after all, we were more than friends
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"Trapper" John McIntyre/Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
"Trapper" John McIntyre, Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Radar O'Reilly
Additional Tags:
Angst, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Episode Fix-it, piercintyre - Freeform, Hawkeye/Trapper - Freeform, Hawkeye x Trapper - Freeform, Episode: s04e01 Welcome to Korea, (had two typos. now fixed. sorry.)
Published: 2020-05-12 Chapters: 2/? Words: 3475

after all, we were more than friends ***Maybe Deleting 4/15. Download to save.***


"I'm dying of silence, like others die of hunger and thirst." (-Children of Paradise, 1947)

Chapter 1

Radar puffed, his hand flying to keep ahold of his hat as his boot slipped for a second time in the mud. He just knew he'd end up dashing breathlessly across the compound at some point tonight, likely in the direction of the Swamp, and as tricky as the terrain was that evening, he was excited to be delivering good news. At least, he thought it was good news. And he only knew it would happen because the waiting caller had called earlier and promised to call back again, but that wasn't the point. 

He reached the Swamp and was careful to be quiet with the door though a gust of wind helped close it with force behind him. Thankful he knew his way between the familiar cots in the dark, he made a discreet beeline for one in particular. 

"Psst." His hiss was less discreet but went unheard. He leaned down, a hand falling to Captain Pierce's shoulder and giving a light shake. "Captain Pierce." No answer, and thus more urgently, despite the many times waking Captain Pierce had ended with threats of bodily harm: "Hawkeye. Come on. Wake up." 

An unintelligible noise, somehow ending with the tone of a disbelieving question, rose from the pillow. 

Radar frowned and leaned in closer, still quiet so as not to wake Major Burns or the new guy, loudly whispering words he suspected might do the job: "It's McIntyre, sir." 

A barely conscious Hawkeye was still conscious of one thing. It was that Radar had this way lately... if only very recently... of saying someone's name and delivering terrible, godawful, unthinkable, unbearable news the next sentence. As such, Hawkeye's hand snapped out before he even knew it, grabbing a fistful of Radar's shirt, a warning tone in his sleep-roughened voice. "Radar..."

Radar swallowed, the shirt neck tight against his own, but smiled, too. In relief, in happiness, in a sense of closure, and to know he'd be free soon from the hold. "Oh! No, no. He, he's fine! He's fine. He's on the phone for you," Radar continued, and was predictably set free as Hawkeye shot up in bed. 

"You serious?"

"I wouldn't lie about that, sir," Radar hissed back, watching the dark form of Captain Pierce tug on his boots in a hurry. "Or, well, much of anything, really. But hurry, will ya?" 

Oh, gee, I don't know, seems only right to make him wait... Hawkeye thought, half awake and maybe more than half bitter even as he slammed his feet into hopefully the right shoes.

From across the tent, Frank let out a snore as he rolled over. Hawkeye wondered how even his snores could sound whiny. But he didn't want to wake Frank or even well-meaning, congenial BJ. Not tonight. 

"Yeah, before that wood saw starts up and gets dust everywhere," he muttered as he stood but his heart wasn't in it. It was second nature to mock Frank no matter the circumstance. But his mind was elsewhere, had woken up elsewhere after so little sleep, and he followed Radar out in a hurried daze. The rain and wind didn't matter. In a few seconds he'd have Trapper on the line, and that was...

It was a lot, actually. In a lot of ways.

"Hey! Radar. Is he... okay?" Hawkeye had to ask, wrapping his robe tighter about himself against the wind as they made their slippery way through the mud.

"I think so?" Radar assured, still smiling. "He sounded happy enough earlier."


"You were in the OR! I told him to call back."

Hawkeye hated the thought that he'd missed the chance. Hated, too, that Radar could have prepared him for such a call and failed to. He could have written a list of all the things he wanted to say.

Granted, not all of them were nice.

And the ones that were really stung nowadays. 

Hawkeye didn't even realize he'd just stopped, suddenly that unsure of himself, halfway in the door and half out with the rain battering his back, until he registered Radar peering at him. "Sir?" 

Hawkeye took in Radar's wavering yet strangely bright smile, the phone offered in his hand, and knew he was grateful after all. Maybe it was better that Radar had waited, if it meant a quieter hour and less stressful time to talk to Trap, and he was stepping into the room before he realized it. He looked at the phone and again at Radar's face, and it really was rude to give the boot to someone you were grateful to, but...

"Should... should I scram, sir?"

Oh, good. He gets it. Hawkeye managed a smile as paternal as he could on an hour of sleep and his heart beating a rhythm you could jitterbug to. He accepted the phone and suggested gently, "Advance in a different direction, Corporal, at least."

Radar chuckled, casting Hawkeye one last knowing glance before the smile faded. "Um, but not too long, okay? Just in case."

Hawkeye nodded, the telephone burning a hole in his palm, now impatient to see Munchkinland's mayor scamper off and it didn't matter where to. 

Radar didn't think it mattered, either. In truth, he thought there was something he didn't quite understand about Captains Pierce and McIntyre, but he knew it really rankled Hawkeye, the way Trapper had left. There were secondhand butterflies in his stomach just knowing they would talk again. Maybe stale coffee from the mess could drown them. Oh, but could butterflies swim? He wasn't sure. 

The phone felt heavy in Hawkeye's hand once Radar had gone. Goodbye, good buffer, no matter how small of one. He didn't mean to leave Trapper hanging, nor did he want to chance the line cutting out before they'd gotten a word in. But he was dumbstruck by the reality of it all. Trapper used to be here, not on the crackly phone, just as this office, he thought, would always feel more Henry to him than Potter. But to try to find the right words for any of that or more...

Well, the wrong words would have to do. 

He drew the phone to his ear, taking a long breath to steel himself though against what, he knew not. The way his own gaze couldn't focus long, maybe, flitting about the top of the beat-up desk without registering any one thing piled on it, or the welling of emotions ranging from longing to fury that had waxed and waned for days. Surely the wrong words being better than none was a good point to make to a certain someone who hadn't bothered to leave him any at all. Like Carlye all over again. 

Huh. Funny. The fury was back. 

"...You're a real rat, Trap. You know that? And not just for waking me up."

When he got no immediate answer, the possibility the line had cut filled him with dread. But it was simply hesitation on the part of Trapper, who finally muttered, "I know, Hawk. I messed up." 

Chapter 2

Hawkeye's mouth pressed into a line but it faded fast. Trapper sounded sad, or maybe a touch drunk, or both. It was sobering and softened Benjamin Franklin Pierce's hard edges like little else could. He sat. Better the pleasantries first, the simple things, or was it his helplessly caring that morphed his tone to concern? Damn that caring. He sucked in a breath. At least the line was blessedly clear, and seemed for the moment it would hold. "What's up with you? Are you home?"

"Close but no cigar," Trapper sighed in what sounded like approximately 4,077 different kinds of defeat. He would be home, could be, should be. "Something was up with the plane and they grounded it early, gave us some rooms. A bunch of the guys've gone out drinking, celebratin' and stuff. I... figured I'd stay in. Call while I've got the place to myself." 

Hawkeye knew it had to be hellishly hard on Trap, the father and, ehhh, mostly devoted husband that he was. Louise and the girls were probably mere hours away. It was a wonder Trapper hadn't just said To Hell With It and caught a civilian flight the rest of the way. But if the phone call was a reason for him not to... 

He was touched enough to stay pleasant, even reassuring. "They'll still be there when you get there, promise."

"Yeah," Trapper sighed again. Hell, he should be happy, and in the majority of respects he was. Alive, back on American soil, just a mite delayed, no sweat, tomorrow was one more day. It was also that many more miles further away from everything he was leaving. Everyone. And he was beginning to feel awfully dumb, calling the most important of that everyone and then saying so very little yet. The guilt wouldn't go away until he could do better than that. "Look, Hawk..."

Hawkeye thought back to what Radar had said, that Trapper's response to a discharge while Hawkeye was elsewhere, incommunicado, had been to drink heavily for two nights. He was flattered, but that didn't mean it was good. In those two words, he could hear the remorse clear as day. He wasn't sure anymore that he wanted to. 

"Nah. Don't 'look' me. It's alright." 

Trapper found himself frowning and relieved at once. Maybe he wouldn't have to spill his soul out, after all. But a part of him wanted to. Hawkeye deserved to hear it, useless as it all seemed now that he was homebound, and he knew he'd worry every day whether he wanted to or not, and he couldn't stop remembering the almost-discharge, the party, Hawk's sweet words and the tears brimming in those usually merry blue eyes... 

Great, now he was tearing up. 

He hadn't wanted to repeat any of it, was all. They'd done the big party thing, just too early. A repeat was asking too much and wouldn't have been worth a penny with his tent-mate, partner in crime, friend, colleague, very-almost-maybe-possibly something more, absent. Not that a party was necessary for that particular farewell. And Trapper wasn't sure he could have taken it, even if allowed, considering the way he struggled for words and emotional equilibrium now. 

"I dunno about alright, I really don't," John murmured once he'd steadied his voice. "But you get it, right? With Frank in charge, that twerp enjoyed not lettin' me hang around longer." 

Hawkeye seethed again to the point of burning inside. More in Frank's direction than Trap's, but still. Some clever delay in Kimpo was hardly beyond Trapper's mental prowess, so why hadn't he created one? Louise and the kids, of course, and maybe it was all too complicated and too sad. That was a nice, sturdy, comprehensible Why. How Trapper could do that to him, though, leave him that lonely and empty-feeling... No. He'd never ask. It was below them both. To rail at Trapper now that a letter would have suited would only hurt them both. 

"I get it." 

Trapper nodded. He was strangely still, not lifting the beer to his mouth, not shifting on the bed, locked into the shared regrets like a room without windows. But there had to be a key, right? He had to man up. He was going home. He was lucky. Trapper bit his lip, rubbed a hand against his eyes, sniffed harshly, and sat up a little taller, trying to be strong for them both. He wanted to thank Hawk for getting it but that would only sound messy and weak. "How is Frank? You poison him in his sleep yet without me there to stop ya?"

"Give me time," Hawkeye said darkly, earning a laugh from Trapper that warmed him immediately. Laughter was much more familiar ground for them than whatever simmered beneath it. Hawkeye leaned back in the chair, unaware how much tension he'd been holding, an arm sliding behind his head. He tried to sound as relaxed as he must have looked. "If BJ lets me, anyway." He could seek laughter and taunt at the same time, of course. "He's the new you, don't you know." 

Trapper knew that was inevitable, par for the course, but it still seemed fast and the concept still hurt. Well, fine, he'd taunt, too, even if it was less fair now than it was in Uijeongbu. "Oh, yeah? He cuter than me?" 

"He looks like he smells like fresh oranges," Hawkeye retorted, surprising himself with the comment. It apparently surprised Trapper, too, because it was met with only silence, which Hawkeye took to mean he would just have to make all the strangely poignant, haughtier-than-he-felt jokes himself. "Well, you did tell me to go out with other doctors." God, how he loathed himself sometimes. 

Trapper slugged back more of the beer, suddenly wishing he were as loaded as that quip. His eyes searched the ceiling without purpose. "You know," he said finally, "I was thinking-"

"Don't do that, you'll hurt yourself."

Trapper rolled his eyes. "Was thinkin' maybe I could get back to Seoul."

Hawkeye's heart leapt even as his brow furrowed. "Are you nuts? You just left." 

"I don't mean now. I mean, within the year or something. Get settled in back home, get work going but after that, vacation-like. Line it all up with whenever you can get a pass." 

Well. That's more than could ever be said for Carlye, Hawkeye brooded. But the idea did much to lift his spirits. There was so little to look forward to here at Meatball Surgery HQ; knowing he might see Trapper again could sustain him through many a rough day. It was almost ridiculous to dream it could work out. But he knew he would dream all the same. "I'd like that, Trap."

Trapper almost hadn't heard the response, distracted by a rowdy group's off-key, drunkenly bellowed version of "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe" as they passed his room. They were gone soon enough and all was quiet again, just the two of them, the faint crackle of the telephone, and everything being left unsaid. 

Things like I'm really going to miss you, or, I wish I'd been braver, about a whole heap of things, or, About that kiss...

Some things were better left unsaid on an army phone line, he figured. Never knew who could tap into it. What could be misconstrued or, hell, construed just as it was meant, no matter how playful the tone. 

"I'll keep you posted on it," he promised. 

Hawkeye had been so uncomfortable with the silence - when wasn't he? - that he found himself holding back from demanding, hey, and about that kiss! when Trapper spoke again, and thank God for that. "Oh, so you do know how to write letters," he deadpanned. 

Trapper's eyes rolled again, his mouth a little pout. He deserved the sass, he knew that, but the call was supposed to fix it, or at least kick off a fixing process. "I'll write," he vowed solemnly. "And I'll call in when I can. And send something nice for Christmas. And coal for Frank."

"Coal's what he deserves," Hawkeye agreed, "And a bunch of ferrets tossed in with him next time he's in the shower." 

Trapper couldn't help another laugh. "Can you get ferrets in Korea?"

"Well, if anyone could, it's Radar."

When Trapper sighed this time, it was a lighter one. "I'm gonna miss that little guy."

"Don't worry, Dad, I'll look after him. Make sure he brushes his teeth and gets his shots and makes it to the school bus on time." 

Some kind of warmth had settled over the bleak little room and Trapper just from the lightheartedness of it all. Or maybe it was the drink. Hawkeye had a soothing effect, was all. Always had. From the average, everyday bad day to the big ones, like the time he'd been out of his head and almost broken the Hippocratic oath, or when he'd been miserable to lose Kim, Hawkeye was a balm and no less than a savior. To dwell on it would only choke him up again, he knew. But that's what Hawkeye deserved, wasn't it? To know that he was feeling this more sharply than his silent leaving had implied. "Say. Know what I think I'm gonna miss the most?"

Hawkeye licked his lips before biting down on them briefly. If Trapper was obvious or cruel enough to say you, he might really lose it. "What's that?"

"Your singin' around the place."

"Ah..." Hawkeye leaned back further with a soft sigh. "The wife can't carry a tune?" 

"Eh, she does okay. But your taste in music's better." 


Trapper grimaced. He wanted to hear it one more time but didn't know how to ask without sounding maudlin or needy or queer. Oh, he didn't mind what he sounded like with Hawk, but again, it was an army line...

To no surprise at all, though, it was like Hawkeye had read his mind. After only a short pause there came that rich, sonorous crooning that stabbed his heart and lifted it at the same time, and he closed his eyes, let himself both float on it and drown.

"When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls, 
and the stars begin to flicker in the sky, 
through the mist of a memory, you wander back to me, 
breathing my name with a sigh..." 

Hawkeye knew already he should have picked any other song. Something faster, cheerier, less likely to rip his own heart out and pulverize it. But he usually sang anything that popped into his mental jukebox, warbling just to to warble, the way birds did, and it didn't matter if he meant the words. 

This time, it felt like it did. 

"In the still of the night, once again I hold you tight
Though you're gone, your love lives on when moonlight beams 
And as long as my heart will beat... Trapper, we'll always meet..."

Trapper's chuckle didn't make it to his lips, stopped by the lump in his throat.

Hawkeye had one, too, and stopped singing before his voice could crack and show it. He inhaled shakily, not sure how much more of this he could subject either of them to, and cleared his throat, thumb and finger rubbing at the lump as if to soothe it back down. He switched his tone to a more urgent one. "Radar's back, Trap. I gotta go," he lied.

John almost wished the line had crapped out and let the singing be the last thing he heard. He was no better equipped for a goodbye than he'd been previously, it turned out, but he sat up straighter again. "I'll write," he swore again.

"You'll write?"

"I'll write."

"Alright," Hawkeye rhymed, trying to revive the sense of banter. After all, there was little point in missing Trap without the reasons he did and would. 

"And, uh... you tell that new guy I'll break his legs if he don't treat you right," Trapper joked back.

Hawkeye smiled ruefully. It didn't reach his still-watering eyes, but God knew he was trying. "Go get pickled and let me get back to sleep; I think I've had five winks out of 40. And cheer up, huh? You're almost home." 

Trapper nodded with a wan, half-forced smile of his own. Maybe he would go out with the guys just to liven up, clear his head, even his emotions back out. "Thanks, Hawk." Goodbyes still being out of the question, he added simply, "G'night." 

He hadn't realized it but the hand behind Hawkeye's head had moved at some point while they spoke, fingertips idly brushing over his own cheek where a kiss by proxy had stuck and somehow still tingled curiously. "Night, Trap," he murmured, and it was some aimlessly meditative time after setting the phone back in its cradle before his hand fell away and he stood. 

The rain had let up, Hawkeye noticed in a haze; a deep purple one, it seemed. He shoved his hands in his pockets, forced his chin high. Things were going to be okay. He could tell himself that and it felt less like a meaningless, self-soothing platitude now.

Trap hadn't fallen off the face of the earth, just Korea, and he would be all the better for it, Hawkeye mused as he made his slow way back to the Swamp. And BJ, ah, his luck could be far worse as possible replacements went. He was clearly a good egg but capable of being a bad one for a laugh, and there was no sort of person Hawkeye liked more. 

As he snuck back into the tent and shuffled back to his cot, he even made a mental note to lean in close tomorrow and find out if BJ really did smell like oranges. 


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