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Escape

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“Supposedly—some people say, anyway—there’s a god of war,” Sidney tells Hawkeye one night. They’re quietly talking about everything and nothing; everything because they need to fill the silence, and nothing because sometimes everything is too frightening to consider.

Hawkeye raises his eyebrow at the comment. “A god of war? How does that work?”

“A god who controls war, essentially. When it happens, why it happens, who’s involved, everything.”

“Father Mulcahy’s God,” Hawkeye murmurs, “is heralded for his love and generosity. His deity buddies decided to give up on that?”

“I think it’s all part of people trying to explain away something that makes no sense to them. War is horrible and destructive—it kills innocent people—so obviously it shouldn’t happen,” Sidney says. “And the fact that it does means it must be some sort of divine will.”

Hawkeye shakes his head cynically. “It sounds to me like it’s just taking the blame off of us. We’re not mindlessly killing on our own—a god is making us.” He pauses and stands, moving closer to Sidney and eventually sitting down on the cot next to him. He allows his hands to trail up and down the older man’s chest, running along his neck, collar. Pulling him closer, he whispers, “I think we’re responsible for our own actions.”

They kiss.

“We are,” Sidney agrees, “but the mind set is fascinating. It’s almost as though, as humans, we’re trying to escape the limitations of our humanity—the traits that make us uniquely us. Medicine operates on a similar basis, you know.”

Hawkeye frowns at that. “How’s that?”

Sidney smiles, although it’s something of a sad smile. “You of all people shouldn’t need to ask that, Hawkeye,” he replies. “The motive for progress in medicine is to beat death. Our mortality is a big part of our humanity. Humans aren’t infallible. They only wish they were.”

“Medicine makes progress to help people. To improve life,” Hawkeye protests lightly.

“Do you really think that any one of the boys you’ve had under your care will return home to a normal life? That, just because they’re alive, all is well and good?” Sidney shakes his head sadly. “Unfortunately, I’ve treated enough of them to know otherwise.”

“That’s a special circumstance.”

“Sickness is a special circumstance,” Sidney tells him. “Some diseases can’t be cured, and still people are put through treatments.”

“So they have a better quality of life. It’s all about making them comfortable.”

“If it were, why do some of the treatments make them sick in other ways? The treatments delay death, if only for a little while.”

“Maybe–maybe some limitations should be escaped,” Hawkeye comments before kissing Sidney languidly. They’re undressing each other slowly, touching softly, not urgently. The world outside fades away.

“Maybe,” Sidney answers, sighing softly. “But isn’t it always encouraged for people to face their limitations? That it’s a healthy alternative?” he asks, breathing unsteady. “Instead of escape?”

“Sometimes you need to escape. Because the reality is too unbearable to live with.”

“Sometimes,” Sidney concedes. “But how do we distinguish between when it’s acceptable to escape and when it’s simply running away? How do we know when it’s healthy and when it’s not?”

Hawkeye looks into his eyes. “We don’t.”

They ignore the crashes of bombs and the clamor of war outside their tent.