Ray used to know everything about Brad.
But Brad's had six months in Iraq without Ray, and things happened that Ray doesn't know about. Officers with more concern for promotion than their men; missions that were fucked up before they even dropped; the way the second-to-last toilet in the block never flushed properly. Ray knows nothing.
Somebody else spent six months next to Brad; coaxed the radios into life for him; tracked down the ever-changing frequencies for him.
Somebody else irritated him back into humanity when things got too much.
Ray doesn't even know who it was, because Brad's stopped assuming Ray will tag along to Recon parties. Ray always claims too much work, because he can't keep the new faces straight, can't stand seeing other men taking his place in the community, doesn't understand half the jokes any more.
Brad goes out alone on his bike and comes back, hours later, closed off and distant, and Ray pushes him and needles him and annoys him until Brad goes out again. Ray hurls dishes at the walls and goes out himself, picks up men and fucks them hard in alleys outside clubs, and when he gets back, Brad's cleaned up all the mess and is in bed, pretending to be asleep.
Their shared language is gone. They can't look at each other and know what the other is thinking.
Ray's negotiating the world of academics and it shouldn't be as terrifying as having mortars raining down around him but it's worse, and he can't explain it to Brad.
Brad came back with a new scar, cutting through his tattoo, and says he can't remember how he got it.
Ray knows that's probably true. He's got scars of his own that he can't account for, too fired up with adrenaline to have noticed he was injured. But he worries about this one, traces it with his fingers, his tongue, until Brad flips over and glares up at him.
Maybe this was only ever a situational thing. Maybe it was just the fuckery of Iraq and they should never have brought it back with them.
But he watches Brad sitting at the kitchen table, picking at the skin around his nails, and Ray's heart twists with the strength of whatever the fuck he's feeling, and he's not letting this go.
He just doesn't know how to fix it.