Title: Shades of Vengeance (0?)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.

Rating: Not for kids. Harsh language, violence, death, and mention of torture.

Spoilers: Up to just before Faith, Hope, and Trick.

Disclaimer: Some of the characters depicted herein belong to that idiot Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Sometimes, evil is all too human.

Author's Note: Had to do this. Saw the Punisher movie, and this plot bunny started gnawing at my ankle like Monty Python's vorpal bunny.

It was a low-level coke warehouse, but that's not why I'm here.

He is. Everyone calls him Mickey. No one knows if it's his real name or not, and at the moment, I don't particularly care.

He has information I need.

The lights are out, his buddies are dead, and I've got him on the run. Right now, it's just him and me.

"Who are you?" he bellows, clutching a twelve-gauge pump-action protectively in front of him.

"You know who I am," I reply, the acoustics of the warehouse sending my voice echoing everywhere.

"It can't be," he cries. "You're DEAD!"

"Am I?" I ask. "Hmm, maybe I am. I certainly don't feel alive."

And that's the God's honest truth. I'm not even sure if I am alive. I've got a pulse, I breathe, I eat, drink, sleep, but... I remember concrete boots, handcuffs, and a dip in the bay. I remember passing out and waking up shivering, clutching a pier support.

One thing I do know. If I see a crow hanging around, I'm shooting it.

"Tell me, Mickey, have you ever fought a dead man before?"

He spins and fires... in the wrong direction. He's fighting blind, and the echoes mean I'm safe as long as he doesn't see me.

"No?" I say, as if taking the shotgun blast as an answer. "Well, I have. There's something you should know about fighting dead men," I say as I ghost up behind him, throwing my voice carefully.

Yeah, I know. Ventriloquism's not exactly the sort of skill you'd expect from someone like me, but everyone's got an oddball talent or two.

"What?" he demands, his voice rising an octave.

I lean over his shoulder and whisper in his ear.

"Guns don't work."

Mickey spins, bringing the shotgun around. I grab it by the barrel and flinch as he fires, the barrel burning my hand as the buckshot vanishes into the darkness.

I rip the gun from his hands and smash the stock into his face, breaking his nose and sending him flying back.

Did I mention I got superpowers since my swim in the bay?

"Hello, Mickey," I say coldly as I calmly walk up to him. He's crabbing away, but it isn't long before he backs up to a crate. "I have a few questions for you."

He shakes his head, "No! No, they'll kill me!"

I shove the still-hot muzzle of the shotgun into his chest, branding him, and smile. It's not a nice smile.

"You don't seem to understand. I'm going to kill you, Mickey, but not until after you tell me what I need to know." I pull the shotgun off and place it on his wrist, pinning it to the floor, "Before that... well, the only real question is how many pieces I have to blow off first."

I pull the trigger.

It's four hours later. I knew Damien owned the city, but I didn't think it was this bad.

Still, Mickey's dead, and I have what I need. The warehouse is in flames -- a final "fuck you" to Damien until I get back -- and I'm driving north.

Y'know, I had a name once. A family. My friends called me Frankie.

But that's over.

Francesca Calavera is dead. She died with her family.

And soon, Donald Chase will too.

Author's Postscript:

So, I'm guessing some of you at the XanderZone thought it was Xander. Were there any other guesses? If so, who? And when did the theories start looking wrong? Frankie's an original character here, and kind of the crux of things.

And yes, this IS a Xander 'fic. Or will be, anyway.