Fandom: Netflix MCU mashup
Wordcount: This part, 2324
Rating: Teen for language and canon-typical violence
Summary: Jessica has a success, Frank not so much.
Yep, I'm still writing this. In fact, gonna do two chapters in a row.
Jessica dashed up the stairs at HCB, not fast enough to reveal that there were superpowers in play should anyone see her, but still faster than the elevator would have gotten her to Foggy’s office. He wasn’t expecting her, and he looked startled when she barged in after a token rap on the door.
“I got your guy,” she announced, striding over to his desk and slapping down a folder. “This is hard evidence that the alleged Punisher is one Russell Blagg, so you’ve got a green light to tell Hogarth to leave you alone about him. We can settle right now or I’ll bill you by mail.”
He blinked at her, then pushed his chair out and stood up with the folder in his hands. “You found him already? How?”
There was a lot to the story that Jessica wasn’t about to tell him, but he could handle the bare bones. “He left town. Lost his nerve, I guess. He took all his valuables, but that just made it easier to get into his place and grab all the crap he wouldn’t want to have on him while he’s making a new identity.”
“Geez,” said Foggy, holding up an enlarged print he had withdrawn from the file. “He even left the skull vest in his apartment?”
“Right next to his trusty can of white spray paint.” Jessica shrugged. “He’s not a complete idiot. These pictures wouldn’t be enough to find where he is now. But they’re enough to prove that he’s not Frank Castle.”
Foggy paged through a few more of the photos before he answered, “Thanks,” still sounding distracted. He hesitated on one, started to speak, then met her eyes and repeated “Thanks,” more firmly this time. “We’ll settle now.”
He had written her a check and she had tucked it away before she finally admitted the other reason she was here. It wasn’t that she had to make sure she’d been paid before bringing up a contentious subject; she just wanted it understood that this was a private matter and that he wouldn’t owe her anything for it.
She took a narrow envelope from a pocket on the inside of her jacket and handed it to him. “I didn’t take that one,” she explained as he opened it and took out the single photograph inside, a blurry snapshot that had probably been printed from a cell phone picture. Someone had written on the back with a ballpoint pen: WATCH YOUR ASS. “It was given to Blagg sometime in the last couple days.”
“And that’s him?” Foggy asked cautiously, pointing to one of the two figures in the photo, who appeared to be fighting somewhere indoors.
“Yeah, but look at the other guy.”
Foggy grimaced. “The Daredevil imposter.”
Strictly speaking, that was all that Jessica needed to hear. “Okay," she said with a bland nod.
“What do you mean, okay?”
She lifted her hands and then let them flop down again. “I mean okay. You knew him better than I did. It’s not like some other guy couldn’t put on a devil suit.”
With a hard release of frustrated breath, Foggy held the picture closer to his eyes and stared at it for at least half a minute, then let it drop and said, “I’m calling Karen. She needs to see this.” As he took out his phone, he added, “I’m calling Karen, and then I’m going over to her apartment, because she needs to see this.”
“Can I come?” asked Jessica.
Foggy looked surprised, but he quietly agreed to it as he waited with his phone at his ear through two rings. “Hey, Karen,” he said, clearly addressing her voicemail. “Don’t worry or anything, but I’ve got something I have to show you, so I’m gonna drop in on you in a few minutes, and, uh, I guess Jessica’s coming too. Call me back if you get this first.”
He raised an eyebrow at Jessica as he was hanging up, and she pushed her hand through her hair and looked away. “I gotta know what’s going on with this,” she explained grudgingly. “Matt not being dead would be swell, but you know it’s not gonna be that simple.”
“If I wanted simple,” Foggy replied with a tired grin, “I guess I should have been a butcher, huh?”
Karen wasn’t home, which Foggy claimed was unusual, based on what he knew of her schedule. It didn’t surprise Jessica at all, because talking to her when they meant to would have been simple, but she had been watching Foggy closely and his concern had definitely been growing. After a few futile knocks, he said he was going to try the Bulletin, and asked Jessica if she still wanted to come along.
She nodded and turned to the stairs to go back to his car, but let him get a few steps ahead of her so she could do a quick search for a number and then dial it.
The call was answered promptly. “Hell’s Kittens Animal Shelter, how can I help you?”
“Hi, I want to check the status of a dog I saw there yesterday. Black and white, kind of ugly, named Sicily?” Jessica reached the bottom of the stairwell while the employee put her on hold to search the records, just as Foggy opened the glass door and went outside.
When he saw that she wasn’t with him, he turned to meet her eyes through the door, and she held up a finger to ask him to wait. In a short time, the shelter worker picked up again. “Hello, ma’am? Sicily is still here and available for adoption. Did you want to make an appointment to come see her?”
This was bad news. She was going to have to tell Foggy that he was right to be concerned. “Yeah, no,” she said into the phone. “I’m calling for a friend. Karen Page? She’s the one who’s interested, do you have that on file?”
“Um...yes, actually, it says that she took a walk with Sicily and then put in a request to start the adoption process. But she didn’t show up at the appointed time today, and requests expire after 24 hours, so…”
This was worse news. “What time was that supposed to be?”
“Two-fifteen.” The voice sounded unfazed; this probably happened all the time. “I can reschedule it, but to renew her hold she’ll have to come back to the facility in person.”
“Shit.” Jessica glanced at Foggy, who was starting to look annoyed but made no move to come back inside to talk to her. Maybe she had the wrong idea about telling him anything. She had to find Karen, and he wasn’t going to be much use for that if he knew something was wrong. Before hanging up, she said to the shelter attendant, “Don’t let anything happen to that damn dog. She wants it. She’ll be back for it.”
“Ma’am, I can’t confirm an adoption without Ms. Page’s written--”
At the end of her patience, Jessica snapped, “Write down that Jessica Jones is putting a hold on Sicily the ugly-face mutt and that if that exact dog is not there next time me or my friend comes in, I’m calling in my own attack dog. Otherwise known as my lawyer.”
She ended the call with a tap and stuffed the phone back in her pocket. Foggy opened the door for her, still respectfully silent. She pictured him trying to find a legal basis to sue an animal shelter, and felt a little ashamed of herself.
“Had a thing come up,” said Jessica. “You go ahead and check at her office, call me if she says she thinks it’s really him in the picture.”
Foggy left, after casting her a grim look that showed he knew there was something she wasn’t telling him. Jessica consoled her conscience by resolving to get this done on her own, but then thought about what her next destination should be and realized that it would take an hour on foot. Sighing, she took out her phone again and texted Trish: Want to come give me a ride?
Frank pulled into the Liebermans’ driveway and opened the door before the keys were even out of the ignition. He was parking David’s car in, but he only registered a sense of relief at the sign that his friend was at home. There hadn’t been time to call first.
It was Leo who came to the door in response to his hard knock, and Frank’s single-minded anxiety met its first disruption. He didn’t know what he wanted to say to her, but he knew he didn’t want it to be like this. Her shock at seeing him was plain on her face, and a few words of explanation were the least she deserved, but all he could manage was, “Hey Leo. Is your dad home?”
“Yeah,” she answered, barely above a whisper. Her hand stayed on the knob, gripping it tightly.
“Can I come in?” He kept his hands shoved deep in his jacket pockets, but they were twitching, and he couldn’t straighten his stance or hold her gaze. If Leo had been the one in danger, he could have been the comfort she needed, the guy she could trust, the adult in charge. If Frank himself were in danger, she never would have even known it. But this time it was none of the above, so this was all there was to show her: Pete, afraid.
Instead of answering or moving to let him inside, she took one hesitant step back, then called over her shoulder, “Dad?”
There was movement somewhere in the house, but the next voice that Frank heard was Zach’s. “Is that Pete? Leo? Who is it?” He appeared around the corner in the next moment, and his face lit up.
Fortunately, David was right on his heels. “Come on in, Frank. Leo, Zach, it’s okay, let me talk to him alone for a little while. Go help Mom in the kitchen. We’ll all catch up, but later, okay guys?” As he talked, he took each child by the shoulder and steered them away, and they reluctantly complied.
Frank glanced at Zach’s confused expression and Leo’s worried one before breaking eye contact with everyone and staring down at the floor. David sounded remarkably sympathetic, his voice pitched low as the kids left the room. “It’s Karen, isn’t it?”
Frank’s head jerked up in surprise. “How--?”
“I’ve seen that look before. Come upstairs.”
They went into David’s home office and he closed the door, and Frank didn’t waste any time in beginning, “I can’t find her.”
“How long?” David asked, waking one of his computers and opening up a program on it.
“Talked to her yesterday but she said she was checking out a source today and she wouldn’t tell me where. She’s not at home, not at work. Phone goes straight to voicemail.” He halted abruptly in the middle of the room and stated sharply, “I ain’t just being paranoid. She was supposed to call. Normal stuff, she can take care of herself, but she’s been getting into something big and…” He heaved a breath. “Just help me, David.”
David nodded calmly. “We don’t have cameras on her apartment anymore, or anything like that. You’re gonna need to tell me what to look for.”
“Start with a guy called Donovan Wake.” He rattled off everything that Karen had told him about the man behind the imposter Punisher. It didn’t amount to all that much, but David easily pulled up a few websites referencing Wake’s business dealings and then used them to feed the software he had designed for collecting more personal details. “Alright,” he said after a few minutes. “I can get you close to this guy, but is that what you want?”
Frank shook his head. “I don’t know if he’s behind it yet.” Even if he was, he wouldn’t be the one who was holding Karen, and Frank couldn’t prove anything. He needed to find someone who was truly at fault, and he needed to find his beloved chronicler, and then he could stop thinking like frightened Pete and start acting like Frank.
“So, I’ll look into his emails?” David waited for Frank’s nod, then rolled his chair to the right to get onto a different computer. “If you don’t mind me saying so, it wouldn’t hurt to keep looking the old-fashioned way. Does she have family in town you could call? Friends?”
It was a reasonable question that felt like a stab wound. Karen’s friends were so distrustful of Frank that they didn’t even want to see him at a funeral. Getting into contact with Foggy Nelson or Betsy from the church would only make them panic. He didn’t know anything at all about Karen’s family, except that they weren’t in town. “No,” he said. “I could swing by the Bulletin again, but if her boss is there he’ll, uh, recognize me.”
David took that in stride: “Better not to risk it, then. But if you want to go walk the streets I’ll call you as soon as I get anything.”
Frank hesitated, torn. He didn’t expect to get anywhere just by rambling around New York, but sitting around waiting for answers while Karen was missing sounded unbearable. “A’right. Thanks. Soon as you got anything, yeah?”
“She’s gonna be fine, Frank.” His gaze flicked away from the screen for a second of reassuringly efficient eye contact, then turned to his display of home security cameras. “Back door’s clear. Hurry up or Zach will catch you and you'll end up with a new sidekick."
He successfully dodged Zach, let himself out, and got into his car. Maybe he didn't know where to find Karen, but David would soon. And someone in this city knew already. All Frank had to do was find them.