"Tears in Hell"
c. April 13, 2003
Archive: mash-slash, of course, at T'Len's & Lady Charena's place, and those
who want it and drop me a line about it, will get it, too.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, though I wouldn't say no if 20th Century Fox offered
them to me. Which they won't do. So I'm just using them in a bit of non-profit
Notes: I was listening to Master Slow Hand…hence the title-in-reverse. It's a
"Period of Adjustment" fic…my first. No structure, I simply let my fingers roam
freely without any conscious thought. Which, in Leigh's (thanks for the beta,
dear!) opinion is perfectly all right, since Hawkeye's thinking is anything but
"Conjunctio animi maxima est cognatio." (Publius Syrus)
Some might call it belated symmetry…finally, physical pain has been added to the emotional one.
Damn, did it hurt…still does. And maybe it was bound to happen. Fate. There are days when
Father Mulcahy gets you to believe in that kind of stuff. For all things there must be an end. Call it
closure if you wish.
The events of the past hours have left me in a state of shock. My fingers are numb, almost
shaking as I hold your head to my shoulder and listen to you cry. Your tears are flowing
freely…mine are frozen behind my wide-open eyes. They'll never fall, I won't let them.
What am I supposed to feel? You tell me…
Here you are shedding tears, regretting what you've done, and don't I understand you perfectly
well. I, too, have my regrets about tonight, but the words of apology won't come out. Words
were what started the chain reaction, too many words that left my mouth without the censorship
of my brain and struck you where you're most vulnerable.
Shows how little I understood your situation until it hit me in the face. Literally. Not even a
controlled, directed punch, no, you simply lashed out in a moment of rage, never caring where
your fist connected if only it *hurt*…and hurt it did. In my face, in my heart…
Maybe I even deserved it, maybe I pushed you that one crucial inch too far.
Now you're crying for both of us.
The last time I cried…feels like ten eternities ago. Show me how it's done, maybe then I will
Today you showed me how much of a stranger you still are to me. I mean, I know you, but I
don't really *know* you…you know? I thought I did, and I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong. After
a few days, I was absolutely sure that I knew precisely what was making you tick, what carried
you through the day, and that I could see right through you. But, as it is the nature of mirrors,
especially broken ones, all I'd been seeing was a reflection of myself, twisted and distorted.
I'd been assuming too much and all the wrong things…for entirely the wrong reasons. Selfish
I'm holding you now and here, and maybe you can just pretend that I'm someone you might have
loved before. It would mean the world to me…for I have no other world but this.
In my world, we fight with whispers and scalpels and still lose, the fight…and ourselves. Touching
you now is an affirmation of your presence in it; innumerable things are lost between the darkness
and the twilight, forever intangible.
The more I failed to fully empathize with you, the more you could see me through. Either your
skills of deduction are more sophisticated than I gave you credit for, giving you greater insight into
my scarred psyche, or the gin is simply making me translucent. The walls around my mind are as
thin as the mosquito nets around the place we call home; just set up a light behind me and watch
the shadowplay if you dare…
While I was furious when you smashed the still, the flames of rage are now being put out by your
tears. Most of me has already forgiven you, but deep inside, a piece of rage remains. Like a
forgotten shell-fragment, like the shards of glass and tubes and piping scattered across the floor
of the Swamp. A monument of all things broken.
Bodies, hearts, minds…
But you couldn't hold me together, I was broken long before you stepped off that plane at Kimpo
and into my life. Still, it's your gravity that's keeping the fragments of my shattered self (my
otherself) from drifting apart and becoming MIA.
As for the 'missing'…we both lost something tonight.
Loss I understand. I'll never tolerate it, but I understand. It's the way of life, the way of war, and
the way of love. Love…as impossible to stop as war. Ask anyone you want, they'll confirm how
much I hate the war. That doesn't mean that I hate love as well.
I lost Trapper, you know, and tonight the loss became complete. Tonight I lost his legacy to you,
your anger and your misery. Again, I wasn't able to prevent it. Unfair is as unfair does, I hurt you
and you hurt me back, the only way you knew.
The only way you could get through to me.
Comparing your pain to mine.
I didn't know you, but you certainly know me.
There's no shame in admitting to being human and *needing*, you know… Take my hand, if
nothing more, so that when we're falling we know that someone's there. You for me, and I for
you…that's how it should be, not how it is. The 'here' is far from any kind of 'should be'.
Part of me – no, make that most of me – went with Trapper that day, and until you let me have
that first, almost shy kiss – a goodnight kiss I never expected – I thought I would remain
incomplete forever. There once was a man with whom (and in whom) I would find myself, night
after night. He left and I was alone…no, more than that, I was *lonely*. Until you came to save
me, Beej. Sadly enough, you were too late, I was already gone. The person I encounter within
you is a shadow of myself.
You are not to blame.
My tears are falling now, but only on the inside. They fall and fall, and when they dry, the salt will
ruin everyone and everything I come close to.
Guess I must be as much of a mystery to you as you are to me. We are simply too different to
really know each other, men of different worlds who accidentally met in this neverwhere.
Sometimes you gaze at me and all I see in your eyes is curiosity. Fascination. Maybe – probably
– you're even perplexed. A little scared.
And so am I.
I'm scared by your silent strength, honesty and integrity, the unwavering sincerity towards those
who are dear to you. All the qualities that make you the perfect doctor, husband and father, all
the things that make a man's life desirable and livable.
You make it seem so normal, so easy and…impossible for someone like me.
When I look at you, I don't see you. Not the 'you' you. I only see those reflections of
someone…who is everything I'm not, everything I wasn't allowed to be.
And I wonder what it would be like. To be able to feel the things you feel, take the things for
granted that you take for granted and now miss so much that it's tearing you up day by day. Live
your life, that wonderful, normal, happy life.
I insinuated myself into your life. Guilty as charged. Had a lot of practice, after all, I just had to
wait until you caved in under the pressure so that I could seep through the cracks. And when you
responded to my advances, I rejoiced, took what I was offered, never once considering that you
might have second thoughts about this.
Which you have, I know that, even though you never voice them. They are wrapped in letters
you read out to me, encoded in frantic, late-night phone-calls to San Francisco. The smile at
finding a crumbled cookie enclosed with a letter. You know better than to say anything out
loud…or blame me. For as much as you love Peg, you wouldn't be able to preserve that feeling if
it weren't for me. My presence, my touch.
Quite ironic, huh? By being here, I make your love for her even stronger. The joke's really on me,
Because she's always in the back of your head. When we make love, you have to shut off part of
your heart and the man in my arms, the man whose lips capture my final scream, is only half a
We kissed, yeah, we kissed and more than that, don't you deny it, Beej. Maybe that's part of
your pain. The part you cannot admit to anyone, least of all yourself. No matter how close we'd
get, the lie would remain.
You can't help it.
Not your fault, like you said. It's the place.
I admire and hate you for it…admiration translates into tenderness, hatred into ferocity each time
I claim your body.
If not your heart.
And as for your soul…
You'd take the tears I couldn't cry and let me see the peace we are both denied.
Do you have any idea what it is you want from me, Beej, what it is you need? You never tell
me…and even if I asked you, I doubt you'd find the words. Tonight has proven that we're past
You were right when you said I couldn't possibly understand what you were going through and,
well, touché, I can't. All I'm capable of is an approximation, and that won't do. But now that it's
all been said and done, all insults and blows traded, we have reached a new kind of
understanding. Maybe this was inevitable…necessary…something we both needed.
How you can bear having your self stretched across an entire ocean and not snap is a constant
marvel to me, and the strain is showing now. The fragile rope you've wrought of letters and
cookies is finally unraveling, Korean fog and the smoke of war shrouding your imaginary Golden
Gate Bridge. You don't understand why you can't be strong enough for both 'here' and 'there'
and why it's a dark-haired, wisecracking misfit that you turn to for support, slivers of healthy
insanity and a physical connection with a 'here' you still refuse to accept.
With Trapper, things were simpler. At least he never denied the fact that this – Korea – was real.
That I was real, that I was 'here'.
'Here' is a place where B.J. Hunnicutt will never be, not completely.
And you're so afraid…so afraid…of loving me.
Now, sitting here on the floor of Potter's office, head resting against my shoulder and sobbing like
the child you long to see again, you seem…different. Or is it just me? Me who suddenly sees you
in a new light?
Everything's changed, and I'm numbed by the realization that this change didn't occur yesterday
or even last week but a long time ago.
I just failed to notice.
I have changed, you have changed…but no changes were as great as the ones we caused in each
Change never comes easy, it always hurts. You made me realize…everything, I guess. All the
things I'd been refusing to acknowledge for as long as you've been here, working, eating and,
eventually, sleeping by my side. I know, that's an awfully long time to wander through life with a
blindfold, but in this place you either become an expert at not facing things, or you
become…something else. I'm halfway to 'else' now, no U-turns allowed for the next ten lifetimes.
For us, in this place, doing the job we do, change is twice as painful as it disrupts the relatively
safe – if sickening – routine of patching up young people, the majority of which probably can't
even spell 'Douglas MacArthur' correctly, and maintaining the tenuous hold on our sanity, a noble
task and far more difficult than juggling live grenades. We notice changes much more acutely
than, say, your average overweight supply sergeant in Tokyo.
And we also try much harder to pretend that things are like they were before.
Before Henry left.
Before Trapper left.
Before Radar left.
Before you left home and all things bright and beautiful to take up residence in the outer office of
Sometimes – more often now than in the months before – I examine our relationship, strange as it
is, a bond forged in the need of the moment. This examination is an ongoing process that fills my
every waking moment and even my dreams, turning them into nightmares…and they all end the
same, with you leaving me without a word of goodbye, just like Trapper did. Like they *all* do.
It will happen. Maybe I should stop thinking about it, but I can't help it, I'm a doctor. It's what I
do. I examine and I analyze, diagnose, dissect and vivisect and do all kinds of taking apart when
I'm not too busy putting together people who got taken apart by somebody else.
Analysis is alteration, though.
I do diagnoses on people for a living (some living!). But, sadly, whenever I start analyzing things
in my heart, they stop happening.
Carlye stopped. Trapper stopped. And I wouldn't forgive myself if you stopped, too.
Sure, I like to make everybody believe that I'm the victim, I and me alone, that the weight of this
war rests solely on my shoulder and everybody's out to hurt me.
I won't admit that I'm doing my fair share of hurting, too.
I wish I could find the words to apologize, but it's you who's doing all the talking, confessing to
your hatred of Radar and Trapper and everyone I tend to mention too often for your comfort.
The damage is done and what's worse is that I wasn't even aware of inflicting it. Here comes the
ricochet, you're throwing it all back in my face, and may I remark that the words hurt as much as
your fist did.
There are many things I should have said and, oh well, a great deal more that should never have
left my mouth.
We both should have come up with a proper B.J./Hawkeye-dictionary much sooner. Maybe
then I would have understood what you were trying to tell me all these months, trying to make me
*relate*. I didn't listen. Or just didn't comprehend. Sure, the words I understood, all of them, but
as for the language… Instead of shutting my big mouth, I kept pouring salt into wounds that I
very well knew were there. Some doctor I am…
And then, finally, you ran out of words. Spent and desperate for a shred of true, honest
sympathy, you stopped talking and resorted to another language: violence.
And *that* I understood.
At last, I got the message.
It took one blow to keen-sighted Hawkeye's eyes to finally open them and make him see. Now
all that's left for me to say – *try* to say, yeah, I know – is how sorry I am for increasing your
pain by forcing you to adjust to…well, to me, I guess.
Me. It was always me, always about me. Me making you love me, making you adjust to me, and
never me to you. When the changes occurred, I never stopped to contemplate my new situation,
I just kept going, looking straight ahead and hoping that reality wouldn't catch up with me.
Today it did. You made the connection and enforced closure.
Now that the aforementioned changes have been acknowledged and the pain subsides, maybe
we can begin to get to know each other again? Make a fresh start, pick the glass off the floor and
get on with…some much-needed adjustments, regardless of how painful they may be? The rage
is pouring out of you now, and for once I simply listen. Astonishing how much pain can be put
into words if only you're willing to listen. Until today, I wasn't, I suppose. I believed myself
beyond hurt already, rapidly approaching the 'insensate from an excess of suffering' stage, and
then you showed me how much hurt I'm still capable of feeling, physically and emotionally…and
it's a lot.
Too great a lot, too much for one man alone to feel.
//Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments;
Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds…//
Yeah, maybe love does remain the same. Gently, I'm stroking the softness of your hair, ignoring
the inevitable complaint of my subconscious that the sensation differs from the thick strawberry
blond curls that used to tickle my palms. I no longer need my sight to know exactly how the sun-
bleached, slightly-too-long strands curl just above your ears, how far the hairline has receded
since day one. Can one body become too familiar with another?
It's bad enough that we're doing this…the only thing worse still would be not to do it.
Let's kiss, Beej, and let me believe that a kiss is the way it should be…
'Cause it means the world to me.
It means the world to me…and if not the world, then at least the few square meters we inhabit in
Hell. Nowhere else but here, it has to be here, for Heaven is a place for other people.