Nobody Expects Morgan Freeman

July 21, 2018:

Foggy Nelson goes after answers from the Dogs of War just as Frank Castle arrives to execute them. Jessica Jones tries to stop Frank, with mixed results.

Graham's, Hell's Kitchen, NYC

This bar is terrible.

Characters

NPCs: Various Dogs o' War

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Hell's Kitchen bombing has displaced people from their homes, but it's also displaced them from their haunts. Established hole-in-the-walls and dive bars where various groups were known to hang out, be they scrappy defense lawyers or members of a biker gang, have mostly been wiped off the map. The ones that remain are seeing unusual traffic from unusual people as everyone else struggles to shuffle in the aftermath.

By now a lot of progress has been made. A lot of the very worst and most dangerous rubble has been cleared. The streets are clear, and repair crews are working on the subway tunnel that runs directly beneath the neighborhood. The buildings that remain are once again open for business, even if people are still finding soot all over their stuff. The news coverage is starting to drop off. It will continue for awhile, especially on the human interest angle, but with three weeks and change behind them the networks and papers are starting to move on to other things. By now, the obvious signs of crackdowns and investigations have cleared away. They've found everything there was to find, and beating up on metahumans and throwing them in jail for Reasons any good lawyer could talk them out of has, one hopes, lost its appeal as any kind of high-ROI project for anyone at all. It's not business as usual, it never will be again. It's more like "the sun also rises."

Few people go looking for a street gang, mind, as a matter of course. But today five members of one can be found in a bar called Graham's, right on the docks. Graham's has been smashed on to the back of a much glitzier business, which may be the entire reason for its survival. They're a pair of mismatched twins, a respectable Edward Jones branch crammed in next to this little bar. The former is closed for the night, the latter isn't attracting a great deal of honest folk custom thanks to the five Dog of Hell bikes parked outside. It's the kind of place with one large pane window, mostly filled in with neon signs, one heavy red door in front, one heavy Employee's only steel door in the back. A place that seats 15 if it seats 1, with an ancient jukebox grinding away. There are no microbrews here, no mixed drinks. You're here for beer or you're here for whisky, all served up courtesy of Marvin Graham himself, a grizzled old fella who looks like an ex-con. Probably because he is an ex con. Marvin's got himself knife fighting scars all over his arms and face. Probably under the t-shirt he wears, too. He, at least, is probably not bothered, one bit, by the five bikers crammed into the back of the room. The lighting is low, smoke fills the air from the cigarettes they're all working on, and nobody's cranked up any tunes. Marvin is drinking some of his own product behind the bar, not even making a pretense of doing much of anything but that. Sitting. Drinking. Available to get somebody something but not exactly the picture of the dutiful bartender who is forever polishing and cleaning.

It didn't take much effort to find the location of those five Dogs of Hell bikes. Ask a few questions, poke around a few corners, and someone is going to point the unsuspecting victim to the last-standing Dogs. So, when Foggy shows up at the stoop of Graham's, it's only thanks to asking around where he could find the Dogs, dropping Smitty's name as if it may make his inquiries legit.

He tugs loose the tie at his neck, pushing back his messenger bag to the back of his hip. He looks out of place — he looks terribly out of place. He stares at the door for a few long moments before he pushes forward, shoving open the door and stepping right into a sticky bit of dried beer just past the threshold. He grimaces just slightly, lifting his loafer precariously.

Don't think about it, Foggy. Don't think about it.

He breathes deeply before he meanders forward, directing his steps toward the bar where he flashes a quick smile. "Hey, man." He settles into a stool, and slides a twenty dollar bill across the counter. "Whatever's on tap."

Eyes track Foggy, but not in an overly hostile way. They're just keeping track of who comes in, rather than being territorial at this point.

Marvin serves up a beer in his laconic way, takes they money, gets it all rung up, gives Foggy the change and the receipt. He manages to do all of these things without ever once smiling or making any sort of stab at conversation whatsoever. He has clearly not attended so much as one customer service seminar in his entire life. And yet here he is, persisting away.

When he has served up the drink he goes right back to his stool, pausing only to pour himself another glass of whiskey.

"I miss Josie," Foggy breathes against the rim of his beer before he takes a sip. It tastes like piss. He manages not to look like it tastes like piss. He clears his throat after a moment, setting down the beer right on the bar. By the amount of water rings on the surface, he's assuming that this is a no-coaster-needed establishment.

He starts to look around before he talks to Marvin, tone conversational. "I'm looking for the dudes who own the hogs outside." In his heather gray suit, the words "dudes" and "hogs" don't really fit, but he manages. Just. "Think you can point me in the right direction?" Casual sip of piss beer.
Marvin gives Foggy a rather skeptical look. It's skeptical on about five levels.

And then, he lifts a hand and points to the five guys in leather at the back of the bar. On closer inspection it's possible to see they're wearing Dogs of Hell jackets. They're all bearded, buff guys. Three of them are particularly large.

They look, in short, like they could chew Foggy up, spit him out, and step in the remains until there's nothing at all left.

"Thanks, man." Foggy leaves a handsome tip on the bar. He takes a deep pull from the piss beer, exhales deeply, and starts back toward the five. It's a casual walk that almost barely hides the slight tremor in his extremities. The three big guys aren't lost on him, so he hones in on the smaller two — smaller being relative of course. He swallows down another gulp of beer as he gets closer, wishing it had the staying power to actual settle his nerves. He hadn't been able to get in touch of Smitty since the bombing. He knew he should have when he heard about the attack on the Dogs, but he was so caught-up with Matt and this Daredevil business…

"Hey guys," he says as he closes the distance. His throat catches a moment, and then he powers forward. "Don't mean to interrupt you guys, but I'm hoping that maybe I can ask you guys some questions. I'm Foggy… I'm an old friend of Smitty's." Name dropped, he waits.

There's an almost wolfpack shifting of the Five Dogs. This moment where they're all sizing Foggy up, all silently settling into pecking order. Finally, the smallest one speaks. Red hair, a beard that's a bit more trimmed than the others, the biker look, on him, is a lot more understated. He finally raises a hand to motion to the other four guys, and they settle back down. Smitty's name is apparently enough of a door opener for today.

"I've seen you. On TV."

He contemplates for a moment. "Smitty's dead," he adds. It's not a demand that he go, it's not a threat, it's not anything but a bit of news. Smitty's dead, thought you'd wanna know. Dark brown eyes track Foggy's every move.

And then a shrug. "What are you here for, Foggy?"

People go looking for biker gangs for a variety of reasons. Most don't involve killing them. Frank Castle is not most people. Without the assault rifle and grenade launcher he lost in the explosions (what in the hell is he going to do with fricking boomerangs?), he has to take a more direct approach. This involves approaching the bar along the waterfront, a short-barreled shotgun hidden under his trenchcoat. Because there's no way he wants to go in there after them, so that means he needs to get them out here. And what's the best way to do that? Trash the hogs, of course. So he saunters slowly along the street, checking the bikes over to make sure that they belong to the Dogs of Hell.

I've seen you. On TV. Great.

"Oh yeah, I guess I have been on TV." Then he clears his throat slightly, but whatever he was going to offer next is stalled immediately by the news about Smitty. His face pales a bit, and his brain starts to rapidly sift through all the possibilities. He lands on the most likely in his mind. "That hit on the Dogs a few weeks ago?"

He shifts slightly. "Yeah, um… I need some info… about some street movements that were happening before the explosions."

True Facts.

Jessica Jones did not mean to follow Frank Castle today.

She'd been following a pair of cops named Hoffman and Blake, cops that she's now sure are dirty. Now she just needs incontravertable proof of that. But Hoffman and Blake are sitting on stakeout, and staking out their stakeout was getting her nowhere. From her vantage point on an intact roof, though, she'd seen Frank go walking by. And she'd decided to glide carefully above, hanging back behind him, to see what he'd do.

Outside, Frank is able to find a few decals on the bikes that Dogs of Hell are known to use.

Meanwhile, inside, the biker turns to fully face Foggy. "Not really in the habit of giving out 'street movements.' Even to friends of Smitty. But. I'll humor you. Maybe I'll make an exception. You tell me what you wanna know. And why. I'll tell you if I'm willing to give it up.

Having to rack the slide before firing the first time is for chumps. Frank steps past the bikes, toward the barrel where he cached his backup weapon. Then he brings the sawed-off shotgun up before him, pumping a round into the gas tank of the nearest of the five hogs. Normally, this wouldn't do anything — but normally, you don't load incendiary rounds. There's an explosion of sound and fury, and then another. He racks the slide then, and fires a second blast into the middle bike. Another crack-boom. He's on a roll now — and a timer, because even the reduced police presence in Hell's Kitchen will be on the way soon.

"You're right… 'street movements' was a bit pretentious. I've been watching too much Law & Order." Foggy holds up his hand apologetically before he resumes holding onto the strap of his messenger bag — a reflexive gesture that grounds him a bit. He breathes out a slow exhale before he explains. "Here's what I got… there's all this stuff that happened in the Kitchen… first there was the Kitchen Irish, then the Mexicans, and then the explosions all across the neighborhood, then the Dogs… what I'm looking for is the connections, because I think there are some."

Nelson doesn't mean to suggest that the Punisher is connected to Fisk. Not entirely, at least.

"So, what I want to know… what did the Dogs maybe take notice of before the explosions that might help me figure out who is behind this Kitchen shake-up."

A lot starts happening at once.

Foggy asks the $64,000 questions and the pack leader of these dogs opens his mouth to answer. Whether helpfully or unhelpfully is unsure, because they hear the roars of explosions outside. Explosions are things everyone is tuned into lately.

It's actually Marvin who runs out first, flinging the big red door wide open and sprinting out into the street to see…well. This guy shooting the shit out of bikes. And finally, Marvin speaks, a low, "Fuck me," that pretty much says it all.

But the bikers are knocking over their chairs in their haste to get outside too.

In the sky, Jessica Jones snarls, "Shit," and dives. But she'd left a bit of distance between herself and Frank, and it's going to take her just a moment to get into any kind of a range where she might be able to impact the situation at all.

Foggy has his brows up expectantly when the leader opens his mouth, but then he's turning sharply toward the abrupt explosions, knocking back his messenger back in a surprised gesture. He blinks in a bewildered surprise at the sight of Marvin booking it out the door. "Whoa, whoa! What are you doing? Don't go out there!"

And Foggy starts after them, throwing his bag back around to begin to dig something out of his messenger bag as he starts after them. He pulls out his phone, fumbling with it as it slides out of his grip. It thunks onto the ground, and he's ducking to retrieve it. "Shit, fuck, damnit."

For many criminals, property damage is the point. Frank Castle is not most criminals. Property damage is just the start. A third incendiary round blasts the furthest bike, letting the trio of explosions deal with the other two vehicles. The man who will be called the Punisher turns and walks away even as secondary explosions wrack the quintet of hogs. He lets the shotgun hang on its sling, stepping over to barrel holding his backup: an MP-5 submachine gun that really shouldn't have been in the Cartel's armory. He brings the extended stock up to his shoulder, spinning back as Marvin comes out, scanning him over for Dogs patches, then gravels out, "Not here for you. Keep movin'." It might have been scary even without the flames licking up and casting ever-changing shadows over his face. With the diabolical lighting… yeesh.

Marvin…keeps moving. He sprints the Hell away. A guy with a bunch of guns who orders him to go? Yeah. He's gone.

Foggy trips and fumbles after his phone, and the first dog of Hell comes snarling through the door. With a gun of his own, drawn, aimed…firing.

That's when Jess lands right behind Frank. "Lands" is generous. She sort of stumble skids, arms windmilling. It's not cool. It's not at all cool. But it doesn't stop her from snapping, "Castle! Stop!" She pitches her voice high over the din of the flaming bike rubble. And then, "Sh—" Because of course the dog is firing and she's not exactly out of the line of fire like this.

Foggy manages to secure his phone, but then there's gunfire that has him ducking and covering on his way toward the door just as one dog goes filing out with a volley of gunfire. He reaches forward, grappling onto the back of the redhead's jacket, hoping to yank him back. "Don't be an idiot. That's walking into a kill-zone, man!"

Then a familiar voice just barely touches his ears, and his head shoots up from where he's ducking behind the dog. "Jess…" Then he's shouting. "Jess!"

He turns on the dog, trying to look fierce through his cowardly lion mane of thick hair. "Stay here! Seriously! Keep your head down, and you'll probably stay alive." Which is probably what he should be saying to himself, but Foggy Nelson is feeling a streak of bravery.

It was supposed to be easy and clean — a single low burst to tumble the quintet of Dogs so that Frank could finish them off at his leisure. But then there's another guy in the line of fire — and a PI skidding out of the sky behind him. The first two rounds are accurate enough, punching out toward the lead Dog of Hell. A bullet whips past his ear, but he's had that before. The shouting woman coming tumbling down from the sky, that one is new. Two more rounds go tearing into the facade of Graham's before Frank's finger comes off the trigger and he whirls around to face the flying PI. "What the fuck? Get out of here." There's more surprise than anger in his low, rough voice. Wait… where are the other Dogs?

The redhead has his gun out. He growls at Foggy. Literally growls at him. But he's also not stupid. He watches the lead dog of Hell fall over with a bullet in his body, dead, and he growls again and at least takes some cover as he puts his clip in his gun, right beside the bar. He will dig in here, thanks. "Don't go out there, that's what he wants," he snaps to the other three. "Ray's already dead, goddamn it. Make him come in here to us."

Foggy has gotten through, and after that first one nobody else is going out. They're all arraying themselves in the bar, taking cover, getting ready to defend. Which leaves Foggy to decide what he'll do from there, having saved them.

Jessica glares at Frank. "This is my neighborhood," was her neighborhood, "and there's been enough fucking bloodshed in it. And enough god damn…explosions!" Still, the PI takes note of it, how he immediately takes his hand off the trigger when turning to face her. That one little detail is observed, sets Frank apart in some way. So she only just holds her hands out in a halting sort of a gesture.

Foggy's hands are immediately up at the growling, as if showing that he's not carrying anything other than his phone, which lights up at the upward tilt of its screen, illuminating the photo of him and Matt, their thumbs up outside the freshly minted sign of Nelson and Murdock. He turns slightly toward the door, dropping his hands and sleight-of-handing his phone into his pocket. Jess is out there. No need to text now, even if Matt may disagree later.

When he turns back around, the dogs have taken cover, leaving Foggy standing there. He slides aside, scooting himself behind a table and closer to the red dog. He narrows his eyes at him. "Alright… I get you out of here, you answer my questions. Deal?"

Frank doesn't keep his back to the bar, not with four — or four and a half, since he doesn't know if Ray's still alive — enemy combatants inside. This leaves him sort of awkwardly facing perpendicular between Jess and the Dogs, the submachine gun pointed down and his finger slipped out of the trigger guard, "The only people getting hurt are the ones who deserve it." He backs up quickly then, away from Jess and away from the lines of fire from the door or windows.

"Deal," the dog says to Foggy, narrowing his eyes. "Though how do you figure a lawyer is going to get me out of here?"

Jessica finds herself sighing when Frank gives that one statement. Because of course the main topic of discussion lately has been lines, and when and where to cross them. Because they deserve it is something that has some weight. Some merit.

She just looks at him, tilts her head to one side, and maneuvers slowly around him, hands still in that halting gesture, trying to get between him and the door even as he backs up out of the line of fire. Wearily: "Yeah, maybe. Probably. Just. Don't have the stomach to turn my back on a bloodbath in progress, I guess."

"Oh, I'm pretty resourceful." Foggy then takes out his phone, tapping at it quickly as he brings up Jess's number and opens a text message. He steps aside a bit, tapping away as he approaches the door from an angle where he isn't easily seen.

Jess— I know you're out there. I need to keep these guys alive. Or at least their leader. He's going to answer my questions.

Frank's eyes follow Jessica's motion as she gets between him and the front door, "Careful. They're gonna be trigger-happy." That's almost casually noted in his gravelly voice as he glances between front door and the alley behind the bar. There's a pause, and he adds, "Then don't turn your back. These assholes killed innocents." His voice goes rough as all hell at that, but he pushes on, "they run guns and drugs. Probably explosives too." He nods to the front door then, his eyes flickering from there to the detective, "Keep these assholes' attention while I go in the back and take them out. No innocents get hurt, everyone's gone by the time the cops get here, so they don't get hurt either."

The text is good enough for Red. "You said you were looking for connections? I think I need more specific questions." He ducks around his cover, looking, but then he's back to Foggy.

Jess doesn't exactly have her phone out. What happens is Morgan Freeman's voice comes out of her jacket pocket and announces into the air: "You have one text from Foggy Nelson. Read it now?"

Meanwhile she's staring as Frank tries to recruit her into helping him kill, in cold blood, the people she's trying to stop him from killing. By appealing to her own vigilantism, noting their asshole nature, making a nice case for keeping the stupid cops out of danger.

She pulls a face. Then shakes her head. "Yeah. No. That's not going to happen." She tries to edge out of the line of fire now too, eyeing the door warily as someone does indeed send a few gunshots through. She scrambles out of the way, swearing.

Meanwhile, sirens are indeed indicating cops on the way. ETA about a minute, minute and a half.

"Whoa! WHOA!" Foggy's hands fly up when he hears the gunshots from inside. "Could we perhaps not provoke more gunfire right now?"

Then he looks to Red, and he drops low back against his table. He puffs out his cheeks, looking seriously at the dog from his spot against the table. He swipes back his hair with one hand, pulling it out of his eye and trying to secure it behind his ear.

"The Dogs are territorial. Who was snooping around your territory recently? Maybe poking around buildings, near the time of the bombings." He sets his jaw a bit. "Anyone try to recruit you to gain access to those buildings that went boom? Did you say no?" Did you maybe set yourself up to get targeted for take-down?

Frank is expecting the police, he's expecting Jess to refuse the offer — at least the first time, but he's not expecting Morgan Freeman. No-one expects Morgan Freeman. Not in Hell's Kitchen. Surprise paints Frank's hard face for a moment, and the barrel of the submachine gun twitches upward, and then it completes the rise as the shots come from within the bar. But since the PI is between him and the front door, his finger stays out of the trigger guard. Shaking his head, he lowers the MP-5 again, noting to Jessica, "The police catch them, they're out again to kill again before you know it. They deserve to be dead. Help me or get out of the way, Jones." And then he's turning to start down the alley toward the back of the building at a rumbling run.

"Yeah, someone tried to recruit us to set bombs. We did say no. We don't do bombings, that's not our thing." Red says, grimacing. "And yeah, we had some trouble with the Mexicans poking around our territory for about a week before the bombings. Couple of gun fights over it too."

Foggy's admonishment actually produces a sheepish, gravelly, "Sorry," from one of the guys.

But the other one says, "Red. Cops."

"Not like we can cut and run with that psycho still out there," says another.

Frank cuts and runs, determined to kill everyone in the building. And she can't run through the front door. "God damn it…"

Jess turns to chase after Frank. Just as the cops roll up. Who do they focus on first?

"Christ, not again," Jessica snarls, as they order her to get on her knees and put her hands behind her head. The detective, who might have caught up with Frank with ease, is now unable to catch up with Frank, and is serving as a distraction after all. "The shooter's in the alley," she calls, and of course…none of the cops listen. Not right away.

It may really be up to Foggy to get the Dogs out alive. To say nothing of his regular client's situation out there.

Foggy just angles a glance toward the apology before he's looking back at Red. "Alright. The Mexicans. This after you said no? Who did you say no to? Did he wear glasses? About this tall." He waves his hand at his estimation of Wesley's height. "Dark hair?"

Then he starts to hear the sound of the sirens, and he looks up toward the door. He grimaces, and starts digging around in his bag.

"Alright, here's the deal. I'm your lawyer." He reveals a card with his name — Franklin Nelson — on it. Nelson and Murdock's logo is easily visible at the corner. "We were here for a meeting. Someone opened fire outside, you shot back. Which is what actually happened. Right?" He looks at the four dogs still standing, but he directs most of his attention to Red.

At the edge of his hearing, he hears Jess's shout, and catches something about the "alley." He shakes his head, looking back at Red. "You drop your weapons the second the cops tell you to, got it?"

There isn't much time, not with police cars peeling up out front. Another couple of kills, another couple of steps closer to avenging his wife and children, and then it's time to go. Frank sprints around the corner, puts a boot to the back door, and brings up his MP-5, scanning the grimy, tiny kitchen and then the main room beyond. He's looking for guns and badges. He's not here to kill innocents, and it slows him for a heartbeat, even as he murmurs, "One batch, two batch… penny and dime."

"Yeah," says Red. "That was the exact dude. We've seen him around before. One of the Kingpin's. We stay independent, always have, but every now and then they try to draw us in. We're competitors." He shrugs. "We run heroin of our own. They haven't exactly tried to edge us out of business but they haven't exactly made it easy, either."

Red takes the card from Foggy and barks, "You heard the man," to his people.

From the angle Frank's at, two are not in any kind of cover. They would have been in the front. The first is Red, the second is a huge grey-bearded guy. And of course. And of course…the charming sore thumb sticking right out beside Red.

Outside, they go to cuff Jess. "I have a weapon, it's under my jacket," she tells them. "I have a permit for it." Because the last thing she needs is to give them an excuse to shoot her in the face. "I'm not the shooter guys, does this look like a fucking submachine gun to you? The shooter is trying to shoot more people in the bar."

The cops are continuing to Not Listen to Jessica Jones.

"Kingpin's…" The name is new for the Nelson half of Nelson and Murdock. Something clicks in his head. "Kingpin got a real name? Is it Fisk?"

He'd wait for the answer, but… Foggy hears the sound of the door cracking in the back, and he's stepping casually toward it as if expecting it to be Jones. When his eyes fall on Frank, he actually stands there for a heartbeat with his head half-cocked and expression bemused. Then he sees the gun, and his hands are immediately up again. "Whoa, whoa… hey." Unconsciously, Foggy has placed himself between Frank and the dogs, and he's not making an immediate move to change that disruption to Frank's path.

This is not doing Frank's rep with his prey any good. First his ambush is spoiled, and now there's a not-so-cowardly lion between him and his targets. The man who will be the Punisher hesitates for a heartbeat, then does the nosy PI a solid. He twists his submachine gun on its side before him, using the new angle to lean around the edge of the door and spray a burst of half a dozen rounds toward one of the Dogs still in cover to him. The table he's behind may save the target, it may not, but at least he'll know he's been kissed. And he didn't risk the innocent lawyer (is that an oxymoron?). After the short, sharp bark of gunfire, he growls, "Bad company, good Samaritan." Yes, he recognized the leonine mane from the windshield of the overturned car immediately after the blast. Then he's turning around to rush through the kitchen and straight out the back.

It does do Jess a solid. There's shots from outside. The burst of gunfire slams into the table that dog is hiding behind but doesn't really penetrate the cover.

But now the police are rushing in, shouting for everyone to drop their weapons. After Frank takes off. Red and the other two immediately drop their weapons. The only respectable looking person in here is Foggy, so they just kind of glance at him and ignore him while they cuff the dogs. An older female uniform finally comes over to Foggy. "Are you okay, Sir? Did they hurt you? I'm going to need to take a statement."

The usual sorts of police things. But the shooting part of the day is definitely over with?

Only a heartbeat behind Frank, Foggy realizes where he's seen that haggard face before. He is about to say something before he's ducking low at the sudden burst of gunfire, hands clasping hard over his ears at the deafening ricochet of the gunfire. He's staring after Frank however despite his instinctive urge for cover. "Holy shit," is all he manages.

He hears the sound of the cops coming in, the shouts to drop weapons, but he's still staring after Frank. It's only when the woman's voice interrupts his thoughts does he turn toward her. He doesn't miss a beat. "No, I'm not hurt. Foggy Nelson, attorney. I was here, meeting with my clients." He gestures to the dogs. "Pro bono job… helping out the citizens of Hell's Kitchen." He tucks a bit of hair behind his ear. "Did you happen to see my associate outside? Woman, tall, skinny… looks a little ex-Goth? She probably yelled at someone."

Frank doesn't look back. It doesn't help, not for the first two hundred meters. If you're going to get shot in the back, you're going to get shot in the back. He safes the MP-5 within the first two steps out the door, plants a hand on top of a low fence and hops over it, and keeps going. He's going to have to deal with the two weapons he's carrying (besides the pistol and the knife), but for now, he's just getting the hell out of the way — and cursing under his breath. A couple more people who have seen his face, a couple more targets who are going to go to ground. More danger for him. More work for him. Life grinds on.

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