Choosing A Mission
Roleplaying Log: Choosing A Mission
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Huntress tracks down Frank Castle to talk to him, only to be tracked by Black Canary.

Other Characters Referenced: Batgirl
IC Date: December 15, 2018
IC Location: Hell's Kitchen, New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 Dec 2018 10:57
Rating & Warnings: Light R for language.
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The Castle family home — or what's left of it — is in one of the few moderately respectable parts of Hell's Kitchen. It was untouched by the bombs, by urban sprawl, and by most anything else, until Frank came back. It survived his return and the death of the rest of the family for several months, but when Frank cleared his schedule, so to speak, it was still weighing him down, and it burned to the foundation. Now with snow on the ground, the bones of the two-story building stand out stark and grief-stricken in the midst of the cozy neighborhood.

* * *

Still mostly perched on her Ducati, Helena is just there at the curb in front of the skeleton of what used to be a house. She's dressed in street biking leathers and a full coverage helmet in place of her costume because it's the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, and nothing would have been more conspicuous on the ride up from Gotham. Except maybe a black and yellow bat costume or fucking FISHNETS. But she's mentally digressing.

All of the research she'd managed about one Frank Castle — aka, the Punisher — pointed her to this being his last known address. She had NOT been expecting to find, well, THIS.

And she has no idea where to go next. The ride was likely a complete waste of her time.

* * *

What kind of moron wears fishnets? Absolutely not Dinah Lance, after she laid her bike down and almost needed skin grafts when she was nineteen.

So she's shrugged into a black jacket and chaps over boot-cut jeans, with heavy biker boots on her feet. She's far enough away to need the subtle parabolic sound amp discreetly mounted on her bike, and keeps it aimed at Frank and Helena alike. Not sure what either of them are doing—but her eyes narrow suspiciously at Helena, a little overprotective of the arguably perfectly competent Frank.

Her bike visor mandible is folded open, and she pops a few gummi bears into her mouth and chews silently.

* * *

Frank Castle hasn't been back here since he torched the place. And he wasn't going to come back, except he decided that he needed to get something before Christmas. He doesn't have a fancy bike, so he spends most of the time walking. It means it takes him time to get places, but it helps his cardiovascular system. He has a watch cap on and his hands stuck into the pockets of his winter jacket, his hoodie up over the cap. Snow, ice, and salt crunch under his boots as he approaches the house — but there's a motorcycle in front of it. He starts to draw in a breath, then his lips press together sharply as he distinctly doesn't recognize the rider. That's not alright, people he doesn't know poking around his house, and so Frank slips his hand from his pocket, tucking it into his jacket to grab the grip of the pistol in the holster underneath the jacket as his steps accelerate, his shoulders spreading broader as he advances on Helena on her Ducati.

* * *

Hearing the approaching crunch of ice and salt over the purrumble of her bike's engine, she turns to look and spots Frank (aka, HoityToity's Beefcake) approaching. Her eyes are hidden from view behind the helmet's visor by a pair of sunglasses, but instead of taking off at the man's approach she cuts the engine, letting the Ducati tick down gently.

"Hey," she offers, her voice somewhat muffled by the helmet that she doesn't remove. Hopefully he'll recognize her voice, 'cause she sure as shit isn't taking the thing off. Oh, wait, maybe this will work as an identifier. She reaches into one almost-knee-high leather boot and pulls out a crossbow bolt. No crossbow visible on her person, though.

* * *

Dinah stiffens when Huntress' hand goes out of sight. The woman's handy with those nasty boltslingers. She glances over her shoulder at her bike tire, then remembers A) it's runflat, and b) not her Honda, anyway.

"What the eff…" Dinah squints as the bolt is shown to Frank, and a scowl forms behind her bike visor. She adjusts the aim of the eavesdroppoing tool a few degrees, trying to dial it in on the few stilted words of conversation between the two curt-spoken individuals.

"Christ, Frank, can you not mumble?" she hisses under her breath, fiddling with the gain knobs.

* * *

Frank has a real good ear for voices. It's why he's so good at impressions, when he's not grieving, worn out, or angry (so, never lately). He nods slightly at the single word, "Did your research. Lemme guess, VigiWatch?" The reach down for her boot sends his feet shifting slightly on the treacherous ground, squaring up under him more readily. The pistol in the pocket of his sweatshirt comes up too, the barrel now stretching the soft material visibly at his stomach. Up close, it can be seen that he has a brutal shiner over his left eye, and his lip is split. It's started to heal, but only just. "And you're here. So you wanna talk." In his defense, he doesn't mumble, but he definitely is on a gravelly-growl kick, as per usual.

* * *

"That, and a few other places." She sets the crossbow bolt on the Ducati's little control panel then moves to stand away from the bike. "And yeah. You said you cleared your list. I'm trying to compile a list. That's gonna be a challenge if I'm having to avoid stupid flying rodents at the same time."

She's got this weird little itch between her shoulderblades like she's being watched, but that's almost a constant thing in Gotham, so she's trying to ignore it. Doesn't stop her shoulders from tightening just a little bit under the riding leathers.

* * *

Dinah snorts to herself at 'rodents'. "Haha. Oh, Babs," she whispers, a little gleefully, and glances up at the conversation from her shadowed position. When Helena tenses, so does Dinah, as if expecting the other woman to turn and look at her. She's not exactly surveilling them from a highly concealed position, obstructed by a short distance, a few shadows, and two other bikes parked nearby.

* * *

"Blondie, you might as well come on over." Frank doesn't raise his voice, making the statement in the same tightly-reined-in voice as everything else, although the pistol is lowered within his pocket as Helena puts down the crossbow bolt. "Cleared my original list. Picked up one more along the way." While the first statement doesn't seem to have been to the woman in front of him, the last two certainly are. "Only a couple of my list were in Gotham. I tried to stay out. Courtesy." In fact, he was a kilometer and a half away from the last one, carefully outside of Gotham proper even though the target was in the city. "But there's a right way to do this. You put together your list, you make sure they're right, and you do it with minimal collateral damage."

* * *

Blondie? What? THAT makes Helena turn to look around, and NOW she spots the blonde being OH so subtle. "Jesus fuck," she mutters to herself. "Did you tell her to be here?" But then Frank explains about his list. "Well then I'm screwed, 'cause my list started in Gotham like twenty five years ago, and I'm sure it's just dug itself in all nice and cozy like a damned tick."

She really wants to pace back and forth a bit to try and burn off the anxiety, but she holds herself still (and tense) instead. "I think my definition of 'collateral damage' is a bit different." If they're law breakers, they're NOT collateral in her mind. The hookers that are forced by pimps to work, they're collateral. The pimps themselves, hell no. The same with drug dealers, or the mafiosos that threaten shop owners and tenement residents for protection money.

* * *

Dinah pops the clutch and the bike accelerates from down the street. She weaves it through traffic with a glaring unconcern for the blaring horns, and she screeches to a halt near Helena's bike. The brake and kickstand is set, and Dinah lets the engine die under her.

Her visor's lifted, revealing a black domino mask and a furious scowl underneath it. "Fuck's sake, Castle," she snaps. "I don't dime you out on *your* surveillance," she says, testily.

Blue eyes turn towards Helena, catching the tail end of her complaints. "He didn't tell me shit, so cool your jets, Italy," Dinah tells Huntress, dry-voiced. "I'm just here making sure he doesn't catch a crossbow in the back."

* * *

Frank shakes his head, "Nope. Didn't know you'd be here. Didn't know she'd be here. Didn't know anyone'd be here." At Helena's complaint, Frank shrugs one shoulder, "Then it sounds like you gotta be adaptable. Find the ones you need," there's an urgency to his voice there, the voice of experience, "get them on the list. Keep the rest the hell off, if you don't want trouble with the other capes." It's not a threat, the way he growls it, just a statement of fact. He looks back over to Dinah as she drives up, shaking his head, "Yeah. Boots on the ground call." As in, the guy with the boots on the ground gets to make it. Still, her concern is noted, and he shakes his head slightly, "Didn't know you cared." From another man, that would be light, flirty. From Castle, it's dry, maybe even sardonic. Looking back to Helena, he continues, "Then fix it. You got a mission, you're at war. In war there are rules of engagement. You gotta know 'em, you gotta follow 'em."

* * *

"Piss off, riceburner," Helena grates at Blondie, her voice still muffled by her motorcycle helmet. "I didn't even bring the thing with me." Then she looks at Frank again.

"I kinda have to bust some skulls to find out who I'm supposed to PUT on my list, okay? It's not like I can just walk up to some cugine and ask nicely who their capodecina is and where to find them." She huffs out an aggravated sigh. "I'm wasting my time here." She'd turn to get back on her Ducati, but there's no way she's letting Blondie out of her sight.

* * *

"Don't get too excited," Dinah tells Frank, with a wry dispassion. She removes her helmet, shaking out the thick blonde hair bundled at the base of her skull, and unzips her jacket. She wears a blue halter top under it, straps crossing under her collarbone. "She's marginally higher on my 'trouble list' than you are at the moment. This is a two birds, one stone deal."

She folds her arms across her stomach and sits back on the bike seat, balancing effortlessly on it. "You two planning on kicking off a little private war in Gotham?" Dinah inquires, skeptically. "That's the sort of thing that tends to piss off the big guy. I hope you're ready for that kind of heat."

* * *

The anger from Helena causes Frank to shake his head in clear frustration, finally growling, "Knock it the fuck off." He points to Helena, jabbing a finger at her, "You want all the capes in Gotham after you? Then keep pissin' 'em off." At least the pointing got his hand off his pistol, and he drops his hand back to his side after he's done, rather than putting it back on the gun. Looking over to Dinah, he shrugs slightly, "She has a need to get somethin' done. I told Red I'd talk to her. See if she was rabid," there's no apology in the look he gives Helena before turning back to Dinah, "It's a good reason, maybe I'll help her do it right. Only take out the ones who deserve it. Keep the collateral damage down to nil. The Big Bad Bat can complain all he wants, if he didn't run a revolving door, this kind of shit wouldn't happen. He wants to talk to me about it, I'm sure he can find me." Then it's back to Helena, "You looked into me," his dark eyes turn aside, from inside the cave of his hood, turning almost involuntarily toward the skeleton of his family home, "you know my reason. So what's yours?"

* * *

Helena recoils slightly when Frank calls her on her bullshit and even sticks a finger in her face. Coming from him, she actually — surprisingly — listens. She lets him talk Dinah down, staying quiet as he explains his side of this to Blondie.

And then, he asks what her reason is for wanting to make a list. "Not in front of Blondie," she finally says. It's a rare gesture of trust that she's even considered telling Frank. And she does NOT trust Dinah that much. Not even close.

* * *

One hand emerges from Dinah's folded arms, and she flips Huntress the bird while expressively rolling her eyes. "You think you're the only person who's justified a grudge match with the thugs in this town?" she asks of Huntress. "Everyone here has lost someone. Family and friends." A tic twitches the side of her jaw, but she swallows it back and presses on.

"Believe me, doing this solo— doesn't work out for anyone. You end up alone if you win, broken if you try, and dead if you fail." She's speaking bluntly— but not cruelly. "And anytime someone starts gunning for the Mafia or the Yakuza, it stirs the shit. They all get mad. Do it wrong, and you'll make 'em all pull together. This city's a giant fucking house of cards, and one person storming the gates just ends up making work for the rest of us."

* * *

Frank actually looks vaguely surprised that Helena not only subsides, but makes her own sort-of-offer. It's a subtle reaction, a faint lift of his heavy brows and a loosening of his normally-clenched jaw. The bird-flipping sends a scowl in Dinah's direction, his expression hardening again, but he lets out a breath at her words, squeezing his eyes closed again and wincing a little. "I'm pretty sure that people who got their lives all put together don't do this shit," he agrees. "And yeah. The team play's the smart one." Even if it's not the one he took most of the time. Hypocrisy, thy name is Castle far too often. "Make sure everyone's on the same page." He glances between Helena and Dinah for a moment, then gives Helena a nod, "I'll get you a coffee in a sec. We can talk." But he gestures toward Dinah again as he adds, "But the reason might be the difference between gettin' Blondie and Red in your corner or tryin' to stop you."

* * *

Again, Helena makes it clear she's nowhere near ready to trust Dinah, or likely even 'Red'. "I'll tell you," she says to Frank, "then you can decide what these others should know." That is yet another gesture of trust, and this time it's one she REALLY hopes doesn't come back to bite her.

It doesn't help that she's still not at all sold on the whole 'together as a team' bullshit. It skates a little too close to the whole mafia setup for her peace of mind.

* * *

"Fine." Dinah sits back on her bike and kicks the stand back up, balancing with her toes scraping the ground. "You tell Castle, he'll tell me and Batgirl, and then we'll all play telephone like a … buncha friggin' grade schoolers," she grumbles. The blonde tugs her helmet back into place, locking the mandible down and dropping her visor into place. "You two enjoy your tea party. I've got places to be."

She drives a bootheel into the starter and kicks the engine over, starting it with a throaty roar.

* * *

Frank nods at Helena's allowance, "I get need-to-know, Ma'am." It could be a reminder that he's former military, or it could just be the fact that he is former military. Looking over to Dinah, he frowns slightly, "I'll tell you two what you need to know." There's a pause, and then he adds, "Thanks for watchin' my back." And then it's back to Helena, "I gotta get somethin'. There's a little mom and pop place two blocks that-way." He gestures to the northwest, "Ground Central. Meet you there in a couple."

* * *

Helena watches Blondie huff off in a snit and she's just OH SO SAD about that. NOT. At Frank's instruction to meet at a coffee place nearby she nods. "Right. See you there." She'd have offered… no, she wouldn't have. And even if the thought crossed her mind for all of a half second, it was immediately followed by her not at all being able to picture Frank perched on the back of her Ducati. Just no. She could see him riding a hog, probably. But not her Ducati. No way in hell.

Again, not turning her back on Dinah, she reaches to start her bike's engine while still standing next to it. It's no major roar, just a few chirps and then the engine settles into a middle-tone purrumble. Apparently she has no plans of moving until Dinah is gone.

* * *

Frank watches Dinah and Helena carefully depart, then turns back toward the remains of his house. He swallows hard and takes in a long, slow breath before he finally ascends the steps and clambers into the ruins.

Fifteen minutes or so later, he pushes open the door of Ground Central, a small 24-hour coffee shop. There's no way it makes enough money to stay open this late with as dead as it is, but maybe one of the couple that owns it has insomnia, or they just live together better working opposite schedules and almost never seeing each other. Whatever the cause, the place is nearly dead. Frank's hands are soot-stained, and his face grim when he gets there, checking up and down the block and then stepping in. He goes to the front counter first, and if he's recognized by the older woman behind the register, she doesn't give any sign of it. Black coffee, to go. A simple, straight-forward order.

* * *

Helena is waiting outside still on her bike but with her helmet off and sunglasses on, with her normally wild, dark hair pulled back in a french braid and tucked down the neck of her riding jacket. She pretends to not recognize Frank as he does into the coffee shop ahead of her, then she follows to stand off to one side as he orders his simple to-go order.

* * *

Inside in the warmth, Frank lingers for his coffee, glancing back over his shoulder and then lifting his eyebrows slightly in question. The best part of a black coffee is it's not watered down — the second best part is that it comes quickly. Getting his cup, Frank gestures slightly with one hand, held below the counter, a silent inquiry as to whether she's coming in or he's coming out. Once she indicates, he'll either head for a table or out to join her.

* * *

Once Frank has his coffee, Helena steps up to the counter to order the same — a black coffee to go — but then once her cup is in hand she looks toward the tables to indicate she'd rather sit inside and moves to claim a seat where she's got a good line of sight to her bike. Habit.

Once they're both settled with her helmet taking up a chair itself she uses a sip of the coffee to gather her thoughts. Then, she begins to explain.

"I was born in Gotham. Lived there 'til I was six. Then one night some men busted into the house and killed my parents. My brother. It happened so fast. They didn't get me 'cause I'd been playing hide and seek and I was in the hall closet.

"Wasn't until years later with my cousins in Sicily that I figured out it hadn't been a random murder. It was a very deliberate mafia hit."

* * *

Frank settles into one of the chairs, off to Helena's left so that he can watch the windows too. His eyes settle intently on her features, both hands wrapping around his coffee cup, letting the warmth seep into the sooty fingers. That dark gaze flickers away occasionally to check the windows, but generally just focuses on her face, a nearly palpable weight. He listens without comment to the first part of the story, nodding slowly even though the skin around his eyes tightens sharply, anger, his own grief, empathy, or just general tension. "And you know who did it? Or you're still lookin'?" The murder of family members, of course he can relate.

* * *

"I'm still looking. The challenge is that Mafias tend to have almost as much turn-around in the lower ranks as a McDonald's. And anyone who's 'made' knows better than to rat out their fellows. I don't even know which family would have had a reason to go after mine, or I'd have at least someplace to start."

She takes another slow swallow of the coffee, not really tasting it, and as she's apparently staring at her cup, she misses the change in Frank's expression that accompanied the question.

"Reason I didn't want to tell Blondie is just what I've told you so far would be enough for any Gotham native around back about twenty five years ago to figure out who I really am. And I don't need that curtain yanked away. I really don't."

* * *

"The mask's a crutch." The words are a growl from the veteran Marine. Frank finally takes a sip of his coffee, letting it warm him from within. It also gives him time to think. "I don't know shit about the Mob except the Sopranos and the Untouchables. So you're the expert." His brows draw down close, "So here's the problem the way I see it. You need somethin' you can't get from the shitbirds. And if you start killin' 'em, the Bats come down on you like Hornhead and Snow White tried to do to me here." Instead of just lecturing, though, he upnods slightly, "So what's your plan?"

* * *

What's her plan. She's never had an actual plan. She's just been trying to learn what she could and following breadcrumbs whenever she finds them. Taking a deep breath, she finally answers on a tired sigh. "I have no idea. I've been winging it this whole time." It's not like she can use something like school lesson plans to help her find her parents' killer, after all.

* * *

Frank smirks a little at that, but he nods, "You know the whole 'no plan survives contact with the enemy' thing," Castle stops a moment to let her confirm or deny as he rebalances the amount of blood in his caffeine system, "It's true, but you gotta have that plan. Or else you ain't gonna get in the right place to start with." There's a moment's hesitation, and then he goes with, "So how 'bout this. Red and Blondie know the Gotham streets. They got resources. You talk to them, agree the only people who die are the people responsible, and I bet they help you find the right people — and I will too. I can tell you ain't much on teams, but in the real world, Rambo's a dead asshole, and the Basterds win." Beat pause, "Well, maybe not them, but people who work with their team."

* * *

Work with HoityToity and Blondie? UGH. But, he does have a point. They've clearly got resources. That's something she sorely lacks.

"All right, fine. I've give it a try. But I reserve the right to tell them to go fuck themselves if I think they're a bunch of idiots." She takes a larger swallow of the coffee now that it's cooled a bit. "But if you're there helping too, I'll try." That's really the best she can promise at this point, that she'll try.

She still doesn't trust either of the women as far as she could throw her bike, but Frank… he's earning her trust surely. And likely her loyalty as well.

* * *

Frank watches the decision, and her disgust with it, shaking his head a little, "Red tried to beat the shit out of me early on. Slashed up my arm and gave me a damned concussion." A little smile touches his lips, and he shrugs, "She's not so bad once you get used to her. Blondie's a pistol, but she means well." There's a definite difference in how he refers to each of them, but it's subtle, and perhaps even unconscious. Castle draws in a breath and nods, "You give me a mission on solid intel, specific targets, rules of engagement, I'll be there." It's… not that different from a lesson plan.

* * *

Helena reserves judgement as well, then. Because right now, she has zero love and even less trust for those two women. They will have to REALLY prove themselves to her. But, at least now she's willing to give them the chance to do so.

She finishes her coffee and finally looks up at Frank. "You need a lift somewhere? Can't promise she'll be the most luxurious ride, but we'll get there."

Yes, she's referring to her bike.

* * *

Taking another sip, Frank looks vaguely amused that someone actually finished their coffee before he did, but the offer causes him to hesitate a moment, thinking it over, and then he shakes his head, "Naw. I got shit to think about, and walkin' helps." He digs out a blank card and a pen, scribbling a phone number on it, then slides it across the table, "So you don't gotta go stalkin' me next time, Tell."

* * *

Helena takes the card and tucks it into her jacket, the nickname lost on her for the moment. "Thanks. I don't really have a number to share in return." Well, not one that isn't her civilian identity's property. "And I promise I won't call to bitch at you about Blondie and HoityToity. Not unless they give me REALLY good reasons to bitch about them."
She stands, hefts her helmet, and takes her empty cup with her to toss in the trash on her way out.

* * *

"Get a burner." The suggestion causes Frank to snort at himself and shake his head, "Lesson I had to learn." The promise causes him to shrug, "Do what you gotta. Let some steam out when you gotta." He takes another sip, then leans back in his chair, "Watch your six, Tell, or get someone to do it for you." It's not a warning, just advice, and as much of a benediction as the man's going to give. Evidently he's going to stay in the warm coffee shop for at least another few minutes.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License