Frank's Back in Gotham
Roleplaying Log: Frank's Back in Gotham
IC Details

Frank Castle returns to Gotham for work, but not the bloody kind, and Barbara Gordon catches up with him.

Other Characters Referenced: Dinah Lance, Dick Grayson, John Constantine, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Owen Mercer, Max
IC Date: May 28, 2019
IC Location: Gotham
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 02 Jun 2019 02:34
Rating & Warnings: Light R for language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's actually not easy to get between New York and Gotham these days, not when you're on the minds of city, state, and federal law enforcement — plus even less-savory characters. Frank Castle hasn't been in Gotham in a long while — he's forgotten just how ridiculous the weather is. So when he texted Babs 'In town tonight. Business.' he wasn't planning on spending the evening under the eves of a rooftop doorway to avoid getting drenched by the spring rain. It wasn't even cloudy in New York. His black trench coat is dappled with raindrops, as is the black ball-cap he wears, but beneath the coat is just a plaid work-shirt and cargo pants, not his vest. Evidently his work doesn't include killing people tonight. Instead, he watches the apartment building kitty-corner to his current perch, an unlit cigarette dangling between his lips as a convenient excuse in case anyone spots him. He has a black eye, but when doesn't Frank Castle have a black eye.

Out of the shadows, Barbara's tired voice murmurs, "Hi Frank."

She stands there, crouched in what had been moments ago just a short stack of empty wooden pallets. Now she drops down into a little puddle of water that gains in depth from the ongoing stream of water coming off the eaves and through the overfilled gutters. She steps toward him almost casually, slipping into the same shadow. Her suit has changed— no more bright yellow boots and purple motorcross gear. Instead, it's a blend of older ideas— black leather, and her older cowl with the sturdier ears. It still fits like motocross gear, but now its matte and black and the yellow emblem on her chest is more muddy mustard in color. She wears black boots with yellow soles, and her cape is longer again to give her more protection, and more camouflage in the dark motif of Gotham. She looks tireder, older, but she steps right up to him and throws herself at him into a hug that is tight around his shoulders and back.

Frank's hand ducks inside his coat at the words, and his head snaps over toward Babs, but the tension dissipates even as he begins to coil. He opens his mouth to react to her costume change, but then she's right there, and he reaches out to return the hug, a tight squeeze that loosens, but lingers — human contact may have been relatively minor and far between on his road trip. Drawing in a slow breath, he lets it out through his nose, ignoring the way his ribs creak. Finally, he looses her from the embrace and leans back a little, his hands slipping to her shoulders so he can take in the uniform, "Damn, Red, you gone Goth on me?" He releases her shoulders then, sinking back against the wall under the eaves and looking over to her, "I liked the purple. Plus I bet it still smelled like Max." However the dog could possibly have gotten his scent on the costume.

Even the redhead lingers in that hug, using it to check Frank over for wounds and to also make sure he's actually there. Then she straightens, letting him take her in with a half-tilt of her head. "Sorry. The purple stood out too much," Barbara words are soft, but resigned. She sinks down against the wall beside him, her red hair spilling out across her shoulders in loose, but oh-so vibrant waves. Then she smiles slightly toward him, tilting her head as she does. "I kept the spirit of the old suit though— and one day, maybe I'll take out the purple again." She looks off at the building that Frank is staking out. "I'm sad you didn't bring Max with you. Not a good rooftops dog?"

"Since when do you need to hide, Red? I thought that's why you went yellow," Frank gestures to the bat-symbol on her chest, then shakes his head, grinning a little crookedly, "I'm not here to bust your balls though. And you did keep the spirit in the jacket and cape." See, he notices things. He looks back up to the building across the intersection, "Naw. He hates stairs. And I'd feel like shit if things went sour and I had to E&E with him." Escape and Evade. He draws in a slow breath and lets it out, "Some of the guys, more than makes sense for coincidence, they had ties out here. Third floor, side, one back from the corner." There's a pause, and he looks aside to her, "All that magic shit still quiet?"

"Since being a vigilante is criminal— more criminal." Barbara's words are heavy, almost sorrowful in their quality. She looks down. "Dad is behind the task force… him and Batman used to be allies. I don't know how that's all unfolding anymore." Now she looks up at Frank, regarding him with those steady blue eyes. At the mention of magic, she nods soberly. "For now. The Whispers drifted underground again, and there's been no sign of demon activity that I can find. Maybe the anti-vigilante laws spooked them, too." Her smile takes on a lopsided edge.

Frank shakes his head, smirking faintly, "Pretty sure he's gonna just miss the Big Bad Bat any time it comes up. You don't take down people you've been that close to." He's going to have to re-assess that at some point. He straightens up a little as someone moves in the building he's surveilling, then shakes his head and settles back against the wall once more. "Or they were poking their nose into New York too hard and they got hammered by registration. Or they're planning something. Or…" He grunts, distaste and displeasure mingling. "Who the hell knows. Maybe you and John spooked them. Or John's chasing them, or they're chasing him." Crossing his arms over his chest, he glances aside to her, "So how are you handling the change? From magic and demons back to mooks and scum?"

"Or, or, or." Barbara rests her head back against the wall as she looks out at the rain with her arms loosely crossed at her chest. She stares up at the swollen skies with their thick rain. Her gaze does not drift from the clouds as they rumble and darken the night to the point of starless and moonless pitch. When he asks the question, she just rolls her cowl-covered head toward him and a little smile tugs at the corners of her lips. "You think I can ever go back to mooks and scum?" Then she looks back out at the skies. "Okay, maybe the occasional mook and scum."

"You haven't been going after mooks and scum, who have you been going after, Red?" Chuckling dryly, Frank lets a grin touch his lips for a moment, "You haven't been holding shitbags out on me, have you? I thought we were clear that they were my territory?" Sobering slowly, he adds, "I've been chasing stories of black ops teams all across the country. Teams like the one that tried to take me out. Figured it's better that I pick where we have it out." He rubs the heel of his still-new boots on the roof, "Sharing a van with Max for months sucked. Everyone here's okay, right? You, Dinah, your dad, your SAS guy, Dick, everyone else?" Evidently he's already checked in with the Defenders.

"The ones who command the mooks and scum," Red says with a little twitch of a smile. Then she shakes her head as she crosses her arms at her chest, leaning back into the wall again. She tilts her head toward him as he tells her what he's been up to, and she reaches down to give his wrist a little squeeze. "What have these teams been doing? You figured out what they were targeting you for?" Then when he asks after the Gothamites, she starts to settle into a little smile. "Yeah. We're all okay. I haven't heard much from Dick since he's doing the NYC Detective thing, but I think he's okay."

Frank gives her side-eye when she claims the top of the food chain, "Yeah, leave the guys like me to clean up the trash." He looks down at the squeeze to his wrist, flexing the muscles of his forearm under her grip, drawing in a slow breath, and shaking his head, "Nope. Far as I can tell, they each had some big job, about half of them went bad, and they've all been lying low since. Some of them had never even heard of me. A couple others had." This time, the head shake is a little harder, "It's noise. Not random, but there's too much going on, too much going in different directions. It's hiding whatever's going on." A frown blossoms on his features, "But it stinks. It stinks like shit. I don't know what they're up to, or what it has to do with me. But they all seem to be part of the same organization."

Barbara's arms cross at her chest again, and she looks down at the puddles the rain grows and deepens. Then she tilts her head back up at him with a little smile tugging up one corner of her mouth. "Are you complaining, Castle?" It's the lightest of jabs before the redhead is turning a bit more toward him, resting her shoulder against the wall while she keeps her arms crossed at her chest. One leg crosses behind the other, giving her an almost lazy look; it doesn't match the serious curl to her lips or the tension around her eyes. "Okay, so. You think someone is smoke-screening you? Having you chase leads that dead-end? Or do you think that there's something out there you missed?" Then with a slight tilt of her head, she narrows her eyes thoughtfully. "Did you come back because you're out of leads or because the leads brought you back?" There's something in that question that has an almost expectant edge.

"Griping. It's different." Frank pauses a moment, then insists, "It is." Her questions cause him to frown even deeper, glancing aside to her and then back across the street, "I trust the intel." That's stubborn, even sharp, but he relents a little as he goes on, "I think this might be bigger than I thought. Bigger than either of us thought. I'm back because what I'm hearin' doesn't add up. Because this is where it started." There's a part of him that knows it didn't start in New York or Gotham, but in the rocks and dust of Afghanistan. "Because the smartest people I know are here." His shoulders roll uncomfortably, and he acknowledges, "Didn't want to bring you into this. Didn't want to bring anyone into this. But I might need some help, Red."

Warm laughter hums through Barbara's sealed lips as she looks down, scuffing her boot against the floor again. When she looks up, her blue eyes shine with a kind of affable humor. Then she is looking back out at the glow of the art deco lights and sharp corners of the Gotham buildings around them. She looks thoughtful with a studious depth to her gaze and a thinner line to her lips. "Okay. You give me what you have and I'll start doing some investigating. We can figure this out, Frank." Those words are delivered as she looks back to him, and then presses off the wall with a little roll of her shoulders. The Bat— tall, slender, and perhaps just slightly more innocuous in presence compared to the others of the Family— steps out toward the roof's edge. She looks down at the building that Frank is scooping out. "Who's in there?" She nods her head toward it.

"Figured that's what you'd say. Didn't want to add to your problems." Frank watches her press away from the wall, watches her step to the edge of the roof without a trace of hesitation. "Because I knew you'd throw yourself in headfirst, and you've got your own shit." There's a pause, and he responds to her question first, "Sister of one of the guys from Arizona." Which explains why he's not wearing the vest. "Most of them don't have family." Considering her now, slowly, his brows furrowed deeply with concern, he adds, "Tell you what. Couple of days, I'll come down with what I have, you share what you've got. One more set of eyes on each of our problems. You're nice, I'll even bring Max."

Barbara cants a glance toward Frank with a hint of amusement in her expression again. "I'm always nice." Then she sighs out a sharp breath and nods. "Alright. Come by the house. I know of at least one other person who will be glad to see you." Her eyes trail back to the apartment building before she steps back, retracing her steps toward him. She steps up closer to him until she's back under the eaves.

"You're always polite. And considerate." Frank's lips curl into something between a grin and a smirk, "That's different." The amusement fades away, and he nods, looking back up to the building across the intersection, "Yeah. It'll be good to see Blondie too. Unless you meant Alaska. Pretty sure that furball's avoided me so far. Must be the dog smell." He pauses then, his eyes drawn back to Barbara, "It's real good to see you again, Red. Seriously." Even the big bad Punisher may have gotten a little lonely traveling the country in a van for several months. "Especially out and about, even if you're going all dark and brooding with the costume again." His eyes flick over to her shoulders, and he almost hides a little smirk, "This cape snap off too?"

"He avoids everyone if you don't immediately promise him cuddles or treats," Red says with an almost casual note. Then she is smiling at him as the tall Bat takes him in at his earnest words. There's almost a little awkwardness in how she holds herself, shifting to one foot. "It's good to see you, Frank." Then her smile is short and light at her lips. "Look, I've seen you storm around these streets dressed all in black, too." In fact, she gives his current ensemble a rather pointed look. "I go to do what I can to blend in. It's okay if I take a page out of Batman's book if it makes tactical sense, doesn't it?" She gives his shoulder a little jab with her first two fingers. Then she shows him her shoulder and the snaps that hold her cape in place. "Yes. Learned my lesson."

The awkwardness causes Frank to tilt his head in question, his eyes narrowing slightly, but he lets the look slide away. "Yeah. But I care about tactical." There's something amused, even teasing about the statement, the suggestion that she doesn't care about tactical considerations, at least in the same way. He nods a little at the mention of her lesson, patting her shoulder, "I'm just flipping you shit, Red. You can wear whatever you want as far as I'm concerned. I just liked the purple and yellow. There was something personal about it." He pauses, gesturing to her jacket, "You've still got some of that. But there was also something hopeful about it. I hope you haven't lost that."

"Alright, Mr. I-Care-About-Tactical, then you give me some design modifications and I'll go to my guy to see if I can get them adjusted." There's a smirk that takes over her lips, and she cocks her head to one side. "Or maybe you want me running around like Daredevil up in Hell's Kitchen, huh?" Then she feels a bit of warmth touch her cheeks at Frank's appreciation of her color combinations, and she shrugs her shoulders as she settles back beside him. Her lips settle into a line, pressed together tightly. "We're running low on wins," she tells him quietly. "I don't know. John ghosted me, and Dinah's juggling so much, too. The Bat Family is just stretched. I haven't seen Batman in months, or any of the Titans. I feel like I've got so much going on, I've lost track."

"Well, first I'd get rid of the shot magnet on your chest," Frank reaches out to tap one finger into the middle of the dull bat symbol, "But that's not about being tactical, is it? Then I'd get rid of the cape, but I've already gotten on you about that…" He chuckles dryly, only to have it fade away at her quiet words, "You were almost as annoying as Hornhead. At first." He draws in a breath, then lets it out, "You get Willhelmina Tell under control yet? She might be able to help out if you could trust her." He shifts on his feet, his shoulders grating quietly against the rough siding behind him, "You need to sweep some of the street level shit clean. I'd say get 'em off the streets for good, but then I think you'd try to throw me off the roof. But if you're treading water in a tank, and every bit you splash outta the tank gets poured right back in? You put 'em away, they come back, Red." But that's an old argument, and there's not much heat behind it. Nor is there much heat behind, "Shitty of him to do that to you. Hope he had a good reason."

The suggestions are met with a growing smirk that finally includes a slightly arched brow, unseen behind the eye holes of her cowl. "Yeah, so you'd get rid of everything that makes me a Bat." Then she twists to rest back against the wall. Her eyes skim up to the skies that continue to open up over the gray, dismal city. His words distract her a moment, and a laugh escapes with a low and soft note. "Yeah. I would. You know the rules of Gotham City. That's not changed in the last few months." Then her lips curve in a higher smile. "At least this time you won't have to tie me to a pipe to get answers."

"Yeah. Because taking on an identity isn't tactical," says the Punisher. "But it's got it's uses," he admits. "I'm mostly shitting with you, Red. You've been doing the vigilante shit a lot longer than I have." That's… pretty much admission that Frank is a vigilante now. "Yeah, I know the Gotham rules." It's a grumble, but not one with any real venom in it. The smile, however, causes him to chuckle, glancing over at her, "See, I thought you liked being tied to a pipe, Red. You certainly didn't seem to mind. Might as well have been sitting in your living room for as worried as you looked."

"Is this when we talk about the giant white skull spray painted on some black tactical armor?" Batgirl says this to the Punisher with ease and a small twitch of a smile. Then she snorts. "Of course you're flipping me shit." She crosses her arms at her chest once more as her blue gaze stares unfocused into the rain. "If you're going to be doing the vigilante gig here though you're definitely going to need to follow the rules." Then, with a tip of her chin, she's back to smiling that easy smile his way. "You had my mind racing and adrenaline going, but you forget that I enjoy that rush." Though there's a hint of amusement that reflects in her eyes.

"Nope," Frank deadpans in response to her inquiry about the skull. "That's psyops." He reaches out to give her shoulder a light shove, and then nods, "Yeah. This is where I say I'm not a vigilante." He blows out a breath, "Yeah. I know the Gotham rules. I've only broken them…" he pauses, then shakes his head, "A couple of times. And mostly by accident." Except that one beauty of a shot from across the river. But that doesn't count, does it? He was outside of Gotham at the time. Just his target was inside the city. "Yeah, and so you've been getting bored with magical idiots who don't know how to run, so there's no good chase, and who aren't smart enough to be scared of the badass Batgirl?" He chuckles quietly, "I didn't know then. What've you been doing for fun when you don't have a convenient idiot to chase?"

"And what do you think this is?" Barbara needles him companionably as she gestures to the yellow symbol on her chest. Then she shakes her head with another tug of a smile at her lips. Only then does she rest her head back with an upward tilt of her chin. "I wouldn't say that I'm getting bored. I would say that I'm deciding that I need to keep my head down." Her eyes flicker over to him. "I think that's why John ghosted me… to draw the magical idiots away from me. And Dinah. She took it pretty bad when they attacked the house." Then she realizes something she forgot to answer. "Oh! Tell! She's living with us now."

Frank nods companionably when Barbara compares the darkened yellow bat on her chest to his own white skull symbol. He's silent as he listens to her explanation, chuckling at the final point, "That's gotta be a lot of awkward Italian cursing." But then he lets that lie, a frown settling over his features once more. "Well, seeing Max might help with that. Usually does." He shakes his head slightly, "If he's playing Pied Piper, it seems to me that you should be able to get back to work without having to worry about keeping your head down." Looking slowly over to Barbara, he grunts thoughtfully, "You want me to poke around the rails so it doesn't draw any attention to you? Make sure everything's quiet? I bet I could get Mercer to come along." Not that he's talked to Owen yet, but… it's Owen.

Barbara's lips twitch slightly with amusement. "Yes. Things can get intense." Then she glances back down toward him with a slight arch of her brow. "Yeah, I think so." Then she looks back out at the rain. "I'm just not sure if he's going to come back. Usually he lets me know if he's going to be gone for a while. He hasn't." Babs frets at her lip briefly before she takes in a sharp breath and considers his offer. "Maybe. If you do, I'm coming with you."

Drawing in a slow breath, Frank nods, "You don't do that." The words are accompanied by a frown, but when she claims her right to come down into the tunnels with him (and maybe Owen), he studies her masked features, the youth, the uncertainty, the stubbornness, the intelligence… he nods, "The idea was to avoid drawing attention to you, Red," there's a little smirk to his lips, and he chuckles, shaking his head, "But hey, if you want to see what's up, I'm not gonna tell you you can't — this is your mission. I'm just offerin' to pinch hit."

"Don't do what?" There's a deep, lovely mischievousness in those words before a smile graces her lips. Then she shakes her head. "I should be there. Let them know I haven't forgotten about them." There's an air of disquiet that falls around the redhead before she pushes off the wall and pivots toward Frank on those dingy yellow heels. "A pinch hit?" Her head tilts slightly and the cowl hides the arch of her brow.

"Leave someone in the lurch." Frank's still not great at avoiding the heavy-hitting subjects. But he nods, looking over to Babs as she turns toward him, "Red, we gotta get you to see some sports that don't happen on wheels. Pinch hit's when someone steps in to bat for someone else." He glances to the apartment across the street, then looks back to Barbara, "Facing the shit that you're worried about head on… that's the only way I know how to do things. I'm not gonna tell you that you shouldn't be down there checkin' in on the Whispers. But if you decide you ain't ready, Red, I'll back that too."

"You're right. Not my style." Then at the description of the baseball term, the Batgirl offers a low, suppressed laugh. "Oh. Well, I wasn't expecting a baseball reference from you, Frank." Then she is settling into her stance, hip half-cocked to one side and her arms loose at her chest. "Something we have in common." Her voice is quiet. Then she nods soberly. "Talk to Owen, see if he wants to go back into the underground. If not, it can be just us two." There's another little quirk to her smile before she steps up close to Frank, hand gently resting on his chest. "Frank, I'm really glad you're back."

"Hey, it's one of the only productive things I did in high school." Baseball, that is. Frank nods at her statement of commonality, "Yeah. See what needs to be done, do it. Only way that makes sense to me." He nods at her suggestion, "Yeah. Maybe Luke too. But those guys have their hands full with registration." The touch to his chest draws a little nod, and a smile before reaches out to squeeze her elbow lightly, "Come on, Red. You don't need me here." He flashes a faint grin, "I'm good with you wanting me here. But you don't need it. You've got this shit locked down." His hand stays at her elbow, and he smiles, then looks up toward the north, "What the fuck's going to happen with the whole Registration thing, you think? If Luke and Snow White and Owen weren't taking sides, It'd just figure it wasn't any of my business."

The gentle hold on her elbow draws a warm smile to her lips, and she steps forward a bit closer before she nods gently. "I don't know about all that — I make some pretty bad decisions that need someone like you to get me out of hot water. But, I'm pretty sure that I'd want you around whether I needed you or not." Then she is laughing before she settles into more serious topics. Her eyes lift to meet his and she sighs out a breath. "Gotham has to be watching what happens… see if it will go the right direction to push for the same. Dad's doing his best… staying in the rules, while also trying to avoid actually catching Batman." Then she steps back. "I've been trying to keep things stable here; I haven't even thought about how things are going." She presses her lips together. "I should check."

"Everybody makes mad decisions, Red," Frank opines, "It's what you do after those bad decisions that matters." He squeezes her arm again lightly, then lets his hand drop away, "Yeah, that's gonna be some tough dancing, looking like you're trying to catch someone you really don't want to catch." Looking back up to the apartment across the way, he grunts thoughtfully, "I heard a lot of shit on the radio. Some ugly shit going on, but so far it's just guys," and gals, "tryin' to do their job. The Sentinels are kind of bullshit, but beyond that? I don't really want to go around fuckin' up people servin' their country because some assholes were scared of what powers can do."

Barbara's eyes linger on the Punisher for a heartbeat longer before she advances back out a step into the rain. "Destroying a Sentinel isn't going to upset my virtues." Then she casts him a small smile. "I should get back to patrol. Come by the house— bring Max. We will love to see both of you." Then she's slipping her grapple gun from its place on her belt.

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