The first time she sees Danny Rand after Midland Circle Jessica breaks his nose. He's annoyingly forgiving about it.
"Jesus fucking Christ are you trying to give me a heart attack?" Jessica snaps, ignoring the pit in her stomach when she sees all that red on Danny's chin.
He seems more surprised than anything, raising a curious hand to cup his nose. She can see where the break is; the bridge of his nose bends awkwardly to the right. She absolutely does not wince in sympathy. Jerk had it coming.
"Sorry, Jess," Danny says, "I guess I forgot you like your personal space."
"Yeah," Jessica mutters, shifting on her feet and looking up, up, up to the ledge this apparent idiot jumped off of, "whatever. Coulda killed you though, so just. Don't do it again."
"I think I learned my lesson," Danny assures. He leans over, politely turns his face away, and spits out blood. The guy was lucky she didn't take out any of his teeth. "Sorry again."
"What do you even want, Rand?"
He perks up and Jessica is gonna be sick; how can someone look this much like an excited puppy with his nose covered in blood?
"I've just been keeping an eye on the neighborhood, you know, since-"
"Since Matt isn't around to do it, yeah," Jessica snaps. "I got that the first twelve times I saw you get your ass handed to you on the news. Great job you're doing."
Danny does not seem deterred, even when she turns away and starts walking in the exact specific opposite direction of wherever she hopes he was going. He falls into step easily, hands shoved in his pockets like he isn't leaking crimson all down his front. "I was just heading home when I thought I saw you. You've got distinctive hair, you know?"
Jesus, you're a vision. The hair, and the skin-
"Yeah I'm thinking of cutting it all off," Jessica grumbles, and sinks her chin lower in her scarf. Danny looks at her strangely but shrugs her mood off like so much water off his back.
"Well, how are you Jess? It's been a while." He sounds like he wants to catch up over a fucking cup of coffee.
Yeah, like Jessica hasn't been strictly avoiding anyone who had anything to do with Midland for the past few months.
She doesn't respond and still Danny doesn't seem to get a clue. "I saw Luke a few weeks ago, and he's doing okay. Seems like there's some trouble in Harlem-"
"When is there ever not trouble in New York," Jessica snaps. It shuts him up for a good second.
"I guess you're right. But with people like us around, maybe that can change, huh?"
She snorts. "People like you, maybe. And Luke. I'm better off staying out of trouble; always seems to get worse with me around."
"That isn't true!" He sounds genuinely upset, and Jessica knows she shouldn't have said anything. It's just like her to open her big fucking mouth and make it all worse for both of them. "You're just as much a hero as the rest of us-"
(There's a reason she avoided Trish all that time. Why she didn't call up Luke or Danny or Claire for help when her own mother returned from the dead to ruin her life.)
"Whatever helps you sleep at night, Danny."
They're at her apartment. Thank God.
"Hey, Jess, come on. You can't just say that and leave-"
"Yeah, Rand," maybe if she bites his head off enough he'll get the goddamn message, "I think you'll find I can. Get your damn nose looked at."
She buzzes herself in and lets the door slam behind her. Danny doesn't follow, but Jessica can feel his eyes on her back.
The second time she meets Danny after Midland, he's hanging halfway out of a dumpster at three in the morning and coughing his lungs up.
If they were in Harlem, Jessica would just call up Luke and dump Danny on him. But they're not in Harlem. She's standing in a dirty alleyway in Hell's Kitchen with a spectacular hangover and a drunk wannabe ninja hanging all over her. So much for an uneventful Friday night. Christ, when could she just get back to taking snapshots of perverts in peace?
"Jesus, Rand, how much have you had?" Jessica mutters and hitches his arm higher up on her shoulders. His legs don't seem to be cooperating. Jessica can sympathize.
"'M not drunk-" Rand gets out before doubling over even more and throwing up all over her boots.
"Fucking great," Jessica says, and wonders if this is how Trish always feels- felt. Right. Fuck.
"Just fucking great, Rand," she sneers. "You are so buying me a new pair of boots."
(But she doesn't drop him.)
"Not-" he's gasping and Jesus, she hadn't elbowed him that hard when she found him passed out three blocks from her apartment. "Not drunk. Something- else." He ends on a groan.
Oh shit. He's been drugged. Just what Jessica needs tonight. "Crap. Okay, do you know what they gave you?"
She bets it was The Hand or the Axe Gang or whoever the fuck she's seen a certain masked vigilante pounding on in the news. Someday Danny was gonna learn that you got on better if you just kept your head down and that day was when Jessica would personally guarantee hell had frozen over.
"No- dark, couldn't see-"
"Shit." She mutters. "Fuck. Okay. Hang on tight."
Danny sways and she gets one look at his confused (too pale, too smoothed out and glazed over) face before Jessica hauls him bodily onto her shoulders in a sloppy fireman's carry. He doesn't seem to be anything but a little sick- Jessica has seen many a drugging victim in Hell's Kitchen and she can tell the difference between a lethal dose and one meant to slow you down a little. Sober him up and Rand would be fine; it just meant he wouldn't exactly be able to look after himself in the meantime.
"Looks like you're bunking with me tonight, Rand," Jessica huffs while stepping out of the alley. Rand is heavy and the foul stench coming from the dumpster she found him in isn't helping any. "You better hope to God you don't puke on my couch."
Just one foot in front of the other, Jones.
The third time she runs into Danny after Matt died to save them, it's at Murdock's grave.
"How'd you like my couch?" She asks, trying and failing to grasp for some levity. It's December and the wind whips through her. She longs of a drink, but she'd promised Oscar just this morning that she'd try to cut down. Stupid fucking idea, but she has to admit that drinking an entire bottle of whiskey in one night probably isn't the best role model behavior for Vido.
This whole 'responsible adult' shtick blows.
Danny, who has been standing in front of Murdock's headstone silently for a good ten minutes, doesn't even have the decency to jump. He turns his head and smiles softly at her over his shoulder. "It was unreasonably lumpy, thank you. And a terrible color."
"Hey," she says, entirely too laid back for a graveyard, "I happen to like burnt orange."
"Is that what it is?"
"Hell if I know." The snow whirls around them and not for the first time, Jessica wonders what the hell she's doing here. Danny has flowers.
"Those are gonna get trashed, you know that right?"
Danny shakes his head. They go back to staring at the dirt that covers one of the best men Jessica ever knew. She guesses it's the thought that counts anyway, even with dead people.
"How often do you come here?" Danny is quiet.
The pit in her gut yawns wider. The wind pricks at her eyes and the icy air makes her throat close. "Not often. Just. It's Christmas."
"Yeah." Danny agrees, settling the flowers gently against the headstone. Snow has already begun to collect on the petals. "It's Christmas. I get the feeling he would have liked Christmas."
Jessica doesn't reply. Danny smiles over at her one more time and takes the liberty of squeezing her elbow. Jessica hates to be touched on principle, but Rand is just an overgrown golden retriever so she guesses she can't kick his ass for being nice.
She waits until he walks a little distance away, bowing his head respectfully, before turning back to Matt. What's left of Matt.
She doesn't have any pretty words or things left unsaid that she feels like saying now. Jessica reaches into her pocket and pulls out her favorite flask. She leans it up beside the flowers.
"Merry Christmas asshole," and God if she doesn't feel like an idiot for talking to a dead man, "It'll keep you warm. Better than fucking flowers."
Danny silently walks with her out of the cemetery and neither of them say any goodbyes. It's the best interaction with him she's had.
The fourth time Jessica bumps into Rand after they fought together, she realizes that they might have some anger issues in common.
Somehow Jessica has gotten into a fight. Again. She doesn't go looking for this, she swears.
But, well. They were looking a little too closely at that teenage girl with the terrible fake ID and the doe eyes.
And it's been a really shitty day; she had her first ever fight with Oscar. They were screaming at each other for a good five minutes before Jessica ran out of breath and Oscar called it quits before Vido got home. She's sort of glad he did because no way in hell does Jessica want to expose the kid to yet another adult argument, but on the other hand… Jessica knows what it means when you get too tired to fight each other.
And you know what the kicker is? Jessica cannot for the life of her remember what the fuck they were arguing about.
God, she'd just wanted a drink. (She'd just wanted to run away. But she had stayed for so long this time; she thought she was getting better.)
She hadn't been looking for a fight. Jessica had been right on the money when she told Rand trouble always got worse with her around.
The first guy is pretty cocky and more than a little drunk- he's easy to grab and even easier to throw over her shoulder. He hits the wall behind them but there's no sickening crunch, so she figures she hasn't killed him.
The second guy, though, he's where the trouble really starts. She could see it when he'd been following the underage girl out of the bar; his eyes were too clear, his gait too sure and steady. He was too sober.
This guy is a crafty one, and he fights like it. For a good ten minutes he's dodging and weaving around her until she could scream and she can tell he's trying to go for a knife or a gun or whatever he's got in his jacket. Jessica has been shot enough for a lifetime, thanks.
It's only when the guy she thought she'd taken out grabs her from behind and Wily Coyote pulls out a fucking axe that Jessica realizes how deep the shit she's in is. Of course she ran out after a domestic fight and immediately picked a physical one with a gang. Of fucking course.
Still, she can salvage this. She isn't that intoxicated yet.
Then the guy holding onto her fucking stabs her with a needle, and Jessica realizes she might be too drunk to properly deal with this.
The world goes hazy and indistinct in a second flat but Jessica hasn't been Hell's Kitchen's biggest drunk to not know how to throw a blind punch. Something razor sharp (the axe, she realizes vaguely) rips through her sleeve when she lashes out. She can feel her skin split open and blood start to flow down to her elbow, but the punch lands on something soft and fleshy, so, you know. She's gonna count that as a win.
The blurry figure in front lets out a grunt and goes flying, and man, she knows she didn't hit him that hard. He lands somewhere she can't see now, and then there is another sound, like an impact. Like a fist, or a foot hitting something soft but dense.
Someone's helping her.
She's just starting to shrug the other guy's hands away (God why did men feel like they could put their fucking hands on her Goddamnit) when he's hauled bodily off of her. Jessica tries to turn, catches herself on her own feet, and stumbles into something solid.
Brick scraps at her cheek. Oh. It's a wall.
Figures blur imprecisely with motion in front of her and a blob of colorful light catches her eyes. It's like looking at a streetlamp when you're in a car that's moving too fast; she can't keep track of it and it leaves her feeling faintly sick.
But the light does ring a bell.
"How dare you," a low, rough voice says, and Christ is that Rand? Jessica has never heard him sound so violent. Upset, yeah, and he certainly wasn't all smiles when they kidnapped him that one time, but now it's like something is alive and vicious in his voice. "How dare you touch her like that? What the hell did you give her?"
"Same thing," Jessica gets out before a rolling wave of nausea hits her. It's only her years as an alcoholic that keep her from getting sick like Danny did weeks ago. "Same- ugh, fuck. That they gave you."
There's a growl and a smack and a groan. Something (a body, Jessica thinks and then hates that she know the sound without sight) hits the ground with a thud.
The yellow light doesn't go away, and there are a couple more thuds.
He hasn't stopped hitting them.
"Rand-" Jessica gasps. No response. She tries to lever herself up but like Danny did, is having trouble communicating with her limbs. "Shit- Rand, come on. It's over."
"They shouldn't have done that to you," he says, and God the self-righteousness and violence don't mix well with rage on him. But at least he stops punching. The light goes out, and now Jessica can't see shit.
"Lot of people shouldn't do a lot of things," she slurs, and holds out an arm to where she thinks he might be.
He doesn't move for a second and the alley is filled with the sound of his heavy breathing. Jessica figures he's working through some shit. She gets it. But she'd also like to go home right about now.
"Come on, Danny," She mumbles and his breathing slows down a little. "You gonna leave me hanging?"
He pulls her arm over his shoulders.
"Colleen's got a first aid kit," he says and Jessica figure she can let one temper tantrum slide. Hell knows how many she's put everyone else through.
The fifth time Jessica hangs around Danny after they became teammates, she's in the best mood she's had in years and the woman he's with turns out to be a bitch. (It's not Jessica, it's another lady. Not that Jessica doesn't know that she's a bitch. She is. But at least Jessica is slightly funny to make up for it.)
This time, Jessica is on an actual, honest-to-God date. She can't remember the last time this has happened, but here she is, in a slightly up-class coffee joint, wearing her least ratty jeans and grinning at Oscar.
(She'd seen her own smile for the first time in a while in the mirror the other day. She can't decide if it's weird or not.)
Oscar's telling her some stupid shit Vido got up to with his friends involving the stove and the kitchen curtains like she hasn't heard it straight from the horse's mouth a dozen times already. But hell if that stops her from laughing. (What can she say? Something about Oscar being a proud father really hits Jessica in the chest.)
She'd been uncomfortable the first few times they had gone out, of course, but that was just her own issues talking. Once Jessica convinced herself Oscar was not going to stab her in the back (or any other places- God when had Jessica's life gotten so weird?), the whole 'date night' thing stopped sounding like something for pretentious hipsters and failing marriages and more…nice. It was nice.
She'd even showered for today.
It's really nice, right up until she catches sight of familiar blonde curls. Her heart drops into her stomach, or maybe jumps into her throat, Jessica isn't sure, until she realizes it's not Trish. She doesn't think she could handle that, not even with how well she's been doing lately.
Instead, Jessica recognizes the broad shoulders and the slight puppy dog eyes and groans inwardly. Of course Rand was gonna come in and mortify her on the first date she's had in years. Just that good old Jones luck at work.
But something's wrong; Danny doesn't even notice that she's here; looking closer (she's always looking closer at people, whether that's the private investigator or the trauma victim she couldn't tell you) Jessica can see the slump of his shoulders, the tension in his back, the way he's planting his feet to keep from shifting. The corners of his eyes and his brow are wrinkled. He's stressed. His eyes are darting to the door every few seconds, and whoever he's with isn't noticing. Or doesn't care.
Something hot and angry surprises Jessica by flaring in her stomach.
"Hey," Oscar says, and his hand lands lightly on hers, "everything okay?"
He doesn't push. God but Jessica loves him for that. She nods discretely towards where Rand sits by the window. "My friend's here. He looks-"
She doesn't finish. All these years and therapy and quitting therapy and she still can't admit she cares for shit. Oscar glances at the other couple from the corner of his eye.
"Upset," he supplies, nodding. Then he grins at her. Something in Jessica's chest warms. "You wanna go introduce me to the great Danny Rand?"
"Prick," Jessica teases easily. Oscar rolls his eyes and lets her hand go. She stands. "I'll just be a second."
"I'll be your backup." It's Jessica's turn to roll her eyes.
When she gets there, the woman (tall, high collared blouse and expensive jeans, obviously spends too much time plucking her eyebrows and highlighting her hair) looks at Jessica like something she'd scrapped out of the gutter only to find it was alive and moving. Although, to be fair, that has happened to Jessica more than once.
"Can I do something for you, Miss..?"
"Nope," Jessica says brightly, popping the 'P' obnoxiously. From where he sits with his back mostly to her, Danny jumps (finally! She knew she'd get the drop on that damn ninja one day) and looks around. He looks like a deer in the headlights, and Jessica grins at him charmingly. "But he can."
Danny is slightly terrified. Who knew she'd just have to put on her 'Kelly from HR' voice to do it.
His companion still isn't impressed. Fuck her then. "I'm guessing you aren't a waitress?"
"What the fuck kind of coffee shop have you been eating at, lady?"
Miss Priss sneers. "Somewhere for a little higher class clientele, evidently."
"Glad I'm not invited, if everyone there has as big a stick up their ass as you do," Jessica shoots back, at the same time Danny stands up and puts a hand on her elbow.
"Jessica, that's enough." She resists the urge to shake him off, and glares instead.
"Danny, do you know this person?" The woman drawls, looking disgruntled. "Well, a lot hasn't changed, has it? Still playing street rat."
"What, are you auditioning for Aladdin?" Jessica asks, hackles up, and Danny frowns at her. He can stow it though, because she's helping him out. "Anyway, who cares about you? Rand, I want you to come meet my boyfriend."
She kind of loves and hates that she just said that. The look on Danny's face is priceless, at least. He's torn between surprised happiness (she can practically see him wiggling in excitement, how did Colleen handle that much exuberance) and wariness, glancing back to his company.
What the fuck ever. If he doesn't want to take the out Jessica gave him, no skin off her back.
(She knows that look on his face when he came in. Whoever this bitch is, she's making Danny uncomfortable. Danny- well. He's kind of one of Jessica's now. Strange rude women aren't supposed to be making him uncomfortable. Or something. Shut up.)
"Jess, I'm sorry but we were-"
"Just finishing up," the woman interrupts snippily, gathering her handbag (designer, but not often used, more for appearances than because she loves it, everything about this woman is fake) and slapping forty dollars on the table. "I'd hate to keep you from your friends, Danny."
Danny looks like he's about to go after her, but Jessica tugs on his arm. "Good fucking riddance. Come on Rand."
"You didn't have to do that, Jess," he says, looking a little annoyed. She can hear the relief in his voice though, so points for Jessica. "Joy is my- friend."
"Christ, her name is Joy," she asks, gaging. "Doesn't live up to it, does she?"
"She was making you upset," she justifies, and almost retches again at the soft look in his eyes. "God, would you quit it? Come on, I'm actually giving you permission to ruin my date, let's go."
"You really have a boyfriend?" He's so excited for her. Jessica hates him for it. She really does.
"Don't sound so surprised," Jessica retorts, and waves Oscar over, "and don't embarrass me. Or I'll kick your ass."
The first time Jessica seeks Danny out after they became friends, she finds him at that stupid dojo Colleen owns.
(It's not stupid. It's actually pretty nice.)
"Hey," she says, and stuffs her hands in her pockets. It's ten in the morning, she hasn't had anything to drink since last night, and her throat is dry. Danny sits, serene and bare-foot, in a lotus pose with his back against a beam. He open his eyes slowly, and smiles.
"Hey, Jess!" He stands fluidly, dusting off his pants, and nearly bounces on his heels. "What's up?"
"Not much," she hedges.
Danny raises his eyebrows in good humor. "You just decided to come in for a little help centering your chi?"
"I still don't know what the hell that is." Jessica points out and shakes her head quickly when Rand opens his mouth. "And I don't want to."
"So what do you want to know?" He's smiling again and God why is this so hard for her?
"I'm supposed to pick up Vido today- I told you who Vido is, right?"
"Yeah!" Danny's bouncing again, eyes bright. "That's nice! You guys are gonna have a great time-"
"Yeah, that's the thing." She figures he won't mind an interruption. Danny Rand is a lot like the Energizer Bunny; wind him up and he can keep annoying you forever. "I don't really know a lot about what to do with kids except ice cream and Oscar told me I was sleeping on the couch if I let Vido try the Brown Cow Ice Cream Challenge again."
"Jeez, Jessica," Danny looks a little sick. "Isn't that the one with like twenty scoops or something?"
"Twenty-one," Jessica informs, feeling ill at the memory herself. "It didn't end well."
"Okay, so you're talking to me because…?"
One day Jessica isn't going to have to spell it out for him. One day.
"I'm talking to you because I figure you're the most childish friend I have," she points out, ignoring the fact that he's about one out of maybe two friends she has right now, "and I was thinking, maybe… You'd like to. Come."
"You want me to hang out with you and your kid?" Danny's lost the sick pallor now and his smile is disturbingly large. Jessica is going to regret this very much.
"Not my kid," she corrects automatically, curling her hands into fists in her pockets. "But. Yeah."
Danny laughs and looks like he's about to hug her but thinks better of it and reaches out to squeeze her elbow lightly instead. "Awesome! This is gonna be so much fun!"
So much regret. So much.
But her chest feels warm and the muscles in her back relax, so Jessica lets it go.