Good People Doing Bad Things
Roleplaying Log: Good People Doing Bad Things
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After getting the dead drop, Babs comes to Frank so he can tell her about the men in the video and how it all connects to him.

Other Characters Referenced: Luke Cage, Agent Orange, Billy Russo, Dinah Lance, Huntress
IC Date: July 23, 2019
IC Location: Punisher Keep, Jersey City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 23 Jul 2019 07:06
Rating & Warnings: R. Language and suggestive content.
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

There was no warning text that Barbara Gordon was showing up at the warehouse in Jersey City. At this hour, she would have told him she is coming — it is, after all, just past 3 AM. She's not on her motorcycle, but instead in Uncle Harvey's car — that ugly beater that somehow keeps chugging along despite everything. If she had been in the right mind, she would have remembered she never put in Bullock's car into the database. If she doesn't wake up Frank, GAARD might — and it might be to warn him there's an intruder. She parks outside the warehouse where the heavy rainstorm beats on the windshield and soaks the pavement and dingy lawn overgrown around the warehouse proper. It takes her several heartbeats before she's hauling herself out of the car, but it isn't to get an umbrella. The rain soaks through her hoodie jacket and the puddles wet her flip flops and the hems of her PJ pants as she heads for the door. Her fist knocks against it several times. "Frank!" Her forehead sinks down onto the exterior of the door. "I forgot my phone!"

Frank was already awake, having startled out of a nightmare mere minutes ago. He's just started to sink back into bed, paging through his latest book, when GAARD speaks up from his phone's speaker, "A car is approaching." He grabs first for the pistol under his bed, then for his phone, "Show me." GAARD may not recognize the beater, but Frank does, and he starts to frown. He puts the pistol on his bedside table, pulling on a pair of sweats and padding downstairs — with both his phone and his pistol. He watches her come out of the car, adding, "Gimme some light, GAARD." They come on low as he reaches the door, and just as her head thumps against the door, he tucks the pistol into the pocket of his sweats and tugs the door open. "Red." Concern furrows his brow, and he reaches out to brace her arm and draw her in, "What's wrong?" He looks to her for a moment, then glances out into the rain, checking for a tail that isn't there.

He opens the door, and there stands a bedraggled Barbara Gordon. Her breath is tight with restrained sobs, and when he meets her eyes, hers flood. She steps into him, her arms sweeping around his waist as she buries her head into his chest. It's there she sobs the words, "He's dead. Zane's dead." Frank had never met him, but Zane was the one who did full coverage on the Punisher. In fact, he became the Punisher's VigiWatch correspondent, covering everything Frank has done in New York City. But to Babs, Zane was a friend — a best friend. A friend she's had since before Dinah — the first person to welcome her to Gotham City. So, when she sobs, "He's dead," for the second time into Frank's chest, it is a deep pang that weakens her, and with him there, it takes her knees out from under her.

The tears with the rain are something Frank wasn't expecting — hell, he wasn't expecting Babs at all, and he rocks lightly under the impact. At first he fears the worst — fear running down his spine. Her father's dead. Clearly that's what's happened. When she clarifies, however, he lets out a little breath, his heart racing under his bare skin. Then he considers, and a grimace spreads across his face as his arms wrap her up close, "Shit." His arms rub at her wet back, and then he reaches past her to close the door, "I'm sorry, Babs. Come in, shit." His mind is already whirling, however, and he can only avoid the question for so long — not very long in this case, "How?"

Her body just curls into him with her arms clinging around his waist. It's easy for him to guide her in, to make sure they are both out of the rain. It takes her several breaths before she can find her words again, and she leans back away from him as she wipes the back of her forearm across her cheeks. She stands there for a long heartbeat, her eyes looking at the ceiling, and then she breathes out a shuddering breath. "Zane emailed me yesterday, said that he had something that I needed to see, that it was about you." She rubs her knuckles across his nose. "We set up a meeting for tomorrow, but… th-they found his body in his apartment. They say it's a home invasion gone bad. They trashed all his computers. Not just took them, Frank. Trashed them." Her voice quavers as she goes on, stepping away from him with uneasy strides. She glides her tongue across her teeth beneath her lip, taking a moment to find her words again.

Frank brushes the hood of her hoodie back from her face, letting his hands slip down to her sides as she leans back. His dark eyes study her closely, his brows furrowing, "About me?" He's thinking, his eyes flickering around the dimly-lit warehouse, the bulk of the the van, the skeletal shapes of the weapons benches, the bulk of the kitchen, the looming height of the bedrooms upstairs, and back to the door beside them. "Even an idiot knows computers are worth somethin'." She's pacing away, and he re-locks the door then moves over to lean against the front of the van, watching her pace, "You think it was more than that." There isn't much doubt in his voice. "Something about me. He was digging? Another article?"

His gentle touch settles her somewhat, but that just opens up the flood of emotions. She's safe here, which means she lets it all pour out of her. "It's more than that," she says in a little choke. Then she's pushing her mouth into the corner of her thumb and forefinger, and she takes a breath through her nose. When she speaks, her words are quieter. "Zane's smart." Her tears flood her eyes again. "He set up a dead-drop… and I was the beneficiary." She sniffs, and then takes a disc from her pocket. It's smaller than a CD-ROM — more compact, easy to pocket. "It's a video, Frank. I don't know what it is. I need you to look at it." She lifts her eyes to meet his across the short distance.

Frank starts to nod as she says it's more than that, and he starts to reach out for her — but she holds herself together, and he leans against the van again, his bare torso showing gooseflesh in the chill of the downstairs. He starts to nod, but the mention of a dead drop causes him to sit up straighter, his eyes dropping down to the disc. "Video?" He nods, pushing off to the front of the van and heading over toward GAARD's server. He's got his laptop upstairs, but the big one is faster, better… and closer. His hand touches the back of her shoulder to guide her over there, and he leans forward to watch it alongside her. Unfortunately, he recognizes the video after about three seconds, and he pushes upright again, "Fuck." The works comes out in a snap, and he paces two steps to the side, then two back, "I know what this is." He stops there, watching Ahmed Zubair plead for his life, the subtitled translation popping up on screen. He watches Agent Orange taunt the man, anger crackling in Frank's eyes and stiffening his spine. And he watches himself shoot Zubair in the head. "I've seen this." There's something a little reticent about the words, but he gravels them out anyhow, "I've got a copy upstairs. Someone named 'Micro' sent it to me." He looks over to Babs, "Whaddya need to know, Red?"

He gently touches her shoulder, and that guides her toward GAARD's server. She is lingering near him as they close in to the console, and she wipes at her eyes one more time with the sleeve of her hoodie before she's taking in a sharp breath and looking at the screen to watch the video she's already watched three times. Her lips are tightening at the pleas, and the taunting, and then she's flinching at the rattling gunshot as the masked soldier shoots Zubair. When Frank says he knows what this is, when he says he's seen it, she's turning toward him with hopeful eyes. Had Barbara not been on the verge of those grieving tears, she might have caught the reticence, but instead she's waiting for him to tell her more. And he does. "You have a copy?" That surprises her, and it's clear. "Micro sent it to Zane, same guy. He sent it to him, the subject line was just 'Castle.'" Her lips tighten. "Who are they, Frank?"

"Whoever this asshole Micro is, he sent it to me more than a year ago." Frank stares at the image of Agent Orange turning away from Zubair's body, breathing in anger and hatred and letting it blaze within him. "The guy filming." He pauses a moment, and then he nods to the screen again, his breath hissing in his nose, "The guy filming is Gunner Henderson. Good man." He points toward the screen, "And that shithead, that's Agent Orange. He's the fucker that pointed Cerberus to our targets." It's direct, it's frank, but Frank isn't telling the whole story. Turning away from the screen, he puts his left hand on her shoulder, fingers squeezing tightly as he looks over his shoulder, then back to her, "I know where Henderson is. I don't know what the hell's going on, but I know who to talk to next." His hand comes up from her shoulder, slipping across to the far side of her neck and trying to turn her head up to him, his anger tamped down tight, his voice quiet but far from soft, "Hey. Barbara. We'll find what's going on. Why this happened. And we'll deal with it." There's a pause, and his voice is even quieter, "You with me?"

"Why did he send it to you?" The question is asked quickly, in a rapid moment of breath, but then he's identifying people on the screen and it distracts her. Henderson, Agent Orange, Cerberus. Her lips tighten. "Schoonover. This is coming back to Schoonover, isn't it?" She's on the verge of tumbling over that rage cliff, and she feels it tighten her chest and boil her belly. If she could reach through the screen and clasp the throats of all of those masked soldiers, she would. But then he's touching her, turning away from the screen. His hand slides his hand up to her neck, and the pressure of his thumb turns her eyes up to his. She searches his dark gaze there in the closeness; her eyes are wet, bloodshot, and burning with loss. Her next words are breathed, hot and harsh in her throat, "They killed Zane." Her eyes tighten. His voice drops quieter, and hers does the same after just scant heartbeat of hesitation, "I'm with you." She closes her eyes then, and her forehead sinks into collarbone.

"To Orange. He picked the targets." But Schoonover was moving the drugs, and Frank pauses, and he watches her struggle with that rage, watches and doesn't intervene one way or the other. She masters it, and his fingers tighten a little at the back of her neck, drawing her in to him. "They did. We'll find 'em. We'll deal with 'em." He's not going to get into how just yet. He takes in a breath, and then drops his head down to hers, "You're soaked, Red. You want a hot shower or you want a few hours of sleep?" There's a third option, unspoken, even as his fingers massage the back of her neck and he shifts his head to press a kiss to her crown.

Right now, this is about Babs and the death of her friend. Soon enough, it will become about Frank and his family. Her eyes tighten as he squeezes gently at the back of her neck, and then she relaxes as he eases her in, brings her close enough for her to breathe in his scent. He speaks the obvious, but it's the offers that makes her shake her head. "Neither," she says quietly, narrowing in on that unspoken third option. He kisses her crown, and she waits for him to lean back before she's tilting her head up to find his lips, to pour emotions into the kiss that starts soft, but only lives in that gentle place for a heartbeat before it turns into fire.

It's a choice that shouldn't surprise Frank, but it still does somehow. He doesn't turn away, however. Far from it, as he meets that kiss straight on, his lips pressing hard to hers, his thumb tucking up along the pulse at her neck as he looses his own worry, his anger, his fear when she came in the door so frantic. He replies to the fire from the redhead with a blazing assurance of life and of love. Most of his bruises have faded, so he only winces a little when he breaks away from the kiss to duck down, looking to scoop her up against his bare chest and cross the warehouse floor to the stairs.

Barbara is tired, she's stretched thin, now she wants a different exhaustion — and a place to put emotions that cannot be put into real action yet. Her lips twist with his, and then part with a quick invasion of her soft tongue and continued movement of her equally soft lips. Her arms tighten up around his shoulders when he scoops to lift her, and she turns her head into his neck where her lips can trail along his pulse, rising up to the point beneath his ear. Her fingers tighten on the opposite side of his neck, anchoring him while she buries herself into the croon of neck and shoulder with soft kisses for his skin.

Frank's eyes close for a moment at the touch of her lips to his throat, and he draws in a breath, but his eyes open again as they near the bottom of the stairs, and as he starts to ascend, he quietly calls, "GAARD, lights off."


Frank gives a little groan and rolls onto his back, looking to drag her with him atop his chest. He could easily just fall back to sleep right then and there. Unfortunately, it's a little break in the world of no consequences, and so his mind is drawn back to the video downstairs. His shoulders tense up ever to slightly, and he re-establishes that embrace, drawing her hair away from his face and stroking the elegant arch of her neck as his other arm squeezes her shoulders close against him. He draws in a slow breath, trying to banish far-too-familiar images of balacava-wearing men putting pistols to heads and pulling the trigger, and turns his head to press a kiss to Barbara's temple.

Barbara is limp against his chest, her cheek pressed against his pulse. Her eyes slump closed, and she just listens to his breathing, the thumping of his heart. She feels his shoulders tense, but she's too tired and frayed to parse what it might mean. Frank is having flashes of his dark past, how they blur into the dreams of the masked man in fatigues shooting Maria, and shooting her, in the head. Frank has told her so little of the details of those dreams, she doesn't put it together. But her picture perfect memory is lost there in that video… and what she saw when she came to Zane's apartment after she heard he was dead. Frank was her second stop after she heard about Zane, and she hasn't told him how she sat in Zane's apartment, sobbing over his bloodstained floors. She will never forget that, and it will never lose its clarity. It is hard to believe that Babs doesn't have more nightmares. So, he soothes her with kisses and gentle comforts, and she brushes her cheek against his chest as she feels her mind tumble over all these new picture-perfect memories. Finally, she shakes her head and pushes up from his chest slightly, curling her hand across her eyes with her weight resting on the forearm stretched along his chest.

That lithe weight on Frank's chest is grounding, an anchor to keep his anger from flaring up again. For now. She sits up, and his dark eyes focus on her grief-strained features. He grunts softly as she leans into abused ribs, but it's not a grunt of complaint, just a quiet acknowledgement of the pressure. His hand at her neck smooths down the fall of hair he gathered at one side of her head, trailing down the damp, bedraggled locks and then brushing his thumb over her cheek. "I'll call in to work this mornin'." He really does need to change to work with a daylight schedule, especially now that Luke's disappeared.

"Sorry," Babs mumbles softly at the grunt, even if it isn't one of complaint. She smooths her hand down over the ribs and then she looks back up at his features with a tired tilt of her head and small smile that does not bring any light or mirth to her features. She nods gently against his hand when his thumb brushes over her cheek, and she presses her palm against the back of his larger paw gently. "Okay." Then she starts to sit up and away from him. She sits on the edge of the bed, her hair falling down along her back and over one shoulder. She brings up the heel of her hand to her eyebrow, rubbing at it slowly. "I'm going to go get something to eat," she says quietly, looking over her shoulder. "Want me to bring you something?"

Frank starts to slump back as she sits up, but then she rubs at her face with the heel of her hand, and he pushes himself up to one elbow. The statement and the question that follows cause him to frown slightly, and the warmth of the bed calls to him. He almost falls right back down into it, but then he shakes his head, drawing back the covers and starting to sit up himself, "I'll come with you. Make sure everything closed up." The door, the computer, all of that. There's a pause, and he brushes her back with one hand, "Get myself somethin' edible." It's a purely transparent excuse, ensuring that she isn't on her own quite yet.

"You do know that I am completely capable of making myself a PB&J." There's some bite to those words, but they are only sharp because she's feeling the bristles of the last 24 hours. She's hastily tugged back on her tank top, pulling it down to the curve of her hips. It's all tight, sharp motions and only once she's stymied by the fact that her PJ bottoms are a bit out of reach, she feels some of that anger deflate. She shifts her shoulders uncomfortably, and looks over at him with a hint of apology in her tired eyes. She doesn't get up, not immediately, instead sitting there on the edge of the bigger bed with her elbows on her tucked-together knees and her hand rubbing more at the top of her orbit bone. There's a naked fragility there. Instead, she is just raw and bare, and even though she said that she wanted to get up for food, she makes no other efforts to actually follow through.

"If I had jelly," Frank admits. He sits on the edge of the bed alongside her, watching her with a worried frown building between his eyes again. When she pulls on the rain-wet tank-top, he shakes his head, standing up and crossing over to her dresser. He digs out a pair of underwear and a voluminous sleep shirt, then comes back and sits down beside her once more. Setting the clothes on her lap, he turns toward her, looking to wrap his arms around her and turn her into him, to tuck her head into his shoulder again. The bite to her words and the apology that follows flows off him with equal ease, and he shakes his head a little, "You survived for twenty-six years before I started cookin' for you. I know. You don't need to have me around." There's no hurt in the words — if anything they're intended as reassurance.

"You really are a pain in the ass," Babs says with choked words as she is told there's no jelly and she is given clean, dry clothes. She brushes the blade of her hand under her nose, and then she turns to look at him just as he envelopes her and draws her into his shoulder. One arm quickly scoops under his, grabbing hold of his shoulder while she just takes in his scent, takes in the scent of them. Then she leans back slightly after she kisses his collarbone and nods. She hauls herself up to her feet, pressing off his shoulder so she can strip out of the wet tank top, and instead step into the underwear and tug on the sleep shirt. Her red hair is tugged loose from the collar, and she turns to him. "Need you? No. Want you? Yes." Then she is crossing her arms protectively around her middle, and her jaw tightens. "You know this Henderson guy? He's going to tell us about this squad?" Her brain is doing that gymnastics that avoids realizing that she's talking about Cerberus; she's talking about some squad that Frank knows about. Some other squad Agent Orange directed. Frank wasn't part of squad of masked soldiers who would shoot a guy like that in the head — a guy begging for his life, begging to go back to his family.

“Yup,” Frank agrees without hesitation in the face of Barbara’s accusation. He squeezes her tight, then braces her back when she stands, watching her change with only a glimmering hint of desire sparking beneath his concern. Her reassurance ignites a brief smile, but it fades out immediately at the questions that follow. “Yeah. I know Gunner.” He leans forward, his forearms on his thighs and his fingers knitting forward. His eyes drop for a moment, then lift back to hers — he’s not avoiding the questions this time. “And I can tell you about the squad. That’s Cerberus Squad. Except we were told that guy was a Taliban commander.” His fingers twist, and he grimaces, “I’m seeing the problem with none of us speaking Pashtun now. We just bitched then, now I see the reason.” Grunting sourly, he adds, “I can tell you ‘bout the squad, but I can’t tell you why Gunner risked recording. We’ll have to ask him.”

Babs is turning away from him as he starts to reassure her about Gunner, but her pivot stops when Frank confirms the things she had been avoiding, ignoring. She turns slowly toward him again, and her expression is just opened with surprise. Everything Babs had been learning about Cerberus didn't point to this — but it didn't point to anything specific. That should have been the give-away. Her breath tightens in her chest, and she rubs at her sternum. "Frank — " Her lips tighten. "Wh-why didn't you…" Her words taper off, and she's turning away again with a sharp breath. She rubs at her mouth with the corner of her hand, and only when she lifts her fingers to rub at the back of her skull with her head curled into the crook of her arm does she drop that limb and turn back to him. "Tell me about the squad." Her words are soft, resigned. She steps back to him, and slides onto the edge of the bed beside him.

Frank doesn’t sick away from her judgment, from the questions she won’t ask. He looks steadily up at her from under his brows, for all that he draws in a slow breath, readying himself for her disdain. But he’s underestimated her — although some might say he’s overestimated her. The corners of his eyes tighten as she curls in on herself, and he starts to straighten up and away — and she’s turning back to him. Her resignation is almost as bad as her judgment, but he looks over to her when she sits beside him, “Multi-service unit. Force Recon, SEALs, Delta Force. Me and Bill lead the two squads. We reported to Schoonover, he got his orders from that shitbird Orange.” His gaze dulls some as he looks back into his past. “We hit some real bad guys. Baseline and metas. Guys who were plannin’ Some nasty shit.” There’s a pause, and then he grimaces, nodding slightly, “We did some nasty shit too. Capture, interrogation, assassination. Orange said Congress signed off on the mission. Good people though. Good people doin’ bad things. Gunner was the best breacher I ever saw. Man of God, pretty sure he knew what we were doin’ was wrong.”

For a moment, Barbara doesn't know what to do with her hands. Then she settles her hands on either side of her, her knuckles pressing lightly against his bare thigh. She listens, her lips pressed together so she doesn't interrupt him. Mentioning Schoonover has her mouth tightening at the corners, and the scar tissue feels tight at her side. Frank explains the mission parameters, the squad's goals, and she looks down a bit. "But not all of them were bad guys." Her eyes flicker away like she's glancing toward where the video disk still resides in the GAARD mainframe. Then she looks down, shaking her head slightly as she rubs at the back of her neck. "But some of them were." Then she glances back to him. "Do you know who he was?" Her brows frown together. "The man in the video. Maybe if we knew, we could understand what was happening there… really happening." Then she takes a breath, her expression becoming a bit more wearied. She reaches up, and the back of her knuckles brush up against his cheek, turning his gaze to hers. "You're that, too, Frank… a good person… doing bad things."

Frank's fingers are still knotted together, tucked in by his thighs, "Apparently not," he grudgingly agrees with her description of the targets. But then there's a a question, and he shakes his head, "Like I said, Orange told us he was high-ranking Taliban." His fingers unlace as he squeezes his hands closed, pressing the knuckles of one into the palm of the other. "Pretty clear he wasn't." He shakes his head, "I think we should talk to Gunner." He nods down and back, in the direction of GAARD and theoretically of the disk. But there's her reassurance, and he looks up at the touch of her knuckles, meeting her eyes, "Maybe I was. I thought I was just doin' what I was ordered. That's why I got out. That's why I don't just do what I was ordered anymore. It's why I do what needs to be done."

He meets her eyes, and she searches his serious expression in this closeness — those dark eyes, his rough nose, the thin bow of his lips, the rough hint of scruff on his jaw. When her eyes drop slightly, his scars draw her eyes and the fading of his bruises. Her knuckles rub against his hard cheek and along his jawbone. Her lips press together, and her smile cannot seem to carry the mirth that she wishes it would, and so her eyes drop away and so does her fingers. She turns back to look across the floor to where Max still sleeps in the doorway, and then down to the floor between her feet. "You knew something wasn't right about it." She glances slightly back to him before her gaze drops away again. Then she takes in a breath, and it trembles in its exhale. "You want me to find him? Gunner."

Frank turns his head into the caress, only for it and her eyes to drop away. He breathes in, lets it out slow, and shakes his head, running his hand back over his hair. It's growing out again, longer than his familiar high and tight. "I knew somethin' wasn't right about it," he confirms, and finally reaches out to her again, running his hand over the soft jersey covering her back. "I know where he is." He leans over, brushing up her sleeve with one finger to press a kiss to the strong deltoid there. "His family's got land out in Kentucky. Way off the grid. Kept talkin' about how every generation of his family'd been buried there, and he wanted to be too some day." He shakes his head slightly, "He don't much like company. Wouldn't be surprised if he's got the whole place wired."

He kisses her skin, and she turns her head into his as his gravity draws her back in, as he brings her back into his proximity. Her blue eyes meet his again, and she licks at her lips thoughtfully before she nods slightly. "Then we go to Kentucky." Barbara's eyes flutter shut a moment as she rests her forehead against his temple and brow. "You think we need back-up?" Her words are whispered, almost hushed. "Does he know you're still alive, Frank?"

The weight of her brow on his grounds Frank from the bloody memories of the past, and he lets out a little sigh of breath, his own eyes closing. "No idea if he knows. Don't think he really pays attention to the TV or anything like that." He shakes his head slowly against her brow, "Doubt he even knows what I've been up to." Drawing in a breath, he straightens up from the press, his eyes opening to study her face from inches away. "I don't know if we'll need backup. The more people we take, the more suspicious he'll be. If it goes south, he's not gonna pull his punches. It'll get rough."

"Then we bring back-up, but only you go in to talk to him." Babs lifts her eyes to meet his in this close proximity. "I'll get Helena and Dinah." Then she looks away as she pushes up to her feet, and she starts to step away from the bedside. Both hands hook behind her neck, and she leans her head back into the brace of her threaded fingers. She looks out the window that overlooks the downstairs of the warehouse. She leans her weight into one hip, one foot gently popped up to balance on the ball of her foot. She stares down at the dark expanse below. "We need him to give us answers, Frank. For Zane."

When she rises up from his side, Frank leans forward again, resting his forearms on his knees and watching her. The faint light from his bedside table paints one wash of light across her face, and the even fainter bluish glow from the screen down below tints that wash. "He'll talk to me." At least he sounds confident. He pushes to his feet, comes over after her, reaching out to carefully rest a hand on her arm, leaving just a little bit of distance between them. "He'll talk to me." That sounds more confident, but the repetition probably means he isn't so confident. "He's a good guy, or he wouldn't have left. Wouldn't have recorded that and sent it."

Babs doesn't break her unfocused gaze from the floor below until he touches her. His heavy fingers, calloused and warm, turns back to him. Her smile is fragile, soft, but it is accompanied by a gentle nod. "To Micro. And then Micro sent it to you… and Zane." She reaches up to knock the side of her loose fist gently against his chest. There's a flickering moment of thought across her blue eyes. Then, her hand loosens only to curl back up behind his ear to hook him down to her, and she kisses him. Her other hand alights on his forearm, and then drops to his bare hip as she arches up onto the balls of her feet, meeting his hard strong frame while standing tall against him.

"Yeah." Frank might have more to add, but then she's thumping her fist gently on his chest, but the soft, fragile smile is enough that he doesn't take the light blow the wrong way. Instead, his hand comes up toward her fist, only to find her elbow as she catches behind his ear. He's drawn down to her lips without much in the way of resistance — none at all, really. His lips meet hers eagerly, relief strong in the kiss. She's not going to pull back from him for his part in Cerberus. His free hand spreads up her back, encouraging that close press, and the hand at her elbow runs up her arm, over her shoulder, catching up his fingers just under her jaw, fingers at her ear and thumb at her throat. When he straightens up, his brows furrow in concern for her, and he murmurs, "I got this. I promise."

The clasp of his hand at her throat — fingers behind her ear, thumb at her pulse — relaxes her into the embrace with a soft murmur of breath against his lips. He starts to lift away, but he's brought back down for another heartbeat of kiss and only then is he released to straight away. Her nose brushes aside his as the kiss comes to a close, and then she's dropping back to her heels. His brows are furrowed, and he murmurs that promise, and she shakes her head. "I'm with you, Frank. I told you that. So… we got this. You will need to get out those zip-ties again if you think I won't be with you each step of the way."

Frank nods against her nose and brow in the wake of that second kiss, "I know. I'm just sayin', I'm not gonna let you down, talkin' to him." His thumb strokes gently down her pulse, and he flashes that boyish smile — tired and weary as it is — for just a moment, "Zipties hurt like hell, Red. I got some rope I'll use if I gotta." Not that that's much better. He draws in a slow breath and lets it out, "You should sleep, Red. You gotta get Bullock's car back to Gotham, then we got a long drive."

Her smile lifts for a heartbeat, and then she nods slightly against his hand. "I know." Then she breathes out a slow sigh that lifts into a laugh at his comment about zipties, and then she lifts her eyes to meet his. "Hmph. I'll keep that in mind." There's a hint of tired mischief in her words that the subsides as he speaks those next words, and she nods again. She presses her hand against the back of his, and turns her lips into his palm. Then she curls her fingers around his, tugging his hand down from her cheek so she can start to guide him back to the bed.

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