A Profitable Partnership

March 06, 2018:

Wilson Fisk has a five-person problem in the Kitchen. The Brotherhood might just have a solution, for a price.

Hell's Kitchen, NYC

Home to dirty deeds (but they don't come cheap).


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, Six, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

There has been some odd activity in Hell's Kitchen as of late, and not sanctioned activity by those who would stake claim to rule the neighborhood. The usual suspects have been at work — the Chinese, the Russians, the Irish and Italians — but there are some new faces doing business. New faces that aren't always fully human.

The Brotherhood is secretive about its work, but no matter how clandestine they are — whether through skill or the abuse of mutant powers — word always travels through the grapevine nonetheless. Especially since some of the transactions that have gone down have involved weapons pilfered from SHIELD trading hands. What the mutants want in return is a little hard to discern for certain through word of mouth alone, but the general shape of it simply seems to be… space. Space to operate. Space to hide out.

Now, any mafia of any stripe you might look at — no matter the mother nationality — will always be rather tribal in nature. Nature of the beast. They barely tolerate other humans of various ethnicities… tolerating another species entirely is beyond most of them. The Russian mob, in particular, thinks they can get one over on this disorganized fray of mutant whelps, who presume to call themselves the Brotherhood. The mistake this particular group makes, however, is in trying to swindle the new leaders of New York's Brotherhood.

Not that they present obviously as leaders, at first. Seated across the table from the mobsters, here in the backroom of a restaurant that is a relatively known front for the Bratva, the young silver-haired man and his twin sister look innocuous as far as mutants go: almost indistinguishable from human. The towering woman standing sentry at their shoulders is a hint… but nothing overt is stated.

Not until a flicker of the Scarlet Witch's red eyes discerns the duplicity at work behind those false smiles, and Quicksilver — annoyed — speaks up to Frenzy. "Honest men get to walk out of our presence. Liars crawl."

Leg breaking no doubt ensues. Pietro cocks an eye at his sister, waiting for the backroom to be cleared. "We didn't ask for that much," he remarks, mildly affronted.

Frenzy is many things; woman, mutant, believer, Acolyte, and muscle.

It's the last part that she enjoys immensely. A chance to flex her muscles, if you will, and against such trash as the mob.

She stands there an unsmiling, unflinching sentinel, and it's only as Pietro speaks directly to Frenzy that her expression shifts. She looks down at the silver-haired man and then the red-eyed woman and then Frenzy smiles.

It's a flash of straight white teeth and then that feral expression turns to the men who sit across from the twins. Her voice is almost a lazy drawl as she finally speaks, "I suppose we'll be the only ones walking out."

And like a coiled snake Frenzy strikes. For a woman of her size her movements are quick and snappy, as she lunges forward; fingers curl into the first man's collar and with a yank the man is out of the chair. Then the screaming starts. It's not long before the rest is dealt with.

It's only after the dust settles, figuratively, that Frenzy says simply, "I hate liars."

As well as playing storeroom for most of the busy restaurant's vast wine collection, as well as its weekly produce, the back room owns a vast, rich harvest of other things —

Namely a solitary table stacked with wrapped paper money, organized by the thousands, no doubt prepped to be laundered into the start-of-month accounting. And among piles of cash, is a small, delicate woman sitting up nimbly on the edge of the table, dressed well — a fine black dress and a long-brimmed hat.

Leaning back on her hands, legs crossed, red eyes half-hooded, Wanda Maximoff shares her twin brother's glance.

"Not much at all," she confirms, ever-agreeable. "But it is not the trade that sours them. They enjoy our weapons. They just don't care to do deals with — what was that you thought?"

Her red eyes slant town towards the men, lost in Frenzy's tall shadow. "Animals."

As the sounds of violence begin, heralded in agonized screams, Wanda averts her eyes. She busies herself with taking an opened merlot bottle from the table beside her, checking the label curiously, then offering it toward Pietro.

Mafias and mobs are tribal in nature.

One of the subtle powers that makes the man known as the Kingpin so dangerous is that he has always been able to find common ground where it matters. At the top. To coordinate these groups into an elaborate dance, one that allows him and his to profit. Which allows all of them to profit.

It is a combination of a few factors. Force of personality. Force of will. The keen, beady-eyed gaze of a born negotiator.

He has observed how the Brotherhood's own dance disrupts this careful choreography. Observed it from the place where spiders always observe: from the shadowed corner of his web, where his bloated form sits and spins, aware of the vibrations running up and down silken cords of thought and deed.

He has observed long enough. Now the dance must be reset.

He remembers both of these individuals, of course. He was there at their coming out gala, after all. He does not remember Frenzy, but he can see her work for himself, and it certainly informs whatever nasty equations must be unfolding in the twists and turns of his mind.

Usually the Kingpin does not come to others. He has them come to him. But it's been known to happen.

His cane clicks on the floor as he coldly sweeps his gaze over the forms of the broken toy soldiers of the Russian mob. "Vasha rabota byla plokho sdelana, Vassily," he comments to the titular leader of the limping thugs, his voice deceptively mild…though any who truly listened to it might hear the seething quality that runs through every word this man ever speaks.

A morbidly obese human with no real defenses, wrapped in the finest of bespoke ebony suits, a pair of too-cheap cufflinks on his wrist, a hint of perfect cologne on his skin, and blood which, despite the rage that drives him, runs at temperatures akin to the average crocodile's. He finishes navigating a field of wounded fools and raises his cane, rapping on the doorframe with his diamond tip. Just a man seeking a word.

Nobody knocks for animals, at least.

Usually the Kingpin does not come to others. But when he does bestir himself, there are few places to which he cannot command entry, in this neighborhood. The normal territorial boundaries do not apply to him.

Vassily knows this. He wouldn't raise his voice, even if he still had full use of his legs. Thus it is that he simply snarls back at Wilson Fisk, and takes himself and his soldiers back to lick their wounds and contemplate the shifting balance of power in Hell's Kitchen. The only words audible from his lips suggest a deep displeasure with the foul upstart brazenness of these animals…

Animals which enjoy a few moments of quiet with the wine left behind. Pietro smiles indulgently, first at Frenzy and her disgust for liars, then at his sister. It is unusual his sister comes second, but the reason why becomes clear when he lets his gaze linger on her. She hands him the opened bottle of merlot, and he pulls over a pair of glasses, pouring first for his sister, then for Joanna.

"Animals with taste. This is a good vintage," he says, amused, passing the glasses and keeping the bottle. "Wouldn't want it to go to waste."

The knocking at the doorframe brings him to sit up, suddenly alert. The door was not closed behind Frenzy's handiwork, and the impressive form of the Kingpin is readily visible, which is perhaps the only reason Quicksilver isn't out of his seat already. His eyes flicker over Fisk's features as he pages through his prodigious memory, recognition haunting his mind. The gala. This man was there, though he had kept mostly to himself.

Pietro considers, and then tilts the bottle. "I assume you're not here for the red," he quips.

An idle look is sent to the Twins and then JoJo settles near the pair again.

Her arms cross, showing off their impressive muscularity, before her attention spans the room.

It only returns to the Twins when Wanda hands the bottle to Pietro and then Pietro opens it. The glass of wine is considered and while taken, Frenzy eventually sets it back upon the table. Then she resolutely turns her eyes away from the drink and back to the room.

The movement at the door, as well as the knock, alerts Frenzy to the fact that they're no longer alone. It's enough to cause her to step forward slightly, to edge her body between Fisk and the Twins.

Her expression is back to something attentive, though flat, something that doesn't show much of what she's feeling. A professional mask in place while she waits to see what happens next.

Above all else, Wanda Maximoff has deliberate, attentive eyes — eyes that are everywhere, her glances quick and eely, and make sure to see all. See everything, even the dark side of the world beyond the trappings of shape and texture and colour. Few details escape the extra sight of the witch.

Save for the violence. It is one thing she avoids, almost deliberately, her lashes lowering momentarily over her eyes. Perhaps an aversion to violence, egregious and bloody. Perhaps, in it, is a telescopic look back on her own past, her childhood — rich with it. Perhaps other reasons, and not that dissimilar from the way Frenzy resolutely turns her back on offered wine.

Instead, Wanda decorates herself with other things, handing the bottle over to Pietro, meeting the way he looks at her, her own eyes a flash of red through her lashes. 'Pretty please,' she mouths to her brother, as screams crescendo over the room.

He generously pours both women a glass, and the witch happily takes hers — as Frenzy leaves her own behind.

Wanda doesn't miss that, brief of a thing it is; she glances toward Pietro, but holds her tongue, instead wetting her throat on a mouthful of merlot. She exhales with pleasure. Good year.

But it is a moment cut short, as the woman turns her head, one red eye turned as a fourth comes to intercept their small group. Fisk arrives tall and imposing, his sheer size dominating much of the small storeroom, and the witch sizes him up in one long look.

Her sight feels along him: his energy, his mood, his past and future, and the river-current rush of his life. The edges of her fingernails click against her wine glass.

"It should be all right, Frenzy," reassures Wanda. "How may we be of service, mister…?"

"Fisk. Wilson Fisk."

He gives his name but carefully. Anonymity protects him. But among those who flaunt the law, who care little for the established order of things, the name is given. To his most important associates, the name is known.

He steps into the room and slides a check across the table. "I believe Vassily miscalculated the amount owed on the invoice." Outward pleasantness, outward gentility, beady unblinking eyes. He comes to a stop, his cane perhaps supporting him, just kind of there, at the other end of the table.

"I have come to rectify this. And to put forth that it might be more mutually beneficial for us to deal directly, in the future. So that there are fewer children, troubling you, earning themselves broken legs." He tips his head to Frenzy, acknowledging her efforts in that regard.

The man who just shrugged and walked out of the gala, a little sad for the ruined painting he'd wanted, as people had died and screamed and struggled.

Those deliberate eyes of Wanda's rest on her brother often, and affectionately. His own linger on her, equally attentive, equally doting. She mouths her little plea, and with an indulgent promptness he pours her a glass.

He pours for Frenzy, as well, though the Acolyte's polite refusal is noted. He tilts his head at her, curious. "Not when on business, huh…?" he wonders, but doesn't pry further. Not now — there are other things to see to, now.

Other things like that man who appears so suddenly in the doorway. Pietro sits up immediately, wary. Here is a man who comes through the departing Russian mob, into one of their businesses, with apparent impunity; a man who speaks to their leader with dismissive familiarity.

A man who gives his name as Wilson Fisk. Names are powerful things. This one is catalogued carefully, along with the way he talks of the avtoritet Vassily as if he were an underling.

How may we be of service? greets his more gentle-voiced sister. And Fisk speaks.

"I do prefer to cut straight to the top when it comes to things like this," Pietro replies. "Saves time. I hate wasted time." He leans forward, and a gesture invites Fisk to sit if he chooses. Another gesture indicates the wine, if he will take a glass.

"So what we've been trading has gone to you, Mr. Fisk." His voice carries the faint hint of a lingering accent, Eastern European. "What we asked in return was not much, though the children didn't seem to think vermin merited fair dealing. Of course, our companion here wasn't keen on that kind of talk — " a tilt of the head towards Frenzy — "…but you know our spiel. You must have heard it, at the gala."

Frenzy takes her responsibilities quite seriously and while she'd prefer to continue to block access to the Twins, Frenzy understands what game is being played here. She also understands her role in this particular play, as well as the Twins. And so, at Wanda's words of reassurance, Frenzy steps aside.

She becomes their shadow again as she settles slightly behind the two and once more, their large shadow becomes a stone-faced sentinel.

She stands with back straight, arms crossed, even as her brown eyes follow the man, as he makes his way inside. The check that's slid across the table earns a brief glance from Frenzy, but that's it. Then her gaze is back upon the rotund man and every move he takes.

The tilt of Pietro's head toward Frenzy earns a brief smile from the woman. Something that isn't at all friendly, it's just a twist of her lips upward.

Glass of wine still in hand, Wanda extends the other toward Pietro; a silent request for his assistance to help her rise up from the tabletop, and back to her feet. Now that they are in mixed company, it won't do with lacking manners.

Among the tall, lean shape of her brother, and the powerful frame of Joanna Cargill, Wanda looks like a slip of a woman among them, dark-skinned and wearing blac, a tiny, living shadow with the only splash of colour at her fiercely-bright, scarlet eyes. She holds a peaceful silence in the wake of Pietro's greeting words, strong and clean and implying the reasons the Brotherhood has stole into enemy territory —

— and made themselves, through license of welcome, right at home.

But the Maximoff twins are a single working unit, a counterbalance of each other's weaknesses, and while Pietro goes right to the quick — no want to do anything but get right to the point — Wanda has the leisure for frivolities.

With a hand on Pietro's arm, she offers Wilson Fisk her most gracious of smiles, and it lights up all of her softly-featured face. "Mr. Fisk, it is a pleasure," she speaks, in her voice the same distant, East European accent of a non-native speaker. "You may call me Wanda Maximoff. This is my brother, Pietro. It is appreciated you would come speak to us. What my brother speaks is the truth. We come asking for little, no more than accomodation; we are not all what the media portrays us. Murderers of humanity. But we cannot abide disrespect. Or unfairness."

He chooses to sit, but only after he offers Wanda and her courtesy a small bow. "A pleasure to meet you," he says. He, too, prefers civilities, no matter how thin a veneer over the blades they obscure. "Ms. Maximoff, Mr. Maximoff. Ma'am." That last for Cargill. "None understands better than I the need to react quickly and with predjudice to disrespect and unfairness. If I thought you were murderers of humanity…" A faint smile touches his lips. "It would be foolish of me to make my way here to parlay."

He is not a man known for his foolishness. He turns his attention, now, to Pietro, and his own words.

"What you asked in return, you will have again," Fisk agrees. "Space to operate, yes? And your funds, fairly delivered. This incident will not repeat now that I have realized the grave missteps of my people. You have my apologies. I have always felt it important to remain a man of a certain sort of integrity." For. Any given value of integrity, but there are certain ways this man conducts business that are reliable enough. "Sometimes, certain sorts, they like to push boundaries."

And with that, he waves one enormous hand as if to literally wipe the Russians away, like marks off a white board. "As it happens, I may have more to spend my money on than purloined technology, though I am happy to continue buying that. I have been pleased by the pieces. I have problems you may be particularly suited to solve. Problems I am happy to compensate you for solving. Whether these individuals die, earn enough pain from you to stay out of my affairs from now on, or are simply kept far too busy to continue poking at my affairs is of little consequence to me. A short list of people, mostly concentrated in the Kitchen…or connected to those who are. A few will look like mutants, but they are no brothers and sisters of yours. Some of them came into contact with an experimental substance, lived to tell the tale, and gained abilities as a result. A few I am not sure have any inborn abiliities at all."

He flicks his wrist, a datacube, one of the purchases so recently made from SHIELD, falls to his massive palm. He taps it, and a series of holograms appear, along with loose dossiers, of five individuals the word on the street have begun to call 'The Defenders.' Five thorns in his side, five endless irritants. A man in a devil costume. A giant black dude. Danny Rand, whose face, after all, is on the news a lot. Some sort of helmeted cyborg who looks like she just emerged from a particularly effective Mass Effect cosplay. And a chick with a leather jacket and a sour expression on her face.

Wilson Fisk ticks one eyebrow upward, as if asking if they're up for it.

The courtesies fly fast and thick. As Fisk stands, so do the Twins unravel from their indolent lounging-about to stand politely in turn. Pietro first — as always — turning to hand his sister up to her feet a beat later. Only when the other man chooses to accept the invitation to take a seat do they return to their own.

Names are traded, as part of this. But there is one name that is not shared across the table. Fisk was gracious to give his, and so the Twins give theirs in reciprocal politeness, but the identity of the woman who guards them they hold close, for now. Best not to lay all the cards on the table, and the continued anonymity of Joanna Cargill may be useful before long.

That Pietro remembers his courtesies that far is probably the influence of his twin sister. Once her attention on him lapses, he's quick to drop back into old brusque habits, cutting straight to the chase on matters of business without any further niceties. Mr. Wilson Fisk is quite agreeable to continuing their transactions — though he has a further proposal for them. Additional funds, in exchange for harrying a certain infestation of heroic sorts in the Kitchen.

Fisk is clever to frame them as he does. Humans who gained their abilities from some substance. No mutants, no children of the atom, but upjumped flatscans who falsely appropriate and distract from the suffering of mutants. Pietro's eyes narrow markedly, his scorn for the very idea obvious, studying the holographic dossiers as they appear.

I don't like playing mercenary, he admits into his sister's mind. But when it's to buy safety for our people in Mutant Town… His gaze moves from image to image. Moreover, we'd do better to keep such people out of our business here, as well.

"I think our attentions could be spared," he says aloud, half-smiling. His gaze ticks lazily towards his sister and Frenzy alike. "What do you think?"

The ma'am earns a vaguely ironic tilt of Joanna's head, but like Pietro she doesn't offer her name. She continues to keep her lips deftly sealed, as she listens to what each person says.

When those holographic images appear, Frenzy's attention is momentarily distracted, as she considers the images and information alike. The mention of how some received their abilities brings a twist to Joanna's lips, a pinch to her eyebrows, but still she remains silent.

It's only when Pietro looks her and Wanda's way, and asks that last question that Frenzy finally says a few words. "It won't be a problem." And here, Frenzy crosses her arms against, her gaze flicking from Pietro, to Wanda, to Fisk and the holograms. "No problem at all."

Good graces go a long way with Wanda Maximoff; Wilson Fisk's bow meets with a pleased uptick of her lips, because it is not often the witch is treated kindly and properly like a lady.

She lingers at her twin brother's side — though for twins, they look as disparate as possible, him lean and tall and pale, and her slight and small and dusky — providing her own stabilizing influence when his impatience incites him forward like a wolf's jaws for the throat.

Wanda, for her part, has more than enough patience for both Maximoff siblings. Patience like falling snow, all the time of a woman who spent most of her life helpless, in the wings — waiting and watching and hoping for the day to embrace her own strength.

Now in the dawn of these days, she holds her place at Pietro's side, red eyes on the gift Mr. Fisk offers: information, to come with a business proposal. Her eyes slide to Pietro's at mention of how those "Defenders" were graced by their abilities, not born, not mutant. Facsimiles, lessers — did they even properly suffer for their blessings? Do they live every day as blights on the human stain?

The holographs lure Wanda closer, curious of them, something kittenish in the way she leans in at the waist, hands twined at the small of her back, and tilts her head at those images. She disentangles one hand to poke at one, a finger crackling the image of the man in the devil suit. Her smile sharpens, amused, impish. "Some more theatrical than others," she murmurs. "Not all can wear red well, I suppose."

Scarlet flickers in her eyes to Pietro's mental words. I agree, my brother. We will evaluate this as it comes. We will not be mercenaries for long.

''What do you think?'' her twin asks aloud. Straightening back up, Wanda glances back, light playing against the lenses of her eyes. Frenzy's words earn the woman an affectionate, gracious smile.

"Mr. Fisk," says Wanda kindly, "I think we may have a profitable partnership ahead of us."

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