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Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts

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The argument didn't sit well. Having to hit Lieberman didn't sit well. But he couldn't let him go to Madani, not yet, not until it was over. It was only right that those bastards got what they deserved first. Their cover ups and the shit that would splatter back on everyone else, that could come after.

But it didn't sit well either, what Lieberman had said, that Frank had a war inside him. He knew he did, but he hadn't thought about it quite that way until he'd heard the words. The comment had landed, that it was so obvious to Lieberman, what Frank was feeling. It made him think. He thought about it a good long time in fact, while Lieberman lay sprawled unconscious on the bed where Frank had deposited him.

It was like… It had felt like some kind of affront, Lieberman saying it out loud, bald and accusatory. It felt like an abused intimacy, but maybe it was just that he'd had the guts. Frank had been living it so long he'd stopped recognising it, he'd made it a secret, his own white whale, but having it said like that brought it all back into stark focus, made him look it in the face. It didn't change anything, didn't change his choices, but he could see it now. He'd lost sight of it, but not anymore.

So, maybe that was why someone like Curtis did what he did, why he tried to get other guys to do it too; talking, talking every week, asking other people to talk. Bringing it all out into the light. Calling it for what it was. Because shit like that sat inside you, trapped deep. No one else knew, they didn't understand. But naming it, putting it into words, it was like seeing the face of the enemy, an enemy you could fight. Problem was, Frank only knew one way of dealing with his enemies. And Lieberman didn't understand that. Lieberman was doing the only thing he knew to do, and that was spy on the world from the safety of his basement, and tie himself in knots over the shit his family was going through, the shit he was putting them through.

Maybe Frank didn't have much of a heart anymore, but he knew what pain looked like and he knew how it felt and he knew what it made people do. He didn't blame Sarah. He didn't even blame Lieberman. It was just how wounded animals behaved.

He needed another drink. This fucking thinking was pointless. He went to fetch the other bottle of bourbon Lieberman had stashed. When he came back, Lieberman was awake.

"Gimme another drink," he grunted, as Frank sat down on his cot, popped the top on the bottle and reached for his glass.

"Think you've had enough," he said, and poured himself a couple of fingers, then put the bottle top back on before setting it down on the table next to him, away from Lieberman.

"Y'r'an asshole," Lieberman mumbled after a few long moments while Frank sipped his bourbon.

"Yeah. Yeah, I am."

"I knew that. Coming into this."

Frank's mouth twitched. It sounded like Lieberman was arguing with himself now. Who knew, maybe arguing was his default setting.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, you did."

"Fine," Lieberman sighed, and it sounded like the end of the argument, just like that. Frank let it go, and Lieberman lay there without speaking long enough that Frank thought he'd probably passed out again.

"So," Lieberman said into the silence. "I'm lying here wondering. Did you ever. You know."

Frank stared at his drink, debating the merits of just dispensing with the glass and going straight from the bottle. "Did I ever what? You got an annoying tendency to not speak in full sentences, you know that?

"Tendency," Lieberman repeated, drawing out the first syllable. "That's a big word, Frank. You hear that on TV?"

"Fuck you," Frank told him pleasantly.

"No, I mean, like," Lieberman continued, back to the previous statement it seemed, and he was struggling to sit up now, propping himself up on his elbows, his hair even crazier than usual and his legs hanging off the end of the bed. His pants were still undone. "When you were in the army."

"Marines," Frank corrected.

"Marines. I mean, you spend all that time away from your wife, stuck twenty-four seven with a bunch of other guys, nothing but your hand for company…"

Frank shot another glance in Lieberman's direction. "You asking me whether I fucked any guys while I was on tour?" he demanded, a little incredulously. "Seriously? What, you think it's just one big gay circus the second we all ship out? Some kind of camo mardi gras party or something?"

"No," Lieberman denied, and then started snickering. "Camo mardi gras. That's good."

"No, I did not fuck my friends, the men I served with and who had my back when people were shooting at us, Jesus."

"'cause, you're a pretty good-looking guy, Frank," Lieberman continued blithely. "Handsome. Rugged." He made 'rugged' sound like two separate words. "You… fix things. I can see what Sarah sees in you."

Of course Frank wasn't lucky enough for that conversation to be anywhere near over. Why would he have ever thought that?

"I was there, she was hurtin' and drunk," Frank said, the same thing a different way for the umpteenth time. "That's all it was. It wasn't about me. Can we not talk about this anymore?"

"No," Lieberman said. "No, I think we can totally talk about this. We're both adults. Open minded, consenting adults. Why shouldn't we talk about it? I mean, it's only fair, right?"

"Jesus Christ, fair to who?" Frank breathed, looking at the ceiling like it could actually help him. Maybe it would obligingly cave in? No?

"Well, fair to me," Lieberman declared, like Frank even understood what they were talking about anymore. "I mean, if you were being fair to me, you'd totally let me."

"You're not calling Madani," Frank said warningly.

"Y'think I want to get hit again?" Lieberman said. "I'm not even talking about that. We've moved on from that. What we're talking about is penitence, you know? An immediate redressing of the balance. And I think if that's what we're talking about, then you should let me."

"Let you what?" Frank sighed, dragging a hand over his face. The no glass option was looking better and better every second.

"Kiss you," Lieberman said, so casually that it took Frank a couple of seconds to actually realise that was what he'd heard.

"You want to-" he began, dropping his hand. "What? That doesn't even make any…"

"See?" Lieberman huffed, flopping back down on the mattress, as if with that one word he'd made his point. Whatever the fuck it was.

"You're drunk," Frank said flatly, completely unnecessarily.

"Drunk too," Lieberman added. "And if she was drunk then I can be drunk."

And finally, finally, Frank thought he was maybe starting to get it, God damn it.

"Drunk and hurtin'?" he asked, and Lieberman didn't answer for a long time.

"Always. Every fucking second of the day."

Frank frowned. God damn it.

"Fine," he said abruptly, and Lieberman raised his head again to stare at him. "Fine," Frank repeated, meeting his gaze ruthlessly. "If it's going to mean we don't have to talk about this shit again then go ahead and knock yourself out." He paused. "It'll save me the effort, at least."

"Really?" Lieberman said, blinking. "Okay."

"It's not going to make you feel any better," Frank pointed out, watching as Lieberman pushed himself back up to his elbows and then further. "I mean, I don't know what you think is going to happen or…"

"If it's not about you, then that's not for you to say," Lieberman declared. He wasn't too steady on his feet on his way over, but damned if Frank was going to help him. "And it's not like this will be the most unpleasant thing you've ever put up with."

Frank stared up at him, doubtful. "I don't know," he started. "Considering that nest you call a-"

He didn't get to the rest, because with a surprising amount of deftness, not to mention accuracy, Lieberman had bent down, put his hands on Frank's face, and then he was kissing him.

Frank, mid-sentence, had left his mouth slightly open, and without him knowing how or why, suddenly there was tongue involved. Suddenly Lieberman wasn't just leaning down, he was lowering himself onto the cot, one knee between Frank's thighs, he was shifting up and turning Frank's head back further and pressing him back against the pillow and Frank was letting him, and his mouth was- Jesus. Where the fuck did a pasty computer nerd get off kissing like that?

"Okay," Lieberman mumbled, easing back a little. His pupils were blown and his breathing was rapid, but damn it so was Frank's. "Okay, I get what she sees in you. Again."

Frank only just managed to realise that last word was a statement of intent and not part of the original argument.

"Hey, wait, no," he managed, hands clenching involuntarily on Lieberman's arms as Lieberman's lips, hot and clinging, brushed the corner of his mouth, a little gentle, sweet almost.

"Right," Lieberman sighed, sitting back again. "You're going to hit me again now, aren't you."

Frank stared at him. "I. No. Just. Off. Get off."

Lieberman gave him a cocky, uneven smile. "Well, that's what I'm try-"

"Do not finish that sentence," Frank told him. "Seriously. You've had your fun. You wanted it even, it's even."

"But Frank. You're missing a big opportunity here. I mean, you did see how big before, right?"

That shocked a laugh out of Frank, which he was trying to be mad about, he really was.

"You're an asshole," he said gruffly. "Now, get off before I throw you off."

"Fine," Lieberman relented, and climbed off him, and Frank definitely did not look to check if he was wrong about the effects of alcohol on the libido. Jesus.

"You're no fun, Frank," Lieberman said, and he leaned down again, fast and unexpected, looming over Frank for a second only to snatch up the bottle Frank had left beside him on the nightstand. Frank wasn't fooled thinking that was what he'd been trying for all along.

"What?" Lieberman demanded, straightening again, the bourbon hugged to his chest like Frank was going to try and take it away from him. "Man's gotta find comfort somewhere." He turned and slunk back over to his bed, and Frank stared after him, silent as he lay down again, on his side, his back to Frank. Conversation, or whatever it had been over. He didn't open the bottle, just held it like a god damn teddy bear. Then he breathed in, breathed out, his back and sides rising and falling, and just like that, he was asleep.

And Frank, Frank was a little hard. Damn it.

"Yeah," he said finally, even though Lieberman was already starting to snore. "I guess he does."