Title: Like Soldiers Do
Author: nostalgia
Rating Advice/Warnings: Slight swearing and some realatively mild homophobic language. Because it's the 'fifties.
Disclaimer: Property is theft.
Summary: Hawkeye has a clear way out, so why did he never take it?
Notes: Lyssie and Kim did beta-duty.
Getting to Seoul wasn't that difficult, once I'd convinced Radar that it was too personal an issue to discuss at the camp. He in turn then convinced Henry, whose administrative failings will remain forever dear to my heart. Then you just have to act like you have an appointment, and they'll give you one just to make you go away. I sped this process up by affecting a nervous tic and occasionally yelling about the apocalypse.

So, I managed to get a General. Only one star, but who's counting? He could probably buy another one in Tokyo, anyway. You have to go straight to the top with these things, especially in the army where they organise the line for the latrines based on who has the most metal on their uniform.

Generals do have the disadvantage of being so fond of the military life that they'll do everything they can to share their happy experience of fear, violence and death. They want to make a man out of you, because Mother Nature's own methods aren't emotionally scarring enough to be convincing.

With this in mind, I tried to look earnest. I think I managed it. I said, "General, sir, I have to leave the army."

Of course, this was a line he'd heard a lot, probably from people far more earnest than I was pretending to be.

So he glared at me, chewed his cigar and barked, "Why?" Actually barked. That's why there's so much rabies in the military.

"Because, sir, I have come to realise that I am -" pause for effect - "A homosexual."

"And what made you realise this, Captain?"

"I realised I was having sex with other men. Well, that was the first clue, anyway."

"I see." He stopped chewing the cigar at that point. Maybe he was worried I'd be aroused by the obvious phallic symbolism and ravish him there and then. I took this as a positive sign.

"So, you've been involved in homeosexual acts with other homeosexuals?"

"Yes, sir."

"Why didn't you mention this earlier?"

"I wanted the uniform. And war is so romantic. I thought I'd meet a nice man to marry and have children with. But I realised I don't have a womb. With my dreams in tatters around my homosexual feet, I realised I could no longer live this lie and risk bringing shame upon the otherwise spotless reputation of the United States Army."

See? I was really throwing myself into the role. I could have been a star, or a moon at least.

Unfortunately, I had underestimated the military willingness to accomodate misplaced civilians like myself.

"You shouldn't be too hard on yourself, Pierce. War does strange things to a man. Especially to draftees. Don't you have nurses at the 4077th?"

"Only female ones, sir. Even the more hirsute ones are women, with breasts and other things men lack."

"What I mean is, why don't you try being normal? With a nurse. That's what they're for, after all."

"I've tried, but I don't think I harrass them enough to be allowed to stay in the army."

"Well, son, if it'll make you feel any better I can guarantee we'll kick you out when the war's over."

"But I don't want to be kicked out when it's over. I want to get thrown out before the war's over, in case I get killed and can't make it to the court martial." I felt I was appealing to military intelligence, that most timid and least-spotted of beasts.

I don't think he found me appealing. He said, "This is war, boy!" And slapped the desk, which I can only assume was for emphasis. "In war we need all the men we can get, be they normal family men or deviant homeosexuals like yourself. In peacetime I'd be only too happy to be rid of you. Dishonourable discharge, the full WHAMMY."

He really did say it in capital letters.

"We doctors are very careful about our discharges. And Colonel Blake gives us a lecture every month to make sure."

That just got me a scowl. Insubordination doesn't get you thrown out. Believe me, I've tried.

"Besides, What about your family? How do you think they would cope with the shame of having a pervert for a son?"

"I happen to come from a long and proud line of perverts, sir. When the Mayflower docked there were Pierces in the hold worrying the sheep. My forefathers fought perversely against the British, and also for the British, depending on popular opinion at the time. And I could always lie about it. I could practice on the plane home."

"We need surgeons, son, however deviant they may be."

Damn. "But I operate in barely sterile conditions. What if my patients become homosexual? It's infectious, you know. I could be infecting you right now. My God, can you imagine what would happen if all the soldiers out there stopped killing each other and started making love instead? Civilisation would collapse! I can't be held responsible for something like that."

"Then you'll just have to wear gloves when you operate. No reason to have to cause trouble if there's no need."

My God, no wonder these people won't give a Section 8 to a guy in a dress. Maybe I should just try acting crazy until they promote me away from the front line.

"But what about the soldiers? How would they cope knowing they'd had perverted homosexual hands inside them, had deviant fingers sewing their vital organs back in? What about the morale?"

That was a masterstroke, I felt. The army love morale. When they aim at you with your own artillery, that's to get the morale down so they can get it back up again.

"Hmm... you think that would be a problem?"

"Oh, yes." I could hear victory serenading me, beckoning me to it with promises of martini and silent nights. "They crawl through mud, get shot at by Communists, have their intestines torn out, and then all the morale from that is lost because they were saved from death by a homosexual. They'd never get over it."

"So don't tell them."

"They'll know."

"How? Aren't they unconscious when you operate on them?"

"Mostly. If we hit them hard enough."

"Well, there you go. They don't need to know about your perversions."

Oh, victory, why must you lead me on then leave me wanting? You whoring temptress.

"I can't believe you'd turn a blind eye to a dangerous deviance like this! Don't you care about all those young men you send out to die for no good reason?"

"Of course we do, son. That's why in normal circumstances we'd get rid of you. Fortunately, in time of war it's possible to show abnormal and sometimes abhorrant kindnesses, such as allowing you to stay with us as we destroy the Red Menace once and for all."

"I'm sure Stalin is trembling already."

"Damn right he is!" Another thump for that poor abused desk. "And with any luck, you can become a real man as you experience the full beauty of war. So many children are born after wars because the men go home feeling like real men, who sow their seed with manly fervour. You just get yourself one of those nurses and spend some time thinking about all the bombs raining down on you. You'll be normal in no time!"

I had to admit defeat. The army was prepared to take anyone, no matter how insane, no matter how perverted. If I amputated my own legs they'd probably get me a corporal to carry me everywhere.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.

Even that didn't get me kicked out.