It’s not the best night for it. The rain his coming down in heavy sheets, and the wind occasionally whips it right back in his face. But he finds the cold bracing, the downpour a much needed shock to his system. His head had been cloudy lately, too much warmth, too much softness, too much rest and god damned relaxation. And it had made him fuck up, monumentally. He curses and the angry sound is swept away into the night. Letting his guard down has always had unthinkable consequences, and he’d rather be out tracking down some sex-trafficking monster in the pouring rain than facing the fear collecting in his lungs, gathering around his heart.
He raises the scope of his gun for what feels like the tenth time, scanning the row of windows along the adjacent warehouse’s southern wall. The inside of the building is dimly lit, but the bastard running the operation has gotten too cocky to tarp the windows and Frank has clear view of what’s going on inside the building. It isn’t a pleasant sight.
A group of girls stumble out of a nondescript van, their hands tied with plastic zips. They huddle together blindly out of fear and a need for warmth, filthy blindfolds covering their eyes. They’re so young, their silent cooperation borne of terror. Frank doesn’t have to imagine the source of their fear, he can see it on the predatory smile of their ‘owner.’
Frank’s jaw tenses as he mentally calculates exactly how many shots it will take to put down the six men standing around the group of captives. They’re low level operators, and won’t be missed by many. Frank relishes the looks of surprised shock that flit across their faces when he shoots the man in charge, the back of his skull exploding outward in a pink mist as the bullet exits. The men barely have time to process their horror before each meet their own painful demise, not managing to scatter even ten feet before they hit the dirty warehouse floor.
The girls don’t even know what’s happening. The initial shattering of glass makes them cower, trembling quietly as the harsh sound is followed by six muffled thuds. Frank immediately drops the scope of the gun, focusing on putting his equipment away. He’ll call in a tip once he’s a couple blocks away, give the cops of this city a chance to help someone for a change. The rain’s letting up. It’ll be a nice walk back home… The thought causes a slight twinge, just under his rib cage. The safe house isn’t home, and neither is the place he’s gone so many nights before. He reminds himself that home is a pile of ash, nothing more.
He hears it just as he’s zipping his ammo bag, the familIar light footed running along the top of the next building over. Murdock and his superhero costume, knee high boots and all, special no-skid tread catching the edge of the roof before catapulting over perilously close to Frank.
Frank just shakes his head, “Too late, Red. It’s done.”
He carries the piece of paper around for weeks, the two line address instantly memorized. He can feel it, burning in the pocket of his coat as he checks his nightly haunts, and he tries to forget about what’ll be waiting for him if he ever decides to trek all the way up to rural Maine. He can’t think about it, not yet.
There hasn’t been a big fish on the menu for a while now. He stalks the low life creeps, the one-off perverts and murderers who don’t belong to any particular band of assholes. He follows them into alleys, snapping their necks with gusto, bashing their heads in with whatever’s nearby. They’re not worth wasting bullets.
He drops off the city’s radar, his latest modus operandi something that doesn’t put up any red flags on the crime beat. There is no detective with a wall of red pins trying to figure out what the hell is going on. He’s sure to make it look like robbery gone wrong, just another statistic about why it’s shitty to live in the big city. The creeps are every background imaginable, ranging in age from twenty-two to sixty, careless assholes who’ve gotten too comfortable in their despicable lifestyles.
He almost feels a kinship with them, some part of his black soul calling out in the night. The joy he feels when they draw their last breaths is a stone’s throw away from whatever drives them to their own dirty business. But he isn’t them, and he knows it, his code is protective more than anything, a twisted and gnarled semblance of honor pushing him to find some kind of atonement. It’s harder to remember that these days.
so yes ok MURDER is WRONG and ok frank castle does MURDER PEOPLE which is WRONG but he only MURDERS MURDERERS so the crimes cancel out and he's basically RIGHT. trust me i'm friends with two lawyers
Summary: Sometimes the best friend doesn’t get the happily ever after. Told in Karen’s POV.
Pairing: Karen x Lin x reader
A/N: This wouldn’t be possible without @strongenoughfoundation . Thank you for listening, agreeing, and fueling my conspiracy theories about Lin and Karen. Thank you for proofreading and filling in the plot holes. Most importantly, thank you for being the awesome best friend that you are. (…yo that sounded like an acceptance speech for an award bahahaha!)
Karen was all too familiar with the look on Lin’s face. The closed lipped smile of his that softened his features, the way his eyes would shine bright, swirling with affection and wonder, and how he’d fiddle his hands together in anticipation for an exchange of words – it had all been reserved for her for as long as she knew him.
Today, Karen knew that those days were long gone.
She felt hollow, the bitter taste of defeat in her mouth as she watched Lin fidget in front of the church, anticipating the arrival of his bride. It seemed like it was only days ago that she was with him backstage before the show, cuddled against his side while he filled her in on every detail of his morning, no matter how small, and only stopping to share funny videos he saw on the internet that he knew she’d like or jokes he was sure she’d love. She was his best friend and he was hers, their relationship untouchable and incomparable to anyone else’s.
Karen didn’t know when it happened, but she had started to find herself leaning into him every time he’d gently caress her face as he teased her, or enjoying the warmth she experienced whenever he would drape his arm across her shoulders, and even day-dreaming about what it would be like to spend a day in his bed blissfully wrapped in his arms. She could still feel the touch of his lips against hers, how his hands would press firmly against the small of her back to press her closer, deepening the passionate kiss their characters shared – she often found herself wondering what a kiss would be like between Lin and Karen.
She was never the type to shy away from her feelings. Her relationship with Lin was always an honest one, so it was easy for her to decide that she wanted to tell him of her affections. Unfortunately, time and luck weren’t on her side. After In The Heights, she was immediately swept into the whirlwind of rehearsals for West Side Story. The everyday phone calls with Lin eventually weaned to once every two weeks, but her adoration for Lin remained strong. She knew that their chemistry was catalytic – a single conversation after a brief time apart was enough to spark the effortless conversation and teasing that they’ve mastered over the years. She trusted Lin’s ability to find his way back to her, and she would always welcome him with open arms, which is why she wasn’t concerned when Lin stopped calling altogether. She knew he’d return in due time as energetic as always, and the gravitation towards each other would resume its pull.
It was a month of silence before she heard from Lin again. She was on her way home from rehearsals, his picture flashing across her screen causing the discomfort of her tight vocal chords and tense muscles to disappear. She happily answered, and her heart warmed at the sound of his voice.
“Karen, I met someone,” he revealed, cutting her off her playful remarks about his absence.
“You what?” she exclaimed, the hand clutching the handle of her purse that was slung over her shoulder falling limp against her side.
“It was incredible. It was like I was a character in one of those cheesy movies you like watching so much. She’s new in town and she stopped me at the subway station for directions. One thing led to another and I ended up spending the whole day with her.”
Karen recognized the adoration in his voice, but there was something different about the way he spoke about her. Her knees felt weak and she stopped walking to sit on a nearby bench, stunned at the realization that for the first time, she couldn’t seem to understand the inner-workings of his mind. “Lin, you spent the whole day with a stranger? Do you know how dangerous that was?”
“Yes, but Karen… There’s just something about her. I think she’s the one,” was his quick reply, voice giddy.
Karen felt her throat constrict, her palms getting sweaty from his alarming declaration. “Lin, you just met her! How do you – “
“I just know, alright? She’s amazing,” he sighed dreamily. “I can’t wait until you two meet. You’re gonna love her!”
His voice faded away, lost in the rapid staccato of her heart and the rush of blood that raced to her head from her anguish and disbelief.
The first time she met Y/N was when he brought her as a date to the opening night of West Side Story. She wasn’t surprised to see that she was a perfect match for Lin, every idiosyncratic feature about her complimenting Lin’s own quirky traits. Y/N was dynamic; she matched Lin’s wit and seemed to capture the room with her enthusiasm. Karen wanted to dislike her, but she saw the sincerity in her eyes the moment they were introduced.
From Lin’s lingering stares, soft embrace, and his natural draw to her even when he was across the room – Karen knew that it really was something different. But she continued to hope, knowing that sometimes, the famous happy ending with who you thought was the one wasn’t always possible. She felt a little selfish every time Lin’s smile illuminated his face at the mention of her name, but she reminded herself that she deserved a happy ending too.
Karen felt that happily ever after slip away the second time she met her. It was their engagement party. Karen was in the corner of the room, feeling like she’d swallowed a ball of cotton as she watched the glowing couple skirt around the party, greeting guests and accepting words of wisdom from married couples. She felt like a fool for letting the thought of Lin falling out of his infatuation and allure for Y/N even cross her mind. She should have known better – when Lin loved, he loved with all his being.
She spent the rest of the night drinking wine and regretting the months of silence that she had given Lin, hoping that he’d someday return to her arms. She ignored the pinch of loathing that emerged when Y/N slipped onto the barstool next to her, her radiance ever present as she flashed Karen a smile and offered a warm conversation. When Y/N was pulled away by one of Lin’s adoring relatives, Karen was forced to drink away the guilt of feeling that way towards someone who was so pure and loving.
Suddenly the song shifted, and Karen was drawn back to the present. The low murmur of the crowd accompanied the organ as they turned to look at Y/N walk down the aisle. But Karen remained rooted to the spot, her eyes trained on Lin as his eyes marveled at the sight of his bride. His eyes, shiny from his unshed tears, were full of love and awe.
Karen tightened her hold on the pew, letting out a deep breath to calm her nerves. With her other hand, she fanned herself with the wedding program, hoping that the gust of air would help with the feeling of hopelessness that overwhelmed her as Y/N reached Lin. She placed a hand against her chest, watching through tunnel-vision as Lin extended his hand out for her to take. The feeling of dread sunk in as the reality of the situation dawned on her.
Lin was getting married.
“You didn’t think I’d forget to save a dance for the most important girl in my life, did you?”
Karen let out a weak laugh but accepted his outstretched hand, hoping that her voice didn’t betray the sorrow she felt from watching his first dance with Y/N. “Be careful with what you say, Lin. You’re a married man now.”
He threw his head back and laughed merrily as he tugged her to the dance floor. Karen couldn’t stop the soft smile from forming on her face when he placed his left hand on her hip to pull her close. Her right hand instinctively clutched his, the movement engraved in her brain from the countless times she danced with him on stage.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he murmured, twirling her.
Karen clutched his shoulder tightly and kept her gaze focused on the wall over his shoulder, refusing to meet his eyes. She didn’t trust herself to speak, the pain of her loss still fresh on her mind. Luckily, he didn’t question her silence and instead drew her closer to him. She closed her eyes, losing herself to the warmth that radiated from his body and how it seemed to mold perfectly against hers.
As they moved together as one, Karen let her mind drift. Instead of the plum dress she wore, she imagined a long white gown, the train of her veil rustling behind her as she and Lin danced. She’d wear her mother’s pearl earrings – the same ones she wore on her wedding day – and he’d playfully tease her about being too sentimental. She’d frown, ready to argue, but then he’d give her a quick kiss before she’d have a chance to. The crowd would applause at the act of endearment, but the raucous sound would not faze the calm that she felt as she stared into his eyes.
“Mind if I cut in?”
Y/N’s soft voice forcefully yanked Karen out of her fantasy.
“Hi love,” Lin whispered fondly.
Karen blinked back the tears that flooded her eyes, goosebumps raising up her arms as Lin left her side. She wanted to desperately keep her cool, to ignore the ache in her chest as she watched them kiss in front of her. But there was no denying it now: the hope of being with Lin was officially over. The days of laughing until her stomach hurt or the playful teasing that would transform into full-blown arguments that could only be resolved with ice-cream would be no more. They would all just be memories that Karen treasured while Lin made new ones with Y/N.
The crushing depression set in.
Today, Karen knew that she had to bid her goodbyes to her romantic dreams.
I brought the cake. I know Keith is lactose-intolerant so, it was made with almond milk. Kelly thought it would taste better with some cinnamon so, that's added. (I'd like my 13x9 pan returned by the end of the night, washed and dried, filled with fruit salad).