The muse that inspired "Good Enough" didn't leave after the fic was done, dammit.
The little bugger insisted on other POV's…here's two more, and maybe others later on.
Pairing: Trapper/Hawk, B.J./Hawk implied
Category: Angst, deathfic (recent death), therefore WARNING!
Archive: mash-slash and at http://tostwins.slashcity.net/jimaine.htm
Disclaimer: I don't own M*A*S*H or the characters and I don't get paid for their unauthorized use. Oh, and I leave the bill for the funeral to 20th Century Fox.
Halfway through the third paragraph, I look up, seeking eye-contact with the assembly. No need to read off the page, I know the words by heart.
The many faces – my husband Jeff, Klinger and Soon-Lee, Radar next to the Potters, crying soundlessly, Peggy Hunnicutt, one arm around each of her children, and all the others who have come and still can't believe that it's true – blur into one, the universal pallor of shock a sharp contrast to the black of the clothes.
To my left, B.J. is talking, telling of Hawkeye's (for we never knew Ben, the person who died) dedication as a doctor and the lives he saved. Of the intricacies of his character that would simultaneously amuse and annoy. His voice is so brittle that the slightest pause or a distracting sniffle from the front pew might break it. If he stopped, I know he wouldn't be able to start again.
I reach over and gently squeeze his arm; the effect is audible, he can say the words without choking on them.
A movement in the far back of the chapel catches my eye and my eyes narrow in astonishment…well, now, if it isn't…
But that cannot be. Leaning against the wall next to the exit, the man stays in the shadows, a part of them as if afraid to join us in the present.
Thinner than I remember him to be, his graying blond curls allow him to blend with the gray masonry, and for a second I *almost* believe that I can see his eyes. Familiar eyes, grieving eyes that used to melt a nurse's heart with one glance but now are unnaturally hard and speaking of regrets for which there are no words. And as far as I know, he has a great deal more to regret than most of us.
Holding my breath, I tighten my fingers around the stapled paper and hope that the physical sensation will help me focus.
No, it cannot be him.
Who would have contacted him? Who would have known how to get a hold of him? Radar? Mulcahy? Probably.
I blink to clear my vision, take another look, but he has vanished between two syllables as B.J. nears the end of the page. He is gone and it's my turn again.
Maybe it wasn't him, maybe it was just a trick of the flickering candlelight. But then, if he knew, he sure would have come. So maybe it was him and –
Startled, I clear my throat. Enough of the visions of the things that were.
I never would have thought that talking could be this difficult. It's only because I spent the last three days and nights rehearsing it that I now can deliver the lines without my voice faltering too often. When I wasn't rehearsing, I was crying. One would think that by now, there aren't any tears left, but still I feel them building behind my eyes. It takes every ounce of strength I have not to let them out.
At the end of every sentence I look at Peg, seeking and finding the courage to carry on.
My insides are twisting into a Gordian knot, I now have to force out the words. Talking about Hawkeye is as painful as knowing him.
Not as painful and destructive as loving him, though.
The next paragraph is about Hawkeye's gentle nature, the vulnerable side of his character he would stubbornly hide from the rest of the world under layers and layers of sarcasm and witty comebacks.
The side of him that craved affection and human contact, and got plenty of it, but not the right kind and certainly not the quantity he needed to compensate for the amount of suffering surrounding him.
Sometimes I wasn't sure if I was (if we were) doing the right thing.
I sure have my doubts now.
Margaret seems to sense that I'm losing momentum and puts a hand on my arm; the light touch is all the encouragement I need.
Words can never be used to describe Hawkeye, cannot provide as much as a rough sketch of the outside, leave alone the labyrinth within.
The one thing I'm immensely grateful for is that I'm spared the agony of having to see my own face.
However, scanning the crowd I suddenly get a pretty good idea of how it looks like.
I see it quite clearly, there in the back, not part of this particular assembly but of another, more incorporeal one. A shadow of the past, like Hawkeye himself, he tries to remain invisible.
Not to me. My eyes are drawn to him, to his face, and recognize the familiar, devastating sense of loss.
Cold eyes meet mine, almost silence me.
The stony expression mirrors my emotions to a T.
Who is he?
He looks at me like he knows me, and I feel like I know him, too. But I can put no name to the face. His mouth presses into a thin line, the muscles in his jaw and throat moving; it's obvious that he swallows words identical to the ones leaving my mouth.
Have I said something to offend him? For I'm sure that I haven't *done* anything.
Who is he and what was his relationship with Hawkeye…or Ben?
The sense and shape of him…it somewhat resembles the hollow space I would find in Hawkeye whenever he let me, tracing jagged edges with my fingertips and trying not to cut myself open.
Maybe I'm mistaken. My spatial awareness has been deteriorating over the past two years and outside of the O.R. I was never good at jigsaw puzzles to begin with. Besides, from what I can see the edges of this man are too frayed to fit anywhere at all; I feel a surge of pity in spite of the silent resentment he directs at me.
Who is he…?
Time seems to be standing still during these seconds of wordless communication, both of us speaking and listening at the same time. Before I know it, I'm taking a closer look. I'm determined to commit his face to memory, find out who he is.
First, though, I have to return my gaze to the manuscript and haltingly finish the paragraph. Another quivering sigh and my part in this is done. Now back to the mysterious stranger.
The spot he was standing in is empty, not even a shadow remaining. He has left, slipped out between two breaths and a heartbeat, back into the past.
Wherever he is now, he's probably closer to Hawkeye than any of us here can hope to be.
Why doesn't Margaret continue? "Margaret", I whisper.
She clears her throat, breaks the spell.
Time is moving forward again.