To Whom Much is Given

June 23, 2018:

Frank Castle shows up at Alias Investigations. Personalities and agendas clash.

Alias Investigations, Hells Kitchen, New York

It's not the crap sack special it used to be.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

"I don't really do infidelity cases anymore…"

Jessica Jones sighs as whomever is on the other end of the phone cuts her off. She lights up a cigarette and opens the window behind her desk, smoking for patience. In ratty jeans and a olive green tank top, she isn't exactly dressed for success. Bare feet and messy hair. This is home as well as work, and she's not always exactly professional.

A deep breath. "Look, it's not legal to stick a GPS device on the back of her car if it's not in your name anyway. I'm not a fucking professionally paid stalker to begin with. And also? Dude? It doesn't even matter in divorce court. If you trust your wife this little, just fucking get an attorney already. No. Piss off. Good-bye. Buh-bye now…"

She hits end on the phone and drops it to her desk.

"Rapey son of a bitch," she grumbles.


Frank doesn't go anywhere he doesn't recon first. Unless he's mad. Nobody much likes him when he's mad. He gives Malcolm's door a glance as he goes past it, subconsciously shifting his shoulders to make it easier to turn in that direction if necessary. By the time that he's at the door to Alias Investigation, he can hear the voice inside somewhat, but the words elude him. He gives a knock on the door, then gives it a little push, "Ms. Jones." His voice is low, gravelly, "I've got a job."


Jessica Jones sizes up her apparent newest client. Picking out what she can. Military is already readily apparent, but that's all she can get off of him at this juncture. Either way, she doesn't judge him as an immediate threat.

"Come on in then," she says. "But if it's an infidelity case I'm throwing you out the window."

She only says it as half a joke. She gestures at the kitchen, vaguely. "Water? Coffee?"

Some days she's more professional, more diplomatic, but right now her patience is on edge.

The office, it's worth noting, is clean and homey. 19 months or so Frank would have come into the dilapidated shithole of a raging alcoholic. But this woman is sober, and has made an effort to make a clean, comfortable home out of her place. It's still a little spartan.


Frank opens the door more fully, stepping in and letting his eyes flick around the room, sizing the occupant up as readily as he's being sized up himself. His eyes go to the window, and he offers a bit of a crooked smile at her suggestion, although it's more than a little brittle. Infidelity. Not a problem for him. Not anymore. "No." The offer is given a heartbeat's thought, "No. Thanks." For a moment, that seems like that's all he's going to provide, and then he apparently decides that there's a little more required of him as the client. "Looking for some people. Heard you can find people fast."



Jessica puts out the cigarette and comes to sit down, pulling out a yellow legal pad and a pen. "Start at the beginning, please."

Now, here, at last, professionalism. It settles over her like a mantle, and she's as focused as a hawk. A hound on the hunt. She hasn't said she'd take the case yet, of course, but she's sure ready to hear the story. "And with your name," she adds. She checks out her clients as assiduously as she checks out their cases, because she's had one too many cases, these days, that were total set-ups from total sleazeballs. And, of course. Knowing who to bill is pretty useful too.

Or not bill. If she thinks the cause is worthy, she usually doesn't.


Professionalism is reassuring. Questions… inevitable, but less welcome. Frank purses his lips, but shrugs, "Frank Castle." It's reluctant, but there are costs to using outside help, but apparently he needs it. He doesn't sit down, but that might be expected from a military man. "Three guys owe me. Skipped out. I want 'em to make good. I've got names. But no pictures." Yeah, this one's probably not going to be pro bono.


"That's fine. What are their names? Do you have dates of birth? Where are they from? Are they military like you?"

Asset recovery and debt cases are a bread and butter of most PI's businesses. So it's not surprising. But her face remains neutral. Indeed, it even hardens a little bit.

"When did you see them last, and where? How much do they owe you?"

Questions are not only inevitable, but in-depth and only likely to continue. That's the cornerstone of her entire profession, the only way she gets anything done. She eyes him thoughtfully, narrowed, a little.


"Tobias Menzies. Late thirties. Likes poker a little too much. He's a local. They all are. He's not military, but Rodrigo Sanchez is. Late twenties, early thirties." The details rattle out in short bursts, "First generation, but military. Ex-Army." While those two seem relatively dispassionate, there's a hint of an edge as Frank continues, "Third one's Mickie O'Hare. No military experience. Early forties. From New York. Hell's Kitchen." Drawing in a slow breath seems to steady the man that little tiny bit of control that slipped, "Menzies is in for six grand, Sanchez for eight and a half. O'Hare for twelve. O'Hare was at the Shamrock last." Which is where the Kitchen Irish recently got clipped. A lot. Sanchez at a back-room game at the dry cleaner's four blocks from here. Menzies has been a while. Saw him on the subway. He ran."


Jessica leans back in her seat.

She lights up another cigarette and watches Frank closely. She doesn't like calling people out on lies on a hunch. It's a magic trick, and it's a shot in the dark. Without proof, and inconsistencies in the story to back them up against, it's nothing but he-said, she-said and a devolution of accusation. It is not case-useful.

She should send this guy packing anyway. The Shamrock, a site that got shot up, and now this military dude wants her to play bloodhound.

"Ok, Mr. Castle. Legally on any asset recovery case I need proof of the debt. I don't suppose you have receipts? IOUs? Witnesses that can corroborate a verbal promise, who were there at the pocker game or whatever? People who could stand up in a court of law and say yeah, they owe it? Cause if you're some sort of loan shark, well, I don't work for people who are out to break other people's legs for money or some shit."

There. Let's see where that lands.


"I don't want to break their legs." Frank Castle's statement has… several meanings. It's even true, to various degrees for the various people. He doesn't even want two of them at all. And he wants to do a lot more than break O'Hare's legs. "Proof's harder. I figured I could trust Sanchez." He's not a great liar, going for the brute force power-through-it method rather than concocting detailed stories, "Vet, you know?" He shakes that off, "Menzies, it's his word against mine. We were playing with his buddies." Frank hesitates, his brow furrowing in thought, and then he makes a decision, "I think I got O'Hare's marker. I didn't know you'd need it." He reaches carefully into an inside coat pocket, hesitating just into the gesture to try to make it clear he's not going for a weapon, and then slowly pulling out a thick roll of twenties, money already taken from the Kitchen Irish. "Think you can get started? I won't expect any news without showing you the marker. I'll see what I can do on Menzies and Sanchez too."


She pushes the money back at him, noting dryly, "A wad of cash means nothing, Mr. Castle. It's a wad of cash. Completely untracable. That could be Mr. Magoo's goddamn marker, dude."

She's hearing a slew of bullshit today, and she blows out a ring of smoke.

But she knows how she's going to handle this, she thinks. "I'll be in touch," she says, doing what she never does on any case she intends to work. Because she should be taking a retainer and a contract, but she does neither. Still, she gives the impression she'll take it. When in reality?

Well. She's got a new case alright. A new goddamn unpaid case. And his name is Frank Castle, and what his deal is, and what he really wants, and, well, whether he had anything to do with a goddamn shootout at the goddamn Shamrock.

She gives him her brightest smile. "Fast is relative in the missing persons business," she adds.


Frank shakes his head, "The cash isn't the marker. The marker's back at my place." Or it will be, as soon as he finishes writing it out. When she says she'll be in touch though, he starts to peel off bills from the stack. It's the smile that does it though. It looks wrong on her face, and his own features close off, hardening visibly, "I heard you were good at this. That you'd want the work." His information is old, clearly, given the not-a-wreck state of the office. "You don't want it, just tell me. Don't jerk me around." It sounds a lot like anger in his voice, but unfortunately, that's just the way he growls.


And Jess, being Jess, snorts and stops playing around.

"Don't jerk me around. You're lying about most of what you're telling me. You don't even care about Menzies and Sanchez, cause nobody hands a PI a giant wad of cash and then says 'oh, let me do 75% of your job for you.' Nobody owes you any goddamn money. You want me to find O'Hare, and I probably can. Real damn well, and yes, for missing persons, real damned fast, though any PI tries to guarantee a find on a case like that you run the other way, cause there are no goddamn guarantees. But I got ethics, I got a code, and most of all?"

She stands up and leans over her desk. "I got real doubts you want him for anything legal. So. Mr. Castle."

Her mouth tightens. Her head moves just slightly, one side, then the other, a whole unspoken statement in a brief gesture. "You wanna fucking try again?"


"You are good." There's something grudging in Frank's gravelly voice, and something considering in his dark eyes. Probably not a good consideration, all things considered. But apparently he makes the right choice, because he hefts the wad and tucks it away again, and his hand comes out of his coat without a weapon in it. "He does owe me. They all do. Just O'Hare more than most." There's a pause, "Enough that I want to find him. The less you know about what I want from that sack of shit, the better. Unless you've got ethical problems with someone getting what they deserve."


"Depends on what they deserve and why they deserve it," Jess Jones says bluntly. The woman who stood there watching a housefire with her friend. Knowing damn well he set it, that Hydra corpses were inside.

She has more blood on her hands than she even hinted to Matt. And she realizes, abruptly and sharply, that Luke doesn't know. And she has to tell him. A former cop. If they're going to be serious, she has to tell him.

An odd thought to have here. Now.

"What did he do to you, Frank?" she asks, softly. "What did they all do to you?"

They all owe me is a pretty telling statement.


Now would be the time to put on the full sob story. It would probably play pretty well. But Frank never does things the easy way. "He killed someone," the veteran Marine growls, his voice even tighter than usual, "Someone important to me." A shake of his head, and Castle retreats a step, "If you're not gonna take the job, I've got work to do, so let's stop screwing around."


"See you," Jessica Jones says. Because he killed someone is compelling, but not compelling enough. Criminals gank each other all the time, and that's no call for Jess Jones to get involved with it. She's already on edge after all the lies, and the snarky, hardboiled detective has heard enough. Enough to know that she isn't going to take his case. Enough to know she's still going to work her own investigation on him.

She turns back to the window and lights up again. "Trust you can find the door," she says, with heavy irony.


"I'm not blind." If Frank Castle new more, that could be a pointed barb showing that he was in the know about certain connections. As it is, it's just his own frustrated snark. There's a pause, and then he reaches into his coat, slowly again, pulls out a couple of twenties and drops them on the desk, "For your time." And then he's turning to leave, his shoulders tensing as he turns his back on the PI.


Jessica Jones doesn't protest the leaving of the twenties. She lets him leave.

When he's gone, she does a few things.

She grabs a few Ziploc bags.

She retrieves her evidence kit. "Morgan," she tells her phone, as she pulls on gloves, pulls out a pair of tweazers. "Dial Foggy Nelson."

She tweazes the twenties gently into the bag. They could be evidence, and she's not about to screw with it any more than she has to. She may be a PI, but she tries to handle her shit, at least vis a vis evidence, like a cop would.


The phone rings about five times before the call connects. He must have seen it was Jess's number, because the moment he picks up, he's already speaking in that rapid-fire manner that is Classic Foggy. "Did you know that if you're under the age of twelve, you can't walk a dog in public in New York City? My mother was breaking the goddamn law every Saturday morning for like… four years. Do you know how many Saturdays that is?" He barely pauses. "Two-hundred eight, Jess. It's 208 Saturdays. And each one of those was a misdemeanor. My mother was a leash-law breaking fiend."

Finally there's a breath taken, and Foggy asks more companionably, "So, what's up?"


Castle departs as he arrived, warily, and with an eye toward ambush. It's suspicious enough to wear a jacket in late spring, gloves are right out. So he tried to smear his prints a little. They're still going to be useful though. Maybe that's why he gave his real name. Or maybe he just doesn't care what happens to him after he's done.

Sanchez has very tenuous ties with the Cartel, but only very tenuous indeed. Menzies is a nobody — scum and a gambler, but a nobody. O'Hare is a mid-ranking member of the Kitchen Irish… higher up now that so many of them are dead. And Frank Castle, Frank Castle is an enigma, since his records are sealed. A Marine for many years, who apparently… did nothing during those years.


"Good thing your Mom has Hell's Kitchen's best lawyer," Jess says absently, as she seals the bags. "Listen, Foggy. Do you happen to have any contacts over at Hell's Kitchen precinct? Any cops you might be able two ease a favor out of? I need a look at their file on the shit that went down over at the Shamrock the other day. If you can swing it."

Part of her job is asking questions.

The other part is knowing who to ask.

And. You know. Then trying to convince people to give her those answers.


There's a long silence that comes after Jess's request. "Uh, yeah. Sure, Jess." He hesitates. "You talking about that hit against the Irish mob? I hear it was like some takeover move… total bloodbath." He pauses, his frown audible in his words. "But you want me to pull some actual information, not just rumors." Paper can already be heard rustling over the phone. "You pulled a case that's looking into the Shamrock? Could be seriously dangerous, Jones."


"What do I do that's not dangerous? And it's not exactly that. I had a walk-in who I turned down who brought the bar up while asking me to find someone. Just. Doing due diligence at this point."

Way too late for her to rock a mask, not that she ever would. Not only would she look like a raging idiot in one, but they cause just as many problems as they prevent.

Her tone is wry, and she adds, "Danger comes to me, Foggy, that's just how it goes."

She's a hypocrite and a killer who needs to share even more of her sordid fucking past with this person she loves. The idea that she might lose him over it buzzes through her brain, but the time for disclosure is here if it ever was any time at all.

Killing can be good or bad, but has she crossed lines or stayed on the right side of them?


"Must be a superhero thing." Foggy then shuffles his phone, and taps something on his keyboard. "Alright, I'll get you the file… I'll go see my super secret contact tomorrow." There's another long stretch of silence from the man before he says more softly, "You gotta take care of yourself, Jess. Danger is only glamorous in the movies."


"Can't be. I'm not a hero," Jess says ruefully. Last year all she wanted to hear was she was. People told her she was and she basked in the praise. But slowly, surely, her own imperfections, flaws, shortcomings and darkness kept coming back into her own focus. Her way of handling it, of reconciling all the good she tries to do against all the good she isn't, comes down to her next statement.

"I'm just a chick that does a job. And. Yeah. I know. Danger sucks." Except part of her thrives in it. Part of her finds her only worth in what she can do, in the heart of danger.

"To quote Jesus or whatever, to whom super-strength and shit is given, much is required, is all. And thank you."


"Sure you are… you're just a big, sulky hero." Then he smiles a bit warmer, and that warmth filters through his voice. "Pretty sure that's not what Jesus said, but you'd have to ask Matt. He's got that Jesus stuff down pretty good." Then he nods. "You're welcome. You'll owe me a sandwich, so come by for lunch, alright? I'll have your file then." His confidence is undeniable.

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