2011-02-17: The Man Behind The Monster


Bruce_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg


Summary: Rashmi visits Bruce at work to try and get his side of the story about the attack on the police the other night.

Log Title: The Man Behind the Monster

Rating: PG

NYC - Nowhere

Nowhere is a community bar, with a slightly old world feel. All of the tables and chairs are made of wood, though there are some couches in a slightly offset room with green fabric. The music varies, depending upon the Owner's music taste for the day. Beer and Liquor are both served, but are both carded for as well.

At the front of the bar, right as one walks in is a large sign. "Superhuman friendly establishment. There will be no tolerance for disparaging remarks based on one's genetic status. Any fights will not be tolerated within the bar. The management holds no responsibility for where combatants are teleported."

It is also quite impossible to use fake IDs here. There is a telepathic bouncer that works the door.


Nowhere isn't crowded at all right now. With Dingo being all over the news the past few days several of the patrons have been avoiding the area when he's working. It probably has something to do with all of the Avengers who keep showing up to speak with him. On a table in one booth is a photograph of the girl who was shot with cards and flowers piled around it. That was Carmencita's usual table. It would appear that Bruce is not working right now. Lil is at the counter looking a little glum.

Summoning up her nerve, Rashmi tucks a newspaper under her arm. Nodding to the bouncer, she takes a deep breath, pushing open the door and slipping inside. The redhead takes a moment to scan the day's custom, face softening at the sight of the photo atop the empty table. A moment later, she slips into a stool at the counter, placing a five on the bar. "Coffee, please," she says to Lil, casting another sad glance at the photo. "I'm sorry, by the way."

Lil shakes her head and glances at Rashmi, taking a breath and offering the girl a slight smile. "Oh I'm sorry. I was just…Anyway what did you say dear? Coffee?" She nods and turns to pour Rashmi a cup. "Yeah Carmen was a regular here. Bruce is all shook up about it." The girl turns back and hands the cup to Rashmi. "I hadn't actually ever seen him cry before that night…" She shakes her head again and looks a little mebarassed. "Oh god don't tell him I told you that. He'd be so angry."

The door to Nowhere opens up and Bruce steps in. He's wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but no coat. The unseasonably warm weather is welcome, but it does little to improve his mood. The man walks ovcer to the counter and steps behind it, nodding to Lil and clocking in before washing his hands. Bruce turns to look at the counter and frowns when he sees Rashmi. "Ah you. Sorry, I keep forgetting your name. How's it pronounced again?"

Rashmi nods slowly at Lil, chuckling to herself as she lets the tidbit slip. "Don't worry, I promise I won't say a word about it. But I'm glad to hear that, and it gives me a lot of hope for why I'm here." The redhead seems about to say more, but Bruce's entrance cuts her off, and she turns enough to nod his way, the corners of her mouth twitching up at the confession. "Rashmi," she answers. "Rah-shh-me. Actually… I was hoping to run into you, Bruce… Mind if we talk a bit?"

Bruce and Lil exchange a look before she nods and walks past him, placing a hand on his shoulder as she does so. The woman moves down to the far end of the bar and begins conversing with a blond man about something.

Bruce nods to Rashmi. "Rashmi. Right. Sorry, not too common a name, ya know?" He nods his head toward the end of the bar away from Lil and moves down that way. Once Rashmi comes down that way he begins speaking again. "Sorry if I hurt you the other night. I can't see when I'm the Dingo and sometimes I hurt people I don't mean to." He pauses a minute. "I really do appreciate what you did during that attack on Mutant Town. I just don't want to see that happen again. I can't let anyone come into my town and hurt the people who live here."

Rashmi lets out a quiet breath, nodding slowly. "Y'know, Bruce… believe it or not? I understand. But… Bruce," she says, her voice soft but urgent as she pulls the newspaper from under her arm, "what happened the other night? That's not how you help them. That doesn't help *anybody.* And I saw you at the shooting… and at the concert. I *know* you really care about these people. I don't doubt that for a second. I just… wish you could understand how the things you do are *hurting* them."

Bruce glances at the news paper and frowns. "Canine Catastrophe: The Mutant Terrorist knwon as Dingo unprovokedly attacked New York's finest…Unprovokedly? New York's Finest? What is this?" The Daily Bugle. Bruce will have to pay them a visit. He scans the story and frowns. "They didn't even MENTION Carmen. Those Bastards." He shakes his head and turns to pour himself a glass of water. "I realise that I look like a villain. But trust me, I've got the people who would cause problems in Mutant Town thinking twice. I don't care if you hate me for it, but I'm certain that my actions have prevented more problems than I seem to cause."

Rashmi sighs, shaking her head. "I know it seems that way… but think about it for a second. Maybe you scare away the punks and troublemakers… but you attacked *police officers,* Bruce. That's something that doesn't ever go away. And if you *kill* them? Everyone, *everyone in Mutant Town* will pay for it. The good cops will stop at nothing to hunt you down. The bad ones? They'll make life miserable for every mutant they find until you stop hiding."

Bruce sighs and takes a drink of his water. "Rashmi, it's not the first time I've attacked a police officer. And I never kill anyone unless I know that they are a danger to mutant town. Those shooters, for instance. I killed a fair number of them. I don't kill civilians, I don't kill police officers." He shakes his head, "But these men killed her. They KILLED her for defending herself." The man is silent for a few moments. "It is a problem though. Obviously they have to pay for that, but it's kind of against my code to kill police and soldiers. I'd intended to take them to Magneto when I caught them."

Rashmi picks up her coffee, staring into it for a moment. "…All right," she says after a brief silence. "Thanks for putting my mind at ease about that much. I gotta say… Dingo doesn't seem like he cares much who gets hurt as long as somebody pays, you know?"

Bruce stands there for a moment and rubs his chin, thinking about how to answer the question. "Yes, it certainly looks that way, doesn't it?" He gives a half smile, "I try not to hurn mutants unless they're doing something that merits it. Most of the humans I go after deserve what they get. And whenever other civilians get in the way…Well I try to keep them generally unharmed." He does take hostages rather frequently. "What's the story with those officers? Any leads yet?"

"I'm going to be visiting the Precinct soon as I can," Rashmi says honestly. "…I haven't been as busy as I was last month, so… I had a lot of time to think about how to do this. And… I'm pretty sure I know how," she muses, taking a sip of her coffee. Setting down the mug, she takes out her PDA, calling up the audio recorder program. "But I need your help. …Actually, probably anyone who knew her," she says, turning on her stool and pitching her voice to carry over the sparse crowd at large. I want to know what she was like, if anyone wants to say anything?"

Bruce nods, "I know it's not much time, but they should be able to at least get you the names of those officers within the week. If they don't seem to give then there's little chance anything will be done. I may be forced to take things into my own hands, but you have my word no one will be seriously injured." He pauses after Rashmi's next comment. "Carmencita? She was a good girl. Worked at the corner store near the park. She used to come in here after her shift was up around midnight." He frowns over at her picture. "Never gave us trouble. Always tipped well." He shrugs, "I didn't really know her outside of the bar. Used to stop by and buy smokes from her. Sometimes she'd just bring a pack with her from work and I'd pay her in drinks."

Lil glances down the counter and approaches slowly, glancing to Bruce and moving faster when he waves her over. "We used to go dancing a few times a week. This little dance joint in the Villaige. They never minded that she was obviously a mutant. Well, someone said something once but she yelled at him so bad he never said anything again." She lets out a chuckle, "Actually he ended up buying her a drink later that night."

A few of the other patrons chime in about the woman. She had taught piano on weekends at a local foster center. She had run away from home when her powers manifested and was living with another mutant. He hasn't come into the bar since she was shot. She was hoping to collect enough money to go to school, but after the Mutant Town attacks she gave what she had to rebuild the town.

Every word is recorded onto the PDA, Rashmi listening carefully to each story told in turn, and by the end of it tears stand out at the corners of her eyes. "Thank you," she says to the patrons in general, a sad smile touching her face. "…That was exactly what I needed to hear." Looking back to Bruce, the redhead draws in a deep breath, composing herself. "A week is enough time, Bruce… More than enough, really. Because if what I want to do doesn't work? I have a backup plan, too. One that doesn't hurt anyone, but embarrasses a lot of people and probably ruins those two if they don't take what's due them for this."

Bruce frowns. "You're assuming the police will just hand over their own. I suspect that they keep records of which officers are assigned to each car?" He grabs a napkin and jots a licence plate number on it. "That's the one I chased. I think I totalled another one though." He picks up the news paper and frowns again. "I'll see what I can do about this. Maybe I can get them to write a story specifically about what happened to Carmencita." Before Rashmi has a chance to question it, "I know someone who works for the Bugle." Really? No. But he doubts Rashmi will walk away knowing that he intends to pay Jameson a visit.

Rashmi bobs her head in thanks for the license plate number, tucking it into her bookbag, but pauses, frowning at the mention of knowing someone at the Bugle. The look she gives him is suspicious, and rightfully so given the number of times she'd heard him glibly justify outrageous behavior already. "Just… try not to do anything that'd also be a crime, okay?" she settles for asking, after a moment's rapid thought. "A *lot* of what I'm trying to do is PR work… and yeah. Actually, police are legally required to give their badge number if a citizen wants to file a formal complaint. …I just, um… intend to make a bigger stink than that."

Bruce chuckles at the girl. "Alrighty. But be careful. Those cops aren't affraid to attack mutants. In fact, they shot me a few times as well." He pauses for a moment and looks like he's focusing on something. "I've got a couple in there somewhere…Ah." A bullet pops out of his chest and lands on the counter with a clattering noise. "There we are. Don't know if it'll help. It seems to help them catch folks on CSI.”

Rashmi's mouth opens once, closes, and she picks up another napkin, carefully folding it around the bullet. "It's not…. quite the same. It might help, it might not… but I guess every little bit doesn't hurt, right? Thanks again, Bruce… I know how much this hurts, and just…. thanks. For letting me try it my way." Slipping off the stool, she drops another five onto the bar, picking up her coffee and moving to the memorial photo. "…I really wish I'd gotten to know you," she says. "You sound like a girl after my own heart… Don't worry. I'll do whatever it takes to get this done right."

Bruce nods to the girl. "Get them for me. You know I'm not one to be subtle…And you're right that it would probably be better for everyone if the courts handled this. But if in a week it looks like nothing's going to get done I'm coming out." He takes the five and puts it in the tip jar. There is a note above the jar that says "All tips go toward Carmencita Florez's Memorial Service."

Rashmi turns, nodding her understanding. "All right… but for that week, keep something in mind for me? I'm not saying you have to listen and agree, just… think about it a little."

Lil is busy doing dishes behind Bruce. He finishes his water and adds it to the sink, getting an annoyed glance from the woman. He looks out over at Rashmi. "Yes I'll try. Just remember that the people in this town depend on me to protect them from things like that." He gestures toward the booth. "That shouldn't happen here. This is our Town. Our home. They had no right to come in here and do that to one of us."

"They don't have the right to do it to *anyone,*" Rashmi counters, shaking her head. "Look… I understand. I do. Just… it's not going to go away, until it stops *mattering* whether someone's a mutant or not. I really, honestly believe that, and I've looked Magneto in the eye and told him that's what I intend to do. I remember, you were pretty surprised when I told you I do volunteer work for him? Well… that's why. Because I can't put up a half-decent fight for *anyone* if I don't know how it really is, y'know?"

Bruce folds his arms and nods at the girl. "Yes. I understand we have the same goal. And I understand your reasoning and I would agree if not for the anger in my heart." He lets out a small smile. "I'm a soldier dear. All I know is how to fight, and that's all I can do to help my people. I have this gift for a reason, and I intend to use it."

Rashmi returns the smile, stepping forward and extending a hand to the terrorist. "You know… you sounded just like a regular superhero there, Bruce… and trust me. I grew up in this city, superheroes we know. I'll do what I can… and I'll see who else I can ask to get on this. At the very least… I know a very large law firm that specializes in superhuman defense. Whatever I can't do, they will."

Bruce looks at Rashmi's hand and seems to hesitate for a moment before reaching out and shaking it. "Like a regular superhero eh?" He smiles a sad smile. "I see my actions as good and just. It's just that the rest of society disagrees." He shrugs, "Who knows. Maybe if my life had turned out different." But he doesn't dwell on this. "Well, have a good night Rashmi. Let me know if I can help."

~ Fin ~

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