CUTSCENE: Wrath and Pride

September 26, 2018:

Jim Gordon calls Samantha Reyes to learn more about Frank Castle. It is a fatal call.

Jim Gordon's Office - Samantha Reyes's Office

It's Jim Gordon's study.

Characters

NPCs: Jim Gordon, Samantha Reyes, Blake Tower

Mentions: The Punisher

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Ten good cops dead, two-thirds of them his, and Jim Gordon needed answers. If evidence was to be believed — and as a cop who rose through the ranks in Gotham City, the first question you asked was always whether or not the evidence could be believed — Frank Castle came to his city to kill cops.

But it didn’t track.

All Jim had learned about Castle was that he was a man on a mission, and blind killing wasn’t his mission parameters. Zane Oldman’s broadcasts on VigiWatch combined with what little New York PD had done to profile this so-called Punisher suggested Castle targeted criminals. The thirteen names on Gordon’s list had nothing to do with Castle’s type.

Cops were dead, and Jim Gordon needed answers. So, he stood in his study of his family’s house, and used his archaic desk phone to call the only person who would give him those answers. She picked up her phone at the first ring.

“Reyes.”

“Samantha, this is Jim.”

The silence on the line made him think the call had been dropped. He waited for a second longer, before he prompted a bit more gently: “Samantha?”

“Yes, Jim… sorry. I… wasn’t expecting your call.” Her voice was tight. None of them had slept, all of them on careful edge. They had come together to collaborate on the topic of vigilantes, and the worst of those vigilantes had shown what happens when that brand of justice is given an ounce of leeway.

“No, I can’t imagine you were.” Gordon eased back in his desk chair with a familiar, well-nurtured creak. He turned slowly to look out onto the sunlit backyard, lawn already dotted yellow with the first leaf-fall. The twin swings on the old swing set swayed in the gentle autumn breeze. In his memory’s eye, he could still see his thirteen-year-old niece — not yet adopted, but already mourning the loss of her parents — drifting slowly on that bright green seat, her red hair tossed about her tear-stained face.

“Why did you call, Jim?” Something in Reyes’s’ voice broke Jim’s reverie. He thought that the tension and absent-mindedness had been weariness, but there was something else — a deeper emotion, threaded tightly to the exhaustion of a long twenty-four hours accented with violence. He could hear her fear.

“What’s happened, Samantha?”

“We,” her voice cracked. She was holding onto a fraying rope of emotion. “We need to get Frank Castle off the street, and now. Before anyone else gets hurt.”

“Reyes. What’s happened?”

He heard a voice then, soft on the other side of Samantha. He couldn’t make out the words, but its gentleness suggested friend not foe. She murmured some kind of assent, and sniffed back the emotion clogging up her voice. “I found… I found a copy of Castle’s X-ray shoved into my daughter’s backpack this morning.”

Gordon’s belly went cold. “Samantha, whe — “

“I made mistakes. Central Park. Castle, and his family, I screwed up.”

Slowly, Gordon turned from the window and to his desk. He could hear her starting to break, and so he anchored her with a quiet question: “Samantha, where is your daughter?”

It stopped Reyes, and a soft sobbing breath was exhaled. “Upstate. Somewhere I can’t find her, with people who will protect her.”

“Good,” he said gently. “Now, what did you do?”

“I swear to God, Jim,” she said in a voice that could no longer hold her emotions, the levy breaking around months of carefully contained fear. “If I had any idea that anyone was going to get hurt, I would not have done it.”

Pieces started to click together.

“You set up a sting.”

Silence flooded in from Reyes’s side of the phone. He pressed his ear tighter to the speaker, trying to hear for any sign that the District Attorney was still on the other end. He could just make out a voice — warm, gentle, and male: “Ma’am… he needs to know.”

Reyes’s reply was an almost silent sound. More papers shuffled, and he heard a faint change in the ambient noise that suggested he was now on speaker phone. The man’s voice came in clearer as he joined the conversation. He had a steadiness to him that Gordon was thankful for. He needed to know the facts.

“Last year, the DA’s office learned there was a new player in the drug trade; calls himself the Blacksmith. He wasn’t going to flood the market, he was going to be the market. He was dealing, at first, in the typical stuff: heroin, some cocaine. He was bringing in metric tons of product, but was impossible to trace. Then we started getting word of him test-marketing something new… something that was going to change the entire drug trade on the East Coast.”

“So, you set up a sting,” Jim repeated.

“Yes. One of the cops we planted deep undercover got word that the Blacksmith was arranging a meet between three unaffiliated gangs. He wanted to broker a deal to set up distribution across Manhattan. They set the meet for Central Park, mid-afternoon. Commissioner, our guys were there, they were ready. But, the sting…”

“It went south. Tempers flared, and innocents were killed. You didn’t clear the park, did you? You didn’t want to raise suspicion — empty park, mid-afternoon, in the summer? But, when it went to shit, why didn’t you intercede?”

“Blacksmith didn’t show, and before we had a chance to move in, the three turned on each other. There was no time, Jim. No time… god damnit.”

“Castle’s family.” On his desk, Jim caught sight of a family photo. It wasn’t his, but instead Castle’s. Wife, two kids, and a dad. “But what about Castle? You were there, you saw it all go down, and…” Another piece of the puzzle clicked into place. “The fake DNR. Jesus, Samantha… that was you. You tried to have Castle killed, so what? What did he see, Samantha?”

Again, silence.

He rubbed up the bridge of his nose, unseating his glasses briefly. He felt the creases where the nose pads of dozens of pairs of glasses had sat — permanent markers of his life. In a slight drift into the macabre, he wondered if Babs would insists on burying him with his glasses. He sighed.

“Alright. Samantha, you need to get out of New York. If Castle knows about any of this, you’re as good as — ”

The sound of a window shattering interrupted his words. On its heels came a woman’s grunt of pain, and then the rattle of automatic weapon fire. It drowned out any other noise, and had Jim on his feet so fast that his chair thumped to the floor.

“Reyes! Goddamnit! Samantha!” He bellowed at the phone, and he thought — for a moment — he heard a soft gasp of surprise on the other end. Then silence. The weapon fire had taken no more than three seconds from start to finish. Soft sounds of pain could be heard, and then the scrape and clatter of the phone against the desk.

“Oh my god,” he heard the man’s voice say. “Oh my god, she’s dead. Reyes is dead, and we’ve got one more wounded!”


Downstairs, Barbara Gordon gently pressed her finger down on the switchhook of the yellow, corded phone in her own bedroom before she set down the handset. Her fingers shook slightly when she released the phone, sitting on the floor beside the bed.

Her dad had been asking for information — demanding it, actually, in that tone he had developed since he was Captain. Samantha Reyes was dead, and right on the tail of her confessed involvement in the failed sting on Central Park.

Frank Castle had just killed Samantha Reyes.

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