Originally published this as M but that means it doesn't get put on Just In or archived so I've toned down the violence and republished as T

Summary; Frank Castle died with his family, that awful day in the park. On that day the Punisher was born, the righteous fire, sweeping the earth clean, the point man, bringing the war back to the criminals. Now the Punisher must die and set Frank Castle free.
Rating; NC17 violence

Time; now

Pairing; The Punisher/Elektra Distribution; more the merrier Feedback; Disclaimer; all belongs to mighty, mighty Marvel and nought to me and this is purely a fun fic for free distribution over the internet

The Death of the Punisher

Not unlike Nam. TV aerials and satellite dishes instead of trees. Distant traffic and music instead of insects. But hot, hot like Nam. And the night is full of horrors.
Of which I am the worst.

Never really dark here, not like in the jungle, true darkness where you couldn't see the hand in front of your face. Here there is always the dull ambient glow of the streetlights, casting a little light on even the darkest shadow.
Except mine.

In Vietnam you could always see the stars. It was always so clear. Not in New York where we probably had more light pollution than anywhere this side of Vegas. Castle always loved the stars, order and beauty in a chaotic and ugly universe. But Castle is dead. I am the Punisher.

I lift the M14 to my shoulder. Just like in Nam. Truth be told the M16 was probably better suited for the jungle, lighter, easier to carry the ammo, more firepower and the plastic not as hard to maintain in all the humidity as the M14's wood. But the 7.62 round of the M14, carried, hit home, hit home hard, took arms and legs and heads off when it struck. Heard that the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan were using them again for counter-sniping, kids using rifles over twice as old as they were. The Army sniper programme was a huge success, the military finally did something right, shut the door before the hoofbeats were retreating in the distance.
Gun-snobs always claimed that a bolt action rifle was more accurate. They were right but that was for competition shooting. This wasn't the range. This was combat. You didn't want to lose targets of opportunity whilst putting a fresh round in the breech. And if…no, WHEN things went wrong you wanted a weapon that you could use to shoot your way out that wasn't as slow as a World War One Springfield and had a twenty round, quick to reload mag. Long black suppressor, fancy image intensifying night-sight, carbon graphite bipod, custom made cheekpiece on the butt, match grade ammunition, blue tipped Teflon Glazers that would cut through body armour but still explode in the body without going through. Used by the Delta Force for hostage rescue, safe for Joe Public walking his dog behind the bad guy, lethal for the scumbag they were aimed at. I adjust my shooting gloves and settle on the camping mat, get comfortable.
No hanging the rifle out the window. Resting on a table, ten feet from the frame. Safe in the darkness, invisible, like a jungle cat poised and ready. I am the panther, I live for the night. No Lee Harvey for me. He only had one target. Maybe two if you believed he was also after Governor Connolly. And he was shooting from a shorter distance. But he didn't have an M14 and he only qualified sharpshooter in the Marines, not a Recon sniper like me

They gather, inevitably they gathered. Probably spent their whole lives on this corner, probably bounced on their mother's laps here. Now they sell death and misery in Ziploc bags, interspersed only by periods in jail or hospital. One's even in a wheelchair. But still they come back.
Men with no future will always flee to their past. Time someone swept this corner clean.
They're laughing, the sound carrying through the warm night air.
Their laughter dies with them.
They had no future, no future at all. It was just they didn't realise how little no future was left.
I'm only shooting from 300yrds. They just fill up the scope, I could tell their eye colour if the night –sight didn't give everything a slight greenish glow. Stevie Wonder could hit them from this range. The trick was to get them all. I wait until their girlfriends leave. Maybe to go to the bathroom? Useful thing about women, their uterus presses down on their bladder so they have to go more often. And for some reason they're incapable of going by themselves. Anyway they're clear and that's the important thing. Number One is always free. First guy will never know what hit him. I pick the one at the back, closest to the 7/11 entrance. The other's have their back to him, won't realise he's been shot until they turn around. And seeing him they won't try to shelter in the shop, won't go for cover or endanger civilians.

His head comes apart like Gallagher hitting the watermelon with the sledgehammer. He drops, slumping in his wheelchair like a sack of potatoes.
The rifle recoils in my shoulder, the spent case tinkles off into the blackness. The suppressor is good, sounding like a car door slamming rather than a rifle shot, audible but not identifiable, not enough to alarm, not enough for anyone to track the source. Not the total silence like you'd get on TV but then little is. The bullet whipcracks as it breaks the sound barrier.
They turn to look, just curious, not realising what's happened yet.
Guy in the driver's seat of the car is second. He could drive away or might have more weapons concealed in the vehicle. A convertible of course. Considerate of them. It's front probably jumps up and down at the touch of a button. Little boys with gaudy toys. Laughable, spoilt, stupid children who never grew up, were never taught right from wrong, the world their playground but with knives and nine-millimetres instead of wedgies and wet-willies, not caring for anyone but themselves but quick to turn on their own weak.
Well daddy's home now. Standby for a spanking.
He judders as the bullet destroys his brain stem. They all turn to look again, mouths hanging open in shock. Turn in time to see the guy in the passenger seat of the car skull explode as I fire my third shot. He gets priority for the same reason as the driver. Three down. They all duck down behind the car, instinctively trying to find cover. All except John Wayne, standing stock still, pulling out his Glock from his baggy pants to shoot back. Except he probably wouldn't know who John Wayne was. Let me introduce myself, Pilgrim. So tempting to hit him next, kill the guy about to fire back on you. But he'll never hit me in a million years. Instead I go for the guy by the rear bumper, who might have a chance if he was to make a run for the corner.
The bodywork of the car provides no protection, the round penetrating it like tissue paper. Doesn't even provide cover from view. No imagination, strictly 2 dimensional in their thinking, unable to comprehend anything more than an Uzi fired wildly from a speeding car. Never in a million years thought of a man with a rifle three storeys up.
Four down.
The cowboy is shooting now, blazing away wildly into the night, spray and pray. Won't ever hit me but might take out someone else. No one dies for me. I sacrifice myself, not other people. There are no acceptable losses.
No time for a head shot. Hit him in the chest and watch him flip back like a paper target on Parris Island. Even if he's wearing body armour the round will penetrate. He might not be dead but he's no longer an immediate threat. Come back to him later.
Five down. One runs. First sensible thing they did all night. A poor marksman would attempt to follow him and snap off a shot. Drill instructor would drop you for fifty for such a schoolboy error. I move the rifle until I'm sighted ten feet in front of him and take first pressure on the trigger. He runs into the sight and I squeeze the last little bit of pressure. The impact of the round hurls him sideways a few feet but he keeps running, fear giving him wings. I'm sighting for a second shot when realises he's been hit and collapses. Wonderful thing, mind over matter. Six. I sweep the rifle back to the car. The last two are huddled behind the engine block. Maybe they're smarter than I took them for? Or luckier, choosing the one part of the car I can't shoot through. Their guns appear over the bonnet firing, high capacity automatic pistols, shooting blindly in every direction.
Of course they were armed, they were all armed. All criminals wanted guns, guns were power, guns were death, all criminals wanted death.
Well now he'd come calling.
Firing blindly, blinded by their greed all their lives. Now blinded by their fear.
For a second I consider going all Roy Rogers and try shooting their guns out of their hands. But The Duke would never tolerate such foolishness. I put five rounds into the fuel tank and it goes up like a Roman candle. They roll on the ground, burning, screaming, begging for death. I oblige them.
I put one round into every visible body. All lie still. The bolt clicks open on empty, the magazine exhausted. Dumb move Frank, never shoot your mag dry, change it when you start thinking you might have to and you've still got one in the breech. So easy to go all Charles Whitman and just keep blazing away.
I switch magazine purely by touch, never taking my eye away from the sight for a moment. I let the bolt run forward chambering a new round.
None move. I've killed eight men in twelve seconds. Gunny Carlos Hanthock couldn't have done better. Their laughter dies out, all over the world. They'd never had a prayer, not really. Clumsy, untrained, not at all ready for someone like me. No chance. That's the way I like it. None of this mano to mano bull. You don't fight fair because they would have no understanding of the concept. Never look a man in the eye when you're going to stab him in the back I say

. Sirens. Lights in the distance. The heralds of civilisation on their way. Bringing law and order once more to this desolate place.
For I have already brought justice this night.
More screams added to the sirens, the girls are back, hysterical over what has happened. They won't grieve long. They knew this day would come. The fleet's in town this week, the city will be full of sailors back from six months in the Persian Gulf, back pay burning a hole in their pockets, looking for some R&R. Let them get themselves a proper boyfriend who won't slap them around and have them hide his drugs for him in their underwear.
I gather up my gear. For a moment I consider gathering up my spent shell casings, seems sloppy to leave them. But the PD know who I am, know who did this.
And won't really care all that much. Because I'm here, because I'm out there, the scum, the criminals live in the same fear they glorify in bringing to others. Because I'm here they die a little inside every day, die a little every time there's a knock on the door, every time a car passes them in the street.
Because I bring the war back to them.
I bring the fear.
Gotta get going. It will take the police a few hours to work out the firing point but there was always the chance of being caught up in their area search or spotted by their helicopter. And there was always the webhead and blindboy ready to swoop in with their self-righteous line of bull. Won't kill them and can't take them in a fight. My only superpower was my rapier wit.
Time to be gone.
I remove the Claymores that I left to cover my back and sling them into my kit bag. I rappel down the side of the building into the alleyway. Leave the rope for the cops, one more piece of evidence for their warehouse of Punisher souvenirs. Or maybe they'll find some use for it. Give it to their EMS guys?
One more thing to do.

He virtually runs into my hand. In a blind panic, desperate to get back to their clubhouse. Men with no future will run to their past. And so will little boys.
I grip him by the throat and slam him against the wall. Take away the bag full of crack vials, take away the Taurus .22. breaking two of his fingers in the process. Snap like kindling. The drugs I crush underfoot. The gun goes in my pocket. Can always use more. He stops struggling as I put the blackened blade of the Kar-Bar to his throat. He trembles as it pierces the skin, just a little, just a shaving cut. If he's ever needed to shave. I move my hand an inch and his carotid artery resprays the pavement with his blood. I look into the dark, huge pools of fear that pass for his eyes. He looks about 14. Maybe if Castle had had grandchildren they'd be this age now. But Castle is dead.
I am the Punisher.

I give him the speech. The same speech as always. "Your crew's dead. So are you" The boy whimpers and closes his eyes, readying himself for death.
I take the Kar-Bar away. He opens his eyes again and looks at me, baffled. "This is your new life. Do you understand"
He nods. Nods frantically. "That's a good boy" I tell him, putting the Kar-Bar away. "You grow up and be a good man" I let his throat go. He drops to the floor. I wait until he gets his breath back and looks up at me. I give him my finest Christopher Walken impression.
"Or I'll be waiting"
He runs. Runs like the devil is snapping at his heels. I've given him a choice in life, a choice I don't have any more. If I still prayed I'd be doing it now I kneel down and pick up the drugs. I'm not leaving them here for some junkie to find and OD on. They go in the dumpster.

"I wouldn't have let him go"
Circuits react, reflexes spring to life, without any conscious effort the .45 is in my hand and aimed square at the source of the voice in the shadows, the tritrium I painted on the sights glowing in the darkness. My finger tightens on the trigger before I recognise the voice. I release the trigger and apply the safety before reholstering. She emerges from the gloom. How had I not noticed her? Damn ninja skills. Not like she was exactly dressing down, as always dolled up like a cross between a dominatrix, a pirate and a ballerina. Superhero crossed with superhooker. God, she was beautiful A princess amongst all this filth. I kiss her and take her in my arms. She feels and smells like Maria to me. But then all women are like Maria to me. She takes my hand and guides it to her stomach. Suddenly I understand why she is especially glowing tonight. For once I'm unprepared for what comes next.

"I'm pregnant" she confirms. I try to think of something cool to say in response. Elektra waits patiently in my arms for a long, long time. "It's twins" she adds helpfully.

"One, two, one two, one two" They file past me on my way to the beach. Officer cadets from Dartmouth naval college, young men and women undergoing basic training. One day they might be commanding the sleek grey ships that occasionally cruise across the horizon. I watch them go with a pang of nostalgia. Then I turn to walk to the shore.

No sightseeing trips today, too cold, the season was over. Perhaps some fishing. If not I'll just work on the boat a little. Come summer I'll be too busy for words, renting out sailboats and scuba gear. For now I'll do odd jobs down the village and help out with the local Scout troop. Don't need the money. It's more a hobby than a business. Got more money than I could ever spend, liberated it from the bad guys over the years. Gave most to victims of crime charities and kept a few million just in case. More than enough for a little cottage in a quiet seaside town where they'd never had a murder and wouldn't ask too many questions about the nice American couple and their children who decided they needed a slower pace of life. Francis and Erica Castille fitted right in here. I can't help but smile when I think of the night we threw the dinner party and one of the guests asked her about her Sai's, now mounted above the fireplace. "Family heirloom toasting forks" had been an inspired answer. She teaches martial arts at the school hall and works as a fitness and dance instructor. I sometimes wondered what my drill instructor would say if he knew Pfc Frank Castle now spends some nights helping sew tutus for a bunch of six year olds.
Sometimes I still feel guilty. That I have betrayed Maria and the kids, given up the fight. But I look in the faces of my daughters and I know what they would wish. I pass the school. The girls will be starting there soon. And all being well, our son will go there too one day. So far the pregnancy is going fine. It's strange, I never figured her for the maternal type. But it was her idea, it was always her idea. You looked at her with the kids and could never believe that she had killed so many, so ruthlessly. All you could see was a beautiful mother with her adored, loving children. I walk to the end of the pier. One more thing to do.
I take the .22 from my pocket, the same gun I took from the kid in the alley. What happened to him I wonder? Maybe he's on death row? Maybe he's working behind the counter at McDonalds? Whatever, I have other responsibilities now. I cast the gun into the water. The Punisher dies this day.
Frank Castle lives again.

End Journal