Justifiable Homicide

September 08, 2018:

Frank comes bearing a confession for Foggy, but it isn't what the lawyer needs.

Nelson and Murdock

It's the law offices.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones

Mood Music: World Gone Mad - Bastille


Fade In…

This time, Frank isn't invading. Sure, he didn't make an appointment, and it's well after hours, but at least he's not in hunting mode when he knocks on the door of Nelson & Murdock. His hands hang loose at his sides as he waits, rather than bunched around the grip of a pistol in his pocket. He still has the hoodie on, with the hood up, and it's still too hot to wear it, but that's just Frank.

Matt's back, but that hasn't brought Foggy Nelson the peace he's wanted. He left Danny Rand's place feeling heavier, and more washed out — like a black-and-white photograph of himself. He hadn't expected anyone to be still at Nelson & Murdock at this hour, so when he opens the door from the stairwell to spot a hooded Frank Castle waiting at the door, his entire body sags even more into his posture. He starts forward, jostling out his keys. "What would you have done if I wasn't here?" He figures out quickly why Frank assumed anyone was at home — he had left his desk light on, and the door was just slightly illuminated by the far-off glow. He unlocks the door, swinging it open to let both him and Frank in.

The door opening behind him has Frank turning around — but it's not an aggressive whirl. After all, no attacker would open the door so casually, or stop upon seeing him. "Goldilocks." It's not orginal, but at least does play tribute to Foggy's mane. He steps back to let the lawyer to the door, "I would have come back later." At least the growl acknowledges that he wasn't going to break down the door. "Got something for you."

"Goldilocks, ha. Sure, I take it." Foggy shuts the door once Frank is inside, and slips his keys back in his pocket. His fingers slide back through his mop of blond hair, scratching a bit at his scalp as he secures the locks back. He needs a haircut, but that's been his mantra since the bombings. He stops when Frank mentions he has something, and he slips his hand free of his hair, loose fist bouncing against his thigh as his hand drops. "Something on Fisk?"

Frank steps into the office, glancing once into the room with the light on and once into the room with the light off, and then nodding to himself when he recognizes that the offices are indeed empty. Digging into his pocket, he pulls out a thumb drive, hefts it a moment, and then tosses it lightly to Foggy. "It ain't everything, but it's a start. Cartel guy admitting they were paid to set the bombs. I'm still looking for the guy who can finger exactly who paid them."

The light toss of the thumb drive has him fumbling a bit, despite its intentions to be an easy pass-off. He looks down at it, frowning slightly. Then he looks up at Frank, green eyes wide through the blade of fallen blond hair. "They admitted to it? Freely?" His expression starts to break a bit, turning into a hesitant smile. "A God's honest confession?" It is a start… if it's legit… and admissible.

Frank shrugs a little helplessly in response to the questions, "He admitted it. On camera." His constant scowl deepens a little, and his growl harshens, "I'm not a lawyer, what the hell do I know what's admissible or not? He's looking at the camera and he's admitting it. What else do you need?"

That has Foggy hesitating, his smile wavering before sinking back into a frown. There's an uncomfortable itch at the back of his mind. "Did you torture him?" The question is asked flatly, almost knowingly.

Even Frank knows better than to admit to that straight up. Instead he shrugs again, "Gangs to rat on their own. Not usually." He shakes his head slowly, gesturing to the thumb-drive in Foggy's hand, "Nobody's punching him on screen or anything." There's a bit of a grumbling note to the words, an unspoken complaint that it's not fair that he can't torture confessions out of people and have them apply in court.

Nobody's punching him on screen, Frank says. Foggy stares down at the thumb drive in his hand, and then breathes out a slow exhale as he crosses to his computer. "Shit like that counts, Frank," he says, his voice tight. He plugs in the drive once he wakes up his sleeping machine. He plugs in the drive, and then goes about opening the video. The moment the ganger's face appears on the monitor, Foggy's leans back from the computer with a deep exhale. He watches the first minute in silence, then pauses the video. He looks up to Frank. "You kill him?"

Gangbanging is a young man's game, and the guy on the screen can't be more than twenty-five, which probably makes him a senior street-level guy. There are no bruises on his face, but he's definitely in pain. He's sitting behind whatever table the camera is sitting on, and he keeps looking up beyond the camera as he talks shakily.

Frank's seen it before, in person and after, so he doesn't pay attention, studying Foggy's face instead of the video. He doesn't glory in his work, just accepts it. "I can't follow the rules if I don't know 'em, Goldilocks." Letting out a breath he shrugs his shoulders again, not answering verbally. The tiny little smile at one corner of his mouth probably answers it for Foggy though. "You look like shit, Goldilocks. You should get more sleep."

The responding motion is violent for Foggy. He rips the drive right out of the computer monitor and chucks it against the wall. It clatters to the floor, almost taunting him in its wholeness. He runs both hands back through his hair, tugging it back, and turns his back on Frank. He starts to laugh, but it's rough and hollow — and short. He ducks his head and drops his shoulders, shoving his hands into the pockets of his slacks. He stares down at his brown shoes. "How in the fuck do you win in this world?" His words are heavy as lead. "The bad guys blow shit up, the good guys run around in masks; and since they run around in masks, when the bad guy tries to murder them, you really can't do shit about it, because who in the fuck is going to believe that this ordinary, normal guy is actually a vigilante." Then he turns to Frank. "And I don't know how to even start with you."

For a man often on a hair-trigger, Frank waits through Foggy's tirade, not even twitching when the lawyer rips out the thumb drive and throws it. He shoves his hands into his pockets as he waits, his brows lifting slightly, "I don't wear a mask." There's a pause, and then Frank realizes that Foggy really isn't talking about him, at least not until the end. "You know vigilantes." Not 'other' vigilantes, just 'vigilantes.' "You're friends with them. You're worried about them?" Frank is still human, although sometimes that's in question, and working his way through actual human emotions beyond pain and grief can be a slow process for him, especially when they're someone else's emotions that he's working through.

"Of course I'm worried about them!" Foggy gestures out expansively. "How in the fuck can I not be? They're my friends, and they are out there because they couldn't stand it anymore. Couldn't stand the unanswered cries for help, the injustice, the innocent lives lost." He points a finger at Frank now. "And then there's you. I heard the podcast, the interviews. The Colonel calls you a hero, but you're just going about killing the gangers who shot-up your family." The words are not the careful, empathetic words of a normal Franklin Nelson. They are angry, tired, and thinned.

"You know who you aren't helping? The woman whose husband beats the shit out of her every night because he has a shitty job, and of course it's her fault. He doesn't hit the kids though, not yet." He points out into the night. "Or how about the dealer who got a handful of rent-control kids on heroin, and now has them pulling petty crime jobs to pay off their debt? I don't see you doing shit about that, Frank."

Foggy looks up at the ceiling, too tired to choke back the tears that build up in his eyes. "My friends have been so caught-up going after Fisk that there's no one just keeping the streets safe for everyone else. And you know what? I don't know if I tell them, or I keep it to myself, because part of me is hoping that maybe, maybe, if they can just survive Fisk, they'll all decide that this isn't their goddamn job."

Once more, Frank lets the words roll over him like an angry blonde tide. At the talk about him, the veteran Marine's shoulders hunch, his hands burrowing deeper into his pockets, and he starts to shake his head, but still he lets the righteous anger flow undisturbed. Finally, when it runs out, Frank studies the lawyer closely, dark eyes intent, brow furrowed. "There's a lot more to you than they think there is, isn't there, Nelson?" His shoulders square out again, "The cops are who handle the asshole who hits his wife, or the dealer playing Fagin." There's a pause, "Yeah, I saw the movie." Because no one is ever going to suspect Frank Castle of having read Oliver Twist. "Those aren't people who deserve to die. That's why the law exists, to deal with them. If the cops don't, that's a problem with the cops." There's an awkward moment as Frank looks for the next words, and eventually he goes with, "Look, Nelson, when you're in the shit, you've got to trust the guy with his boots on the ground. You can't be second-guessing what he does, because you're not seeing it first-hand. What you gotta do is give them all the support you can. So how can you help them from here?" It's not an insult, based on the gravelly tone. If anything, it's a challenge.

"She won't go to the cops," Foggy says, deflating into his chair with a heavy squeak. "She won't call the cops, and neither will the kids, and that's the shit that's wrong with our legal system. Sure, the cops could get a tip-off, and go check out the wife, or look-in on the dealer, but sometimes that's as far as it goes." He could go on, he could tell Frank how he even knows about these people, how the wife came in to look for help getting into her trust because her husband blew through their bank account, or that the mother of one of the kids was seeking a legal way to get her daughter into rehab. Instead, he just breathes out a slow exhale that deflates him further. He looks up at Frank after a heartbeat. The veteran's question thins his mouth, and he reaches up to rub at his forehead.

"I don't know," he confesses after a heartbeat. "I don't know if there's anything I can do." And by his voice, that's been killing him. He's useless.

"They don't go to the cops because they don't trust them? They're afraid that they're on the take?" Frank shrugs a little helplessly, "Could be worse, could be Gotham." Shaking that off, he scowls his way back to seriousness again, "Might be that once Fisk is dealt with, that gets better." Looking around the office, Castle considers their surroundings, "They get caught by the cops, your friends are gonna need legal help. Hell, things get back, they'll need a place to crash, and at least you're keepin' the lights on here, so you've got a couch for when they need it. Even without your deadbeat partner." Because of course Frank never sees Matt here. Just in the alleys for punchups. "Who knows, maybe you can cover the little shit, Nelson." Maybe Foggy's rage has earned him a reprieve from 'Goldilocks.' "You're a lawyer, there's a PI around here, Jones, use her to dig shit up on these assholes, little stuff, and get their victims some breathing room until your friends deal with Fisk." A harsh little laugh scrapes its way up his throat, "Or hell, maybe after I finish my list, you give me a new one, and I drop the assholes on the doorstep of the nearest precinct." Beat pause, "Alive, of course."

"He's not a deadbeat," Foggy said without missing a beat. "He just… does other kinds of work." It's his best cover for Matt, but there's a level of protectiveness in his voice. Don't mess with Matt, it says. Then he rubs his hands across his face, rumpling up his hair once more. There's nothing attractive about that tousle. He looks up to Frank after a moment. "Fisk got to Jones." The words are delivered flatly. "Some sniper shot her from, like, a thousand feet. She's in a coma. So, yeah, she comes through, I'm sure I can get her to pull some stuff, but the reason she's out for the count is because she's already been sniffing around." But then, Frank says something that furrows Foggy's brows. It's… unexpected, based on VigiWatch's coverage on Frank. His mouth twitches a bit. "You'd do that?"

Frank doesn't take 'back off' vibes very well, unless he's already not particularly interested to begin with, and Matt Murdock, Esquire doesn't particularly interest him. The news about Jessica Jones is more serious, and surprise lights his features for a moment, "Shit. She's a pain in the ass, like Hornhead, but…" He shakes head, his habitual scowl quickly replacing the surprise on his face, "Probably means Fisk's feeling threatened." Which is cold comfort, if any comfort at all. At the question from Foggy, Frank looks down, shrugging a little uncomfortably, "I don't know." Shaking his head like a horse trying to throw off a fly, he hunches his shoulders even more, drawing up his walls again, "That all assumes I finish my list with Hornhead and Jones and Red going all soft-on-crime on me." He still bears some of the bruises from Daredevil and Batgirl showing just how 'soft on crime' they are.

He pieces together the Hornhead, and Jones is obvious, but… "Who's Red?" His mind is rapidly running down the list of Defenders and their various alter egos, or not alter egos as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones prove. Danny Rand doesn't favor the color red, and he's pretty sure that's not Kinsey's usual look either. Stumped by it, it takes him a heartbeat to get to the uncomfortable response from Frank. "I don't take homicide lightly." His mouth thins. "But I understand the law behind 'justifiable homicide.'" Every day that goes past, Foggy feels himself finding excuses for his friends… and whatever Frank is.

"Another nosy vigilante," is Frank's response to the query on 'Red.' Squaring off out of his slight hunch, Castle shakes his head, "I don't take homicide lightly either, Nelson. It's easy, but it ain't something you take lightly. You do it because it's gotta be done, because they deserve it." He gestures in the direction the thumb drive was flung, "You know it's gonna be damn near impossible to find someone who knows anything and who's gonna talk without being squeezed, right?"

There's a long breadth of silence between Frank's question and Foggy's reply. It comes quietly — a whispered admission. "I know." He then rubs roughly at his face, dragging his palms across his eyes before he cradles his head. He speaks without looking up. "You know what I've learned in the last couple years? Vigilantes all have the same goals, the same end. It's the means you really have to come to terms with. And then there's Foggy. He looks up after a heartbeat, meeting Frank's dark eyes. "How do you decide?" His voice is a bit hoarse. "How do you decide who deserves it?"

Frank nods slightly at Foggy's unwilling reply, accepting it at face value. Next guy… gets to look a lot less 'coerced.' He figures at some point there's a grey line where he can do what he needs to while still getting something useful. Just a question of finding that line. The wisdom from Franklin Nelson causes Francis Castle to nod a little more thoughtfully, but it's the question that follows it that gets his most thoughtful silence, "I think Hornhead and me, I think we're pretty much the same, except he doesn't know how to make that call. Me? It's easy for me." Suppressed anger slips into his voice, roughening his words even more than his normal voice already does, "Someone who kills kids? Kills innocents? They deserve it. Someone who hurts kids? Does sick things to them? They deserve it. That's easy."

Hornhead and me? We're the same. Foggy can't help but rub at his face again, feeling the tension build in his shoulders. A battle wages within the lawyer — the angel and devil throwing their fists and frustration at each other, while something else — the in-between — waits it out. There's a balance there, but what balance looks like? He has no idea. So, he instead stares up at Frank once he's scrubbed back his hair once more. "Justifiable homicide, then." Because no one is going to argue with that.

"Yeah. That." Frank steps back, half-turns, then looks back to Foggy, "I'll see what I can do about a cleaner vid." The trip to get the video camera — and a police scanner — was already well worth it, dealing out a little more 'justifiable homicide' to the pawn shop owner dealing kiddie porn. But if he can get something actually useful from it, that would be even better. After all, he's got a deal with the Devil's best friend, even if he doesn't know that Foggy is the Devil's best friend. "Have a beer, listen to some good music, try to take the edge off, Nelson. Then get your ass back in the fight."

Something about that has Foggy looking up at Frank. He didn't expect it, and it shows for a moment on his open, earnest face. Then his mouth sets and brow lowers a bit, and he nods in a firm agreement. "Stay safe out there, Castle." He hesitates. "And remember… we're all fighting the same fight, alright?" Which may or may not be a casual way to note that, yes Frank, you are a vigilante. You just don't know it yet. He looks back at his computer, and then reaches out to turn off the monitor with a press of the button. Getting a beer sounds great right about now.

Frank scoffs at the idea of staying safe, but nods slightly before he turns away and departs. Yes, he's definitely a vigilante, but just one with very particular targets… for now.

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