Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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A Conspiracy of Ravens - Chapter Eight

Chapter Title: Jump the Gun
Author: Kairos
Fandom: Netflix MCU mashup
Wordcount: This part, 2666
Rating: Teen for language and canon-typical violence
Summary: Matthew Michael Murdock makes many memorable mistakes.
Notes: I'm still here; had some stuff going on this week that kept me away from posting this chapter but it wasn't writer's block stuff. I should warn you that this one is all from one character's perspective. Also that the character is Matt. Frank and Karen will be back to fret over each other next week.


Matt had always secretly found some appeal in the romance of being a “lawyer by day, vigilante by night,” but it was first and foremost a matter of practicality. Daredevil couldn’t be seen in broad daylight without causing the wrong kind of stir, and the cover of darkness was an important edge for fights against the sighted. Day and night had been as one for Matt since he had lost his vision -- he had to check with his inner clock and other signs to even know which was which -- but he considered darkness an ally and a protector.

That was just one reason he felt sure he was making a mistake when he put the suit on hours before sunset and went to find Frank Castle. It was a long while before Castle was supposed to arrive, according to the tip that Matt had overheard, but the address seemed to be for a meeting location rather than a home base. If Matt was careful, he should be able get close enough to find out more about who was going after whom, and if he had to get involved himself, any fighting wouldn’t take place until it was dark enough to give him the advantage. But he still had to get there in costume, and he was still far from peak condition.

He kept to the rooftops and reached his destination tired out from making too many leaps, but without giving himself away. There was no sign of any gang action here yet, so he sat down, his back against a chimney, and listened below himself for clues.

It was a residential building, which wasn’t a good sign. Castle’s tip wasn’t likely to have known where Russell Blagg lived himself, so what business could he have here? Matt could hear families, couples, roommates, none of them talking about anything that seemed relevant. He memorized a rough floor plan of the building and the locations of some of the people in it, and then stood up to find a way inside if he needed one. The only door on the roof locked from the inside, but it was easy to break the handle to leave it open.

His early arrival time meant that he had a good hour of rest and recon before he heard two men coming up the fire escape. One called the other “Russ” while complaining about the steps, and Matt quickly formed a plan.

When they reached the roof, he was crouched behind the waist-high wall bisecting the area, and he grabbed the one who wasn’t Russ and tossed him down the fire escape before either of them had a chance to react. The man shouted until he hit a landing and was knocked unconscious, and Russell was distracted for the crucial few seconds that Matt needed to seize him and twist his arms behind his back.

“Fuckin’ idiot!” Russell growled, struggling. Matt didn’t respond. Before anything else he had to make sure that the other man would survive, and his current opponent wasn’t making it easy to listen for vital signs.

The second that he had confirmation, Matt shifted his grip to wrench the shotgun out of Russell’s hands, then released him and stepped back with the gun aimed at his head. The man was wearing body armor, but Matt didn’t intend to fire so much as a warning shot anyway. Now that he had his attention, he was sure he could see this through without any more fighting. He would have to, really. Russell was taller than him and more heavily muscled, and although he didn’t seem to have any special hand-to-hand training, he had been close to breaking Matt’s hold on him through sheer force.

“I’m here to talk,” Matt informed him. “Your friend will be fine.”

“He ain’t my friend.” Russell was poised to draw his other gun, a pistol on his hip, but he wasn’t stupid enough to try it.

Matt used the shotgun to gesture. “Keep one hand up, put your weapon on the ground, kick it over to me.”

There was a stench of fear pervading the air, but Russell’s skin was hot with anger as he complied. “What do you want?”

“For starters I want to rescue you.” The pistol came sliding over, and Matt put his foot on it. He hadn’t ever unloaded a shotgun before, but his sonar gave him a good idea of what to do, and he let the ammunition spill onto the ground in a matter of seconds. “I know who you are, and I’m not the only one. Frank Castle has a shit list with your name on top and he’s headed here right now. Your best bet is to listen to me, do you see that? He’ll kill you. I won’t.”

It was clear from his heartbeat that the name had an impact on him, but Russell still put a sneer into his voice when he answered. “You think I’m gonna work with fuckin’ Daredevil?

So Daredevil’s reputation in Hell’s Kitchen had outlived him. “For five minutes? To avoid getting shot in the head before you know what’s happening? Yeah, I think you will.”

“You got my guns, man. If you’re not gonna use ‘em, say your piece or let me leave.”

Matt had dropped the shotgun after emptying it, and the pistol was still under his foot. “Fine. Look, I don’t want to work with you either, but we have an enemy-of-my-enemy situation.”

Russell’s posture tightened. “I don’t even believe Castle’s alive, you’re not gonna get me with that boogeyman shit--”

“Not him. Tell me everything you know about Javelin.”

“Jave--? Classified, sweetiepie.”

Matt stooped to pick up the pistol. He didn’t point it at the man, but it seemed like a more effective threat when it was in his hands. “How’s it help you to protect them?”

He sniggered. “You take ‘em off the streets, I don’t get my paycheck, do I?”

The line about not believing Castle was alive had been a lie, but this one wasn’t. Russell Blagg was, apparently, nothing but a common hitman. It was going to take some lawyering to get anything else out of him. “You’re also not getting it if your boss is dead. Or if you are, but my money’s on them leaving you for Castle to dispose of. Whatever you’re supposed to be doing here tonight, a better plan is to find the guy who puts the food on your table, and start playing bodyguard.”

“You think I’m gonna lead you to him, huh?” Russell laughed. He turned his head to the side and spat. “Good one. You don’t know shit. Javelin’s gonna make you their bitch, unless you get lucky and I kill ‘em all first. Now if you wanna keep up your bluff about Castle, it’s time we get away from here, right?”

Matt considered the sparse information he had gathered from that: Russell wasn’t concerned about his employer’s safety, which meant that the man was currently out of reach, but he was clearly anxious to move off the roof. It was in his voice when he probed about the “bluff” -- the threat of Castle, it seemed, was better leverage than anything else Matt had in his artillery. “He knows who you are, Russell Blagg. He got your name from a guy named Paul who fouled up a job a few nights ago. And keep in mind I said he’d kill you. I feel fine right where I am.”

That did the trick. Russell’s heart was racing, sweat was beading up on his brow, and he even lost his composure enough to whisper a volley of curses and clench his head with both hands. “Though you wanted to rescue me,” he accused.

“Just get out of town. You’ll never get a better chance to break away, anyway. Nobody will know what happened here or where you went.”

“It don’t work like that.” Russell gave a helpless shrug and then let his arms drop to his sides. “But hey, if I gotta leave, are you gonna let me leave, or what?”

Matt paused before answering; he had been listening for movement on the ground, and he was increasingly sure that the four sets of footfalls he heard were headed for this building. “Who were you supposed to meet here?” he asked.

“Someone who’s gonna make this a lot more complicated. Stay if you want.”

“Go,” said Matt, making a half-hearted gesture at the fire escape with the gun he was still holding.

As Russell rushed down the fire escape, Matt jumped back behind the wall where he had hidden before to wait, and listened through the vibrating metal stairs for the approach of the newcomers. Before they were close, Russell’s descent was obstructed by the unconscious form of his partner, and Matt cursed himself -- he hadn’t had a plan for the other man, or given Russell any instructions. Maybe it wouldn’t matter, he thought, but then there came the sound of a holster being removed and then fastened onto Russell’s belt instead: he was armed again. Even if he was leaving Hell’s Kitchen, he was doing it with a loaded gun, and it was Matt’s fault.

Torn, he tried to at least figure out where Russell would go before he made his own move, but the others were getting closer and he didn’t want to miss whatever was going to happen next up here. Then Russell’s movements took an unexpected turn. He was going into the apartment building, through the main door.

Matt remained frozen with indecision until he heard the hitman get into the elevator and check the clip in the gun. Destination, top floor. Six apartments. Three of them currently occupied.

There was no more time to think about it. Matt rushed through the rooftop access door and into the building just as the elevator door was opening. Russell was facing him at the end of the corridor, too long a distance to get to him before he stepped out and pulled his gun. Matt took the first bullet in the body armor directly over his heart and fell back. The armor didn’t crack, but there would be a huge bruise coming, and Russell had five more bullets in his clip.

Children screamed inside one of the apartments, and a woman in another. Matt stayed down, forcing himself to be still instead of cringing with the pain, and it worked well enough for Russell to carelessly step around him to get to one of the doors. Matt kicked out and caught him in the shin, then sprang to his feet. He had a tight grip on Russell’s gun hand when a door behind him opened.

“Get back!” Matt commanded whoever was trying to rubberneck. “Stay inside!” The gun went off, Russell’s finger coming down on the trigger as he tried to wrench it away, but he hadn’t been aiming and the shot went into the ceiling. The door slammed shut again.

Stick had always told Matt that sight was a distraction, but he hadn’t offered any solutions for the distractions caused by super-enhanced hearing. As Matt grappled with Russell, he could hear the four men outside going up to the rooftop for their meeting, and at the same time, a man in the apartment where the door had opened was frantically telling his wife, “They sent him for me, you have to get the children out.”

Russell landed a hard punch in Matt’s face, threw him down, and headed for the family’s closed door. It was locked, thankfully, but he immediately began kicking it instead, and as Matt lurched to his feet, the rooftop entrance that he had used burst open to admit four men. The first one fired a gun down the hallway, missing both Matt and Russell with no clear sign of which of them had been the intended target.

There were more screams now, some of them coming from the floor below, and residents were coming up the stairwell. Russell succeeded in kicking the door in. Matt lunged after him, grabbed him by the shoulders, and pulled him back into the hallway. Two more shots were fired, and one hit Matt’s side, where the armor was weaker. He managed to turn the fight around so that Russell was between him and the four new gunmen, but it left him cornered, with nowhere to go but the apartment with the broken door.

Just as trapped as Matt was, Russell whirled away from him and fired four times, and Matt ducked into the apartment without waiting to find out if anyone was hit. He did his best to secure the door behind him, but it was fruitless, and while his back was turned to the room, one of its occupants pulled a gun on him. A woman gasped, and there were two children in there as well, one of whom whispered, “Daredevil!” in fearless awe.

“Can you get out?” Matt asked the man, ignoring the fact that he had a gun to his head. The best way to defuse the situation was to show that he wasn’t the threat here.

The man hesitated, but his wife answered quickly: “There’s a body on the fire escape!”

Matt winced and nodded, trying to come up with something. For once he was glad to hear sirens in the distance. In the hallway, three of Russell’s antagonists were retreating down the stairwell, one of them severely wounded and the other two supporting him between them. The fourth was in a fistfight with Russell, who suddenly kicked him down the first flight of stairs and went for the apartment again. Matt braced himself against the door just in time, but couldn’t hold it for long. He was knocked to the side and Russell barged in, a single round left in his barrel.

Who he wanted was clear, but with a little strategy and no mercy, he could put his target’s family in just as much danger as his target. For a few seconds, everyone froze. Even the children seemed to be holding their breath. Matt listened to the two men’s trigger fingers and knew that the father was about to fire, and that Russell would live to fire back. He couldn’t push either of them out of the way without endangering the innocents. He said a prayer, waited for the right millisecond, and threw himself between them.

The father’s bullet hit the armor on his back. Russell’s, which was purposefully aimed at him, grazed his neck. Reeling with pain, he hauled himself up to his feet and began trading blows with the hitman.

Finally the sirens had come into normal hearing range. Russell backed out through the door, then spun around and ran, out to the roof where the others had come in. Matt sensed that they were all still alive, but on the ground now, and spreading out to cover more area. He turned to the family, panting. “Let me out,” he said, pointing to the window with the fire escape access.

“The body,” objected the mother, but Matt shook his head.

“He’s still alive. The police are on their way. Stay in here until they come to you.” He gestured again. “Open the window.”

The woman did, after ordering both children into their bedroom, as the man hovered anxiously at the door, his gun still drawn. Matt stepped out around Russell’s unconscious partner, looped an arm around him, and dragged him up a platform and back to the roof.

Everything was quiet for a moment. It was finally late enough for Matt to be able to hide in the dark, and Russell was still up here, preparing to jump to the next building from the same point that Matt had come to this one. Matt cracked a grin and stayed low. Russell was welcome to a head start. This would all go much better if he thought he was getting away with it.


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Tags: conspiracy of ravens
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