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Sleeping Beauty
not quite a fairy tale
by Raven

PG, pre-slash. A brief fairy tale; Sidney arrives at the 4077th to find the handsome prince is non-existent and the beautiful princess appears to be Hawkeye.

This story won first place for both best characterisation of Trapper and best dialogue, and second place for best characterisation of Henry and best humour.

“Excuse me, Colonel?”

“Yes, Radar?”

“Um… Corporal Klinger wants to see you.”

Henry rolled his eyes. “Send him away, Radar.”

As Radar went out one swing door, Klinger barged in through the other (red polka-dot, white purse, white sandals, quickly identified by the colonel as summer casual) and
sat down.

“Sit down, Klinger,” Henry said resignedly. “What can I do you for?”

“Sir,” Klinger said urgently, “I just got a letter from…”

“…home,” Henry finished. “Your mother’s dead.”

“No, sir!” Klinger said, offended. “It’s my…”

“Father? Brother? Sister?”

“No, sir.” Klinger’s voice was low. “It’s from my wife.”

“Your wife wrote to say she’s dead?”

“No, sir, she’s…”

“Pregnant?” Henry asked. “’Cause then I’d worry.”

“No, sir!” Klinger all-but-shouted, and his voice dropped again. “My wife wrote to say she’s leaving me.”

“Oh, Klinger…” Henry was caught for a moment between belief and doubt.

“And could I please go home and sort out the divorce amicably…”

“Klinger! Get out!”

The corpsman stood not upon the order of his going. Radar slipped in, placed a glass of bourbon and an aspirin on the desk, and was about to slip out when Henry stopped him, holding up a hand. “Do I have some sort of homing beacon, Radar?” he asked. “Do I give off some sort of signal only dogs and crazy people can hear?”

“I couldn’t say, sir,” Radar replied non-commitally.

“Ah, no matter,” replied the colonel, and downed the bourbon. “Oh… Radar?”


“You don’t hear any choppers, do you?”

Radar shook his head. “No sir.”

“That’s always good, specially now… how’s Pierce?”

“Still the same, sir.”

Henry nodded, and Radar retreated. He went out into the compound, on the way to the mess tent where he could get some lettuce for the guinea pigs, and on the way there, he nearly walked into the camp’s not-quite-resident psychiatrist.


Sidney Freedman, arriving in camp for the evening poker game, was naturally somewhat perturbed to be met by Trapper John McIntyre, who was not only rather fractious, but he appeared to be on the prowl alone. Sidney wondered if he should attach any significance to the fact. Come to think of it, Trapper was never alone, he always had…

Sidney was even more perturbed to discover the poker game had been indefinitely postponed, “On account of how the dealer’s gonna be asleep for a while,” Trapper explained obscurely.

In the Swamp, Sidney observed Hawkeye with a critical eye. If he was asleep, Sidney decided, something wasn’t quite right somewhere. “I may be a psychiatrist, Trapper,” he said, with characteristic care, “but even I’m doctor enough to see that’s more than a man asleep.”

“Ah, yeah, that’s ‘cause Henry sedated him.”

“Colonel Blake sedated him? Was this an unprovoked attack?” the psychiatrist asked in all innocence.

At that point Frank marched in. “Is he still asleep?”

“Yes, Frank,” said Trapper patiently, “to put it in layman’s terms for you, he’s still asleep.”

Frank scowled and thought better of saying something.

Trapper ignored him, looking only at Hawkeye.

Sidney observed this exchange with an interested look on his face.

“In any case,” Trapper said, “we’re sorry to have got you up here for nothing, Sidney.”

“I call it providential,” Frank declared portentously. “Anything’s a blessing if it stops you making this tent a den of gamblers.”

“Maybe you’d like it if we kept Hawk permanently sedated, Frank?” Trapper inquired mildly. “I’m sure you’d love it if we did that and then you had to deal with the wounded all by yourself, being as how you’re such an accomplished surgeon.”

 Sidney’s ears had pricked up.

“Huh,” Frank snorted, and departed in a cloud of indignation and overly fragrant aftershave.

“I don’t mind,” Sidney said, talking about the poker game again, “I like it here, it’s like being smack in the middle of an ongoing social experiment.”

“I’m sure that remark made sense to you,” Trapper said sourly, and flopped down on his cot.

Hawkeye twitched slightly. He was so deeply asleep it was hard to tell if he was still breathing.


For a moment, Trapper ignored him.

“Trapper?” Sidney repeated, with the exact same volume and inflection.

“Yeah?” Trapper responded.

“Why is Hawkeye asleep?”

“I told you, Henry sedated him.”

“May I ask why?”

“It was something to do with hepatitis.”

“Hawkeye has hepatitis?” Sidney inquired, a little surprised. One look at the sleeping doctor told him Hawkeye was a little paler than usual, but there was nothing else
untoward about him.

“Oh, no,” Trapper shook his head, “that wasn’t it.”

“Trapper, I suggest you explain,” Sidney said mildly, “or I’ll sit here and ask you leading questions all night.”

“Fine.” Trapper looked pensive. “It was like this…”

“Why do I get the feeling everything’s about to go fuzzy?” Sidney asked, but he listened.



Hawkeye was bored.

“Henry’s giving a lecture.”

This remark, delivered on a day not so far characterised by a proliferation of awe-inspiringly obvious statements, was received in a searing blaze of no excitement at all.

Lying on his cot, Trapper said, “Mmm.”

Lying on his cot, Frank said the same, but with a lesser degree of eloquence.

Hawkeye sighed and tried again. “A lecture,” he repeated. “You know, when we all sit and try to snore in the right places. Shall we go?”

Unexpectedly, Frank broke in. “It’s not a subject for discussion,” he said disapprovingly. “You two don’t know the meaning of the world ‘compulsory.’” He breathed in, and continued: “Sometimes, we all must do disagreeable things in the name of our country.”

And with this poignant declaration, he stood up and stalked out. Hawkeye blinked. “The Frank Burns Commandments, number seven. Thou Must Do Disagreeable Things.
Comes straight after Thou Must Not Admit Adultery and before Thou Must Never Request The Implement Thou Desireth, Yet Expect It Just The Same.”

Frank was unfortunately too far away to hear this pronouncement.

Trapper groaned. “I’m not going to the lecture. I can sleep here in far more comfort.”

“Ah, come on, Trap,” coaxed Hawkeye. “Henry won’t like it if we’re not there. Besides, I promised Father Mulcahy we’d go.”

Trapper’s expression suggested puzzlement.

“We might have a weekend in Tokyo coming up,” – Hawkeye’s pause was very significant – “and he says if we can’t be good, we might as well be careful.”

“Ah,” said Trapper, equally significantly. He began standing up, and Hawkeye stood up with him, looping a casual arm around his friend’s shoulders. When Trapper suddenly stopped moving, he stopped too.

“That means,” Trapper said, suddenly sounding aggrieved in the extreme, “that means Henry’s lecture’s about…”


“…again. I’m not going.”

“Trapper!” Hawkeye said, then turned on the full force of his (considerable) charm. “Trapper… please. For the Padre. For Henry. For me. You love me, don’t you? Come on. Please?”

Trapper groaned some more, and he resisted so much Hawkeye pulled him bodily to his feet, but he did go. Hawkeye had asked him very nicely, after all.

They arrived in the mess tent to face disapproving looks from Majors Burns and Houlihan for their lack of punctuality, and grateful looks from everyone else for their interruption. From the look of anguish on his and (and everyone else’s) face, Colonel Henry Blake had had the stage for quite some time. Figures A and B hadn’t stolen the show yet, however, and with a syringe in one hand and a pointer in the other, the colonel was attempting to inform, educate and entertain, and failing on two counts.
“Well, gentlemen… and ladies… as you’ve no doubt understood already, the topic I’m talking about today can be transmitted by last week’s topic, namely…” He swallowed. “Fornication. And… yes, Radar?”

Radar’s hand had shot up. “Excuse me, sir, what’s fornication?”

“I’m sorry, Radar, we’ll have all questions at the end, if you don’t mind, and to go back to what I was saying, when I was saying it, which was before I was interrupted by a question which we’ll have at the end, please, and what I was saying, or, rather, attempting to say, was that although our topics can be transmitted by each other, there are other ways to transmit them, and ah… I need a volunteer.”

Dead silence.

“Don’t all rush at once, please, people…” The colonel looked pained. “Ah… Pierce.”

Hawkeye, who had at just this moment ducked in through the door with Trapper just behind, said something resembling, “What?”

“Just come up here, would you, Pierce?”

As Trapper went to sit down at the bench reserved for himself and his partner-in-fornication, Hawkeye strolled to the front, avoiding the enormous feet suddenly sprouted by the entire enlisted complement. Frank sniffed and whispered something in Margaret’s ear. Hawkeye resisted the urge to blow in her other ear, and took his place beside

“As I was saying,” Henry began, “transmission of… um… disease… can take place in more than one way, the demonstration of which Pierce is going to demonstrate.”

“Ah… no.” Hawkeye lifted a hand. “No transmission, Henry, please.”

Ignoring this completely, Henry went on, “Now, Pierce, if you’ll hold this…”

Hawkeye took the syringe that was mysteriously offered to him.

“And this,” Henry said, pointing at the syringe with his pointer, “is another way transmission is… um… transmitted.”

“You needed me to hold it so you could point at it?” Hawkeye demanded. “You needed me to hold it so you could point at it? A trained monkey could’ve done that! Frank
could’ve done it!”

Frank stood up, his chin almost becoming visible in his indignation. Hawkeye waved him away. He sat down.

“Pierce…” Henry began warningly.

“I mean,” Hawkeye began again, and the audience tensed themselves for a long and potentially comical Hawkeye-rant, “look at it. Just look…”


“…at it! The army seem to think…”

“Pierce!” Henry all but yelled. “Don’t do that!”

Obviously, Hawkeye had already done it. Henry breathed a sigh deep enough to blow out the cobwebs from the depths of his lungs.

And as the audience watched, mesmerised, Hawkeye’s eyes closed and he crumpled into a peaceful heap at his commanding officer’s feet.


“So let me get this straight. You filled a syringe with sodium barbiturate, and gave it to Hawkeye so he’d sedate himself.”

For once, it was Trapper who was doing all the pacing. He paced up and down in Henry’s inner office, waving his hands about for emphasis. “What were you thinking, Henry?” he demanded. “There’s got to be some sort of army directive about not wilfully sedating a fellow officer!”

“For heaven’s sake, McIntyre, I didn’t sedate him!”

“I think me and about fifty other people would beg to differ, Colonel!”

“I didn’t do it!” Henry repeated, exasperated. “He did it to himself, you saw him! He was holding the syringe, he pushed down the plunger and injected himself!”

“Well, now, Henry, I don’t think he meant to do that. And even if he did, I don’t think he would have done it if he’d known there was a sedative in that thing!”

“I would have told him,” Henry said forlornly, “only by the time I got around to it, he was unconscious.”

 “Why were you holding that syringe, anyway?” Trapper asked, genuinely interested to know.

“It wasn’t meant to have anything in it,” Henry said. “I was using it as a demonstration of… of…”


“Hepatitis,” the colonel said obscurely. “So I asked for someone to run get me a syringe from somewhere, and they got me… that. And then it was too late, so I just used it.”

“Which is all well and good, but Frank and Margaret can now think of new ways to go over your head, every enlisted man in the camp now thinks venereal disease involves sleeping for long periods, and we’ve got a chief surgeon who isn’t thinking anything and won’t be thinking anything for a long time yet!”

“Where’d you put him?” Henry asked, attempting to ignore the previous diatribe.

“Post-op,” Trapper said, and added by way of explanation, “I thought he’d just passed out for no apparent reason.”

“Well, get him out of there,” Henry said decisively. “There’s nothing wrong with him.

“Oh, no,” Trapper muttered to himself, wandering out of the office, “no, no, nothing at all, he’s only going to sleep for eight hours, that’s all…”

The door swung outwards as Trapper went out, and as he did so, the other door swung inwards.

“Excuse me, sir…”


“Right here, sir.”

Henry jumped. “Radar! Do you have to do that?”

“Sorry, sir. I thought you might need the forms…”

“I need those forms, Radar…”

Henry sat down behind his desk and took the many sheets Radar had handed him. “See, sir,” the company clerk explained, “this one’s the form you fill in to explain the unlawful sedation of an officer, and you sign here, and then, you sign this other form to say you signed the other one but you didn’t know you were accidentally sedating your fellow officer at the time, and that’s ‘cause it was accidental…”

“Do I really have to sign all these, Radar?”

“Well, sir, you could initial them but then you’d have to sign a form to say that’s what you did.”

A sudden desire for alcohol was experienced by all.

Trapper enlisted Frank’s help to get Hawkeye out of post-op and back to the Swamp. This proceeded without incident – “No, Frank, you carry his feet – if you drop him I wanna make sure he has the brains to sue you,” – and having installed the chief surgeon on his own cot, where he slept more peacefully than ever, Trapper realised he had eight hours to kill and no sidekick to kill them with.

Trapper looked again at the puncture mark on Hawkeye’s left thumb. “So much for being careful,” he muttered to himself, and Hawkeye said nothing at all, for faintly obvious reasons.

He (Trapper, that is) tramped out into the compound in a severely prickly state of mind.


“And nearly walked straight into me, I understand,” Sidney said at the end of this tale of woe. “What an unfortunate accident.”
“Don’t you shrinks have a way of saying there are no accidents?” Trapper asked lazily.

“So we do, so we do,” Sidney acquiesced, “however, even I can’t think of any sinister motives Colonel Blake might have had in perpetrating this particular… accident. Unless of course he harbours a secret desire to remove Hawkeye from the equation altogether because of repressed feelings of inadequacy he experiences when placed next to his chief surgeon.”

Trapper considered this for a few moments. “You gotta inject more humour into your jokes, Sidney,” he suggested.

“I try my best,” returned the psychiatrist humbly. “So… how long until Sleeping Beauty resurfaces?”

“About eight hours,” Trapper replied, “and that was an interesting choice of words you used there.”

“Stop!” Sidney said. “Enough. I object to being analysed by an inmate of the asylum.”

“Talking of the asylum…” Trapper sighed, and the door opened on cue.


“Klinger,” said Trapper and Sidney simultaneously.

“Dr. Freedman!” Klinger’s eyes shone with a sudden insane light.

“How goes it, Klinger?” asked the owner of the name wearily, and before Klinger could go on, he held up one hand. “Seventeen other guys, corporal. Bear that in mind before you say anything else.”

“I’ve tried stowing away in a chopper!” Klinger cried. “I’ve sent the president a picture of me naked! I’ve eaten a jeep!”

“Has he?” Sidney asked, turning to Trapper in mild surprise.

Trapper nodded. “He has. You can see the X-rays if you like. Hawk’s hanging on to them, he says he’ll send them to the AMA after the war.”

“I look forward to that,” Sidney replied dryly.

“Well, sir?” Klinger demanded impatiently.

“No dice, Corporal,” the psychiatrist returned. “There’s a guy at the 8063rd who says he’s a glass of orange juice. Won’t let anyone near him for fear someone’ll drink him.”

Trapper, who had been just about to take a gulp of gin, lowered his glass at this statement.

Klinger appeared to take the news philosophically. “I’ll be back,” he promised, and removed himself from the Swamp.

“I’m sure he will,” Sidney said, once he’d gone. “He’s a real breath of fresh air, Klinger is.”

“I’m sure,” Trapper said, and relapsed into silence. The atmosphere of quiet was very uncharacteristic of the Swamp, and the psychiatrist felt the strangeness of it particularly keenly. Trapper appeared not to have noticed, gazing aimlessly around the tent. Sidney followed Trapper’s gaze with his own eyes, and was suddenly seized by an old suspicion.

“Missing Hawkeye, Trapper?”

Trapper looked sharply at him, and then at Hawkeye, and then back at him. Sidney resisted the urge to say, “Aha,” and waited for the other man to say something.

And then the door burst open.

It was Frank. It wasn’t difficult to guess where he’d been, because it never was. Smiling wickedly, Trapper asked, “Where’d you go, Frank?”

“That’s none of your beeswax,” Frank snapped, glaring.

“How was she?”

Sidney stifled a giggle that threatened to escape.

“Major Houlihan,” Trapper persisted. “I trust she was in good health?”

“Oh…” Frank seemed at a temporary loss for words. “She… she was… she was fine. That is, she was… oh.”

Trapper blinked as Frank grew increasingly flustered. “That is, I mean, in terms of her health… oh…”

The door opened and closed in quick succession as Frank fled the scene of indiscretion, leaving Trapper and Sidney to their mirth. “In terms of her health!” Sidney repeated, laughing helplessly. “Oh, Trapper… you may have scarred that man permanently, do you realise?”

“What’s your point?” Trapper asked, also choking with laughter.

After a minute which they both used to pull themselves together, Trapper put down his glass of gin. “No offence to you, Hawk,” he said, “but this batch is even more vile than most.”

Hawkeye gave no sign of having heard the remark, or in fact of having heard anything for the last quarter-century. He had even stopped twitching some time before, and was now lying face down with a blanket half over him, completely and utterly out of commission.

“I think I’d like some coffee,” Trapper reflected. “Join me, doctor?”

“Certainly,” Sidney replied, and then, pointing at Hawkeye’s still form, added, “Although… is it a good idea to leave him alone?”

“He’s just asleep,” Trapper said easily. “He can’t get into any trouble sleeping. I ought to know, I sleep with him.”

Sidney raised his eyebrows.

“I meant,” Trapper began, “literally. No, not literally, I mean, I sleep in the same tent, no…”

“Don’t worry yourself, I know what you meant,” Sidney said, stemming the flow and opening the door.

It wasn’t until a little while afterwards that Trapper realised the psychiatrist’s last statement wasn’t as comforting as it seemed to be.

Out in the compound, they ran into a priest.

“Ah, Sidney,” Father Mulcahy said, falling into step with them. “I understand you won’t be joining us in our poker game tonight.”

“So I believe, but that’s because I was under the impression the game wasn’t taking place at all.”

“Hawkeye’s indisposed,” the priest said thoughtfully, “but we wouldn’t be able to wake him no matter how much noise we make.”

“Why not hold the game, Trapper?” Sidney asked. “I’m sure Colonel Blake would agree.”

“I’m sure,” said Trapper dryly. “I just didn’t think… yeah, okay. Let’s hold the game. We can put a pillow over Hawk’s head if he gets fractious.”

Father Mulcahy held back so he could say a few words to the psychiatrist. “When he talks about Hawkeye, I’m never quite sure if he’s joking or not,” he complained.

Sidney only smiled.

In a tent nearby, there was a disagreement taking place.

“What do you mean, they knew?” Margaret demanded of Frank, whose chin had all but vanished, as had most of his clothes.

“They knew!” Frank hissed. “The shrink knew!”

“Knew what, Frank?”

“Knew about us!”

“How?” Margaret was almost breathless with rage.

“McIntyre was talking… and he was sitting right there writing stuff down on his pad!”

“How could you be so stupid, Frank?” she demanded.

Frank was offended. “Stupid? Me, Margaret?”

“Yes, you, you overgrown rodent! How could you be so obvious? Do you know the regulations about fraternisation between officers?”

“But Margaret, darling…” Frank’s hands were wandering.

“Stop that, Frank!”

He stopped.

“It’s bad enough everyone here knows!” Margaret was fuming. “But he’ll go back to Seoul tomorrow, did you know that, Frank? Then everyone will know!”

“I’m sure you’re getting upset over nothing, darling…”

“It’s not nothing! And I’m not getting upset!”

“I understand how distressing this might be for you…”

“No, you don’t! You understand nothing!”

Frank suddenly appeared the victim of a great affront. “That was uncalled for, Margaret.”

Margaret, suddenly realising she was venting all her various frustrations on the nearest animate object, decided to continue to do so. “Get out, Ferretface! Get out!”


“Get out!”


Colonel Blake was “otherwise occupied” when they went to see him.

“So wake him up, Radar!” Trapper demanded. Sidney made a note on his pad. He would have commented to Father Mulcahy, if he hadn’t been a priest and if he’d been there at all. They’d bid farewell to him in the mess tent after thanking him for his input.

Radar shook his head. “It’s not that kind of occupied, sir. He’s on the phone to the MPs.”


“No idea.” Radar shrugged.

“Tell him to come to the poker game in the Swamp,” Trapper said, giving it up as a bad job. “You’re invited too, if you want.”

“Won’t it disturb Hawkeye, sir?”

“With any luck.”

Before Radar could respond, they were gone. He wondered vaguely if any other company clerk in Korea had to cater for such general lunacy, but he never got beyond wondering vaguely about it, because his commanding officer chose that moment to come storming out of his inner office.

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake was almost foaming at the mouth.

“Um, sir…” Radar began, but was ignored.

“Klinger!” Henry yelled, and Radar felt he could make a guess at what had happened, with or without extra-sensory help.

The MPs arrived quickly, bearing gifts in the shape of Klinger and an inflatable dinghy. “Caught him trying to escape by river, sir,” said the rather stoic representative of the military police to Colonel Blake. “We managed to stop him, but…” He lowered his voice. “I think he’s crazy, sir!”

“Oh, he’s not crazy,” said Henry dangerously. “He’s so sane, in fact, that I’m going to re-enlist on his behalf. Klinger, what the hell were you thinking?”

Klinger was a bedraggled figure. Miserably, he reached for a feather hanging off his latest adventure in millinery, pulled it out and wrung it out. Drops of water spattered the dust of the compound. “I had to get out somehow,” he whispered hoarsely.

“You’ve ruined that hat,” said the MP conversationally, suddenly taking another look at the corpsman. “That’s the problem with those mail-order jobs, they don’t hold water when you really need them to.”

Henry rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” he told the MP, who shrugged, said, “Any time,” and with a last glance at Klinger’s hat, swung himself back into the jeep and drove away.

“Klinger,” said Henry finally, “what am I going to do with you?”

“Discharge me, sir,” said Klinger hopefully.


Radar, who had been trying to get his commanding officer’s attention for a few minutes now, managed to make himself heard. “Sir, the poker game’s still on in the Swamp.”

“Thanks, Radar. Tell ‘em I’m on my way. Now, Klinger, I tell you what…”

Their voices faded into the distance as Radar hurried in the direction of the Swamp, the denizens of which had been watching all this in bemused amusement from behind canvas walls.

“That’s what I love about this place,” said Sidney wryly. “The human drama.”

There was more human drama to come, in the shape of a muffled thump as Margaret threw Frank out of her tent. No-one noticed, but they did notice when the ferret slunk back into the Swamp, tail between legs and not wearing as many clothes as he did usually.

The poker players hid their amusement with varying degrees of success. Surprisingly, it was Father Mulcahy who spoke first. “Hard day, my son?” he inquired.

Frank made a strangulated sort of noise, went to his cot, and refused to answer any further inquiries. All of those present save one laughed into their hands.

After a moment, when the initial amusement had faded, they ignored him, for as Henry put it, he was just so ignorable.

“Who folds?” Trapper inquired.

“I do,” Sidney said.

“Me,” Klinger added.

“Not me,” Trapper said. With a flourish, he laid his cards on the table one by one. “Seven… ace… queen… king… and king.”

Away in his corner, Hawkeye murmured something. No-one really noticed.

Henry laid his cards down in quiet resignation. “Too good for me.”

“What about you, Radar?” Trapper asked.

“Oh, I got two pair…” Radar began.

Trapper relaxed.


“Twice? Twice?”

Four tens stared accusingly out at him. “Two pair twice?” Trapper yelled.

“There’s people asleep in here, Captain,” Igor warned him, but Trapper was sufficiently aggravated not to care. The sight of Radar gathering together his newly won loot did not help any.

“I deal, I believe,” Sidney said, and added, “Don’t worry, Trapper, you’re a gambler and already psychologically damaged enough without need of further humiliation.” He took one of Trapper’s five-dollar chips. “House call.”

Trapper groaned.

In the corner, Hawkeye echoed the groan, and this time they noticed. Trapper was the first to get up to take a look at him, and Sidney took note.

“How long’s it been?” Trapper asked, looking at Henry.

“About six hours,” Henry said. “I don’t think he’s coming out of it, he’s early.”

“He’s never been exactly predictable,” Trapper replied matter-of-factly, and sat heavily down besides Hawkeye, who appeared to have sunk back into sleep.

“It’ll be a while, Trap,” Sidney called. “Come back, we need your money.”

Reluctantly, Trapper returned to the pool of light in the centre of the tent. “Who’s dealing?”

“Me,” Sidney said. “You ought to listen to people sometimes, it’s good for your mental health.”

“Are we playing or are we in therapy?” asked Ugly John, who had been uncharacteristically quiet so far.

“We’re playing,” said Trapper determinedly, and with a glance at Hawkeye, settled down to the serious business of losing money.


Hawkeye finally regained consciousness some nine hours after his initial pinprick. The game was just finishing and the players thereof were departing unsteadily homewards, with more alcohol in their bloodstreams and less money in their pockets than there had been before, with the sole and obvious exception of Father Mulcahy. Trapper was the first to notice, and he was close by when Hawkeye sat up and began to rub his eyes.

“What happened?” he asked drowsily. “Did I miss anything?”

“No,” said Trapper, who was falling asleep.

“Not a thing,” Sidney added, in an advanced state of somnambulism.

“Good,” said Hawkeye, and blinked. “Sidney? When did you get here?”

“About eight hours ago,” the psychiatrist replied, watching with interest the way Trapper and Hawkeye had already moved towards each other. Hawkeye’s head was resting on Trapper’s shoulder, and Trapper seemed to be holding the other doctor with a comfortable ease that bespoke of long familiarity.

“You know,” said Sidney slowly, “I’ve made quite a few conclusions today.”

“He’s had the notebook out,” Trapper told Hawkeye, who nodded sleepily.

“Conclusions,” Sidney repeated, “mostly about you two and the way you interact.”

“Ah,” said Hawkeye, sleepy but amused. “Anything of interest, doctor?”

“Yes,” Sidney said, “and I know that according to military protocol I’m not supposed to ask this question…”

Radar skidded in, glasses half falling off, teddy bear still in his arms. “Choppers!”

A conditioned burst of adrenaline cancelled out the remnants of the sedative; Hawkeye was on his feet at the same exact moment as Trapper. Radar sped off, and as he did so they heard the sound of helicopter blades slicing through cold night air. It was a full moon; just enough light for them to fly.

“Stick around, Sidney, you’re scrubbing up!” Hawkeye cried and was gone, his red robe flying out behind him as he darted through the door and crossed the suddenly busy compound.

Trapper and Sidney Freedman followed at a slightly less breakneck pace. “Are you sure he’s quite sane?” Sidney asked, pointing at Hawkeye, flying forwards some distance in front of them.

“Don’t ask me,” Trapper said breathlessly, running, “you’re the expert.”

“On Hawkeye?” Sidney asked. “I think not, Trapper. I think you know Hawkeye very, very well indeed, in far more detail than I ever will.”

They didn’t have time to talk any more. For the next few hours they knew nothing but blood and shining surgical steel, and after the latest deluge was over, Trapper slept well and Hawkeye not so well.

The next week, Sidney Freedman came up again from Seoul for the weekly Swamp poker game, but he didn’t ask and they didn’t tell. Aurora was awake that time.


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