Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from the Punisher, they all belong to Marvel Comics.
Punisher 2028: Inheritance
Sarah O'Brian smiled a little sadly at her aunt, reaching out to hug her as the reddish brown haired young woman said, "I'm sorry, but I have to do this."
"I should never have told you about your father," her aunt sighed softly.
Sarah smiled down at her gently, "But you did." She took a deep breath, "All I want to do is make my peace with it all... and to me that means going to New York for a while. I'll phone and write, I promise."
"Be careful," she urged the young woman as her aunt watched her go.
Sarah climbed into the jeep and headed east, even as she reflected on the events that had lead her there. Adopted into a foster family Sarah had grown up restless, despite the best efforts of her family she always looked for something more. Making contact with her biological aunt had helped, but she also wanted to know her parents.
For a long time her aunt simply told Sarah that her parents were dead, but refused to reveal more than that. On her own Sarah began to dig, eventually finding her aunt's Punisher scrap book, as well as realizing her short childhood disappearance coincided with a appearance by the Punisher in their region of the United States.
Confronting her aunt Sarah eventually got the story out of her, of how her mother Katherine had worked with the Punisher in a foreign land, gotten pregnant by him and then ultimately choosing to have the baby. As a child Sarah was kidnapped by the Punisher's enemy Barracuda, who attempted to use her in a revenge plot but was rescued by him and returned to her foster family.
The next days were a blur of roads, motels and driving as she headed to the home of the Punisher, the city of New York. In the years following the Fifty State Initiative the US was probably a safer place to live in, but also a less free one. If you wore a costume you'd better have a licence, or you'd face jail time and the possibility of a capekiller police unit gunning you down.
Parking her jeep at a downtown parkade Sarah got her bearings, then began to tour the city. During the bad old days you couldn't walk down the streets of Times Square without fearing being mugged, but Sarah safely made her way, imagining what it must have been like being the Punisher, facing crime with just a gun and his skills. Secretly she fingered the pistol in the inner pocket of her jacket, snuck from her aunt's home months ago and carefully tended till now.
Finally Sarah picked up her jeep and made her way to a graveyard she researched, finding the tombstones just as she had pictured them. Maria, Frank Jr and Lisa Castle, lined up in the sunlight as Sarah stood looking at them, her expression thoughtful. There was no stone for Frank Castle, but he was widely believed to be dead, killed in his crusade against crime.
'Is this why he did it?' Sarah wondered, 'Did their deaths send him over the edge? But if that's so, why did my mother do similar things...?'
"Miss?" a voice made her turn around sharply, seeing a youngish looking police officer gazing at her questioningly.
Sarah stopped herself from reflexedly going for the pistol she carried as she replied respectfully, "Just paying my respects, Officer."
"Whitman," the woman said, "Penny Whitman." She smiled wryly, "We police keep a close eye on this plot, for obvious reasons."
"I'm Sarah O'Brian," she introduced herself. "You can't still be looking for Frank Castle," Sarah said, faintly surprised.
Penny shrugged, her blonde hair shimmering in the light of the setting sun. "They never found a body," she pointed out reasonably, "the Punisher could still be out there."
"He's just a man," Sarah said after a moment, "by now at least a seventy year old man."
"Maybe," Penny agreed, "but he's the last big unregistered, not to mention a bit of a legend. If someone catches him, their career's made."
Sarah felt a mix of amusement and disgust as she asked, "So you're staking out his family's grave?"
Penny looked sheepish, "Got to start somewhere."
Deciding she had talked enough Sarah took the flowers she had bought earlier and set them down, taking a moment to offer a silent prayer. As she walked away she realized that Penny was following her and asked, "Yes?"
"That jeep out there, it's yours?" Penny asked as she walked gracefully beside her.
Sarah wondered where she was going with this as she repeated, "Yes?"
"I noticed the out of state plates," Penny noted, "do you need a hand finding somewhere to stay? It would be illegal to sleep in your vehicle, you know."
Just then one of the Scarlet Spiders swing by, the red and gold armored standard bearers of the Initiative program. Every major city had at least one of them, a specially trained soldier equipped with Stark Tech armor that simulated the abilities of the former adventurer Spider Man.
"Every time I see one of those, I wonder where the original went," Penny murmured as they walked down the path.
"Oh?" Sarah looked at her curiously.
"I didn't mean to say that out loud," Penny admitted wryly. After a moment she added, "My mom knew the original, even wanted to name me after him."
"I don't know if Peter would work as a girl's name," Sarah sounded amused.
"Thankfully my mother realized that in time," Penny agreed as they passed through the gate and walked over to Sarah's jeep. She paused, nervously, "Do you need any help?"
"I've got some money and a hotel in mind," Sarah reassured her, "I'll be fine."
Penny took out a business card and wrote something on the back before she passed it to Sarah, "If you do need help, call me."
Sarah took it, feeling a odd tingle as their fingers brushed. 'Is she flirting with me?' she thought as she said mildly, "Thank you."
A faint blush colored Penny's cheeks, "Have a good night."
Watching Penny go Sarah felt a mix of amusement, attraction and mild annoyance. Getting bacvk in her jeep she didn't go to her safe hotel, instead she found herself driving aimlessly, Occasionally stopping at places she remembered from her research on the Punisher. The place he killed fifty mafioso, where he gunned down the Kingpin and a dozen odd moments.
Sarah stood on the street, imagining a moment as she reached into her jacket and fingered the gun. Could she do something like that? Shoot down a man in cold blood for the crimes he had committed, not waiting for a judge or jury? Sarah could barely comprehend that mind set, the capability to take the law in your own hands.
"Stop, thief!" a woman's voice yelped, sending Sarah moving instinctively. The young man grabbed the lady's purse and had bolted, pelting off down the street at a breakneck pace.
'Shit,' Sarah found herself moving before she knew it, racing off with the speed of a natural athlete. Cutting across the road Sarah intercepted him, tackling the mab and sending them both crashing to the ground.
The boy recovered faster, pulling a knife from his pocket as he cursed. "Bitch," the brown haired boy glared at her, "gonna cut you, bitch!"
Part of Sarah had the urge to pull the pistol out and start firing. She knew the city wouldn't miss a subhuman like this, and her finger almost itched to try to pull the trigger. Yet somehow it didn't seem write as she watched him warily.
"I can bet you there's already a Scarlet Spider on the way," Sarah found herself saying calmly, "and that lady's yell caught people's attention. You hang around, you're going to jail. You run, you might just get away." His eyes drifted to the purse he dropped and she added firmly, "Don't even think about it."
The thief hesitated a moment, then picked himself up and bolted, yelling a curse at her as he did so. With a sigh Sarah picked up the purse and walked back to the lady, who smiled greatfuly and said., "Thank you, miss."
"You're welcome," Sarah smiled back even as in a flash of red and gold a Scarlet Spider swung by between the buildings.
"Incredible," the other woman blinked, her black hair falling in ringlets around her face.
"Looks like I guessed right," Sarah mused as the Spider swung into a alley, soon returning with a bitterly cursing punk.
As police cars roared in Sarah blinked as a familiar figure emerged from a squad car. "Sarah?" Penny blinked in surprise.
"I was in the neighborhood," Sarah said casually.
The victim's statement was taken, the criminal was bundled off and a senior officer scolded Sarah good naturedly. Still, they mostly seemed happy as they escorted the victim home, leaving Sarah and Penny alone on the dirty street.
"I knew I should have taken you to a hotel after the graveyard," Penny said after a moment, "strangers to New York always seem to get in trouble."
Sarah put her hand on her hip and gave Penny a look and pointed out, "I thought I saved someone from trouble?"
A slow smile teased Penny's lips as she said, "Same difference."
"So, what do we do now?" Sarah wondered aloud, "Do I have to go downtown and give a statement?"
"The Scarlet Spider's sensor data should do it," Penny reassured her. They hesitated there a moment then Penny flashed her a smile, "I'm going off shift soon, care to share a coffee?"
Sarah smiled back, having reached a decision without really realizing it. "I'd like that," Sarah smiled at her warmly.
Penny blushed charmingly once more. "Could you follow me back to the station?" she asked, "Then we can go in your jeep, if you like."
"Let's go," Sarah grinned.
'I should get rid of the gun,' Sarah mused as she climbed into the jeep. If confronting the purse snatcher had shown her anything, it was that she wasn't like her parents. She understood the impulse to kill, certainly, but it didn't control her actions. Whatever made a man like Frank Castle become a Punisher, she probably didn't have it...
Notes: Based off modern canon and assuming the Fifty States Initiative etc etc. stays as part of the Marvel U. Sarah is a canon character, btw, she was introduced in Garth Ennis' Punisher Max series as Frank's daughter with a mercenary fighter.