Throwing Away Your Shot
Roleplaying Log: Throwing Away Your Shot
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The aftermath of the failed assassination of Agent Orange.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: August 10, 2019
IC Location: Somewhere in Upstate New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 31 Aug 2019 02:48
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The Punisher isn't sure which of them was more surprised. There was Agent Orange, standing in front of a big window in the palatial CIA safehouse that Morty Bennett led them to, drinking from a highball glass when the window in front of him sprouted a near-hole and spreading cracks from a high-caliber rifle round. And there was The Punisher, laying behind the high-caliber rifle half a mile away at the edge of the estate, looking through the scope to see that Agent Orange was still alive — and unhurt. The window had caught the bullet, soaking the kinetic energy, and hadn't given way. That wasn't just bulletproof glass, that was really good bulletproof glass. He works the bolt on the rifle, cycling another round into the chamber, but alarms are already blaring and men are spilling out of a door in the building, heading toward a helicopter. For a moment, he considers taking that second shot, seeing if he can get a round through the damaged window. But then he thinks of the redhead waiting in the van outside the estate, and his lips thin in a grimace. "Shit. Fuck." Shaking his head, he gathers up the rifle and the ejected cartridge, turning to run for the nearby woods before the guards can get airborne.

Five minutes later, they're driving away from the estate, onto quieter side roads where they can disappear beneath tree cover if needed. "Sorry, Red." He's riding in the passenger seat again, the rifle tucked carefully down between their seats where he can get it if he needs it. His eyes flicker to the side-view mirror, then he leans forward to look out the top of the windshield, "Window soaked the shot. Another one might've gone through, but I couldn't be sure." Frustration, anger, and even a bit of abashedness filter behind the rough words.

Barbara's only job was to be the wheels man. She kept the van running, her neck cowl tugged up to be that half-face balaclava. When she heard the alarms start to blare — they knew they would — she slammed the shifter into drive and waited with her left foot on break and right just hovering on the gas pedal. Then she spotted Frank rushing to the van and throwing himself into the back of the van. Even before he shut the doors, she's gunning the gas and the van turns out into the night.

He's apologizing, and she glances aside to him. Her lips tighten as do her hands on the steering wheel. She works her gloved hands around the leather, and then she nods once. "We expected bulletproof glass. He must have some high-grade glass." Probably something that's been churned out of the high tech firms. She has her guesses, and sadly one of them is Stark Unlimited or Alan Industries. She dodges the van down another backroad, and then makes a sudden turn that takes them into a lot with a barn. She parks the van close to the structure, killing the lights and the engine. This is just as the sounds of a helicopter closes in toward them. Now, her head thumps back against the headrest, and she closes her eyes. "He knows you're gunning for him now. And he's going to find out about the trace we put on Bennett's phone."

"Yeah. But this would've punched through the bulletproof glass they put in a fuckin' Humvee." Frank's anger is getting the best of him, and he twists his head around as the helicopter hammers past a short distance away, spiraling out from the safe house. It's out of sight, and he looks forward again, shaking his head sharply. Thumping the heel of his hand on the dash, Frank grimaces, "Damn it. He knows I'm after him, yeah. I won't get another shot like that, even if I could find a Barrett to take it with." Not that the Barrett would help, but he doesn't know that. Drawing in a breath and letting it hiss out as he tries to master the flaring rage, "Maybe he doesn't know how we followed Morty, but I wouldn't bet on it. Damn it." He looks aside to her, his brows furrowed, "I'm sorry, Red. I blew our chance. It'll be hard to get another one." Not impossible, but hard.

Barbara hears the anger — she sees the anger. Her own jaw sets a bit, and she's looking away, out into the dark fields of the midsummer farmland. Her breath comes in sharp, and then is let out slow. "We should have scouted the area, should have tried to get him outside." They didn't know, couldn't have known, but Babs is turning this in on herself. "I should have dug into the house more, gotten a layout, something." She rubs slightly at her forehead as she leans her head back. She opens her eyes to look at the ceiling. "We track him, we wait." But, just like Frank, Babs is discounting how hard it will be to track a trained spook who knows he's being tailed. "Maybe I can look into this Micro guy. He got the video, maybe he can help us track Agent Orange." It's all maybe this and maybe that, and finally Babs slams the flat of her palm against the top of the steering wheel. "Goddamnit." Her elbow sets onto the edge of the wheel, hand in a fist that bangs against it once more before she stretches back into her seat again.

Frank's eyes track the sweep of the helicopter overhead, his left hand on the stock of the rifle between them. But the sound fades, and he looks around the darkened interior of the barn. "Bullshit, Red." He only waits a moment, then pops out of his seat, ducking out the door so that he can pace. "We didn't have time for all that." He comes back to the open door, resting his hands on the inside of the door, just below the window. "Fuck. God damn it." The heel of his hand hammers on the inside of the door again, and then he turns away, studying her, "You're the best hacker I know, Red. It gonna be easier for you to track another hacker, or some numbnuts REMF?" Which isn't exactly what Agent Orange is, but he pauses then, some instinct turning his head back the way they came, his eyes narrowing, "He wasn't in some shitty hideyhole. He was in a fuckin' palace. This ain't some guy hiding out analyzing intel for a living. If we can find out who the fuck he is, we'll be able to find him."

Frank pops up the passenger door, and she turns toward while unbuckling her seatbelt. She watches him with those steady blue eyes, and only looks away briefly when he starts hammering on the door. Her eyes flicker away toward the skies briefly, as if waiting for another chopper to pass overhead. It doesn't, so she relaxes just a hair. He's looking at her again, and she feels his eyes on her. She looks down at her legs, and her hands rub up and down the outside of her thighs. "I don't think he's some stupid REMF, Frank. I think that we're going to need to make the assumption that this guy is high up… he was able to get a whole slew of people in on smuggling drugs from Afghanistan to the States without raising an eyebrow." Frank looks behind him, and Babs looks toward him. She studies him now, watching the anger flex his jaw and throat. She can see the harried, mission-oriented brain taking over. She's losing him to it, but she starts to question if she would get in his way — the way she had at the start. She pops the driver side door, and steps out, slamming it behind her. The redhead paces around the front of the car, hand trailing along the still-hot hood so she can stand opposite of him, the open passenger door between them. "I can start to dig, but it's going to take time."

Frank gains that drawn arrow tautness to him, his right hand resting on top of the open door and his index finger tapping idly as he looks past the back of the van, toward the road outside the barn and the road back toward the safehouse, "He's definitely a REMF, Red. He's a paper pusher. He's not the kind to get his hands dirty." As she comes around the front of the van, he slowly turns back toward her, his trigger finger still tap-tap-tapping. "My last mission with Cerberus was an ambush. We got intel that a high-value target was in an outlying village, in terrain where we couldn't land choppers. They were drawing us outside of support so they could cut us off and cut us up." She's heard some of this in the interviews with Schoonovers, interviews that Zane arranged. "We got our people back," most of them, "and we're still with the corpsmen, good boys screamin' in pain, and he comes up and asks, cool as can be, if we got the target. The people he sent out into an ambush didn't even register, it was just about the result." There's a pause, "That's when I gave him the eye." The milky eye that doesn't work anymore. "Bill pulled me off before I could finish the job, ruin my career." There's a bitter snark behind those words, considering that he decided not to reenlist shortly after that. "Yeah, he's definitely a bigshot, but he's also definitely a rear echelon motherfucker." His anger still has him flexing and loosing his jaw, his hand tight on the top of the door except for that ever-tapping finger, "Way I see it, we got two ways to play this. One: we dive deep, go outta sight, while you find him, then we go on the offensive. Two: we make ourselves obvious, draw him in, deal with whoever he sends and see if we can trace 'em back to him. Maybe hit things that're important to him to make sure we got his attention." If a bullet to the glass right in front of his face wasn't enough already.

Barbara turns pensive, her expression strained into something hard, but guarded. She comes around the door a bit, taking that barrier between them. Her hand settles around the frame of the opened window. He recounts those events — events she heard Schoonover give to Zane. Frank fills in the missing pieces — the why they were there, and what Agent Orange was hoping to achieve sending his men into a mission that was, by definition, a suicide mission. Her lips thin as Frank paints the after-action picture. "Frank. You saved those men, you got them out. Agent Orange sent you all in to die." Schoonover, too. That is something that she will worry about later. Something in the back of her mind is twisting around the pieces that don't quite fit yet — like why send your squad into a mission like that unless you didn't want any of them to get out. Then Frank is laying out their options, and she's rubbing at her brow as she turns away from him. He's tight, drawn to be released, waiting to be guided. "If we don't move fast, he will go underground." She knows this. "But, we can't just throw ourselves into this without having a plan, Frank." She turns to him, hands now hooked along the back of her neck. "Let me see what I can dig up. We still have that trace on Bennett's phone. As long as they don't find it, we can monitor at least Bennett… and maybe Orange, too."

"He was too stupid to see it." Not stupid really, just not tactically aware. Frank squeezes tight on the top of the door, then turns toward her as she comes around it. "He wasn't tryin' to get us killed, he just didn't see the risk, 'cause he wasn't goin' with us." He looks from her to the rifle between the seats and back, "The ends justify everything for a shithead like that." Which is a little hypocritical of Frank, since he's breaking ethical and moral rules to eliminate people who need eliminating. She turns away from him, and then back, and he nods, "We'll need to double-check everything we get, make sure it's not a trap." He can see the strain in her features, as clear as his own, and he steps closer, one hand reaching down to her waist and the other up to the fingers laced at the back of her neck, "We'll get him, Red. I got faith in you. I got faith that you can find him no matter where he goes. You find him, I finish him. Finish them both, but Orange is the more dangerous one."

In that moment, Babs has a hard time convincing herself that Frank's wrong. She knows his code as well as she knows hers, but hers is starting to feel less sure — less tight. Was it ever really her code to begin with, or just rules imposed by her mentor? She shifts slightly aside like she's going to step away, but then there's Frank. Her head tilts up as she looks up into his dark eyes, and her fingers becomes more relaxed at the touch of his. "I know." Her hands slip away from her neck, abandoning his at that long graceful arch beneath the fall of her braided red hair. She tilts her head slightly back against his hand, and her hands settle against his chest, against the vest that bears the skull — his skull. She looks down at it — a symbol Frank chose. Someone shot him in the head, and this was the symbol he chose. "I want to be there, Frank. He killed Zane. He might have not had the knife, but he was behind it. I'm going to be there, Frank." She had told him those words when he was gunning for Schoonover, to extract his revenge. But this time, he's going to take her along to extract hers.

Frank watches the changes come over Barbara's face, his fingers tense at the back of her neck and just above the unbranded utility belt she wears in her Red persona. She looks down at the rough and blood-stained design on his vest, the white spraypaint that has become his own calling card for the criminal element of New York City. He can see the moment where she makes his choice, and he just nods, not in triumph, not in relief, just in acknowledgement. "Okay." There's no hesitation, "We got a shot, you can be my spotter. We can practice outside the warehouse without a weapon, or Upstate with one. We don't get a shot, you're damn right you're comin' in with me. Anyone who was in on it, they're dead." It's not a challenge to her, the way he says it. It's a promise.

Babs nods sharply, and then she curls her hands along the ribs of his vest as she steps in close. It's intimate despite the dark clouds that brew over both of their heads. She presses up through the balls of her feet slightly to alight her lips on his. It isn't a kiss that relishes in their upcoming violence, but instead reforges the connection. She's with him. What comes next is not just Frank's mission, but hers, too. The kiss does not linger unless Frank presses for it, and her hands tighten just under his armpit, where she can feel the edge of the vest hooks her fingers.

When Babs leans in, Frank's fingers loose some of the rigidity and tighten closely at the softer clothing covering her frame. Leaning into the kiss, he lets it break long enough to press his brow to hers, then his thumb slips around from the side of her neck to nudge her jaw and bring her lips back up to his. His own frustration from the miss boils out into the kiss, the sharp bitterness of failure mixing with and cut by the bright glow of the love they've come to share. That second kiss does linger as he pours his own emotions into the connection she has reforged, not holding back but letting her feel all of his frustration, love, disappointment, anger, concern, care, and everything else roiling within him.

Her brow presses back into his, and she savors that short moment before he's pulling and guiding her back up into another kiss. Her breath catches a bit, and now she's giving into those emotions, letting him pour them through that kiss while she takes it on. The kiss stretches on in this blackness out in the field in upstate New York. There's very little light as she turned off the dome light while they were being covert. Her other arm slips around his shoulders, and she's hauled up against him so that there's very little air between them. Now she sinks back, and the hand at the edge of his vest instead lifts to gather the side of his jaw. "Come on. I can drive us back to Jersey." Which is another soft resignation that they won't be returning to the cabin, to give each other a respite. There's a lead that might still be hot to chase, and it burns around the edges of their hearts.

There's a moment where Frank could just let all of those emotions overtake him, sweep both of them into a tangle of limbs in the back of the van, but he reins it in, his breath coming quick and strong when he lifts his lips from hers. He can hear the resignation, the surrender of that respite, and he nods slightly, his brow just touching hers with the inclination of his head. His fingers tighten a moment at the corner of her jaw, and then he lets his hand trail away, "I got it, Babs. You can rest. I know you'll be hittin' the computer as soon as we get back." Slowly, carefully, he lifts up to press a kiss to her brow, then steps back, his lips and eyes tight with the restraint of the emotions boiling in the depths of his dark eyes.

They're both showing restraint. Her own breath is tight in her chest, and she holds tighter onto him a moment before she releases him, settling back onto her heels. Her eyes close and she savors in the touch of his lips to her brow. Then she slips back from him and gives a short little nod. "Okay." She taps his vest and offers a quiet smile, looking up into that storm of emotion in his eyes. Then she steps past him so she can climb into the passenger's seat.

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