Giving Thanks
Roleplaying Log: Giving Thanks
IC Details

Is this better or worse than Frank Castle's last, sad Thanksgiving?

Other Characters Referenced: Dinah Lance, Jim Gordon, Lincoln March, Curtis Hoyle
IC Date: November 28, 2019
IC Location: Gotham General Hospital
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 27 Nov 2019 05:53
Rating & Warnings: R for language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

In this world, advanced healing and quick recovery is usually attributed to something metahuman. By all her tests on Saturday, Barbara still had weeks of the first stage of recovery ahead of her, but come Monday morning, all her inflammation was suddenly gone and the stitched rips in her guts were nearly healed shut. The infection that had been starting to form at the base of her spine had cleared up, and there was even some small signs of spinal healing even if the damage was still too extensive to reverse the paralysis in her legs. Chances of her spine fully healing were so slim, the surgeon just called it impossible instead of improbable. But, the sudden forward momentum on her healing had her moving out of recovery and into physical therapy. She was still weeks until she can go home, but she is dedicated to being home by Christmas.

It is that dedication that has her up hours before dawn. She's in the wheelchair obstacle course in the therapy wing, having hacked through the access lock so she can practice in the dark hours. Usually, the room is bright with therapists on hand to offer guidance and support as the newly disabled try to navigate a mock world in wheelchairs. Now, it's dim and she's on her own, pushing hard through the course in a low-back chair that will match the one she gets when she's done with her therapy. She's in a tank top, her hands wrapped in tape to guard her palms. She's trying to get herself up an incline, her shoulders and arms flexing as she hauls herself up after the initial velocity has worn off. It's hard — breathlessly hard by how her skin is flushed and breath tight in her chest.

Frank Castle has looked better. To be fair, Babs has seen him look a lot worst too, but he's definitely looked better. He hasn't rested well or long since she was shot, and he keeps accumulating damage. This time, it's a limp, even with his ribs still healing and the ever-present bruises around his nose and eyes. For some reason, people like punching him in the face. The smell wafting from the stacked trays in his bandaged left hand is… vaguely appetizing at best. It's sort of turkey-ish. Light filters in behind him as he slips through the door, and he does his best to catch it with one heel, grimacing as he does. It closes mostly-quietly, and Frank turns to watch Babs rip through the course, pushing herself as always. The sight does contradictory things in his chest — tearing at his heart and warming it at the same time. Limping a little closer, he gravels out, "You wanna keep that up, Red, you're gonna need fuel."

There's downsides to so much focus on the physical — her other senses are just too caught up. Her ears are full of her heartbeat, her nose is full of her scent of sweat, and her eyes are focused on the top of the incline. She's almost there, pushing herself hard through the wheels, catching them with each forward shove. She's almost to the top when she hears the voice of Frank Castle cut through her focus. She grits her teeth, unable to answer until she manages to crest the platform onto the flat. She's now about six feet above the ground, and she takes a break there. Her hair is up in a high ponytail, but she huffs out her sweaty forelocks as she glances behind her toward Frank. She rolls forward a foot or so, half-considering turning to face him. "You grab some leftovers from the cafeteria?" Her eyes skim over him, taking in any fresh wounds since the last time she saw him. Her mouth sets into a hard, almost reproachful look. "No break for Thanksgiving?" She pushes herself toward the downward ramp, approaching it slowly.

Frank limps his way alongside the ramp, looking up at Babs from behind his bruises. He shrugs a little at her questions, "Naw." Dark eyes study her features, and for a moment, a weary smile breaks through the hard edges and blunt angles of his face. "You're lookin' better, Red." No one looks good in a hospital bed except soap opera stars. "Figured I'd avoid people." Because who wants to see people on Thanksgiving? "Brought some TV dinners." He hasn't taken the time to do much shopping, clearly. Stepping to the edge of the ramp, he reaches up, grabbing the foot she can't feel for a moment and then loosing it so that she can keep moving. "No break 'till I find the shitbird, Red. This late night gonna hurt more than it helps?"

"I told you that you keep coming around the hospital looking beat to crap, they're going to shove you in a room and hold you down to get those cuts and bruises all cleaned up. I've already had enough questions about whether or not my boyfriend's part of some underground fight club." Her words are a bit harder than they should be, delivered with a frustration that isn't actually linked to Frank Castle. He's out there, doing something about it. And what has she done, where has she been? She nudges the chair closer to the end of the platform as he walks alongside her; she can't feel his hand on her foot, but there's pressure against her hand as the wheels stop, and she looks at him briefly. She sighs out a short breath, and then shrugs. "I want to get out of here. I show them I can maneuver around on my own, they'll discharge me." Babs pushes the chair forward too hard, too fast, and it slips down the ramp with way too much speed for her to control. She goes sliding fast down the ramp, and her chair hits the angle where the ramp meets the floor hard. The spill happens so fast that she can't compensate. Before either of them know it, she's hit the ground in a spill of chair wheels and sprawl of limbs. Luckily the ground is padded, and she thumps hard rather than clonking herself into solid ground.

Frank snorts a little at the suggestion that he's in a fight club, "You hurt yourself more pushin' your limits, you're gonna be in here even longer." Turning to watch her descend the ramp, he drops the two trays onto the padded floor when she goes spilling onto it. "Shit!" His rush to her side barely shows his limp, and he skids down to his knees, one leg stretched out at his side as he can't quite bend his knee that far. Frank gets a hand on her shoulder, pressing her into the seat and out of some of her sprawl, "You okay, Red? How's your back?"

"Don't — !" Babs doesn't realize she's shoving his hands away until it's too late. She lays there for a moment, feeling the awkward way her limbs have sprawled even with his help to push her back against the waist belt. She holds up her hand to him, holding him back with hopefully just that outstretched palm. Then, very carefully, she unbelts the safety belt. "I'm okay." The words are said through gritted teeth. "I'm okay." Now she spills out of the chair onto her hands with the deadweight of her legs behind her. She crawls herself forward a bit, getting completely out of the chair. Then she lays down on her back, unable to get her legs to do anything more than to lay in a limp stretch like a finless mermaid's tail. She stares up at the ceiling for a heartbeat before her eyes close, masking the frustration that wets her eyes even while her mouth trembles in its hard line. "Goddamnit," she breathes under her breath.

Frank hesitates at the cry, grimacing hard and drawing his hands back. He kneels there painfully, his leg at an awkward angle but far less important than her state. He watches her fall forward onto the padded floor and his scowl gets even deeper. "Of all the damned stubborn…" he's one to talk, but his own nerves are frayed enough that he growls the words out before he can close his jaw. Shaking his head in silent apology, Frank pushes himself back up to his feet, tipping the chair up — after a glance to her for permission — and then going to retrieve the battered trays he dropped on the floor. There are a few spatters of peas and mashed potatoes around the area, but he scoops the trays up and brings them back over to Babs, dropping down heavily on his butt alongside her, "You ain't okay, Red. But you will be."

"Like you're one to talk," Babs breathes back hotly at his back. But then she's focusing on how to get her hips to straighten, and then she's getting her arms under her; first, she's pushing up through her forearms and elbows, then walking her hands under her until she's able to grip the ground a bit. Her spine aches from impact, but the wound that Merlin helped heal isn't damaged further, and she's able to haul herself more upright with that still stubborn line in her jaw. Pain courses through her, but she's got her pelvis under her again, and she's able to sit with the support of her hands. The partial paralysis may have taken her legs, but her therapists have at least verified she still has some control of the muscles in her pelvis and hips, so she's able to do the most infantile sitting up with minimal bobbling. She'll get stronger. She is dedicated to it. "Every time you say that, I think you assume that I'll be walking again one day." She looks up at him as he settles down beside her. "This is my life now, Frank." She doesn't look at him, but instead stares daggers at the wheelchair.

It's a fair point, and Frank can't contest it. He grunts his acceptance of the point, resisting reaching out to help her in getting up to the sitting position by dint of gripping the plastic trays so hard that they start to crinkle and crunch a little. Nothing breaks, not quite, and Frank sets down the TV dinners alongside her legs, then scootches around so that he can rest the front of his shoulder against the back of hers, supporting her rather than holding her up. "I figure either you get walkin' again, or you get so you're used to the chair. Either way, I'll be there to see you okay again." His head drops for a moment, and then he looks up toward her once more, "Look, Babs… I ain't comin' into this lookin' for a miracle. But I know there ain't no way you're givin' up, 'cause you're stronger'n that. And 'cause I'm gonna be there the whole way."

Frank sets down the TV dinner beside her, but she can't quite muster the want to pick it up. Her appetite comes and goes; usually, Babs is ravenous most every day. She instead just accepts the weight of Frank's shoulder against hers, and she pulls at her legs to get them straight(er). Her feet are limp, leaning against each other out of the pull of gravity more than anything else. They have her in lightweight sneakers — those barefoot kind runners like. Her feet look small, lifeless in them. She glances slightly aside to him at his encouragement, at his prediction of what's going to happen, and his role in it. She chuffs out a short breath of mirthless laughter. "Yeah." She presses her lips together. Only after a long, weighted silence does she turn slightly to him. Grief is tight around her eyes, mourning a life lost. "This isn't how it was supposed to go… I thought I was going to be out there until I was ready to give the cowl to someone else. I wasn't ready." She closes her eyes, head tilted down toward her lap.

Frank shrugs slightly with the shoulder not pressed against Barbara's back in response to the one-word answer. He pulls a fork from the tray and pokes at the food (to use the term generously), pushing it back into place. The tidying stops as she speaks up again, however, and he turns his head over to meet her eyes, his own dark scowl a mixture of anger, frustration, and that same grief. "I know." Setting both trays aside with one hand, he wraps the arm around her shoulders, trying to draw her back against his chest so that he can hold her close. "I know you didn't mean all that talk 'bout givin' it up, not yet." The stress and pain is clear in his own gravelly voice, but he's obviously trying to put on the best face. "But you can still make a difference from your computer, Red. Still still got a way to fight the fight."

He pulls her in, and she turns into it as best she can. She settles her head against his collarbone with her eyes closed, and her breath slowing a bit as she just latches onto that warmth. Her eyes close, and she listens to his heart against her ear. Then she tilts back a bit, trying to get herself recentered on her hips again. "Yeah." Her own voice is thick again, and she has to swallow down the hard lump in her throat. Then she is reaching up to brush her knuckles against his cheek. "I need you to stop going out there every night. I need you to come back to me not totally beat to crap… at least until I'm able to get around in this chair without tumbling like a kid on her bicycle for the first time." She sighs out a quick breath. "I need you… to take a break. Or at least, change tactics." She turns his face toward hers. "I want to go home with you when I'm done with this place."

Frank Castle has been able to hold Barbara Gordon's hand, even to hug her, since the shooting, but he hasn't been able to hold her, and now he enfolds her in his arms, his eyes closing as he tucks his head against hers, just glorying in the closeness, whatever the horrors of their circumstances. His fingers tremble against the back of her shoulders, and his breath shudders, but when she draws back, he lets her go, turning his head down to meet her gaze. He opens his mouth to immediately protest her request, then bites off the words that want to come as if he was sinking his teeth into a rotting lemon. Letting her finish takes restraint he really doesn't want to have, and he looks down before he answers. After a short break of silence that feels like it takes forever, he gravels, "Don't make me give this up, Red." Raising his eyes behind the shelter of his heavy brows, "Please don't make me give this up. I've gotta get him. He almost took you away from me. I gotta have him."

To be held by Frank Castle is one of those experiences that Barbara Gordon is thankful to have. She feels him envelop her, and she sinks into him with all the wary and beaten emotions. She turns her head into his shoulder, curling into him as much as her body will allow. Any other time, she would have curled her knees in, let him gather her up in such an embrace it was like a cocoon. Instead, she must make do with whatever her body will allow. Then she is looking up at him, watching him take in her words. The silence is met with a heavier weight of her frown, and she looks away at the plea. Her blue eyes skim over the various models and obstacles to help a broken person remake their body, remake their life. Then she looks back at Frank, licking at her lips. "And what if he can't be got? What if you're out there, every night, getting beaten to crap, and he's nowhere to be found. This isn't some street war, Frank. They were gunning for my dad, and March, and I'm pretty damn sure they started the fire at the house. You keep going out there, and there's going to be a night you don't come back, and — " Her jaw trembles as tears start to burn bright in her eyes, a luminosity that matches the brightness of the pain in her chest. "I can't be out there to watch your back." The words are thick, sorrowful.

Frank lifts his hand up to brush his fingers along her cheekbone even as he begins to deny her request, her plea. "Everybody can be got, Red. Just a question of time." He cradles her against his chest with the other arm, leaning his temple against hers, "I ain't out there alone, Red. I'm workin' with other people." He's still out there alone some of the time, of course… "If this is the same people who burned down the house, that's another reason to make sure they get got. They coulda killed all three'a you, Red." He feels the tremble against his fingers, "You can watch my back, Babs. You can't be out there with me, but you can watch my back. But lettin' whoever did this shit go? That ain't right. You know it, right?"

Just a question of time. She almost laughs — a half-hearted, breathless thing that barely registers over his words. She closes her eyes, feeling the weight of his temple against hers; she takes in a quiet breath. "But if something goes wrong," she starts to whisper, "I can't be there. I'll have to watch, watch it all go wrong with no way to stop it." There's the first heat of wet tears against his cheek. Then she's turning away to dash away the tears that have flowed far too easily lately. She sniffs back her breath, and then she starts to nod. "I know." She turns her head toward him again, and her knuckles come back up to his rough-hewn cheek as she leans her forehead against his.

"Bullshit," Frank responds without any hesitation at all. "You were makin' a difference from the computer before. No reason you can't do that now." The tears sear at him, and his fingers stroke her temple, brush at the trails of salty water on her cheek. "You know me. I get the warnin', I'll make it." Until he finds someone that much faster than him, that much stronger than him, that much tougher than him. His brow rests against hers, and he lets out a little breath, "I'm doin' what I can, Babs. Goin' with Blondie or Tell when I can. But I can't hold back any more'n I am. I plan on comin' back to you."

Babs laughs just a bit louder this time, huffing it out with a breath. Then she is turning her head toward him, and her nose brushes against his in this closeness. She opens her tearstained gaze to meet his again, and she forces a smile on her lips that does nothing to meet the corners of her eyes. "Okay." The word is whispered. Then a bit more bite enters her voice as she adds, "You better." Now she grasps him at the back of his neck, and she leans in to kiss him — something else that has been held back due since her first wake-up in the hospital bed. She pours emotions into that kiss, stinging his lips with it.

The laughter, as quiet and brief as it is, is a salve for Frank's heart. His thumb brushes against the soft skin at the corner of her eyes, and then sinks into that kiss before drawing her back with him, lifting her with the press of his lips to hers, the slow movement that meets the stinging need behind the connection and accepts it not just willingly, but eagerly. He wraps more closely still around her, squeezing tight for a moment before he rises from the depths of that kiss, taking in a breath and then nudging his nose against hers and murmuring, "You gotta eat, Red."

"Not hungry," Barbara confesses against the warmth of his lips. Then her eyes close, and she presses her forehead gently against his. She nods, feeling the way their weight shifts against each other. Then she turns aside, pressing her hand harder against the floor to get her hips situated beneath her again. She brushes the edge of her wrist against her nose before she starts to reach for the trays of microwaved food. As she does, she quietly protests, "I miss your cooking."

"Yeah. That don't mean you don't need food." But she reaches for the trays, and Frank takes his, resettling his own weight to help support hers and still leave his hands free to eat. "That all I am to you, Red? A personal chef?" It's a little joke, but any joke is a good thing, right? Poking at the dry turkey slice with his fork, he nods, "Yeah. This ain't so good. But it's food. And Thanksgivin's for eatin' with your family, right?"

"You're starting to sound like, well…" Babs hesitates, pushing around a bit of food with her fork. "Everyone, really." She casts him a small smile before she settles against him, letting him take some of her awkward weight. She finally takes a bite, and the face she makes is a bit nauseous. But she swallows down the bite, particularly when Frank reminds her the purposes of the holiday. She smiles to him with a bit more light in her blue eyes. "Yeah. It is."

"Screw that." Frank shakes his head, "There ain't never been a time when 'everybody's been right." He takes a bite without any sign of displeasure, but then again, he's also the guy who willingly eats MREs. Continuing to work through the meal with steady purpose, he chews and swallows between words, "I'd've asked your dad in too, but I'm pretty sure he still ain't real happy with me." That comes with a soft snort, and he shrugs, digging into the lumpy mashed potatoes, "I've never actually cooked a turkey." It's a quiet admission, and he shifts his seat a little, resettling against her, "I wasn't in the kitchen on Thanksgiving."

Mention of Barbara's dad has her eyes dropping to her meal as it rests on her limp lap. She nudges around some more of the TV dinner food, and then she takes in a solid breath that lifts her body through her shoulders. "This wasn't your fault. Nothing that happened on those steps happened because of you. No one was gunning for me or Dad because of our connection to Frank Castle. He'll come to that realization soon enough." She hopes. Then she looks up at the confession, and her eyes widen a bit. "Never?" Her brows arch. "Really?" Then she nudges around a bit more of the floppy turkey that is meant to be the protein of the meal. "After Mom disappeared, we really didn't do much either. Dad was always working Thanksgiving, so I'd bring him food. Early on, it was just stuff I could get in the hot deli case, but then I started to cook more." Again, she shrugs a shoulder. "So, I guess we're not exactly big on this holiday either." But then a half-hearted smile eases into place. "But Dinah will be Decking the Halls come Friday, so."

"I think he's got it through his head that this ain't my fault," Frank admits, "But I also don't think I'd be his first pick to be datin' you. And yeah. A couple'a chicken, but never turkey." He shrugs against the back of her shoulder, "Just never really did it." He listens to her own story, nodding slightly, "I always liked the idea. But I keep lookin' for ziti and shit. Too many Italian Thanksgivin's when I wasn't deployed." He lets her draw him away from that subject though, letting out a little huff of a chuckle, "Yeah. Sloshin' the place with decorations and herself with brandy. That girl loves her Christmas." There's a pause, then he adds, "I bet we could steal you back home for a day or two at least. So you could help decorate."

Barbara listens to Frank edge backwards into a lifetime that, in her mind, feels a long time ago. She smiles slightly at the mention of the Italian Thanksgiving, and the thought of Frank and his family enjoying those moments when he wasn't deployed makes her forget her own pain in favor of remembering his. She reaches for his thigh, squeezing at the muscle there before she releases him, and the conversation. She tilts her head up at the obstacle course, pressing her lips together. "I have so much I need to get done here so I can go home for good." She looks over at the wheelchair where it sits quiet and patient. "I think it would be better if I worked on meeting my PT goals, then you can get me out of here and not bring me back." Her lips press together again. "Think you could take care of some things for me?" She glances aside at him.

The squeeze to Frank's leg finalizes his return to the present, and he flexes his muscle in response to the squeeze. "We'll save some of the decorating for when you get home. I know you don't love it as much as Dinah, but…" There's a question there though, and he nods, "Yeah. Of course. I'm sure they're takin' care of Alaska. You need more'a your gear here? Or a computer?" There's a tiny flash of a smile, "You've gotta be goin' crazy without a computer."

"Di's been sending me pictures of Al. He's doing okay. I think she's overfeeding him though." Her humor is not quite up to snuff, but she gives it a go. Then Barbara breathes in a sharp, quick breath before she says quietly, "Yeah. A computer." Mention of the gear has her shaking her head. "Already gave it away. Cassandra's now out there in the cowl. She needs to be." I need her to be, goes mostly unsaid. She starts to rub unconsciously at her thigh, knowing it's there, but hoping it will read her pressure, the friction of her pants against her skin. At least the limb feels warm beneath her fingers. "You said you have contacts with some gear?" Her smile takes on a sadder look. "Maybe see if you can trade in the motorcycle for… a different kind of wheels? I'm going to need something better than whatever they give me. Maybe Curtis knows what I'm going to be needing."

"At least one of you is eatin' enough then." Frank's shit-flipping is gentle — this time. He nods at the mention of Cassandra being out with the gear, shifting in his seat a little uncomfortably, but not speaking up. His brows furrow deeply at her request, and he draws in a breath to start arguing, but then just lets it out in a little hiss and nods. "Yeah. I can get you somethin' that you can get the chair into and outta. I'd offer to just do up the van and hand it over, but I never know when it's gonna get recognized." He's going to have to find a storage unit somewhere to put her bike in, because trading it in… that's giving up. "But yeah, I'm sure I can find somethin' for you, Red. Even if this ain't my guy's usual thing."

The shit-flipping is met with a wearied look. "Maybe if you weren't bringing me crappy TV dinners." There's not much heart in the returned flip, and she sets aside what little of the meal she has left to finish cooling beside her. Her appetite will recover, but right now, there's no hunger to be satiated. "A van would be good. Maybe not something the size of your freaking behemoth though." Her smile tugs a bit before she sucks in a tight breath through her nose and nods slowly as she settles into these new ideas, shifting her intention and her goals. She stares ahead, looking at the chair. "Alright." She breathes that word, and then more steadily she speaks to Frank, "Help me back into the chair?"

Frank sets aside the empty tray from his own dinner, picking up hers to dig through the remainder. "Yeah, I trust those better'n the hospital crap." At least it wasn't an MRE. Nodding a little slowly, he lets out a breath, "You gonna be a minivan driver, Red?" There's some lighter teasing, but he nods at her request, "Yeah." Setting down the second tray, he gets a hand behind her back and then pushes up to his feet. There's some hesitation, but he offers her a hand to haul on first, and then ducks down to silently offer to just heft her up and into the chair.

Babs offers him a rueful smile. "There's worse things." But then she is looking up at him as he stands. When he extends out his hand to her, she takes it instinctively, but the part of her body that would push up through her hips and legs does not respond to her wants; he can feel the slight tug behind their grip as if she might even just try to convince her body that it isn't broken, isn't changed. But— "It's okay," she tells him quietly as he ducks down toward her. Both arms sweep around his shoulders and neck, and she leans her head into his briefly.

Frank was uncertain if she wanted to army-crawl over to the chair, but this way is easier, especially with her still healing from multiple surgeries. Lifting her up with a little grunt as the motion pulls on his ribs, he cradles her close, gathering her torso and her legs close over the short distance between her and the chair. He kneels down before it, but doesn't set her down yet, enjoying the close press of her form against his. His breath shudders briefly, and then he leans over to set her back in the chair, his head staying bowed a moment, his forehead against her collarbone and his eyes tightly closed.

"Frank," Barbara's words are soft against his jaw as he carries her, and then cradles her. Her eyes close as she presses her forehead against his temple as they linger close. When he starts to lean down to set her down, she squeezes his shoulders tightly. Then she softens, letting him gently settle her into the chair that welcomes her back despite how much she loathes it beneath her, around her, how the wheels will become her new legs. But then there's Frank, pressing his forehead against her collarbone. Her hand comes up to curl around the back of his head, embracing him gently against her. She murmurs against his temple and forehead, "It's okay."

It takes Frank a few moments, his weariness and just-buried fury dragging at his ragged grip on calm, but he swallows hard and nods his head against her, "Yeah. I know." His voice is even rougher than normal, and when he straightens up, his eyes shine slightly in the dimness of the exercise room. He turns his head into her wrist, feeling her skin against his cheek, and one hand comes up to touch the back of her hand on his head. "Let's get you a couple hours' sleep. Maybe a shower."

Babs brushes her fingertips of her other hand just under his shining eyes. She offers him no pleasant comforts, but instead just a little smile that carries with it some warmer emotion that hasn't faded since the bullet wound. She chuffs a quick breath that might be laughter, and then she nods slightly. "Yeah. Sleep and a shower sounds nice." Then her hand slides back from behind his head, and her grip drops down to the wheels of her chair. "Come on. I'll lead the way."

Frank nods slightly at the smile, the warmth and the grace of her fingertips loosening some of the tension in his shoulders, but only a little. He uses the frame of the wheelchair to lever himself to his feet, "Yeah, okay." He falls in behind the chair, then grunts in disgust, "Goddamn it. Stupid fuckin' chair. I can't even look at your ass when I'm followin' you."

Babs snorts slightly, even if there's some shared sadness in the loss of his appreciation. But, she smiles her best smile for him over her shoulder. "Guess you'll have to find something new to admire about me." Then she wheels toward the exit of the training suite.

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