1965-05-17 - Streets of War
Summary: A chance encounter between Anya and the Punisher leads to conflict
Related: None
Theme Song: None
frank-castle anya 

Some have taken to calling it 'The Bermuda Triangle' lately; that part of town where Spanish Harlem on the northeast butts up to Harlem proper on the northwest, with the fancy Upper West Side down below. Ever since the attack on Wall Street, things in the Triangle have been tense, messy, but not quite yet hot. Until today.

A handful of white folks have amassed on the southern side of the street. They're carrying signs, mostly bearing anti-mutant rhetoric, though one particular sign has people on the other side of the street raising their voices and throwing fists. That sign reads 'WALL OFF NEGRO BLOCKS'.

Anya knew it would come to this. She hasn't experienced much of it first hand, for she's too damn young, but she's read about it. She stands with the angry people on the northern side of the street, forgoing her usual mod attire in favor of blue jeans and a black tank top.

Frank didn't care about colors or politics. He'd served with people of every race, religion and stripe. Not a one of them was better than the other. At least, not for those reasons.

He locks the door to a cheap apartment on the third floor of a building before making his way down to the street. The key he dumps down the laundry chute. Probably take a few days before anyone comes looking for Leo Bugler. Not that he'd be missed, but even he had bills to pay. Too bad one of those bills was to a brothel where he kept asking for girls younger than he should have. Too bad one of the other girls decided to let Frank Castle know about it. Now he had his tie wrapped around a faucet and his face bloated in the sink.

Frank straightens his coat as he hits the street again, hiking up his collar. World's going to hell. At least he's well suited.

A Puerto Rican fellow to Anya's left brandishes a bottle of booze. Anya sees it, and reaches out her hand to stop him. "No! No hagas eso, Enrique, no es el camino correcto!"

Enrique listens to her. Good thing, too, for a moment later two cop cars swing onto the street, lights flashing. Commands start coming from bullhorns, unintelligible given the general clamoring, but it cues Anya to shake her head and back away.

She's pulling her hair into a rough ponytail and heading into an alleyway, when she happens upon Frank. Her backpack is half off and staring to become unzipped, when she nearly runs right into him. With a quick shriek, she pulls the backpack close and twists to keep from bowling him over, but in the process, she ends up briefly pressed against a brick wall. Her shoes are an inch off the ground, and she dangles there, held to the wall by the palm of her hand alone, for a whole second. "Meirde," she hisses, and peels her hand off, dropping to the ground lightly. "Sorry, amigo!"

Frank looks for a long moment. He doesn't miss a trick, but he's also not easily startled, keeping his expression placid. He doesn't reach for a weapon or anything. Just looks her down.

"No harm done, honey," he says. "Just be careful who you run into. Some dangerous people in alleys around here," he says, flicking his eyes back to the siren on the street. "You havin' trouble with the law?"

Finally given a moment to really look at the guy, Anya twists an eyebrow and squares her shoulders. She's got friends who look like him; she's also roughed up more than a few punks who look like him. "I can handle myself, companero."

The short Latina flips the backpack around again, shoves her hand into it, and takes out a pack of cigarettes. One of them is withdrawn by her teeth, and she's about to put them away before remembering her manners and offering the pack toward Frank. "Who, me?" She snorts. "Hell no. Five oh's here 'cause there's bad shit goin' down in the triangle." As far as code shifting goes, Anya's far more loose lipped in her own neighborhood. She'd make Peter blush. "Probably here to keep folks from throwin' bottles at each other."

He snorts, "Maybe," he says. He takes one of the smokes, though, sliding it out and putting between his lips. "I got my own," he says, pulling out a Zippo lighter with the Marine eagle on it.

"Any idea what kinda bad shit's goin' down? Worse than bottle throwin', I mean," he says. Never hurts to try to pick up a little intelligence where you can find it.

Anya's zippo doesn't have anything on it, just a plain old zippo. Still, she can't help noticing the iconic insignia, and her eyes brighten. "Holy sh… Marine Corps? Mi Papi ran with them for a couple months. Korea." She clicks her own zippo to light up, then goes about stuffing it back into her pocket and zipping up the backpack.

"This way," she says, nudging her chin toward the alley while shoving the backpack over her shoulders again. "Just a bunch of angry people, blaming each other for nothing. They're mad about Wall Street, or mad that they're gettin' blamed for Wall Street because they're black. Got their noses so brown on their own stink they don't realize they ain't making a damn thing better." She offers an explanation as to why she's leading Frank into the alley next. "Don't wanna go that way." A quick nod back toward the street, where the voices of cops on bullhorns echoes off the brick walls. "Get caught up in all that, you know?"

He nods. He can appreciate wanting to stay out of trouble. "Might've crossed a path or two with your old man, then. Hope he got out alright. Lot of 'em didn't," he says.

He watches warily as the sound of the cops goes by, "Plenty o' real scumbags out there without roustin' somebody just for bein' different. Waste of time, waste of resources. Gets good people killed."

"Yeah," Anya offers, confirming that her old man did get out alright, but she doesn't say anything else to the subject. It haunts her to this day.

"You're tellin' me," she answers. "You know, I saw it with my own two eyes. There were four of 'em. Two of 'em got away. Scary, but, not worth all that." She gestures back, indicating the street behind them.

Almost on cue, the sound of a revolver popping echoes through the alley, followed shortly by a lot of screams and shouting.

Frank can see there's something bad in those thoughts, but he doesn't bring it up. He knows trauma all too well. He doesn't wanna fuckin' talk about it either.

The sound of the gun puts him into motion, trying to interpose himself between Anya and the action as he starts to make his way down. He unbuttons his jacket but doesn't draw yet. Anyone coming there way would get a view of the death's head on his chest. If you've been in this neighborhood for long, you know what that means.

The Punisher.

The shouting is followed by another series of pops, again from the revolver.

Behind Frank, there is a curious sound. It best resembles a *thwip!* of something that does not sound lethal or dangerous being fired. Were he to look back, Anya's gone. Were he to look up, he might catch sight of her scrambling up the wall of brick, before silently flipping over the roof, seven flights up. A thread of silky webbing dangles against the wall.

Frank doesn't look back, though. Whatever the girl was up to, whatever that sound, it isn't as important as the gun up ahead. He reaches and draws, pulling out a heavy automatic pistol as he makes his way to the ally, peeking around the corner to get the lay of the land before he steps into this mess.

Most of the people are running away, which makes it a god awful mess from where Frank is standing. The cops have their guns out, but they haven't started shooting yet. There is a moment of almost stillness, where the shooter can't be seen. What can be seen is a Puerto Rican, sitting against the wall. His hands are holding onto his leg, and they're covered in blood.

Frank will then see it; a man on the southern side of the street, with facial hair and an angry look on his face. He's hunkered down with his back against a phone booth, using it to hide from the cops.

A glint of metal is in his hands. The revolver.

Frank doesn't need to distract the cops but, on the other hand, he isn't afraid of them either. They're probably more bloody-minded than most civil servants at the moment, with gunfire already in the air. But he's not known for being cautious.

So he lifts his pistol and fires a couple of rounds at the man at the phone booth, shattering glass on the thing as he tries to at least flush him out.

Suddenly, a strand of webbing comes down from the sky. It splats right onto the barrel of Frank's pistol, and tugs. The webbing is impossibly strong, remarkably adhesive, and whatever's attached to it on the other end has the pull of a factory machine. At the exact same time, another line descends from the sky and attaches to the revolver in Phone Booth Guy's hand, ripping it free and sending it skyward.

The cops shout more commands. One of them turns from the phone booth, trying to find out where these new gunshots came from.

Frank snarls in annoyance but he's not going to pout about it. He doesn't need a gun to put a man down. He charges, covering the distance between himself and the phone booth, "Get your baby blue asses down," he yells at the cops.

He'll try to bulldoze the guy, just using his shoulders in a straight football tackle and see if he can take him out.

These cops just don't know what to do! They hesitate, until Frank is halfway across the street. That's when one of them decides he's gonna go ahead and take a shot at, of all people, Frank.

Before he can, a figure comes down from the building above. Clothed in black and white, Spider-Girl releases the webline she'd used to slow her descent from a lethal speed, and quickly flings a glob of webbing at the cop's firearm, jamming it.

The shooter turns toward Frank, eyes wide and confused at why he no longer has the revolver his granddaddy gave him. He's an easy mark, and he goes down with an inglorious thud.

Frank would thank her for the cover if he wasn't already busy. And probably a little irritated about having his own gun taken away from him.

He spears the perp into the pavement and leans his weight in, grinding him into the pavement as he moves to straddle and mount him, throwing hard punches and elbows down into the man's face and neck with alarming brutality and ferocity.

Spider-Girl wipes her hands together, thinking this is all handled. Then she turns to see Frank beating the guy senseless, and for a moment, she just… stares.

A ferocious leap into the air, a flip, and a short webline fired at a lamppost above for just a bit more airtime. Then, the girl is landing just next to Frank and the perp, her body tucked into a crouch. "Dude!" she yells. "Dude, he's had enough!"

Blood splatters Frank's arms, his face, and some of it gets on her costume. "Compadre!" she shouts, trying to get Frank's attention.

Frank stops only for a moment, his own face spattered with blood coming off the man underneath him, "What's a matter, kid, you wanna get a few licks in yourself?" he says, driving his elbow down with a sickening crunch that breaks the man's nose.

"Half-measures ain't gonna do it. Gotta do what needs to be done."

Anya's expression may be mostly hidden by the mask, but her mouth is contorted into an expression that sits somewhere between confusion and anger. She nearly starts when the perp's nose is broken, at which point the expression quickens. "I get plenty."

Her hands move fast, faster than should be possible for a human. Webs shoot out and make to twist themselves around Frank's arms, keeping them separate for now, rather than binding them together as she was tempted to do.

The webs at least pull Frank off the guy, although it's not like the fella's in any condition to be running away at this point. He's unconscious and gurgling at Frank's feet as the superheroine yanks him back.

"Ah, I get it. You're a hero. Well. Newsflash, kid, this world ain't made for heroes."

"Oh yeah?" Spider-Girl cocks her head with a smirk. "Them cops over there might disagree." She shakes her head, then pulls both weblines into her right hand, clutching them tightly. "Hang on."

A leap into the air, and she's flipping over Frank, pulling those lines around his torso, for she doesn't want to dislocate his shoulders with what comes next. With a grunt, she leaps into the air, dragging him with her. Her left hand fires a webline up to that rooftop high above, and there's a sudden tug that keeps them from plummeting down to the street. Instead… they go up, and up, until Frank is deposited on the rooftop.

Spider-girl twists about again, unwrapping him from the web and separating the lines with a quick yank downward.

"So what the hell was that?" she demands.

Frank shakes out his arms, having felt them get a little numb from being tied up. He flexes his fingers and cools his temper. He mutters for a few moments under his breath. She might catch just a bit of doggerel, a nursery rhyme half-whispered to himself as he gets himself under control.

"That was about taking out the trash," he says simply enough. "And you'd be surprised - plenty o' cops see things the same way I do."

Spider-Girl watches the man for a moment, before turning to pace a bit. "Yeah, I know. Listen, compadre." She walks up to a water tower on the rooftop, and yanks Frank's gun from where she'd left it webbed up.

The gun gets tossed toward his torso like a fastball.

"I get it, yeah? Justice system in this country is fucked. But don't tell me you were gonna stop after bustin' his nose. I heard about you. Saw the look in your eye."

Frank catches the gun, examines it quickly. Flicks on the safety and puts it back in its holster.

"Ain't claimin' otherwise, chica. Big man already sentenced himself to death. We all got it comin'. Just some folks got it comin' from me," he says. "You wanna tell me about the value o' human life or try an' get me to have mercy or compassion or any o' that other shit, you're wastin' your breath and mine. I'm the Punisher. I make motherfuckers dead. The end."

She's not about to stand here and second guess the man's intelligence, so she reaches up and rips the mask down from her head, letting it flop against her chest.

"You know way mi Papi said about Korea?" she all but growls. "Said soldiers are the best thing to happen to America, but war? That's the worst thing to happen to America. He was a civilian. Reporter. I'll never forget that."

She turns away and walks over to the roof's edge, looking down. The cops are with Enique now, one of them putting pressure on his gunshot wound. "I get it, man. But I'm tellin' you, right now… that ain't the best way."

The thing is, she doesn't entirely sound so sure of herself.

He shrugs, "I ain't sayin' your daddy was wrong. Hell, I agree with him. War's fuckin' hell. But that don't mean I get to sit on the sidelines and pretend it ain't happenin'. I picked my side. I get my hands dirty. Maybe that means somebody else - maybe a superpowered girl with a smart daddy - well, she gets to keep her hands clean cause I took some o' the mess out. I'm all right with that," he says.

"I ain't about doin' good or best solutions. I do what's necessary. I punish."

"Tell me this, then, Punisher." Spider-Girl turns from the rooftop, hands on her hips when she faces him. "What makes you so smart as to know who deserves to die?"

Frank Castle shakes his head and heads for the fire escape himself. "Ain't really interested in a debate, kid. You're welcome to try an' stop me. I won't even kick much. Hell, prison don't seem like a bad idea to me. Fish in a barrel," he laughs, "You keep bein' a hero. Long as it doesn't get you killed. Be careful out there. Some bad, bad people on the streets," he says with a wink.

Spider-Girl doesn't stop him. Not surprising, considering she gave him his gun back. Instead, she just stares at the man for a long time, before walking over to retrieve her backpack.

Two things are for certain. She's never met a man like him before, and she just doesn't know what to think. "Next time you need your ass bailed out of arrest, I except mine to be kissed!" she calls after him, before tugging the mask over her face and running for an opposing rooftop.

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