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Mnemosyne: Domestic Terror

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BEEP BEEP BA-BEEP BEEP BEEP BA---

Tessa's hand reached over to her bedside table and swiped across her phone screen. "Ugh… Matt… I had the worst dream. There were--"

The hand, now patting across the bed beside her froze, finding the sheet cold, the space empty. Matt wasn't there. And, that was no dream. Yeah. That's right. I'm living that nightmare. Tessa let her arm fall limp and buried her face into the pillow, hoping to return to the lovely slumber world where this reality was the fleeting bad dream. But she couldn't. Today was a big day.

"Get up. Get up now. … Now. … Now. Up!" But she didn't move, as much as she pleaded with herself. Instead, Tessa laid there for another three minutes until her second alarm went off.

BA-BEEP BEEP BEEP BA-BEEP BEEP--

This time she willed her body to move. And move it did, rolling over, out of her bed, and crashing onto the cold floor. "And… now I'm up. Brave face, Tessa. Put on your brave face."

From her knees she could reach her phone, so she grabbed it and the bottle of painkillers, which now lived beside her at all times, and trudged to the bathroom. "Brave face."

Putting on a brave face, however, was a trifle overwhelming when her head was killing her. So, with her miserable, terrified face still on, Tessa popped four pills into her mouth and checked her phone. There was a voicemail waiting for her.

"Tessa." It was Matt. "I know you're probably worried about today--if you're checking this in the morning-- but I have no doubt that you'll be absolutely fine. Great even, depending upon how open to the idea you are. Also, I'll be right downstairs if you need me at any point… and I have something for you on your way in."

That message made her brave face significantly more feasible. In fact, she was basically smiling at her phone when she checked it for the time-stamp of that voicemail. Three fourteen in the morning. He'd probably left it after daredeviling. Tessa basked in the comfort of that message one more time while gathering her towel and robe. Shower time, step two towards making that brave face a reality.

"But I still wake up. I still see your ghost. Oh lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for. What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights I don't know anymore."  Music helped drown out the memories she found herself alone with under the hot water. So, she sang along. "That's alright. I found a martyr in my bed tonight. She stops my bones from wondering who I am." She shut her eyes and turned off the world and sang along. "Some nights I wish that this all would end 'cause I could use some friends for a change. And some nights I'm scared you'll forget me again. Some nights I always win, I always win..."

By the time she stepped out of the shower, Tessa almost felt the part as much as she looked it. In fact, her mind was busy wondering what kind of surprise Matt had in store for her. There was also a bit of fretting there over whether he was hurt or not, but that was nothing unusual, nothing that fracture the facade she'd secured. Out front in the kitchen, Tessa quietly hummed the song, now soundly stuck in her head, and tiptoed around to make some tea. Jess was passed out face down at the dinner table, so Tessa tried to keep the noises to a minimum. Judging by the smell of her, Jess had been out that night singlehandedly making the celebration of the end Tessa's trial into a full weekend event. Chances were, Tessa didn't particularly need to be quiet, but she tried anyway. It was the polite thing to do.

At the table, Tessa munched on some granola and yogurt while setting an alarm on Jess's phone. Dishes washed up, she put on a pot of coffee -- since Jess would definitely need it in an hour and fifteen minutes time -- and then padded back to her room to put on the outfit that matched her brave face.

"Okay… Make it real, Tessa."

 

The subway hadn't been a shit show. Tessa had remembered her keys and managed not to fumble them while unlocking the building. Even navigating the stairs with her box of stuff had been carried out without a hitch. She had arrived without tearing, staining, or generally destroying anything. Her first day seemed like it was starting out just fine, just like Matt had said it would. Now, to actually get through that first day.

"Making it real," she muttered to herself and bumped open the office suite's door with her hip.

Overall, the place was a dump, but it wasn't rancid. She could deal with it. And it had come with the desk. No chair or shelves or anything, but she would make do with that, too. It wasn't like she had a ton of stuff to put anywhere. With her few things arranged as well as they could be in the office proper, Tessa spent a few moments cleaning up the would-be waiting area and then stood back to assess her work.

"Meh. Give it a B. But still... the real fucking deal… oh! First call…" Tessa scuttled back to her bag and dug out her chiming phone. Sure enough it wasn't a number she recognized. "Make it real, Tessa, make it real… Hello? This is Dr. Tessa Bisho."

"Doctor, good to hear you're a free woman again. More or less."

Tessa's brave face fractured slightly. There was pretending and then there was being another person. Hearing Captain Rogers' voice and acting like she was a-okay would have required the latter. "Uh… Uh… Captain… I didn't expect to hear from you."

"I know you have a lot on your plate right now, doctor, but for once I may have an opportunity to make that lot seem less like a chore. Can you do me a favor?"

"Oh, I--I hope so? I'm not really… in the best position right now. I'm just hanging--"

"Believe me, I realize that. What I'm asking won't require that you jeopardize that sliver of stability. Promise."

"Okay, um…" At the sound of footsteps in the hall, Tessa ducked into the office and shut the door behind her. "Lay it on me."

"I have a prime patient for you. She needs exactly what you can offer and she deserves your help. Her health is fast declining, but we're hoping that your treatments could at least make her remaining time more meaningful for her. Her name is Peggy Carter. She was a founding--"

"I know who she is, Cap," Tessa whispered into the phone, hearing voices in her waiting room. "She's a bad ass. Of course, I'll help her. First thing I'll do after the walk-ins that just came by."

"I'll let you get to that, then. And thank you, Dr. Bisho. I deeply appreciate your help."

"It'll be my genuine pleasure…" Phone tucked back into her pocket, Tessa just barely cracked open her door. What she found on the other side was exactly the sort of thing that was going to destroy her brave face. And, less metaphorically, to cause her to spill her tea down her front.

Tony Stark, bespoke suit looking horribly out of place against her dingy seventies' tile, was quietly bickering with Dr. Strange, whose facial hair seemed to be curling in disdain. Pepper Potts stood a few paces back, eyes dead, and a giant creepy fucking bird sat perched in the window above their heads. 

<<My, this is an excellent omen of things to come, isn't it, Tessie?>>

She immediately shut the door again, sliding down it and onto the floor. "Too real. Too fucking real…" This was not what a person wanted on their first day. Not at all. Only one thing to do. Run.

Tessa dropped her shoes onto her desk and then unlocked the door as quietly as possible. If she surprised them, they wouldn't have a chance to stop her. One. Two. Three! She threw open the door and burst through, darting around Stark and Strange and hitting the suite's door at top speed.

"Tessa!"

"Theresa…"

<<Oh, you're running away from your problems. Literally. A grand idea.>>

By the time Tessa reached the bottom of the stairs, it seemed like her plan had worked. No shouts carried down after her, no footsteps pounded in pursuit. Running away from her problems was a great idea.

"Hiya, Tess! Good luck on your first day!"

"Yuh-huh…" Tessa leaned against the door of Nelson and Murdock, trying to regain some modicum of calm.

"You, uh… you okay?" Foggy stepped out of his office. "You look a little…frazzled. First day jitters?"

"Something like that."

"Well, we asked Karen to run out and get you flowers-- a flower as a first day surprise, which I guess isn't a surprise anymore… ha-ha... whoops!"

"Uh-huh, thanks, Foggy. Matt in there?" She jerked her head to the left and Foggy nodded.

"Yeah… Matt's in there."

With a weird half-wave, Tessa flung herself towards Matt's office, also shutting that door behind her. He was standing, digging in his bag, glasses sliding down his nose.

"…here. That… surprise I promised--oh!" He grinned as Tessa yanked him away from his desk and into the nearest corner, away from the interior windows. "Whoa. Tessa, I have a few minutes to spare, but not enough for this and Foggy's right out--"

"No. Not sexy. I have to hide. I need to hide."

"Okay. Okay, why?"

"Stark is in my waiting room arguing with Dr. Strange."

"Hu--what? Right now? In your office? Upstairs?"

"Yes. It's a nightmare…"

A chuckle poorly stifled, Matt shook his head and set his hands on her shoulders. "No, it's not a nightmare. They're… probably here to check on you. And even if that's not all, you can handle it." He kissed her forehead and slipped around her and to his desk again.

"Easy for you to say."

"Oh, definitely. But I believe in you. And here… don't drop it, it'll break." He pressed a small brown paper bundle into her hand.

Grateful for the distraction, Tessa immediately unwrapped it, finding a little navy blue tea cup speckled with white, stylized stars.

"The vendor said it looked like heaven…"

"It's… beautiful, Matt. Thank you."

He hummed as she leaned into his chest. "You are more than welcome. And... now you have somewhere to put your tea besides your shirt."

"Ha. Ha. You're hilarious. I hope it rubs off on you." Tessa clung a little tighter around him, to get tea on him, sure, but also because letting go meant going back to the disaster waiting for her upstairs.

"You can do this, Tessa. You'll have to face him eventually, either way, might as well do it now, head-on. Fast and brutal."

"You would say that," Tessa sighed and released him. "Don't hesitate to come check on me if you hear shouts and/or explosions."

"I'll be listening. But, you can do this on your own."

With that last grin of his on her mind and the teacup gently clutched between her hands, Tessa marched back upstairs. There were still low voices snapping on the other side of her suite's door, but they quieted as she approached. When she opened the door, Stark threw her his billion dollar grin and Strange nodded.

"I was hoping you'd be gone," Tessa muttered, stepping past them and pointedly not looking at the magpie in the window.

"Aw, come on, Bichon. Cut me a break, I'm not that bad a guy."

Strange glanced between Tessa's dull glare and Stark's glowing smile and then sighed. "I'll come back later," he said and vanished.

<<One down, one to go. Psst, I can help dispose of the dandy. You need only ask, Tessie dear.>>

Tessa shut her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay. Let's get this over with, Stark. I don't have any chairs yet, so we'll have to stand awkwardly."

"That's fine. Fine. This isn't really business, anyway. It's more… personal. Look, Tessa, I know that you've had it with me by this point, that you were probably hoping not to see me for a nice long while after the hearing… but, I just… I had to come down and apologize to you again, which, you should know... makes you very special."

Pepper Potts, standing off to the side, crossed her arms. "Maybe make this not about yourself, Tony."

"I--I know, Pep."

Tessa saw an opportunity to not deal with Stark for another five seconds and took it, eagerly. "So, this is the Pepper Potts. I'd been wondering when I'd officially get to meet you, ma'am."

"Yes, this is the Pepper--"

"A pleasure, Dr. Bisho." She stepped around Stark, effectively cutting him off, and shook Tessa's hand. "I'm sorry it couldn't be sooner and under better circumstances."

"Hah. Yeah... About that... When she's not around I tend not to make the best decisions."

As he'd spoken, Potts' eyes had rolled firmly into the back of her head. "Oh, don't pass off fault onto me, Tony. I can't be expected to babysit you constantly and run a whole company."

"No, no that's not what I meant… just… I benefit from her--your influence, Pepper, but you've… been busy--it's no excuse! I know!" Tessa found herself smiling as Stark floundered under Potts' witheringly cold glances. It was a pleasant change of pace to see him off step. "I know that it's not, but… okay, Tess, I apologize again."

There was an odd moment of silence as Stark bent his head a little and then just stood there, bowed. Tessa didn't know what else to do other than stare. When the moment had passed, Stark glanced up at her.

"You got that, right? I've now apologized twice."

<<He's a preening ponce, isn't he?>>

Laughter filled Tessa's head as Ms. Potts rolled her eyes in the real world. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure she got it, Tony… it's the sincerity of it I don't think she got through all that showmanship of yours."

"Okay, okay, I've got this." Stark straightened back up and held out his hand. "See for yourself, Tess, firsthand. I really am sorry…"

With a degree of hesitation, Tessa reached out and took Stark's hand. As promised, she was greeted with an indiscriminate wave of contrition and guilt. That was unsurprising, considering everything Stark was already bent up over being responsible for. But, just after it were several very clear moments of a bottle of liquor and a chorus of Pepper urging him 'to make it right'.

"I believe you," Tessa finally said, nodding. "Thank you."

It was directed towards Pepper, the thanks, but naturally Stark answered it. "You're welcome, of course. Phew, it feels better getting that off my chest. Okay, now, time for the easier part. I brought you something." Reaching inside his suit jacket, Stark pulled out something small and vaguely familiar. "So, I've poured over this thing, taken some of it apart, obviously, and found out next to nothing. It's irradiated with a little more than gamma rays, you see, but just what that is I haven't been able to determine. Anyway… I thought you should have it, what's left of it, that is. The scalpel's locked down, promise. No one will be getting to it. No one even knows it exists, beyond us and Vision and Cho. I'm fairly certain Klaue is responsible for its creation, but I'm also fairly certain that cretin has no clue what it's capable of. With the rest of it in your hands, I figure… you're safe."

Tessa turned the mangled vibranium knife over in her hands. "So, you extracted the alloy from this to tip the scalpel for my… surgery?"

"Yeah. Regret it now. But… well, I seem to regret a lot after the fact these days. Ahem. Anyway, that's yours now and I just need to check on the nanobots." He flicked his phone her way, casting glowing holographic specs around her. "I gotta say, Tessa… you're handling all this really well. I was impressed with how you dealt with everything at the trial and the hearing and all that bullshit-- Huh. The bots giving you headaches?"

Tessa stared at the knife and teacup in her hands for another second before answering. "Yeah… the interference they give off… resonates with my brain, I guess."

"I can see that."

"It was a dull hum at first, now it's a roar, and my brain feels like it's vibrating."

Stark clicked his tongue and then waved away the holographic readings. "That's not supposed to happen. I'll get right on that… Well, anyway, I've gotta get going, other… bridges… still on fire."

"The shores on either side of those bridges, Stark? They're… You're not… planning on razing cities, are you?"

"I'm a mechanic, Tess, I build things, I don't--"

"You were basically a war-monger to begin with, don't act like it's beyond you…" Tessa gripped the handle of the knife even tighter, but gently set the teacup onto her desk.

"My whole goal is to prevent casualties. All casualties, doctor, so… no. I'm not razing cities. I certainly don't plan to, anyway…" His eye flitted from Tessa's hand and back to her face a few times. "Let me know if you need anything, Tess… any help or equipment requests… Anything." He cast one more wary glance at the knife in Tessa's hand before turning for the door, Potts in step with him.

She nodded Tessa's way one more time as well. "Again, nice to meet you. I hope things improve."

Tessa stood there, alone in her waiting room, tea chilling in her blouse, and watched until the door tapped shut. Then, she finally relaxed her grip on the knife.

<<The man makes me feel homicidal, too. Don't sweat it.>>  Mostly alone in her waiting room.

"I can resolve the interference with a spell, Theresa…" Not at all alone in her waiting room. Tessa turned from setting aside the knife just in time to watch Dr. Strange drop his glamor. "You can resolve it, actually. In fact… that's your lesson for the day, tuning energies."

"Don't you have better things to do than spy invisibly on me and Stark mouthing off at one another?"

"Usually, yes. But, currently your wellbeing is my priority."

"Aww, doc, I'm touched. If I'm ever wanting for attention, I'll just make a point to assimilate another indispensable entity into my person."

Strange paused from creating the elaborate chalk mess on Tessa's tile that she would inevitably spend over an hour cleaning later. "This is nothing personal, Theresa. You must move past that."

"Trust me, Strange, I'm so past anything actually being about me it's ancient history."

<<I could make it about you, Tessie. In fact, I'm very interested in you, just you. You're quite unique, you know. All that cosmic power swirling around in you, crystallizing as memories. Did you know those memories are the reason why you can perform magic? Truly, the arcane gift is a rare one in its pure form, finite among humans, but your reserves are as bottomless as eternity and as pristine as snowmelt. If you wanted, you could make quite a lot just about you, Tessie dear.>>

Tessa cut her eyes at the window and then knelt down beside Strange, adding onto the chalk mess. "So, don't get me wrong, I'll be glad not to have the robot headache anymore, but… when are we getting to the thing that'll get rid of the magpie?"

"Much later, unfortunately. You've severed the initial link, but… it knows you now. It'll take a powerful warding hex to keep it off of you, which you are ready neither to cast nor to maintain." Strange finished the sigil and crouched just outside it, waiting for Tessa to take her seat inside the circle. "Now… hands locked for incantation… Good. And, repeat after me…"

<<You don't need to shoo me off, Tessie, I can tell you whatever you want. You need only ask…>>

"...හැම දෙයක්ම යහතින් ගලන ඇළ"

"හැම දෙයක්ම යහතින් ගලන ඇළ"

 

It was a hell of a lot easier to do mundane things when her teeth didn't feel like they were rattling together. Once Dr. Strange left and the magpie eventually tired of being ignored, Tessa was actually able to tidy the place up again. No chalk pentagrams, no mysterious dark stains. She even found some fold out chairs in a storage closet down the hall. She could actually sit down at her desk and do some work.

"… Yes, the treatment is already funded indefinitely… anonymous donor… Yes, very generous, I agree… That's correct, she only needs to be transported here, the rest is-- … Oh, I'm sorry, no. I can't make house calls, federal restrictions… Yes, I am the real deal." Tessa waved at Jess, who was hovering half way inside the office suite. "I'm just about finished with this…" she whispered, hand over her phone. "Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am, that's perfect. She's all scheduled… Mm-hmm, of course, and tell Ms. Carter I look forward to making her acquaintance, thank you…"

"Hope you're hungry, chica." Jess flopped down across the desk, dropping a slightly damp paper bag in front of her. She looked atrocious. Tessa was frankly surprised she'd come out into the light of day looking as she did, eye makeup smeared around only one eye, hair limp and matted. "I brought the greasiest hamburgers I know of in the Kitchen."

"Got yourself a craving there?"

"Yeah, I feel like trampled shit. This is a world record hangover." Pulling out a wad of foil, Jess glanced around her. "And... this may be the hangover talking, but you need to get some shit in here, chica. It's like a mausoleum."

"But a clean mausoleum."

"Oh, sure… it's clean… just, you know, about as welcoming as a…"

"As a mausoleum. Yeah. I got the idea, Jess. I'm working on it. Thinking, maybe some plants…"

"And some chairs that don't look like they were used for a funeral."

"Okay, I've got it. I work in a place that reminds you of death."

"You know what it needs?" Jess snapped her fingers a few times. "Shitty generic artwork. You know, the usual office décor. Because, the starry teacup and warped dagger thing don't really make the right statement for a clinic. That reads more… 'I'm gonna ritualistically eat your brain' than 'I'm gonna fix your brain'."

"The knife I wasn't planning on keeping here… but I take your meaning. This place needs some warming up. I think I'll just mount a bunch of NASA deep space prints. Keep things fresh."

"Yeah. I like that. Avoid the cultural appropriation you find in the new-agey practices. Just space stuff… keep the brand up. I'm sure most everyone will remember your sparkle suit from the news coverage."

"Also, I think I'm going to paint a canting sigil on the ground and cover it with a rug."

"Sure. Why not? Might as well scare the hell out of the more curious of your clientele. How'd it go with Doctor Mystic?"

Tessa finally managed to fish the other wad of foil and grease out of the paper bag. "Fine. Great. I'm just really getting tired of cleaning up the chalk, you know?"

"Mmm. So, your brain's less between channels now?"

"Crystal clear reception. Also, I accidentally learned how to levitate things."

"Cool. Very cool. You gonna explain the murder knife or what?"

Tessa sighed, her brave face feeling substantially heavier. "It's a long story. You got another half an hour or so?"

Jess snickered, rummaging around in her bag for a moment before clunking a bottle of whiskey down onto the desk. "I got all day, chica."

 

"…but you made it through, unscathed even."

Tessa squeezed Matt's arm a little tighter. "Maybe on the outside, but my endurance took a beating. It's… well, you know. Putting on a brave face is a ton of work."

"It'll get easier, promise. After a while, it's not a lie anymore… you really will just be okay. Not the best case scenario, but…"

"Yeah-huh… sustainable. I know. And your day?"

Matt delayed answering, kissing the top of her head instead. "Sustainable."

"Foggy still mad at you?"

"He's not mad, Tessa, he's disappointed. But, he'll respond in grammatically complete sentences now. And, the constant stream of potential clients helps, no matter how little they're able to pay."

"Wait… you're not still expecting me to pay for that trial are you?"

Matt chuckled and held open the door of her apartment building for her. "No, Stark's on file for those court hours. And we'll hold him to that."

"So generous. And if he defaults?"

"You can pay however you deem best. We accept food and favors."

Tessa stopped in front of the apartment door and stood up on her tiptoes. "I think I have a few options in mind you will find acceptable."

"Oh, I'm sure."

She dropped to her heels again before things could go any further, fishing out her keys. "We'll wait to see if Stark pulls through."

Matt snickered quietly and followed Tessa inside. The television was blaring the frankly depressing local news of the evening and washing out Jess, seated in front of it, in the most unflattering of lights. She turned to glance over her shoulder at them, spoon dropping back into her coffee pot full of ramen as she did.

"Hi, Murdock… How's it goin'?"

"Evening, Jessica."

Tessa met her gaze and rolled her eyes. "Night in tonight, Jess? Feeling the last few evenings' revels?"

"Yup." Jess rolled over on the couch to watch them walk into the kitchen. "What're'ya doin'?"

"Matt insisted on walking back with me… You know, in case I was stoned by the angry peasants on my way, the blind guy might deter their full fury."

"Yes," he scoffed. "Exactly my reasoning, exploiting my disability. Do you have roof access for this building?"

Jess's gaze slid wryly between them. "Why, yes. Yes, we do."

"Great. That's within your perimeter, the roof of your own building." Matt accepted the glass offered him by Tessa and then turned back to Jess. "Celebratory drinks for making it through her first day."

"There it is! I knew I squirreled it away in here." Tessa stood up behind him, dusty bottle of scotch in her hand. "Stole this from Stark's when I flew the coop all those months ago. Seems appropriate. Well… I had no one come in, aside from Stark and Strange… and the bird, so celebrating may be a little premature…"

"She made future appointments. Repeating future appointments, that alone deserves celebration. Wait. A bird?"

"Don't worry about it. Drinking time." Tessa pulled him towards the door, shrugging at Jess's raised eyebrow.

"Drink responsibly…" Jess muttered, snorting once the door was shut. "Celebratory drinks, my ass."

"Jessica thinks we're coming up here for sex," Matt chuckled on the stairs.

"Jess think 98% of what people do is for sex. Being a PI has ruined her for that."

"I imagine she's not wrong all that often."

"No, she's not." Tessa breathed in deeply, head flung back as they stepped out onto the roof. "Oh. I miss this…"

"Rooftops?"

"Looking up at the stars."

"Me too…"

"I wish I could show you, like before…"

"I'll get by. Enough of this dwelling though. We're celebrating. Right?" Matt tapped his glass. "Let's find out just how expensive Stark's tastes are."

Tessa handed him the bottle then trotted to the edge of the roof. She leaned over, feeling the updraft. "I don't know… there aren't any railings up here. This may not be the best place for a blind guy to get scotch silly…"

"You know," he sighed, at her shoulder. "Way back, when I said you'd been avoiding the subject? That wasn't an invitation to tease me about it every chance you get."

Tessa also sighed. "But, you give me this little exasperated grin every time and it's one of my favorites." Matt sighed yet again and she snapped her fingers. "Yes! That's the one! I love it, with your one dimple."

"I'm glad you're feeling more like yourself." He finished pouring her glass, tasting the drops left on his finger as he handed it to her. "Mm. It's good scotch."

"You just pour like that so you can try the drink before everyone else."

"I have no idea what you're talking about. If you don't recall, Tessa, I'm blind. How else am I supposed to know when the glass is full?"

Tessa shook her head, recalling the last time she saw that particular grin in the moonlight. "You're lucky you're cute, Murdock. Otherwise, you'd be an intolerable hypocrite."

"You're selling me short. I'm also alarmingly charming."

"Tsh," Tessa scoffed, taking the bottle from him and setting it down beside them. "Smooth-talker."

 

"Foggy. Foggy. Foggy."

Tessa jerked awake, disoriented and confused. What was that infernal racket?

"Foggy. Foggy. Foggy."

Then, she realized just what it was and grinned. An arm waved wildly over her, slapping at the phone until it stopped chanting. Matt rolled onto his side and groggily answered the phone now on her chest.

"Yep. Yep. What's up, Foggy?" Matt was not a morning person. That much had not changed.

Tessa could hear Foggy on the other end of the line. Unsurprising considering the phone's speaker was currently in her face. "What is up, dude, is that I'm at your place, making an effort to make amends with you, with coffee and bagels, like we talked about, but you're not answering the door. Get your butt up and let me in, ass."

Matt groaned, propping himself up on an elbow and rubbing his face. "Can't, Foggy. I'm not there."

"You son of a bitch. You're the worst, Matt."

Just then, Jess knocked at the door and flung it open without pause. She never had been great at waiting for an invitation. "Chica, what is that-- oh… Oops, sorry…" Not looking the least bit sorry, she backed out into the hall, but didn't shut the door. Just held eye contact with Tessa and mouthed 'redheads', while Foggy's tinny voice continued to tell Matt just what a horrible friend he was.

"…believe it. I was trying here, I was. And what did you do? You went to a lady friend's house instead, didn't you? You did. You ditched bagel morning for sexy morning… which… I probably would have done, too, had the opportunity arisen, but I'm still upset, man."

"I'll make it up to you, Foggy, but I gotta go. Enjoy the bagels."

"Aww, screw you, Ma--"

The phone fell silent as Matt dropped his face back into the crook of Tessa's neck. He laid there for a moment and then whispered, "Jessica's still standing in the hallway…"

"Yup."

He took one more deep breath and then rolled over, finding his glasses and slipping them on while rummaging beside the bed for his clothes. When he sat up to pull on a very wrinkled shirt, Jess did the polite, courteous thing and whistled.

"Good morning, Jessica."

"Good roof, huh?"

"Good scotch."

Unable to endure the mounting embarrassment anymore, Tessa pulled the blankets up around her as best she could and leaned over to shut the door in Jess's face.

By the time the two of them shuffled out into the living room, Jess was sitting at the table, actually grinning. It was unsettling. "Hey, guys… so, does this mean you're still exercising attorney-client privileges?"

Matt winced at the joke and Tessa snorted. "How long you been waiting to say that one?"

"Since last night. I knew you two were on the bang-train, so I prepared accordingly."