A Couple of Leathernecks Catch Up
Roleplaying Log: A Couple of Leathernecks Catch Up
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Frank's back in town, and he catches up with Luke.

Other Characters Referenced: Owen Mercer, Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, Barbara Gordon
IC Date: May 27, 2019
IC Location: Luke's, Harlem, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 13 Jun 2019 06:28
Rating & Warnings: Light R for language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

No matter what state the city is in, one thing remains true: people need to drink to either celebrate or mourn it. It's the end of a busy holiday night, Memorial Day bringing out both sorts to raise a glass or pour one out for those to be remembered. The metal hatch in the sidewalk just outside the bar is open, the stairs leading down into the basement exposed. Luke's on his third trip up to the trash pile on the curb, not that he can't carry all the bags in one load, but because they simply won't fit through the opening if he piled them all in his arms in a single go.

He adds to more to the trash heap, and a third labelled for recycling before pauses and looks up at the top floor of his building, smiling slightly at the light that's shining from the office window.

Frank Castle has been out of town for months. He gave Luke some warning before he left, saying he had to get out of town to deal with the shitbirds who attacked him. Now here's Luke taking out the trash, and then there's Frank, his beard close-trimmed and a ball-cap tucked down low over his face. He's got a shiner, but he's moving easily enough. "Hey." The word is spoken quietly, in the same gravelly tones that sound like a pack-and-a-fifth-a-day habit. "Sorry for disappearing." There's something even a little reticent about the greeting and apology, but nothing of the sort from Max, who comes bounding to the end of his leash, whuffing at Luke and wagging his tail wildly.

Luke isn't the sort that startles easily, so at that voice there is just a slow turn on his heel to face it. His expression is stoic and flat, perhaps a bit more hardened than when the last time they cross paths. He's still processing the fact that Frank Castle is standing in front of him, a narrowing of his eyes that all dissipates when Max comes popping to the end of his leash.

"Hey boy!" Of course it's the dog that Luke greets first, dropping to a knee to scrub both of his hands along the scruff of the animal's neck. From his lowered position, brown eyes turn up. "Rook."

The hardened edges around Luke's expression tighten Frank's lips, and he nods slightly, "Heard it was gettin' rough around here." He looses the leash, and Max starts slobbering and saying hello properly to Luke. Frank shifts his feet, then glances down the alley behind him, "Sorry I haven't been here to back you up." He seems at a loss for words for a moment, shaking his head and watching man-mountain and dog greet one another. Finally, he adds in, "Been dealing with my own shit. Didn't want it to spread to you guys, but it sounds like you've got plenty of your own shit to deal with."

Luke accepts a lick to the face, and gives the dog one more ruffle before he straightens up to his full height, nearly a head taller than the man known as Punisher. At the explanation, Luke drags his hand down his face, fingers smoothing around the edge of his goatee before they fall off his chin. There's just a shake of his bald head, and then he's stepping out with a wide expanse of his arms to envelope the other man - like it or not - and give him the biggest of bear hugs. "I ain't mad."

Frank may have actually been worried there. He's a man who doesn't fear much, but the loss of family — found instead of formed in this case — even he knows that might have crushed him. He returns the hug readily and fiercely, clapping the bigger man on the back. "Yeah well. I'll see if I can't fix that." It might even be a joke. It probably is. Giving Luke a cuff on the shoulder that Cage probably can barely feel, he shrugs, "Can I give you a hand with the trash? Fill me in, yeah? Red's got some shit down in Gotham, apparently, and I'm still trying to figure out what the hell's going on with these assholes that took a shot at me, but I got time to help out a brother."

Luke returns the cuff on the shoulder by palming Frank's ballcapped head and giving a little twist back and forth of the cap. "I'm all done here, let's get you off the street." His head hitches towards the hatch, then heads that way, letting the man and his dog head down first before closing the heavy metal plate and locking it from the inside.

Once they are encapsulated in the staircase leading down to the basement, Luke starts to talk. "First thing you need to know is SHIELD might have eyes on this place because I technically work for them now, so come and go at your own risk and only through here. You still got the code? Course you do." His boots ring on the metal treads as he drops his large frame down each one. "Jess and I have also taken to smuggling Metas out of the city, so your old cot in the safe room is occupodo."

Frank chuckles at the return gesture, straightening out his cap with a dry grin and then ducking down to scoop up the end of Max's leash. "Hey, it ain't like the Feebs are lookin' for me." And once the door shuts, "They are, of course." Then he listens instead of talking, following Luke down into the basement. The news of SHIELD draws a grunt, "Pretty sure they don't give a shit about me. But I won't draw any more heat down on you and yours." He nods to the question, and then to the explanation of their Underground Railroad efforts, "Now why don't that surprise me?" That is accompanied by another smirk, "I need my own place anyhow. Gotta do some resupply and logistics." There's a pause, "How bad is it? I mean, I know I'm not…" he shrugs, not saying 'meta,' "…but those Sentinels? That shit ain't right."

"The key words there are 'any more'." Heat that is. It feels as if this summer in New York is positively stifling, and not just because of the weather. Luke leads Frank through the trash area which serves both the bar and the apartment building above and to the 'employees only' area that houses things like the broiler unit and now what has been set up as a work shop of sorts for Luke where he can tinker with his bike that isn't in his dining room. It's also a place he can go when Jess is working in her home office and needs to get out of her hair that isn't the bar. There is a coffee pot on the work bench, and he blows a stream of air into a coffee cup to make sure it's acceptable before filling it for Frank. "You mean, besides instigating law abiding citizens into rioting just so they can be arrested? Or sending a Sentinel after one Meta we were running across the state line. It's bad, bad."

"That shit's as old as police," the first part, about instigating unrest to arrest those causing it. Frank shakes his head, "Classic fuckin' abuse of power. It's why there's people like you." There's a pause and he grimaces a little, "Or me." So someone has finally (almost) admitted to being a vigilante. He takes the coffee cup with a nod of thanks, cradling it under his face to breathe in the heavenly aroma of Almighty Caffeine. There's a thoughtful pause as he looks around the area, side-eyeing the furnace briefly before he turns his dark, intent gaze back to Luke, "So what are you doin' about 'em, Luke?"

"I'm treading carefully, is what I'm doing." Luke explains as pours himself his own cup of coffee and leans against the workbench that's littered with tools and miscellaneous hardware. No doubt it doubles as the maintenance room for the building, most of which Luke handles on his own. "We managed to dispatch that Sentinel and put it out of commission before it could report back. But SHIELD did me a solid. They cleared my name. My record. In return they own me for a year, on terms negotiated by Nelson & Murdock with my consent. So it's a fine line, I'm walking. And Jess too because we're Registered."

Frank sips coffee, frowning in thought, "You're gettin' metas out of New York, but you're also workin' for SHIELD for a year. That's one fucked up chain of command, man." There's a pause, "Unless SHIELD ain't behind the registration. I gotta say, that's one group I've managed to stay off their radar." More or less. "So you need to make sure there's no record of you bein' involved in any meta escapes." He considers, but not for long at all, "You need cover, you let me know. I only got a couple of AP," armor piercing, "rounds left for my rifle." Singular. He had a dozen or so before. He's been busy. "But I need to resupply anyhow. Glad your record's cleared. Must be a weight off your back."

"From what I can tell, SHIELD is divided, but as they're not an NYC based agency, they're just playing along to the extent necessary." Luke picks up a wrench, idly hanging it back on the pegboard. "I know it was a deal with the devil, but this way I was able to legally change my name to Cage and when Jess and I finally tie the knot, I can sign the license with pride. You know, whenever that's going to happen. I had a plan, but you know what they say about those."

Frank's eyes narrow ever-so-slightly at the mention of SHIELD being divided, but he nods slowly, soaking up the information as he goes. "There's a whole lot worse than them out there, man." Frank will probably have to eat those words later, at some point, but for now, that intent, considering look fades away, and he nods, rubbing at his bearded jaw, "That's great." For a man whose wife and kids were killed a year ago, he sounds genuinely pleased, "I assume Mercer's throwing the bachelor party? Because if he isn't, you should probably make him at least plan it." His amusement fades away again, however, and he nods slowly, crouching down to give Max some rubs and loves, "Being able to be proud of who you are, that's big, man."

"Mercer isn't exactly in the best position to be doing jack about the wedding, man. And like I said, I sort of mentally put things on hold until things calm down. And I know," Luke makes a 'calm down' gesture, even though Frank hasn't protested anything yet, "I know. There's going to be no such thing as the 'right time' but two registered metas getting married isn't exactly keeping a low profile either. Luke fists a hand back around his coffee cup, which looks like it's from a child's tea set in his great paw, "But yeah, Carl Lucas is officially dead. As far as I'm concerned now, he died back in Seagate and Luke Cage was born. It means everything can be legal now, me owning this building. Jess and I's stock portfolio. Everything. And then one day, our kids'll be legit too."

Frank shifts just in time for Luke to make the placating gesture, then shrugs a little, taking another sip of the coffee. "Only if you manage to get married before they come along." Shit flipped. His amusement fades a little as he speaks from experience, but it doesn't drag him down, "One in the oven has a way of changing your timeline real fast. I get it though." Letting Max flop down on his side, Frank rises to his feet, finishes off the cup of coffee and sets the cup down on the end of the bench where he can snag it on the way out. "So what's up with Mercer? And Snow White and everyone? I'm seriously out of the loop unless it made national news or involves shadowy-ass groups of independent contractors."

"Kids, just like a wedding, are something that's going to have to be put off until we can afford to be selfish again. Who knows when that's going to be." Luke takes a sip of coffee, frowning at the dark liquid inside the cup as he ponders the answer to Frank's question about the what the others have been up to. "Mercer barely survived his last bender and I still don't know if he's clean again. Jess is …depressed, but who can blame her. She sleeps a lot, works a lot less, and I'm walking on egg shells around her to make sure she doesn't fall off the wagon. Good times."

Frank laughs wryly at the first comment, "Shit, man. Raising kids is about the least selfish thing you can do. Everything goes to the kid." But then the news comes in, and he grunts more sourly, "Yeah. Sounds like too long in the suck. Need some leave, or you're gonna dull your edge." He shrugs a little helplessly, "Sounds dumb, taking time off to keep yourself sharp, instead of keeping your nose to the grindstone, but you gotta do it. You remember, even in the Corps, when they're desperate for bodies, they give us leave. And this shit's got to cost an arm and a leg. What about a benefit. For some shit that can't be tied straight to this. Ladies' Night went real well, right? Have a little fun, raise some money for resupply that can't be tied to your billionaire buddy." He snorts, "Hell, I'll even babysit Mercer… I mean, as much as anyone can."

Luke rumbles a low non-committal, "Mm." To Frank's assessment about children and he glances away. "What, man, Jess and I are just supposed to go vacation in Tahiti? Recharge the batteries with some sun and mojitos? Not gonna work that way, besides, we have enough down time with the whole keeping our head down thing. And it's not a time that people really feel like celebrating and cutting loose. The last lady's night? Place was crawling with Metas. Can you imagine if that happened again? It'd be like setting ourselves up for a raid."

"Hell no. But you could take an overnight trip outta town." Frank shrugs a little helplessly, "There are actually some real nice back-country roads out there. I mean, not so nice when you've got a job to do, but when I was just goin' from one place to another? Some of that shit was real nice. Might be a good way to keep your head down too." He nods slowly, "But yeah, I get it." The mention of a raid causes him to shift, glancing down at Max and then back up to Luke, his right index finger twitching slightly, "How do they do raids? Is it just cops and Sentinels? Is it Registered metas?"

"They're Rafting the Registered ones too, given the first, tiniest little excuse. But enough about us, Rook. How the H-e-double hockey sticks have you been, man? Your little walkabout give you any insight into your problems? Clean up any of your own past?" This asked as Luke untwists the top of a bottle of half-empty water, splashing the liquid into a shallow dish and lowering it to the ground for Max.

Max hauls himself up to his feet to waddle over to the dish, lapping thirstily at it. Frank frowns, "That's some bullshit. You obey the law, it's supposed to protect you, not screw you." At the questions about his own trip, however, he shrugs, "Saw a whole lotta road. Saw a whole buncha people. Some of them didn't want to answer my questions. Turned a lotta people over to the cops, for all the good it'll do. Got more questions than I started with, but a couple'a answers too. Still don't know why they're comin' after me, but I know that some of them didn't even know who I am, so that means that I'm dealin' with somethin' big. Real big. Bigger than that blue shit in Gotham harbor big."

There's a bit of a helpless shrug from Luke, which for the big man is more of a tectonic shift of shoulder blades. "I still believe in the system, but just like anything it can be corrupted. And right now the politicians are listening to their devils on their shoulders and in their pockets instead of their angels. And it's going to take more than a bunch of unorganized Metas and their supporters to fix it. Never thought I'd feel small, man, until now."

Luke reaches out to clap Frank on the shoulder again. "So I get the 'real big' part. If you need a bulletproof brotha, you know where to find me. You wanna come up and see Jess? I bet she could use the distraction."

"So think big." Frank's advice is sometimes frightening — or frustratingly — direct. "They're organized, they've got money, you need organization and money." He shrugs a little helplessly himself. "I don't know shit about gettin' that, but if that's what they've got, then you either need that too, or you need to go asymmetric. Get the people on your side, hit 'em where it hurts and fade back into the people." Frank rocks easily under the slap on the shoulder. "Yeah, you know me. I try not to get people in trouble until I need it. But you need a brother who's got the bullets," he smirks a little dryly at that, letting out an amused breath, "you still got my number." Not long before he left, he would have demurred from the offer. Now he considers, shrugs, then nods, "Yeah. Sure man. Be good to see another friendly face." Again, the dry humor returns, "or at least a familiar one."

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