Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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A Conspiracy of Ravens - Chapter Twenty

Chapter Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Kairos
Fandom: Netflix MCU mashup
Wordcount: This part, 2139
Rating: Teen
Summary: With new connections forged and everyone going after the same bad guys even if they don't know it, this is probably a good time to consider coming clean with some of the secrets that have been piling up. You know the only one who's really been completely honest is Sicily.




From: david@liebermanfamily.com
To: karen@liebermanfamily.com
CC: sarah@liebermanfamily.com

Subject: What we talked about

Hi Karen,

These guys have no online presence at all. Even legitimate references to them are practically non-existent. To be clear, I still don’t believe in witchcraft or however you want to dub it, but I think you were onto something when you said they might have their own methods of communication.

Anyway, I did scrape a lead out of what your PI friend found. There’s a weapons dealer with ties to the faction that she saved you from. I hope you gave me that information with her permission. If you need mine, yes, it’s fine to tell her about me as long as you don’t get too specific.

I’ll let you know when I’ve got enough to set Frank loose on someone.

Regards,
David

P.S. You don’t have to be so cagey in your emails. I made you an address through our family client because it’s secure. I would know, alright? It is very, very secure.


From: karen@liebermanfamily.com
To: david@liebermanfamily.com
CC: sarah@liebermanfamily.com

Subject: Re: What we talked about

Hi David,

So noted. I don’t believe in witchcraft either but my paranoia has served me well in the past.

I’m attaching the latest reports about gunmen wearing the skull. Check the locations against your arms dealer stuff. I think we’re getting closer.

Oh! Sarah, do you and Leo still want to do that girls’ spa day? I found the perfect place. Give me a call.

Warmly,
Karen


From: david@liebermanfamily.com
To: karen@liebermanfamily.com
CC: sarah@liebermanfamily.com

Subject: Re: What we talked about

Karen--

This is GREAT. I wasn’t totally sure until I got your reports but now we have enough to move on it. If we start with the hideout on 19th there won’t be more than a few guys there but it should also help us decide what comes next.

Come over tonight so we can hash out the details. Bring your dog, the kids want to meet her.

David

//////////\\\\\\\\\\//////////\\\\\\\\\\//////////\\\\\\\\\\


Matt took a second to catch his breath, his back against the bare brick wall. Jessica’s breathing was heavy too, although less so than his. He felt some fleeting envy for her set of superpowers, especially knowing that he was going to keep his bruises from this for much longer than she would.

“Any more coming?” she asked.

He knew there weren’t but he honed in anyway to confirm the silence in the next room. “No. This is a good time for us to part ways.”

Her body tensed, and her voice held real concern. “You can’t keep going on your own. I’m fine. Look, I won’t charge you for anything past this, okay?”

“No deal. Go home, Jessica. I got this.” In truth, Matt wasn’t feeling altogether confident about the next step. He had expected to have to fight through many more underlings than they had encountered so far, and he had told Jessica as much, which was probably why she wasn’t ready to leave him. Just because the path ahead of him was clear for the moment didn’t mean there wasn’t some kind of unwelcome surprise in store.

“Try to make me leave and we’ll see who wins,” she threatened.

Matt straightened up and pounded a fist against the wall. “Christ, Jessica, just do it!” he snapped. Her very brief pause of shock gave him the time he needed to calm himself and continue in a gentler tone. “You can’t help me with this. I appreciate it, more than I can say, but I’m the only one who can go in there and face these people.”

He could almost sense the exact moment that her resolve turned to doubt. Her question was pointed: “Why?”

“Because,” he replied, resigned now to showing his hand, “the first thing they would do is blind you. It’s permanent and I don’t think there’s anything you can do to protect against it or heal from it, even if you survived the fight after that.” He reached an imploring hand out to her. “Please don’t let me put something like that on my conscience.”

When her skin got warmer and her heart rate sped up, he knew that he had won. “Do you really think you can beat them on your own?” she murmured.

Matt did his best to sound self-assured. “I’m ready. I know what I’m doing.” He smiled. “And you got me this far, so the hard part is over with.”

“Hope you’re right.”

“I am. Can I ask you for one more favor, though?”

Jessica raked a hand through her long hair, which had come out of its ponytail at some point during the fighting. “See this is why I don’t usually let people get away with asking me for favors. What do you want now?”

He chuckled softly. “Don’t tell anyone about me until tomorrow? I should do it in person.”

There were conditions to that which he had meant to leave unspoken, but instead, she was the one who said it: “Fine. If you’re still alive tomorrow, you can break the news.”

Matt nodded and turned away. He could read the signs of a sincere promise as much as he could tell truth from lies, and Jessica meant what she said. He just hoped it wasn’t the last time he would ever hear her voice.

//////////\\\\\\\\\\//////////\\\\\\\\\\//////////\\\\\\\\\\


It was just after 9pm when a knock at the door startled Karen into splashing tea onto her counter. Sicily jumped to her feet and started barking. “Shush! No!” Karen scolded her, grabbing the dog by the collar as she rushed to unfasten all of the locks before her neighbors started putting in noise complaints. Barking wasn’t one of the vices that Sicily had shown so far, but then, this was the first time someone had come calling this late since Karen had brought her home.

Jessica was standing there when the door opened, and with practiced New Yorker ease, she slipped inside without waiting for an invitation and shut it quietly behind her. Sicily was sniffing her furiously, and Karen pulled her back and then let go and commanded, “Go lay down.”

With an indignant huff, Sicily retreated to her bed and flopped down on it. Jessica watched her with wide eyes. “Is that seriously the same dog?” she asked, sounding impressed. “It’s not even trying to tear my throat out.”

Still flustered by the sudden visit, Karen nodded. “I told you she just needed a good home. What’s going on?”

Jessica pulled out one of the two chairs at Karen’s little dining table and sat down, and Karen noticed for the first time that there was a scratch on her face and her hair was a mess. “Are you okay?” Karen asked, her alarm increasing.

“Yeah, fine. I fought some guys from Javelin.”

“Oh my God. You didn’t tell me you were going after them. On your own? Why would you do that?”

For the briefest moment, Jessica’s eyes seemed to glaze over as if she were remembering something traumatic or shameful. “It really wasn’t in my plans until it happened. There weren’t that many, I got out of it pretty easy. It’s the ones I didn’t see that I’m worried about.”

Karen wadded up some paper towels and dampened them at the kitchen faucet, then handed them to Jessica as she slid into the other chair. “What do you mean?”

“They’re coming out in force, Karen.” She accepted the makeshift compress without comment and applied it to her head. “That’s why I’m here. Javelin’s grouping somewhere tonight and there must be some kind of reason for it. Can you help me find them before they fuck up some shit?”

“Um.” Karen blinked and then switched into work mode. Her laptop was already on the table; she opened it and brought up the files that she had given to David. “Yeah, okay. There’s a map in that drawer on your left. Get it out and mark the places where you saw the Javelin fighters tonight.”

There was definitely something that Jessica wasn’t telling her, but that wasn’t what had Karen scared. Frank was out there right now, following the lead that she and David had found for him, and he was expecting to face a few low-level Javelin grunts. If Jessica was right about the cult being up to something, he might find himself in the thick of it and overwhelmed.

As efficiently as possible, she brought out every relevant piece of information that she had, and Jessica did the same, relaying some of it verbally and some on paper. “How did you get this?” Jessica asked suddenly when they were comparing notes about the weapons dealer that David had been investigating. “This is like, world-class hacker stuff.”

Karen winced. She really had been meaning to fill Jessica and Trish in on her new source, but they already seemed suspicious about her relationship with Frank, and it was hard to talk about anything Frank-related while dancing around his secrets. “From a world-class hacker,” she answered. “I’ll introduce you once we get this done with.”

Of course it wasn’t so easy to redirect Jessica’s attention. “Well what have you told them? How do you know they’re trustworthy? Are you paying them?”

The chain of her emails with David was still in one of the windows open in front of Karen. She had never addressed his remarks about sharing information with her PI friend, nor had she examined her own reluctance over it. She suddenly wondered if Jessica’s brush with the gang members tonight had been her fault. The inner circle had been widening, and that always made secrets harder to keep. David and Sarah wouldn’t divulge anything, but what if their children had overheard them talking to each other? What if Leo had tried her hand at hacking and was better at it than anyone expected?

“When you fought those gang members tonight,” Karen said slowly, leaving Jessica’s questions unanswered, “you said it wasn’t planned. Did you find them or did they find you?”

As annoyed as she must have been with Karen, Jessica took the inquiry seriously, meeting her eyes before saying, “I found them.”

So they hadn’t been after her. But if they were on the move, they were after someone, and that left one prime candidate. If they knew that he was out tonight and after them too, it was the perfect setup for an ambush.

Karen stared at the email in front of her, repeating David’s words about their correspondence in her head: It is very, very secure. Then her eyes flicked up to an earlier sentence in the same letter: I think you were onto something when you said they might have their own methods of communication.

It didn’t have to be a leak in the inner circle. It didn’t have to be Leo acting characteristically brilliant and uncharacteristically irresponsible. How it could have happened didn’t even matter. The likelihood of Frank walking into a trap, maybe at this very moment, was far too high.

Karen closed her laptop with a sudden snap that made Jessica blink. “I -- I think we’ve gotten all we can this way. I want to go check out a couple of these places. You can stay here if you want and I’ll call you if I see anything.”

“Hell no. But we better cover more ground than we can with two of us in one car. I’ll call Trish, see if she can pick me up.” Jessica looked anything but happy, but she was being far more cooperative than Karen had dared to hope.

As Karen was putting on shoes and a coat, Sicily stood up and whined, apparently fully aware that she wasn’t coming along for this outing and disappointed about it. Karen gave her a quick pat and said to Jessica, “Great. We’ll meet back here? I’m hitting the one on 19th first, so you can cross that off.”

“Fine. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“Like what?” Karen asked, securing her hair with an elastic. She slipped her hand into her purse to check for the reassuring shape of the .380.

“Like get out of your car.” Jessica dispatched a glare, but it did nothing to hide the deep worry in her eyes. “Please, just -- if I have to explain this to Foggy I--”

Karen tried to smile. “I’ll be fine. I promise. Thank you for coming to me. We’re going to save Hell’s Kitchen yet, Jessica, you’ll see.”

She felt like she was flying down the stairs and into her building’s parking garage. I’m coming, Frank, she thought. All you have to do is not die before I get there.


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Tags: conspiracy of ravens
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