"Illi Mors"

 

by Jimaine

 

Pairing: Hawkeye/Trapper

Rating: Angst, death-fic, suicide implied

Archive: mash-slash, whenever, wherever,

and at T'Len's & Lady Charena's place. All

others just ask – I won't say no.

 

I'm done with Eliot, giving Beej a break and writing this whilst watching Alan Alda in "The

Moonshine War". Man, and it's so toasty warm here in my flat that I'd like to order one of those

collapsible bathtubs from Abercrombie and Finch...all I got is a shower.

This is a reply to the challenge of Friday, May 23rd, the song quoted is "In Your Keeping" by

Jann Arden, and yes, this was written in more than five minutes.

 

 

********

 

 

'Illi mors gravis incubat

qui, notus nimis omnibus,

ignotus moritur sibi.'

(On him doth death most heavily lie, who, but too well known to all, dies to himself unknown).

— Seneca

 

 

In the future, they say, everything will be better. People die in a war to make things better for the

next generation. A beautiful cliché easily employed.

 

«Tell me I will never die

Take away my pain

Rock me gently in your arms

Say that I'll remain in your keeping»

 

You can't do that anymore, and neither can I. All I have to touch is a photograph that's too

painful to look at at the best of times.

At the worst of times, it hurts even to acknowledge that it was ever taken.

We said it was necessary to have a reminder of the year we spent together, but maybe that was

just selfishness masquerading as reason.

 

«Brush the hair out from my eyes

Read me a good story

Kiss my fingertips goodnight

Say that I can stay in your company»

 

The Army wouldn't allow me even that much. Sent me home before we could get to the 'happily

ever after'. I can recall your touch as if you were sitting right next to me, your fingers in my hair

like they used to be. Gentle, unobtrusive, almost as if they *belonged*...

And they did. They, *yours* and nobody else's.

I would undress you quietly, as you would undress me, clothes dropping into the dust with a

rough whisper. Louder than your voice as you'd laugh into my mouth and tell me how wrong this

was...and how badly you needed me. And with this nocturnal choreography, unseen and

unheard, we'd fortify the invisible walls of our private little sanctuary.

 

«And I know this much is true

I have lived inside of you

You have always seen me through

While I am peacefully sleeping»

 

Always beside me, never more than a thought away. Always there to share a drink, share a bed,

a kiss, a breath and a patient. Unless they were personally lying on our operating tables, bleeding

and screaming in pain, nobody really appreciated our efforts, friend and foe alike. Both sides

kept dropping bombs and took turns shelling us – made a doctor really wonder why his clientele

bothered with bringing in physicians. Without doctors (why waste ammunition on them,

anyway?), they could have achieved their quota of KIAs far more easily and gone home for tea

around Easter of 1951.

 

We'd think we were stronger than the war and, in a way, that was true.

What shells and bullets and a duo of antagonistic majors failed to accomplish, a sheet of paper

did.

 

Sitting here now in a house that is supposed to be *home*, I feel lonelier than in Korea, where

there'd been at least someone wanting me. You. The man inside whom I spent more than a year

of my life, who *made* this new man in his own image and breathed life into him. Me. That me

that returned from Korea.

The man Louise knew as her husband had died upon a kiss tasting of dust, sweat and gin.

But of course she didn't know that rightaway. Neither did I.

It took a few weeks for the changes to manifest themselves. Little things at first...I'd fail to

respond to a casual touch, my kisses would seem 'cold' and our lovemaking 'mechanical'...and

whenever there'd be a silence during a meal or conversation, she'd call the look in my eyes 'odd',

my expression 'distant'. Soon that extended to include my entire behavior.

She didn't understand.

Hell, *I* couldn't understand it...not until I woke one Saturday morning before dawn to find her

out on the porch. The first dim rays of the September sun were just creeping over the horizon,

promising another beautiful day. The kind of day on which to take the kids for a picnic on Castle

Island and walk arm in arm with one's wife through the park.

She wouldn't even turn around as I stepped out. Reaching her side, I noticed the glitter of dried

tears on her cheeks...as well as the resignation written all over her face. No long-winded

explanation, only very few, very calm sentences.

*The name you called me by...*

 

Henry Blake's prophetic words about talking in my sleep came to mind.

 

Hawkeye...Ben...if I had been a better man... If I had found the courage to call you after the war,

maybe I would have had the words to tell you why love – *your* love, your need for my

company – wasn't strong enough to tether my body to yours. Only my emotions still are, you see,

even now that you've been dead and buried for a year and a day.

 

«You have always been my friend

I can see your beauty shining

I will love you till the end

Long will I remain in your keeping»

 

Love you till the end I did. You know that. Everybody knew.

Even now that Korea has been reduced to a few paragraphs in an encyclopedia and the only

interested parties are historians writing books in the safety of their studies and veterans leafing

through letters and photographs, I love you no less than before. And I always will, please believe

me. Yes, I've hurt you...something you didn't deserve. In addition to all the existing misery, I

dumped this on you, the first loving and then leaving you.

You were stuck with something that should have been mine as well, at least in parts.

 

And now...today...at the end...I finally know how to put things right. Nobody will stop me this

time. This I have to do.

I won't fail you again, Hawk.

 

This is...compensation for all those nights you let me sleep in your arms, protected, at peace,

content with just being myself. Myself, with you, me and thee. Only a little longer now, and I'll be

back there.

 

«And I know this much is true

I have lived inside of you

You have always seen me through

While I am peacefully sleeping

While I am peacefully sleeping»

 

Almost sleeping again... At last, the peaceful sleep we could never share in life. They won't wake

me from this. Deep, deep...this sleep is eternal. Oh, I can see you now. You're one dream ahead

of me, but I'm catching up.

 

 

FINIS