Crime and Punishment

July 22, 2018:

Frank comes looking for Foggy after their brief run-in at Graham's. Frank goes vigilante, and Foggy makes a decision that challenges his ethics.

Nelson and Murdock

The offices of Nelson and Murdock. It's late.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: KILL YOUR CONSCIENCE, Shinedown


Fade In…

Lawyers work late nights — at least the best and the worst of them do. It's probably a good thing that the Murdock in Nelson and Murdock is busy with his other lives, since Frank would have had a lot more trouble scoping out the offices of said lawyers if the blind partner was around. As it is, he sprawled in the ashy remains of a building a little ways down the street for several hours, waiting and watching as the few remaining streetlights in the area came on, the sun went down, and foot traffic calmed.

Now he walks down the street, hands shoved into the pockets of his dark gray hoodie, broad shoulders and hard features masked by the raised hood. Blunt, strong fingers flex on the grip of the 9mm pistol in his right-hand pocket, then relax, and he shoulders ope the door to the building, heading up to the frosted-glass door that marks the entrance to the law offices. The light is still on inside, and he waits another moment, listening, and then raps on the door with his knuckles.

Foggy Nelson never knows how to take a night off. The law offices have been busy lately — uncomfortably busy. Between the pro-bono work that Foggy has pulled for some of the residents of Hell's Kitchen and his actual paying clients, like Mr. Stark and Mr. Odinson, he's not entirely sure that he's been home in the last two days. Or has it been three days? Thankful for clean shirts stocked away in the closet, dry shampoo, and lots of deodorant, Foggy's made do with basically living at Nelson and Murdock.

When the knuckles rap on the door, he sighs heavily from his place behind the receptionist desk — one of the last few empty stretches of desktop that isn't covered in paper. He puts down his sandwich, wipes his hands off on a paper towel, and pulls himself up to his feet. If not for the hour, he would have given himself a check over — is his tie straight, is his shirt tucked in? At the moment, he doesn't give a shit. He meanders to the door, and opens it. His eyes immediately sweep up to look into the shadowy face of the Punisher. The look of Frank — and the memories attached to him — triggers Foggy's better instincts.

"Oh, shit," he breathes, and immediately shoves his shoulder into the door, trying to slam it closed.

The door slams closed — on Frank's combat boot. The frame bows with the force of the shove, and the pressure undoubtedly squeezes uncomfortably on the foot inside the boot. Nothing changes on Frank's face though, even as his eyes lock on his target. There's no gun out at least, so maybe that's a good thing? In the wake of the impact on the door, Frank puts his knuckles on the door again, but this time he doesn't knock, instead he ducks his shoulder a little, returning the favor as he tries to shoulder the door open and then push it wide with the knuckles of his left fist. It might be scarier if he were shouting something — then again, it might be less scary if he weren't working like some mute automaton.

"Fuck, fuck." Foggy is breathing that repetitive curse against the door as he tries to get the thing to shut, but the foot is in the way. It doesn't yield. He staggers back, turning away to duck his way toward the desk. He grabs the first thing he can get his hand on: a stapler. He raises the cherry red office tool as if it were something far more dangerous than it is. His breath is coming in sharp, and everything about his posture sings with adrenaline.

He wants to say something, but his mouth is dry and for once Foggy Nelson has nothing to say. He hefts the stapler a big higher, his other hand stretched out in front of him — palm out and fingers spread.

Frank steps in as Foggy staggers back, thunking the door closed behind him with the base of his fist. The raised stapler causes Castle to pause for a moment, although more in curiosity and surprise than in fear. He tilts his head to one side, then shakes his head, "Sit down." The words are a raspy growl, filled with more anger than a simple soldier should really have. His right hand stays in his pocket, holding tight on the grip of the pistol there, but it's his left hand that juts out, pointing toward one of the seats set aside for waiting clients, "There." There's a pause, "And put down the stapler. What the hell do you think you're going to do with that?"

There's not a single quiver in Foggy's hand as it holds the stapler. At the growling commands, the lawyer gives pause. "Yeah, I'm gonna stand, if that's cool. But," and he continues to hold up his hand, but slowly puts down the stapler. "I'm all about compromises." He relaxes out of his almost natural fighter's stance, shifting back a step. The comment to his stapler draws a serious, thoughtful frown. "I don't know, really. You didn't give me a chance to try anything." He sets a hand down on the edge of the desk, tapping his fingers almost nervously. He can feel some wry response build in his throat, but he swallows it down. "Um, how can I help you… Mr. Castle?" That is, of course, what Jess had shouted at him back at Graham's.

Frank's natural scowl deepens a little as Foggy finds his own compromise to the order, but he doesn't insist. "You can start by forgetting that name." He shifts his weight slightly, a threat implicit in the faint lean forward, "One way or another." The growl cuts off, and he takes in a slow breath before he gets to the point, "Then you can tell me what you were doing with the Dogs at Graham's." The big man's dark eyes weigh on the lawyer heavily, putting a great deal of importance hanging on the demand.

The growling threat draws Foggy's hands up again, patting at the air in a calming gesture. "Alright, alright." Then he drops his hands again, shifting slightly on his feet under the fierce stare of the killer in his office. When Frank gets to the point, the lawyer starts to frown slightly. He runs a hand back through his hair, and starts to shift aside to the chair that Frank had directed him to just a few moments ago. "Think I'll sit." He is tired after all, and is feeling the adrenaline wear off. He drops heavily onto the chair, and then rubs his hands down his thighs before setting his elbows down into his legs just above his knees.

"I knew a guy in the Dogs… I went to high school with him. Thought it would give me an in to talk to the Dogs about the Hell's Kitchen explosions." He looks seriously up at Frank. "You see, the bombs were placed in very particular areas, and some of those areas were in the Dogs' territory. Wanted to know if… one, did someone approach them to place the bombs, and, if not, did they see anyone suspicious hanging around a day or two before the explosions."

Glancing aside to the door opposite Foggy for a heartbeat, Frank turns with the lawyer to stay facing him, with the side benefit of getting his back away from the entry door. "They're not victims." The anger is back in the gravelly voice, his dark eyes flashing. "I don't care if they were altar boys, they're murderers now." Which makes Frank at least a bit of a hypocrite. By the fury behind his words though, pointing that out might be… not a great idea. "They don't deserve to live." Still, the mention of the bombs draws a slight hesitation to his rage. "Neither does whoever planned the bombing. The coward." A thoughtful looks settles in around his angular features, and he adds, "Just stay the hell away from them, Nelson. I'll ask the next ones I see about the bombs."

Foggy looks up at the anger displayed by Frank, and his mouth tightens into a hard frown. "You're not wrong, but… I guess I've just got a different order of magnitude than you do. I'm out to get the dude behind the explosions, and I'm willing to ask a few former altar boys for information." He puffs out his cheeks, stalled then by Frank's hidden threat. His frown deepens. "Doesn't matter. Wasn't them. They said no when approached." Foggy doesn't know why he's so easily sharing this information with Frank, but there's no turning back now. "Based on what they were saying, the Mexican Cartel didn't have the same qualms they did about setting bombs in their own neighborhood."

The way Foggy puts it: 'a different order of magnitude,' sets Frank to thinking, the muscles under one eye tightening just a moment. It's not quite visibly grinding gears, but it's definitely something important going on, at least to the gunman. "And you believed them because they said it?" The question is just surface chatter, as Frank continues to think. After a long moment, he stance shifts, a little less of a forward lean, a little less tension in his still-hidden right hand and arm. "I'll let you know who hired them." His scowl returns, the growl in his voice deepening, "If they're gone when I go looking for them, I'm coming back here to ask you why."

"Actually, man… I do. I'm pretty good at catching a false lead when I'm given it. Being a good lawyer means also being pretty good at that bullshit detecting. All you need is some client leading you along a false road." Then Foggy sits up straighter in his seat when Frank offers the unexpected. His own jaw tightens a bit. "You think I'd let the Cartel know you're coming?" He licks slightly at his lower lip. "You gonna kill them? Like you did the Dogs… the Kitchen Irish? That was you, too, right?"

"I think you stood between an MP-5 and its target. I don't know how else you're stupid." Despite the offensive words, Frank's tone is more amused than anything else. The question, and the assumptions that come after them… Frank doesn't respond verbally, instead he just shrugs a hint, a faint note of amusement and perhaps even… pride… on his features. "You just said they bombed the hell out of the Kitchen, what do you care what happens to them?" The amusement filters out of his face and voice then, "When I'm done with them, they won't be bombing anyone else." It's not quite an admission that he's going to kill them, but it's also a pretty good suggestion that he is.

"You weren't there to shoot me," Foggy says, though he honestly didn't know that at the time. Gut reaction told him to not move, so he hadn't. "That's your thing, Castle. You actually do care who is in your sights… I'm not part of the mafias and cartels you, for some reason, are after. You're not going to shoot me for being at the right place and time to get in your way." Then he looks up more seriously at Frank. His jaw tightens once more, flexing at the joints. "Dead men can't tell a jury who hired them. That's why I care… because I need their testimony in the court room to make sure that the actual mastermind gets the verdict he deserves."

Frank actually pulls his right hand out of his pocket, letting the weight of the pistol pull the cloth down without the support of his hand now. "You don't know me." There's a pause, and then he admits, "I'm not just out to kill anyone. I've got very specific targets, and when they're gone, I'm out." Or so he thinks. The last statement by the lawyer, however, gets a rare Frank Castle smile, crooked, even boyish despite his heavy brows and the shadow cast by his hoodie, "If I find him, I'll make sure he gets the verdict he deserves, Nelson. 8,000 innocents is plenty to get added to my list." And just like that, Frank Castle goes from familial avenger to vigilante.

Nelson's eyes widen slightly, and he starts to pull himself out of his chair. "Wait, that's not what I meant. I need this guy in a public court, alive… there's more at play here than just killing some Kingpin. This guy has strings tied to a lot of other movers and shakers in the surrounding neighborhoods, and there's nothing to say that him just getting killed is going to stop the tide that's coming." In that moment, Foggy lacks the fear he should have as he steps closer to Frank. "You find him, you bring him to me, alright?"

The sudden rise of Foggy from the chair sends Frank's hand right back into his pocket, and his feet shift slightly, setting himself in case the lawyer decides to charge the veteran Marine. As he said, he doesn't know how else the other man is stupid. "You cut the strings tied to this 'Kingpin,' and there's nobody pullin' them. You put him in jail, he'll keep tugging, keep pullin'." Frank doesn't pull back from Foggy, but he does take in a slow breath, his chest and shoulders inflating in an unconscious threat display, like a cobra puffing up its hood. "Watch it, Nelson."

"You don't know that." Foggy's feeling his own instincts kick in, but they aren't pressing him to back up or withdraw. In fact, he's standing his ground. "And that doesn't bring closure to the families his malice and greed have impacted!" Nelson steps forward again, unafraid of the cobra in his office. His expression is tight, mouth moving with sharp, intense words while his brow tightens above his eyes. "There's thousands of people out there that have lost someone they loved in those explosions… you kill him before a court decides he is actually guilty of those crimes… you kill him before all the evidence is put before the public, you rob those families of their chance to find relief."

Now Foggy gestures broadly and boldly toward the window of his office that overlooks the destroyed neighborhood around them. "They call you the Punisher… but the punishment this guy deserves is more than just a bullet to the head. He deserves to be totally unmade in the eyes of the public." The next words from Foggy's mouth would have never been uttered a few weeks ago — before his world view was forced to change. "After that, I don't care if he survives the bus ride to Ryker's."

Frank's growl is harsh again. "If he's got as many strings as you say, he'll never see the chair, and he'll live like a king in Rykers. How's that bring anybody closure?" Shaking his head in the hood of his sweatshirt, he insists, "You put them away, they get back out. I put 'em down, they stay down." The nickname causes him to frown, then he shrugs it away, apparently accepting it… and thinking about the other man's half-suggestion. Closure, yeah, that's important. "Tell you what. You prove somebody was behind the Kitchen bombing in court, I'll make sure he never get a chance to set up again in prison." There, no Foggy has a secret from the Defenders. "And if the Cartel has any information on the bomber, I'll let you know." And with that, Frank turns to go.

Foggy is preparing himself to defend his position again, only to be forestalled by Frank's slight compromise. His mouth opens, then closes, and his expression darkens with thought. He looks down, glancing slightly toward Matt's office door. Agreeing to murder is not a common trait of Foggy; he believes in a code of ethics, he believes in the law. He stares after Frank's back as he turns away, and the single word that escapes his lips concretes his unexpected partnership with the Punisher: "Deal."

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