home :: fanfiction :: links :: livejournal :: recs :: about
when the year is over
PG, slash, Hawkeye/BJ. After the war, Erin tells BJ to go back in search of Hawkeye.
So much time had passed. The wars were over.
The problem with war was very simple. It was quickly forgotten by those who only watched from the sidelines, but it lingered in nightmares for those who were really there.
The war might be long over, but the memories of it remained.
Black and white memories chased BJ into vibrantly coloured todays and tomorrows… startlingly white limestone paving as he strode down a street with his little girl beside him, achingly bright pink ‘n’ red sunsets that the little girl loved to see. So much time had passed that those nights of black and white newsreels seemed so very long ago, another world, another life.
So long ago, it was. It was a year out of his life, just one year, and he’d lived many years, why did just one stand out? Was it the bright colours? It couldn’t be, not now that today was so bright.
That had been a world of dimness. Black and white newsreels, khaki green tents, dark red blood staining dark brown dust, muted colours, dullness, darkness.
The little girl wasn’t so little, any more, and sometimes she remembered things that even he had forgotten. He never thought she would, but she remembered the grey day the brown envelope came, and the dry-eyed haste to get things in order that had followed, up until the moment where he left her, which she claimed she didn’t remember, although he wasn’t so sure.
Things were so different now. Things might have been simpler then. Patriotism had been the norm, it was just wanting to go and serve your country, and while he’d never subscribed to the Frank Burns school of blind faith in Uncle Sam, he had believed he was being sent to Korea for a reason, and that it would be over soon. He had never been irreverent, a troublemaker, he had been mild in his views and actions, he had been young but on the road to becoming a pillar of society. But then he met Hawkeye Pierce, and something in him stirred, the long-latent flame of rebelliousness that had never been a real part of him before and would never be absent again. Even years afterwards he would never trust authority implicitly; he would pause in front of the television news, in front of his superiors, in front of the ballot box, and try to think of the issue in hand according to Hawkeye’s lights.
Erin knew her father spoke of Hawkeye only at certain times; only very late at night and very early in the morning. She might not have known that this was because those were the only times Hawkeye would talk about himself, but she might have guessed, she was a clever girl. She was BJ’s daughter, after all, and she had something of Hawkeye’s charm; the sparkle that attracted all those in her wake. It was an unpredictable little touch of fairy-dust, and BJ delighted in the fact his daughter possessed it, delighted in the fact its rare presence should appear twice in his life. They rode together in the San Francisco cable cars, she and her father and the ghostly shadow that were his memories of Hawkeye, and talked quietly together, safe in the world’s only mobile national monuments, as BJ was so fond of telling her.
Time even passed when suspended in mid-air.
The world moved fast. Klinger once asked, “Where’s Vietnam?”
Within ten years everyone could stab a pin at a map blindfolded and hit it first time. BJ could have wept for the next generation, twenty years younger, who were nevertheless just like himself and Hawkeye, like Potter and Radar and Margaret and Klinger, people with even more of the time of their lives taken from them.
He thought of Hawkeye whenever he thought of how the world changed. Now the new century was so close, people spoke of the fifties as an easier time, a simpler time when right and wrong were so much more clear-cut. BJ didn’t try to agree or disagree; he knew the passage of time swept the slate clean for a new wave of nostalgia as every decade passed. No time was better, but they were all different.
In this world of confusing, dazzling brilliance, he felt so much less close to Hawkeye that it hurt him at times. Theirs was an old army friendship, left behind from long ago. An almost unnatural closeness reduced to a long-distance friendship, but that was the way of the world, always moving on. There would always be more wars, and more wartime friendships forged. BJ was just afraid he was losing his; Hawkeye seemed more and more distant, and BJ feared it might be because everything they had in common was thirty years ago. His daughter, grown up in an ever-changing world, could barely remember the Korean War, but knew it was a part of her own family history. She could remember Hawkeye as an intermittent fairy tale figure from her childhood, who, like Brer Rabbit and the Wicked Witch of the West, was often spoken of but never seen in life. She remembered her father’s eyes lighting up at the sight of a letter from Hawkeye. Her childish fingers had caressed the battered envelopes with their pretty stamps and smudged postmarks, and sometimes she would attempt to decipher the doctor’s handwriting, but it was too difficult for her small self. So she curled up at her father’s feet, knowing he would be pleased to have her close by and safe so he could read his letter in peace.
“Hawkeye” – it was a pretty, fairy-tale name, one that lingered in memory. She was told she had met him once, long ago, and while she might imagine she could remember him, she knew she couldn’t really. BJ would smile and say that if she could remember him, she’d know about it for certain. If his old friend was anything, he was memorable.
But she had grown up, and those nights BJ dreamed of his baby girl were long gone, and so was the Swamp, the still, the sleeping Hawk just metres away in the thick Korean darkness. Sometimes BJ wondered whether he himself could remember Hawkeye at all, or whether he just thought he could. He’d heard it said that the voice of a loved one is the first to go, and if he closed his eyes and tried to remember, he could only barely remember Hawkeye’s wild laughter, a sound that had rung pleasantly through his head for years, but was fading rapidly now.
After Hawkeye’s death, the last links were severed with the lost year of BJ’s life. That year, 1953, in which ticker-tape parades were held for General MacArthur, and for Eisenhower, who said he would go to Korea. In hindsight, just another incompetent pair of generals, nothing to get excited about, certainly not worth an impassioned, flashing-eyed speech from Hawkeye about where the real blame lay, because no-one got so fiery about anything any more, that wasn’t the way it was done.
As time passed, he thought the lost year might become less whatever-it-was, but nothing changed, at least not in that respect. The sense of drifting never really ceased, never. With the dawn of another century so near, and the closeness that was lost, BJ found himself drifting in mind and body, too, never dreaming anyone except himself would notice until Erin complained.
He dreamed of going back. Not to Ouijongbu, not there… the Swamp had been torn down everywhere except in memory, although sometimes BJ did wish he could go back just for one night, to see the home away from home that still lingered in dreams. But he could never go back, could never go from world-weariness to innocence, from a lifetime of marriage to the flush of first love, he could never change colour television back to black-and-white. You can’t go home again.
Erin suggested another place.
Many miles to the east in Maine, Crabapple Cove had something of the slowness, the muted colours of the lost year, but it had the sense of peace that had been the missing piece. The slowness, the chill; BJ had been to Crabapple Cove in autumn, had felt the chill in his bones, and while he understood the appeal of the dark, rich colours of the fallen leaves, being so close to where Hawkeye had spent so many years made him shiver with the rawness of it all, and he never felt really safe until he was back on the west coast.
But enough time had passed, and it was time to go back.
Crabapple Cove was a place where time moved very slowly if it moved at all, and it was a place he felt he could recognise from the vivid, starkly beautiful descriptions of thirty years before. It was autumn, now, and the grey mists hid BJ from view.
Hawkeye met him under the trees, and they walked down to the shore, BJ’s head resting on Hawkeye’s shoulder, and in the grey dawn, they were forgotten together.
comments, compliments, rotten tomatoes...