Different Codes

August 14, 2018:

When Daredevil tries to stop the Kitchen Irish from ambushing the Punisher, the two men's very different philosophies quickly bring them into violent conflict.

Hell's Kitchen


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Wilson Fisk, Foggy Nelson, Barbara Gordon

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

If New York City has taught Frank Castle anything it's that gangsters make stupid prey — particularly because they aren't used to being prey. They are used to posturing, and threatening, and taunting. Sure, they come after each other, taking out carefully chosen targets to play the gangsta game. But, blind annihilation — that's a game they aren't used to playing.

There's three of these unfortunate players that cut down the alley between one of the condemned apartment buildings and a commercial block that somehow was spared destruction. There's something a bit Billy Goats Gruff about these three — they look like brothers with the same mop of blond hair, the same serious hazel-colored eyes, and similar breadth in their shoulders; but put them side by side, and they go from tall, to taller, to tallest in a perfect ratio.

They spill down the alley until they get to one if the side entrances to the condemned building. The middle-tall one starts trying to get the jammed door to open, barreling his shoulder into it while the other two look frantically down where they came.

Frank Castle is just fine with stupid prey. What he doesn't like are prey that actually flee. It means he has to chase them down, and that's inefficient and time-consuming. On the hunt tonight, he's wearing his trenchcoat, letting it hide the sawed-off pump-action shotgun at his side from casual attention. With one hand on the pistol grip at his side, he peeks low around the corner, down where most people don't look.

Spotting the trio in front of the door he jammed earlier, he smirks to himself, murmuring under his breath, "One batch, two batch, penny and dime." Then he straightens up and walks boldly around the corner. He's not going to start shooting until he's at a range where he really can't miss, so the first half-dozen steps are simply his middling-tall frame (about the height of Gruff 1, with 2 and 3 significantly taller) striding down the dark passageway, shoulders broad as he leans forward slightly, as if it might make his advance quicker. Once he's in the alley proper, he brings up the illegally-shortened shotgun, grasping hold of the equally-illegal foregrip and jacking a round into the chamber.

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen has his hands full these days, with the hunt for Wilson Fisk. There are an unending number of leads to chase down, legwork to do, sources to work. But the bloody, fatal aftermath of that cartel raid on Foggy Nelson's home underscored his earlier encounter with Batgirl, and brought home the fact that this 'Punisher,' aka Frank Castle, requires his attention too.

Batgirl's files on Castle are golden on that count, because they tell him Frank's targets. Want to find the Punisher? Find the Kitchen Irish. And that's what Matt does — in his own way. Frank hides in plain sight, behind trench coats and cover of night. Matt creeps and leaps on rooftops, and he's above this one too now. He stands on the roof of a building opposite the apartment building and reaches out with his senses, not just towards the three or Frank but to get a lay of the land in that strange way only he can.

But there isn't time to do much recon, not with Frank close to his prey. He detaches his billy club and hurls it across to the other roof — that clink of metal will be the first thing that announces him. The rest follows, swinging quickly through the night air and towards the three Irish gangsters as Frank draws his shotgun.

Matt's senses hum. In a city full of people, it is sometimes hard to pick the right noises. But when there's supposed to be a void of noise and its instead occupied with the sound of movements, breathing, and heartbeats. People are inside that building. Squatters, maybe?

Down in the alley, the oldest brother, and thus the shortest brother by Billy Goats Gruff rules, spots Frank's approaching shadow first. His eyes widen, and he grabs solidly onto the back of his youngest brother, and thus the tallest. "Get the fucking door open, Seamus," he growls to the middling brother who takes a broad step back and then kicks twice at the door before it falls open into the dim.

The oldest chucks the youngest in by his jacket just before the clink resounds from above, and then the sight of the approaching Devil catches his eye. "You've got to be shitting me."

The oldest gestures the middle brother inside. All the while, his eyes make steady contact with Frank as the Punisher approaches.

Frank's senses are on high alert as well — not Devil of Hell's Kitchen high alert, but veteran combat Marine high alert. The clink of metal draws his head up, worried for an ambush, but then he sees swinging motion instead, and his eyes drop down toward his prey again, his finger tightening on the trigger a little sooner than he wants to. Have to get the shots out before the interruption gets in the way. Still, the shotgun erupts even as Frank's eyes lock on those of the eldest Irish Gruff. Deep down, there is anger, but on the surface? Calm as thin ice.

It's only a short span of heartbeats between Daredevil swinging off that rooftop and his inevitable impact. In that narrow window, with the wind in his ears, there's a split-second decision to aim his landing towards the largest goat, feet first and intent on driving him into the wall — and out of the line of fire of Frank's impending shot. If he can, he'll roll into a rise and yank that grappling hook back down, which will claim a few more precious seconds that allow Frank, the Guffs, and whoever is behind that door to act.

Only one of the Gruffs manages to get inside the building before Frank Castle is shooting and the Daredevil is swinging into the fray. The middling brother is staggering safely inside, turning sharply to see his oldest brother catch a shoulder full of shotgun fire and his youngest sprawling out across the alley floor.

"He's got the Devil with him!" This shout is bellowed into the dark building, and there's the sound of scuffling and footsteps and suddenly the door is a chokepoint for three more Irish to come spilling out. One grabs for the bloodied Gruff, but the other five are bearing weapons — knives, billy clubs, and one pistol. What had been intended to be an ambush inside is now an ambush outside.

Boom-clickity. Frank fires and pumps another shell into the chamber. And then there are other targets. His eyes flicker over to the Devil as the man takes one of the targets out of the line of fire, and his lips tighten — and so does his hand on the pistol grip of the shotgun. "You going to fuck with me again, Hornhead?" As soon as the shotgun is reloaded, he aims for the man leaving the door with the pistol, aiming to drop the other man in the alley with a firearm.

You going to fuck with me again, Hornhead? Frank growls at him. "You're welcome!" Daredevil throws back as the ambush intended to consume the Punisher quickly materializes. He has two sticks, two targets, and scant time. He sending both of them singing in opposite directions. First towards the shaft of Frank Castle's shotgun, the other towards the head of the man bearing the pistol.

But stopping this from becoming a lethal encounter means more than trying to take the guns out of the picture. There's half-a-dozen men with weapons that could be deadly in their own right, and they're advancing quickly. Daredevil launches himself towards the other two men, striking with his fist and feet. "I'll help you put them down, 'Punisher,'" he shouts as he fights. "Help get your information, whatever, but like I said: no killing in my neighborhood."

While Daredevil lays down the rules with the Punisher, the Kitchen Irish are busy trying to break them. The slam of the stick against Frank's rifle spares the pistol-wielder who in-turn tries to put a few holes in Frank's chest with several quick pulls of the trigger. This pairs well with the two being attacked by the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, but the superior melee of the vigilante has one already on the ground and the other scrambling back for the cover of the condemned building.

The oldest Gruff throws a bloodied shoulder into Matt, slipping on the blood from his younger brother to land hard on the cold pavement. His hands grasp for Matt's armor, trying to get a grip despite the blood on his fingers.

Again with the sticks. Frank's shot misses, and he takes a bullet to the chest in response, sent staggering back with the sawed-off shotgun dangling on its sling in response to the stick and the bullet. Bent over for a moment, Frank snarls as the other bullets go awry, "Are you fucking kidding?" Apparently, he's not dying. That's the benefit of wearing a ballistic vest, even if it makes you sweat like something that isn't a pig. It still makes him hurt, though. Exploding out of his crouch, he moves to close with the nearest knife-wielder, his left hand reaching out for the wrist of a knifeman's weapon-hand and then the heel of his right hand snaps up, looking to hit the back of the man's elbow to try and snap it. "It's not your damned neighborhood." Whether the blow to the elbow lands, Frank surges forward to plant his right shoulder in the man's chest, trying to put the man between him and the pistol. "Right now, it's theirs."

The thing about the sticks is that they work — or at least the one sent Frank's way does. But the bloodied shoulder from one of the Irish sent the second one askew, skittering towards the wall instead of the head of the gunman, who then manages to pops a shot off at Frank's chest despite Daredevil's best attempts at interference.

Can't win them all, and at least the Punisher came prepared. Even as he's grappling with the Irish, Daredevil processes the sound of bullet thudding into kevlar instead of running through flesh like tissue paper, and feels a strange sense of relief.

All of that's in the background, though, because in the moment he's tussling with the largest of the Guffs, who is still trying to grapple with him from his vantage on the floor. The man is big — bigger than the Devil of Hell's Kitchen — but the vigilante brings some of his trademark ferocity to the fight. His fist slams quickly and repeatedly into the face of the older man trying to pull him down with blood-slickened fingers.

Right now it's theirs! Frank says of Matt's bombed-out-neighborhood. "It doesn't have to be!" Matt shouts once the elder Guff collapses back onto the ground, face bloodied and sans a few teeth. "I want to break these guys too, but not with bullets."

He doesn't look behind him as he shouts, doesn't wait for a reply. He just makes a low darting rush towards the guy with the gun that turns into a spinning kick at his head.

Everything is in chaos.

The sound of a bone snapping resonates in Frank's ear at his well-timed and placed palm, and the knifeman cries out in a scream of pain. His knife rattles to the dirty and sooty concrete, and all he can do is throw out a punch with his off-hand. It barely connects with Frank's shoulder before he's being staggered just as his pistol-wielding friend peppers the Irish's back in lead.

With a fleshy thud, the largest of the Gruff's slumps forward after being thoroughly throttled by Matt. He's left bloodied, breath coming in through a wheeze. The pistoleer barely has time to turn his weapon toward Daredevil before his bell is being rung by the sharp kick to the head. He drops in that one hit, weapon going off twice more as his trigger finger maintains a grip on the hair-trigger.

There's the sound of running feet as two Irish start to flee, leaving the bodies — both dead and unconscious — of their brothers behind. There's the sounds of shouting still inside: "Don't leave us, man! Come back! Shit! Remus, get the fuck up!" There's one Irish trying to tug the shot Gruff to his feet, but the guy looks catatonic.

Frank doesn't shout, which is probably for the best. When he's shouting, no one wants to be near him. Instead, his voice is a growl, "Don't care if it's bullets. They're just easier." His shoulder takes a weakened punch from the man whose arm he just broke, pulling a grunt to his lips, and then he drops the man's arm after he serves as a bullet shield. The additional pair of bullets from the pistoleer's gun causes Frank to twist his head aside, probably unnecessarily, and then there's bloodied bodies on the ground, one person trying to haul a shot man up to his feet and two running targets. With barely a glance to Matt, Frank forgoes the shotgun hanging from its sling at his side, reaching instead for a pistol at the small of his back, the weapon clearing leather and snapping up in a two-handed grip, aimed at the pair of runners. And then he does look at Matt, "The only way to make sure they don't come back like cockroaches is to put them down for good, Hornhead. So what's it gonna be?" The pistol is still aimed unwaveringly toward the two runners, tracking them as they sprint toward the end of the alleyway. It's not like it's a difficult shot, even with another few dozen paces to allow for an answer from the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.

The gunman goes down, and the Devil of Hell's Kitchen kicks the pistol out of his fallen hand for good measure, sending it skidding along the pavement. He turns immediately to Castle, who has his own terse explanation for his tactics, and a next move in store.

For all his very real disabilities, Daredevil is better than most at gauging distances and angles. He knows he'll never close the distance before Frank gets a shot off at the fleeing Kitchen Irish. Trying will only hasten their death. So he throws a Hail Mary of his own:

"I know why you're doing this, Frank," he says, lowering his voice down to its regular rasp. "Or at least part of why. I know about what happened in the park. And I — I get it. I may be able to help. I want to help. But not if you pull that trigger."

One of the runners staggers, careening into the alley wall before he abruptly disappears around a corner. The second is trying to follow after the other Irish, but he slips on the pavement and his the ground. This all happens while Matt tosses out his Hail Mary. It may save the ganger who is trying to get to his feet and out of sight.

Inside the building, the last Gruff and his friend are hauling back into the shadows of the building toward an alternative exit.

Frank watches the runners run, then turns back to Daredevil, eyeing him for a moment. "You want to help, come on. There's still two inside." The tight grin that he flashes at the other vigilante is… not really a smile, more a showing of teeth, "Don't have to use a gun." And then he stops, turning fully toward the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, "But you've got three choices, Hornhead. You can get onboard, you can get out of my way, or you can put yourself on their side. Choice is yours, right now."

Matt can hear them go, down the alley, into the building, scattering like aforementioned cockroaches under a sudden and harsh beam of light. The ones going down the alley he can chase down if he gets his escrima sticks back and swings his way to higher ground.

But then Frank is making his own proposition.

Don't need bullets, he says. "If no more people die tonight? Sure. I'll help you chase them down, tie them up, and get them brought up on charges. Weapons, assault, murder of one of their own. Each of them could see long stints in prison if we handle this right. And then we can turn our attention to what happened in that park, and why."

A beat, and then that horned head Frank loves to comment on cocks to the right. "If you're down for that, I am," Daredevil says with a spread of his hands to the man brandishing a pistol. "Clock's ticking, though."

"No, Hornhead. That's not what we're talking about. You tie them up, you put them down, they get back up again." Frank's pistol is pointed down, safe(ish), but still held steadily in both hands. "I put them down, they don't get back again. They don't hurt anyone else ever again." His left hand leaves the pistol, pointing down toward the victim of friendly fire, "This guy? Sean Mannion. Drug-runner. Not to kids or anything, but high schools, colleges. No proof, but that's what I've heard." Looking back up to Matt, he shakes his head, "He goes to jail? He's back out in months, a year tops, and he's selling again. Now? Nobody else gets hooked, nobody else gets shot." He points into the building where the sounds of escape are fading to his ears, "You want to help this finish faster, you help me do it my way. Otherwise, get the hell out of my way."

"You heard," Daredevil repeats after Frank Castle lays out the likely sins of the dying man at their feet. The skepticism is plain in his voice, even low and gravelly as he makes it. "I'm willing to bet that none of these assholes are angles, Frank, and all of them should be in jail. But going around killing everyone who you've ever heard did something unconscionable isn't sustainable. Not for you, not for this city."

Five months ago, Daredevil's reaction to Frank may have been very different. But after the crucible of Wilson Fisk — from which he still hasn't emerged — there's a kernel of empathy in him. This is a man who lost everything, Matt reminds himself. He was ready to kill Ranskahov brothers and Wilson Fisk over the murder of eight women he didn't know; this man lost his entire family.

And yet, still: "What does finishing look like to you, Frank?" Daredevil presses. "I don't mean mop-up after one foiled ambush. I mean when do you put the gun down?"

Frank blinks in surprise, not that Matt can actually see the surprise. He can probably hear it though — hell, he can probably smell it. "You don't know then. I didn't plan to kill him because he was a drug dealer. He's on my list. Once the list is done, so am I." Evidently, he's sure enough that he can catch the runners later that he's willing to talk some, even if the words sound like they've been dragged out of him over half a mile of gravel road, "For now, I'm checking them off one box at a time. Or two. Or three. And you've still got a choice in front of you. Are we going to have a problem?"

Frank says his kill-list is a finite thing. When he's crossed off every name like some kind of demented Santa Claus, he's done. Is that any different, really, than what the Defenders have been toying with on the matter of Wilson Fisk? Just one and done, there. But what difference, really, between one and twenty?

Especially when those twenty are responsible for the murder of children?

These are the thoughts that go through Matt Murdock's head, unvoiced, as Frank lays the choice before him one last time. He could let him go, free to hunt down the remaining Irish, while he focuses on the single name that looms large in his own vigilante life.

It's a tempting prospect.

"No," Matt says with a shake of his head as he arrives at his answer. "I'm not going to let you keep shooting up this neighborhood. I could talk a lot about justice and redemption, but besides all that — eventually there's going to be crossfire, Frank. Today it was one of their own. Tomorrow, it could be a civillian. I'd help you put them away, but this shooting war has got to stop."

He cricks his head left, then right. "So if that's a sticking point? I guess we've got ourselves a problem."

Frank Castle watches Matt's hesitation, dark eyes intent, but when the Devil of Hell's Kitchen refuses the deal with the Punisher, the veteran Marine rolls his shoulders a little as he listens to the reasons, stretching ribs and muscles aching from the impact of the bullet through his kevlar vest. The reasons… the reasons matter less to Castle than the fact that Daredevil has placed himself squarely between him and his prey — again. His breathing deepens, speeds just a little, and his pulse jumps up. For someone with normal senses, there would just be the slight widening of Frank's dark eyes to warn them, easily lost in the darkness of the alley. There's a lot more for Matt Murdock.

The pistol comes up quickly though, very quickly indeed. It's a feint, however, because first he has to know if the other man is prepared like he is. So while most people would be focusing on the pistol suddenly pointed in their direction, Frank takes two quick steps forward and rears back, aiming to put a boot square into Matt's chest. Best way to find out if someone is wearing kevlar and trauma plates? Kick them, apparently. "Sounds like we've got ourselves a problem, Hornhead."

The fact is, Matt may not even need the nonvisual cues that preview Frank's aggression to know that something was coming. Right now these are two men coming from different places and different codes, united only by their mutual targets and stubborn orneriness. A fight was really inevitable.

And it comes, not with the firing of a pistol but with a well placed boot on the Daredevil's scarlet chest. The blow is meant to test — see how much resistance it meets, whether the vigilante's costume has more than just theatrical value. The costume certainly doesn't look like much, seeming skin-tight and some cross between leather and fabric. A blow like that, without benefit of real tactical body armor, should knock a man Daredevil's size on his ass.

It doesn't. Thank genius whiz Jane Foster and her hours of toling on carbon naontube bodyarmor in Stark Tower, recompense from saving her from the Ranskahov brothers more than a year ago. Daredevil grunts and stumbles back — briefly winded — before he smiles. It's slight, with something like relish. For all he talks a big game about 'no killing', something in him has always loved a good fight.

And here it comes, with Matty attempting to get in close enough to neutralize that gun and get in a solid rapid fire punch. Maybe he'll even break Frank's nose again.

Daredevil smiles. Frank smiles. There's armor there. That means the gun's in play. And then it's out of play again, knocked away off-target by the quick blow of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. The Devil is fast, maybe even faster than Frank. The veteran Marine can't get his head out of the way of the second strike, but at least he turns it a little so that the flaring burst of pain spreads from nose and cheek alike instead of straight out from his nose. The blow knocks him back and aside a step, and immediately starts his nose bleeding. It might have even been a knock-out blow on some men. On Frank Castle, it's definitely not. Instead, he wades back into the other vigilante.

Despite his reassurances as to the other man's protection, the pistol remains a relative feint, swinging back in to try and line up on Daredevil's chest again, even as Frank steps closer and tries to throw a forearm and elbow to side of the horned head. No point using his knuckles against armor that will stop a bullet or a full-legged kick, it's just going to split them to no avail.

If Matt knew Frank better, he might see the repeated feint with the gun for what it is. But he doesn't know Frank, really. He only knows Batgirl's file and Frank's body count, and so he has to take it seriously. Jane said a lot of things about ranges and calibers when she gave him that suit, but it's not as if it's ever been put up to a full ballistics stress test.

Years ago, Stick taught him that the best way to counter a strike wasn't with a block, but to be faster, and get in there with a strike of your own. That's what he does, delivering an open palmed hit towards the bicep's that lifting that gun up, intending not only to knock the gun out of play but maybe, momentarily, the arm.

His focus there allows Frank to get his blow in on a head that was already ringing from that cold-cock the Cartel guy got in the other night at Foggy's. The elbow lands solidy, whipping Daredevil's head down and to the side and drawing an angry grunt from the man in red.

He strikes back, using the close quarters to go for a sharp knee to Frank's gut. They're just trading blows now. Never where you want to be in boxing, but there it is.

Frank doesn't box, but if he did, this is exactly where he would want to be. Trading blows, taking damage to deal it out. His arm is knocked aside, but his forearm lands, and then he curls around Daredevil's knee, losing his breath in a sharp huff. Pain flashes up to his brain as he struggles to draw breath, but his left hand is already scrabbling at Matt's leg, awkward at its angle as he tries to grasp and push the other vigilante away, to clear room to bring up his right arm again. Create a pattern, Frank. He works to draw attention to the pistol again, even as his arm aches at the bicep and the wrist from the Devil's strikes, trying to clear a path for left foot to snap in toward the outside of his opponent's right knee.

Frustration and anger sink into Frank's mind as he recognizes that he's outmatched skill-to-skill, but he fights them off even as he struggles with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, trying to form a pattern of feints with the pistol so that his opponent will ignore it one of these critical moments.

The 'Punisher' may feel himself trailing behind Daredevil, but he's also a far higher caliber of fighter than Matt is used to facing on the streets — outside of Wilson Fisk's doppleganger. Resillient, canny, and trained — this is not a fight that Matt wants to drag out, much as he may have privately enjoy it going in.

Frank wants to create a trap for Daredevil, bringing the pistol out in a series of feints until he can finally use it to gain advantage. For similar reasons, Matt Murdock is no longer content with simply knocking the pistol off course. He wants it gone, not just to protect himself, but to take it out of the equation when it comes to the battered, dying, or fleeing men all around them.

Before, he tried to strike the arm that held the gun; now he grabs for the right hand with his dominant left one, trying to turn the pistol (and the finger in the cage of that trigger) in a way that twists Frank's wrist and sets up a disarm that leave him in possession of it. However well-executed that move is, it does leave him (knowingly) open to that knee kick. There's not enough force behind it to break anything — his armor is too durable, his stance loose enough to avoid the kind of locking or tension that would make the joint truly vulnerable — but it still hurts like hell. His world and nerve endings alight in pain and he lets out a cry of rage.

Just on the edges of Matt's perception, he can hear the sirens. The NYPD is on the scene, their red and blue lights flashing against the burned-out brickwork of the bombed brownstone. A car skids to a stop just at the entry of the alleyway, and a flood of light is sent down the alley to illuminate the vibrant red and dull black of the pair. The doors open just before a voice calls out from behind the shield of the police car. "NYPD, drop your weapons!"

Brett Mahoney got the call minutes ago, where he had been parked several blocks up. The Devil and suspected Frank Castle spotted. Approach with caution. No one had reported the Kitchen Irish leftovers being there. This was a throwdown between two so-called vigilantes. He looks down the sights of his pistol, and between the two, he can't decide which one to target. He goes for Castle, choosing the most unknown.

And that was the risk that Frank ran, putting his right arm and its pistol out there so many times. He tries to draw his hand back, but recognizes the grasp just a hint too late. Pain jolts up his arm, and he holds tight to the pistol's grip a little longer than is prudent, then lets it go with a snarl. He almost goes for his backup gun then, the one at the small of his back, but instead he matches Matt's anger with his own bellow of rage, surging forward to try and plant his left shoulder into the Devil's stomach and drive him off his feet. The sirens pierce even Frank's rage-clouded mind, but they don't find a hold there, at least not yet.

A sturdier Frank Castle bellows and barrels into Matt, shoulder driving him into stomach. A big move like that — even in close quarters — is exactly the kind that Matt can 'see' coming with those senses that Bucky Barnes once noted border on something like precog.

If he weren't so deep in the fight he'd try for some judo or jujitsu — evade and throw, that sort of thing — but even knowing it's coming he absorbs the charge of the heavier man straight on so that he can ready his own right elbow to come jabbing towards Frank's temple at the same time.

The end result on his end is Daredevil stumbling back on his heels, Frank's gun in hand, just in time for the police to arrive. Fuckin' great. Relations with the police have been, fraught, shall we say, since the FBI made him a person of interest in the murder of all those women Fisk tried to pin on him months ago. Drop your weapons, they say. He tries to send the gun skidding behind him, and farthest away from Frank. "Don't think I'm the only one between you and them now," he says with grim rue to Frank.

"Hands where I can see them!" Mahoney tracks his weapon between Daredevil and the Punisher, unable to actually make any kind of shot despite the fact his finger twitches alongside the pistol. He grimaces, shaking his head. "Last warning, or I'll shoot!"

His partner has gotten out of the car, her own weapon trained down the spotlit alleyway.

Frank is driven down by that elbow to the temple, one foot pressing into the grime of the alley to steady him as he tries to shake off the blow. His feet shift, starting to gather his balance to charge again, but the shout from the police causes him to rethink that course of action. Still down on one knee, he flattens out his hands, as if he were going to start lifting them up for the police. "You stay between me and them, someone's getting hurt, Hornhead." Because the blood streaming from his nose, the ache in his ribs, and the ringing in his ears isn't getting hurt, apparently. Instead of rising to his feet, however, Frank bolts forward, staying low, aiming to burst past Daredevil and through the door out of the alley, in the direction the Irish fled. "See you, Hornhead."

"People already are, Castle," Matt throws back, with real frustration. But Frank's gambit, the whole situation, leaves Daredevil with a choice. He could use some judo or akido on a charging Castle and send him to the floor, allow the cops to charge him with the murders he's been racking up, and call it a day. He literally just stopped Frank from killing some men on the streets of Manhattan; this is very much in his job description.

He doesn't. Both because he knows Frank's story, and because he knows the feelings that are driving Frank to do the things he's doing. Has felt them too — recently, in fact.

Like any DA, any cop, Daredevil chooses who to take in. It's a judgment call, a matter of capacity and discretion. Or at least so he tells himself. He lets Frank go, uses the opportunity of a scattering Punisher to go low and scatter himself, snatching up his batons as he weaves towards the shadows of the street, aware of the raised weapons and even the likely trajectory of their bullets before any are fired. He'll head straight for the shadows, the walls he can scale and climb and leap from into the anonymous New York night.

"Castle, shit!" Mahoney advances out from behind the car door as Frank starts to run. He bellows for Frank to freeze, and gives a warning shot to the man's back, but then he's gone. And as for the Devil of Hell's Kitchen? Also gone.

"Goddamn wall-crawlers," his partner says under her breath. "We got it as bad as Brooklyn."

Mahoney breathes out a slow exhale, lowering his gun. "Call it in. Castle sighted. I want this entire area swept."

Vigilantes, man…

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