1963-09-24 - Chapter Five: The Punisher
Summary: In a seedy bar, Jean meets Frank Castle. Her faith is shaken.
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punisher jean 

The glass could have been unwashed for all he cared. The drink in it, dark brown in color was being carrassed by a pair of ice cubes that would be considered insulting to some people, but this whisky needed it to fight off the heat from the dingy bar that it was being served in. Lighting was at a premium in the bar that sat on 57th street on the ground floor of the apartment complex that could have been ripped straight out of The Jungle as an example of tenement living, the fresh splattering of sawdust not far away was soaking up the recent vomit from someone who had been in the bar too long, the armoa being covered up with the fresh wood smell.

There was no otherway to describe it, the bar was a dive, a perfect dive for the city of New York's low lifes to gather in and conduct some of their business. That glass of whisky was picked up, swirled some to clank the ice cubes about and disperse the cool through the water. The man holding the glass was dressed in a long black coat that did not quite fit the temperature or the weather, but his disposition fit the wardrobe. Frank Castle was not one to concern himself with looking well dressed or the like. He was simply staring at his drink while the other patrons of the dive carried on their lives around him, an island sitting at the bar of a busy sea.


Jean wasn't a stranger to a dingy bar. Even though she wasn't a stranger, she certainly didn't fit in a place like this. There were ragamuffins and ruffians abound, yet she was there attempting to entertain a poor soul who she had found in an alley, down on his luck. In fact, he looked like he didn't belong either, he wore a nice, fresh trench coat that was out of the Macy's catalogue, shined up shoes and a tie that was crisp yet sheared away from his neck at an odd angle and left to dangle.

The poor fools face was red as all get out, his eyes as well. A few petals of a flower hung upon his jacket refusing to be parted from their recent owner. It looked to be like a bad breakup. Jean happened to feel the heartbreak and come running, such a good soul she pretended to be, but this was another lesson for the 'demon' that lived within.

Everyone needs help. Someone needs someone. No matter how wrong or how bad they are.

"Um.. whiskey is it?" She asks the man who silently nods, fighting back tears. A slender hand was lifted, and gestured towards the keep with a two and a one pointed towards the sad man. She wanted to tell him he'd be okay. Or push into his mind that this had never happened, and his life was looking up by the day. But that was wrong. So wrong..


The arrival of the woman and the man, a crying man at that, does not go unnoticed by several people in the bar. A few cast glances and go back to their conversations in the dark; a few others even openly snicker and make snide comments to themselves under breath. It was hardly the place to bring someone who was feeling downtrodden looking for sympathy from this crowd.

Castle for his part doesn't even look up from his whiskey. Rather he finishes his and waits. The bartender feels to glasses, one for Jean and one for the sobbing man but before he can carry them down, Frank simply picks one up for himself and starts drinking that.

The cold look he gets from the Bartender is met with a slight smirk from Frank before he tilts his head down towards the red head and her companion. "Water it down for 'em."


Jean leans forward, reaching out to lightly place a hand upon the other mans who quickly draws it away. While she looks a little bit dejected, she was going to allow him his space. If he didn't want to talk, that was fine.. she would do all of the talking for him.

"I really never experienced heartbreak myself.." She quietly murmurs. "..but I have heard the saying that there is a lot of fish in the sea." She smiles sadly, her gaze soon flitting towards the bartender who pours another glass, yet this time watered down. She saw that. Didn't care. She wasn't going to be drinking either way.

"But.. is there anyone I could call for you right now?" She asks quietly, her head lifting to spy upon those who were at the bar, a slight feeling of discomfort settling upon her as she reaches out to grip the crutches that rest against the table. Why.. oh why did she happen to walk in here? It felt like.. doom.

Once the drinks were deposited upon the table, Jean takes the watered down glass to push it towards the man so that he could drink. If the other was stronger? She'd keep that one to herself. Not drinking it of course, but if there was a look cast her way, she'd try and pretend. "Please.. there has to be someone.."

'I SAID NO!' The man snaps, which causes Jean to shrink back and wince. "Sorry.."


That snap, that tone. That was what Castle knew. He was at the bar in a place to overhear, of course that was what he was doing there. Eavesdropping on several different conversations so the outburst and the arrival have thrown a wrench into his carefully laid plans.

The temptation to leave it be was strong, but the grunt that leaves his lips shows something else is stronger. He doesn't look up from the bar or move his body more than to sip the drink but he does raise his voice over his shoulder towards the table. "You don't tend a wounded animal. You leave it be. Either it recovers on it's own or it dies. But you try to help it, it's going to bite you and kick you and gore you till you're both dead."


'You don't know me man! You shut up!' The crying fool started out, taking his drink to slam it back, his face wrinkled in mock shock at the potentness of the drink. The glass itself was tossed upon the floor, the glass broken as he promptly stands up, that stand kicking the chair back to a skid and him grabbing his hat. 'To hell with you people. To hell with all of you people!'

He was on a full bore rant, one that has Jean attempting to stand, her hands placed upon the table as she struggles to get her legs into working order, the crutches, both of them, attempted to be smushed beneath her arms. "Calm down! It's okay.. really!" Jean tries to console, though a little lick of anger is shot towards Frank's direction, yet.. something tells her to back -right- down.

"You can't possibly mean that.." Jean implores. "..its obvious he's angry.." She wanted to calm and nuture the man, but it was clear that he wasn't having any of it.

'Lady, I don't even /know/ you! You're fucking crazy!'


Frank's reaction is rather abrupt. He lifts the glass up and takes another drink of the whiskey. Still he doesn't turn and engage the situation going on behind him directly although the prickle of agitation crosses his cheek. "You ain't dead, yet. So you got tomorrow to figure your shit out." Castle's words don't strike an antagonizing tone, rather just a commenting one.

Then his tone becomes a bit bemused. "I don't speak what I don't mean. Doing otherwise is a waste of time. He isn't looking for what you're offering lady. He wants his sorrow and misery, leave him to it."


'Fuck you, guy..' The man was leaving. There was really no way for Jean to stop him save for a few words of protest. He was angry. She was fearing that he might do something he would regret. In fact, she was feeling that anger leak off of him like a running river. This causes her to groan, her fingers pressing against her temple to rub as she ease back down into her seat. The crutches fall to the ground with a loud clatter that has another fellow standing up abruptly.. and slowly settling back down into his seat.

"Happy now?" Jean asks of the man at the bar, her head shaking as she leans back into her chair, her foot nudging the crutches a little bit closer, all the while the drink was eyed.. and shaken at. No. She had never touched a drink, she wouldn't start now.


"Not particularly." Castle responds in that same dry voice he has had the entire time, motioning to the bartender once more for another refill. The alcohol seems to flow through him similar to water as he ignores the effects of the drink, shrugging himself into his coat a bit further. "There are such things as lost causes lady. Recognize them, move on with your life."


"I'd rather not." Jean murmurs to herself. Though she wasn't in the saving mood tonight anymore, the man was the only one around giving her a little bit of conversation. Plus in a way, he saved her. Spoke up when the man spoke out. So it counts for something.

The groan of the chair was loud as she bends down to pick up her crutches, using them to slowly stand from her spot. He could hear her approach, the clacking-click-click-thumps of her movements until she's right there next to him, fixing herself to settle upon the stool nearby. "Who would we be if we're not in this world to help each other?" She asks honestly. "Be kind to one another. Try to reach out and just let a person know that we're there for them while taking care of ourselves.."


Castle doesn't respond, he sips his whiskey and keeps looking straight ahead but after a few moments, he pushes the drink napkin towards the woman who settles herself by him. On the napkin is a drawn diagram of the bar that he's been scribbling on with a small pen that was in his hand. "This is who we are." He says showing her the napkin.

The people have been marked off with dots and little notes by them. Things like Armed Robbery, Rapist, Abusive Husband, all the dirty details of a few of the patrons jotted down, picked up from his observations and listening this evening. "Who we are, are either victims or criminals. That guy you drug in here? Tonight he was a victim. By time morning comes, he'll be a criminal."


For a moment, she thought that he was going to offer her a drink. Though her drink was still back upon the table she once sat at, alone and discarded. Though as she takes a look at the napkin, she visibly grows pale, swallowing hard as her eyes look up and around towards the bar with a slight obvious motion. It never really occured to her that people like -those- would be inside the bar. She wasn't even silly enough to pretend that he was doing that just to scare her.

But it worked, it worked so much that her fingers lift to press against the napkin, an idle pen picked up from the surface to draw two dots upon them that settle next against each other. One was her, with her name right by it, the other was left with a '?' beside the dot. Even still..

"Am.. am I going to be one when I walk out of here?" She asks quietly, pushing the napkin back towards him. "Are you?"


"Everyone is one or the other." Castle comments as he sips his drink once more. "The guy you came in here with made you a victim immediately, because you felt for him. Compassion or whatever you want to call it. He was a victim so you became one." The man shrugs his shoulders. "Once you realize you are a victim, you choose to not be… but then that forces you to address it. So there are victims, and there are criminals."

He takes his pen, uses it to fill in a bit around the dot she drew for where they are, in particular him. "Then there are people who deal with the criminals, so the victims don't have to." Where his 'dot' is he has drawn a skull, the universal symbol of 'death'.


Never in a million years, did she ever think she'd be exposed to this way of thinking. It was like a sensory overload, one that was kept in check. Kept in check by way of clutching her fingers against her chest at a slight lean forward that makes her back hurt. Her teeth were gritted, her eyes soon upon the random patrons of the bar, one pair of eyes upon the 'couple' as she slowly feels a little unsettled.

"I'm not a victim.." She says quietly, her fingers worrying against one another as her eyes rest upon the skull that was drawn where his place should be. She knew what that meant. But also.. did she suddenly realize why he was in the bar to begin with? "You.. you're not.." And a look back again to the random people placed there, comparing them to what was drawn upon the napkin. "..don't.."


For the first time, Castle's eyes lift up and look over at Jean. There's a darkness there that accompanies the cold. "Don't what?" His voice is quiet, frosty in tone in this bar that is so busy yet so isolated now. "It's better to let them go? So another young girl can be forced? So another shop owner can have his livelihood ripped from him?" Each word draws a bit of ire from Castle.

"Three tables to the left, behind. All those bottles were bought with money that was meant to help a family that lost their house in a fire; stolen from a church. Don't what? Please. Don't. What."


As he finally turns toward her, her eyes widen, though there was a little bit of a buildup of tears that gathered there. She couldn't speak, not right away, even as she ashamedly looked away from her gaze towards the others that linger and often times lean in to whisper. "No.. no.. I.." Her faith was shaken. This was an entirely new territory that she was introduced to, and it made her feel sick.

"Stop.." She whispers back, almost harshly. Though her brand of harsh was almost akin to a kitten attempting to snatch at a toy. "There's another way." She was the affectionate sort, so much that she tries to reach out to grasp his bicep. "Just.. don't hurt them. Trust me.."


"Another way." Castle replies, eyes glancing down when she grabs his bicep then look back up to her; someone doesn't like being touched based on his expression. But it is a bicep and from that contact; even though he's human, yikes. "And what way is that? The justice system?" He taps his napkin, "The same justice system that's let two of them walk already multiple times because of their ties to the mob? Which way are you talking about lady?"


"Yeah.." Jean nods slightly. "..another way." The hand lingers for a moment, rolling off by the tips of her fingers as she grips the edge of the bar to face him without straining her neck. She could already hear their thoughts as she opens herself up, one already figuring her for a whore for moving on from one man to the next with a quick turn of the word. It was a disgusting thought, one that has her shaking her head briefly and clearing her throat.

"No.. no.. Not that way." She didn't know how to explain it, she's never really outed herself before but she figures that this angry one wouldn't care too much. "Like.. if you could change their lives. Not.. change it. But make it so that they couldn't hurt anyone else without hurting or killing them in return. How would you do it." Her hand lifts, lightly tugging the napkin away. "Him. What would you do to him." She smiles a little, though she was still afraid. "Non-violent."


Castle shakes his head some at the girl. "It isn't about preventing them from doing it again. It is about making sure they don't do it. Others are afraid to do it. And that the price has been paid for their crime." The man looks at the red head, stoic and chill. "You're speaking of compassion for a rapist. Compassion for these people isn't some kind of noble cause. Compassion is so you can sleep at night. So you can feel like a good person. I did my part, I tried to care. The reality is if you cared about people you wouldn't waste your time trying to come up with some method to reabilitate or help them. You'd view them as what they are, remove them from the society and move on."

His tone is borderline annoyed, not at her, but rather the concept of what they are discussing. "Prisons simply breed more criminals and take up the society's resources. I don't care if there was another way. They need to be punished for their crimes so others know that it is not going to be accepted."


It was clear that her faith was shaken. One would think that being locked up with the mentally insane would color the outlook on all human life but this is what does it. And she never really has met a man so furiously stubborn, so much that she wanted to change his mind right there on the spot with the use of force and other things.. he was worse than Logan! Cold, uncaring.. it gave her the chills the longer he spoke, so much to the point that she curled against herself even with a lean away from him and a lowering of her chin.

But things were eerily silent now, so much that her chin lifts as her eyes dart to the left to see that the quiet chatter had lessened. The people within the bar were frozen. Quite literally frozen as if time itself had stood still. Yet, there was a quiet crackle. A crackle of someone attempting to speak and yet, that too soon fails.

"I.. I almost want to prove to you that I can stop it from happening. That.. that I can turn into someone like you. That I could seek vengeance or.. justice.." Her head shakes, she was so confused. There was so much wrong with this situation but he speaks the truth. Travesties like this couldn't happen again. People shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

'Then you should let him.' - That inner voice speaks.

But her head shakes completely.

Still, that inner desire to fix something was prevalent, fix something that was broken within the man she speaks to there. "I'm .. I'm going to go. Just for one night.. don't?" The pen was taken up again from his grasp, her full name 'Grey' added to her name where the dot was, number to the manse scribbled down and left there. "Please? Just.. just call me.. or something.."


Castle looks from the woman momentarily to the napkin that she writes her name on. There's a passive expression before he turns away and back to his glass. He doesn't speak further, makes no motion to take the napkin with her name and no affirmation or denial of her request. It would appear he has simply moved on for the moment to contemplate whatever it is that is against the wall behind the bar where his eyes have locked onto. A silent parting.


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