Another Punisher fic; what can I say, I liked the movie. This one takes place during the movie, when Quentin is trying to get Dave to tell him where Frank is. No reason for doing it; I just got an idea, and the darn thing won't leave me alone.
I don't own The Punisher, or any of the characters. I'm not making anything off of this; it is merely for my own amusement. The quotes may not be quite right; it's been a while since I saw the movie. However, due to my penchant for accuracy, I'll try to get them as close as I can. The title and the last line are a reference to The Crow; I don't own that either, I just like the quote.
It Can't Rain All The Time…
As the man entered the room, Dave knew there was going to be trouble. Generally, a guy with two goons was not an indicator of good things. Especially when the guy looked like he meant business. "Where's Castle?"
Dave kept silent, hoping Bumpo would too. He knew he might regret this later, but he wasn't about to give Castle away; after all, Castle had stood up for him, which no one else had ever bothered to do. Dave owed him a favor.
The man looked at them, annoyed at their silence. "Frank Castle, who lives here." He turned to Bumpo. "I asked you a question, fat man."
Dave couldn't keep quiet. Why did people always have to do that, pick on people who couldn't fight back? He took a deep breath, prepping for the anticipated repercussions, and said, "Leave him alone." The man turned his attention on Dave. "Then I'll ask you. Where's Castle?"
Dave shifted in nervousness. This was going to end badly, he just knew it. After growing up with an abusive father, he had a radar for these kinds of things. The only thing he could do was try to keep the guy from finding Castle. No matter what it took. "He's not here," he said.
"Really?" The man asked, obviously not believing him. "Are you sure?"
I'm not saying shit, Dave thought to himself. But apparently he had been thinking out loud, because the man said, "What did you say? Hmm? I'm having trouble hearing you." Dammit. I'm just making this worse, he thought. He looked down at the ground, avoiding the man's gaze. "I said, 'I'm not saying shit.'"
The man obviously didn't like his answer, and was quickly losing patience with him. "I don't want you to say shit. I want you to answer me."
Dave kept quiet. Maybe if he didn't say anything the man would leave…yeah right. And maybe Bumpo would grow some balls and go Tae-Kwon Do on this guy's ass. This guy was one of the people who worked for Howard Saint; there was no way in hell he would decide to leave now, especially without any information on Castle.
"You don't want to say anything about anything you might know?" Dave continued his silence. The man tried a different approach. "Maybe we should get to know each other a little better." He walked over to the far wall, causing Dave to slouch down further in his chair. What the hell was he doing now? He hoped the guy wouldn't find the elevator; that would only make things worse. He came back to where Dave was sitting, holding a pair of pliers. Dave stared at them in shock. I'll give you three guesses as to what the fuck he's going to use those for, and the first two don't count. Dammit…
"What's your name?" The man asked, as casually as if this was a normal conversation.
"Dave…" he said, wondering where the conversation was headed.
"You go to school around here?" What's with the questions? If he's going to use the pliers, why doesn't he just get it over with? He shook his head in response to the question.
"You don't go to school?"
"No. No, I dropped out," Dave said quietly. All I have to do is go along with it. Eyes on the ground, you know the drill. It won't be too bad if I just don't piss him off any more…right?
"You dropped out?" Dave nodded. "You're not doing drugs, are you?" This came out almost accusingly.
"Not right now…" Although I really wish I was, he thought to himself. At least then I might not be scared out of my fucking mind! He still refused to look at the man. As long as he didn't look at him, he would be able to keep this up. As long as he didn't look, he could keep the guy from finding Castle.
"And what are you doing with these...things? What is it?" The man gestured at his own face, indicating Dave's numerous facial piercings.
He brought his eyes up to look at the man briefly. Was he stupid? Or was he just baiting him, waiting for Dave to let something slip? "Piercings…"
"Piercings. Did it hurt when you did that?" He sounded concerned, but Dave knew better. It was a ploy to try to get him to think they were friends so he would tell him something. Wasn't going to happen. Dave was well-versed in this kind of thing; it would take more than false friendship for him to betray Castle. He shook his head. "Not really."
"You like that? When it hurts a little bit?"
What? Did he seriously think Dave was a masochist? God, no. Not after what he had been through growing up. Sure, he had a high tolerance for pain, but that was a survival thing, not 'cause he actually enjoyed it. What kind of sick fuck was this guy? Dave shook his head.
The guy pointed at Dave's eyebrow ring, a little too close, if you asked him. "That's a special one there, isn't it? Is that your favorite? That's hard to get."
Dave sunk further back in his chair, turning his head to get away from the hand fondling his eyebrow ring. God, this was awkward. "Yeah," he said, hoping it would make the guy move his hand. Why was he so interested in his piercings? He looked in the guy's other hand, remembering the pliers that he held.
As the hand holding the pliers slowly moved towards his face, Dave realized what was going to happen. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no. Please no. "Answer my question."
"Come here." The pliers advanced further, and Dave squirmed to try to escape it, even though he knew it was a lost cause. "No!" He yelled, but in spite of his protests the pliers closed on the piercing the man had been so focused on a few seconds ago. Dave continued to squirm, trying to get away, even though he knew there was no escaping. The grunts at the door would never let him by, and if he did manage to get away they would only try to get Bumpo to tell them, and he wasn't as good as Dave at keeping secrets. So he would just have to accept this.
The man turned to Bumpo. "Your friend is about to have a very bad day. You can save him by talking." Dave stared at Bumpo, willing him to keep quiet. Shut up, Bumpo. Don't say a damn thing. I've got this; don't fuck it up. We can get through this if you just STAY QUIET.
And, miraculously, he did. "It doesn't have to be this way," the man said, attempting to guilt Bumpo into saying something. But he didn't; for once he stayed quiet, giving Dave an apologetic look and resuming his examination of the floor.
The man shifted his attention back to Dave. "You think you know about pain, boy?" He said contemptuously. "What do you know about pain?" Enough to know I'm not gonna give in, no matter how much it hurts, Dave thought. The man pulled, and Dave screamed, pushing back into the chair in a useless attempt to escape the pain. He couldn't help it; when the man pulled, Dave was pushed beyond rational thought, his only thought being how to make it stop. The ring pulled through his flesh, ripping it open and leaving a gash that oozed blood. After it was out, he curled up as much as he could, gasping and sobbing in a combination of pain and frustration at his inability to fight back, holding his forehead and reminding himself why he was in this position. He resumed his struggling when it became evident that the man was not done with him. "That's okay. That's okay," the man said, as if it would excuse what he had done.
He went back to the veiled threats. "Are you going to tell me? Dave? Dave?" The kid in question was still squirming, still unwilling to accept that there was no escape. "Are you going to tell me?" He asked again.
"No!" Dave cried, although he was absolutely terrified, if he was truly honest with himself. More scared than he had ever been during his father's drunken rages. Sure, his father had broken a few bones on occasion, but Dave had accepted that as normal. He had thought that, by leaving home, he had finally broken from that, but here he was, being menaced by a man with a pair of pliers. If he wasn't so terrified he might have laughed. But this was no laughing matter; a man's life was on the line, and it wasn't his. He didn't want to die, but he knew he was expendable; Castle was doing good work, even though his means were dubious, and who was Dave to get in the way of that? Plus, Castle was one of them, one of the loners who didn't fit in to society. They had to stick together.
"Why don't we explore the true meaning of pain?" The man said derisively, bringing the pliers to the piercing in Dave's nose. "Stop," Dave pleaded, moving away from the pliers and putting his hands out in front of his face. But the man would not give up, instead pushing Dave's hands out of the way and grabbing his chin, pulling it into a position where he could more easily remove the piercing. "Come here, Dave." Dave refused, pulling away. "Come on, come on. You want to talk to me?" The pliers had closed on the piercing, and threatened to pull if Dave continued to refuse. "No!"
"You can talk to me. Talk to me, Dave." Dave kept quiet, still trying in vain to escape the pliers' grip. The man pulled, and the ring was slowly pulled out, causing Dave to scream again. The blood flowed from the new wound, joining the blood from the first.
The pattern continued, the man trying to coerce Dave into giving Frank up and Dave refusing, resulting in one piercing after another being forcibly removed. The one in the left ear was removed, then the right ear, then the lip piercings, one by one, until there were no more and Dave was reduced to a shivering, bloody mess, sitting in the chair and staring vacantly ahead. This was the defense mechanism that had allowed him to get through childhood relatively unharmed; when his father beat on him, after a while he just shut down, which made it a lot less fun for his father, since he wasn't fighting back. However, this tactic hadn't worked on this guy, no matter how noncombatant Dave became. It had actually worked a little too well on Dave himself; he was now in some kind of self-induced coma, staring vacantly ahead and not responding when Bumpo got up to check on him except to flinch when Bumpo touched him.
Joan and Castle rose out of the floor on the elevator installed in the floor, with Joan supporting most of Castle's weight, since he still seemed incapable of doing it himself. "Look what they did to him," Bumpo lamented. Castle took a quick glance at Dave, and lurched out of the room, grabbing the blade from a papercutter on the way out, to find the guys responsible. Joan walked over to where Dave sat, after making sure Castle wasn't going to fall over, and looked him over. His face was covered in blood, running in tracks down his face and neck from the various holes that had been ripped through. She grabbed his shoulders and pulled him into a standing position, trying to ignore his groans and flinching. She pulled him over to a chair near the sink, where she could clean up most of the blood. With careful strokes she cleaned him up, trying not to freak him out too much. She had never seen him this bad before. Sure, he usually tried to avoid direct eye contact, and most physical contact, for that matter, but he wasn't usually this jumpy. She cursed the man who had done this to her friend, hoping that he would see justice.
Castle returned after a few minutes, a little calmer. He walked over to Dave, who seemed to have recovered a little bit. "They tried to make me talk. I gave 'em nothin'," he slurred. He was still a little out of it, but he was better than before.
His words seemed to frustrate Castle. "You don't know me. You don't owe me anything. Why are you so ready to die for me?"
Dave gave him a puzzled look. Didn't he understand? "You're one of us. You're family."
Castle pulled him to a standing position, eliciting another flinch from Dave. He stared at him for a minute, while Dave averted his eyes to the floor. No reason not to be careful, he thought through the haze "Get him to a hospital," Castle said, moving him to a position where Bumpo could grab him before he fell over; Castle was the only thing keeping Dave upright at the moment.
"Come on, Champ," said Bumpo encouragingly, putting an arm around Dave to keep him standing. "They'll get you all fixed up."
"Stop that." Bumpo had managed to catch Dave picking at his lip for the third time on their ride from the apartment building to the hospital. He made a motion to swat Dave's hand away from his mouth, but when Dave flinched, he stopped, immediately apologizing. "Sorry, man. Just – don't do that, okay? You'll only make it worse."
Dave nodded, and was quiet for a few minutes, at which point he started fidgeting. He normally couldn't sit still for extended periods of time, a residual effect from his father's abuse, but recent events had made him even more nervous than usual. He began picking at the scabs forming on his left ear, periodically glancing at Bumpo to see if he knew what he was doing. Eventually Bumpo caught on, reaching over to pull Dave's bloodstained hand away from his face despite his protests.
"Just sit on your hands, or something, alright? At least until we get to the hospital." Dave obediently complied, and for the rest of the ride Bumpo talked animatedly, trying to get Dave's mind off of recent events.
Bumpo and Dave stumbled into the emergency room, staggering over to the wall of chairs and getting Dave situated before he managed to slide to the floor. "Okay, now stay here. I'm going to go talk to a doctor to get you looked at." Dave laughed to himself. I really don't think I'm in much of a position to go anywhere, even if I wanted to. He closed his eyes, getting a few minutes of sleep before he was shaken awake by Bumpo. Just leave me alone…I'll be fine, I promise. I just want to sleep…He mumbled something similar out loud, but was ignored. "You gotta stay awake, man," said Bumpo. "You lost a lot of blood, and they want to make sure you're okay. A doctor is here to take a look at you." He pulled Dave back up to a standing position, and walked with him to the room the doctor went into.
Once there, they got Dave to sit down on the table, and the doctor looked at his cuts, not asking about how he had gotten them. "You're going to have to have stitches, just to make sure they heal properly," he said. And you're going to have to stay here a few days for observation, to make sure they don't get infected." Dave nodded vaguely. Why couldn't he just go home? He hated hospitals; they smelled funny, and the doctors tended to pry too much. Plus, the food sucked.
The doctor went into a drawer to get the disinfectant and a needle and thread. He disinfected the cuts, getting hisses of pain from Dave, and then sewing the cuts shut, making Dave more nervous from the close contact. Bumpo tried to calm him down, but Dave couldn't stop shaking, eliciting strange looks from the doctor. "He's fine, just nervous. He doesn't like needles," Bumpo assured the doctor, and he left it at that.
Dave was given a room, and the order that he had to stay there for at least a day, to make sure everything was healing properly. His cuts were bandaged up, and he didn't do much other than sit in the room and stare blankly at the television. Occasionally a nurse would come in with a comforting smile and a plate of food, which he choked down, but he never said anything, opting instead to pretend to sleep or to focus intently on whatever slop was placed in front of him. He didn't really want to talk to anyone; almost everyone except Bumpo and Joan caused him to get jumpy, at which point he wouldn't calm down until they had left. Bumpo and Joan would try to get him to talk, but he wouldn't say anything more than a few noncommittal responses every now and again. The episode in Castle's apartment had hurt him more than physically, and so he had to work through the memories the event had triggered. Memories he didn't really want to think about, and hadn't for years except in passing. Memories of nights spent in a closet hiding from his father's alcohol-induced rages. Memories of days spent worrying about his mother, who would greet him in the morning with numerous bruises in a rainbow of colors. Memories of hospital visits, where he had to make up some story about why he had broken his arm for the third time because he was afraid of what would happen if he told the truth. Too many memories.
His friends understood. Joan had gone through a multitude of abusive boyfriends, each one worst than the last, so she had her own scars that enabled her to understand why Dave was behaving the way he was. She didn't like it; she felt that his retraction from the world around him was hurting more than helping, but she accepted it as his own way of healing and, for the most part, let him be. Bumpo, having learned about Dave's childhood in bits and pieces over the past few years when he was feeling especially talkative, understood as well, but was less accepting of his behavior. He would sit in the room for a few hours at a time, endlessly chatting about anything and everything in an effort to get Dave to respond. Occasionally he would get a smile, or a comment, but other than that Dave remained silent.
It wasn't until a few days later that Dave started getting involved again. He smiled more, talked more, and was almost entirely back to his old self. "Can we leave now?" He asked Joan when she came in. "Nothing's infected, I'm off the meds; please? I need a cheeseburger or something. There's only so much crap a guy can take."
Joan smiled, and assured him that he had gotten the OK to be discharged. The three of them left the building, taking a taxi back to the apartment building. "So, are you okay?" Bumpo asked, never being one for tact. "Yeah," Dave said, "I think so." He itched absently at the bandage covering his right eyebrow. "Shit happens; that's life. I'm over it." And he was. They might not have believed him, and he didn't blame them. But he had finally reached a point in his life where he was done being scared, done living constantly in fear of who was going to hurt him next. Whatever life threw at him, he vowed to take it in stride, since it was only temporary. After all, it can't rain all the time, right?