"Down To One"

 

by Jimaine

 

Rating: PG

Archive: at mash-slash, wherever (whenever) it'll be resurrected! Also at that nice

place T'Len & Lady Charena got.

Pairing: Hawk/Trapper remembered

Disclaimer: As always, I hate this kind of public denial… Well, since it *is* a

prerequisite…clears her throat* Oooo-kay, 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.

 

Author's note: Set immediately after "Welcome to Korea" (been watching it again and the bunny

attacked). The song's "Down to One" by Melissa Etheridge. Please blame her for this one – guess that

makes me the token 'songfic' person now, huh? It's not exactly a story – at least I didn't plan it that

way – more like my collected impressions on what could be, should be and might be.

 

**********

 

 

***What went right,

What went wrong?

Doesn't really matter much

When it's gone…***

 

 

It's like in one of those puzzle-magazines where you got to spot the mistake. Someone took the picture

out of the Swamp-frame and replaced it with another. Now, where's the mistake…? Look sharp,

Hawkeye.

Drink – check.

Army greens – check.

Absence of the caduceus on the collar (seems like only Frank sees the overwhelming need to wear his

24/7) – check.

The dog tags are the only jewelry. No, wait. The golden wedding band on his hand. Oh. Yeah. Married.

Well…check.

 

The mistake is in the face.

 

Who is this man and who will he be a year from now? Today he's only a stranger to me, but in a year

he'll be a stranger to himself, and he won't know when that transformation began or what he could

have done to stop it.

 

Sitting there, slowly sipping his gin, this stranger remains silent. His eyes are probing me as if I

committed a crime. Or at least made a mistake worth noticing.

 

The only thing I've ever committed is myself.

 

 

***Was it too hard to try,

Was it too hard to lie,

Did you just grow tired of hello and goodbye?

Was it the naked truth that made you run?

Where do I go now

That I'm down to one?***

 

 

Down to one emotion, one expression I wear on my face like a mask, my true features painfully rigid

underneath. But if I moved a muscle, only in blinking or – God forbid, smiling – it would fall off and

the raw hurt would be there for all to see. I'm not ready for that, not yet. Just when I thought that I

couldn't hurt more than I already did. You managed the impossible. Question is: was it the discharge

papers that sent you on your way…or was it me?

We're doctors, healers. The only thing we fail to heal is ourselves. Guess we're still human, as hard as

we try to deny it and that's enough truth to scare the hell out of anyone. Wait…that's just it. 'Hell' and

'out' don't go well together. Hell is about the only thing that won't leave you, won't be driven out. It

remains inside you and you can't escape. You simply descend, down and down and farther down into

the pit.

 

Oh, on another note, we're down to one finger of moonshine…that's a pitcher less than there was

before.

 

Ouijongbu's got a new resident, this is his tent-warming party. Or was, rather, 'cause I'm about to pass

out. What a relief.

 

Thank you, Trapper, from the bottom of my liver.

 

 

***Sooner or later

We all end up walking alone

I'm down to one.***

 

 

Down to one person – myself – and one day's worth of memories that you're not part of. Feels like it's

been much longer than twenty-four hours. Reality hasn't sunken in yet, I think, after this unexpected

collision of mind and body. A fatal accident in which I got burned beyond recognition. I'm ashes now,

falling, falling down onto the water that we tried to walk on.

Down to earth.

 

The typical loves me, loves me not.

 

 

***My heart is a traitor,

It led me down this road.

Now it's done,

I'm down to one.***

 

 

Down to one choice, one regret that hurts more than all the bullets in Korea.

 

The choice is whether or not to hate you, and I damn well should, both for leaving me and even more

so for doing it the way you did. But I can't. Instead I'm angry at myself for even thinking about maybe-

hating you.

Somewhere inside me I barely know you.

And I regret not having told you one more time how much I love you before heading off to Tokyo all

by myself (that could be just the alcohol talking here, for since getting back from Kimpo with your

replacement, I've been more or less excluded from the high-sobriety).

 

Why was I going alone anyway? Everything after Henry's death is a blur now…can't remember much

of anything except Radar saying, "He's gone, Hawkeye."

 

Ashes, ashes falling…down, down, down.

 

It all comes down to four-letter words. Down, down... All the significant ones have four letters.

Fear. Need. Heat. Fire. Lust. Cold. Loss. Rage. Pain. Help.

Gone.

Gone, gone just like another four-letter word that was my only defense against the walls of reality I

now feel closing in on me.

 

Love.

Love, pain, the whole damn thing.

 

How did it start? When? And how did it end? When did it – the 'us' – start to end?

Us.

Was there an end in sight? If there was, I must apologize for missing the signs, my prescription lenses

got stolen and all I had left were martini glasses.

Twenty-four hours. You must be halfway to San Francisco by now, either asleep – a dreamless sleep,

now that you've escaped this place, the kind of sleep I can hardly remember sleeping – or gazing

outside into the night, your thoughts wandering.

I don't suppose they wander as far back as Ouijongbu, do they, Trapper? Is your conscience bleeding

only half as much as my heart, the traitor you executed so efficiently? A drumhead trial, unexpected,

unjustified, unethical...you get the idea.

Or maybe you don't.

What do I know…what did I ever know…

 

Love's labour's definitely lost.

Don't remember much of it. Most of the stuff I read in college was eventually replaced by a plethora of

Latin names, chemical formulae and equations.

Can the absence of love be represented by numbers and symbols?

That guy Shakespeare wrote the immortal line "The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of

Apollo" and people admire him for it, quote him when another heart gets broken…pretty words, nothing

but pretty words strung together in a sentence that is too ridiculous to merit further contemplation.

Nonsense. A non-sentence.

In short: bullshit.

 

 

***I want to know where I failed.

I want to know where I sinned,

Cause I don't want to ever feel this way again.

Was the wanting too deep?

Did it block your sun?

Where do I go now

That I'm down to one?***

 

Down to one dream, one hope.

 

One newcomer to Hell. Howdy, stranger. He looks at me from the corner of his eye…well, Doctor,

seeing is believing. Blue eyes. Of course they have to be blue. Liquid blue that seeps into me only to

solidify in the place once inhabited by a feeling commonly known as love. Razor-sharp icicles. They cut

me open from the inside. I'm a sucker for the blues, something different from that other color that used

to blend so easily with darkness in the aftermath of passion…honey-brown spelling 'I love you' with

every glance…now it's down to blue clouding the transparency of my drink in lazy swirls.

Although I feel like crying, there is another, stronger emotion keeping the tears in check. Wish I knew

what it was…doesn't feel good. No, definitely not good. What...? Oh. No, can't be that. I won't say it,

won't think it!

If I gave it a name, all the other memories would cease to matter as I would negate what I'd had.

What we'd had.

Or hadn't.

See, it's starting already. I don't want to doubt it all, don't want to question the feelings that served as

the foundation of my sanity for so long

Why won't he stop looking at me like that? Can't he see that I'm busy trying to remain myself?

Be careful with what you say, Dr. Hunnicutt, you're walking on broken glass.

 

"Penny for your thoughts." Gotta admit it, you have a good voice…a doctor's voice. A voice people

trust. Gentle, reassuring…a patient will think you have all the answers, the power to make their pain go

away.

Not mine, I'm afraid, unless you'd like to take your scalpel and cut out that part of me that's become

Korea. Trapper's Korea. With-Trapper-in-Korea. "Captain Pierce – Hawkeye…what is it?"

 

"Nothing…" _This isn't your world, Dr. Hunnicutt. Not at all. Not yet. Korea's the great unknown to

you – that'll change soon enough. I can vouch for that. You either make a pact with your emotions on

the very first day…or never at all. If you do, you may stay sane. Downside is, the longer this pact lasts,

the less you recognize the face in the mirror. One day, you'll look at your dog tags and wonder if

there's anything to B.J. Hunnicutt but a row of numbers. It'll happen. As for the how…that's different

for everyone. But happen it will. That's the only promise I can make right now._

 

I will sing of my pain in silence. Nobody had the right to know and nobody has…it would be too much

of an intrusion on what you and I shared, Trap. "Nothing major, really."

 

"It's 'Captain', still."

 

For a moment, there's someone else sitting on the other cot, amusement and concern mingling on his

face as he looks at me. Really looks. Maybe he even *sees*…

You…no, not you. A mirage accompanied by a memory gone AWOL.

From that numb place inside comes a surge of fresh pain (too raw a pain, persistent, evil,

reprehensible), and I can't resist. "Still's over there." It's the reply I would have given you, the reply you

would have expected.

 

"You don't want to talk about it?"

 

"There's nothing to talk about." Wanna see a breakdown, Doctor? A breakdown at the break of dawn.

That hollow within, that icicle-filled cavity created by one sheet of paper…so much more is leaking into

it, more things than I can give names to. Destruction, completion, freedom, bliss, agony and oblivion.

Violence and sobbing surrender. It's all in me. And I hate it.

 

"Care to give me a few pointers?"

 

Wearily, I shake my head and manage to quirk a smile in the left corner of my mouth as I answer him

(thoughts revolving around past pleasure eventually recede) with more warmth than I believed myself

capable of, "Not yet. Later. Thanks, B.J."

 

B.J. What kind of name is that? B.J.…

Another poor kid they sent to play doctor – a fine doctor, handsome and married, too, but then I'm

used to that aspect – in a place where Harry Truman wouldn't take his dog for a walk; it might set off a

landmine when peeing on a bush.

He's innocence and misplaced faith, an image already soiled by blood and dust, that patina of Korea that

just won't wash off.

That's B.J. Hunnicutt for you.

 

He'll do, I'm sure. As will I. I'll be okay.

And he'll adjust.

 

Like we did. Tragic, isn't it?

 

***What am I suppose to think –***

Nothing. Don't think I could.

***What am I gonna say—***

Nothing.

***What did I ever know—***

Nothing.

***About this love anyway?***

 

 

FINIS