"I can't believe I'm standing here. Hell, I can't believe you're lying there." The audacity of that statement struck it's speaker then. "Well, you know..."
Hawkeye sighed, still not knowing quite what to say.
"What I mean is, I can't believe the army actually put a stone here for you. I practically fell out of my chair when Radar told me." Hawkeye paused to laugh quietly at some hidden joke. "Well, I guess if you had to be buried someplace, this is as good a place as any." Another thoughtful pause. "I wonder what they buried? Since there was never a body, or anything. Probably one of those standard issue army coffins."
Hawkeye sighed again and dragged one hand through his hair, not relishing the surprising awkwardness of the situation.
"Do ya like the getup?" he asked suddenly, gesturing to himself. He was wearing his grade-A uniform, his to keep as a souvenir for being honorably discharged from the army after the war. "I could probably count the number of times I wore my Sunday best over there on one hand if I tried."
"I wore them just for you."
Just then he remembered the shopping bag he had set down by his feet. Hawkeye quickly knelt down and removed a small potted plant and a spade from the bag and set them down in front of the grave.
"I wanted a yellow rose bush," he explained as he began digging at the earth with the spade. "You know, the flower of friendship? Then I realized that it would probably grow too big for here, so I went with begonias. I hope you don't mind." The hole was now deep enough for the ex-captain to remove the flowers from their pot and place them in the ground. Then he used the spade to scrape the dirt back into the rest of the hole. "There," he proudly proclaimed as he finished his task. Then he grabbed a water bottle from the bag and used it to water the plant. "I thought about bringing something more potent, but alcohol would probably kill the poor thing, so you can make do."
"You always could."
Hawkeye packed the flower pot, spade, and water bottle back into his bag.
"If I told you I missed you would you laugh at me?" he asked with a fair bit of defeatist humor. "No, no I don't remember you ever really laughing a lot. Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention." Hawkeye laughed again, the sound startled out of him by the rush of memory. "What I do remember is your uncanny ability to always get me to do things that I didn't want to do. I don't know how you did it. I guess I just couldn't say no to you."
"The good thing though was that if anything bad ever came of it, I could just blame you and blammo! I'm off the hook. Though I couldn't help but notice how you never seemed to get in trouble."
"You never did. Not 'til Korea."
Hawkeye laughed again, though this time it was tinged with sadness. "If I said 'I'm sorry' would you laugh at me?" he asked, with rueful irony. He then laughed again at the audacity. "Would you even believe me?"
"I really am sorry, you know," he said seriously. "For everything. You were a really good friend, and you were always there when I needed you." Then he laughed again. "If I say that I feel guilty, I KNOW you'll laugh at me."
Hawkeye finally stood again, dusting off his pants as he rose. He shoved his hands into his pockets as he gazed down at the flowers decorating the gravesite and allowed himself to smile slightly before darker thoughts chased it away.
"I still can't believe I'm standing here, but... I'm glad I came. Your plot was looking neglected."
"I guess I'm here to say goodbye. For real this time."
"You know, I seriously thought that I grew up finally when you... well, you know. Turns out I was wrong. Life continued pretty much the same way. The war continued..." Hawkeye shook his head suddenly to banish those thoughts. "I'd like to think that I'm grown up now, and don't think you don't have an equal share of the blame."
"I have to say goodbye now. That's what I came here to do: to say goodbye to you properly. You know, it's a lot harder than I thought it would be. I guess, in a way, it's because it's my past that I'm really laying to rest right now—no offense. But it's the truth."
"Sydney said that I need to come to terms with... this. The war. Everything. This is good for that. Good for closure—and I can just hear you laughing now."
Hawkeye stood still for many moments, staring down at the headstone and at the flowers he'd planted. Finally, reluctantly, he shook himself from his reverie.
"Well, I have to get going. I left Trapper sitting in the car. I picked him up in Boston on my way here. Oh, he wanted to come, too, but I said that I needed to do this part on my own. He'll probably stop by later."
Another pause as Hawkeye tried to bring himself to walk away.
"Well, I'm going now," he said, not moving.
Finally, with much effort, Hawkeye walked away from the gravesite, and from the fresh flowers he planted, and the eternal resting place of Captain Jonathan S. Tuttle was left a little less gloomy in his wake.