“We have to go, Frank,” Daredevil presses as he starts shoving the marine towards the end of the hallway. “Their back up will be here any minute.”
“Fuck ‘em,” Frank growls, the pain in his foot almost unbearable.
Getting a drill through his tendons was not one of Frank’s top ten torture pleasantries. Already he was hobbling far more than he’d like and with his eye swelling up he was having to rely on Daredevil more and more. That was pretty unacceptable right now given that he was only knocking the Kitchen Irish out rather than putting them down for good. Red really didn’t understand how the world worked.
“I can’t take them all on,” Daredevil huffs before hoisting most of Frank’s weight on his shoulder as they hurried their shambling descent through the warehouse. “And you’re in no state.”
“Just fine, Red,” Frank snarls. “Fuckin’ A. Now quit bein’ like my ma and point me to the damn exit.”
“See if I save your ass again,” Daredevil mutters sourly.
“Don’t next time,” Frank says viciously. “I ain’t ever asked for your help, don’t want it now.”
“You know you really are ungrateful,” Daredevil turns to him, those strange orange lenses glinting in the dim light.
“Ain’t nothin’ personal. I just got my mission n’ when it’s over, it’s over,” Frank shakes his head. “Ain’t nobody needin’ to be nice to me, save me.”
“So help me God,” Daredevil sighs, still half dragging him.
He comes to a dead stand still and Frank’s half ecstatic for the rest and half concerned they’ll get surrounded.
“Whatsamatta?” Frank questions before he gets shushed harshly.
Red was obviously hearing something he couldn’t because all Frank could hear was the pounding of his own heart, his own laboured breathing.
“There’s a woman here,” Daredevil says hurriedly. “Sounds like she’s being tortured. She’s screaming.”
“Kitchen Irish ain’t usually got beef with women,” Frank notes. “Ya gonna just stand there or what?”
“Thought the great Frank Castle had his own mission,” Daredevil says a little pissily.
“I may be an asshole, Red but I ain’t about to let a woman die,” Frank frowns. “Now take me there. None a’ these bastards get to take another life again. Not on my watch.”
“Well alright then,” Daredevil nods, leading him down several winding corridors.
He heard it when they got a little deeper in, the harsh guttural growl of a female in pain. There were words also but he couldn’t make them out just yet.
“There’s two in there with her,” Daredevil stops him before a doorway. “One in front of her, one behind. Take the one in front.”
Frank doesn’t argue. He’ll probably be better at a direct brunt assault and leaving the acrobatic shit to Red. He wasn’t going to be doing any flying leaps in his condition.
He bursts through the door, grabbing the first guy in a bear hug, slamming him back against the wall whilst the streak of burgundy dashes past him, jumping over the chair and dropkicking the burly man standing there, holding a noose tightly around the woman’s neck.
Frank was just about to dash the guy’s brains in when he heard a 'tsk’ sound from Daredevil and just settled for knocking him out. Fuck, Red was more preachy than a pastor.
“She alive?” Frank asks, finally looking at the figure bound in the chair.
“Breathing, badly bruised on the torso, no internal bleeding though. Broken finger I’m guessing,” Daredevil does that thing that completely freaks him out.
He hobbled over to her. She looked like shit. Blood was just hanging in ribbons from her lips and it was staining her aggressively blonde hair dark red. She was wearing what looked like a man’s suit with a tie and everything but the shirt was no longer white.
“She get outta a’ business meetin’ or somethin’?” he notes.
“Maybe she was in a rival business to the Kitchen Irish,” Daredevil muses. “Think you’re okay to walk on your own whilst I carry her?”
“Yeah yeah, do what ya gotta do,” Frank nods, still finding the girl a little odd to take in.
The second Daredevil places a hand on her shoulder, she jerks up with a shuddering gasp, slamming her foot straight into Frank’s thigh. He’s surprised to note she actually packs some power.
“It’s alright, we’re here to help,” Daredevil tries to calm her down, yanking the noose over her head and away.
“Bollocks you are!” she squirms against her bonds. “Untie me you cowardly twats n’ I’ll show you what a fair fight looks like!”
British huh? That was unexpected too. She definitely had some fire in her though which Frank kinda liked. He wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of guiding some hysterical person down through this maze.
“I promise you, we’re not here to hurt you,” Daredevil says more firmly, coming round into her field of vision.
Through the matted curtains of hair, she peers at both of them, an expression of bemusement coming over her.
“Didn’t realise they had a Halloween division,” she snorts. “New tactic? Trying to scare the goolies off me so I’ll talk? Well you can cock off.”
“For the last time-” Daredevil gets frustrated.
“Look Ma'am, we’re just tryna get outta here. Same as you. I ain’t been drilling my own goddamn foot that’s for sure. So we’re gonna untie ya and you can either join or go your own way,” Frank interrupts.
She seem to take more notice of him, nodding silently whilst casting an assessing eye over him. She was definitely shrewd.
“Go on Red, let her out,” Frank nods.
The zip ties are cut open and she winces, rubbing the point where they’d bitten into her skin before standing up confidently and marching exactly five paces before her legs gave out a little and Frank had to catch her.
“Easy, easy,” he reassures her. “Torture ain’t somethin’ ya can just walk off that quickly. Take it slow.”
“Fucking hell,” she growls, clinging to his arm as she rights herself. “Oh come on, you’ve survived worse than this shite.”
She appeared to be talking to herself, pepping up her mood. It was a good coping technique and Frank recognised the face she was making, the face of past trauma. Whoever she was, she’d already been through a lot.
“Gangbanger?” he asks and she turns to him sharply.
“Do you run with gangs?” he explains.
“Jesus Christ, mate. That means summat a bit different where I’m from,” she lets out a small laugh. “Nah. Nah this lot just caught me snooping in their books,” she cricks her back into place.
“Why?” Daredevil asks.
“Wouldn’t believe me if I told you. More about settling a score,” she shrugs. “Let’s just get out. I don’t fancy being shish kebabed again.”
“Do you need help?” Daredevil offers.
“I’m rosy,” she flashes a grin which somehow manages to be quite charming despite her appearance. “You got names or shall I go with Grievous and Meathead?”
“Ohhhh she got jokes,” Frank chuckles. “I like her more than you already, Red.”
“Then get a damn room,” Daredevil sighs exasperatedly. “Let’s go.”
“I’m Frank. That unfriendly asshole over there is Red. Make sure you are god fearing or he’ll bible thump ya to death.”
“God fears me these days,” she says with an enigmatic smirk. “I’m John. John Constantine.”
“John?” Frank questions. “Really?”
“Can you tell me dad wanted a boy?” she just gives a look that says she’s had to explain this a million times already. “Just roll with it, lad.”
“They’re coming. We need to go,” Daredevil says suddenly, cocking his head in one direction. “Down the hall, go go!”
She bolted out faster than Frank would’ve given her credit in her condition and he felt a little emasculated that he couldn’t keep up.
He may have just said some suicidal shit about dying to Red and being left there but something about this woman….he just felt an automatic kinship. When she said she had a score to settle, Frank could see the same pain in her eyes that he saw every day in the mirror.
She’d lost someone.
She’d lost someone close.
When they hit a chamber that opened into the main body of the warehouse, Frank knew they’d taken the wrong turn. They’d just directly walked into the main body of the crime gang.
“It’s him! It’s the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen!” one cries.
Daredevil pushes John behind himself, protecting her.
“I don’t need you to do that, mate,” she says seriously.
“I don’t need another body on my conscience,” comes the guilt stained reply.
“Let me tell you a little summat about God, Devil,” she hisses. Clearly her pride was wounded.
She rolls up the blood sodden shirt sleeves revealing strange occult looking tattoos and Frank’s slightly apprehensive about what’s going to happen considering a bunch of the Kitchen Irish are racking their pistols and forming a line.
She reaches into her trouser pocket pulling out an old fashioned bronze lighter and clicks it, fire sparking high and then….
She transfers it to her fingers where the ball grows brighter and then opens her other hand to reveal a second fireball.
Frank wasn’t sure if he’d lost so much blood his mind was gone but even Red seemed to take a step back before she just gave a tiny smirk and said things in a language he didn’t understand.
When she whirled around, the flames formed into a giant pattern, racing towards the gang members and they fell backwards over themselves. Many were scorched, some burned instantly. She didn’t leave many alive.
“What did you do?!” Daredevil yells, his head darting this way and that at the sounds of dying men.
“I’ll tell ya. God doesn’t give a shit,” she says darkly. “He abandoned us a long time ago.”
“What are you?” Frank asks, equal parts afraid and curious.
“Heaven’s whipping post,” John replies blankly before saying more words and the cries of the dying ceased instantly. “This is the part where people run.”
“You….you smelled different just now,” Daredevil seems completely rattled. “What…”
“Hell left an imprint on me,” John pulls her shirt out of the trousers to show two rows of claw marks, diagonally situated on her waist, almost like a beast had grabbed hold of her there to steady her. “I’m not entirely human. Now go running to your priest. That’s what every other poor bastard does that can’t handle my world.”
“Come on, Frank,” Daredevil motions, moving to the exit.
“Who was it?” Frank questions, his curiosity driving him to know more, his fascination with good and evil and justice still playing in his mind. “Who did you lose?”
“A man. I man I loved,” she says quietly. “You?”
“My family,” Frank answers. “You just wiped out some a’ their killers.”
“I’m right sorry, lad,” John turns to him, that charming twinkle obviously masking some pain there. “Didn’t mean to take it from ya.”
“Are they dead?”
“Dead and where they’re supposed to be,” she answers, staring at the pile of bodies.
“Then thank you, Ma'am,” Frank nods graciously.
“You’re not frightened?” she notes.
“It’s New York,” Frank says with a wry smile. “Ain’t gotta walk a mile 'fore you find someone gifted, though I ain’t ever seen somethin’ like that.”
“It’s magic,” John returns the smile. “Been at it since I were knee high to a grasshopper. Go on now, Frank. You’d best get your pal there out before he cacks himself any more. I’m sure knowing Hell is very real prolly gave him some great bloody life questions.”
“What are ya gonna do?” Frank starts walking over to Daredevil.
“Find what I came here for,” John cagily answers. “Burn this place to the fucking ground.”
“Good luck with that, John,” Frank says.
“Good luck with your thing too, Frank.”
He turns his back and he can already feel the heat from the flames she was producing, destroying any evidence that they’d been there at all. He felt grateful for that. At least Red wouldn’t get in shit for helping his sorry ass out.
“Be safe, Ma’am.”
He had no idea why he said that as he walked out of the door.
This strange British girl with the bible complex and terrifying powers….he really did feel like there was a kindred soul there and he hoped she found peace, whatever she was looking for.
It was done. It was done and now he didn’t know what to do.
His family’s killers were all dead. Every. Single. One.
He got himself a labour job, just something to work out his frustration at life, his frustration at being left behind. It occupied his brain so much that he’d even get up at 3am, just to not have to dream about Maria any more.
He hated being in his shitty little apartment, the neighbour’s always arguing all the goddamn time. He would give anything just to have a stupid argument with Maria again….
He got back after a shift, his knuckles dusted, his palms blistered and weeping. His hair and beard was covered in sweat and brick powder but he didn’t care. He wasn’t trying to impress any one.
He got in the lift, too tired to make it up the stairs, his foot playing up again.
Someone was there, a pretty blonde woman in a tan trench coat, cigarette tucked behind her ear, looking for all the world like a 40s detective in a film noir.
“Goin’ up?” he asks cordially.
Just because he was being an antisocial bastard lately didn’t mean his ma hadn’t ever instilled manners in him.
“I thought it were you,” the woman gives a lopsided grin. “Hello squire. Been a while. Like the facial hair.”
It was her.
He hadn’t recognised her without a face full of blood and gore but it was her.
“What the hell?”