Actions

Work Header

You Pierce My Soul

Work Text:

It’s the seventh month since the end of the war when Charles gets the telephone call. His surprise at hearing the voice of Hawkeye Pierce’s on the line lasts only for a moment. As he listens, understanding dawns on him.

”I don’t…” Hawkeye sighs. ”Living in Crabapple Cove isn’t working out like I’d hoped. All that time I was in Korea, all I ever thought about was going back home to try to pick up the pieces of my old life. But now that I’m here, it just… it doesn’t feel right anymore. It’s different. I’m different. I tried. But today my dad sat me down and told me I need to take some time to figure things out for myself. He said I owed myself that, and that I’d earned it.”

He sighs again.

”He’s right, Charles. I gotta get out of here. I need to be somewhere else. I can’t think here.”

”Then come to Boston.”

The invitation is clumsily blurted out. Charles holds his breath in the seconds of silence that follows.

”You’re really sure?” There’s a hopeful tone in the question. ”I don’t want to be in the way.”

”It’s not an inconvenience, I assure you. Currently, I am myself trying to… figure things out. So come down here, stay with me for a while. We can talk. And help each other… figure things out.”

There’s a soft breath on the other end.

”Thanks, Charles.” His voice is heavy with tired gratitude. He promises to call back with his travel details, and hangs up. 

Charles puts the receiver down, staring at nothing in a daze. A sudden restlessness grips him, and he sets about tidying up his apartment, even though the place is already clean and neat.

His apartment. 

Oh, yes, Charles knows exactly how Hawkeye feels, because it’s been just the same for him. He has tried to pick up where he left off. Moved back in with his parents, who eagerly urged him to get his career back on track, and started dropping names of eligible heiresses over breakfast. He really did try. But everything felt off. His old life held no joy anymore. And then one day Honoria had announced she wanted to move out and live in an apartment of her own. Their parents hadn’t liked it, but Honoria had made her mind up. She had already found a place, and Charles went with her to look at it.

Afterwards, over coffee at a charming little place, Honoria mentioned there was another apartment available in the same building.

”Oh?”

Charles had sipped his coffee, not wanting to meet her eyes.

”Big brother.”

The sad tone of her voice had made him look up.

”You can’t breathe at home. I see you. You’re drowning.”

Charles had looked down again, grabbed his napkin, squeezed it tightly to a ball, feeling a lump forming in his throat. Honoria had reached out and laid her small hand over his.

”Maybe mother and father can pretend you will simply get over it after a while and everything will be back to normal, but I can’t. You need time. You need a fresh start, and you can’t get it in that house.”

And so, at the end of the month, both Winchester siblings packed up and moved out from the grand old house where they’d grown up, into two small apartments. Their parents had put up more resistance against Charles leaving than Honoria. He had always been the obedient one, and this sudden deviation from their grand plans for him was a shock. Charles was himself surprised as he realized he really didn’t give a damn. 

Honoria was right. He did need a fresh start, and his nice little new apartment certainly felt like one. And having his sister two floors down was a comfort on nights when he woke with a start, phantom sounds of choppers in his ears. He would creep down, knock on her door and she’d serve him tea and listen when he wanted to talk, or stay silent when he didn’t.

Yes, this apartment has indeed become a space where he can see himself actually begin to heal. 

And now Hawkeye Pierce is coming to stay here. 

In his apartment.

Charles feels flutters inside his chest. Not because he believes that anything might… no. He never dared hope for that. But just to see the man again, hear his voice, be near him. Charles realizes that for the first time in ages, he’s actually excited. 

Maybe even happy.

*

Charles meets Hawkeye at the train station. His heart does acrobatics when he spots his gray streaked head in the crowd. He looks the same. He’s filled out a bit, but not much. Then he spots Charles too, and his eyes crinkle up, his mouth spreading in a grin and the familiarity of it makes Charles want to cry. He gets his emotions in check, however, and approaches with a smile. He stands awkwardly in front of Hawkeye, unsure if a hug would be appropriate or if he should simply offer his hand, when the other man grabs him in a bear hug.

”Long time no see, Winchester!” Hawkeye laughs into his collar.

”Indeed,” Charles agrees, a blossom of warmth spreading inside his belly at the closeness. 

Hawkeye pulls away. His grin softens.

”Thanks for offering to take me in, Charles. I really appreciate it.”

”Thank you for taking me up on the offer. I confess making the adjustment to civilian life has been difficult, and I believe it will do me good to be around someone who… who knows.”

”Yeah. I hope so,” Hawkeye says quietly with a nod.

They stand in melancholy silence, until Charles remembers himself.

”It’s cold and crowded, let’s get out of here, so that you can get yourself settled in my guest room while I make us a nice lunch.”

”Whatever you say. Lead on, Macduff.”

Charles groans

”’Lead on, Macduff’ is a terrible misquotation!”

Hawkeye picks up his suitcases.

”I know. I did it on purpose just to annoy you,” he says, winking.

That warmth in Charles’s belly intensifies.

*

Hawkeye sits at the kitchen table, watching Charles cook with a delighted little smile on his face. When he moved out, his parents had recommended several housekeepers, but Charles hadn’t seen the need to hire anyone. Taking care of his new home on his own and learning to cook good food has been an unexpected source of satisfaction. And now, placing a mushroom omelet in front Hawkeye and seeing his eyes close in bliss at the first bite, that satisfaction is mingled with a glowing pride. He gets so much enjoyment out of seeing Hawkeye eat the food he’s cooked that he almost forgets to eat his own.

After lunch, they relax over coffee while Charles tells the story of how Honoria convinced him to move out.

”Sounds like you’ve got a pretty terrific sister, there, Winchester. Like my dad,” Hawkeye says quietly, taking a sip of his coffee. ”I probably would have gone on pretending everything was fine if he hadn’t sat me down and talked to me. And I knew it made sense, but I still felt guilty, leaving. But he said…” 

Hawkeye gruffly clears his throat.

”All he ever wants in life is for me to be okay.”

Charles nods.

”We are indeed fortunate, you and I. I don’t know what would have become of me these months without my sister to look out for me.”

”Yeah. Well… at least for the time being, we’re also able to look out for each other now.”

Hawkeye smiles at Charles, and it is soft and beautiful.

Charles forgets to breathe.

The rest of the day goes by quietly, and they retire early. In the morning, Honoria barges in while the coffee is brewing, bearing croissants from the bakery around the corner. She excitedly introduces herself to Hawkeye, and while they sit to eat she insists that they both come out with her for the day so she can show him all her favorite spots in town. Charles glances at Hawkeye, concerned she might be too pushy, but he looks delighted.

It’s a lovely day. Cold, but sunny. Honoria drags them to museums, art galleries and bookstores, and eat a late lunch at the same place Charles and Honoria had discovered when he came with her to look at her apartment. In the evening they go to to the nearest movie theater to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It’s a pleasant picture, and it occurs to Charles that he hasn’t seen one since he was at the 4077th, squeezed in on a bench between Father Mulcahy and Margaret. He glances over at Hawkeye, catching his eye, and knows he’s thinking about it too. Sitting in that mess tent watching spliced together reels on that projector from hell.

Strangely enough, it’s a memory that feels soothing to think about.

They walk home in good spirits, Honoria between them, her arms linked in theirs as she hums the music from the movie. They stay up late, Honoria demanding to be taught how to play poker. She learns quickly and bluffs a big pot out from under their noses.

Charles can’t remember the last time he had such a carefree day.

*

The following day is Saturday. Honoria eats breakfast with them again, but then she heads out to spend the day with her friends like she does every Saturday. Charles and Hawkeye spend the day lounging about in their robes, reading the books they’d purchased the day before. It’s comfortably familiar, almost like one of the quiet periods at the 4077th, except they aren’t constantly aware of the possibility of all hell breaking loose again. And they have access to decent coffee.

And BJ is not with them.

Charles knows why Hawkeye reached out to him and not BJ - right now, BJ needs to be a husband and father again - but he wonders if it would have been better for Hawkeye if it had at all been possible to go to him instead of Charles. But wondering about such things is useless, and he looks over at Hawkeye on the sofa who has fallen asleep with his book over his face, and silently vows to do everything in his power to give the support Hawkeye needs. He knows Hawkeye will do the same for him in return.

He covers Hawkeye with a blanket and lets him nap in peace.

In the evening they cook chicken Tetrazzini together, and Charles blushes over the parsley he’s chopping when he catches himself thinking that it’s almost starting to feel like a marriage. 

After dinner Charles breaks out the good Scotch and challenges Hawkeye to a game of chess. Over the course of the game, they start reminiscing about the 4077th and their old friends. It feels good to talk about the happy memories they actually managed to create while there. Eventually, they know they’ll probably have to start talking about the bad stuff, too, but for now it’s enough to talk about how Margaret once punched out a guy twice her size, about their disastrous attempt at holding their own Olympics, various prank wars, and to rank Klinger’s top ten outfits.

”My lord… how long since I’ve laughed this much,” Charles says, wiping his eyes. ”That felt good.”

”Yeah, same here. To laughter.”

Hawkeye holds out his glass, and Charles clinks it.

”To laughter.”

”By the way, I haven’t asked you if you’re working,” Hawkeye asks, making a move. ”Ha! Got your knight.”

”No…” Charles replies, studying the board. ”I decided to take an extended vacation while I reconsider my career options. However, I do put in a little volunteer work at a clinic. And… I’ve also performed a few… abortions.”

Before the war, even considering such a thing had been out of the question for Charles. Now, he hadn’t even hesitated. He had looked into the eyes of a distraught fourteen-year old girl and promised he would help her. After that first case, he helped two more young women in distress, with the assistance of a steady, discreet nurse at the clinic.

He takes a pawn and cautiously looks up at Hawkeye.

”Good,” Hawkeye says gently. ”That’s good. Just be careful you don’t get busted. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. I mean that.”

The expression on his face is unbearably tender, and the look in his eyes…

Oh, those eyes. I could drown in their depths. How I’ve missed them.

After retiring to bed, Charles lies awake for a long time thinking about those eyes.

When next he wakes, it’s to that sound.

They’re coming.

Choppers.

”Choppers! Choppers!”

”Hey… it’s okay!”

”Incoming wounded!”

”Charles! It’s okay!”

”Pierce, there’s incoming wounded! Where’s my robe? Help me find my robe, we have to… we have to do triage…”

”Charles, there are no choppers! We’re in Boston!”

The confused haze in his head clears, and he blinks up at Hawkeye, sitting on the side of his bed in his pajamas. 

”Oh… Boston…”

Charles rubs at his eyes, trying to steady his panicked breathing.

”I’m sorry if I alarmed you, I… it’s been a while since I had a night like this.”

”I wasn’t asleep.”

Hawkeye puts his hand on Charles’ shoulder, gently rubbing it. 

”I get these rude awakenings, too. Only with me it’s the sound of shelling. Sometimes I smell blood.”

Charles nods, and draws a ragged breath as he sits up.

”I’m glad you were here this time. I usually go to Honoria afterwards if she’s home, but I’m always alone when I wake, and it’s… quite frightening.”

Charles feels tears coming, and he doesn’t fight them. Hawkeye puts his arms around him, holds his trembling body without a word. He pulls away from that warm embrace when he’s cried out, wiping his cheek with his pajama sleeve. 

”And I wanted to be your rock,” Charles says, laughing weakly.

”You are,” Hawkeye smiles.

He reaches out to cup Charles’s cheek, wiping away a stray tear with his thumb.  Charles is only vaguely realizing that something is about to happen when Hawkeye slowly leans in and kisses him.

It’s so so gentle, so perfect, and Charles finds every thought in his head slipping away. All he can do is close his eyes… and feel…and kiss back.

Then Hawkeye pulls away. Charles can only stare at him, dumbstruck, the kiss still burning on his lips.

”Charles, I have a confession to make,” Hawkeye says, a very vulnerable tone in his voice. ”The reason I reached out to you wasn’t just because I needed to get away from home. That was one reason, but there’s also… some unfinished business I needed to deal with. Regarding you.”

He looks down at Charles’s hand and covers it with his own.

”I needed to tell you how I feel about you.”

Charles stares at their two hands as an indescribable joy starts bubbling somewhere deep inside his chest.

”How long?” he asks weakly.

Hawkeye shrugs, shaking his head.

”I don’t know how long. It’s been… quite some time since I realized.”

Charles covers his face with his hands, groaning.

”Oh, I am such a fool! All this time I’ve been pining away when we could have… I parted ways with you without saying a word!”

”Hey, Charles… it’s okay!” Hawkeye laughs lightly.

”No, it’s not. I said nothing! I said nothing because I was afraid.”

”Well, so was I! And we both kind of had other stuff to deal with at the time, you know. But we’re both here now.”

”Yes. So we are.”

And Charles cups Hawkeye’s face in his hands.

”Benjamin Franklin Hawkeye Pierce… I am desperately, hopelessly in love with you.”

Hawkeye smiles that smile Charles adores so much.

”Well good,” he says, laughter in his voice. ”Because that’s pretty much what I was going to say.”

”Say it anyway.” 

Hawkeye presses a kiss to his cheek.

”Charles… I love you. I really love you.”

That joy in Charles’s chest reaches boiling point, and he can’t express it in any other way than to kiss Hawkeye again.

So he does.

And after that night, Hawkeye doesn’t stay in the guest room anymore.

*

Two Months Later

”Oh, crap… here we go… whoa, that was close!”

Charles looks up from his book. Hawkeye is standing by the window in their bedroom in the apartment that is no longer just Charles’s - it’s theirs. He’s sipping a glass of whiskey and watching something down on the street outside.

”What is it you’re observing with such great interest?” Charles asks, lowering his book. 

”Oh, nothing. Just some drunk kids outside trying to do cartwheels. I just want to make sure I don’t have to go down there and tend to a busted head. Here we go, third time’s the charm…  well this one fell on his right on his ass. He doesn’t look hurt, though. Okay, I think they’ve given up now.”

”Very well. Since this riveting circus performance outside is now at an end, why don’t you come to bed now, darling. We have to make an early start tomorrow, if we want to arrive at your father’s in good time.”

Hawkeye affects a coy smile.

”What?” Charles frowns.

”I can’t help it… every time I hear you say ’dahling’ to me I get all weak in the knees.”

Charles feels a smile tug at his mouth.

Hawkeye goes to brush his teeth, then climbs into bed beside Charles.

”What’s that you’re reading?”

”Hmm? Oh, these are Honoria’s Jane Austen novels. She used to ask me to read them to her whenever she was sick. I’d quite forgotten how charming they are.”

”Yeah? Read me some, then.”

”I am near the end of this one. Persuasion.

”Okay.”

”Well, the heroine has just in secrecy been given a letter from her long lost love, who has recently come back into her life.”

He clears his throat.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach.

Charles stops reading for a second, to look down at the man stretched out next to him, scooting down to rest his head on Charles’s lap. Oh, how he loves this man.

”You pierce my soul.”

Charles leans down to press a kiss on Hawkeye’s forehead.

I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you.

Charles keeps reading, playing gently with Hawkeye’s hair. When he reaches the end of the book, Hawkeye sleepily says he absolutely has to hear the rest of the story. Charles promises to read it to him from the beginning when they return from their weekend visit to Crabapple Cove. Charles turns of the light and lies down on his side, slowly drifting off with Hawkeye curled around his back.

Maybe he will have a quiet night’s sleep.

Maybe he will wake to the sound of the choppers.

Or perhaps he will wake to Hawkeye’s heartbreaking yells.

He can’t say.

But whatever happens... at least they're together.