead the way.”

Chapter Text

It happens on one of his favourite kinds of nights.

Hell’s Kitchen is quiet, underneath Danny and Colleen’s care for the night. He is lying back on his bed, breathing in the mingling of their smells, the slow deceleration of Jessica’s heartbeat, the lengthening of her breaths.

Matt doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on how he wishes he could see. But sometimes, on nights like this especially, with his guard down and no task to focus on, he wonders. About the shape of Jessica’s smile, about the exact curve of her nose, the colour of her eyes.

Tentatively, he reaches out and taps her nose.

She lets out an amused snort, but doesn’t say anything, breathing slow and deep.

Tacit permission, then.

She is still as he feels out her face. Mental imaging for faces has gone the way of the west a long time ago, but he can feel the smooth texture of her brow, hear the vibrations of her eyelashes colliding against each other as she blinks, tap his finger against her cheekbones. Slowly, he continues, trailing his fingers down her neck, the tendons of her shoulder and her arm. She’s so slight, and so strong. The combination never fails to amaze him, and he presses a lingering kiss to her deltoid.

“What colour is your hair?” he asks her. He hates the way it comes out, vulnerable, like he’s laying his scars on the table for her to see.

Her intake of breath is a little deeper than necessary. “Black. My eyes are kinda hazel, and my skin is pretty pasty. I got a lot of vampire jokes in high school.”

“What?”

He doesn’t mean for his voice to come out quite so indignantly. But the thought of people mocking Jessica’s appearance – even if it was over a decade ago – still sends a jolt of fury through him.

“Well, you know, dark eyes, dark hair, pale skin, bags under the eyes–” Jessica shrugs.

Matt shakes his head. “Well, that’s bullshit.”

“Says the blind guy,” Jessica snorts, rolling onto his arm and nestling her head into his shoulder to take any sting from the words.

He grins, tilts her head up, and captures her mouth, because God, he loves this woman.

It’s not filled with the urgency of their kisses earlier that night. Instead, it’s slow and sweet. His fingers are trailing over her arm, over the tiny hairs there, before he traces a pattern on her waist.

She laughs against his mouth, batting at his hand.

What? 

He draws back from the kiss, resting his forehead against hers, and lets his fingers dance over the spot again.

Sure enough, there’s a badly muffled laugh from her, and another attempt to bat his hand away.

He doesn’t even try to bother to mask his grin.

“Are you ticklish?”

“Shut up,” she gripes, her fingers grappling for his wrists. But he’s far better at keep away than she is.

“Oh my God, you are,” Matt says, his grin widening to what he's sure are shit-eating proportions.

“The real question,” Jessica counters, “is if you are, devil boy,” and then her hand is trailing over his chest.

He lasts until she gets to the crook of his neck. At that point, an enormous belly laugh bubbles out of him, and he tries to grab for her hands. Tries.

She laughs, the sound delighted and loud, heart-rate accelerating a little from her happiness, and Matt laughs too, enthralled by the rhythm, but now, no, not the armpits!–

It takes ten minutes before Matt falls back, utterly defeated, tears from how hard he has been laughing trickling down his face.

Jessica's heart-rate is up, pounding out a euphoric tattoo.

One hand is now carding through his hair. She’s still straddling him across his hips, pinning him in place, despite having extracted a promise to cease all challenges for the night.

“I think you broke me,” Matt says.

“This is what happens when you start a tickle fight with someone who was an older sibling.”

“So your argument is that I broke me.”

“It’s what you usually do, Counsellor.”

“I’ll pay that,” he says, taking her hand in his and pressing a kiss to her knuckles.

She gives a satisfied hum at his concession, and settles on top of him, sprawling on top of him, and longing sweeps through him again. Not so much for his sight, but for the ability to stay in this moment forever, with Jessica delighted, sleepy, sated and breathless from laughter in his arms.

He presses another kiss to her head, and makes himself a promise to hold damn tight to the memory.

Chapter Text

 He woke up before she did, that morning. Jess’ heartbeat, strong and steady beside him. She stirred in her sleep, her hair whispering as it slid against the silk of the pillow-case. A smell of copper filled the air, and he frowned. Last night had been a good night, there hadn’t been any knife wounds. And he hadn’t sensed any injuries on Jess, either, when he had woken up sometime to find her curling against his chest, her eyes already closed. So why was…?

He breathed in a little deeper, heard Jess’ responding inhale, and heard Jess’ abdominal muscles groan. 

oh.

He couldn’t feel the heat from the sun on his back yet, but there was a streak of sunlight stopping just before his bed. So it was morning, but Jess probably wouldn’t be awake for a while yet. Fair. They’d both had a late night, but he wouldn’t be able to sleep through her muscles creaking like that. Or, more accurately, he wouldn’t be able to sleep through the urge to fret over her muscles creaking like that. Foggy always teased Matt about his mother-henning tendencies, but by this point in his life, it was second nature.

He groped for his ear-buds and his phone. 7:35am, Saturday. About what he’d figured.

Moving slowly, Matt rolled out of bed and padded into the kitchen. 

What does Jess eat when she’s sick? No, stupid question, Jess exists on whiskey and whatever Malcolm, Trish and I collectively feed her.

Wait. Trish.

From: Matt Murdock

To: Trish Walker

Sent: 7:36 am

Hey, hope you’re awake already. If not, my apologies, but it's for a good cause. What’s Jess’ comfort food?

From: Trish Walker

To: Matt Murdock

Sent: 7:37 am

I’ve been up for a while, don’t worry about it. She likes pancakes. Blueberry ones. 

Matt grinned. He was pretty sure he had blueberries around here somewhere.

From: Matt Murdock

To: Trish Walker

Sent: 7:37 am

Alright. Thanks.

From: Trish Walker

To: Matt Murdock

Sent: 7:38 am

Did something happen? Why are you making Jess pancakes?

 Matt pursed his lips. Jessica would almost certainly hate the fact that she was on her period being broadcasted, even to her sister. On the other hand, if Trish thought he had done something that would make Jess unhappy, the odds of his continued survival went down from ‘manageable, probably’ to…well, less than nothing. And if Jess discovered he had made Trish worry about her, his odds went into negative numbers.

...Screw it. It was too early in the morning to be balancing moral equations. 

From: Matt Murdock

To: Trish Walker

Sent: 7:38 am

From what I understand, twelve times a year, girls just need pancakes. And possibly painkillers. 

From: Trish Walker

To: Matt Murdock

Sent: 7:38 am

Right. She prefers aspirin to ibuprofen, and will kill you if you try and coddle her.

Well. Punch you, probably.

Matt smiled. 

From: Matt Murdock

To: Trish Walker

Sent: 7:39 am 

I'm shocked. Thanks for the intel. 

 He opened the fridge door, and inhaled. He was sure there were blueberries in there somewhere. 


 

 

Chapter Text

Jessica stirred, her eyes opening. She blinked a little, before she realized where she was.

Matt’s apartment. Right. And speak of the smiley dork, there he was, leaning against the doorway of his bedroom, his body focussed on hers even as his eyes were more aimed at a spot several inches above her head. He’d heard her waking up.

“Morning,” he smiled at her, just a soft curve of his lips.

“Mmph,” she acknowledged, heaving herself up to a sitting position against the headboard. There was a wet sensation between her legs, and she froze, before her stomach squeezed again. Goddammit. “Ugh, shit,” she said. “Shit. I’ve gotten blood on your sheets.”

“I know,” he shrugged, walking into the room, and –– had he made fucking breakfast?

He had. He’d made a fucking stack of pancakes, and had a glass of water and two aspirin also balancing on the tray.

Unbelievable.

She told him as much, and his smile just widened. “Coming from you, I’m planning on taking that as a compliment,” he said.

“No, seriously,” Jessica said, shaking her head. “Most guys get a little pissed about their – girlfriend,” she stumbled over the unfamiliar word, “bleeding on their sheets. Especially if they’re fucking silk, Murdock.”

Matt’s smile had widened even further, into a radiant, toothy grin and her heart was not expanding a little in her chest, and there were not butterflies in her gut, because she was Jessica fucking Jones.

“Jess, I’m Daredevil,” he said, and his voice was almost fond. Bastard. He was a complete and total asshole for getting under her skin like that. “You really think it’d be the first time I’ve had blood on my sheets?”

He settled the tray on her lap, and her mouth watered.

“How the hell did you know?” she asked, quietly.

His head tilted, curious, puppylike. A silent request for clarification. It was an unfairly cute gesture. (And then she cursed internally because since when did she think that things were cute?)

(Okay, aside from small children. And puppies. But those weaknesses were – not so much acceptable as inevitable.)

“About the pancakes. And the aspirin. And – everything, actually,” she clarified.

He shrugged. “Smelled the blood, heard your muscles contracting. Didn’t exactly take that much mental arithmetic.” He nodded to the pancakes. “Eat your damn pancakes, Jones.”

Her throat closed up. He’d ducked the question about the pancakes and aspirin. That meant he’d asked someone. Probably Trish.

“Jess?” he asked, softly. “You’re thinking.”

“Just…” she felt an uncomfortable pressure building behind her eyes, as she grabbed the pills. She hadn’t felt so cared for by another person, except for Trish, for a long, long time. “You know. Thanks. Or whatever.”

His smile was a soft, shy thing, and he opened his mouth, then closed it, before he looked at the ceiling. A furrow formed between his eyebrows. She shook her head, smirking.

“Now who’s thinking loudly?” she asked him, as she took a bite of the pancakes. She closed her eyes briefly, as the taste of blueberries hit her tongue. Damn. The man could cook, she had to give him that.

Before she opened her eyes, there was a brush of his lips against her forehead.

“Just thinking that...this is nice,” he said, drawing away, to sit on the edge of the bed. The last word was almost stumbled over, and there was a faint sense of relief. This sappy stuff was new for him too. Fine.

She moved over, patting the space beside her, and he lay down beside her, balancing on his elbow.

“Sap,” she said in reply, smirking at him. “You’re lucky I like you.”

The admission fell from her mouth through a bite of pancake, and the inner monologue of cursing started again, her anxiety rising. Shit, shit, why did I say that, why–? 

But Matt – God bless that intuitive, analytical, smiley bastard – just smirked, swatted her on the knee, and said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full, Jones.”

Deliberately, she took another bite of the pancake, chewed. “Bite me, Murdock.”

His voice was low and playful. “Oh, I will. Soon as you finish breakfast.”

If she ate a little faster after that, and her smile was a little wider –

Well, Murdock certainly wasn’t going to say anything about it. Better uses for his mouth.

Chapter Text

“Your tie is crooked, Counsellor,” Jessica announced, slipping off the chair, the shush of her socks loud in his apartment as she padded up to him. Her stride was relaxed, almost lazy. Automatically, Matt raised his hands to adjust the knot, only for his hand to be batted away by a casual flick of Jessica’s index finger to his palm.

She smelled like him now, he realized, unable to prevent a rush of pleasure at the thought. Her smell of bourbon and jasmine was mixed with his soap, and his aftershave. And – he breathed in a little deeper – he smelled like her now, jasmine and sweat and bourbon. Almost as though with lingering here in the morning, she had staked a claim on him.

He could definitely live with that.

Small, strong hands adjusted the knot, businesslike and to the point. But they lingered on his chest, directly over his sternum. Was she trying to feel his pulse? He was sure that he was smiling like an idiot right now, knew that his heart was flipping under her hand and his gut was filled with butterflies. It was hard to care much, though, when Jessica was being so damn adorable.

“Thanks,” he whispered. On impulse, he leaned in and dropped a kiss on her head.

A snort, but she didn’t pull away from the touch, and that in and of itself made his smile widen.

“Yeah, don’t mention it. I’m replacing your beer, by the way. The German stuff is shitty,” she murmured into his neck.

Matt gave a dramatic sigh, smiling into her hair. “As you wish,” he said, giving her his rote response to whenever alcohol got involved.

Her hands stilled, and he sensed her pulse quickening. 

Ah, shit. She'd recognised the reference.

He closed his eyes, stomping down hard. No. No panicking. Not an option. He trained every sense on her. Pulse: accelerating. A rhythm that felt not quite like fear, but definitely a little stressed. Her breathing, increasingly measured. Her stance, gone hesitant and light in the way he recognised when she was wrestling with herself about something.

Breath caught in his throat, he waited. 

The twenty seconds that passed felt remarkably close to eternity.

Then she let out a long sigh. "Fuck it," she mumbled, the words mouthed against his jaw.

Her hand circled around to his neck, to his face, guiding it until his lips were on hers. She still tasted like bacon, and the whiskey in her coffee, and her hair was softer than silk when he tangled his fingers in it.

"You're goddamn right," she whispered against his mouth. "Sap."

Which if you translated that from Jessica's language...

I love you too.

Both of them were late to work that morning.

Chapter Text

 Jessica doesn’t do Valentine’s Day.

There’s not really a specific reason. There’s obviously the whole thing about it being a commercial exercise in using sentiment to milk people for all they can get, but Jessica doesn’t object to the hustle on moral grounds. If anything, she admires the execution.

It might be because the one time she’d spent it with someone, it had been Kilgrave. That probably didn’t help matters. He’d liked to perform things, like he was reading from a script, on how Valentine’s Day should go.

But she’s done with that, he’s dead and he’s goddamn well staying that way, and she’s free. Has been for two years now.

And Jessica Jones does not do Valentine’s Day.

She tells Matt as much, the instant February 1 rolls around, because closet romantic that he is, he’s going to be tempted to try doing something.

“I don’t do Valentine’s.”

“…okay, what does that have to do with anything?” Matt asks, head shaking as he holds the punching bag steady for her.

(Look, she’ll admit that having the conversation at Fogwell’s wasn’t her brightest idea ever, but the important thing is that she warned him, okay?)

"Just as a heads-up. You know, in case you were your usual idiot self and made big, crushing-debt inducing plans."

"Looks like we're safe for now," Matt smirks at her. "Keep your hands up."  


 When February 14 rolls to a close at midnight, she glances at her desk as she walks in the door, and finds it bare, except for her laptop and beer. That doesn’t surprise her. Matt is surprisingly good at boundaries.

The thing that surprises her is the slight twist in her chest that she eventually identifies as disappointment.

She makes a note to rant to Trish about goddamn conditioning, and then settles down at her desk, sipping at her beer.

Fuck Valentine’s Day, anyway.


 When she eventually rolls out of her bed the next afternoon and walks into her kitchen, she blinks hard at the image greeting her.

It’s a lily and a box of chocolates on her desk.

Her phone is in her hand, and she is dialling before she’s reached the fridge.

“Hi, Jess.”

He sounds cheerful and content. It must have been a good night on the streets.

She huffs to counter the impulse to smile. It’s annoyingly difficult to resist the impulse to smile when he’s happy.

“Thought I told you I don’t do Valentine’s Day,” she says.

“It’s not Valentine’s Day.” And that is Matt sounding extremely pleased with himself, and doing a shitty job of cloaking it.

“Flowers and chocolate on my kitchen table. It sure looks like Valentine’s Day.”

“I wouldn’t know,” he deadpans, and God, she’s not sure what it says that he can crack her mask with his shitty, shitty blind jokes. “Check your calendar, Jones. It’s Wednesday. No clue why you’d think otherwise.”

She laughs, and flirts over the phone for another good ten minutes, because God, this idiot, this reckless, absolutely dumbass idiot, she likes him.

She takes a look at the chocolates. They’re the really good kind.

She’s not sure why she expected otherwise. It’s Matt, after all. 


 

She’s not sure what drives her to return the gesture. There’s not enough time in the day for cases, and Matt, and self-examination. Only two of those things can win on a given day.

(Unless it’s one of those “fuck-it-ninjas-again” days. Then all three of those things tend to collide, and her flask earns its keep.)

But when she walks to Matt’s place a week later for their date – goddamn, an actual date, going out for dinner – she makes a detour to a florist and gets him a rose. Red, of course. The idiot’s already gone to enough trouble to create a theme colour for himself, so why spoil it?

Matt opens the door halfway through buttoning his shirt – “Sorry, Jess, I got caught on the phone with a client, but I think I’ve gotten her to hold off til tomor– why do you have a rose?”

She rolls her eyes, but leans forward and kisses him, nipping at his bottom lip in the way that always, always makes him gasp a little. She loves that sound. Her hands finds one of his, and she presses the rose into it.

She leans her forehead against his, when they break apart.

“It's sure as hell not for me, you dumbass,” she says.

Matt’s smile is soft and crooked, incredulous and delighted. She’s seen a lot of that smile, the past few months. It's yet to get old.

“Why?” he asks her, moving to the kitchen and finding a tall glass, setting the rose in it. It looks surprisingly good on his counter.

“Check your calendar,” she says, and Matt’s eyebrows bounce, as he taps into his phone.

“Wednesday, 22nd of February,” the phone intones.

It takes him a few seconds to put the pieces of the puzzle together, but when he does, a smile spreads across his face.

"So is this a thing now?"

She knows this grin, as well. It comes out when she’s either being an asshole, or she’s about to be, because he finds it cute, for some inexplicable reason. And baffling as his logic is, it would be a shame to disappoint him.

“You wish, Murdock,” she says, tossing his comb at him from his bedroom.

He catches it without turning his head. Show-off.

“C’mon, get cleaned up,” she tells him. 

From the way his grin widens, she hadn't been able to keep the laugh out of her voice.


 It does sort of become a thing after that, though.

Because the Wednesday after that, she buys another rose, and she’s dropping it on his bedside table, because he’s about two blocks away clearing up a mugging.

She’s not surprised when she walks in her door, and finds an iris on her desk.

God, months into this thing – she's still not sure what to call it, because it's more serious than dating, and yet the words "boyfriend" don't do justice to Matt Murdock at all – but it’s still so weird to think that they have Couple Things, now, like Danny and Wing practising katas together, or Claire and Luke calling each other corny.

But if she’s being very honest with herself, they’ve got a few. Fogwell’s, for when she feels like learning the occasional pressure point or chokehold. The cactus on Matt’s desk. The Pact. The fact that every first day of her period, he makes blueberry pancakes for her.

Fuck, they’re bordering on domestic.


 He never leaves roses, and for that, she’s grateful. She’s fine with buying them, for some reason, but receiving them reminds her too much of the shit that Kilgrave used to pull. As the month wears on into spring, more flowers enter the mix. Often, she finds herself walking over to the park, discreetly plucking some of the pretty yellow blooms with broad leafs, or bright white ones with a heavy sweet smell. She’s not a connoisseur, and she’s never bothered with the “language of flowers” shit like Trish does.

And every time she walks back in through her door on a Wednesday morning, and sees the flower waiting there – sometimes it’s a daisy, sometimes something else entirely, but always sweet and pretty – she can’t quite suppress a smile. 


 

They’re three months into doing it when Trish finds out. It’s late May, and Trish’s hair is twisted into a bun, in order to try and escape the most of the heat. She’s in the middle of complaining about the newest shit her bosses are pulling at Trish Talk, when Jessica goes into the kitchen to make sandwiches. She’s been trying to get better about the whole ‘eating regularly’ thing, mostly because Matt can tell when her stomach growls, and he makes this kicked-puppy face that is incredibly fucking annoying.

“Is that a flower?” Trish asks, when Jessica hands her the plate.

Jessica freezes, for half a second, and miscalculates in the panic.

“What? No,” she says, grabbing the flower and stuffing it in the desk drawer. It’s a tulip, this time. Yellow, with orange tips.

“It’s a flower. I spent five minutes staring at it. Is Matt leaving you flowers?”

“No.” Jessica takes a gulp of her beer, and a mouthful of her sandwich. Food as a delaying tactic. It’s served her…well, not too badly in the past. But then again, Trish does have the whole “journalist-in-pursuit-of-mystery” face on right now.

“Why is Matt leaving you flowers? What did he do?”

Oh, this is worse, this is worried Trish.

“It’s fine,” Jessica snaps, and it’s the truth.

But because her life is ridiculous, Trish doesn’t buy it.

“Jess, what’s going on?”

“Trish, things with me and Matt are fine. Better than fine, even, okay? They’re good.”

“Then why is he leaving you flowers to apologise?”

“He’s not apologising, oh my God, Trish. If Matt fucked up, you would be the first to hear about it. Just drop it, okay?”

Trish leans back, eyes narrowed. “No. What’s with the flowers?”

Jessica closes her eyes. Seriously, fuck this. “It’s Wednesday,” she says, opening her eyes again.

Trish blinks. “He leaves flowers on your desk every Wednesday?”

Jessica sighs. “He gets one too. It’s just a thing, okay? He didn’t fuck up, things are going fine. It’s just a thing.”

At long last, the tension uncoils from Trish’s shoulders, and she smirks at Jessica.

“That may well be the cutest thing I’ve heard all week.”

“Ugh, screw you.” 


 

She is nestled in Matt’s hold, sprawled out on his chest on his couch, letting the sounds of the music wash over them. It's something instrumental, lots of stringed things, guitar and something else. On nights like this, she takes advantage of the fact he technically can't catch her staring to drink in the sight of him as much as she can: the scruff covering his jawline, the twists of his lips, the lines at the corners of his eyes and mouth, the creases beginning to form in his forehead.

He permits it, because they both know that he has every sense of his trained on her as well.

“I got an interesting call from Trish today,” Matt tells her, as he traces an infinity symbol on her back.

Jessica groans into his chest, feels his chuckle reverberate against her lips. “Oh, God.”

“Mm. I got the shovel talk again. Any particular reason I should be worried?”

“Wait, again?”

“Ah. I didn’t tell you about the first time?”

“No, you didn't. When was the first time?”

Matt hums. “Not long after we started hanging out a lot. But before we started – this,” he says, lifting a hand to gesture at them both.

She huffs a laugh. Considering how bad they are at naming it, it’s amazing their thing works.

“There’s no reason for you to be worried,” she tells him, leaning up to plant a kiss on his jaw for emphasis. He hums, tilting his head back, his eyes half-closing, and she trails her mouth down his neck, light kisses that make her lips tickle against his stubble. “She just found out about the flower thing. Thought you were apologising for something.”

“I’m not that reckless,” he huffs, smirking at her.

“Apologising is reckless?” She doesn't try to keep how unimpressed she is by that notion from her voice.

His shake of his head is immediate. “No. Trying to buy your forgiveness, however, would be exceptionally stupid.”

She grins, and settles her arms around his shoulders, tugging at them. C’mon, Matt, sit up.

He obliges, but as he moves, he asks, “So, we’re good?”

She’s exasperated and full of warm affection pooling in her gut, and a rush of want, all mingling together.

Matt,” she manages, before she’s settling her hands against his cheek, and kissing him, pouring all of the emotions into it.

His fingers dip into her hips, his tongue flicks against her lower lip, and there’s really not a lot of talking after that.

Chapter Text

It happens one morning, at the unholy hour of 3:00am. Which is really no surprise. 3:00am is, after all, where Jessica Jones lives, even though she’s been trying to be better about the whole ‘regular hours’ thing. 

She pauses in the doorway of her bedroom. The moonlight is streaking across the room, casting his body in a faint glow. His hair is fluffed from the Daredevil cowl, and his face, normally so animated, is peaceful.

Before she can pause to talk herself out of it, she raises the camera, focusses the lens, and clicks. 

The shutter sound is enough to wake him, and he stirs, wincing as he rolls onto his side, his worry lines creasing across his forehead. Left rib is still bothering him, then, despite the meditation session.

“Didn’t know I was subject to one of your cases, Jones,” he rasps.

She smirks, setting the camera down. “The case of your dumbassery is still pending.” 

He snorts, patting the space beside him, on her side of the bed. She goes willingly, settling into the space beside him. It’s a spring night, the kind where the chill settles in fast, and once there, it’s there to stay. That’s what she tells herself, as she burrows closer into his hold, nestling her head against his collarbone.

It definitely has nothing to do with the thought that’s been nagging her all evening, the sensation of panic that climbs up her throat whenever she thinks of the massive bruise she had discovered on that rib of his. 

She hears him sigh, feels him bend a little to plant a kiss on her forehead. The kind that had frightened her, in the early days of their relationship. Gestures of affection, given without reason, just because he could

“You’ll tell me what it is when you’re ready. Right?” he asks, eyes remarkably close to her line-of-sight. 

She swallows, because. Well. Fuck if that doesn’t blow through all of her pretexts and justifications, because it’s Matt, who challenges her without ever stepping across her toes, who is looking at her with the gentlest smile on his face. Who sees her, and calls her out, and somehow, inexplicably, loves her, even if he doesn’t say it in as many words. 

“Stay,” she blurts out, because she can’t lose him again. She can’t lose anyone she loves, not again, but not him. It had been hard enough the first time. If it happened again, now that he had wriggled his way under her skin, now that he was stamped into her every cell of blood and bone, now that he was part of her as surely as Trish was, or her family had been– 

He chuckles, the sound low and rasping. “‘m not going anywhere just yet. I do need some sleep.”

She shakes her head, because he doesn’t get it, and he has to get it. “No. Not the night. Stay.” 

His lips part a little, as the implications sink in, as he fits together the pieces of the puzzle, and then his arm is around her waist, tugging her to him even tighter. His free hand wraps around hers, and he is settling her fingers on his jugular, so she can feel the steady thudding of his heart beneath them, kissing her forehead again. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he repeats, more firmly, and she closes her eyes, absorbing the feel of his skin against her cheek, the ba-bum of his heartbeat, and his smell of Old Spice.

She’s too old and cynical for lullabies. She's discovered that, regardless, Matt’s heartbeat has a soporific effect.

Chapter Text

The first time she sees him interact with a child, they are running into a burning building.

The flames are crackling, consuming the floorboards, and the little girl has crawled onto her bed, and is screaming. She’s maybe nine years old, at most, and she is dressed in an Elsa dress. It must have been a birthday celebration, or something.

Matt vaults over the floorboards, expertly scooping the child up, calling, “Jess, heads up!” before he starts flipping back through the flames. She has a second to bend her knees, and hold her arms out, as she stands on the fire escape, before he flips through the window.

Matt lands in her arms face-up, the child securely cradled in his hold. She’s stopped screaming, now, instead whimpering with terror, and Jessica tenses on the fire escape, making sure her grip is tight, before she jumps.

That’s when the screaming starts again, and the concrete breaks beneath Jessica’s feet as she lands, her knees bent and her teeth gritted. She sets Matt on his feet, but he barely seems to notice. The girl is clinging to him, arms locked around his neck in a death-grip, sobbing so intensely that her body shakes. Matt’s hand rubs circles into her back, as he hushes her, murmuring “ it’s okay, we’ve got you, it’s okay, you’re safe ” in a soothing litany, over and over again.

Jessica Jones, 12:23am:

We got her out.

Danny Rand, 12:23am:

ok

She grabs Matt’s arm and drags him from the mouth of the alley, into the street lights, and there’s another yell, as Colleen releases the mother from her half-nelson, and the little family are clutching at each other with desperate strength.

Matt is turning to go, already, but then the little girl must see, because she is breaking away from her parents’ hold, trotting over to them, and her parents are moving as well.

“Thank you,” her mother says, clutching at Jessica’s arm. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Jessica nods, prying the mother’s fingers off of her arm, trying to radiate rescue me signals to Matt.

But Matt’s body is totally focussed towards the little girl, because he is kneeling to talk to her better.

"Mr Daredevil?" the girl asks, tilting her head to the side.

He tilts his head to the side a little. Jessica mumbles "you're welcome" to the mother – seriously, what the hell, at this rate she's going to end up becoming polite if she keeps hanging around Matt – and moves off to stand beside him.

"Thank you," the girl says. Her bangs are falling into her eyes, her dress is streaked with ash, and her lip is trembling still, giving the impression that she is trying very hard to be a grown-up right now.

Matt's smile is soft, and he tugs one glove off, extending his hand to the child.

Her fist can only wrap around three of his fingers, but her grip turns her knuckles white in the glare of the street lamps.

The child glances up at Jessica.

"Are you Mrs Daredevil?" she asks, her eyes widening.

Matt makes a strangled noise in the back of his throat, and Jessica has to bite back her knee-jerk response of "what the fuck ." Nope. She's not going to curse out a kid who just had a near-death experience. No.

Instead, she crouches to make eye contact with the girl.

"What makes you ask that?" she inquires, keeping her voice soft.

The girl shrugs. "Daddy says he married Mommy 'cos she's a lifesaver. You just saved his life."

Well, she'd come up with weirder logic when she was a kid.

"You're right, she did," Matt agrees. "It's one of the reasons why she's a hero."

The little girl's eyes go even wider, and she turns to Jessica with an excited gleam in her eye.

"Can I be you? When I grow up?" she demands, breathless at the thought.

Jessica has to swallow around a lump.

"Um," she manages.

How exactly does she explain what a abso-fucking-lutely awful idea aiming to be her is to a nine-year old ?

But that is the moment Saint Matthew steps into the breach like a champ.

"You wanna know a secret?" he asks the girl, with a conspiratorial smile.

She nods eagerly.

Matt grins.

"When you grow up, you're gonna be just like you," he tells her. "And if you do what's right, even when you're scared? Then you'll be a hero too. Like her."

She cannot believe that she ended up in a relationship with this man, sometimes.

It’s one of the things she finds herself puzzling over, his strange combination of dark and light, his idealism that pulses strong and bright despite him having nearly as many reasons to become cynical and bitter as she does. And yet, he has hope. Even more inexplicably, he has the ability to give that hope to other people.

Like the grin of pure joy that is spreading across the girl’s tear-stained face right now.

“She’s smiling,” she says under her breath, low enough that Matt alone will hear it. Facial expressions give him trouble, with people he doesn’t know.

He’d be a good father, someday.

The thought hits her like a sucker punch to the gut, and is followed by a barrage of images. Matt tossing a little girl with his mouth, and her eyes into the air and catching her, over and over again. Panic immediately swells within her.

Time to go.

She walks back into the alley, going through her mantra under her breath again.

Birch Street. Higgins Drive.

Where the fucking hell did that thought come from, Jones?

She closes her eyes. Her PTSD has gotten better, but the old tool has never left her, and it’s become knee-jerk to use it when her anxiety flares.

There’s a rustle to her left, Matt deliberately announcing his presence. He thinks she’s having a flashback.

“Jess?” he asks her, from the opposite wall of the alley, out of immediate throwing, punching and kicking range.

“Yeah,” she says.

He tilts his head back, in enquiry, leaning against the alleyway wall.

She swallows, closing her eyes.

“I can’t– I can’t– ” her anxiety is flaring again, at even the thought of telling him what the hell that was about, and her throat is closing up–

Her pulse must give her away, because he crosses the alleyway, and pulls her against his chest.

“Hey. Hey, Jess, breathe with me,” he says, taking an exaggerated deep breath. “C’mon, in .”

His voice is steady, calm, and she lowers her chin onto his shoulder. Inhale. Breathe in the smell of Old Spice and leather and ash. Exhale.

“Goddammit,” she says.

Matt huffs a laugh into her ear, breath warm. “Yeah.”     

She swallows.

It’s Matt. He’s never flinched from anything you’ve thrown at him before , says the logical voice in her head. It sounds like Trish.

But she hadn’t been asking him for anything before, had she?

You’re not asking him for anything now, says that voice of reason again. Just what he thinks.

His hand is toying with the strands of her hair.

“It was just a weird thought,” she mumbles into his shoulder.

He hums. It’s a very specific hum, one she’s heard more times than she can count: I’m calling bullshit, but I trust you, so I’ll let it lie.

“Well, if you want, I’ve got a penny for it,” he says, dropping a quick kiss on the top of her head. “See you at my place later?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be there.”

He nods, and starts leaping onto the fire escape, and she frowns as a thought occurs to her.

She’s not so sure she can be around him, right now.

“I might drop by Trish’s place first,” she says, under her breath again, and his hand flashes in a quick “Okay” signal, before he twists over the railing.

She pulls out her phone and starts dialling.

The phone rings out.

Goddammit.

At this hour, Trish is probably getting someone to go down on her. Dammit.

She shoves her hands in her pockets, and takes a slow breath.

Think .

…but aside from Trish, the only person she trusts enough to talk about something like this is Matt.

She blows out her breath, scrolling through her contacts.

“Jessica?”

She glances up, and sees Danny and Colleen, hovering at the mouth of the alley.

“Danny. Wing.”

“What are you still doing here?” Wing asks her.

She snorts. “Enjoying the smell of Hell’s Kitchen. Booze, bad decisions, ash…”

“Uh-huh. And Matt’s not still here because…?” Danny asks, raising his eyebrows.

“Jesus Christ, Rand, we’re not a unit ,” she snaps.

He holds up both hands, in defence. “Sorry, sorry. It’s getting late, though. You wanna come back to the Chikara with us?”

She opens her mouth, and closes it again. And then opens it again, because shit, how much weirder can her night get? She’d just thought about the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen and what an excellent father he would make.

“You guys got bourbon?”

Colleen shrugs. “I’ve got Scotch. And you can call me Colleen.”

“Works for me.”


 

Rand passes out on the floor almost as soon as they walk through the door of the dojo, and Colleen looks down at him, affection and exasperation mingled in equal parts. Jessica stoops down, slinging him over her shoulder.

“Where do you want him?” she asks.

“Bedroom’s through there,” Colleen says, pointing through the door.

She dumps Rand on the bed, and hesitates, studying him.

She can’t just leave him there.

“Fuck it,” she says, and pries his shoes off of his feet. At least Wing won’t have to deal with Rand’s shoes in her bed.

The kitchenette is through the main hall of the dojo, and the smell reminds her so much of Fogwell’s that she turns to her left to mention the similarity to Matt.

...who is not there.

Fucking hell , Jones, you are really on the ball tonight, she thinks to herself, clenching her hands into fists in her pockets.

“By the look on your face, I’m guessing I should go for the bottle?” Colleen asks, dryly.

“Sounds good,” Jessica says.


 

They’ve passed the bottle between them several times, and Colleen’s starting to get chatty.

Jessica, being in the unfortunate position of having been, for once, stone cold sober before the fire, is not even a little bit buzzed.

“This is why I don’t buy the argument that I should quit,” she tells Colleen. “You stay sober for one day – which was fucking huge , by the way, Matt made celebration pancakes – and then a building blows up.”

Colleen nods, swiping the bottle from Jessica’s hand in a graceful motion. She’s like 5 foot nothing, and she’s already had several big gulps. How is she still moving gracefully?

“Sucks,” Colleen says, with a nod.

“Yeah.”

“So what had you looking like someone murdered your cat?”

“Feeling you’re intimately acquainted with, Wing?” she deflects.

“Yes. Not the greatest moment of my life.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.”

Jessica swipes the bottle back from Colleen. Unbidden, the images of Matt with the little girl come to mind again.

He’d been calm, gentle, anchoring. Playful and clever. He’d been fucking perfect , because apparently, Matthew Michael Murdock was on a personal mission to ruin the last, tattered shreds of her fucking sanity.

“He’d be a really fucking good father,” she says, taking an enormous gulp from the bottle.

“Matt?”

“Matt.”

“Oh.” Colleen makes a strange wiggly gesture with her fingers – oh , ‘gimme’ hands, right – and Jessica snorts, tossing back another gulp. “Yeah. It’s weird shit, thinking that about someone.”

Jessica sighs. “Yeah.”

“You wanna spar?”

“No.”

“Sucks.”

Something in Jessica’s brain clicks. “Wait, you think you and Rand–”

“Don’t make a thing about it, Jones. Just–” Colleen runs one hand through her hair. “I was raised in a ninja cult, he’s the most privileged white boy to ever privilege, there isn’t a single universe in which it should work, but we’ve somehow come this far. So. Y’know. Maybe. Who the hell knows shit? It’s New York.”

Jessica nods. “Right.”

Colleen’s gaze is thoughtful. “You know something I have found is helpful, though?”

Jessica has a sinking feeling in her gut. “If you say ‘talk to him’–”

“Hey, I’m not good at that either. But it works. Eventually. In the meantime, though. You wanna beat the shit out of a punching bag? Learn how to dislocate fingers?”

Jessica cracks her neck from side to side. “You sober enough?”

“I’m not gonna throw up, if that’s what you mean.”

“Yeah, sure.”  


“You get a lot of students?” Jessica asks, thirty minutes later, when Colleen has shown her how to dislocate every single finger, and she has promised to buy Colleen more Scotch.

“Some. Fewer than I used to,” Colleen says, with a slight twitch to her jaw which suggests that that’s not a subject up for discussion.

“Huh. How do you keep the place open?”

Colleen snorted. “Danny bought the building. Before we even started dating. Said he didn’t want me to have to worry about closing down, when I was a good teacher.”

Jessica frowns, because that’s well-intentioned bullshit, but still.

“You want me to tell him to give it back? I think he might listen to me. For some weird reason,” she offers, in her slightly buzzed mood.

“He listens to you because,” Colleen replies, her breath cutting off as she twists Jessica’s arm behind her back, “you’re in the big sister spot.”

“Shit. We’re talking about feelings again, Wing.”

“I know, it sucks. Now how do you get out of this hold?”


 

She walks into his apartment around dawn, wincing at the brightness of the billboard. Matt’s still dead to the world in the bedroom. Nights when he’s been out, he sleeps very soundly.

She strips off, studying him from her vantage point in the doorway. His face is relaxed, open, and his hair is fluffed. He’s almost a little slack-jawed.

She moves to the bed and lies down, hesitating, before rolling over to curl into his chest, breathing him in. He grunts, half-awake.

“Jess?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” she yawns into his sternum. “Go to sleep.”

“You okay?” he mumbles.

She swallows, because shit. “I’ll be fine,” she promises him, pressing a kiss to his chest.

He hums, wraps his arm around her, and she falls asleep, totally ensconced in Matt.

There are worse ways to end a really weird night, her somewhat buzzed brain decides.

But, of course, that’s not where it ends.


 

Two days after that, they’re grabbing lunch together. Matt’s fingers are warm against the skin of her arm, and she is teasing him as they walk through the park. It is, like many of the situations she finds herself in these days, dangerously close to domestic.

“Woah ! Are you blind ?”

It’s said with the kind of tone that suggests the speaker has found a particularly rare, mythological creature. Jessica’s instinctive response is to begin cursing out the asshole, but she can’t quite seem to find him. She scans the surroundings, but Matt has already cocked his head to the side and jerks his chin to their two o’clock.

"Amanda,” comes a groan from the park bench, with one very-tired looking forty-something woman. “I’m so sorry, Mr…”

Matt’s smile is soft, his head-shake quick. “It’s fine. We all have to learn sometime. Amanda?”

“That’s my name! Why’s he saying my name, Mommy?”

…oh.

Maybe six years old, this time. Brown hair, with a reddish tint to it, the same colour as Matt’s, and bright brown eyes that are very curious.

“Because he’s talking to you, sweetheart,” the mother continues, massaging her forehead. “Once again, Mr…”

“Murdock,” Matt says, tapping a little closer to the woman and holding out his hand. But before she can shake his hand, her daughter is there, stretching onto her tiptoes to shake Matt’s hand.

Matt’s mouth is twitching visibly now, and Jessica watches him, one hand on his hip, as he somehow ends up explaining to the six-year old that yes, he is blind, and he can answer her questions, but next time, maybe she shouldn’t announce the fact that someone’s blind at the top of her lungs.

How the hell is he this good at kids?

Although the orphanage could have had something to do with it. And from all rumours, even from the beginning, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen had protected every child in his city.

She closes her eyes, again, and tries hard not to think of a future that seems dangerously tangible. She’s serious about Matt – has been for a while, even if she’s never let herself dwell on the fact – but. Well.

Shit.

His fingers wrap around her elbow, and she flinches, startled from her thoughts. Matt freezes beside her.

“Sorry,” he says, quietly, relinquishing his grip on her arm. She intercepts it before it can hang at his side.

“It’s fine. I was just thinking,” she says, lacing her fingers through his and squeezing.

“I’ve still got a penny,” he offers.

She takes a deep breath.

Birch Street. Higgins Drive.

She lets it out.

“Do you ever think about – having a family, again?” she asks. “The simple life?”

Matt tilts his head to the side, making a little hmm noise. He’s stalling, gathering his thoughts.

“I’m ambivalent,” he says, at last. “I’ve always wanted that. Settle down someday. Try raise a family. But…well, human disaster,” he finishes, with a self-deprecating smile.

“Don’t say that.”

Matt hesitates, raising his eyebrows. “Jessica. It’s just the truth. I have a remarkable ability to screw shit up.”

“You’ve screwed up a shit-ton,” she agrees, shoving her hands into her pockets. “But you aren’t a screw-up. You’re a good man, Matt.”

Matt’s eyes are wide behind his lenses. “Jess.”

“And for what it’s worth?” Her words are coming rapidly now, tumbling together from her nervousness, because this feels like she’s slapping her heart into his hands, messy and raw and bloody. “I think you’d make a pretty fucking great father.”

She stands there for another heartbeat, taking in his expression – slack jaw, mouth opening and closing in an excellent impression of a goldfish – stunned

She runs from the park, ignoring his call to “Jessica, wait!”


Matt Murdock, 3:23pm:

Look, I know you don’t want to hear from me right now, and I get needing space.

Matt Murdock, 3:23pm:

I just need you to know that I’m not going anywhere.

Matt Murdock, 3:24pm:

And what you said, earlier?

It meant a lot.


 Picking the lock is a surprisingly valuable skill. She owes Page a bottle of Jack Daniels.

The lock opens with a whisper, and she walks into Trish’s apartment. There’s the sound of grunting coming from the training room, and Jessica snorts. Of course. What else would Trish Walker be doing on a Saturday?

“You want a break?” she yells.

Trish pokes her head out a second later. “How’d you get in?” she asks, breathing heavily. Her arms and face are almost coated in sweat, the red T-shirt darkened in several places.

“Picked the lock. Your girlfriend’s a badass, and I owe her a bottle of Jack Daniels.”

Trish chuckles, walking into the kitchen. “So, what brings you here?”

Jessica rifles through the liquor cupboard, and finds what she’s looking for. Whiskey. Perfect.

“Day drinking.”

“Really? I thought you were spending the day with Matt,” Trish points out, frowning.

For a second, there’s no sound except that of whiskey being poured into two tumblers.

Trish sighs. “Alright, I’ll bite. What happened?”

“Nothing happened.”

“Right. You just showed up at my apartment to day drink, despite that I know for a fact that you and Matt had plans.”

“What, blowing my boyfriend off to get drunk sounds out of character to you? C’mon, Trish.”

“Yeah, it kinda does. Jess, talk to me.”

Jessica downs her tumbler, focussing on the liquor, the way it glides down her throat. It’s smooth, and rich. She takes a look at the brand, making a mental note to keep an eye on it.

“Do you want kids?” she asks, not taking her eyes off of the panelling of Trish’s kitchen.

“No. I want to be your kids’ cool aunt. You know this, we went over this in high school.”

Jessica smirks, remembering that day. “Wasn’t sure how serious you were, given that we were talking about the zombie apocalypse as well.”

“Dead serious, both about the kids, and the apocalypse. Why’re you asking?” Trish asks, her brow furrowing.

Jessica pours another glass of whiskey, and Trish sighs, wiping at her face with the towel.

“Did something happen with Matt?” she asks, and Jessica doesn’t know what piece of information Trish uses to find the conclusion, but she does. “You should talk to him.”

“I did,” Jessica snaps.

Trish raises her eyebrows again, skeptical.

Jessica sighs, looking away. “I asked him if he thought about it. Settling down.”

“And?”

“Likes the thought, but his self-image is shot to hell.”

“So, identical to you.”

Jessica chokes on her swallow of whiskey. “Thanks, Trish.”

“No problem,” Trish says brightly. “So, your boyfriend doesn’t have a high opinion of himself. This, you already knew.”

Jessica sighs. “Yeah.”

“That’s not what’s bothering you.”

“How much do I owe you, Doctor Walker?”

“Jessica.”

“I killed my family, Trish. Even if the universe somehow didn’t figure it out from the first time around that that’s a really awful idea , I couldn’t – I can’t –” she closes her eyes.

Trish’s arms wrap around her, and her chest rises against Jessica’s, prompting her to inhale, and exhale.

She steps out of the hug.

“Thanks.”

“You should talk to him about it.”

Jessica sighs. “You want some?” she asks, gesturing at the whiskey.

“No. You want to punch shit for a bit?”

“Fuck, yes.”


 Jessica Jones, 5:34pm:

Hey. Can I come over?

Matt Murdock, 5:35pm:

Door’s open. You okay?

Jessica Jones, 5:36:

We’ll find out.


He opens the door while she’s leaning one hand against it, and she stumbles straight into his chest.

Matt huffs a laugh, and her fingers dip into his hips to steady him. “Hi.”

“You’re not the human disaster, okay? I’m scared,” she says, skipping the formalities in favour of diving into the points she’s been mentally rehearsing on the walk over. “I’m scared I’m going to scare you off, I’m scared I’m going to lose you, and I’m scared I’m not going to lose you, and I was weird earlier at the park because whenever I see you with kids, I just. I think of a maybe, I think of a someday, and it scares the fucking hell out of me, you dumbass.”

He blinks and then tugs her to him, pulling their bodies flush against each other. She buries her face in the crook of his neck, and he twists to plant a kiss on her temple.

“You’re not the only one who’s scared of hoping,” he says, and the world tilts on its fucking axis with those words.

She takes a deep breath, settling her chin on his shoulder. She wishes she could sense him the way he does her, sometimes. That she could listen to the sound of his blood pumping, feel the thrum of his heartbeat without pressing her fingers to his throat.

His chest rises and falls against her own, their breathing the only sound in the apartment that she can hear.

“I don’t make it easy on you, do I?”

His hands are warm, settled against the small of her back, rubbing circles into it. “You make things interesting, Jess. I want to be with you. And I’m scared, we’re both scared, but I’m not giving up on us. You’re worth the effort, Jessica Jones.”

She reaches up, and pulls his sunglasses off the bridge of his nose, setting them down on the nearest surface, studying him for a moment. His smile, soft and peaceful, the furrows in his brow, the little dents in either side of his nose from his glasses.

She slides one hand around his neck, drawing his lips to hers.

“As you wish,” she mumbles into his mouth.

Matt freezes for a minute, and then kisses her back. Hard.

Chapter Text

 

She walks in, dumping her keys on the coffee table, and shrugs her jacket off, throwing it onto the back of the chair. Matt’s head is tilted, his spoon paused mid-stir through the frying pan, his lips pursed in that particular way that means he’s studying her. Memorising her scent, her heartbeat.

Without preamble, she stalks around the counter to him, and into his hold. He hums, shifting the pan to the back of the stove with his free hand, before pulling her close to him, settling his chin onto her shoulder. 

He doesn’t ask why, and for that, she is grateful, that they’ve found a rhythm. She will tell him, later, but now…

“What do you need?” he asks her, steady and soft, one hand stroking through her hair. 

Her grip around his back tightens a little. 

“Talk to me,” she says, because all she needs right now is to listen to his voice.

“Anything in particular?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

He hums, and pads over to the bookshelf, running his fingers over the spine, opening it and flicking through until he finds what he’s looking for. She studies him, his hair turned blue and indigo in the light of the neon billboard, body flickering orange as the light of the sunset mingles with it. His hair is still damp from the shower; summer isn’t his favourite season either.

His fingertips begin moving over the Braille, and he begins to read aloud, moving back to the counter. She digs the bottle of tequila out from under the counter, and pours a glass for both of them.

She closes her eyes, gulping the shot down, but all she can see is the expression on the her client’s face, when she’d brought his wife back to him. Relief, joy, gratitude, some blend of all three mingling, as he had engulfed her in a hug. 

And she had looked like she was coming home.

She opens her eyes, studying him again now. She’s always a little bit glad of the fact that she can do so without him ever worrying about her staring. 

His gaze, occluded and aimed at the floor, rather than at the Braille he is still reading from. The lines beginning to form at the corners of his eyes, and around his mouth, and creases along his forehead, a lifetime of laughter, love and stress. There’s a scar on his deltoid, from when he’d been starting his alt career as a crimefighter, and he’d been too slow once, and had gotten cut by some asshole who’d been mugging tourists on 49th Street. His voice is slow, unhurried as he comes to the end of the section he was reading, and his nose wrinkles slightly as his fingers pad over the next section. Evidently, the writer and he are disagreeing on something. 

“Marry me,” her mouth says, without really consulting her brain about it. 

The book falls from his fingers. 

“Come again?”

She swallows, looking around the apartment. Her jacket is slung over the chair, and her boots are by the door. A faded blue blanket that she had brought with her one night, a year ago, is slung over the arm of the couch, from the cold snap a couple of weeks back, when they’d spent the night holding each other on the couch, and listening to musicals. The camera he bought her, two years ago, is sitting on the coffee table, along with her laptop. If she walks into the bedroom, she will find her cosmetics strewn across one of his tables put there explicitly for that purpose, their compromise between his neatness and her tendency towards clutter.

It’s home. He is home. 

“Marry me,” she says, again.

He crosses the room to her, taking her face in his, brushing his fingers across her temple, her forehead, feeling out the creases of her eyebrows and trailing them over her cheekbones. She leans into the touch. 

“Are you sure?” he asks her, softly.

“I mean, if you don’t want to–” she says, feeling a lump in her throat.

“I want. But I don’t want you to be unsure. I don't want you to do this, because you feel like you have to.”

She tilts her head, taking in his expression. His eyes are bright, and his mouth is parted a little, with hope and fear in every line of his expression. 

She takes his hands, and settles them on her hips, taking another step forward, and pressing her lips to his neck.

To say that she is sure would be a lie. But...

"I want to," she says.

He freezes for a heartbeat, head tilting to the side, checking instinctively. And then he is smiling, almost incandescent with joy. He kisses her forehead, her temple, he is lifting her chin so that he can kiss her nose, and she huffs a laugh, because she’s never been able to resist that expression, that warmth, that light that he carries. She doubts she ever will be able to resist it.

Matt’s teeth scrape over her bottom lip, and rational thought is abandoned on the kitchen counter. 

Later, when they are lying on their bed, Matt’s fingertips are trailing over her hip and her waist, and she muffles her chuckle into his shoulder when he hits a ticklish spot.

“Asshole,” she mumbles against his shoulder. 

He grins a shit-eating grin, and presses another kiss to her nose.

“Your asshole,” he says, his voice low, and sleepy, and utterly content in a way that makes her gut feel gooey. Gross. 

She runs one hand through his hair. “Yeah, I guess you are. We’re not doing a white dress thing, by the way.”

“I’ll be heartbroken if you wear green,” Matt deadpans, and she laughs again. 


 “Hi, Mrs Beauregard? I’m sorry, I’m going to have to cancel my appointment today. Something unexpected’s come up, and I’m needed at the courthouse.”

At the sound of the client’s protests, and Matt’s pained grimace, Jessica reaches out and purloins the phone. She would have made a wonderful pickpocket, really.

“Hi, Mrs Beauregard, was it? Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m going to need to steal Matt. He’s getting married today,” she says, using her very best “friendly-and-emotionally-well-adjusted but vaguely unintelligent” voice.

There’s a beat of disappointment from the other end, before the words sink in. “Matthew Murdock! You didn’t breathe a word!” 

“He prefers to keep his personal life and professional life separate,” Jessica says, deadpan, trying to remember the lines Trish’s assistant liked to use, “but that sometimes creates difficulties. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.” 

“No, no, not at all! Oh, I’m so happy for him. He’s such a nice boy, you know. I’ve known him all his life.”

She grins at Matt, who is suddenly looking like he wants to sink through the floor. “Oh, yeah?” 

“Oh, yes. I remember when he was in Sunday school, always so insistent that Jonah didn’t need to run away. Such a good boy. I hadn’t heard that he was seeing anyone!” 

“As I said, ma’am,” she says, restraining her exasperation to a roll of the eyes. “Compartmentalisation. I’ll put you back onto Matt, and you can work out a time?”

“Yes, that sounds good, dear. Matthew, I still can’t believe you said nothing!”

Matt hums, apparently back on solid ground, now that he doesn’t need to lie about his whereabouts – honestly, how he’s successfully maintained a double life is a mystery to Jessica – and he renegotiates Mrs Beauregard’s new appointment at record speed. 

“So that’s done,” he says, massaging his temple when he hangs up. “We’re going to need witnesses.” 

“I’ll take Trish, you take Foggy,” Jessica says. 

“We only need one.”

“Yeah, but neither of them will ever shut up about it if they don’t get to come.”

“…good point. Do we need rings?”

"I guess? We can pick them up on the way."


“Jessica, now’s not a good time! Where are you!?”

“Oh, are you in the middle of a show?”

“Yes, I’m in the middle of a show. Jess, where are you?”

“Oh, right. Case wrapped up last night. Sorry I didn’t text you. My phone died, and then I got distracted. Matt, wipe that smirk off. Listen, can you be at Saint Agnes’ parish, around 11:00?”

“What? Why?”

“I’m getting married. See you there.”


 

Trish Walker, 9:55am:
JESSICA JONES, YOU CANNOT HANG UP ON THAT NOTE


Trish Walker, 9:56am:
WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED


Trish Walker, 9:56am: 
JESSICA, IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER ME RIGHT NOW


Trish Walker, 9:57am:
PICS, OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN


“Hey, buddy! What’s up?” 

“So, Jessica proposed last night."

There was a beat of silence on the other end of the line, and Matt bit down on a smile. 

“If this is a joke, or a prank–”

“You made out with Brett Mahoney once at a party when you were teenagers, later claimed to be drunk when questioned later, and you were stone cold sober the entire time,” Matt says, rifling through his closet, until he finds his best suit. “Is my proof of legitimacy accepted?”

“Holy shit,” Foggy says, every word coming out slow. “You’re getting married.”

“Yep. Today, actually.”

“You are getting married.”

“Uh-huh. Father Lantom’s officiating at 11:00. Courthouse operator fell out of her chair when we asked if she did same-day walk-ins. Can you get away from the depositions?”

You – Matthew Michael Murdock – are getting married.”

“That is correct, your honour. So, you coming?” 

“Of fucking course I'm coming, man. I’ll be right there.”

“Thanks. Hey, Fog?”

“Yeah, man?”

“Love you.”

“You’re getting married. Dude, what even – I’ll see you there. You are not hearing the last of this. And tell Karen!”

“See you there.”


Foggy Nelson, 10:12am:
KarenKarenKaren

Foggy Nelson, 10:12am:

Karen
Matt’s getting married today

Karen Page, 10:13am:
You’re so full of shit, Nelson.

Foggy Nelson, 10:14am:

No, ACTUALLY
KAREN THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Karen Page, 10:15am:
Sure it is. 

Foggy Nelson, 10:16am:
Karen Page, I am getting a cab to your office RIGHT NOW
and then we are going to go to Saint Agnes
because this is NOT a drill

Karen Page, 10:17am:

Foggy, I appreciate your dedication, but I really need to track down this lead.

Foggy Nelson, 10:18am:
Matt is getting married TODAY
in FORTY MINUTES and I am COMING TO GET YOU 


 Jessica Jones10:35am:


<image description: a man’s hand, with a simple, plain gold ring on the fourth finger, wrapped around a white cane>


Trish Walker, 10:35am:
THAT’S MATT’S HAND

Trish Walker, 10:35am

WHY DOES MATT'S HAND HAVE A WEDDING BAND ON IT

Trish Walker, 10:36am

ARE YOU SAYING MATT PROPOSED

Jessica Jones, 10:37am:
It’s the 21st century, Walker. I proposed. You coming, or not?


Trish Walker, 10:37am:
You ASSHOLE, I’ve been hovering outside Saint Agnes for the past 20mins!!!


 Matt Murdock, 10:33am

Hey, Karen. Sorry for the short notice, but I'm getting married today. At Saint Agnes. 

Matt Murdock, 10:35am

In about half an hour, actually. Um, less. Sorry about the short notice.

Matt Murdock, 10:36am:

But you're family, and I'd really love it if you could be there.

Karen Page, 10:40am:

If this is a joke, I will never forgive either you, or Foggy.


 “Holy shit, you are getting married,” Karen says, as Jessica and Matt walk into Saint Agnes. 

He breathes in the smell of vanilla, cherry chapstick, paper – Foggy, to his left, who is arguing with Trish about ships, for no apparent reason – strawberry shampoo and deodorant – Karen – leather and jasmine and tequila from last night, Jessica, twining around the smell of sunlight, wood polish, and Father Lantom that prevails through the sanctuary.

Matt tilts his head to the side, smiling at her fondly. 

“I thought Foggy told you?” 

“I thought he was teasing me,” she says, with a soft shake of her head. She feels like surprise, but she steps forward and wraps him in a quick hug. “Congratulations, Matt.”

He breathes in her happiness for him, feels the sudden flinch of regret that resounds through her system. 

He opens his mouth to ask what it is, but Jessica beats him to the punch.

“Something wrong, Page?”

“I owe Claire,” she grumbles, digging into her pocket for her phone. “She was the only one who bet on this happening.” 

“Shit, so do I,” Trish says, running a hand through her hair.

“Matthew, Jessica! You’re early. Would you like to begin?” Father Lantom calls from the other end of the sanctuary. 

“Guess that's our cue, Counsellor,” Jessica murmurs, beside him, her heart thumping steadily in her chest, ba-bum, ba-bum. A bit more elevated than normal, but that doesn’t really surprise him.

“As you wish,” he replies, and his grin widens when she snorts a laugh. 

“Dork.”

“Jackass.” 


 She should be nervous. Public displays of affection are not on the list of things that Jessica Jones does, and this is pretty fucking public. 

 Matt squeezes her hands gently, and she can almost hear the words, even unspoken on his lips, the reassurance that it’s not too late, if she doesn't want this.

Steady, sweet, reckless Saint Matthew, forever prepared to lay his life down, so that she doesn’t have to. The idiot. There’s still part of his heart that doesn’t believe she could love him. Like she could have avoided it. 

She’ll have to break him of that, she decides, as the priest turns to him. And as for the displays of affection, she can make an exception for him. 

The vows take less than two minutes. Love, honour, cherish, protect. 

Obey mysteriously goes missing, and she makes a mental note to find the Father whatever his favourite type of whiskey is – priests can drink, right? – for that little extrapolation. 

For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. 

Matt’s hand is steady around hers, and there’s a little hitch in his breath when the Father gets to, “until death do us part”, but his voice is steady when he says, “I do.”

Then Matt’s hand is carding through her hair, and he’s drawing her into a kiss that damn near makes her heart stop beating, right there and then. Foggy is cheering, she can hear Trish’s phone making the shutter sound effect.

He leans his forehead against hers, and she can see her reflection in his glasses, through the mist of their mingled breathing.

“Hey, you,” he murmurs.

She chuckles, tangling her fingers into his hair. 

“Morning, Counsellor,” she replies.

There’s silence for a moment, both of them letting the magnitude of the moment sink in, and then behind them, Father Lantom coughs gently. 

“Registry?” 

Jessica gives a long-suffering sigh, and Matt grins at her, his hand tracing a spiralling pattern on the crook of her arm.

“The things I do for you, Matt Murdock,” she says.  

The grin does not budge, because by this point, he knows her, inside and out. “I love you too,” he says, and she closes her eyes for just a heartbeat.

She's not religious, but she says a little prayer of thanksgiving in her mind, that years ago, Matt Murdock, patron saint of Hell's Kitchen and lost causes, walked into her interrogation.


 Coda

Franklin Nelson @notjustaweatherpattern

11:18am

Guess who has two thumbs and who just got hitched?!? Class of Columbia '15, read it and weep!

<image description: two men, one brunet, one blond, smiling into a camera. The brunet's eyebrows are raised in skepticism, but he is making a 'perfect' sign with his finger, displaying a plain gold band.>

Trish Walker @akatrishtalk

11:23am

I could not be more proud or happier than I am today, Jessica. 

<image description: a man and a woman, talking to each other, caught in the stained glass shadows in a church. His forehead is resting against hers, in the middle of saying something, and her smile is wide. Her hand is tangling in his hair, and the light catches on the small gemstone on her band.>

Danny Rand @theofficialdannyrand

 11:25am

HOLY SHIT HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS

Luke Cage @forwardalways

11:27am

@theofficialdannyrand Danny, they've been together for over a year now.

Danny Rand @theofficialdannyrand

11:27am

@forwardalways THEY SAID THEY WERE JUST FRIENDS WHEN I ASKED

Luke Cage @forwardalways

11:29am

@theofficialdannyrand And just how sarcastic were they being? 

Danny Rand @theofficialdannyrand

11:31am

@forwardalways ...now that you mention it...

Jessica Jones @aliasinvestigations

11:32am

@theofficialdannyrand @forwardalways Jesus Christ, we leave you alone for one morning, Rand.

Claire Temple @nightnurse

11:33am

@akatrishtalk  @kareninapage @daughterofthedragon @curanderaknight @mducasse

Pay up, bitches. 

Colleen Wing @daughterofthedragon

11:33am

@nightnurse Say what?

Colleen Wing@daughterofthedragon

11:33am

@aliasinvestigations HOLY SHIT YOU TWO

Malcolm Ducasse @mducasse

11:33am

Finally! 

<image description: A black space, with large letters stamped across it, spelling out in capitals: ABOUT GODDAMN TIME.>

Luke Cage @forwardalways

11:34am

@aliasinvestigations Congratulations, Jessica. You deserve the win.

Jessica Jones @aliasinvestigations

11:35am

@forwardalways Thanks, Luke. 

Danny Rand @theofficialdannyrand

11:37am

@akatrishtalk @nightnurse @daughterofthedragon @forwardalways @notjustaweatherpattern @kareninapage @aliasinvestigations @mducasse @curanderaknight

Dinner at the Chikara tonight! Be there or be square!

Jessica Jones @aliasinvestigations 

11:39am 

@theofficialdannyrand You don't say shit like that over Twitter, Danny. Everyone else: text us if you want the actual details. – M.M