No Revenge for the Righteous

September 10, 2018:

Danny gives Luke a more creative outlet for his rage to finally disarm that ticking time bomb.

Power Man's New Playground

A Rand owned piece of property by the rail lines gifted as a gym fit for Cage sized pounding.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Danny Rand has not been the most available person over the last few days - either physically or emotionally. With all the bad press, he has to be careful about where he goes and what he does. The paparazzi are getting a bit too good at tracking his non-ninja movements. That means he hasn't been to Jess' bedside, though he has texted Luke and phoned him a few times to offer his reassurances and his condolences. The words feel empty though, because what can you really say at a time like this?

A text comes to Luke, asking where he is, and Danny offers to send a car to pick him up.

The driver takes Luke down to the dockyards. There's a soft bite to the early September air, which is a relief from the humidity. Once he arrives, another text chirrups in his phone.

« Walk along the tracks until you see the toppled train car. »

Luke could be forgiven for feeling uneasy about all this, if it weren't for the fact that he gets let through a chain link fence by a security guard. A worn sign indicates that the property is owned by Rand Industries.

*

To say it's been a rough week is an understatement. With Jess' condition still showing no change, Luke's daily routine has consisted of a near constant vigil at her bedside, shooing away (at least with decreasing ferocity) any nurses that are tending to her non-medical needs and tending to that responsibility himself down to brushing her hair and applying lip balm to her cracked lips. He manages sleep, if one could call it that, by benefit of the couch and lounge chair that Owen had brought in. Still, he's starting to grow restless with the impending raid on Fisk's abandoned subway hideout.

The text from Rand couldn't have been better timed.

The mountain of a man has the hood to his sweatshirt pulled up against the chill on his neck, hands thrust deep into the kangaroo pocket and fisted there. Obediently he heads to where Danny has indicated, glad for the distraction. Glad to be out in the open air. But still his thoughts seem to clog his eyes, making them appear a little flat as he looks around for Rand. "Yo, Dee. Where you at, man?"

*

"Here," calls Danny. He hops down from the top of the overturned rail car with the ease of someone else hopping over a short fence. "Thought you could use some air. C'mon." He's wearing a hoodie and blue jeans. That seems to be the default Defenders uniform, at least when two of them are not in their fancy ballistic suits. "It occured to me that you can't really let loose in my gym. My dummies can take a lot of punishment, but not of the kind you can dish out."

He moves to another fenced area of the rail yard, except this time there's no security guard. He rolls the combination into a substantial padlock, undoes the heavy chain and pushes the gate back.

Beyond that, there's an outdoor gym purpose-built for Power Man. A backhoe that sits idly by was clearly used to position a variety of challenges. There's a massive tire from a bulldozer, a pillar of steel, and various other construction detritus that looks like it could stand up to a punch or two from Luke before it would be rendered junk.

Danny motions to an old brick building with half a roof that is covered in graffiti. "Plus…thought it might save me on the demo costs."

*

There is a bit of a grimace from Luke that looks faintly guilty at the notion that Cage can't 'cut loose' at Rand's place. Clearly his buddy hasn't surveyed the damage he left on the roof yet. He'll apologize for that later when he's working down his list of amends for his shitty behavior the past seven days, if he survives that far. If he cares if he survives that far. His shoulders roll tighter as he tails after Danny like a dark shadow, but there's something that shifts in him when he sees the Luke sized playground that his friend has built up for him.

He just stands there, gobsmacked for a moment at the thoughtfulness as he takes in everything with a slow turn in a circle. "Now that's what I'm talking about." It's the first time since Jess' shooting that he's even sounded remotely like himself. Thick fingers come up to tug at his zipper, shrugging out of his hoodie with a slow nod in time to some unheard beat.

*

"We must know how much damage we can deal so we know how to moderate ourselves when we need to. And we need to know how to not use our full strength even when we're provoked." Danny really means the two of them when he says that. He might not be bulletproof, but the Fist is a devastating weapon.

He walks up to one of the strong pillars of steel and pulls his hands out of his hoodie pockets. He mimes a one-two punch. "Figured this would be a better punching bag than anything made of padding and wood would ever be."

*

His grey sweatshirt gets tossed aside to a pile of rubble and Luke makes a sucking noise against his teeth. "One day you're trying to teach me how to fully let go, the next you're telling me to learn how to pull my punches. So which is it, Dee?" There is a mild hint of irritation creeping back into his voice as he begins to systematically crack his knuckles on one hand and then repeats the process on the opposing. "If this is about Fisk, man, I already told Matt I'm making no promises." He still approaches the pillar near Danny, not letting the ulterior motive completely dampen his mood. "You guys should have organized better. We could've had one big intervention and gotten it out of the way."

*

"This isn't an intervention, Luke. This is…" Danny shakes his head and tosses a hand up. "This is for your own safety. You fight with berzerker rage, you make mistakes. You make mistakes…you lose. I don't want you to lose." He steps over to Luke and sets a hand on either one of the big man's shoulders. "You're all coiled up. I just want you to beat the shit out of some inanimate objects so you can fight with a clearer head. Okay?"

He claps both of Luke's shoulders and drops his hands. "I'm not here to tell you to not kill Fisk. It worries me what you might become if you do, but this is Jessica we're talking about here. He nearly killed Matt, too. He killed eight thousand people. A soldier can't go into battle without clarity of purpose and a clear head." Says the man who has neither at the moment. Else both Jessica and Matt would be healed by now.

"Look, I'm not asking you to pull your punches. I'm asking you to know your own arsenal. So when it comes down to it, you know when to save your strength, and how much damage you can really do."

*

Luke's head dips slightly when Danny grabs him by the shoulders, that movement seeming to ground him for a moment before his anger floats him away again. There's a huff of air from his nose, quiet but conceding. "Anybody ever told you, you should write fortune cookies?" His voice is hoarse when he forces the levity into it, but there is a grateful note that charms it into something less harsh.

Released from the friendly grip, Luke cranes his neck, tilting his head back and forth to ease some of the tension from his muscles then shakes out his arms to do the same. "Don't suppose you've got some of your lame ass tunes?" His hands ball up into fists, and he falls back into a loose interpretation of a boxer's stance and eyes the pillar again. Time to make some dents.

*

"Hey, I thought you liked my tunes," says Danny. In another context, that would be almost quippy. But he's not really feeling it either. He's trying to be strong for his friend, but all of it sounds a bit like fortune cookies to him as well.

He rocks back a few steps to give Luke space. "Stay as long as you like. Beat the shit out of everything in this yard. Collapse that building," he nods towards the wreck. "Just lock the gate when you're done. And leave your rage here."

*

"You're not staying? Correct me if I'm wrong, but you could use a little centering yourself." Luke's attention is on the tower of metal however, eyeing it until his eyes sort of blur with the vision of something else. Whatever he's facing, whether it be the darkness or Kingpin himself. There is a roar from the bulletproof man, pouring it out in a verbal scream of his lungs before his fist pulls back.

They're right. He does telegraph his punches.

There is a loud clang, like a wrecking ball struck the pillar instead of a fleshy glove surrounding bones. The lingering ring is music to his ears, singing the song of every one of his nerves.

*

"This playground wasn't built for me." Someone else might wince or jump when Luke's fist hits the pillar, but Danny keeps a steady gaze. "…and if I did that right now, I'd break my fist." It isn't something that he's wanted to admit, but he's been rattled since the first bit of bad press. Blackmail, destruction, death - all of it has kept him off-balance. Fisk might not know what he can do, but he came up with a strategy to take the Iron Fist out of the game regardless.

*

Maybe it would give him more satisfaction if he pulled away with split knuckles or an ache in his bone, but Luke barely registers the force of the blow, despite leaving an indent of the ridges of his fingers into the face of the metal. "I'll make him pay." His other fist slams into the pillar, rattling loose a rusted rivet. "For you." CLANG. "For Jess." Again. "For Matt." Each blow comes harder and faster than the last, driving the dent further concave with every hit that follows. There isn't enough pillar for all the people of the Kitchen who were lost.

*

"This can't be about revenge, Luke," says Danny. He keeps his distance, hands finding his pockets again. "Revenge is selfish. This has to be about saving lives, about preventing more destruction. And if that requires the death of Fisk, then so be it. But this city would be better served by dragging him into the light so that everyone can know who did this to them. Men like him don't survive the light. Why do you think he got so angry that we know his name?"

He dips his head, then lifts it again. "And if this has to be about revenge? I can't think of any better than this whole city knowing the name Wilson Fisk."

*

Luke hears those words. He knows those words. He's heard them before from a different voice, phrased a different way, but they're working their way into his bones like the fist is boring into the metal. They're still echoing around in his head the same as the sound of his fist hitting the pillar.

He stops striking, gripping both sides of the column and dropping his head to the cold metal to temper the heat boiling in his brain. "Why can't I be selfish. Just this once, man."

*

"Because you're a hero, Luke. I know you don't like that mantle. I know you just think you're just doing right by people, but it's more than that. And it means you can make the hard choices. It means you can be better than your enemies."

Danny scuffs at the ground. "Look, call me naive and idealistic. Everyone does. But what you don't know is, I've dented a pillar just like that. I've had to choose to not ignite the fist when I was taking down a drug dealer who was selling meth to twelve year olds. Being the good guy means never getting to be selfish. And it sucks." He shrugs, "But there's a reason the bad guys kill their enemies. That's the easy way to deal with it. And you can't tell me Luke motherfucking Cage wants to take the easy way out. Shit." He reaches into his wallet, then digs out a few bills. He waves them around. "Remind me to put these in the jar."

*

There is a snort from Luke as he straightens away, seeing Danny wave the bills around. "Everyone gets a pass on the swear jar right now, man. Otherwise…I'm going to need a loan." He turns his spine to the pillar, letting the chill seep in through the thin material of his t-shirt that's starting to stick to his skin from the light sheen of sweat. "Nothing about this is easy, Danny. We've all been stripped apart. That's why you can't pull up your glow, right?"

*

Danny rubs the back of his head and looks down. "I'm so sorry. I tried. I meditated for…for hours." He looks down at his hand and flexes his fingers. "I can still feel it. It's still there. Still coiled around my spine. But I need…clarity to pull it up and I'm a little short on that right now, too. I know it's the worst possible timing."

*

"If I can't blame myself for Jessica, you don't get to blame yourself about your powers. Fisk did this to us. Fisk TOOK them from us." Luke pushes off his lean, heading towards Danny. When the tractor tire blocks his path, instead of going around it he just gives it a shove with the sole of his boot and sends it scuttering off to the side. "And killing him…" Luke stabs a finger at the ground, the words dying off. Steeling himself he tries again, "And killing him…isn't going to be what brings them back." Of course. That's what Danny and Matt have been trying to tell him all along. He just had to get there himself, and it pulls the air out of his lungs.

*

There's not many people who would calm down a rage-filled Luke Cage who just kicked a massive tire like a piece of trash. But Danny trusts him. He nods once when his friend comes to that realization. "No. But we can make sure he doesn't hurt anyone else. Defend people, don't avenge them."

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