No, not spinning. The tent was wobbling, its canvas sides billowing in an out. The giant green monster they lived in was softly breathing.
That meant BJ was slightly less than halfway sober.
Groaning, he rolled over, trying to get comfortable again. He tossed and turned in place in his cot, subconsciously careful not to either one, fall out of bed or two, upend the cot and so find himself chucked bodily onto the floor.
A few moments later and BJ was comfortable again.
He'd had entirely too much practice at this.
... And was just sober enough to realize that was a bad thing.
One eye cracked lazily open again. As luck would have it, he found himself facing towards Hawkeye's cot.
BJ blinked with both eyes to make sure the alcohol wasn't playing tricks on his vision (more so than with the breathing tent); but no, he had seen right. His response was to sigh and blink himself fully to wakefulness.
Hawkeye wasn't in his cot.
BJ sat up and looked around.
Hawkeye wasn't in the tent.
BJ groaned louder and longer, his overtired, less than sober mind unsure as to what to think or feel at this sudden development... aside from the lingering essence of bile and unease that one feels when one has had far too much alcohol and far too little sleep. He looked over to Charles's bunk. The major (pain in the ass) was right where he should be. That placed it sometime between two a.m. (when Charles returned from post op duty) and dawn (when it would be light out instead of dark).
BJ's grunt elongated into yet another groan as he flopped back down onto the cot, his eyes coming to rest on the ceiling above him.
Where on Earth was Hawkeye?
The poker game in the officer's club broke up around midnight. Potter had gone to check on Charles and post op, Klinger had gone to report for guard duty, Radar headed for his office, half-asleep on his feet, and Margaret and Father Mulcahy had gone back to their respective tents. To cover part of the money he borrowed from Potter against his three sevens only to give to Radar and his uncanny four deuces, Hawkeye "volunteered" to stay behind and pick up the mess they made of the club, brushing off BJ's pitied offer to stay and help. The inebriated captain had stumbled back to his cot with no thoughts of waiting up for his bunkmate, for surely Hawkeye would have been no more than ten minutes behind him.
So where the Hell was he?
A mostly tired, half-exasperated, less than sober sigh and BJ sat up again. He had to go to the latrine. Yeah, that's it. The latrine... A nice, leisurely stroll across the compound to the officer's latrine to relieve himself of some of the alcohol still swimming in his system. And if he should just so happen to run into Hawkeye along the way...
BJ impressed himself when he attempted to stand up by succeeding at it. The breathing tent seemed to temporarily, exaggeratedly sneeze, but the captain remained standing. That made the stumble over to the door a piece of cake, though the sudden lurching of the world (to be later revealed to be him) when he leaned into the door and it swung open threw his balance for a loop and nearly took his stomach with it. Fortunately he kept his feet beneath him, and he regained as much balance as he'd had in the first place in relatively short order.
Now left... Left for latrine...
BJ hadn't traveled five feet before a distant rumbling caught his ears. Instinctively he looked up, for such a sound could only mean two things: shelling, or thunder. When he saw the moon failing to hide behind a wisp of cloud and a few stars twinkling brightly overhead BJ closed his eyes and sighed again. The correct answer is A, shelling. Somewhere, probably not too far, someone was getting the ever-living crap kicked (blown?) out of them. BJ could only hope that it wasn't the civilians this time.
Temporary distraction over, BJ continued on his quest for the latrine. It wasn't in the mess tent, the supply tent, post op, or the officer's club (and as unluck would have it, neither was Hawkeye). It was with an air of resignation that BJ finally found the latrine, right where it should have been.
And no, Hawkeye wasn't there, either.
"Halt! Who goes there?"
Ah, he finally crossed paths with Klinger. In honor of his patrol duty the corporal had changed into a yellow cotton dress with white heels and a cream colored purse that hung awkwardly in front of his rifle.
Klinger blinked, wondering if this was some sort of joke or if the captain was as intoxicated now as he had been a few hours ago. With the still, that was entirely possible.
"Uh... sorry captain, but in this light you look an awful lot like Captain Hunnicut."
"Well I should hope so," BJ replied, exhaustedly exasperated.
Klinger took a moment to size the captain up. Was this some great scheme to play crazy? Klinger bristled slightly at the thought of someone stealing his act, but other than that he was tired and had lost entirely too much money to the captain in the poker game to want to play along.
"Look, whichever sir you claim to be, I need to ask you for the password."
BJ's exasperated sigh was almost loud enough to count as yet another groan.
He didn't notice. "I'm looking for Hawkeye."
"Ooooohhh! Well why didn't you say so? He's over that way, watching the light show."
BJ followed Klinger's hairy arm... hairy wrist... hairy hand to bony, hairy finger as it pointed across the compound. Sure enough, at the end of the imaginary line stood Hawkeye. He was on the back edge of camp, atop the small hill that gave everyone a spectacular view of the 4077. He was still in his army greens, and his hands were shoved deep into the pockets. BJ saw that he was gazing upwards and off into the distance and so turned and craned his neck. Sure enough, the intermittent rumblings of shelling were accompanied by bright flashes of light behind the tree-covered hills. Some flashed higher than others, and some brighter. It was a stunning array of angry reds, fiery oranges, and burning golds. BJ himself was momentarily captivated before his original mission returned to the forefront of his mind.
He had found Hawkeye.
"No problem, sir." Klinger saluted, nose thrown into the air with mocking formality only interrupted by the fact that he nearly dropped his rifle when his purse knocked into it again. Undaunted, he pivoted on his (high) heel and resumed his patrol.
BJ himself turned to head back to the swamp. His mission was over. Hawkeye had been found. Now he could stumble back to bed and finish sleeping off the drunkenness. If he was lucky, by morning he'd be all set to sleep off the hangover.
He made it halfway there before he turned back. Curiosity killed the captain...
He stumbled instead all the way across camp to the little hill where Hawkeye stood, "watching the show" as Klinger had put it. He came to stand beside his errant bunk mate, and found himself shoving his hands in his own pockets as he tilted his head back to better see the brightly colored flashes of light that for once accompanied the accustomed rumble of artillery. While often heard, shelling was rarely "seen," in all its Technicolor glory.
The two captains stood identically side by side, silent. Hawkeye hadn't acknowledged BJ's approach; nor had BJ acknowledged Hawkeye's presence. Perhaps it was just another in the long list of things that happen when you sweat and squalor and slave alongside somebody through all the heat and cold and exhaustion and pain and loneliness and life and death and blood and hell that is a war, but oftentimes you found that words weren't needed, where comfortable, companionable silence spoke volumes, when your body learned to relish the mere proximity of another human being the way a fevered forehead would relish a cool cloth.
Or perhaps there was simply nothing to say worth saying in this preciously rare moment when death was so captivatingly beautiful to see.
Either way, silence reigned for many minutes, until at last Hawkeye spoke.
"I saw you wandering the compound. Have a bit of difficulty finding the latrine?"
Silence was BJ's best answer to that.
"I was on my way back to the swamp when the light show started." Hawkeye gestured lazily towards the mountains and the shelling beyond.
"I was already asleep," BJ answered, eyes still focused on the display.
Silence fell again, broken this time only by the sound of explosions. Seconds ticked by... or were they minutes? Not hours, because it still wasn't dawn yet. Time was kept by the metronome of exploding shells, and they had a very staggered and intermittent rhythm.
Then finally, silence.
"... ... ... I think the shelling's stopped."
"... It would appear that way."
"... C'mon. We can still get a good twenty minutes of sleep before the first of the wounded arrive."
And BJ followed Hawkeye down the slope of the hill, back across the compound, and through the door of the swamp. They collapsed down into their respective cots and allowed the pleasant sound of crickets and Charles's snoring to lull them into half-awareness. Soon enough, they'd be on their feet again, putting back together again what that little display of macabre beauty saw fit to blast to ribbons.
Then, intruding on the semi-silence: "Hey Hawk?"
"... ... Happy Fourth of July."
"... ... ... ... ... ... ... I wish."