Two Weeks. Seven Weeks.
Roleplaying Log: Two Weeks. Seven Weeks.
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank finally comes home. It's only been two weeks— no, seven weeks.

Other Characters Referenced: Merlin
IC Date: February 13, 2020
IC Location: Punisher Keep, Jersey City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 28 Feb 2020 05:34
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Weeks have passed since Frank Castle disappeared into the past with the wizard known as Merlin. At first, Barbara Gordon was patient; whatever was happening in the past was beyond what she could assist with. But a week went by, and that patience turned to worry. She started with just rereading some of the mythos of Arthur, perhaps trying to find if there was a change, an alteration to the stories she remembered. Then, by three weeks gone, she was calling up historians of that era, asking strange questions about mysterious dark knights, or odd accounts of Merlin. Also, nothing.

By the fifth week, Babs's fears and worries settled into an almost catatonic state. There was nothing she could do, she reasoned, she just had to wait. Whatever was happening, it was taking more time than expected. But, she would know if Frank was dead; she would know. She would feel it. So, he was alive, and he would come back. He would. All she could do was live out day by day, seeing to her work with Stark, her work with the vigilantes of Gotham, and occasionally checking over her notes to see if anything changed.

It has been seven weeks, and it is late, well past midnight. Babs sits in front of the expansive, if not almost massive, computer console she has set up in Punisher's Keep. There are six monitors, plenty of computer power behind them, and each monitor has a different output of what is happening not just in Gotham, but in New York City. Her chair has seen some upgrades and she looks stronger in the shoulders and arms. At her feet, curled with his back against her wheel, Max sleeps deeply. He has a new collar with 'Service Dog' stitched on it, and it matches the vest that hangs with the leash on a near-by hook. Babs is tapping away at her keyboard, looking through police reports recently filed on some vigilante work, cross referencing them with mission reports from the Birds of Prey.

Frank Castle only has three things he really, really wants to come back to, and they're all in the same place. His war, his dog, and Barbara Gordon. (Indoor plumbing, gas cooking, firearms, and personal protection that doesn't rust are nice, but not on the same level). It's only been two weeks for him, through the magic of time travel, but already that's too long. He and Merlin manage to use the fob at the same time, and appear in different places. Magic is always a dicey proposition when you're using a magic item created by someone else. But Frank appears in a flash of light, right in the middle of the warehouse, down on his right knee, his knuckles pressed into the concrete floor. Two weeks isn't a lot of time to change, not like seven weeks, but he wears a black tunic with a castle tower embroidered on his left breast in silver. His boots and trousers are almost as fine as the tunic, and he wears a sword at his hip. It's been a long two weeks.

The gray concrete under his knuckles is the first suggestion that he's actually home, and he draws in a breath, hope fluttering in his chest. His head snaps up, focusing on the computer console and the woman before it. That breath catches in his throat as he takes in the broadest of changes, and his gravelly voice sounds rougher than usual when he breathes, "Red."

The flash of light snaps up Max's head first, and the dog is barking his rough, booming bark that echoes in the open cavern of the warehouse. Barbara is just as fast, reaching for the unbranded throwing blades to tuck into her palm. She is twisting, pushing the chair back sharply in a controlled backwards roll. But she's pivoting just in time to first see, and then hear— "Frank." His name is whispered on her breath, and then she's dropping the blade with a clatter so she can push her hands through the wheels to rush toward Frank, and Max is bounding after her with the same energy. Or close to the same. Frank better get to his feet fast, because Babs is wheeling fast, and only brakes a couple feet away with such suddenness that it propels her forward and then up with the push through her strong arms, ready to wrap her arms around his shoulders with her legs limp. "Frank!"

Two people who love him. It's clear from their reactions to his appearance, and it's clear from the relief that floods through Frank at seeing both Barbara and Max that he returns that love just as fiercely. Frank is on his feet in an instant, starting across the warehouse to meet them. He's just starting to collapse down to Barbara when she pushes herself up, and his arms come up to catch her, to hold her close, even as he rocks back with the impact and tilts his head in to capture her lips in a fierce, desperate kiss. Max bounces around them, barking happily and scrabbling at their legs and the side of Barbara's chair, but it takes a long, thorough minute before Frank lifts his lips from hers far enough to acknowledge the dog. He tightens one arm around Babs's back, and then reaches out with his other, scruffling at Max's ears as he glances down, "Missed you too, boy." Looking back to Babs, his voice catches huskily, "Sorry that took so long, Red. Fuckin' magic."

The kiss is pure rapture. She hasn't kissed Frank like this for months, not since their first genuinely shared exchange of emotions through that physical conduit. Her arms are tight around his shoulders, one hand gripping at the back of his head by his hair and scalp. Her lips move with his, and her breath is gasped softly against his lips when he finally lifts away from her. She has tears her eyes, streaming in a little trickle down each cheek. "It's been seven goddamn weeks! It's February." She thumps her fist lightly against his shoulders. "I knew you would come back, or if you didn't, I was going to hunt John down and make him get you back." Then her fingers touch his jaw, rubbing roughly at the stubble he has there, leftover from whenever his last shave had been.

As glad to see Babs as Frank is, the pure ferocity of the emotion in the kiss takes him by surprise, but he soaks it up, letting it warm him to the bones. The tears prompt a concerned scowl, and he starts to lower her back down to the chair, only for her words to send him metaphorically reeling. "It's been what?" Shock has him frozen in place, his dark eyes wide as he takes in her features, "Seven weeks? I missed…" Christmas, New Years, almost two months of life with Babs. It's not like he hasn't been gone for longer periods of time than that, but he's usually been able to video chat or something. And it's usually with some warning. "It was two weeks…" Anger twists his features then, "Goddamn magic." Slowly sinking down to one knee so that he can let her settle back into her chair, he idly scruffles Max's fur again, "I'm sorry, Red. I'm sorry. I wouldn't've gone…" A grunt, and a sign, "No, I had'ta go. I'm sorry though."

Babs gently smears away the snot and tears with her wrist once she's settled back down. Max who has spent several long weeks training with Babs immediately sits beside her wheel, close and comfortable. He has the posture of a dog ready to, at a moments notice, spring up to his feet to walk alongside her, or to respond to a threat. Babs smiles ruefully up at Frank, and then she shakes her head as he sinks down lower so they can easily meet each other's eyes. "You had to go, and you did, and we… made it work." She smiles tiredly. "I knew you would come back," she promises him again. "I knew it." Then she starts to smile, and she reaches out to brush along his cheek and jaw, and then she takes in his entire attire, sword and all. "So… you are the Chevalier du Château—Knight of the Castle. I wasn't sure. You were described as a giant."

Frank glances down at Max as the dog so readily lays down, lifting his brows slightly and then looks back to Babs, reaching out to caress her jawline, her cheeks, into her cinnamon hair, reassuring himself silently that he's actually back. "You know me, Red. I always come back." He glances down at the tunic, grunting, "Oh… yeah." He shrugs, his hands finding their way over her shoulders, down her arms to her hands, "Time most'a them saw me, I was wearin' big black armor. Fuckin' Morgan Le Fay did it. Plus they're all runty as hell back then." His eyes narrow slightly, "You found me in a story? Jesus, Red. I knew you were good, but I was tryin' not to make any history books."

Frank's touch reassures her as much as it reassures him, and her eyes flutter closed as her nerves shiver beneath his rough fingertips. She takes in a breath, lifting her eyes to meet his. His eyes narrow at her, and she smiles warmly without any real shame. "How else do we know anything about the knights of the Round Table? If you did something notable, someone would have written about it. It was all I could do, Frank… without coming after you, and I…" Her lips press together tightly. "I can't do that." But she doesn't look as wounded by her ableism as she did back before Frank left. Her fingers tighten around his elbow. "So, I did what I could." She looks over his clothes again, and then she breathes out a quiet laugh. "Want some new clothes?"

"Couldn't come get me, so you did the research." Frank sounds amused, and he leans forward to rest his brow against hers. "'Course you did." She mentions his clothes, and he grunts a little sourly, looking down, "Jesus yes. This shit itches like crazy. Went back without any of my shit." His shoulders slump for a moment, and he looks down again, "My chain," with his tag, her blank one, and his late wife's ring," didn't come through." The grief behind the admission is clear, tearing at his already-weary frame.

The grief that twists Frank's features is met with a gentle press of her hand to his cheek. "Go. Get a shower, get changed, and I'll get you some food. Leftover Chinese okay?" There's a pause before the wheelchair-bound woman admits, almost abashed, "We've had a lot of takeout." She did try to do the cooking thing, really. There's even containers in the fridge to prove it. Her fingers curl across his jaw gently before she leans in to press a kiss to his lips. "I'll still be here when you get back."

"Yeah." Frank's response is quiet, subdued, one hand clasping at the back of her neck, the other taking her hand and squeezing her fingers, "Chinese'll be great. I'm a little sick an' tired of big meat." He returns the kiss softly, "I love you, Babs." He lets out a little breath, and then straightens up, "You too, Max." Back to Babs, "You wanna come with? Make sure I don't go anywhere? Or you in the middle of some Birds business?"

"I love you," the redhead murmurs back against his lips. Then she takes in a breath that then is let out in a short laugh. "You're not going anywhere." Her eyes search his, and then she shakes her head. "Go. I'm going to get you some food. You smell horrible." Her smile lifts all the warmer. "I'll make Max go with you just to be sure, and then I'll finish up some work out here."

"I smell like Camelot," Frank responds. There's a momentary hesitation before he steps back, "I ain't goin' anywhere," he agrees, but he adds, "Naw, keep Max out here. I'll be back when I don't smell like horses and smoke." His fingers squeeze hers again, and he adds with a bit of wonder, "Seven fuckin' weeks. Jesus. I'm sorry, Red."

Barbara is smiling gently up at Frank at his repeated apologies. She ducks her head a bit, and she moves her hair aside as she pulls a chain out from her shirt and then off from around her neck. She curls the chain into her hand, closing around it briefly before she hands it over to him. "I will always wait for you, Frank. Always." She reaches for his hand to place the chain in his palm, closing his fingers around it. Her hair is tousled now over one shoulder, and she smiles up at him. The chain bears the ring and dog tag, but not the blank token that Barbara had threaded through it before.

Barbara's gesture toward her neck stills Frank as he is turning away. His breath catches, eyes widening, and he steps back to her side, one hand reaching out for a moment before he pauses. "You've got it…" Wonder lightens his heavy features, and he folds his fingers around the ring and the tag, letting out a breath of tension — only to have it come back as he frowns down at the lightened metal in his palm. Looking from the chain to her, his brows lift slightly, "Where's yours, Babs?" Clearly, it's as important to him as the other two by this point.

Babs bears witness to how the relief washes through him, and how he settles into himself only for that tension to blossom again. Her hands don't leave his, squeezing around his rough knuckles. "Because I said that the blank… it was for a promise. And, after you disappeared, I knew that when you came back, I wanted to… keep it. So." She lifts her hips a bit from her chair, rummaging into her jean pocket. She pulls out a ring, dark like the metal she had made the blank token from. "Can't be a church, or even the courthouse, but… it's still a vow, right?" She holds it out to him, pinched between forefinger and thumb.

"You askin' me to marry you, Barbara Gordon?" There's a hint of humor in Frank's gravelly voice, but also some wonder and concern. He crouches down again before her chair, grounding one knee and reaching out for the ring. There's no discernible hesitation before he takes the circlet of metal and pushes it over knuckles swollen from more than half a lifetime of violence, settling it at the base of his left ring finger. He already knew the answer, had already given her the answer, if not so directly. "Pretty sure that's supposed to be my job. Doin' the askin'. You get yourself a ring while you were at it?" There's a little snort alongside that, amused by his own joke.

"As much as someone living the lives we live can…" Barbara doesn't sound sad by this—it is just the reality of it all, that her and Frank will never be able to actually be the perfect picture of what they are, not to the outsider's eye. Then she smiles as he slips the ring over his finger, letting it settle near his last knuckle. She touches his hand gently, and her smile opens up into genuine laughter. "No. I thought doing all the work would rob you of something." Her nose wrinkles up good-naturedly before she gives him another little nudge. "Something to worry about later. Go… shower. I promise I'll still be here when you're done."

Frank looks down at the dark metal ring on his finger, "Some day, Red," his eyes lift up from the ring to her features, "Some day you're gonna walk down an aisle to me. Not to Pete. To me." She mentions robbing him of something by going ring-shopping, and he huffs a laugh, "Yeah, my masculinity." He's joking, but only like 95% joking. Leaning down, he presses a kiss to her brow, then ducks lower to taste her lips again. Stepping back, he reaches down for the buckle of his swordbelt — his swordbelt, thanks stupid magic — and nods briefly, "I know you will be."

Babs doesn't have the heart to tell him the impossibilities of his pledge, his some day. There may never be a day where a court will marry these two, not without arresting Frank Castle in the process. And then there is the notion of walking; each appointment to her doctor confirms her fears—this chair is her life now. But she spares Frank that, and instead just closes her eyes under the press of his lips first to her brow and then to her own lips, and she leans up into that slow, savoring moment. Then he's stepping back, and she folds her hands gently in her lap as she smiles up at him. She waits for him to start to walk away and then she turns to push her way to the kitchen to start warming him up some Chinese takeout from just yesterday.

Impossibilities are merely walls for Frank Castle to run into time after time until they crumble. His hand squeezes her shoulder, and then he heads for the bathroom in the back, setting down the sword and swordbelt on one of the workbenches on his way past. Stripping off the knightly garb, he lets out a slow breath, the remains of minor burns on his shoulder and hand standing out starkly on his body, along with bound slashes in a few locations. Even when he goes back to Arthurian times, Frank manages to pick up some damage. It's a talent. The sluice of hot water over him is a relief worthy of a low groan, and he washes slowly, soaking in the heat as he does. Despite the luxury of his first hot shower in two weeks, Frank isn't in the shower long after he's done washing, drying off and wrapping the towel around his waist. Next step is clothes, and he comes out of the bedroom wearing a simple black henley, jeans, and plain white socks. He hasn't bothered to shave any better than he could manage in King Arthur's court, but that can come later. For now, he heads to the kitchen to get food that has spices — and not just to hide the fact that it's turning. "Seven weeks, huh, Red? How many lives you save? Fifty? Sixty? A hundred?"

All the while, Babs has proven how deft she has become in this place. There have been some changes—an entire section of the countertop is lower than it had been to fit her new limitations. She has things that are easier to reach to avoid the athletics that go into getting things from the top cabinets. She has the food warming on the stove, and she gives it a quick spin of a wooden spoon before she's dumping it into a bowl and bracing the bowl onto her lap. Max moves eagerly around the kitchen with her, always managing to be at her side. He looks stronger, too, like he has been put through his own training along side Babs. They look up together when Frank enters the kitchen, but it is Barbara's smile that is warmer than even the doggiest of grins. She pushes forward to the table, hot bowl in a hot pad in her lap. She wheels to the table, setting it down on the table with chopsticks already at the table. She looks up at his words, and she smiles wryly. "Assisted in saving lives. I don't do the active saving anymore. But, I don't keep count." She looks up at him with a half-tilt of her head. "What about you, Sir Frank?" Her amusement is palpable in her words.

"Saved lives," he corrects gently. "Intel's just as important as the boots on the ground." He reaches over to take the bowl, but she's already got it on the table, and he glances beyond her to the lowered counter, grunting thoughtfully and nodding, "Yeah. I shoulda thought of that." Dropping himself slowly into the seat and gathering up the bowl and chopsticks, he takes a couple of bites as he thinks over just how in the hell to explain what's been happening for the last two weeks — subjective. Eventually, he grunts and nods, "So I went back without any'a my shit. Next time I see John I'm gonna punch him in the nose. Didn't even have the zipper on my fuckin' pants, let alone any'a my weapons. Got new clothes — they itched. Got there just in time for Arthur and Guinevere's weddin', and turns out, Morgan Le Fay's got Merlin's staff and is tryin' to make Merlin look bad by fuckin' up the wedding. I fought benches brought to life, and got put in black armor, broke some shit, saved the wedding — okay, Merlin did that."

Barbara's lips fold together with a little smile. "I know. I was the one who found all the things the spell left behind. The zipper amused me, once the panic subsided." The redhead looks up at the rest of the story, and her eyes widen. "You saved their wedding?" She leans in, rapt around the details. "Frank, you saved a myth that has been the basis of pop culture for*ever*." Barbara reaches to touch the back of his hand, fingers brushing along his warm skin and the cool ring. Then she is folds her arms in front of her, leaning into the elbows. Her smile softens. "And you were gone for two weeks to my seven weeks." She wrinkles her nose good-naturedly. "Yeah. I'm going to punch John too."

Frank starts eating the Chinese takeout, lifting his brows, "I mean, it was a buncha knights in armor an' tunics and ladies in frilly dresses. It ain't the same as a Marine Corps weddin'." Of course he would think that. The touch to his hand draws his eyes up, and he draws in a little breath, letting it out slowly, "I mean, it was good that I didn't have to spend seven weeks back there. But yeah, seven fuckin' weeks." Shaking his head, he turns his hand over to clasp hers, "I ain't sure how you made it, Red. You might be tougher'n me."

Babs's lips press together before she squeezes his fingers again. "It wasn't easy. I moved out of Burnside, told Dinah I needed to be here when you got back. Max and I started training together… he's a certified service dog now, and he goes to training a couple times a week to learn how to help me if something goes wrong. I've been training, too…" She rubs her knuckles gently against her cheek as she smiles up at him. "Eventually it became just about getting through each day, and waiting for you while also not dwindling while I did it." She look aside a bit, taking in the warehouse. She sighs out a breath before she returns her attention on Frank. "I missed you… terribly. All of you. I'm glad you're back, with me."

"I see how it is." Frank keeps eating with one hand, his fingers wrapped about hers as he does, "You managed to get the lazy bum to actually do some work." Setting the chopsticks down for a moment, he leans over to give Max's ruff a scritch, just to show he's not serious. "All it took for you to move outta Gotham was me bein' gone for seven weeks though? The girls come up to visit you? Or you go see that lawyer friend'a yours? I know this ain't your town, Red." Going back to his meal, he chases down the last few pieces, "I shoulda known you'd be fine. But I gotta admit I was worried, even just over two weeks." He licks sauce off his lips, and then brings her knuckles up to his lips, "I missed you too."

"Helena and Dinah have been up to visit," Barbara reassures him. "And I've gotten used to being in New York again." She's in New Jersey, but no one is going to call her out on that. He kisses her knuckles, and she leans closer to him. "I was worried about you, too." Then she curls her hand over his as her head tips slightly to one side. "I was worried about you, too." Now she smiles, and her fingers curl around his until her fingers interlace with his. "Showered, clothed, fed… what else do you need so you feel like you're back home?"

Frank nods as she assures him that the rest of the crime fighting sorority visited. His brow rests against hers when she leans in close, their interlocked fingers close before them. Lowering his voice a little, a hint of a smile touches one corner of his lips, "I was kinda surprised you didn't come join me in the shower." Not that that would have been easy with her in the chair, but he would have made it work. "So yeah, there's a couple'a things left before I feel like I'm back home. And you're one'a them."

"I know you wanted me to." Her own voice is low, warm, and husky. Her fingers tighten with his as their foreheads press together. "But I'm not graceful in that room." She then licks at her lips before she lets out a short, gentle laugh. "But the bed is soft, sheets are new, and it has been seven weeks." Her nose brushes across his briefly before she cuts that last tip of her chin to meet his lips with her own. Her kiss is soft, but that warmth is soon turned toward heat. Her other hand slips across his stubble-roughened jaw and then back behind his ear to twist her hand into his longer hair, pulling him tighter into that play of lips.

"I don't give a shit if you're graceful, Red." And then her lips still his words, and Frank lets loose the worry and longing that has built up over the past two weeks. He shifts in his seat to deepen the kiss, to turn closer to her so that his other hand can come up to her far cheek, trailing down over her jar to slide his thumb along the pulse at her throat. His nose brushes against hers, and he draws back ever-so-slightly enough that he can murmur, "Let's see about that bed, those sheets, and you."

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