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Karen Page is a pain in the ass.

Jessica knows this the way she knows most things: from her gut. It’s a certainty she can rely on when all else fails. The sun will rise and set, booze is better than people, and Page is a migraine in high heels. Unfortunately, a different area of Jessica’s body, a little further south and a little worse of a judge of character, enthusiastically disagrees--and is more than happy to have Page come around as often as possible.

Normally, this split opinion wouldn’t be a problem. You don’t have to like someone to want to fuck them, and you certainly don’t have to trust them with your shit (veritable mountains of shit, deep enough to drown in and Jessica is strong enough not to but that porcelain doll of a reporter wouldn’t stand a chance and it’s a moot point anyway because Jessica won’t even open the door for Page if she can help it, much less let her into the backwater carnival from hell that is her life so shut the fuck up, thanks).

But one of the reasons (Jessica has a list, somewhere, buried under a couple recent case files, of the many, many reasons) Page such a raging pain in the ass is that she just does. Not. Give. Up. This is a realization Jessica comes to the third time Page shows up at the office without an appointment, one foot wedged in the door and meeting Jessica’s eyes in a stare that bites like winter-cold steel.

“I know what you can do,” Page murmurs, aiming for earnest and coming out hard. Jessica debates crushing her foot with the door, but a lawsuit is the last thing she needs today. “I won’t publish your name if you don’t want me to. My sources are confidential. But the city needs to hear your story, and I’m the only one who’s going to tell it.”

“You want to write about ‘heroes,’ ” Jessica forces as much derision as possible into the word, “go bother that guy in the red bondage gear.”

Page’s jaw goes tight.

“Believe me,” she says. “I have.”

“So why are you here?”

“Because this isn’t just about heroes. ” Page has about three inches on Jessica in the heels she’s wearing. Righteous indignation turns that into more of a difference than it should be. “It’s about all those people like you, who don’t put on a mask but can still do extraordinary things. You’re saving the world too. The public doesn’t get that yet, which is why I need your help.”

“People like me?” Jessica repeats testily, just to be a bitch.

“You know what I mean,” Page snaps back. This is a very different woman from the one who politely made an appointment with Malcolm two weeks ago, who stumbled through introductions and almost fell out of her chair when Jessica told her to fuck off. “Why do you think I’m carving out my niche as the reporter who writes about ‘enhanced individuals?’ It’s not for the all the money and fame, I can tell you that much. It’s because I’m one of the only reporters in the city with the guts to dig into this shit, and that list is getting shorter all the damn time.”

Jessica thinks Page must be getting desperate.

“Sorry,” Jessica says. She wraps her hand around the slender wrist braced against the door and physically pushes Page out into the hall. The girl already knows what she can do; Jessica doesn’t know why she didn’t try this approach earlier. “My answer hasn’t changed.”

 

--

 

Which brings her to this:

A hearty knock on the door somewhere around midnight. Not late at all by Jessica standards, but well after-hours for Alias Investigations.

“We’re closed!” she shouts from her desk without bothering to look up. There is a moment of silence, and then,

“I know,” comes the reply. “I’m not here on business.”

That rouses just enough curiosity to get Jessica to open the door. Standing on the other side, faded from her usual cream-and-gold to something almost sickly by the shitty hall light (although still, Jessica is pissed to note, ridiculously hot), is Karen Page.

She holds up a bottle of vodka.

“Peace offering?” she says with a shy smile. This is the softest Jessica has ever seen her.

“It’ll take more than getting me drunk to trick me into an interview, Page.” She’s set to slam the door again when Page throws a hand against it.

“No trick,” she says hurriedly. “I, um, I missed my deadline. It’s not a problem--I threw together a piece about that guy who jumps off buildings in a frog suit. You know him? At least he was willing to talk to me.”

“Good for you. I hope it wins a Pulitzer or some shit.” Jessica gestures to the bottle, Page’s (for once) sensible footwear, and her sheer presence, holistically. “What is this?”

“This was… I don’t know. I wanted to apologize?” She looks down and picks at the label on the bottle. “I know I get… Intense. When it comes to my job.” Jessica snorts at the understatement. Page’s eyes dance as the tension breaks. “But I respect you, Ms. Jones, and I know neither of us has many friends outside of work. So,” she takes a breath. “I was hoping you’d like to get hammered with me after a long week of thankless labor in a world without mercy and talk shit about the men who’ve done us wrong.” Her lips quirk in a smile.

Jessica crosses her arms. “I prefer whiskey.”

“Maybe I can change your mind,” Page says, and she bites her lip and oh that is not fair.

Jessica steps back from the door and shows Page where the shot glasses are.

Half a bottle of vodka later, Jessica stares at her ceiling and wishes she had a couch. It’s never really mattered before, but using what’s supposed to be a living room as office space leaves her bedroom the only decent place for drinking. And right now, Karen ( “use my first name” whispered into the air next to Jessica’s cheek. “Page is what my father’s golf buddies call him” ) has her long, long legs splayed across Jessica’s bed and her fucking flaxen hair spread out against Jessica’s pillows and her eyelids are drooping and her mouth is wet and it is not the kind of visual that leaves a lot of room for conversation in her sloshing brain.

Then Karen turns her head--rolls her neck, really, and lets her head fall in Jessica’s general direction--and says, “Remember how I mentioned I don’t have many friends outside of work?”

“Yeah,” Jessica grunts.

“I don’t have many friends at work either.”

Jessica snorts. “I have one employee, and I’ve almost gotten him killed twice. At least.”

“Jesus, I’m just bad at water-cooler talk.”

For some reason--probably the vodka, that’s always a rational explanation--this manages to crack them both up. Jessica doesn’t know if she’s actually laughed since the last time she and Trish spent a night reading some of “Patsy’s” weirder fanmail out loud. It’s been at least a month, then.

She realizes she’s rolled onto her side, facing Karen, and Karen shifts a little. It’s barely a movement, like one of those times you realize your underwear is half up your asscrack and you don’t want anyone to know so you wiggle as subtly as possible until it’s fixed. But the movement, the shift, brings Karen’s hips closer to Jessica’s. Her legs are in a wide V, the bottom cut off by the hem of her skirt, as rucked up as it is. Jessica could slide a thigh into that opening, easy as anything, and trace one hand up to the dip of Karen’s waist--

She’s thin, and waifish, and would have babydoll eyes if her gaze didn’t feel like staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

That gun girl grabs a handful of Jessica’s hair and pulls their mouths together.

 

--

 

They don’t do anything more that night than kiss. While Jessica can tell neither one of them is a stranger to throwing back a few too many doses of liquid courage just to get through the day, anything even remotely fuzzy in the consent department still drops a cold, heavy weight into her gut.

But they text. Jessica wakes up to the memory of a quiet “I should get going” around four o’clock and a couple of text messages waiting for her.

↪coworker tells me I look like hell. first thing he’s said to me in 6 months. last thing was “there’s no way ellison will promote you before me”

↪this is the first time he’s been right about something. it was worth it tho :)

Jessica stares at her phone for a long, silent minute. She wonders why she isn’t reflexively rolling her eyes at the emoticon. She wonders why Karen told her this. She wonders what she could say in response to make Karen smile for real.

Hours later, she’s riding the train back from an almost-successful stakeout. She holds her phone in her hands, taps out the password, and sends a message before she can think too hard about it.

↩Got called a bitch 8 separate times by a woman who told me I should investigate captain america solely on the grounds that he’s “a shady rat.” She wasn’t even offering to pay me. Said it was a civil service.

Life goes on.

 

--

 

Karen knocks on Jessica’s door. She smooths her hands down the front of her skirt. She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. She taps her foot. She considers if it’s been long enough to justify knocking again.

Jessica opens the door.

She raises an eyebrow and leans against the doorframe.

“We’re closed,” she says. It’s something of an inside joke now.

“I’m not here on a business call,” Karen replies.

“Then what are you here for?” Jessica is already stepping back to let her in.

Karen flips her hair and channels every ounce of the sexy confidence Marci spent two hours coaching her through the other night.

“Call it a booty call.”

Jessica’s mouth drops open. Then she grins.

Once Karen steps inside, Jessica’s arm is around her waist and the door is slamming shut faster than she can blink--not quite literally, since that is a definite possibility for some of the other people she’s met since taking over the “superhero beat.” But Karen’s head really isn’t in it enough for semantics at the moment.

Kissing Jessica is different this time. The sting of alcohol is entirely absent, for one, which turns the whole experience somehow both softer and more urgent.

Jessica’s tongue presses against Karen’s bottom lip. She smiles around the kiss, winding her arms around Jessica’s neck, as they sink into one another. Everything is warmth and wetness as Jessica turns them around and urges Karen backwards. Her lower back hits the edge of the desk. Jessica’s hands grab Karen’s hips to pull her closer.

Karen can feel the soft swell of Jessica’s breasts through the fabric of her own sundress. Jessica rarely wears a bra under her thin tank top when she’s alone in the apartment after hours. Karen has certainly noticed this before, but never has she truly appreciated what a gift the fact is.

Jessica’s wide lips, redder than normal already, trail from Karen’s mouth down her throat. Karen nearly startles at the sensation. A sudden hand at her breast urges a sigh out of her.

“Jessica…” escapes, breathy, from Karen’s mouth. Her hands slide up to grab Jess’s head, fingers tangling in dark hair and palms tight against her skull. Jessica pulls back to look up at Karen, who takes the opportunity to dive right back into kissing her.

Karen takes Jessica’s lip between her teeth and pulls . Impossibly strong arms slide under her thighs. Karen gasps as she is hoisted into the air, laughing as she wraps her legs around Jessica’s waist.

“I thought you didn’t like using your powers if you didn’t have to,” Karen teases.

Jessica is too busy sucking marks into her collarbone to respond with anything more than a muffled “shut the fuck up.”

Karen’s laugh turns sharply into something she has too much dignity to admit is a squeak when one of Jessica’s hands grabs her ass. The dizzying realization that Jessica is only holding her up with one arm, that she could probably do it one-handed, even, makes the blood rush from Karen’s head. One hand fists in the back of Jessica’s tank top, itching for skin.

“Can we move this along?” Karen says, breath hitching, into the shell of Jessica’s ear. Jessica’s mouth detaches from Karen’s neck and she initiates another biting kiss.

“You’re so.” She runs her teeth along Karen’s upper lip. “Fucking.” Her tongue dips, liquid hot, into Karen’s mouth for just a moment. “Impatient.” The hand on Karen’s ass slides up her dress to rest along the slope of her back. Jessica’s skin is warm against hers.

Karen’s breaths are high and fast. She wants Jessica to press her against the wall. She wants Jessica to throw her on the bed. She wants the whipcord strength in Jessica’s arms and hands and fingers put to use for her and her alone; she wants Jessica’s unconditional, undivided attention.

“It’s worked out for me so far,” Karen pants. Jessica doesn’t reply, but suddenly they’re moving. It’s a straight shot to the bedroom, so Jessica doesn’t even pause when her knees hit the mattress and they fall together into a pile of sheets.

Karen scrambles backward to the head of the bed, pushing herself up enough to look Jessica in the eye. Jessica is on her hands and knees, staring straight back. There is always something gleaming and dangerous about her, but now whatever it is has melted like mercury and drips in time to Karen’s racing pulse.

Karen doesn’t blink. She only bites her lip and grabs at the hem of her dress. It’s a soft, stretchy material, made to be easily pulled on and off. She yanks it over her head.

Jessica darts forward, wrapping one hand around the back of Karen’s neck and kissing her, deep and frantic. She licks into Karen’s mouth like she belongs there. Her thigh slides between Karen’s legs the same way.

Karen grabs at Jessica’s tank top again, rucking it up to let her hands wander across tight, muscled abs and sharp hips. Jessica pulls away from the kiss just long enough to pull the thing off like it’s scalded her.

Karen can’t help the quiet noise she makes at the sight of Jessica’s bare breasts, soft-looking and so, so close. Jessica grabs at Karen’s hand, gone slack at her hip, and brings it up to brush over the hard peak of a nipple. At the soft grunt Jessica makes when she caresses her, Karen leans up and bites at the slope of skin between Jessica’s neck and shoulder.

There are a long few minutes of clutching, of grasping, of pressing together where Karen’s panties and Jessica’s sweatpants are starting to get a little damp. Jessica unhooks Karen’s bra at some point, tossing it aside into a pile of wrinkled clothes that swallow it up, possibly never to be seen again.

Karen feels a hand at her shoulder, pressing down. She lets it guide her, and soon her head hits the pillows and Jessica’s face hovers over hers.

“Can I eat you out?” she asks, blunt as ever, and Karen gives an enthusiastic nod and a shaky “uh huh.”

Jessica slides down onto her stomach, hooking her fingers into the waistband of Karen’s panties on the way. She pulls them off of her with no preamble, and Karen bites back a gasp at the sudden sensation of the open air where she’s wet and trembling.

Jessica always seems like she’s starving for something. In this moment, the heat in her eyes as she bites the tender skin of Karen’s inner thigh makes her think she just might be it.

Jessica’s lips trail up. Karen knows she’s not a tease, probably wouldn’t have the patience for it, but she still threads her fingers into Jessica’s hair.

Jessica freezes under her hand. She breathes.

Then she’s pressing forward, licking a long line up from the seam of Karen to her clit, where she swirls her tongue and dives back down.

“Oh,” Karen says, high and sharp and golden. The dingy chaos of Jessica’s apartment fades away. The clamor that never quite leaves Karen’s thoughts is quieter than her moaning, for once. Jessica’s mouth is warm and wet and soft and desperate .

Desperate, becomes a physical state of being as the muscles in Karen’s thighs tighten and shake. Jessica hauls one over her shoulder, spreading Karen wider. Karen can’t help but thrust her hips, pressing rhythmically harder against the slick pleasure in Jessica’s mouth.

“Please,” is nothing but a hoarse whisper. Jessica slides a hand up Karen’s body, tickling against her stomach and it’s almost too too much when she flicks over a nipple with her thumb. She licks faster, little dabs with her tongue as Karen’s back arches, taut like a bow, and she lets loose a noise that could be reasonably described as a wail. High and sharp and golden.

Jessica pulls back. Her mouth is hanging open a little and her chin is glistening wet in the dim light. She puts a hand between Karen’s legs, stroking her through the aftershocks of her orgasm. Karen trembles, then falls back into her body all at once with the realization that her hand has tightened in Jessica’s hair to a point that should be painful--definitely would be, for anyone else. She relaxes enough to let go and slide that hand down the side of Jessica’s face.

Jessica is panting. Karen is sure, if she touched that hand to her throat, she’d feel Jessica’s heartbeat: hummingbird fast and stronger than her own.

“Come here,” Karen says. Jessica scrambles up.

Karen slides her hands past the waistband of Jessica’s sweats, firmly cupping the wings of her hipbones. She leans in close for something not-quite-a-kiss, wet and tentative with open eyes and tongues too cautious, even after everything.

“What,” Jessica grunts, hips twitching forward with no pretense of patience, “do you want?”

Karen presses her forehead hard against the ridge of Jessica’s collarbone, blinking sweat out of her eyes. Her makeup must be a disaster by now, she thinks. That sparks in her like rebellion, like truth, a feeling too profound for the thought before it.

Not the time. Not yet.

“I want you on my fingers,” she says. “R-riding them. God.” A late little shudder runs through her. Karen feels Jessica’s grin against the tangle of her hair.

“That, I can do.”

Her sweats are gone in an instant. The knuckles of Karen’s right hand brush against Jessica’s stomach. There is a nervous twitch--which of them actually moves is a question Karen knows she will turn over in her mind for weeks, analysis she should probably be saving for her job.

The most recent bodega robbery has nothing on this.

The thick, yellow-orange light of the streetlamp comes through the window blinds in slats. Jessica stretches up, moving through dark and light like an old film reel slowed down. Karen stares at the curve of Jessica’s shoulder, her wide-parted mouth, her belly button, in something akin to wonder.

When Karen presses two fingers inside her, Jessica smiles like molten steel.

Her voice is husky and loud. Karen didn’t expect her to be a screamer, of all things--not sleuthy, subtle Jessica. It should maybe serve as a reminder that most people’s jobs are not their life, are not the archetype that informs every sprawling detail of them. But that’s another thought for tomorrow.

Tonight, the only thinking Karen wants to indulge in is to wonder how stamina ranks on Jessica’s list of superhuman abilities. Because her hips are rolling like she never intends to stop, taking Karen deeper and clenching in a slick rhythm.

A third finger, and Jessica tosses her head back on a gasp. Her hair arcs over her shoulder, a few strands stuck to her skin with sweat. Karen gasps along with her. Her heart beats in her throat, her stomach, the tips of her toes. She wonders if Jessica would like to fuck her next--hold her down and bite her neck and pull her hair, anything.

Jessica grabs the wrist of Karen’s free hand. It’s not the iron grip of a few days ago, forcing Karen out the door to trudge home in failure. It’s searching: a firm request, but a request nonetheless.

Karen grants it, lets her hand be guided to Jessica’s breast again. She cups, squeezes, tries to breathe.

It’s a long, jittery moment when Jessica comes. She falls forward over Karen, breasts and face and throat hanging close enough to kiss if Karen strained upwards. Jessica grabs the headboard, grinds down one more time, and clenches her teeth.

The wood creaks beneath her hands. Karen whimpers.

“Jesus, fuck.” Jessica groans as she topples sideways. Karen’s fingers slide out of her; that hand is cramping a little, Karen notes. A satisfying ache, worth it ten times over.

“Yeah,” Karen agrees. The only sound, then, is breathing, and the blood rushing in her ears.

This should not be the time to get shy. This should be the time to stretch out, kiss again like they’re trying to crawl down each other’s throats, and maybe… Just maybe talk about, if Jessica wants, and it’s okay if she doesn’t want, but Karen would like to--

Jessica rolls out of bed, and Karen startles.

“Just getting some water,” Jessica says. Her voice sounds like it wants to be reassuring. It’s almost soft, by Jessica standards. “Gotta get hydrated,” she turns around in the doorway, naked and pale and sharp enough to slice Karen open, “if I want to be ready for round two.”

Karen sits up as the sound of running water trickles in from the kitchen. She runs a hand through her hair, fingers catching in wild snarls. It’s a mess. This room is a mess. Jessica is a mess.

None of these things scare her. She almost wants to leave her hair like this, go into work on Monday tall and proud and obvious about what she’s been doing. It’s an unrealistic thought, but it means something.

She’s never been good at staying out of messes, anyway.