Game 22
by Alison

Trapper was watching Frank.

And for the very life of him couldn't figure out why.

He and Hawkeye were sitting in the Mess Tent after... well, to be honest, after nothing. The wounded had slowed to a mere drip, and extreme boredom had settled over the camp like a itchy blanket. More than anything, the lulls tended to make Hawkeye a little crazy, something of negotiable value.

Perhaps it made him a little crazy too. Maybe that was why he was watching Frank.

Not really watching anything in particular, mind you. Just generally, like a nature program. Living Habits of the American Ferret in Korea. Although the way he was over Houlihan, it was more like Mating Habits of the American Ferret.

"What do you think she sees in him?" Hawkeye asked, finally noticing that Trapper was watching Frank and Hot-Lips rather than anything of interest. "I mean, she's not an unattractive woman..."

" I'd do `er" Trapper interjected.

"As would any man. And there are other Majors, even a Colonel." Hawkeye pushed some rehydrated mashed potato around. "But Frank! Why Frank?"

Trapper found himself actually considering it. Frank was married, so she had no hope of that. He wasn't of sufficient rank to advance her career.

"Maybe they like each other. Like minds and all that rot," he said.

"Nobody actually likes Frank! And don't tell me that a personality like his does anything to enhance those looks."

"Why Hawk," he chuckled, "You look like you do and you still don't do too bad for yourself."

Hawkeye laughed outright and slapped Trapper hard on the back. "You're the beauty and I'm the charm of this outfit. If all our good qualities combined in one person we'd be irresistible!"

"Yeah, and if all our bad ones combined together we'd be Frank!"

When they'd stopped laughing, and Hawkeye had moved on to tease Radar about the dangers of eating Mess Tent cuisine, Trapper found himself looking at Frank again.

Over the next few days he began to see... something. The wounded hit, and during a marathon O.R. session Frank tried to reach out to him with some stupid story about his past. Trapper was too tired to put up with it.

Then he saw it. It was quiet, subdued, but all the same there. Trapper wondered why he'd never seen it before.


Trapper carried Hawkeye from the O.R. to the Swamp despite his own sheer exhaustion. It was worth it to feel Hawkeye's face nuzzle gratefully into his neck. He put the sleeping doctor down as gently as he could, not quite ignoring the messages his body was sending him, telling him that he was getting too old for things like this.

Hawkeye was something else, some unknown quantity he had never encountered before. Sometimes it made Trapper uncomfortable, scared even. Hawkeye was, to Trapper at least, untouchable. Not that Trapper found him... attractive... or anything. He'd been attracted to men before, his eyes slid to Frank on their own accord and that quiet sexuality that was seeping from him, but Hawkeye was something else.

Frank. He almost laughed as he looked at Frank undressing in the corner. Prudely, considering the number of times they had showered together. Ferret-face, no-lips, whose beady eyes now glared at him from the opposite corner of the room.

"What are you looking at you, you pervert!"

Overtired and perhaps a little crazy, Trapper began to laugh silently, hysterically. When he finally calmed down there were tears in his eyes. Frank huffed.

"Frank," Trapper said softly, even though he didn't think he'd actually wake Hawkeye.

"Wouldn't you like to know!" Frank snapped back without fire. He carried the same weariness they all did, even the sleeping Hawkeye. Trapper ignored him.

"I think we did some good today."

Frank settled a little at that, looking slightly pleading as he did back when they were talking in the O.R. He nodded and pulled himself into bed.


"Yes, McIntyre?"

Trapper sighed and the corner of his mouth twitched. "If ya want someone to talk to. I mean, if I'm not busy or with Hawkeye or anything."

He barely heard the soft "Thank you". It made him smile.

"Just as long as it's not tattling."

Tired, sad, pathetic, and grateful. Trapper wanted him. Because, just maybe, he could have him.


Frank spent the waking hours of the next day trying to think of something, anything, to say to Trapper. It was harder than he thought it would be. Most of what he had to say fell under tattling. Tattling was something he did very well. At times like these he wished he could be more like Pierce and McIntyre, always able to strike up a conversation. With everyone except him that is.

Frank put it all down to a lack of practice. Pierce and McIntyre talked all day. They probably talked all through their childhoods too. Frank suspected he didn't really have a childhood, with Mother and Father dressing him in suits since infancy. He never had anyone to talk to. His brothers were always mean to him. His parents demanded that he should neither be seen nor heard. His only real friend, his best friend, was a boy from next door he used to do home schooling with. Arnold Radcliff home-schooled because he was teased out of the local primary school, and even he used to tease Frank.

Still, there should be something they could talk about.

"Corporal! What do you think you're doing?"

"I was just walking, sir" Radar O'Riley said as he scurried away.

"Next time watch where you're going!" Frank shouted after him, nearly tripping over Henry Blake as he did so.

"Next time heed your own advice, Frank." Henry said. Frank pulled a face after him and purposely didn't salute.

As Frank walked into the Officer's Club he thought of something to say to Trapper.

But Trapper was sitting with Hawkeye. Frank tried to get his attention, but to no avail. So instead he sat himself a respectable distance from Major Houlihan.

"Major," she said.

"Major," he said.

They sat a little closer and spoke to each other in quieted voices.

"Oh, Frank! You wouldn't believe the day I'm having. I'm so looking forward to seeing you tonight."

"Oh, Margaret! The anticipation!"

Margaret Houlihan ran her tongue enticingly over the mouth of the bottle and sucked suggestively on the straw. Over her shoulder, Frank caught Trapper's eye. He made some excuse to Hawkeye and secretly motioned to the door, indicating Frank should follow him out when he left. Margaret's straw made a gurgling sound as she finished her drink.

"Margaret..." "Yes Frank?"

"I have to go." "What? Frank!"

Frank ignored her indignant squawk and left.

Trapper was waiting for him outside. They began to walk away.

"So, Frank," Trapper said conversationally, "you looked like you had something to say earlier?"

Frank nodded, went to speak, then said nothing. He tried again but completely forgot the brilliant conversation starter he had planned.

Trapper looked very amused. "What's the matter, Frank? Cat got your tongue?"

Frank shrugged and made a little whining noise. "I just forgot what I was going to say."

"It happens to me all the time," Trapper said. "How about I make conversation until you remember?"


"Alright." There was a moment's pause while Trapper tried to think of something to say to Frank, "Err, well... I saw you talking to Hotlips in the Officer's Club."

"I was not!" Frank defended.

"Ah. Ok. Something else then..." There was another patch of silence. "Look, I've got an idea. How about later you and me..."

"Attention all personnel. Incoming wounded. We've got choppers on the upper and lower pads. Straight from the front lines to an operating table near you!"

"How about later we?" Frank prompted.

"Wounded, Frank!"


Frank was back from his 'meeting' with Houlihan early. They were both tired, and he just couldn't keep his mind on the, err, 'task' in front of him.

He tried to open the door to the Swamp but found it lodged shut. He tried again, but succeeded only in rattling it a little.

"Pierce! McIntyre! I suggest you open this door immediately!" Frank rattled the front door of the Swamp again. It wasn't as if he didn't know all about the poker games he was never invited to, so they didn't have to lock the door on him every time. It was his tent too.

"No, Frank. Go away."

Frank was about to yell something back at Hawkeye when the door opened. Trapper grinned and winked at him through the open doorway.

"Let him in. Frank's alright," he said, moving back to his seat and letting Frank through.

Frank's eyes widened a little. Trapper had actually told Hawkeye he was alright. He'd stood up for Frank. He smiled gratefully at Trapper, who smiled and shook his head in a gesture meant for himself rather than Frank.

"Frank's alright?" Hawkeye repeated, "Frank may be a lot of things; selfish, shallow, incompetent, incontinent, self-righteous and hypocritical. But he has never, never been alright!"

Frank gaped in outrage, looking once again for Trapper to back him up. Trapper, however, was busily laughing along with the rest of the poker players. Frank went to leave. Trapper moved his chair, blocking his way.

"Awww, give him a break Hawkeye. I want to get back to the poker."

"Trapp, I think you've been drinking too much," Hawkeye said, pouring them each another drink, "or not enough. You know, I could never figure out which one that was."

They ignored Frank and went back to their poker.

Twice! Twice an as many minutes Trapper had spoken up for him. To Hawkeye! Frank sat back down on his bunk. He nearly asked Trapper if he could join in but decided not to push his luck. Twice!

The next morning Frank caught up with Trapper in the compound while Hawkeye was on duty.

"So, err, about yesterday?"

"What about yesterday?"

"Before the wounded. You were about to suggest something."

"Was I?" Trapper shrugged. "Probably that we should talk more often." "Oh."


Frank barely noticed that they were heading out of camp, behind Henry's office.

"So..." Frank tried to think of something to say. "How about them wounded!"

Trapper looked at him incredulously. Then he smiled. "Yep, they were wounded alright."

The conversation, struggling, weak and malnourished as it was, died. Frank decided that they were going to have to face facts.

"Look McIntyre, stop trying to be my friend. I'm pretty sure this is just some little prank you and Pierce have come up with, so you can stop being so nice to me." He pursed his lips together, making them disappear.

Trapper sighed, although whether it was in frustration or relief that there was actual conversation was lost on Frank.

"Frank, this is not a prank, and it has nothing to do with Hawkeye." "You're not saying that you actually like me. You hate me!"

"I don't hate you." Trapper seemed to be considering something. "I don't. But you're right. There is something more to it."

Frank shifted expectantly. Trapper seemed to be hesitating just a little bit more than usual. Frank knew it! He knew there'd be some sort of catch 22. Nobody actually liked him. Nobody really wanted to be around him, nobody really...

Trapper put his hands on either sides of Frank's face and kissed him.

Then he pulled away, looked nervous and walked off. It was another five minutes before Frank closed his mouth. He blinked his eyes twice and walked back to the camp.

"Oh," he said.


"Those degenerates!"

Frank gave Margaret a whine of agreement that seemed to satisfy her. He hadn't been able to concentrate on anything since That Thing happened yesterday. That Thing, The Trapper Thing, when he was feeling adventurous he even referred to it as That Kiss Thing. Only to himself. After all, who else could he talk to?

"Can you believe it, Frank?" Margaret continued, automatically assuming Frank shared her outrage. "They get away with everything! But what can we do about it?"

That was the question. What could he do about it? He never asked for that type of behaviour to be directed towards him. He wasn't one of those, a....a powder-puff! If Frank had his way, Trapper would be on his way to a court-marshal under threat of a Blue Discharge.

Margaret glared across the mess tent. "There's no point going to Colonel Blake. Pierce and McIntyre have him wrapped around their little finger!"

Well that was true. If Frank went to Blake, Trapper would do something to get out of it, probably getting Pierce to back him up.

"I don't understand it, Frank, I really don't."

Neither did he. Trapper chased women relentlessly. He was married! Could it be possible that there was something about him that had overridden all that? Unlikely... but Frank couldn't help feel a desperate pull towards the other man. It just so happened that Trapper John McIntyre wanted him, of all people, for no reason at all. Frank was disturbed and flattered in a way then left him wanting to prove to Trapper that he was worth it.

"I mean," Margaret sighed in frustration, "who would do that to a latrine?"

"Huh?" Latrine? Frank knew all about Hawkeye's latest prank on the camp latrine; he had just forgotten that that's what they were talking about.

"Are you listening to anything I'm saying?"

"Of course Margaret! Those two get away with everything and it's got to stop." Frank snivelled a little to cover. "One day someone's going to get hurt. As my wife used to say, it's all fun and games until someone looses an eye."

Margaret looked outraged. "Frank!" She stood up, slammed her tray dawn and marched out of the room.

"What did I say?" Frank's eyes followed her out of the door. Across the room Hawkeye and Trapper cheered them. Frank sniffed and followed her out.


"Go away Frank!"

"Darling? What did I do?"

"Go ask your wife, Frank, since she has all the answers."

"Oh, my wife!" It occasionally slipped Frank's mind how touchy Margaret was on the subject of his wife. He didn't really understand why, it wasn't as if they had even met. Frank shook his head. Women confused him to no end. "I'm sorry darling. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

Margaret looked around to make absolutely certain that no one could see them. Then she walked seductively up to him and placed her hand on his arm. "I don't know Frank, can you think of anything?"

Frank smiled in a way he probably thought was inviting. Perhaps a night with her would take his mind off Trapper. Yes! It was exactly what he needed. The arms of a woman instead of the thought of Trapper's lips...

"Well? Frank?" Margaret was getting a little irritated at being repeatedly ignored.

Caught out again, Frank stumbled, "I... I was just thinking of all the things I could do." He leered and lowered his voice. " I'd start at your feet, my darling, and take each naughty little toe..."

"Attention all personnel. Incoming wounded! Pack your overnight bag, folks, this is gonna be a long one."


" I say to her. `Rita my darling, I name you Beauty Queen or Crabapple Cove!'" Most of the O.R laughed. Except Frank.

"Can it, Pierce!" he snapped, "Can't you see some of us are trying to operate? Nurse! Where is my scalpel?"

"You never asked for one, Major."

"Don't talk back to your superior officer!"

"You know Frank, suction, only the military would consider you superior to anything." Hawkeye caught sight of a fragment he was chasing.

Henry sighed. He could just see it coming like a slow moving train reck. They'd been in here a long time, and tempers were short enough as it was. "Guys, knock it off. That's an order." He sent a pleading look over to Trapper to help him defuse the situation.

"So Hawk," Trapper said, "What do you think my chances of becoming a Beauty Queen are?"

Frank snorted in disgust. The corners of Trapper's lips twitched into a smile as he closed up his last patient.

"Well, you're pretty," Hawkeye said, finishing up his own final casualty, "but I'm not sure how you'd go in the swim suit category."

"I'll have you know I look great in a bikini."

"You lousy degenerates!" Frank stormed into the scrub room. Hawkeye and Trapper followed him.

"I'm not arguing with you there, Trapper. You should see how the men look at you when you go swimming."

Trapper bristled. "What men?" he demanded.

Frank looked at him. He knew! He knew exactly what Trapper was covering when he made comments like this. He knew!

Hawkeye watched Ferret-face, not quite sure what to make of his expression. "Well, Trapp, there's Frank for a start. I'll have you know your bikinis drive him wild!"

Frank slammed out of the room, unaware of Margaret as he passed her. She huffed and demanded to know what that was all about. Trapper shook his head.

"So Trapp, you up for a drink at The Swamp before bed?" Hawkeye asked.

"Nah," Trapper answered, "I've gotta talk to Frank about something first."

"You're talking to Frank on purpose?" Trapper laughed. Margaret didn't seem to find it that funny.


"Frank. Wait up."

"McIntyre, I'm too tired for this. Go pick on someone else."

"Easy, Frank," Trapper said, finally catching up, "I'm friendly, remember?"

Frank crossed his arms and stared at him. "Yes. I remember." That caught Trapper a little and, for some reason, made him smile.

"Frank..." Trapper rested his hand on Frank's forearm. Frank stiffened a little but didn't pull away, so Trapper left his hand there. "I'm sorry if I offended you. The very last thing I want is for you to hate me for it."

With a little pressure on Frank's forearm they began walking again, this time in the direction of the supply tent. When Trapper opened the door, Frank knew it was all over. He never really had a choice.

"Why, McIntyre?" Frank pleaded. "Why me?"

"I don't know Frank. Ya got this... thing. This quiet thing." It startled Frank a little. It was what Margaret told him. She also wanted him because she saw the potential for greatness. Perhaps Trapper...

"And you know, Frank, we're both here. Each separated from his family. You and me." Trapper gave him a smile Frank had seen directed at various nurses. Trapper's smile. His hand moved up to the side of Frank's face. "Maybe we can help each other."

"It's wrong." Frank's voice was weak.

"No one will find out." Trapper moved a little closer.

"We'll get caught." Frank's eyes fluttered closed.

"No one will find out." Trapper was very close.

"Yes or no?" He never really had a choice.

Trapper kissed him. It wasn't like kissing a girl, but there was nothing Frank could pin down as being different. It just was. Frank kissed back. It was the only control he had over the situation, so he kissed back and moved his hands over Trapper's body.

Trapper broke away. "We should continue this later." Frank nodded. They walked back to The Swamp in silence. Hawkeye was already asleep, Trapper followed soon after. Frank lay awake for hours, trying to pinpoint just where his life went out of control.

He fell asleep.


It seemed sometimes to Frank that Korea was a place of opposites. Us and them, rain and drought, light and dark, heat and cold. Sometimes it was so busy that he felt like he was going to die from exhaustion. At other times, like now, it seemed as if people were just as likely to die of boredom. To Frank, this was the worst. Worse even than the biting cold that was threatening the camp. And with Margaret in Tokyo he didn't even have anyone to complain to!

The boredom made people act funny, pull more pranks and drink too much. He almost whished the casualties would start coming in so people would stop fooling around.

But then, he was doing his own share of fooling around. Frank was starting to get used to this...thing he had with Trapper. It had only been a few days, but they had already moved beyond kiss to mild grope. He tried not to think about the anxious feeling he got whenever Trapper would want him around. He refused to analyse the relief-tinged disappointment he felt when Trapper preferred to go out drinking with Hawkeye instead.

Like tonight.

Frank settled down for a night alone. It didn't matter, he didn't need Trapper anyway. He had his Bible and...

"So Frank, fancy seeing you here," Trapper stood in the doorway of The Swamp and... leered... at him. Frank gaped as Trapper made his way to Frank's bunk and sat down beside him. "I ditched Hawk at the O.C. Told him I had something better to do."


Trapper knelt on Frank's cot and kissed him. The nervous anxiety hit him again, but he conceded that it was a good type of anxiousness.

"If I know Hawk, and I'd like to think I do," Trapper said, his hand resting on Frank's neck, "He'll meet up with some nurse and we..."

"...will have the whole night to ourselves," Frank finished. Trapper smiled benevolently.

"Why, Frank! Whatever shall we do to pass the time?"

"Yo! Trapper? You in there?"

Trapper scrambled off Frank's cot as Hawkeye walked in to the tent.

Hawkeye cocked his head to one side and crumpled his brow. Frank swallowed nervously, sure that somehow Hawkeye knew what they were doing.

"Hey, Trapp, I thought you were coming to the Officer's Club?" Hawkeye swayed slightly and pointed out the door.

"You're drunk!" Frank shouted. Hawkeye seemed to register Frank's presence for the first time.

"Yes." Then he returned his attention to Trapper. "You coming?"

Trapper sighed, "Yeah. Later. I'll meet you there."

Hawkeye nodded, looking a little bemused. "Ok." Then he turned and walked out.

Trapper sat back on Frank's bed and began moving closer. "So much for all night," Frank said.

"Don't be sore, Frank. He's too drunk to remember me saying I'll meet him there." He began pawing at Frank again, only this time his hands edged around to the front of Frank's pants.

"Hey, Trapp, Ugly John wants to know..."

Trapper and Frank flung apart again as Hawkeye re-entered the tent.

"... if the poker game's still on for Saturday or if we were going to move it to Friday." Hawkeye stopped to look at Frank and Trapper who were now sitting next to each other. Trapper looked calm, if slightly annoyed. Frank looked like he was about to make a run for it.

"Hawkeye, I thought you were going to the Officer's Club?"

" I was. I am. I just had to ask, because I forgot today and I'd told Ugly John I'd give him an answer tonight." Somehow, through his drunken state, he'd picked up on some of the tension in the room. "What's going on?"

"What exactly are you insinuating?!" Trapper elbowed Frank sharply in the ribs and glared at him. Hawkeye looked from one to the other, but neither could be certain just how much he was taking in.

"I was just talking to Frank."

"About what?"

"I'll tell you later, Hawk. Tell Ugly John that it's still Saturday." Trapper reached into his back pocket and retrieved his wallet. "And go buy yourself another drink. And buy some lucky nurse one too."

Hawkeye took the money smiling. "You'll be in later? They're keeping the O.C. open all night tonight!"

"Yes, I will. Now go get yourself a nurse!"

"Yes sir!" Hawkeye mock saluted as he was leaving.

Trapper turned his grin on Frank. "I thought he'd never leave."

Frank manoeuvred out of his embrace. "What if he comes back?"

"He won't."

"But what if..."


Frank kept one eye on the door as Trapper pushed him onto his back, effectively pinning him. Was it possible that, on a subconscious level, Hawkeye knew about them and was trying to keep them apart?

When his hand slipped under Frank's shirt, Trapper found he had regained Frank's attention. He kept eye contact as he unbuttoned Frank's pants and slipped his hand inside the waistband. Frank flinched back. Trapper's hand began to fondle him firmly.

"McIntyre, I'm not sure..."

"Do you want me to stop? I will." He kept moving his hand. Frank said nothing. "Do you want me to stop?"

Frank shook his head.

Trapper was now stroking Frank's erect cock, rubbing himself on Frank's leg. He pushed Frank's pants down until they puddled around his boots.

"Touch me."

Frank, shaking slightly, began unbuttoning Trapper's pants. Trapper moved his hands away, giving Frank greater access. Frank recoiled at first when he felt Trapper's cock . He had never touched another man like this before. Trapper was so like him yet so different that Frank was momentarily unsure of what to do. He looked to Trapper for guidance, but Trapper's eyes were closed.

Frank tightened his hand around it and moved. It jerked in response. He had done this! He smiled and started to build up a rhythm, wondering if he should push Trapper's pants down as Trapper had done to him.

"Stop!" Frank froze; terrified he had done something wrong. Then, above the pounding of his heart in his ears he heard a voice outside.

Trapper was off him in an instant, flinging a random piece of clothing to cover Frank's waist and legs as he dove belly-down onto his own cot. Seconds later Hawkeye walked back into The Swamp.

"I thought you were going to the Officer's Club, Hawkeye!"

"I did!" he said, fixing himself a martini. "I had a drink and I found a nurse but she left. I just wanted to see what was holding you up?"

Trapper groaned and smacked his head into his pillow. Neither Hawkeye nor Frank saw him snake his hand down and do up his fly.

Hawkeye sat down in one of the chairs on his and Trapper's side of the room.

Frank looked down and realized with horror that the garment covering his waist, the one that stood between himself and a Blue Discharge, was Hawkeye's red robe.

"Well," Trapper said, standing up, "if you'll excuse me, I have to visit the little boy's room. You two play nice 'til I get back."

Frank's mouth dropped open. Hawkeye said, "Yes, Dad," and continued drinking.

They sat in silence for a while. Hawkeye ignored Frank while Frank reached under Hawkeye's red robe and began to pull up his pants.

"You know, Frank..." Frank almost dropped his pants. "... you really ought to get out more. I mean, there's a whole camp outside this tent!"

Frank did up his fly.

"You're drunk, Pierce!"

"I thought we'd covered this already?" Hawkeye finished his drink. "There's no need to be catty, Frank. I'm just trying to have a nice friendly conversation and... Is that my robe?"

"What? This?" Frank picked up Hawkeye's robe off of his now clothed lap. "McIntyre threw it at me."

He chucked it across to Hawkeye, who held on to it like a child's dearest toy. "Don't touch my robe, Frank."

"I thought I told you two to play nice?" Frank didn't know whether to glare at Trapper or smile in relief. His face settled on an expression that made him look like an angry mouse.

"I was," Hawkeye protested, "but he touched my robe!"

"And what do you have to say to that, Frank?"

"You threw it at me!"

"Oh yeah." Trapper smiled, then shrugged. "Sorry, Hawkeye."

Frank's expression upgraded itself from angry mouse to furious ferret.

Trapper kept smiling. "How about we all go down to the Officer's Club for a drink?"

"You know, I was just telling Frank he ought to get out more. The most he ever gets to see of this camp is the inside of here and Hot- Lips' tent."


Hawkeye ignored him. "Just think of all the scenery he's missing out on. There's the latrine, the Mess Tent and the Officer's Club..."

"C'mon Hawkeye, lets just go. You coming, Frank?" There was something about the way Trapper looked at him that made Frank think he had something planned. Frank went with them.


They were there about an hour before Trapper motioned to the door. This was a ritual Frank was familiar with. He waited a few minutes outside before Trapper emerged from the O.C. As they walked back towards The Swamp, he felt Trapper's arms around his waist.

He leaned in an whispered, "So how about it, Frank, you up for round two?"

Frank's answer was assumed.

Inside he could taste the alcohol on Trapper's breath as they kissed. It took him a few seconds to realize that he was being quickly and efficiently undressed.


Suddenly, where there were warm hands and a hungry mouth there was nothing but air. Trapper stood a few feet away, watching.

"You said stop, Frank. I stopped. I told you I would." Frank had asked him to stop. Deep down he never really believed that if he asked Trapper would do it. But he did. Frank could stop this at any time. It was a mixed blessing; with the control came the accountability. If he didn't stop it, it would mean he wanted it.

Trapper turned away.

"No," Frank said weakly, "What I meant was that... was that we should stop and block the door. Just in case he decides to come back."

It sounded like feeble pleading, even to Frank. But feeble pleading was something he knew.

"Good idea," Trapper said softly. He nudged a crate full of Hawkeye's belongings in front of the door. Frank barely breathed. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop this again of his own volition.

Slower this time, Trapper resumed undressing Frank. Frank followed his lead, adding kisses on to the bare flesh that was exposed as Trapper's clothes were peeled away. They each took off their own shoes, sitting side be side and saying nothing.

Then Trapper ran his fingers over Frank's face, skimming his thumb over his Adam's apple, his hand brushing a trail that ended at Frank's cock. He stroked him into hardness.

"Turn around," Trapper said.

Frank's eyes widened, his heart jumped and his breath caught painfully in his throat. His mind shouted 'stop this' even as he turned over. He could stop this. He would not.

His breath was unsteady as he felt Trapper's hands on his back. Occasionally, perhaps by accident, Trapper's cock brushed against him. Frank had never been this frightened, this excited, in his life.

And then it was gone, all of it. Once again, Trapper was replaced by air.

"I didn't..." Frank began.

"I'm not goin' anywhere." Frank felt something cool and liquid drip down the crevice of his arse. He flinched.

"Easy, Frank. It's important stuff, this." Frank felt Trapper's finger follow the trail left by what he hoped was some of the medical lubricant. "Relax. I'll show you how Doctors should be taught to do prostate exams."

Frank didn't laugh. He knew what it felt like for someone to put there fingers there, he was a doctor after all. He braced himself for the inevitable breach.

For the most part he couldn't tell what was going on. Instead of a painful intrusion, more lubricant was added, followed by a smaller digit. It still hurt, but not as much as his monthly physical. He still couldn't figure out why someone would do this on purpose. He was stretched carefully, silently, until he was certain that there were multiple fingers inside him.

Frank had the slight suspicion that the stretching was for Trapper's comfort rather than his own. The whole thing seemed to him to be a little unpleasant.

Trapper brushed lazily past Frank's prostate, making his cock react slightly. This was ok, Frank decided as Trapper's fingers found a rhythm. It wasn't great, but he would do it if it would make Trapper happy.

But soon the fingers were gone, and Frank felt an unexpected emptiness that left him wanting them back.

Then it felt as if someone was trying to impale him on a large tree. It was happening slowly but it still knocked the wind out of him. His eyes watered. There couldn't possibly be more! But it kept coming and Frank's muscled tightened in protest. He heard a gasp of pain from Trapper.

"Christ, Frank! Relax, for both our sakes."

Frank let out a long breath and tried to relax, each exhalation enticing thatthing inside him even further.

He felt the most unusual sensation as Trapper pulled out a little. It hurt less when he pushed forward again, somehow going even deeper. There was a small sting that Frank ignored as he felt the thrust and withdrawal pulling at his body.

One of Trapper's hands was guiding Frank's waist while the other was distractedly pulling at Frank's cock. After some time, Frank couldn't tell how long, Trapper pulled out of him. Frank collapsed onto his cot, glad and sorry it was over. He fell asleep soon after, and didn't feel Trapper leave.


The pounding on the door woke Frank up, and he watched as Trapper got up, in his shorts, from his own bed to answer it.

"Jeez Hawkeye! Some of us are trying to sleep here." Trapper nudged the crate that was blocking the door away with his foot.

"I couldn't get in," Hawkeye practically shouted when he got inside. Clearly he had only stopped drinking quite recently. "The stupid door was jammed or something."

"Keep it down Hawkeye, you don't want to interrupt No-Lips' beauty sleep."

Frank pretended to be asleep.

"Where'd you go?" Hawkeye asked.

"Found a nurse. Frank was asleep when I got in. You?"

Hawkeye, who was attempting to remove his boots without first untying them, said, "Nothing much. Had some strange conversation with Radar about listening to things you're not supposed to. Or knowing things you're not s'posed to listen to. Or..."

"Here, Hawkeye." Trapper knelt down and removed Hawkeye's shoes for him. Frank watched with half-closed eyes as a surge of jealousy washed through him. He told himself he was being ridiculous, but it stayed with him well into sleep.


Frank slipped out of his bunk early the next morning, waking neither Trapper nor Hawkeye as he left. He eyed the shower tent as he passed it, knowing he should shower after what had happened, knowing that he should want to. But he didn't want to face his body just yet. Not yet.

He walked down to the rusty river as he often did when he just needed to think. With its dirt banks and unpleasant brown colour it wasn't a favourite spot for couples. Most people preferred the hills over past the minefield, which at least offered something in the way of scenery. The only people who ever came down to the river were the occasional native Korean and Frank.

Frank wasn't looking for scenery. The monotony of dirt banks and dirty water was enough for him to think by. He paced a 200 meter stretch, between two trees, considered sitting down, but didn't. Instead, he turned and started walking again in long, measured strides.

There was some discomfort in this, although less than if he decided to sit. But the ache of his muscles, the sharp tinge of the tear Trapper had left just there offered a perverse comfort. A physical memory of what he did, what they had done. It had been real.

Frank chewed his fingernails as he walked. He went over every moment, every smallest detail he could remember. He couldn't quite get his head around it. They had actually done it, he was now a... a sodomite! A small whimper escaped him then. Frank faltered a little in his step, his mind reeling from what he internally called 'the awful truth'. He'd gone past the line that bounded what was good and clean and safe and he hated himself.

But not nearly as much as he thought he would. Frank went back to the camp, towards the shower tent.


He knew it was a bad idea.

"McIntyre! It's broad daylight!" Frank hissed.

Trapper barely slowed his assault on Frank's clothing. "Yes, Frank. You're very observant."

Without ever actually telling him to stop, Frank tried to push Trapper's hands away from his fly. "Someone might come in and see us!"

Trapper put one hand on Frank's neck, his thumb resting on his Adam's apple. It was a gesture that Trapper was fond of. It made Frank nervous. Then Trapper smiled that smile, the one Frank secretly called his Hunter smile. It was usually directed at something he wanted and it unnerved and excited Frank to have it directed at him.

"It's ok," Trapper said, "Nobody's gonna come in here. Hawkeye's just started a shift and you and I are meant to be sleeping. Calm down. Everything's gonna be fine."

Frank made few further gestures of refusal before caving, as they both knew he would. He was self-conscious as Trapper removed both their clothes. Before had been at night and it seemed to Frank that certain activities belonged in the darkness. Daylight was just too clean, too innocent; too real. Trapper stood back a little to look at him and Frank had to fight the urge to cover himself.

Trapper's hand returned to Frank's throat. His other hand skimmed Frank's body, landing on his hip.

"Frank..." Trapper whispered, kissing his way from one ear to another. Frank made a noise that, like all his noises, Trapper took as a `yes'. More kisses. "Have you ever given a blow-job?"

Frank pulled back slightly, startled. He gaped. Trapper laughed softly.

"What?" Trapper moved closer again and resumed his kisses. "It's not like you haven't done far, far worse." He moved his hand from Frank's hip to the cleft of his arse for emphasis.

It was true; Frank couldn't deny it. In for a penny, in for a pound. But this... this was just ... it was just... Trapper waited.

"I... I don't know what to do."

Trapper smiled. "It's ok. It's easy." Trapper guided Frank down to his knees while seating himself on the edge of the cot. "Just watch the teeth."

"Can I take my shoes off first?"

Trapper laughed. Both men removed their shoes and slid off their pants. Frank's hands trembled.

Frank placed his hand on the base of Trapper's cock and gave him one last pleading look before lowering his mouth. He wanted to be good, to make Trapper happy. To keep Trapper with him. But he had no idea what to do. Margaret always refused to do it for him and he never really had the nerve to ask his wife. The only ones he'd ever had were from Tokyo girls he hired, girls whose hands and mouths performed miracles he doubted he'd ever be able to replicate.

He licked the tip, trying not to taste too much. There was no way he'd be able to fit the whole thing into his mouth, Frank could see that. It made him uncomfortable to think that not too long ago he'd had all of it inside him. So Frank tried something else. He ran his tongue over the shaft, occasionally stopping to suckle.

Trapper made no noise, no motions of encouragement. But then, he made no noises of pain or discomfort either, so Frank assumed he wasn't doing anything wrong; he just wasn't doing anything right. He tried suckling a little harder, this time using his hands to stimulate the base, moving his fingers in semi-rhythmical patterns. A few more licks and sucks and Frank decided to return to the tip.

Frank circled his tongue around it, careful to avoid the opaque, pooling liquid that he was certain he didn't want to taste. Still no words or moans from Trapper, but his breathing was louder than before. Frank took this as encouragement and closed his mouth over the head of Trapper's cock, continuing to move his hand as he did so. Nothing too rushed, just a lazy exploration. Frank was worried about his teeth, the only real instruction he'd gotten from Trapper. His jaw began to ache, but he wasn't going to stop until Trapper said he could.

He was relieved and anxious when Trapper pushed him away. "Did I do it wrong?"

Trapper's response was to pull him up onto the cot and turn him so that he was on his hands and knees with his back towards Trapper.

"Not at all, Frank," he said as he nipped and kissed Frank's back. Frank trembled a little, knowing what was coming. He didn't know if he was ready for that again. Behind him Trapper was opening his bottle of unscented massage oil.

Trapper's slicked fingers entered him with more urgency but less pain than the last, the first, time they had done this. They brushed across his prostate, causing a reaction within him that Frank loved and hated. In for a penny... Frank propped himself on one elbow and reached in between his legs to his own cock which had not been hard until now. He concentrated on his hand rather than the feeling of Trapper entering him, of the pain when that tiny scar re-opened. Trapper was a ruthless lover, hard and uncompromising. It was so far removed from anything else Frank had ever experienced. Not the feigned pleasure from his Tokyo girls, not the dutiful, disdainful acquiescence from his wife or Margaret's demanding yet reassuring caresses. It was Frank who came.

Trapper just...stopped, as he had before. He rolled off Frank, who had, by this time, collapsed onto the mattress. Frank didn't question it, not sure he really wanted to know. Instead he prepared to go back to his own bunk.


Frank didn't question that either. He was surprised and happy and he did as he was told, lying back into the wet patch and waited for Trapper to decide whether to hold him or not. Trapper lay down beside him on the narrow cot with one arm on Frank's chest.

"Not for long, but stay for a little while."

Neither of them intended to fall asleep like that.


"Oh my god."

Hawkeye stared at Frank, who stared back.

"Pierce... what are you..."

"Oh my god!"

Trapper woke up to see Hawkeye standing in front of his cot, his expression full of confusion and horror. Frank was still on his cot, still naked, but now he was sitting and clearly on the brink of panic.

Hawkeye started to shake his head. "This is not happening." he said, and ran out of the tent.

Frank panicked. "He's going to Colonel Blake! We're going to be court- martialled! What will my wife say? What...."

"Shut up Frank!" Trapper snapped, pulling on his trousers. "You stay here. I'll go deal with Hawkeye!"

Trapper pulled on his shirt and scanned the compound for Hawkeye. He hoped Frank was wrong, that Hawkeye wasn't with Henry. He spotted Hawkeye over the other side of the compound, by the mess tent.

Hawkeye was sitting on the ground, sprawled in the dirt. His legs were spread and bent, his elbows were between his knees, his hands on either side of his nose. It exaggerated his already lanky form to absurd proportions.


"" Hawkeye was rocking slightly.

"I'm sorry," Trapper said, although he wasn't sorry for doing it. He just never wanted to hurt Hawkeye. It was clear that his friend was in shock. Hawkeye looked at him as though just realising something.

"You fucked him..."


Trapper looked around. People were starting to notice them.

"You f..."

"Can we not do this in the middle of the compound?" Trapper grabbed Hawkeye by the arm and pulled him out of the dirt. Hawkeye, still in too much shock to register the precariousness of his best friend's situation, kept talking at him as they made their way behind Henry's office.

"I don't understand I just don't understand," he said, "You're married!"

"That hasn't stopped me before"

" Yes, but with women, Trapp! I've seen you. You chase anything with breasts. You, you..." Hawkeye ran out of words and just looked at Trapper as if to say `help me', his arms, like his words, floundering at his side. Trapper was starting to get annoyed.

"Jeez Hawk, you're the last person I woulda picked as being a homophobe." He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow to make a point.

"What? No! I'm not, I'm not..." once again Hawkeye struggled to find the words, "I'm not. I'm just surprised, that's all."

Hawkeye calmed down a little. He paced to work off energy.

"So, you err, like men now. Ok. Ok." He scratched the back of his neck absently, "Which is probably a good thing. I mean, more nurses for me."

"I still like women, Hawk."

"Oh, you mean you haven't decided?"

"No!" Trapper sighed in frustration, "I like both."

Hawkeye nodded, not sure if he really got it. "You like both. Men, women and... Frank?"

Trapper laughed, "Believe it or not, he falls under the `Men' category."

"But Frank?"

Trapper laughed again.

"Frank? " Hawkeye tried again. Something irrational inside him said that if he could just get Trapper to realise it was Frank that he was fooling around with everything would go back to normal. "Trapper, I'm willing to accept the whole `I like men' thing, but not Frank."

The annoyance that began to creep back into Trapper's shoulders went unnoticed by Hawkeye.

"You know there are other homosexual men around. Ones that aren't Frank."


Hawkeye's pace quickened as he thought. "What about George! He was homosexual. Why don't you call and see..."

"Because I'm not attracted to George!"

Hawkeye stopped pacing. "But you're attracted to Frank? Ferret-Face? The lipless, chinless wonder?"

Trapper put his hand on his friend's arm and hissed, "Not so loud! You want the whole camp to hear you?"

Both men looked around to make sure they weren't being overheard before Hawkeye continued, "Look Trapper, you really think it's a good idea to do this with Frank?" He raised his hand to block off any argument. "Hear me out here. He's not a good person. I'm not even sure he is a person. Certainly not the type of person you have a relationship with."

Trapper softened. Hawkeye really did care for him. He just had an arse-about way of showing it sometimes.

"Don't worry, Hawk. It's not a relationship. It's not like I'm in love with the guy."

"You're not?" Hawkeye said then pulled a face, "You mean this is just physical?"

"It's..." They began walking back to into camp and towards The Swamp, "I don't really know. It's... He's got this quiet thing."

"Very quiet."

"You ok with this?"

Hawkeye stopped for a few moments, let out a breath and said, "Yeah. I think so." They walked a little further until he stopped again.

"You know I'm" he gestured between himself and Trapper as if to indicate the difference between them.

Trapper smiled at him, perhaps a little sadly, "Yeah Hawkeye, I didn't think you were." He opened the door to The Swamp. "Anyway, you're not my type."

"Yes," Hawkeye said. "I have a chin."

Inside, Frank was dressed and huddled on his bunk in obvious distress. When Hawkeye entered, he stood up and immediately began to defend himself.

"I'll have you know that I was tricked into it! It was all McIntyre's fault. It was rape!"

"You see!" Hawkeye turned to Trapper, "He's a weasel. He's only looking out for himself. And at your expense!"

"Hawkeye!" Trapper shot him a warning glare and walked over to Frank, placing his hands on the distressed man's shoulders. "Frank, calm down, it's ok. Hawk's ok with it. We're not in trouble."

"We're not?"

"No, Frank."

"It's ok?"

"Yes, Frank."

"Well, it least that's settled," Hawkeye sat down and poured two glasses of gin, handing one to Trapper, "Trapp's a big boy who can make his own mistakes." He took a sip. "You will not believe how much I've needed that drink."

Trapper smiled. Things were looking up.

"Attention all personnel. Incoming wounded. Both shifts to report to the O.R. on the double. This is not a drill. I repeat. This is not a drill."

"When is it ever a drill?" Hawkeye shouted as he rushed towards the O.R.

It was about as up as it was ever going to get in Korea.


Up to his elbows in another man's intestines, Hawkeye reflected that his life was vivisected by the words `incoming wounded'. No matter what happened outside the O.R. it was cut in half by those two words.

In here it was blood and guts and shrapnel. The words sounded poetic, compared to the reality in which he was immersed. He wasn't ready for `incoming wounded'. But `incoming wounded' didn't care that he just found out his best friend was...

"Can someone get me some tweezers here? I think I've got it."

Barely a few feet away, his best friend whom he thought he knew, swore and tossed something in a pan that clinked. The kid in front of him, the kid whose life was in his hands didn't know... what Hawkeye knew.

He tried not to think about it too much. He had a patient to work on and it shouldn't matter too much. He'd always considered himself open minded, rational and ...damn it!

"Can I get some suction here! I can't see what the hell I'm doing!"

He shouldn't have snapped. He'd nicked a vein he should've seen a mile away. If he wasn't careful this kid didn't have a chance in hell of living through this. Hawkeye had to calm down. After all, there was nothing not to be calm about. He never was a closed minded bigot.

"Anyone know what happened to these kids?" Henry asked. There had been no jokes in the O.R., and he had the feeling that it was going to be one of those `serious' sessions. "This guy's a real mess."

"Word is that there was an ambush, sir," Klinger answered, bringing in a new wounded soldier to Hawkeye's table. "Apparently someone higher up knew about it but they didn't get the word out in time. Did I mention that I hate the army?"

"Gee whiz! Sometimes I wish those `high ups' would spend a day down here for a change. Sponge."

"Henry, that means they'd have to see people as people. Instead of numbers." Trapper asked a nurse to close as he looked over at Frank's table. "You need a hand there, Frank?"

"Why do you guys always assume I need help? I'll have you know that..."



"His blood pressure just dropped. It doesn't look good."


Trapper was over at Frank's side in an instant. Still caught up in their own patients, Hawkeye and Henry could only watch as Frank and Trapper struggled to keep the man alive. A hidden shell fragment, one anyone could have missed, had nicked a major artery causing the lower abdominal cavity, where Frank had not been operating, to fill with blood. It could have happened to anyone.

The man, whose name they learned later was a Timothy Birch, a Captain, lived. But it was a close one.

"God damn it Frank! Next time you need help, ask for it! Your incompetence is gonna get people killed!" Hawkeye yelled, startling everybody.


"Jeez Hawk! It wasn't Frank's fault. It coulda happened to anyone. It coulda happened to you!"

Hawkeye seemed to get angrier. "Sure, Trapper, defend him. Just excuse the fact that this excuse for a doctor is endangering people's lives, because it's Frank!"

"Hawkeye!" Trapper yelled. Things weren't said.

"Look, guys..." Henry stepped in. He had a feeling there was something more going on than met the eye. "Hawkeye, why don't you go outside and cool off for a bit. We can handle things in here for a few minutes."

"Frank nearly kills someone and I get time-out?"

"Please Hawk?" Henry pleaded.


He sat outside on a stack of crates, refusing to acknowledge that his little outburst had nothing to do with Frank's patient. That would make him as closed minded as Frank... That made him do a double take. Recent events meant the even Frank wasn't as closed-minded as Frank. Nothing was how it should be. Hawkeye blamed Korea.


"What is it Radar?"

Radar scurried outside and sat near Hawkeye. It was obvious the kid was wary and a little worried.

"I was just a little worried about you, sir."

Hawkeye smiled. At least Radar was still Radar.

"Did you an' Captain McIntyre have a fight? I know it's none of my business, but... I dunno. Maybe you might like someone to talk to about it."

Radar fidgeted a bit while Hawkeye considered.

"A fight..." Hawkeye said, "Yeah. No. Not a fight. I don't know. Maybe he's different...maybe I'm different."

Radar listened.

"Maybe I'm losing him."


Hawkeye just shrugged. Perhaps that was it. Perhaps he was afraid of losing Trapper. To Frank? What Frank had from Trapper wasn't exactly something he wanted. To his own hidden prejudices? If he kept this up then that was all too likely.

"Well, sir, the way I see it is that you and Capt'n McIntyre are best friends. You're like..." Radar's mind skipped over the word `brothers'. " family even. Sometimes you're like the same person."

Yeah, Hawkeye thought, he's like my right arm.

"So, um, whatever's changed can't have changed that much, can it?"

Hawkeye stared at Radar for a moment, wondering if he knew. It was entirely possible, just the same as when he knew when the choppers were coming. Hawkeye dismissed the idea and hoped he was right to do so. Radar just seemed too innocent for something like this.

"I mean, he's still Trapper isn't he?"

Hawkeye nodded. It would have been so much easier if Frank was a nurse, just another nurse. Not that, now he was really thinking about it, Hawkeye could see the difference. So he was a man? So what? So he was Frank? So what? It didn't mean anything would have to change.

"You know, kid..." Hawkeye said, putting his arm around Radar's shoulder and heading back inside, "You're right. Thinking about becoming a psychiatrist?"

Radar blushed and shook his head. "Ma says I'm good with this kinda thing. I always do this when Aunt Jean and Uncle Albert fight."

Trapper raised an eyebrow at him when he walked back into the O.R. Hawkeye smiled and nodded.

Frank scowled.


"I don't know why he always picks on me, Margaret."

Frank was sulking in Margaret's tent. He'd gone straight there as soon as he got out of the O.R and hadn't come out since. It wasn't as if the thing with the patient was even his fault.

"He's just jealous, Frank."


"Yes, because you're a better doctor." She smiled reassuringly at him. "And a Major!"

Frank nodded. Yeah, he was probably jealous. Jealous of him and Trapper! Frank's mouth parted a little in surprise. Did that mean that Hawkeye was...? He didn't really think so, but you never knew these days. The irony, if that was actually the case, wasn't lost on Frank. He wanted Trapper's friendship, which Hawkeye had. Hawkeye wanted, might want ... what Frank had.

"Oh Margaret!"

He laid his head on her shoulder and she made noises of comfort.

He wished he could just tell her everything. She really was his best friend, but he knew it would be the end of everything if he did that. He really did love her. It scared him that it wasn't enough. He...thought...she cared about him but that was never enough either.

"They just don't understand the stress I'm under. Nobody does..."

Margaret gave him a look. Frank amended. It wouldn't do to have her think he was keeping something from her.

"...except you, my darling."

"My poor baby," she said while petting his head. "Maybe you and I should spend tomorrow night in? See if we can de-stress you a little."

Frank's breath whistled out his nose. His first thought was of whether or not Trapper would want him around tonight. He hadn't said anything, but... Frank's eyes narrowed a little in defiance.

"That would be wonderful."

But then again, if he wasn't with Trapper then Hawkeye would be. But Trapper didn't want Hawkeye...did he? And anyway, Hawkeye wasn't interested... It wasn't paranoia, Frank told himself, he was just wary.

The light had changed, and it reminded him that he no longer measured the days by the coming and going of the sun but by whose shift it was and the ebb and flow of casualties.

The sun was just coming up.

Margaret would take care of him tonight.


Frank had a little sleep before his afternoon shift. He hated the way the nurses looked at him when he came on and the smart-aleck company clerk and the freak who dressed in women's clothes. They were all a disgrace to the army. They were a disgrace to America!

His own small voice inside his head told him that he was a disgrace now; he had let them corrupt him. He quieted that voice by yelling at a nurse.

"Give her a break, Frank."

Frank snapped around to glare at Hawkeye. "You're late, mister! You should have been here to relieve me ten minutes ago!"

"So I slept in?"

Frank shoved his clipboard into Hawkeye's chest and went to storm out.

"Wait, Frank. I..." Hawkeye caught himself on the verge of apologising to Frank. He wasn't doing this for Frank's benefit. "What are you doing tonight?"

Frank gave him a look full of apprehension and suspicion. Hawkeye shifted from one foot to the other and reminded himself that his friendship with Trapper was worth this.

"Trapp and I are going over to Rosie's and I wanted to know if you wanted to come." There, he'd said it.

"Why? You don't want me there."

Hawkeye huffed. "Yeah, but Trapper probably does." Frank's nose twitched. "Look Frank, give me a break. I'm trying to make an effort here!"

Frank lost a battle with an impending sneer. So Hawkeye was making an effort, eh? Well, far be it for him to stand in the way. Especially if it made Hawkeye as uncomfortable as it obviously would. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips, combining with his sneer in what he was sure was an intimidating way.

"Sure," he said.

His perfect exit was marred somewhat when Margaret slapped him in the face.

She wouldn't, couldn't understand why it was more important for him to go with Hawkeye and Trapper than spend the night with her. It was about showing Hawkeye that it was him that Trapper chose. She would be mad at him for a few days, but he'd buy her something nice to make it up to her. Make her understand that he still needed her. He did.


Given a choice between Rosie's and the Officer's Club, Frank would pick the O.C. any day. That was at least army. Rosie's Bar was dirty and rough, and the bar staff were so... native. As he entered, Frank found himself wishing for the comfort and familiarity of American army issue tables and khaki green. Something to help forget where he was.

This discomfort, this feeling of being in alien territory, didn't ease up when he saw Hawkeye and Trapper at one of the far tables. Hawkeye waved him over as Trapper sat there looking a little confused.

"Frank," Trapper said, "What are you doing here?"

Frank looked wildly at Hawkeye. He thought Trapper knew, that he had wanted him there.

"I invited him. I thought... um." Hawkeye's hands flittered around him, their flutter explaining his good intention, his confusion and his embarrassment. Trapper smiled at him with an affection that made Frank want to kill them both.

"Why don't you sit down, Frank." Trapper's smile at him was more amused than anything else. Frank sat down stiffly, unable to relax, unable to contribute successfully to the conversation.

Hawkeye could tell that Trapper was appreciating his effort, even if Frank didn't. It was worth it. If it meant that he and Trapper could still be friends, he would not yell at Frank every time he made a stupid comment. And he ignored it when Trapper's hand slipped under the table and Frank squeaked.

He drank a lot, drowning the little pang of jealousy that he acknowledged was because he was used to being the sole beneficiary of Trapper's attention.

Frank drank a lot, too. It gave him something to do with his hands and mouth and took his mind off the fact that if someone were to look under the table right now they'd be in a lot of trouble. He couldn't believe Trapper sometimes. And in front of Hawkeye!

Trapper watched his best friend and his...Frank, as they each got pickled. He had to relieve Henry in the oh-so-very-early hours of the morning and he considered himself a better doctor than to rock up drunk. He spent most of his time distracting Hawkeye from Frank. Frank was at the giggling stage of drunk. Drunken Frank was a playful Frank and drunken Hawkeye had very little tolerance for drunken Frank.

Hawkeye slipped off to thank Radar for helping him out, but ended up with the feeling that the kid was hiding something from him. He went to tell Trapper his theory on the matter when he noticed that Trapper and Frank were gone.

He stumbled back to the Swamp, stopping once at the request of his stomach, which was revolting. He giggled; his stomach was revolting... and revolting! A revolution! Perhaps that last whisky had been a little unnecessary.

He was still giggling when he sat down on his bunk and began talking to Trapper. He noted, absently, that his friend had a blanket over a bundle on his lap. They had been mid way through a rather one-sided conversation when it dawned on him that the legs sticking out of the blanket weren't Trapper's. It set him off giggling again.

Trapper caught the wicked glint in Hawkeye's eye mere seconds before his friend opened his mouth.

Hawkeye winked at Trapper. "Jeez Frank! Can you not slurp so loud? We're trying to talk." Trapper's mouth dropped open.

Then he heard it.

Quite possibly the whole camp heard it.

It was the loudest, longest, wettest, most disgusting slurp in the history of mankind.

Trapper lost it. Tears rolled down his cheek as he struggled for breath. The lump underneath his blanket also shook with not-so-silent sniggers. Hawkeye managed to gather himself together enough to choke out, "That's disgusting!" before falling back into his cot under the weight of his own laughter.

"I'll leave you guys to it, shall I?" Hawkeye kicked off his shoes and sidled into bed. As an afterthought he added, "Don't be too noisy."

He was drunk and they were quiet.

But he wasn't as ok with it as he wished he was.


They were at it again when he got back to The Swamp.

Not that he could blame them, really. The last week or so they had severe casualties coupled with shelling from their own team. Hawkeye admitted that when any free time became available he hoarded Trapper's attention, so it was entirely possible that Frank and Trapper hadn't so much as spoken to each other in days.

It seemed as though they were making up for lost time. Both men were almost half naked on Frank's bunk when Hawkeye came in.

"Jeez you guys! I could have been anybody coming in here!"

"In this weather? At this time of night?" Trapper stopped to talk to Hawkeye. Frank was pinned under his hips, tangled up in his own t- shirt. "The only person likely to come in is you, Hawk."

"And here I am."

"We can stop if ya want. Move it over to the Supply Room..."

Hawkeye sat on his cot and raised one hand. "Nah, you have more chance of getting caught in there than if you decided to make out in the middle of the compound. No, you kids go ahead. I'm just going to read for a bit."

"You mean you're going to watch! Pervert!" Frank had finally gotten free of his shirt and glared at Hawkeye.

Hawkeye, who had been in the middle of fishing out a skin magazine, raised an eyebrow. "While I don't mind watching, I prefer the objects of my attentions to be a little more, how can I put this, FEMALE!" He found the issue of Nudist Monthly he was after, one with a particularly voluptuous `object of his attention' on page three. "Anyway, it won't be the first time you two have fooled around while I've been in the room."

"He has a point, Frank." Trapper began undoing Frank's fly. Over his shoulder he said, "We promise to keep it down."

"Good boys."

And they were silent. Not a single word or moan or whisper. But Hawkeye could hear them. He could hear their touches, their bodies.

It didn't disgust him, he told himself. It didn't affect him at all.

He decided to concentrate on his magazine.

But those sounds...those little sounds...

His fingers moved across the page. His eyes following, across the page and off the side where the static pictures were replaced with moving flesh. Back to the page.

He hated them.

The cold did not cause the gooseflesh on his arms.

It was his pictures... it was...

His breathing picked up a rhythm that belonged across the room. His fingers moved again, always leading from left to right, always stopping a little before his eyes. So much bare skin. His pictures were just ink. Just ink.


The air was heavy, a tactile sensation. An invisible person, The Invisible Man, who touched him. They touched each other.

He didn't want this.

As his fingers, and eyes, moved, he felt. He felt the air. He felt the rhythm of his breathing. He felt his clothes against his skin and the coarseness of its shift as his body reacted to what it felt. What it saw.

On the page.

Off the page.

On the page.

Off the page.

On the page. Off the page.





He was gone.

Away from The Swamp.

Away from them.

Away from himself and the things he thought he knew.

He sat on the edge of a wooden crate, somewhere near the edge of the camp. He was almost not moving. Almost, save a slight tremor that coursed through his body. Almost silent, except for the sound of his breath, that materialised outside his body in a foggy mist. He eyes were moist.

He sat that way for some time. On the edge of the crate. On the edge of the page. On the edge.

He was not thinking. His brain, deciding it couldn't cope, had simply shut down.

Then, just by leaning forward sightly, he got off the crate and began to walk back into camp. Not toward The Swamp, not yet, but towards the Post Op tent, towards the things he knew.

He looked out over the patients, over men whose life had been in his hands. Men he saved. It was the same scene he saw every day. Little things changed, the patients, the nurses. But it was essentially the same. Even back home it was the same.


"Yo," Hawkeye said. Henry Blake looked at him like he'd lost his marbles. Maybe Henry was picking up something off Radar.

"You're not on for another few hours."

"I know. I was just thinking."

"Nothing like taking a dip in the old think-tank."

Hawkeye smiled sardonically. He wasn't in the mood for humour.

Henry had seen Hawkeye in moods like this. It generally meant the kid was cracking up under something. "You wanna tell me about it?"

That smile again. "Technically I'm not allowed to."

A response like that wasn't all that unusual, Henry found, when folks were talking to their CO. But then again, usually Hawkeye considered himself above all that.

"Off the record, Hawk, you know me better than that."

"It's just... I can't. I don't know." Hawkeye started pacing. Henry waited.

"Do you think people really change? I mean, you can't make something into something it isn't," Hawkeye stopped for a second, "Well, you can. But the thing that it was, is what's used to make it something else, so it's there from the beginning!"

"Pierce. I guarantee you that I don't understand a word you're saying."

Hawkeye resumed pacing. "I'm wondering if I've changed. If this place has actually changed me."

"Oh," Henry said, finally catching up, "I think it does. You can't expect to go home the same person you were before. Who we were is just another casualty of war."

"That's very insightful Henry" Hawkeye's voice had taken on that mean edge. Then he seemed to realize and shook his head. "See. I'm beginning to think maybe that it's already there. And I'm seeing things I just don't want to see about myself, things I could have kept hidden if...if I wasn't here."

"You know Pierce, this is the type of thinking that Sidney would just love."

Hawkeye smiled a little. "Yeah, I'd hate to know what Sidney would think about me tonight."

Henry stopped and looked at him. "It seems like you're having a rough night."

"You have no idea."

"There are some things you can't control. No matter how hard you try." Henry didn't know what the problem was, but he knew Pierce. "But there are some things you can. Like I have to go to the latrine and I would be mighty grateful if someone would keep an eye on these patients while I'm gone."

"Thanks Henry."

"Say, you're not going back to the Swamp tonight are you?" Whether it was a problem with his Swamp-mates or something else, when Hawkeye got restless it was usually the last place he wanted to be. "Coz if not there's a spare cot in here you could use until your shift starts."

"Thanks Henry."

Henry smiled. "No problem."

Most of the patients were still awake. A small few would still be awake when Hawkeye's shift started at two am. There were some soldiers that just didn't trust the night.

He checked patient charts and the duty nurse, slipping into a role he knew well, and well knew was just a role. But, for now, it was enough. Henry took a long time, but Hawkeye suspected as much.

"What's that?"

A young soldier that had come in with a shrapnel riddled leg was drawing in a small notebook. He made a half-hearted attempt to hide it.

"Please," Hawkeye asked, battering his eyelashes, "I'll be your best doctor."

The kid laughed and pulled the notebook back out. "Promise I won't get in trouble?"

"Scouts honour!" Having never been a scout Hawkeye just held up random fingers and hoped they passed as some sort of scout-related salute. The kid laughed again.

"You've got a better sense of humour than the doctor that was here this afternoon. He tried to report one of the guys for telling a dirty joke."

"Aah, that would be Major Frank Burns. He doesn't have a sense of humour. We think it comes from being born without a brain. We hear his parents tried to send him back for a refund because of it. Unfortunately for us, God apparently has a `no returns' policy." Insulting Frank made Hawkeye feel refreshingly good.

The kid handed over his notebook.

Hawkeye burst out laughing.

"This is fantastic! Very lewd, but fantastic! If Nurse Beatty sees this she'll have you skinned alive." Hawkeye laughed a little more. "You're John Hendrickson, right?"

"Yes sir."

"Where'd you learn to draw like this? This is amazing, especially for a cartoon."

"I didn't learn it. I just draw."

"An artist at the 4077th!"

Hendrickson shook his head. "Not me sir, I don't draw much anymore. `Cept for cartoons sometimes."

"Why not?" Hawkeye sat on the edge of Hendrickson's cot. "I don't know anything about art but it seems to me like you have one hell of a talent here."

"My parents want me to go to art school, but I know I'm not good enough."

"So what?" Hawkeye asked, genuinely confused, "You just don't draw? You don't try?"

Hendrickson shrugged. Hawkeye could tell that this wasn't the first time he'd had this conversation with someone.

" I love drawing, more than anything. But I couldn't handle getting it rejected. And what if I got accepted?"

"I can't say I understand you."

"Haven't you ever wanted something so bad that it would kill you to have it, but it's killing you not to?"

Hawkeye shook his head. Hendrickson shrugged again.

"Anything the problem?" Henry asked. Hawkeye didn't even realise that he'd some back. "No, we were just talking," Hawkeye said, "I'm going to try and get some sleep. Wake me when my shift starts?"

"Okey Dokey." Henry patted him on the back. "And Pierce? Don't worry so much."

Hawkeye humoured him with a smile and went to bed.

Hours later, after his shift was over, Hawkeye found himself wondering about Hendrickson's story. He couldn't imagine wanting something so badly yet being so afraid that it almost stopped you. Being afraid of not getting it, of getting it. And almost stopping because of it.

Inside The Swamp Hawkeye looked at Trapper, lying naked in his own bunk. And it almost made him stop.


"Hmm. Go 'way"

"'s time to start your shift."

They looked at each other, and Hawkeye was afraid.


After breakfast, and before he started on his work for the day, Radar stopped to watch a couple of soldiers play chess. They had drawn the board in the dust by the basketball hoop and were playing with discarded objects instead of actual pieces. Bottle tops, a dime a dozen around the camp, were the pawns. One soldier played Cola while the other played an assortment of tops. Odds and ends. A pathetic piece of mouldy carrot for a king, an empty bottle of penicillin for a queen and a garter belt with the elastic gone for a knight.

Radar never played chess, hardly ever played checkers even. Not many people knew that he could play. But there was something about always knowing where the other person was going to move that seemed a little too much like cheating. Poker was ok, `cause everyone was so shut down, so focussed on stopping everyone else from guessing that he couldn't tell. Well, not often. Somehow chess was different. His mom had told him it was a gentleman's game, an honourable one. So even knowing a little was wrong.

A knight was about to take a queen when a shadow fell over the improvised board and Hawkeye interrupted with a rant.

"You know chess is war right? You're playing that the way some fool is playing you. You ever stop to think of that? I thought you'd be sick of that already!"

"Geez!" Radar said, "What's up his nose?"

Hawkeye had been in a terrible mood for nearly two weeks. It happened that way with him. He was like the water pump they'd had on the farm; up and down and sometimes it only took a little push to send him either way. Nobody knew what had done it this time, only that there seemed to be trouble in the Swamp. Everyone felt it, although it was kinda hard to figure out exactly what it was. Radar remembered talking to him about Trapper, but it couldn't be that still. That was a month ago! Could it be Major Burns?

Frank Burns was still Frank Burns, Radar screwed his face up upon thinking that name, only wearing a new coat of paranoia. Radar giggled at the thought of Frank covered in thousands of coats, his beady little eyes nearly unable to see out from under the mountain of fabric. That was the way he looked today, guarded against the winter and the war and everybody else. The theme of this one was to be `perversion' and it was like Major Burns was screaming it constantly.

"What, pervert, is, pervert, an, pervert, enlisted man, pervert, doing, pervert, in, pervert, officer's, pervert, country, pervert?" Frank had screeched as Radar had come to deliver the mail a few days ago.

It got so bad sometimes that it was hard to figure out what Frank was saying under everything Radar was hearing. It didn't seem to be his usual Major Houlihan related paranoia either; they were fighting a lot and hadn't called out to each other in that way for a while. Radar grinned as he thought of Margaret naked but his face soured as, in his mind's eye, Frank sidled up next to her. He was sure nobody wanted to see Frank naked, ever, not inside anyone's head.


"Morning Capt'n McIntyre."

"Morning Radar. Say, have you seen Hawkeye?" Trapper sneezed. Winter always seemed to treat him badly. The cold got into his blood; no matter how hard he tried to shut it out.

"Yes sir! Not five minutes ago. I think he was heading to the O.R." Radar moved his head in the direction Hawkeye had gone, reluctant to unwind his arms and destroy the warm cocoon he'd made for himself. The gesture was lost inside his jacket anyway.

Trapper reached out and gave him a friendly tap on the shoulder. "Oh, one more thing," Trapper added, voice dropping slightly, "If you see, mine, Major Burns, my thing, tell him that somethin's, Hawkeye, come up."

He walked off before Radar could answer. There were rumours, as always in a camp this small, about Trapper and Frank. And Hawkeye. Most popular seemed to be the one where Hawkeye and Trapper had had some sort of falling out, and Trapper was trying to use Frank to make Hawkeye jealous. It made a kind of sense, only Radar couldn't see anyone trying to buddy up to Frank and make it look believable.

Igor agreed, adding that Hawkeye and Trapper were best friends and no way a snivelling little weasel like Burns would come between them. Then someone would mention that, although there was some vague difference in the way Trapper was treating Frank, at least when he or she had seen them, it was a long way off being friendly. Then someone else, usually Sergeant Zale or sometimes a nurse, would comment on how much like a lover's triangle the whole thing was and snigger. Those were the other rumours. And they made a lot of people uncomfortable.

Henry had heard them. He didn't believe them and doubted whether or not anyone did. He certainly wasn't going to accuse anyone of anything or even bother to look into the matter. No one made a real complaint. No one took it seriously. It was only a rumour that eventually went around about everyone, including a doozy about himself and Radar at one point.

Radar remembered Henry trying to keep that one from him, not realising that he had heard it a thousand times already. Those type of rumours were inevitable, but they could still be trouble. All it took was one person to believe. And, really, how much did it take?

They made Radar uncomfortable because he heard things. Not that he believed or anything. He pushed away from that thought the way someone pushes bile back down their throat in denial that they were eventually going to be ill.

But he had work to do. He put up the new duty roster and dealt with the complaints, catfights and inevitable switches, all the while trying to keep it all from falling apart. It happened more or less every week, so he was getting quite good at it now. Next he had to get Frank to sign off on something or other. He found him and Margaret arguing behind the motor pool. Zale pointed to where they were `hidden' whilst making several crude gestures that Radar was sure he'd one day find out the meaning of.

"But darling, I need you." Frank whined. "I need you, I need you, I need you..." he said over and over again when his lips weren't moving and only Radar could hear.

"Cut it out Frank!" Margaret glared. "You've been ignoring me for months. Who is she Frank?"

"She who? There's, how did you know, no one. Only you. My Goddess, my god does she know, my darling angel, I need you."

Radar couldn't figure out what part of that she heard, but whatever it was she didn't seem particularly convinced. "Look, Frank, I didn't come out here in the freezing cold to argue with you. I'm going to Tokyo!"

"But darling, don't leave me with him, if you only wait a little while we could go together, I'm trapped."

"It's three days Frank... And you! What do you want!" Radar jumped as he was spotted and screamed at. For his birthday Henry got him a book with animals from all over the world in it. If he were a little less terrified of her he would have called her a shrew.

"I'm sorry sirs..."

"Sorry just doesn't cut it bucko." Frank flared his nostrils. "Didn't anyone tell you that it's rude to listen on other people's conversations?"

"Sometimes I can't help it sir. I need you to sign these forms." "What forms?" Frank said as he snatched the clipboard from Radar's hands. Margaret picked up her bags and headed towards a jeep and driver who were waiting.

"Margaret..." He started to follow her. Radar called after him. "Wait sir! I have a message from Capt'n McIntyre."

Frank stopped as if frozen solid. Radar heard the word `Pervert' as clear as day.


He held the door for Nurse Kellye as he entered the Officer's Club. She was always nice to everyone and wouldn't just dismiss him the way some of the nurses did. He followed her into the club, money already out for his Grape Nehi. It was warmer in the O.C. than almost anywhere else in the camp with body heat counting as much as the stoves. It was fairly crowded, although a few people were going back to their tents with partners who, they would say, are only staying for reasons of body heat.

Hawkeye was sitting at the bar, looking both hostile and miserable. He drank like man trying to build up his courage, promising that after this next drink...and always going for one more. There was something of a strategy being thought out, different courses of action assessed and dismantled.

Radar stared at him, trying not to be obvious, although all he could hear was a drunken ramble. A seemingly random "Help me!" amongst the "I don't want this" and the "I hate him. I hate them" and " But I want" made Radar turn away. He couldn't help Hawkeye because, try as he might, he couldn't understand what game was being played.

Because, if he were being honest, he wasn't really trying and he didn't really want to know.

Trapper laughed loudly from nearby and a pretty new nurse, the same one he had seen Hawkeye chatting up earlier, sat at his side and giggled. The new rumour was that this was causing he tension between Hawkeye and Trapper, but they had never gotten like this over a girl before. Trapper glanced at Hawkeye, confused and angry, then back at his date. Radar wasn't too far away to hear the "why" and the "but look, I'm staying away from him" that Trapper was saying, only to himself. He moved the nurse in between them, like placing a pawn to protect your king. Or to block a queen.

Later when they waltzed.

Frank stayed around on the far side of the room, never moving more than one step at a time. Radar would feel sorry for him, being all alone and friendless on a night like this, but he was so mean that Radar secretly believed he deserved it. He looked more and more like a trapped animal, not really wanting to be here but not really wanting to go. Too far away to hear clearly, Radar just watched his face.

Frank was drunk, which relaxed his face from the pinched scowl that seemed constantly affixed. His shifty little eyes darted at Trapper constantly, jealousy obvious. Understandable, too. Frank would have to go home alone while his tent mate would be cozying up with some nurse. Radar's mouth opened a little in some sort of acknowledgement before he amended the thought. Because Margaret had gone away...that was why Frank looked jealous. Now and again Frank would look at Hawkeye, but never for long. He just pretended to look occupied, just moving one step at a time.

Somehow Radar couldn't shake the feeling that he was sitting in the middle of a giant chessboard. And the pieces were in play.

Trapper followed his nurse outside. Hawkeye stared straight across the room at Frank. Trapper had left him open.



"Frank, wait!"

Frank stopped. He looked back over at Hawkeye and wondered why he thought it would be Trapper. Of course it wasn't. Frank had seen they way Trapper had paraded that...floozy in front of him. It wasn't fair! He didn't know what he had done wrong. He'd given Trapper everything he asked for. Margaret was gone and now Trapper was punishing him.

"Frank!" Hawkeye called out again.

"What do you want, Pierce?

"I need to talk to you."

Frank began walking away again. He didn't want to deal with his drunken tent-mate tonight. He just wanted to go home and pretend this whole miserable day never happened.

"Please?" Hawkeye grabbed his upper arm tight, the way Trapper would sometimes do. "I just want to talk."

Frank said nothing, his eyes pleaded with Hawkeye to let him go.

Hawkeye freed the hand that was holding his coat tight across his body and motioned towards the Swamp with a flutter. He let go of Frank and walked across the near-deserted compound.

A small whine escaped Frank's throat, then he followed.

The Swamp was barely bearable, the small heater insufficient. Hawkeye sat on the closest bunk to the heater, Trapper's, and motioned for Frank to sit next to him.

"I want to know how it happened." Hawkeye's eyes barely seemed to focus on anything as he looked around the room, at Frank. "I want to know what happened what changed. Why?"

Frank's voice was faint, as though the effort of clawing its way out of his throat had almost been too much. "I don't know."

Hawkeye's reply was soft, almost gentle. "What happened?"

"Why do you care? Why does this mean anything to you?"

"I just... I need...I don't..." Hands flew and flailed at each failure. Frank stared at him.

Hawkeye looked desperate, begging.

Then Frank was pushing him back, not sure of how the other man's lips had found their way to his. He shoved hard.

"No," he said, out loud but to himself, "That's not right..."

Hawkeye sat back, his mouth open, his Adam's apple bobbing. "I'm sorry." he whispered, "I'm sorry, I just need to know why." He sat shaking, looking as though all the world had just crumbled around him, as though nothing was right or ever going to be again.

Frank tried to be angry, to be bitter, to be all the things that usually came so naturally. Generally he couldn't stand to see himself reflected in others to recognise something pitiful and know it as his own.

"I didn't ask for this," he said.

"What happened?"

"He wanted me."

And that was it, really. It was all it had taken.

There was silence for a while. Hawkeye got up and poured Frank a drink, taking one for himself before sitting back down.

"I didn't know. I mean that night I came in and you had my robe around your waist..." Hawkeye shook his head. "It never even occurred to me."

Hawkeye took another gulp before continuing. "And you...I know how you feel about this kind of thing. At least, I thought I did. It's all wrong. Everything. "

There was some more silence. Both men finished their drinks. Hawkeye filled them again. Frank tried to speak.

"You don't know what it's like, what he's like." Frank fiddled with his glass, trying to vocalise it all for the first time. "I'm afraid of him."

Hawkeye's brow furrowed . "Why? Has he ever hurt you? Trapper wouldn't..."


"I don't understand."

Did Frank? He tried to order his thoughts, to force it all to make sense. It was too much; he was too much. Did Hawkeye even know what it was like to be nothing? It's terrifying, being alone. But to be good enough to be somebody's secret, to be the object of someone's attention was almost more frightening than anything else. Almost more terrifying than loosing it.

Somewhere along the line Trapper had become a god. Frank wasn't sure if he could exist without him.

Hawkeye never asked if Frank loved him. It wasn't about that.

Later, Frank would never be able to recall exactly what was said. He talked to Hawkeye about everything. Everything he was afraid of, everything he wasn't. Everything he hadn't been able, allowed, to say before now. He told him everything.

He should have been able to recall the exact words, if any, that Hawkeye had said. There were promises, consolations, comfort. He can still recall the emotion, the feeling that someone cared, that it was going to get better, that he will make it better. Promises not made from real words, meaningless.

The sweetest of nothing at all.

He didn't push him away a second time.


Everything was different. Hawkeye's skin was ridiculously soft, like that of a small child. There were noises, small soft words, and a look of uncertainty when they were lying side by side naked, as if Hawkeye didn't know what to do next.

Frank dug out the lubricant that Trapper kept under his bunk and prepared himself, for once not self conscious of the show as Hawkeye watched, amazed.

It didn't hurt as much when Hawkeye entered him. Hawkeye's eyes closed when he moved, still whispering nothing. Frank waited, not touching himself, moving with Hawkeye, doing the things he had been taught and wondering why, if it didn't hurt, he wasn't hard.

It was nice. And Frank wasn't afraid.

Hawkeye sped up slightly, and Frank felt something he hadn't felt before. The man behind him jerked a little, became still, and then collapsed on top of him. It took Frank a moment to realise that Hawkeye had come.


He knew for certain when Hawkeye pulled out a moment later. His eyes bugged out as he felt it. It was as though someone was trying to pull out his intestines with a sink plunger. It slid down his thighs, viscous and warm. He whimpered a little.

Hawkeye didn't hear. He lowered himself back onto Frank, mumbled something, and then went quiet.

Frank needed to pee, Hawkeye was lying on his bladder but Frank didn't want to move. He was warm. He was wanted.

"Not in my bunk."

Nothing lasted.

"Not in my bunk."

Frank was still. Hawkeye stirred, looked across the tent and smiled.

"Oh, hi, Trapper," he said, sitting up and reaching for his robe, " I didn't think you'd be back so soon. What happened? That nurse give you the slip?"

"Get out."

"Are you kidding?" Hawkeye protested. "It's freezing out there! You want..."

"Get. Out."

Trapper's eyes never left Frank, who didn't move, couldn't move.

Hawkeye sneered as he passed Trapper on the way out the door. "He's all yours now."

He left. Trapper didn't move. Neither did Frank.

"Why?" Trapper asked, his voice flat.

Frank didn't answer.

"Why him?" Trapper finally lost his temper. "Why in MY GODDAMN BUNK!"

There had been times in the past when Trapper and Hawkeye had done cruel things to Frank, terrible things. Frank had whined, reported, threatened, and, very rarely, he had gotten back at them. But of all the terrible things they had done, all the horrible things that had happened to him in Korea he hadn't cried. Tears were beaten out of him at an early age. It was something he was proud of.

Frank wept.

Trapper went to say something but couldn't. He didn't know what to do, so he did nothing.

There were voices outside the tent.

Trapper's head snapped around as Hawkeye and Henry entered the tent, the latter thoroughly soused and midway through some nonsensical tale. Trapper watched in horror as they made their way toward the still. He hadn't realised how drunk Hawkeye was, how drunk he'd have had to be to bring their C.O. into the middle of this.

"Hawkeye, get him out of here!"

"If I wasn't invited," Henry slurred, "then why'd you invite me here in th' first place?" He narrowed his eyes, trying to get them to focus. "Hey, what's wrong with Frank?"

"Fine, jeez Trapp, you don't have to yell." Hawkeye set down his glass and grabbed Henry by the arm.

"What the hell are you playing at, Hawk?" Trapper made a threatening move towards his friend. Henry Blake tripped and landed on Hawkeye's bunk.

"You have no idea what I've been through, Trapper! Leave me alone!"

"Get him out!"

Hawkeye grabbed Henry while continuing to yell at his tent-mate. They made it as far as the door when Frank's shrill voice cut them down in their tracks.

"I hate you! Do you think it's funny? You've had your fun now, huh! You bastards, you don't give a flying fuck what happens to me. Go ahead, line up, have your turn! Don't even bother to pay the whore!"

Each yell was punctuated with sobs, each sentence broken by gasps. Frank was standing now, clutching a blanket around his waist. Yelling and screaming until his voice was too raw and the sobs were too many. Frank broke down.

Nobody moved. Henry gaped.

There was a knock at the door and the quiet voice of Father Mulcahy spoke. "Is everything all right in there?"

"Get him out." Trapper's voice deserted him.

Hawkeye, sobered, pulled Henry out of the door. Trapper half heard him spinning a tale to Henry and the small crowd that had gathered outside their tent, but his eyes were focused on the man collapsed, sobbing in silence now, on his bed.

"Frank?" It was barely a whisper. Trapper reached out and put his hand on Frank's back. Frank didn't acknowledge it.

"I..." Trapper sat down next to him. "It wasn't meant to be like this, Frank."

He pulled Frank close and held him for a while, as he had done for his daughters when they cried.

"It wasn't meant to hurt you. We don't think of you like that, never." He lifted Frank's chin so that he could meet his eyes. "You're not a whore."

"You hate me," Frank whispered.

"We don't hate you. We're friends aren't we?"

Frank nodded; it was what he wanted, after all. Eventually he crawled out of Trapper's bunk and into his own.

Hawkeye came back.

"I'm sorry."


Of all things, it was the weather that broke.

It had been getting steadily colder over the last few months, but when Frank opened the door there was some promise of warmth in the sunrise that he hadn't expected to see for months.

But then, he didn't expect to see Trapper leaning against the tent post, half naked and smoking.

"McIntyre? What are you doing?"

Trapper gestured with his cigar. The promise of warmth was still only a promise, so Frank went back inside for a blanket. Trapper was surprised when it was draped around his shoulders.

"It might get warmer later," Frank said.

Trapper nodded.

There were a few moments, cold and silent, that made the promise of warmth seem like a lie. The camp began to stir. Frank started to leave.

"Why, Frank?" Trapper asked, effectively pinning Frank to the spot, "Why, after everything we..."

The sentence trailed off. Warmth began to creep into the air. The camp, like a beast made up of a thousand moving parts, stretched and yawned and started about on it's daily routine. Frank didn't answer.

He headed off to the latrine.

It occurred to him before that Trapper might be jealous, but he never figured that it would be over him. It meant that Trapper knew what Frank had known all along. Frank belonged to him.

There was something wrong.

It couldn't be the stress; he knew his body and when he was stressed he got blocked up and...

"Oh my god!" he said. He sat on the latrine as it poured out of him. It couldn't be the stress; he knew his body and when he was stressed he got blocked up and...

"Oh, Major Burns!"

Frank started and grabbed onto the handrail.

No, not with that inside him.

"It is you, isn't it Major?"

Frank took a deep breath.

"Yes, Father."

"I understand you had a pretty rough night last night."

Frank froze. He remembered, faintly, that same soft voice calling out when he was at his worst. Hawkeye had gone out and told them... something.

Now he was sitting here with the priest, in the mock confessional of the latrine, with his sin literally oozing out of him.

Father Mulcahy's voice was soft and patient. It wasn't the first time that the latrine had served as a confessional or counsellor's chair.

"Hawkeye and Trapper have played pranks in the past. Granted, never as cruel as the last, and never one that has affected you quite so much."

"I..." Frank fought for his breath and closed his eyes. "I let them."

"It may feel like that sometimes, and occasionally our behaviour can invite unwanted attentions..."

"But I didn't! I mean, I don't think I did."

Father Mulcahy sighed. Surely Frank knew what the general feeling around camp was towards him. Mulcahy himself, although he tried to be patient with all God's children, had occasionally felt stirrings of annoyance and dislike.

"Whatever the reason that they chose you as their target, remember that it is not, entirely, your fault.' There was a pause. "Especially last night."

"You know?' He asked, forgetting the story Pierce had told the camp. He should have been scared that he was going to be discharged, disbarred and shamed, but he was too tired.

"Captain Pierce told us what they did, last night. I hadn't realised they were capable of such cruelty, but if it is any consolation I am assured both he and Captain McIntyre regret their actions."

You believed him, Frank thought. Hawkeye Pierce was full of lies. At least Trapper had never promised anything, at least Trapper had let him know what this was from the start. Only now he couldn't remember exactly what the promises were.

Out loud he said, "You don't know him. None of you do. You think you do..."

"Would you like to talk about how you feel?"

Frank snorted. "Used, dirty, stained, wanted, trapped, like I belong, like I don't belong, needed, discarded... jealous."

There was a silence. Then a small cough.

"Major Burns? I'm not exactly sure what you mean." Of course not.

"I have to go."

Frank finished up and hurried out of the latrine. People were looking at him, whispering and moving out of his way. Not because he was dirty and wrong, but because they thought that some stupid prank had pushed him over the edge. Pierce's lie had saved them all and Frank hated him bitterly.

He sat on Margaret's bed, in her tent and held her pillow to his chest, breathing in the scent of her. He should have never have pushed her away. He missed her.


She called him twice again before he realised she was really there, that it was not some illusion of her.

"You're early," he said, as though this explained his surprise and his presence in her room. She would be angry that he'd come in and disturbed her things.

"The conference was cancelled."

She didn't look angry with him, not like she did when she left. Instead, Margaret looked sad and concerned and...

"People have been talking around the camp, Frank." The prank rumour. Of course she'd hear it. He wondered how long she had been back for.


He looked up at her and just...looked. Something in her face shifted as she sat down beside him and pulled his head to her breast.

"I'm ok, Frank, I..." She stopped. That wasn't it. There was something else. "What happened?" she whispered, "What did they do to you?"

He couldn't speak. He couldn't tell her they had done nothing but what he'd let them. That he could have stopped it. That, sometimes, he wanted it.

Instead he said, "I love you." And it was true. She stroked his hair and kissed his forehead. She'd never seen him like this before.


No one spoke to him when he entered the mess tent. He'd heard the lie that Hawkeye had told them and it seemed that the whole camp agreed that they had pulled too cruel a prank, even on Frank.

Trapper sat next to his friend, away from the other diners. Hawkeye looked like hell and it seemed as though there was more grey hair, more lines, more shadows on his face than before. Hawkeye played with his food and barely smiled when his friend sat down.

"They believed me."

"I noticed."

Hawkeye looked at Trapper and it chilled him. "They believe me. They think I won't lie to them. They think I'm jokes and smiles and they have no idea."

Hawkeye's eyes finally met his, trying to communicate the incommunicable.

"You had no idea."


"You didn't. I didn't. I didn't want to know, but then I did and I had to know, and you..."

Trapper's throat closed up. The feeling welled and threatened and, damn it, he could not deal with this right now! Hawkeye was the one thing...

"What about Henry?" he said quietly, desperately distracting Hawkeye from the one thing he couldn't bear to hear.

"Henry knows."

There were other things to worry about. He could lose his kids.

"Henry won't say anything," Trapper said, hoping to hell he was right. "He's a good egg. He didn't say anything about George."

Hawkeye shrugged. "I'm avoiding him anyway. You're probably right. I mean, with George we even had Frank against..."

Frank. Hawkeye stopped. Trapper got up to leave but Hawkeye's hand snaked out and latched onto his arm. He didn't want to hear this, but Hawkeye would say it anyway.

"It wasn't about him."

Trapper nodded. He knew.

Hawkeye let go and Trapper left, concentrating on his kids, as nothing else could drive Hawkeye from his mind. He wrote them a letter, via his wife.


Lieutenant Elliott Barnes had come in three days earlier and, as much as he didn't like having to go back inside a patient after he'd operated, sometimes it was necessary.

"Home, home on the range..." Hawkeye sang, "Scalpel, where the deer and the cantaloupe play."

"I think that's antelope."

"Really?" At least the nurses were talking to him again. Hawkeye wished he had made up a nicer lie, one in which he and Trapper weren't quite so much the bad guys, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. They had used Frank, and he deserved something. "I always wondered why a deer would play with a melon. Do deer play with antelopes?"

"Only on the range," the nurse said.

Hawkeye sang again, "Sponge, scalpel, on the range..."


"Henry," Hawkeye said, without looking up. He'd been waiting for this.

"When you're done here I want to see you in my office."

Hawkeye kept working on his patient.


Henry poured himself a large drink, but only one. "I don't understand it, Pierce," he said soberly, lassitude quieting his voice, "It just plain doesn't make any sense. From any of you."

"It doesn't make any sense to me either." Hawkeye looked longingly at Henry's drink, but he had already pushed the bounds of friendship too far.

"What were you thinking? Do you know how much trouble you guys could get in? You'd be kicked out, sent home! Do you think anyone's gonna hire you with that on your record? McIntyre and Burns have families to think of, kids! You three are throwing your lives away!"


"I'm not finished. Now if you boys are...that way inclined... and boy-o, I never saw that coming, it's nobody's business but you own. That is, until someone makes it my business. It's a small camp, how long do you think this is gonna stay a secret? Heck, I walked right into the middle of it!"

Henry looked tired and exasperated. Hawkeye lowered his eyes, he should have never put Henry in this position. Eventually he looked up.

"Are you gonna turn us in?"

"You know me better than that. I just..." Henry sighed and then got to the part that Hawkeye had been dreading, the part that was inevitable. "If someone comes to me with this, I'm not gonna be able to deny it."

"Just tell them it isn't true."

"I can't. Not after last night." Henry finished his drink. "You've put me in a position I was hoping I'd never have to be in. They know I was in the tent with you. If they knew there was something to know, then they'd know I'd knew it."

They couldn't ask it of Henry.

"If I get in trouble over this, it's gonna be big. I can't do that to my family."

Hawkeye nodded. Henry put his glass down.

"I'm sorry," he said.

Radar poked his head through the door.

"Sorry to interrupt, sirs, but those casualties they radioed about will be here any minute."

So that was it. It was inevitable that someone would say something, that Henry would give them up to save himself. It was only a matter of time, Hawkeye knew, as long as Henry and his family were in jeopardy, that it was only a matter of time. He had put them in this position.

It couldn't happen.

They need me, he thought as he cut through body after body. They need me.

Yes, they said, we do.

And so they gave Henry his orders.

And Henry went home.


He walked into the Swamp, his white surgical garb stained red, and tossed his capped down onto his bunk.

"I can't believe Henry's gone." Hawkeye said. Trapper grunted.

Hawkeye's hand shook slightly as he poured them both a martini. It had been a hard couple of days and he was going to miss his former C.O. But it had been a relief-tinged sadness, and they all knew why.

"Be careful." Henry had said. Hawkeye had said he would, had hoped he would. He missed him already.

"To Henry Blake." he said, raising his glass, "Finest Friend."

Trapper grinned cheekily, his eyes flickered as he stole something that didn't belong to him from under the nose of its owner. "Finest kind!"

Hawkeye laughed. That thing, that feeling, which they would not speak about, coiled around his lungs. It thickened the air and, barely feet away, it made Trapper down his drink too quickly and splutter.

Frank almost drowned in it when he walked in. It congealed in the back of his throat like bile and manifested itself as a sneer.

"You two do know that you're supposed to salute your commanding officer?"

"I am Frank, you just can't see cuz I'm sitting down." Trapper smirked and Hawkeye looked away.



He wasn't going to let them spoil this. Nothing was going to ruin this day for him. For the first time in his life he was being given a genuine opportunity. Frank was somebody now.

"You know, Frank," Hawkeye commented while sniffing the armpits of the shirt he intended to wear after his shower, "you are the only person actually happy Henry went home."

Frank snorted, "Blake was a disgrace to this man's army! He wouldn't have known a regulation if it bit him in the behind. I'm just glad I'm now in the position to get this outfit into shape. From now on I intend to have everything done by the book."

"Then I assume certain non-regulation activities are out."

That made Frank stop for a moment. Did he still need them, need to be that now that he was in charge? He was their C.O., so they'd have to start respecting him. He was important now, in ways that had nothing to do with them. Frank turned his back on them to change out of his scrubs. The problem was that he still didn't expect it to be enough. Not for them and maybe even not for himself. He was never going to escape.

He closed his eyes and let out a slow breath when he felt hands around his waist and lips at his neck. Nothing was ever going to change. Trapped. He didn't belong to himself any more than since it started. Addicted.

"Good evening, Mr. Commanding Officer," Trapper purred into Frank's ear, still making the words sound like a joke, a taunt; an insult.

Hawkeye watched, still. The apprehension from the last few days and that other, unspoken feeling screamed at him to stop this, to put an end to it, for all of them. It was risky. It was wrong. It was too soon. Instead, he decided to leave.

"I guess I'd better leave you crazy kids alone," he said as he flung his towel across one shoulder and headed for his robe, "And don't worry, I'll make sure to block the door and put out a Do Not Disturb sign. We don't want anyone gate crashing this little celebration."

Frank's eyes followed Hawkeye as he made his way out of the room. He should have been relieved, but instead his body tensed and his throat closed. Because Trapper had stopped too.


No, Frank thought, begged, praying that Hawkeye would just leave. The door became a shoreline that the drowning Frank knew he would never reach. It wasn't meant to be this way. Only, maybe this was how it was meant to be all along.

Hawkeye stopped.

So Frank reached out for him first. It was his own little `fuck you' to Trapper, to Hawkeye. To himself.

He walked over and placed his hand on Hawkeye's chest. He felt his heart beating, too swiftly. Hawkeye was terrified. Frank jumped on it, feebly holding on to it in an attempt to control something, anything, before once again he was swept away by them both.

Hawkeye was taller than him, even while he stooped, so Frank stood, strained, on tiptoes to kiss him. Hawkeye followed him when he returned to the bunk, to Trapper.

He stripped and was stripped and each time more shivering flesh was exposed. Hawkeye shivered with fear and something, Frank shivered with hate and something and Trapper shivered with something else entirely. Then there was nothing left and, for a moment, they were similar, imitations of each other. Frank hated that most of all.

Frank stood between them. That had been his place until now and he wasn't giving it up without a fight. Always between them. If he wasn't, they'd have each other. He wouldn't let them.

It would be something, some triumph, at least.

Trapper was already hard, against his back, hungrily groping, baring Frank's flesh. Frank pulled Hawkeye close for another kiss, carefully arranging his hands as a barrier between Hawkeye and Trapper. As much as he could, Frank intercepted touches that almost were, redirecting them over his own body. He still couldn't stop them looking at each other. He thought of a way to place more distance between them.

"McIntyre," he whispered, distracting Trapper as one of his hands left their guard and reached for the lubricant. He pressed it into Trapper's hands hoping he would get the message. Moments later he felt it, slimy along his backside, and the slick intrusion of one of Trapper's fingers.

With his mouth still focused on Hawkeye, he made his way down to his knees, bringing Trapper with him.

Then he took the head of Hawkeye's cock onto his mouth. Frank used to the tip of his tongue to trace `I Hate You' over the sensitive skin there, making Hawkeye moan.

He felt his skin stretching and cracking, stinging the reopened scar as Trapper entered him. Frank concentrated on Hawkeye's cock and Trapper's cock and the pain and the sensation of it all instead of the knowledge that they were looking at each other. At least they were too far apart to touch. At least Frank was in between them, where he belonged. Did he really think he could have been anywhere else?

That he could have been anything else?

Frank wrapped his hand around Hawkeye's cock and took more of him in his mouth. Now wasn't the time for playful tricks, but a studious attempt to get it over with as quickly as possible. Behind him Trapper was as silent as usual, with only the guiding hand and invasive cock and it's repeated assault, letting Frank know the other man was still there. Unlike Trapper, Hawkeye never had any trouble letting Frank know what he liked and, aside from the sounds of their bodies, he was the only noise to be heard.

Trapper sped up and Frank's hand was moving so fast over Hawkeye's shaft he was occasionally hitting himself in the lips.

Then Trapper came. Frank felt it, he felt it as though Trapper had grown another inch inside him and left part of himself there. It was nothing special; nothing unlike the time Hawkeye had done the same. Nothing special, but Frank's lips curved a little over Hawkeye's cock. He, him, his body had finally made Trapper come. Feeling powerful he returned his attention back to Hawkeye, whose own orgasm felt like an afterthought. A bitter tasting afterthought that Frank swallowed anyway.

He never came, but his erection drooped and flagged, as he lay puddled on the floor. Hawkeye and Trapper sat propped against the bunk.

Frank was too weak to move and too ineffectual to protest when they crept closer and kissed for the first time. It was soft and sweet, loving and tender and all the things that shredded Frank's gut as he pressed against the cold floor.

There was a knock on the door. Radar, who would have usually just walked inside, said, "Choppers," and left.

It was the last time Frank would touch either of them.

It was the last time they would touch each other.

Half an hour later they learned that Henry Blake had died.

The camp mourned.

Within days Hawkeye was in Tokyo and Trapper was on his way home.

Frank smiled


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