a Hawkeye/Trapper story
inspired by the song "Break Me" by Jewel (quoted at the end of the story)
Archive: at mash-slash, wherever (whenever) it'll be resurrected and the cozy swamp T'Len & Lady
Charena have so kindly offered me.
Pairing: see above; Trapper's POV
Spoilers: "Checkup" and "Welcome to Korea"
Disclaimer: The usual suspects own the show and the characters, I claim nothing as my own except
the fact that I borrowed them in order to have a little fun. And I feed them, yes, though I probably
shouldn't. I might upset their diet.
Gazing down at the sun-parched landscape, I find it remarkable how peaceful the hills look from up
here. One doesn't see the pockmarks of shell-craters or the people dead and dying, doesn't smell the
smoke and blood and guts, and one doesn't hear the explosions, the screams of the wounded. Oh, no,
certainly not. The sound of choppers, metronomes for concert surgeons performing another Korean
combat-sonata in D-flat.
D for Death.
From up here, it all looks different, and I feel as if my heart was out there, falling, screaming,
plummeting towards annihilation without a parachute.
And left in this seat here will be a shell.
For me, emptiness will be the souvenir of Korea as I left behind all the things I would have cared to
take with me.
Things, feelings, people.
I wouldn't know how to begin to apologize to them. The suddenness of it all – particularly my own
inexplicable actions – continues to numb me like I stepped on a landmine.
Why? I could have stayed another day...at least long enough to say good-bye.
As I should have done.
I should have done right by you at least this one, single time!
Know this first, our high-and-mighty CO Major Franklin Marion Burns wouldn't let me. But then there's
a lot of things he wouldn't let us do, so that excuse is rather lame. I should have found a way.
Frank considered you an obstacle, wanted you gone while he was busy spreading his 'new military
spirit'. Us getting together one last time was exactly what he tried to prevent, he wanted that one final
victory over us, some satisfaction for everything we put him through.
And he succeeded.
Tried to call, please believe me that, but you were nowhere to be found. Lost in Tokyo. But on the
other hand…even if I'd managed to reach you, what would I have said?
Tried to write, but the words failed me. Miserably.
So nothing was what I did.
Nothing's what I'm still doing.
All I could do was get drunk and try not to feel the clock ticking away my last seventy-two hours in
beautiful Ouijongbu, Kyónggi-do, rated the number one amputation spot in Korea. Seventy-two slowly-
passing hours…I counted off every second, and echoing through every single one was the misery of
not being able to talk to you.
There's the coast, we're over open water now. This must be what Henry was seeing before his plane
crashed…this vast blue mirror, draped in only a few wisps of white. Beautiful. Imagine such beauty
just before you die.
But then I'd already died before this plane cleared the Kimpo tarmac.
The writing pad rests in my lap, the pencil a foreign object in my hand. This is funny…I'm no good
with letters. You are the writer, the one chronicling this war – pardon me, Mr. President – from a
Hawk's perspective, that high perch above reality that gives you an odd, slightly twisted angle on things
and allows you to recognize their true nature. Which you manage to put into words and quite eloquently
As I said, I'm no writer. Nonetheless I try. Again.
****'Hawkeye, I'm not sure if I'll get it done this time, but I have to make the attempt and write down–'****
Write what, stupid? Get real. You might just as well debunk a magician's tricks, the result would be the
same: Magic explained ceases to be magic, and love explained…well…
You were careful in your first touches,
Never done this before...
Helped each other bend in the storm.
Hands in my hair...
For someone with your stellar track-record with the nurses, you seemed awkward, as if you lacked the
confidence to make the first move.
Actually, I think that was fear in your eyes...wasn't it, Hawk?
_Just what exactly are we doing here, Trap?_
_Dunno. Lemme get back to ya when I got an answer._
_How much later?_
Later as in 'when we're done with what we're doing'.
And doing it again oh-so-many times in the months thereafter.
We all had our breaking point in this war – again, please excuse the terminology – and you were mine.
With your bare hands and a casual caress you hurt me more than a truckload of live grenades…and at
the same time, being the thinker, the more analytical of the two of us, you would save me from another
too-impulsive act such as treating the toilet paper in the latrine with itching powder just before Frank
needed to go. Or putting cheesy romance novels in all of his bible-covers.
You'd lecture me about it and then do it yourself.
You needed me just as much as I needed you, for I would stop you from thinking too much. About this
place, about surgery, about death…or us.
Trembling hands unbuckle my belt, then tentatively slide beneath my shirt…
Don't you think that's going too far?
That was the answer on the 'what are we doing', I think. 'Going too far'.
Never wanted anything as bad as this.
You broke me with one look, the fragments are still scattered around the Swamp. The floor's covered
with them…and so are you. Right now, you're treading on them, crushing them into the dirt.
A treatment I rightfully deserve.
I am the silver glitter in your hair, on your hands…your cheeks…
Little liquid pieces of me are dropping into the moonshine in which you drown your misery.
Strangely enough I got some of them on my own fingers, too, and their warmth burns in contrast to
the cold of the window against which I rest my palm.
You loved me to pieces.
How I envy Radar for being the one to kiss you last. I'm pretty sure the kid did as I requested, acted as
my goodbye-proxy, and I'm also sure that he'd have told you even more if I had asked it of him. With
words, of course, not with any more actions. Just with words.
The words I couldn't think of then and which still elude me, chasing through my mind like the
But I'll write it all down, yes, I will. Here's the sheet. Now, how will I start?
****'Hawkeye, I'm sorry for leaving, but they told me there wouldn't be another Stateside-bound flight
Nah. Turn the page, let's try this again.
****'Dear Hawkeye, by the time you read this, I'll be a thousand miles away. You're sitting next to me
on the plane, as much a part of me as my left arm…or so I like to think. I really would have loved to
rescue all of you, not just the part that you entrusted to me with your first kiss.'****
Maybe I could go for your soft spot…of which you have far too many for your own good. As do
I…didn't we learn anything, dammit?
****'Dear Hawkeye, I hate teary good-byes so it's better for both of us if it happens this way. I'm on
my way, but where I should be thinking about the smiles on my little girls' faces when I walk into the
room, all I can imagine are the tears in your eyes. Remember the time I had that ulcer and it looked
like I had my ticket home? Somehow it seems…'****
That is where I drop the pencil. Retrieving it from two rows back – an old marine kindly returns it to
me – takes a while and I'm grateful for the interlude. By the time I settle back into my seat, I feel
But only remotely.
Well, where were we? Ulcer. Omen. Oh yes.
Yes, it does seem like an omen now, a dress-rehearsal for the real thing, the real pain that came upon us
Carefully, I drag one particular memory into the light, the look on your face when I was done packing.
You were smiling, happy for me, honestly happy, but your eyes told a different story. And I remember
wishing never to see eyes like that again.
Sorrow – the one you depended on is leaving and you'll have to be yourself again.
Happiness – the one you love/ care about makes it out of this dump.
And guilt – for wishing that he'd stay.
And stay I did. That was the worst of it, that incredulous stare when I said I'd be staying. Pity mixed
with guilty joy and hurt about me being hurt. Was I witnessing the loss of sanity there, a glimmer of
something dying behind blue eyes? Very likely. Anyone would go insane at the Army's cruel take and
give and take and give and, finally, take away for good.
That was then.
What else would I see in your eyes now? Anger, I suppose. Hatred, maybe.
The memories rise, billowing to the surface of reality like bubbles or the cloud of mud that rises as you
step into the fast-flowing brook of time, ready to catch some trout. There are good ones around, I've
seen them. And already they are approaching, Images, sounds, even the smell of dust, unwashed socks
and the gin-to-be brewing in the still.
Your eyes. The color of the sky…another sky, not the Korean sky but a window on the sky of home.
And your voice…gravelly, serious. Not a trace of teasing, but no accusation, either. Your voice is
I doubt that any of the people who celebrated my impending departure that day had ever heard your
true voice and even I had heard it like that only once before. When you said that you loved me.
All the pain, the regret, is in the eyes.
Uh-oh, here it comes… My fingers tighten around the armrest and I can't halt the memory-recorded
//"You made it bearable. I was lucky. You were honest…and open…and let me lean on you."//
And vice versa. Like I said, Hawk…lover…no charge.
I'll be watching out for the light in the bedpan.
Another white virginal sheet is ready for my pencil.
****'Dearest Hawkeye…this is not how I imagined it would end. I had this absurd dream that we'd
walk out of the gate together. Not necessarily hand in hand, but together. We'd stay or leave…together.
Never apart. And certainly not like this.
I cannot put into words how miserable I am. How lonely. Up here in the clouds, engines droning in
soothing, muted monotone as they bear me away (away, away), everything becomes real.
Guess I'm sobering up and I don't like the feelings that come with sobriety. No, I definitely don't like it.
Something inside me is stretching and stretching and stretching still, the last filament connecting me to
you as the plane spans the miles, and I'm anticipating the moment when it will snap.
You know the feeling…when there's something really important that you should have done, but forgot?
And your stomach turns when you remember? It's like that every second for me on this flight.
There haven't been many coherent thoughts on my part since Radar waved that envelope and called out
the words 'You're going home, Trapper', but in the chaos of asking myself 'Why? Why NOW? Is it for
real this time?' one idea stood out so markedly that I can't help but remember.
Even the thought of it terrifies me now. That I could even contemplate such a thing…
It would be easier if you had died. Or if I had died. Any of us, or both of us.
*I've got you under my skin, I've got you deep in the heart of me.*
For us it was true. I never realized how ironic Sinatra could be and how doubly ironic that it was an
OR-favorite of ours. Probably will remain so, it's a surgeon's lament.
*So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me. I've got you under my skin.*
It was one thing to allow myself to love you…it didn't feel like I was cheating on Louise. She and I
lived separate lives long before I got drafted, the only thing keeping us together being the girls.
But now I feel like…to tell you the truth, I don't know how I'm feeling. Worse than a cheat, worse than
an adulterer. Like a quitter. I've gone AWOL. Absent Without Official Love.
What a life am I returning to, I wonder. Guess I'll find out soon enough.
I don't know if I'll ever write to you again, Hawkeye…frankly, I doubt it.
This was just to let you know that when I said I loved you, I meant it. Every time. And I still do. But
life must go on, no matter what kind of a life it is.
Your loving friend
What are you doing right now, Hawkeye? Are you sitting down in the mess tent to introduce the new
guy they sent to the hazards of the Igorian cuisine, followed by a lecture on how to best annoy Ferret
Face? Having Frank as CO now must be hell…
Are you and the new guy getting along? How does he take to your particular brand of humor? The
laughter I love so much, the smile my fingers used to trace in the dark…are you giving it to him now?
Is he anything like me?
There's so much I want to know, so much I have to say…words I know you need to hear. Without
them, you'll never understand. You'll always be hurting, asking yourself why.
Why I broke you, why we broke each other. Why it was the only way to survive.
God, now I'm crying again. Sponge, please, give me some suction here…
Ten minutes to Tokyo, then a change of planes and farewell, Asia.
Soon I will have to get ready to cast off Korea and be a father again. A father for Becky and Kathy, the
best father I can be.
I have to be.
Yes, soon I'll wash off the salt of dried tears, shave and shower and watch Korea disappear through the
My head falls back against the headrest and when my eyes drift shut, I don't fight it. Slowly, painfully,
my mind changes direction, facing forward now instead of backwards as the plane continues its
descent into Tokyo. Hello, Japan.
I feel sleep approaching and surrender. Yes, I'm falling again.
To sleep, perchance not to dream.
Drifting off, I ball my hand into a fist and a second later, the crumbled paper drops to the floor,
followed by the pencil.
Like they say, 'And that's that'.
I'll have to let memory talk for me and maybe you'll forgive me someday.
//"We'll miss his stupid laugh…we'll miss his two good hands."//
I'm missing yours, too.
I will meet you in some place
Where the light lends itself to soft repose
I will let you undress me
But I warn you, I have thorns like any rose
And you could hurt me with your bare hands
You could hurt me using the sharp end of what you say
But I am lost to you now
There's no amount of reason to save me
You break me
Just let me fill your arms again
I'll let you make me
Just let me feel your love again
Feels like being underwater
Now that I've let go and lost control
Water kisses fill my mouth
Kiss me once
Well, maybe twice
Oh, it never felt so nice