Fandom: The Punisher

Pairing: a little bit of Joan/Frank, but mainly friendship.

Setting: Movieverse (A scene from 'The Punisher' movie from 2004)

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. I just try to be good so that I don't get to see The Punisher instead of Santa :p

Summary: After his fight with The Russian (A hired assassin by the Saint Family), Frank Castle is pretty fucked up. His neighbours Joan, Dave and Bumpo try to help him when Saint's men arrive, looking for him. Frank's POV. The scene's a bit altered from the original.

Assassins. Never liked them.

First there was Harry Heck. Really.. Who has a name like that anyway? I guess it is a name suitable for some idiot with a guitar who thought I was a dumbass for bringing a knife to a gunfight - Well who's the dumbass now? Big mistake Harry.

And then some Russian guy showed up at my door. The moment I saw him I knew I would be in for one hell of a ride. The guy not only looked huge. He was huge. His way of a greeting was to punch a hole through my door. I didn't even have time to give him a proper welcome. He sure got right to the point. He made it very clear that he came here to kill me and wouldn't be leaving without my mangled corps inside a body bag.

You see.. I was never easily impressed but now it was hard not to be. First I had managed to stab him with a knife but he just stood there grinning at me, actually grinning at me with a knife in his chest. Not a sound. It was scary. This wasn't some guitar playing idiot. It didn't take long before I got thrown through pretty much every wall of my shabby apartment and soon what's to be left of it. I ended up using the handgranate I had stashed away in the bathroom, but it turned out a complete fiasco. This was far from the dream scenario I had in mind. I guess I hadn't quite expected someone like him to show up at my door so soon, though another part of me wasn't very surprised either. Saint would hire anyone to kill me. It was after I ended up in Bumpo's place that I thought it was about time to turn the tables. I had to do something and fast. That guy was a real pain in the ass and I hated to admit but I was the one on the receiving end of pain. For a moment there I really thought I was going to die but when I looked to my right.. It seemed that my over friendly neighbours had been cooking.. A big casserole of soup stood boiling away.. Just the thing I needed. I grabbed the casserole and threw all of its content into the assassin's face. He was screaming in agony as the hot liquid burned off most of his features. An ugly sight to say the least..but it bought me some precious time and distraction. I tackled him with all I had left and we both stumbled into the hallway and down the stairs. Heavy shit. Heavy guy too. We both landed hard. I don't know how I did it, but I was still alive. I survived. The Russian didn't. It seemed that the fall had broken his neck. Served him right, trying to mess with Frank Castle.

I cough. No blood. A good sign. Slowly and a little dazed from the fight I stand up. It has to be some miracle. Then I hear a woman calling out to me. "Are you alright?" When I look up I see Joan, Dave and Bumpo standing there, shocked to the core. They aren't the most social gang and thanks to me they are getting a lot of unwanted action. Why did I have to go to this shithole in the first place? I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding. "I'm fine." but before I can walk upstairs, the world before my eyes turns black.

I wake up to the vague sound of some familiar voices. Someone had placed me in a chair.. I try to get up but I am too damn tired from the fight. I hate it. It makes me feel helpless and weak. And such things could get me killed. I look at my shirt or rather what's left of it. It's all torn up and i'm bleeding from several cuts. I finally realize Joan is standing next to me. I look up at her and meet her eyes. She has this sweet, warm smile plastered on her face. It reminds me of my Maria. No, got to shake that off. Now is not the right time. I need to take care of some unfinished business first. Howard Saint. Just his name alone fills my body with unknown rage. He makes my blood boil. I can't even describe the hatred I feel towards that man. Joan talking to me brings me out of my reverie. I take a good look at my chest. I did get one hell of a beating. She is trying to stitch up some wounds. "I'm not good at much but for some reason I'm good with a needle." I give her a questioning look. "Don't ask."

Joan.. A former alcoholic and the same woman I brushed off the other night.. She's helping me. "I'm not what you're looking for." I can still hear myself saying those exact words. But I meant it, still do. How can I ever be that guy? Be reasonable. At the moment I'm not only mentally fucked up but also physically. I just lost everything dear to me. Give me a break. And to top it off I have a whole gang of criminals after me. That doesn't sound much like 'mister right', does it? What does she want with me anyway? Me of all people. The sharp sting of a needle makes me look at said woman. I try to give her a smile.. albeit a small one. She is nice, though maybe a little too nice. I reach out and briefly touch her cheek. "Thanks." I mutter. I get another smile in return. That's more than enough for me. In spite of my behaviour lately, I am grateful for her help. I turn my attention to the others. Bumpo and Dave are just standing there watching us. They are all taken aback a little by recent events. Who wouldn't be? This isn't just a normal set of events on a regular day. The moment I stepped into their lives everything changed. For the worse. Didn't I just go and ruin Bumpo's soup? For just a brief moment, a split second.. I almost, yes almost, forget my troubles.. But it's too good to be true. I feel pain ripping through my body. I close my eyes. How I want to forget all this. How I want to stop the pain. The pain from my broken body but mostly the pain I feel inside my heart. I have tried to ignore it for the past weeks but it's still there, it always will be. Eating me slowly from the inside. I still wished it would end. Maybe I don't want to live anymore. Maybe I want that to end as well. But not before I get Howard Saint. No. Not before he gets what he deserves.

"Someone is coming." It was Dave. I listen carefully and I can only confirm what he just said. Probably Saint's men looking for me. I would love a confrontation but not like this. Not when i'm like this. That wouldn't be right. That would be too easy for them. I can't let that happen. I can't go down without a fight.

But what to do? Fuck. This is not good. Think Frank. Think. I look around the room but I can't think of a single sollution. A way out. My mind draws a complete blank. I already used every weapon in this very room to fight of the Russian. Joan kneels down beside me, no intention of leaving whatsoever. Brave but foolish. Bumpo nervously takes a seat on the other side of the room, panic written all over his face as he grips the armrests firmly. Dave leans back against a desk, trying to act cool, but I can see his fear, yet there's also a certain determination in his eyes. But.. that desk.. that's it! How could I forget? The elevator. I don't even have to say it for Dave accidentally triggers the hidden switch underneath the table, opening up the floor. Unfortunately it isn't big enough for all of us. Before I can do or say anything Joan drags me onto the platform. The elevator lowers again and the lid is closed with a small thud. What is she doing?

I open my mouth to protest, this is not her fight nor Bumpo or Dave's, but I quickly swallow down the words when I hear that arrogant voice of Quentin Glass. He's in my apartment and he is talking to someone. Wait a minute. He's talking to Dave. What the hell is he doing? He should have run and hid in a dark corner somewhere.. This isn't the time for stupidity, or bravery. He's going to get himself killed. You don't want to mess around with Quentin. And for what? Just to save me? Some guy he doesn't even know that well. That's insane. He's insane. But the boy has some serious guts. Still it's stupid. Very stupid. I can only hear pieces of the conversation which annoyes me to no end. I want to know what's going on. Dave shouldn't even be in this position. If he's still up there than Bumpo must be too. He wouldn't leave Dave alone. They are good friends. That much I do know.

Every muscle in my body is aching. I bite down hard on my lip, trying to prevent myself from making any noises. My breathing turns heavier. I don't want to give us away but it's hard to stay quiet being cramped up in such a small space when your body clearly isn't ready for it. If they find me, they would probably kill me right on the spot. Or perhaps Quentin would enjoy a round of torture first. Not that it matters much to me.. I just don't want other people to pay for it as well. I sneak a glance at Joan. She looks very calm. How does she do it? She looks back at me and gives me a small smile. Very hard to do in a situation like this but she manages. I still don't understand how someone so nice and sweet always ended up with such an asshole. How is it possible? I don't know but maybe if we had met under different circumstances.. A sudden flash of pain catches me off guard. I gasp out loud. This might be the end. Now we're all going to die because of me. More innocent blood. Surprisingly no real sound comes from my mouth as I feel soft lush lips on mine.. Joan's lips. I stare into her eyes. Spell bound. For a moment i'm frozen by her actions. She opens her mouth a little and before I know what i'm doing I have my tongue in her mouth to meet hers. I slowly put a hand on her neck to pull her closer. My mind takes me back on the beach at Puerto Rico. Me and Maria. Together. Happy. It was everything I ever wanted. As soon as she comes to my mind realization kicks in.. What the fuck? I'm kissing Joan. Not Maria. I shouldn't be doing this. I can't be doing this. With that conclusion I push her away, gentle but still firm. What's wrong with me? Just great. I expect her to be hurt but I can't read any in her eyes, nor disappointment. Joan just stares at me. She's a beautiful woman. I'm not completely dead. Still a man. But it's too soon.. Much too soon. I just got carried away. That's it. I got carried away. She seems to feel my distress. Placing a hand on my shoulder she nods. The kiss left me very uncomfortable. I don't do this shit or at least not anymore. I've got other priorities. Somehow I know she understands. She'll find someone. I know she will. She deserves much better than one of those pathetic assholes.

Screaming. A lot. It's Dave. I can tell. What are they doing to him? And all because of me. The pain. All for me. I still can't believe it. I got to survive. I have to. It reminds me of something someone said to me long ago: For peace we must go to war. And war it shall be. I declare war to the Saints. If they think they can just kill me like they killed my family and hurt innocent people along the way. Well then they are dead wrong. Suddenly everything turns quiet. A few moments later I can feel the elevator moving again. Quentin and the rest of the gang must have left. It's only a few seconds before we're back up in my apartment. I try to stand and this time I manage to do it. I feel like i've been hit by a bus.. several times.. I look around and I spot Dave sitting in a corner. He's not looking good. Joan leaves my side and runs up to him. A part of me feels incredibly sorry for him. Bumpo moves over to me and puts a finger to his lips, quietly motioning for the door. I get it. Apparently they left someone behind to guard the place in case I would show up. I think it's time for me to crash this little party. I slowly walk over to Dave. I notice that his face is bleeding hard. No piercings. That son of a bitch has ripped every single piercing from the boy's face, leaving gaping wounds in its place. Quentin, of course. He's a sadist. Dave looks up at me, shaking a little. "I didn't tell them anything." His voice laced with pain. The sight of him and his face covered in blood makes me angry. Dammit! This wasn't supposed to happen. They shouldn't have gotten involved. Why protect me? I shake my head in disbelief. "Why are you willing to die for me?" I ask for I can't understand it. It was beyond all logic. I hadn't been nice to them. Maybe it's because of who I am. They know that my family got murdered by the Saints. Maybe they feel sorry for me. Pity. But I don't want or need their pitty. It was my family, not theirs. This is my business, nobody elses. "Because we're family." Dave interrupts my silent reasoning.

I stare at him. Was he serious? I hadn't expected him to say that. For some reason I want to shout at him that my family was murdered. My wife and son rundown by a car. There's nothing left for me. And that's all because of some kid. A kid named Bobby Saint who got killed at an undercover operation. He wasn't even supposed to be there! It was an accident. It really was. Nobody was supposed to get killed! And because of that my whole family got murdered. I look at them and suddenly understanding dawns upon me. In a way we are family. Just look at us four. We all got our problems and we live in this rundown building away from the big city, looking out for each other. An odd family but a family nontheless. I look back at Dave. I nod at him and place my hand on his shoulder giving it a light squeeze. After what he did he earned more than just my respect. Then I turn to look at Joan. "Take him to the hospital. He needs treatment." Joan nods at me. "Will you be alright?" There's concern in her voice. Real concern. For me. "Yea. Just go." They support Dave and disappear through the hole in the wall from my apartment to theirs.

I run a hand over my face and through my hair while looking around the battered place for some kind of weapon I might have overlooked when I spot an old paper cutter. Well well.. This might come in handy. I remove the huge blade from the machine and put it on my shoulder. Hmm.. doesn't weigh too much. It will do. I stalk over to the sound of the footsteps while keeping a firm hold on the blade. As I round the corner I see the man pacing around in the hallway, smoking a cigarette. With an air of arrogance and superiority ofcourse. Just like all of Saint's men. The poor guy won't know what hit him. "Mind if I - cut in?" A deadly whisper, mirroring the fury I feel inside my heart. The sudden sound startles him and he quickly turns around. His eyes widen in recognition. Too late. I take one more step forward and swing the blade down with deadly precision, determined to end this and all that's yet to come.