M*A*S*H Slash Awards 2004, Second place (tie):
Outstanding Romance Story
Archive: at mash-slash as well as at T'Len's & Lady Charena's hall of fame
Disclaimer: *mutters under her breath, 'I hate this shit', then 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: I hate this life! Here I am, suffering from an ear-infection that has me *crawling* up the walls (and thanks to the pain I can't really study for the exams next WEEK) and what happens as I wait for my afternoon class to be over so that I can head for the doctor's? I find a MASH-plotbunny in my bag. Cheery.
Here's one pre-dawn Hawk/B.J. nookie in seven parts.
You asked for more…I blame the recent increase in Mulcahy-fics for this one. I intended to let you have it one piece a day, but I figured I'd have too much studying to do, so what the hell…Three today, the rest as I type it (so far, the rest exists only on a sheet of paper filled with jumbled notes, asterisks, footnotes, references, etc…you get the idea!)
Ah, yes, do that again...slooooowly…your name escapes past my lips, hitching on a gasp. Once…the second time it is muffled by your mouth, your tongue delving past my lips to seek contact. Good morning to you too! With hardly any sound you join me under the light blanket, shirts and briefs the only barriers between our bodies. It's still dark outside, morning at least another two hours away; in the Korean summer, this is the only time when it's cool enough to sleep, a few hours of relief for the whole of the MASH 4077th after hours of tossing and turning.
One obnoxious Frank Burns included.
For us, it is a window of opportunity, a recurring, surreal moment out of time, only for the two of us to share.
My body gradually wakes to your touch, coming to life beneath your palms. Your caress is gentle, loving yet determined, and I can't help but return it full measure. Eyes closed, I have to smile at your soft moans as my fingers chart your warmth – this solid, *real* you! – and copy your hands' every move.
We have learned to perfect this early morning ritual. Practice makes perfect.
You once said I was the perfect one. Well, so are you. We are…*this* is…
I want all of you. Your smile, your touch, your body…the promise that I'll be the only one for you for all eternity even though I know perfectly well that you don't have it in you to actually say the words.
For that I love and hate you.
And for *that* I hate myself…at least I should.
For wanting you so much that it becomes more than simple greed.
Your hand lazily trails across my chest, fingertips only, random patterns on smooth skin. Up-down, up-down, up…the outline of my ribcage, then your hand stops. Yes. I know what this means, but you won't say it as you know what my reply's going to be. I can't help it. Most of the days, the mere smell of the unidentifiable – and allegedly nutritious – substances on my tray suffices to turn my stomach, which is why I resort to taking in my daily calories in liquid form.
High-proof gin…tingling along my nerves as it burns white-hot all the way down to my stomach.
You…soothing the pain and filling the emptiness, white and cool as you burn all the way into my soul.
The more I get of you, the more I want. The more I *need*.
And the worst part is that a desire previously limited to the confines of this tent has now extended to the entire camp. The mess-hall, the showers – God help us, the showers! – and even the OR. I can't keep my thoughts off you.
Correction: you *are* my thoughts!
One of the seven cardinal sins gluttony is.
Right now, I couldn't care less.
Do you feel the same, I wonder…
My shirt is on the floor now, as is yours, having come off to the faint clinking of the dog tags. So cool on heated skin they are, two pieces of metal, US94539204 and US12836413, our lives reduced to numbers. We only have these early mornings to reclaim our true identities. Your palm comes to rest against my stomach, and like a food critic whose senses are primed and sharpened to immediately detect the slightest flaw, mine zero in on that single offensive sensation.
I can't help it.
It's such a little thing, if you look at it objectively, a tiny bit of metal, cool and smooth, but against my skin, it burns. This gold band on your finger.
It is her. *She* is there still, indelible. Most of the times I almost forget that she's there, maintaining her quiet presence in your life where there should be me and me alone.
Most of the times.
Such a small thing, almost invisible, and yet it binds you to her in ways I never could hope for. You never take it off. Cool metal…I can't shut it out, painfully aware of its slow downward slide.
Tell you what, Beej, the opposite of love's not hatred – it's envy. Everybody feels it at one point or another, no one's immune to it. I wish it was me who's bound to you by this globally-accepted golden symbol of unity…well, I guess I'll have to find other ways…other bonds.
Defiantly, I pull you in for another kiss, my fingers closing around your wrist.
Let me guide you. You don't resist. You couldn't. And soon I can no longer distinguish the thin band of precious metal from the heat of your fingers.
Faster…then slow…and fast again, rapidly approaching the exquisite pinnacle…no words do it justice, I'm afraid, at least none that I know. Anyways, I'm so caught in the haze of pleasure that I barely can react in time, press my mouth to your shoulder and muffle my scream – your name – as I come, the pain delicious and needle-sharp. Shivering, spent, I rest against you, just when you, with one last thrust into my hand, find your release as well.
Hey there, physician, you forgetting about the 'do no harm' part of the oath?
I wasn't aware that I made a sound until I hear the faint "Sorry". No need to apologize. After all, I never do. Next thing I feel is your tongue giving First Aid…ah, the spoils of war, albeit a mislabeled one!
One of these days I'd love to see you – hear you, *watch* you – scream your passion out loud. Show me how much I'm pleasing you. That's the stuff dreams are made of. But for now the pain of your teeth is preferable to having Frank Burns wake up and see all the things he shouldn't see.
So I endure.
Pain is soooooo relative a constant, after all. Just like lust.
Don't I wish!
The Bible says it's wrong.
Ink on paper, just another book (sorry, Father, that's just how I feel. Will say ten Hail B.J.'s right away!)…how *wrong* can it be, I ask you? We have more than earned our share of forgiveness! After all, 'Thou shalt not kill' is one of the Ten Commandments…and what else do we do, day in, day out, but reverse the transgressions against God's rules?
The Lord should damn well thank us…not judge us.
We do his work twice as well as he does himself, saving the lives He creates…aren't we entitled to a little lust in this war??
The war. Yeah, the bloody fucking war. Hell on Earth, politicians on both sides ruling over it like a committee of Lucifers, though I strongly suspect that none of them started out as angels. And if they did, well, they can't have fallen too far before inviting hundreds of thousands of innocents into cozy, bug-infested 38th para-Hell, this place they turned into an unofficial tenth circle that even Dante would be squeamish to write home about.
Theirs couldn't compare to mine, to the circle of your arms. I bury my face at your neck, listen to your breathing, and try to pretend that the world beyond the cloth of the tent does not exist. Naturally, I don't quite succeed.
The image rises, unbidden, etched into my memory. The first patient I operated on over here, the kid who'd been torn to shreds by shrapnel and who drowned in his own blood before I could save him.
Next comes anger, the image's constant companion. It's a rage so elemental that it defies description. I can't tell where it comes from…I'm not sure I want to know, nobody should, I suppose, not if they value their sanity.
Make that 'relative sanity'.
Where there should be tranquility, I feel this…*wrath* stirring somewhere inside me now, in that one place that resists my best efforts to control it. I've tried for years, ever since I felt the first evil glimmer in that hollowness I used to call my soul. Deep, frighteningly deep within…
I can't remember when it became this empty, but I sure know how. It went away in little pieces, washing into Korean soil with every quart of blood we'd hose off the floor of the OR.
Diluted red on ocher.
Just like that, I was washed away, and it's only when I'm with you that I become aware of my own absence.
A sudden shiver chases down my spine, and in response you tighten your embrace.
That place within me…I got too good a look at it already, I'm afraid.
Maybe that's another reason why I love you. Another reason why I should hate you.
When I'm with you, I become more than I am. At least more than I think I am. I feel like a better version of myself, like someone I could actually face in the mirror and not be ashamed of. Someone I might look into the eye and acknowledge his humanity without a trace of a doubt.
It's an illusion, of course, and I wonder why you can't see that. Why you have to feed me this pretense. Come on, Beej…level with me! I know the truth, I *live* the truth! You've seen me at my worst…you can't possibly see anything but a tired, cynical, more-than-latent alcoholic, who thought himself a doctor until he ended up pulling 36-hour shifts at an assembly line in a body-shop called Korea! Be honest to yourself, if not to me…please…
I don't know what I find more disturbing…you making me believe that there is something inside me that remains untouched and unsoiled by the blood, the horror and the waste of life, when it's a surefire bet that *nothing* like that exists (or ever has existed), or me being grateful for your deception.
No, the greatest hurt comes from my inability to believe you, no matter how hard I try. The Hawkeye's wrath turns upon himself.
Is this pathetic, or what?
"Hawk…we should hit the showers."
I refuse to reply, silenced by the inexpressible rage simmering in my throat. If only you knew, Beej, if only you knew…
"Whaddya think, lazybones…are there any sloth in Korea? 'Cos I think one's gotten into my bed."
Your bed? It's still my bed, imbecile! Sloth yourself!
Laziness, prolonged lethargy…there's little to no risk of 'that' happening, isn't there? Not in this unit. Chronic lack of opportunity. But if there was, you'd be the one I'd prefer to be lethargic with.
"How 'bout sleepin' in today?"
The drawl into my hair is barely audible, followed by an equally silent ripple of a yawn only I can feel. I give a weak nod. "Good idea." I don't want to get up, don't want your warmth gone for another…hm, eternity. Maybe I do have a couple of sloth-genes; it would certainly explain the rapid growth of my fingernails.
Your hand's slowly stroking my back, following the spine vertebra by vertebra. No hurry, no worry. And a few meters away, Frank's still snoring away in blissful ignorance of the events in his immediate vicinity. Everything is as it should be. Well, I could think of a few things I'd change, but, hey…physicians can't be choosers, right? "Can I give you a rain-check when the war's over?"
"War?" I tilt my head backwards and open my eyes to meet yours. "Damn, I knew I'd forgotten something." Oh, even if the temperature goes through the roof today, it can't match the warmth of your smile. The kind of warmth that doesn't make you sweat but reaches all the way inside of you. It makes me fall in love with you all over again and I mustn't think of the day – that future day – when this smile will be only in your voice, some nuance in a transcontinental phone-call. "Don't you wish for that sometimes? That you could forget?"
"Sometimes." Now the repetitive motions of your hand turn sensual. "Help me?"
"Thought you'd never ask." Your lips part under mine and you stretch out full length, inviting me to mould myself to your side. "A rain-check it is."
"Gonna hold you to that, Mr. Sloth."
"You can hold me any way you want, Beej, anytime."
And I know you will.
Irrational as it sounds, I feel proud. Of you, of us, and of myself for having you. For having you like this, here, sharing these twilight hours in a place where even the food is lethal.
Any sane person would call it fatalism.
Call it what you will. It's something that'll always be mine, something *she* will never have. Here, you're mine and mine alone.
Our time together may be limited, stolen moments, but they'll be ours nonetheless.
Outside, dawn is breaking.
Eventually, you disentangle yourself from my embrace, leaning back in twice for more fleeting kisses. Another morning's over, and judging by the voice that's booming so enthusiastically over the PA-system now, it's Sunday.
Next time your lips meet mine, I can't suppress a triumphant grin. All seven cardinal sins committed within one hour on the seventh day, before breakfast even…ain't that something to be proud of?