This is a short story that I wrote about what Hawkeye's life would be like after he returned home to Crab Apple Cove - it deals with his alcoholism, his memories of the carnage - so it is a little dark. But I'm hoping that the darkness will strike a chord of truth within my readers, something that smacks of the real story, that we never heard at the conclusion of the show.
It is Hawkeye/OFC, which I can see is pretty unpopular here on , but don't hold it against me! =D And remember to review after you've read!
The 1952 Buick Super wandered from side to side of the small residential street, headlights bright yellow beams of weaving light. Dark blue, the car was nearly invisible in the night, save for its headlights and glinting chrome. Drunkenly, it swerved into oncoming traffic and was only just able to dodge out of the way in time.
Behind the wheel, Benjamin Franklin Pierce – Hawkeye – peered through the windshield with narrowed eyes. There was sour alcohol on his breath, and his hands shook as he made a right hand turn. He didn't notice that though, he was too busy trying to remember which house was his. He knew that it was one of the quiet houses on the sleepy street, somewhere. But which one?
There. Hawkeye vaguely remembered helping Sofia plant the tulips by the living room window, and made a haphazard turn into the driveway. The car rumbled to a stop bare feet from a collision with the house, straight eight engine guttering and headlights flickering on a white garage door before turning off. Leaning back against the seat, Hawk exhaled deeply and wrinkled his nose at the smell of his own breath, then smiled without reason, as only a drunk could.
When he returned from Korea, Hawkeye found that Crabapple Cove hadn't changed all that much, physically, at least. But the mentality of it had changed, and starting a family had become the newest way to serve one's country – give birth to the next generation of soldiers and politicians. That was part of the reason why he'd ended up shackling himself to Sofia.
They met a few months after his return from the war, at an early summer BBQ, over a bowl of watermelon punch. She wasn't particularly beautiful, and his slightly drunken self had been entertained by her feminine form. But his interest had been piqued when all she did was smile shyly and look away at his lewd comment. No loud laugh or offended frown – just a smile.
Courtship lasted for a few weeks, consisting of summer fairs, dinners, movies, and dancing; affairs at which both of them had felt a bit awkward in the beginning – because of their age difference. Eight years. At first it hadn't seemed like that much, but differences were soon discovered. That slid to the back of their minds though, under the pressure of the life that was thrust upon them. Despite it, they managed to simultaneously charm and balance each other out before it went any further.
There'd been no talk of marriage or of a commitment, or even a future. Just when their next date would be.
Hawk smiled fondly as he remembered the night that had changed all that. On the lawn behind the local drive-in movie theater, her pink dress pulled over her head and her matching lipstick smeared over her mouth. His jacket under her back and grass tickling his thighs as he entered her. Lightning bugs and stars in the sky, and the bite of her teeth on her lips as she tried desperately not to cry out.
It was only a few weeks later that Hawk'd found a red-eyed Sofia and her angry father on his doorstep, and only a few days after that, they were down at the local courthouse repeating their wedding vows. Illicit premarital sex and a shotgun wedding weren't necessarily things a man was supposed to be happy about. But knowing that he was giving his rapidly aging father a much-longed for grandchild had improved his viewpoint on the situation considerably.
Thinking about Sofia roused a sort of desire in the pit of his stomach, and Hawkeye shoved open the car door, swinging himself out of the driver-side of the car with lazy movements. As he stood up and his head cleared the roof of the Buick, the front door of his house banged open. Had it been morning, the sound would have been horrendously torturous.
But in such an inebriated state, it was a different form of pain for Hawkeye. It was a gunshot to his mind, it was every piece of shrapnel that he'd pulled from the GIs, the light that left the eyes of the dying.
And Hawkeye did something he hadn't for a long time – he flinched.
Once his eyes cleared, his sight was filled with Sofia, hurrying toward him with an expression on her face that did not bode well for him. She was worried, the emotion scraped into every line of her face, and one hand clutched her greatly rounded belly in anxiety. "Ben?" He hated when she called him that, with that uninspired "newlywed" smile of hers.
"Where were you?" Her voice conveyed everything he'd already read in her body. "I was so worried about you – I've waited up all night!" Sofia's hands found their way to his hunched shoulders as she helped him lock up the car.
Hawkeye grinned down at her, and leaned over to place his lips on the corner of her mouth, eliciting a grimace from her – he wasn't the only one who didn't want to smell the alcohol on his breath. "Me an' – me an' the boys were just out celebrating."
Sofia frowned at him, an expression that stuck in the corner of his eye like a burr. "Celebrating what?" She staggered to the side as his weight overbalanced her, and was only saved from falling over completely by the porch railing.
"The end of the war." Hawkeye's legs crossed themselves as he walked, making their journey particularly perilous. His stomach turned as he felt the conversation taking a dangerous turn with the curve of his words; he knew that he shouldn't have mentioned Korea, especially in his current state, but couldn't stop the movement of his lips.
Something in the air, in the time, still hadn't defused the ticking bomb in his soul that was Korea, that was the war, and it was almost like he wanted it to go off. Sofia still presented some small hope of peace, but the faster the bomb ticked, the less he believed in her ability.
She bit her lip as they started up the stairs and Hawkeye drunkenly palmed one breast, her free hand propping open the screen door. "The end of the war? That ended long ago." She paused to consider what she was saying. "Well, relatively."
His eyes darkened momentarily, like a light being turned off. "Not nearly lo-long enough for me." Hawkeye hiccupped as his wife poured him into a seat in the living room. Once she turned her back on him, he dragged himself out of the chair and followed her into the kitchen, his weaving path on a collision course with several chairs.
She jumped when he grabbed her from behind, dropping the glass of water she'd poured for him. The glass shattered on the floor on impact, and Hawkeye's vodka soaked brain startled again. Sofia's hands flattened against his chest as she tried to push him away and he tried to lean forward and delve into her mouth. He succeeded when she wasn't strong enough to push him away, but she turned her face to the side seconds later, the movement accidentally dragging his tongue across her cheek.
She backed as far away from him as she could, the edge of the laminate countertop biting into her lower back, and grimaced sadly. One hand came up to wipe the saliva off of her cheek, and her eyes gained a wounded sort of stirring in their depths. She licked her lips, simultaneously sucking her lower lip in, and pressed herself harder against the counter. Farther away from him.
"This is the tenth time you've been out all night this month Ben." Her tone was flavored the same way as her eyes, and she swallowed heavily, pointing out, "It's only the fifteenth of the month, Ben."
He groaned and leaned backward; he misjudged the distance between himself and the refrigerator though, and ended up stumbling back until he hit the machine. He braced himself, and then pushed a hand through his hair. "Can't I just go out and enjoy myself?" No more alcoholic stuttering, but enough drunken angst to taint what he was saying.
Sofia's face scrunched up and he had the feeling that she was struggling not to cry. Just the prospect of it made him disturbingly unhappy. "Of course you can Benjamin, I want you to be happy."
"But you're going out all the time and, well, I know that it must be hard for you to deal with what you've been through but –"
Hawkeye's teeth clenched together involuntarily and his knuckles knocked against the refrigerator door. "You don't know anything."
That pushed Sofia over the edge, and though she didn't look at him, she shook her head as if to ward off tears, and stalked into the living room, knowing that he'd follow. "I know plenty of things, Ben."
He scoffed at her, without bothering the curb the anger and ire that were rising to her words, knowing there was a good chance he'd wound her forever with them. "What do you know? How to make a meatloaf? Or a nice gelatin salad? Or how about how to trap a man into marriage?"
"No!" Sofia's hurt echoed in the power of her denial, her defense of her intelligence. "I know that loud noises upset you. I know you drink every day, every night – you're addicted to it Ben. You're an alcoholic."
Hawkeye protested, waving his arms aggressively. "I am not addicted Sofia."
"Yes you are!"
His denial was every bit as vehement as hers, and was punctuated by a smashing sound as he knocked a vase off their coffee table. "You want a loud noise?" He picked up a candy dish and smashed it at her feet.
Sofia's scream was startling in their dark house as the glass broke into hundreds of sharp pieces, and she found herself imagining that it was their relationship splintering in the night. Still, she went on. "I know that you come home every night stinking of liquor. You touch me and kiss me, and you have sex with me, and then you ignore me, treat me like I'm not there."
"I make love to you, not have sex with you."
She ignored him in favor of her diatribe. "Well, I am here Benjamin! I live with you and I love you and I cannot take this anymore." Sofia was shrieking now, and sobbing desperately, not caring if the neighbors heard her. "You can't drown the war in vodka Ben! You can't live like you did then, like you have nothing to lose!"
"You do have something to lose – me! You can't treat me like a common… a common prostitute and expect me to put up with it!"
Hawkeye's boots crunched through the broken glass as he advanced on his angry, distraught wife. His breath clouded his nostrils, even that tainted with liquor. "Sofia." He said mawkishly, the emotions failing to fog over the arrogance. "You're not going to leave me."
"Well." Sofia appeared in a mélange of emotions, his comment injecting incense into her face and tone. "We'll just see about that." She brushed past him in a move that his inebriated eyes could not follow, determination to prove him wrong evident in every facet of her.
He dumbly watched her stalk down the hallway, the hem of her robe swishing back and forth on the ground with each step. It was the slam of the door that pulled him from his stupor, and he jolted forward a step. Hawkeye hesitated for a moment, then started down the hall himself.
He reached the bedroom door and yanked on the doorknob, futilely pulling against an unyielding lock. "Sofia!" His fists pounded the wooden wall between him and his wife, and his child. Through the barrier, he could hear her rushing about, dragging things across the room and knocking hangers to the floor. He hit the door harder with a mixture of anger and frustration. "Sofia!"
"I'm leaving you Benjamin!" Her voice was wavering through the door, but he couldn't tell whether it was uncertainty she felt, or if it was just the door. "I'll show you what you have to lose!"
Hawkeye pressed his face against the door, trying to hear more. "Let me in Sofia!" He shouted into the wood, the coolness of it rapidly fading under the heat of his flesh. "Let me in!"
There was a slight pause, and then his wife's voice reached him again. "Why?"
The question was one he should have expected, but had neglected to. Hawkeye didn't answer right way, instead putting off the inevitable in a mad dash to think of something. It wasn't like those times, when he'd had some poor kid's heart in his hands; there'd been so much pressure, so much consequence that he'd no other option to do anything but the right thing. Bereft of such pressure, he felt like he still had two options – the right way and the wrong way, because there was no wall barricading him from one or the other. "I-"
Before he could finish, the door flew open, revealing a distraught Sofia. She hadn't bothered to turn on the bedroom light, and he could see past her to clothes heaped in open suitcases. Light from the waxing moon was striping her face black and white, wide open and weeping either way. She had on a dress that she'd donned in a hurry, as the neckline and hem were askew, and her fingers crunched wrinkles into the fabric.
"Why?" She asked, looking up at him through her lashes with an angrily hurt expression and salty water pooling on her lower lip. "Why would I stay… After what you've said to me? And how you've treated me?"
There was another pause, this time because Hawkeye hesitated, and when he didn't answer right away, Sofia turned away to continue packing. She packed up several more things as he said her name in an attempt to appease her, to no effect.
She was shoving her feet into a pair of shoes when he snapped and surged forward, snatching one of the shoes away from her. "Benjamin!" She shrieked, reaching for the shoe, and he pushed her away.
Breathing heavily from the forces that were rattling about in his body, Hawkeye stepped farther back from her, holding the shoe in one hand. "I hate it when you call me that! Don't call me that! My name is Hawkeye! Hawkeye! I am not Benjamin."
Sofia frowned, then kicked off her other shoe. "It doesn't matter anymore, Hawkeye. Because I'm leaving." She rubbed her forehead tiredly. "I'm leaving you because I don't know you anymore, and I'm tired of being treated like a thing to use when you come home drunk at night." She bent down awkwardly and waved the other shoe at him. "And I'll do it barefoot."
She picked up her suitcase and stormed past him furiously, and though he tried to catch her, take hold of her arm and talk sense to her, capture her and show her why she needed to stay, his clumsy gesture missed her wildly.
"I need you to stay…" He began slowly, and Sofia turned around just as hesitantly, finding herself reeled in. Hawkeye saw this, and continued. "I need you to stay with me…" He began again, and lured her in closer.
"Say it. Please say it."
Hawkeye opened his mouth, and he was about to say the right thing, he could feel it rumbling in his bones, but the look on her face was too strong; or rather, it was not strong enough, he still had two choices, after all. Finally, he finished the sentence, vodka making everything slippery. "I need to you to stay with me because you… You're having my kid."
Sofia's face shut down in disappointment. She put one hand up as if to push hair away from her forehead, but then dropped it to hide the shaking in her fingers. "I can't believe you Hawkeye." Her face screwed up in frustration. "God, can't you just be sober for once?" She cried, not looking at him.
"Is that what you want? Is that what you want so fucking bad?" Hawk was feeling the same extreme of reaction, and shouted back at her. Demands – demands – she was always demanding something from him, it felt like. "I'll give you fucking sober!"
Turning around, he stalked down the hallway, determined to show her how wrong she was. Behind him, he could hear the 'thunk' as she dropped her suitcase to follow him, bare feet padding anxiously on the floor at his heels. "Ben? Hawkeye?" She corrected herself quickly. "What are you doing? What are you doing?"
Hawkeye turned sharply into their bathroom and turned the faucet in the bathtub all the way up. Water blasted into the old tub, splashing all over as the first gush hit the bottom, but it filled up quickly. After casting her one last look, he stepped into the bathtub, sat down, and leaned back to hold his head under the water.
When Hawk awoke, he had only vague imaginations of the previous night. His ears bubbled with the sounds of rushing water and Sofia screaming, and his eyes were blurry and unfocused.
There was sunlight slanting into his face, and he blinked accordingly, groaning. His head felt as if Sofia had loped it off and stuck it in her little suitcase, and blotches of pain throbbed behind his eyes. The longer he held them open though, the clearer the world became, and whether that was a good thing or not, he couldn't quite figure out.
He was curled over on one side in the bathtub, cold water lapping at his chest and sides, and when he tilted his head back limply, it plucked at his hair, black threaded through with veils of white. He struggled to sit up, and then stared blankly at the water he was sitting in. The last thing he remember clearly was the water surging up his nostrils, flooding his mouth, as he intended to drown himself in sobriety, and teach Sofia a lesson.
The two ends of time didn't match up though – drowning in water and waking up alone in a bathtub. But at the thought of Sofia, he couldn't bother himself with trying to figure it out any longer.
"Sofia!" Hawkeye screamed as loudly as he could, but his voice was hoarse, and his tongue covered in hang-over induced cotton. "Sofia!"
He attempted to pull himself up, but his hand landed on a bar of soap and he fell back with a splash, his elbow knocking painfully against the side of the tub. "Sofia!" In a wave of tepid water, he scrambled out of the tub and managed to stand up in the bathroom, leaning on the tile counter, and breathing heavily.
His clothes were soaking wet from this chest down, and he dripped water all over the floor, but he no longer cared as he stormed out of the bathroom and down the hallway. Head pounding, he swung around the corner and into the common area of the entryway, kitchen, and living room. "Sofia!" He called out as he moved, "Sof-"
The wooden floor was still littered with glass shards that were brilliant in the early morning sun, the different colored slivers of vase and candy dish equally luminescent. From his position, he could see his broken glass of water, still pooled on the kitchen floor. It was as if everything had entered into this strange stasis, in which he could make everything right again, if only he tried.
And there she was, sitting so solemn and so still, on an old wooden chair in the living room. She still wore the dress she'd pulled on so quickly just a few hours before, and her feet were still bare, making him worry uselessly about her walking through the glass to the chair in the middle of the night.
Next to her chair sat her suitcase, and she had on her best Sunday hat, lopsided on her head. Her eyes were red rimmed, and underscored by deep shadows, as if she hadn't slept for many nights. And guiltily he realized that for all he knew, that was the case.
But it was clear that she had not been caught in the stasis of their living room, like the broken glass and the knocked about furniture had. She was different, and so was he. They were not the same people that had married each other, each having experienced something deep in the preceding night – for her an ultimatum, and for him a revelation.
"Sofia," Hawkeye repeated, and after having yelled it so frantically, saying it quietly seemed so strange.
She looked up at him from her seat, watching the way his clothes stuck to his skin and he dripped water on the floor without caring. "I just wanted to make sure," She started out, having a hard time saying anything without anger to reinforce it. "I just wanted to make sure that you woke up this morning."
Sofia stood up then, picked up her suitcase, and in the morning light was a halo of bright sorrow and regret. She picked her way carefully through the glass as he watched closely, waiting to see if she'd cut her foot or hurt herself, waiting for his chance to swoop in and save her. But she made it through the lion's den without injury, and stood looking at him across from the glass minefield.
"I'll be leaving now." She said, clearing her throat. "I'll call you when the baby is born."
"No!" He wasn't angry or bitter, he was desperate. It was a true saying, 'you don't know what you have until you lose it,' but Hawk was desperate to keep that from happening to him. He was this close to losing it all, and he was grasping at all the unraveling threads. If she left him like this, he would be another victim of the war, just as wounded as any other GI. "No. I'm not going to let you leave."
She looked down for a moment, then back up at him. "I am not going to stay and put up with your drinking and the way you treat me. I'm not tolerating it anymore." Sofia began to turn away, heading for the dark brown door that led out of Hawkeye's life. "If leaving is the only way I can show you how much you need to stop, how much you have to lose, then I will."
He felt himself crossing the broken glass before he knew what he was doing. He was grabbing her arm and pulling her back to him, before she could react. He was holding her, and kissing her, and pouring everything within himself into her, from his lips to hers. He was biting her lower lip as she dropped her suitcase, and he was sucking it into his mouth as she grasped at his biceps. He was praying that she would realize what he was telling her, even without words.
They pulled apart, both of them unsteady, and Hawkeye leaned against the wall, while Sofia placed one hand on the back of a chair. Her head was down, but he couldn't see any tears, and she had her other hand against her lips.
For a moment, more than anything, Hawkeye was scared that she would wipe the feeling of him from her mouth.
"I don't want things to be this way." Sofia spoke first, breaking the silence and irreparably shattering the stasis so that nothing could ever by recast. "I don't want things to be like this between us, Hawkeye." She added on, eyes wide but shrouded. She reached to straighten her crooked hat as she spoke.
"Neither do I Sofia." Hawkeye spoke earnestly, hopefully. Broken candy dish that was embedded in the bottom of his shoes crunched as he reached for her again. "I spent thirty seconds this morning wondering if I'd spend the rest of my life alone because you left me. I have never felt anything like that. And I don't intend to feel it again."
Sofia could only shift back and forth without really moving, caught between two paths, two horses. On one she could run back to her father, to a life in which her marriage was broken and her child grew up without a real father figure; both she and Ben, Hawkeye, knew that if she left, even after the child was born, it would become more and more painful to maintain that connection, until it snapped altogether. And then it would be up to the child to ferry between them, to parlay with both sides of the war.
Yet the other horse would lead her into unknown: an equally hazardous future that she wanted so badly and yet was afraid of. One that could possibly mirror what their marriage had already become. And Sofia didn't want that anymore either.
"So what do you expect me to do?" She demanded, just as torn and angry as he was. "I can't take a lifetime of this… Hawkeye. You leave me night after night for better company at the bar. You treat me with utter negligence most of the time – how am I supposed to believe that you care for me? One minute I'm the enemy and the next you treat me like a cheap prostitute! I can't-"
"Stop it Sofia." Hawkeye broke through the emotional tirade with some effort. The more she spoke, the more her voice resembled the calls of the wounded, until his voice was the silencing shot. Her red-rimmed eyes only barely caught the flinch. "Get off of your soapbox."
She could only respond with a hurt gasp and a, "Hawkeye!" With the early morning sun streaming through to highlight her every curve and that of his child, she was a total innocent, soiled by the gunpowder of the war, and he felt sick for wounding her.
Hawkeye took hold of her arms and led her around the glass, farther into the house, the further away from the door the better. Perhaps, he hoped, the sheer distance would stop her from leaving. Feeling her warm hand in his palm, the future, against the stark past, he knew that she couldn't leave. Before she could protest, he pulled her into a hug, against his wet clothes and needy soul.
"I don't know what it's like to have to sit at home waiting and twitching and not knowing. I don't know what it's like to have a total stranger come home." She'd stopped moving in his arms, and he thought she was holding her breath to hear him better. "But you do not know what it was like over there. You can never imagine. War is war and hell is hell. And of the two, war is infinitely worse."
"Have you ever stopped to wonder," He interrupted her, chilled by the possibilities, "Where I would be if I wasn't married to you? Have you?"
Sofia shook her head against his chest. "No." And when she shivered from his wet clothes and dripping hair, he only pulled her closer, unwilling to let go. "No, I haven't."
"I would be insane." He was so blunt that Sofia snapped her head up to stare at him, and she was so close that he could see the little violet veins in her eyelids. "My father would be dead because there wouldn't be a grandchild for him to live for, and I would be alone and insane. I was sent to a sanitarium while I was over there, have I told you that yet?"
She was silent for so long that he feared revealing such had finally scared her away for good, that in the end, it would be his own honesty that would splinter the last straw of the marriage. Hawkeye felt the baby kick through the layers of the clothes, against his own abdomen, and the silence became even more terrible at the thought of losing not one but two. His heart beat for this baby, and this woman, and if they left he did not know what would happen. Slowly deflate into a puddle of vodka and loneliness, he supposed.
Finally, the woman in his arms answered, and it was neither the violent rejection he feared, nor the wholehearted acceptance he craved. "No, you never told me before." They both waited for the inevitable, and at long last she asked, "Why?"
Hawkeye closed his eyes and all he could see was that woman on the bus, and all the world was drowned out by the moment in which the baby's cries stopped. "I saw a mother smother her child. To keep it quiet." That was only the match to the tinder, the tip of the iceberg, but he wasn't going to tell her the rest.
"Oh Hawkeye," Was the immediate response, and suddenly it was Sofia holding him in her arms. Despite his best efforts he found himself going to his knees on the floor, and it was Sofia who was struggling to control their descent. "I'm so sorry."
"Why would you be sorry?" He asked, looking at her from the corner of his eye. She looked so mournful and unhappy that he almost felt guilty for wanting to keep her with him forever. Her condolences fell on deaf ears – he'd heard too many of them in so few years that the words almost sickened him. "Why would you be sorry? You weren't overseas."
Hawkeye struggled to free himself from her arms until he could put some space between them. He didn't like letting go, or giving her the opportunity to run, but more than that he needed to be able to flatten his palms over her belly and feel that the fetus was still alive.
Sofia had placed her own hands over his, their fingers alternating with each other to press against the fabric of her dress and the flesh underneath. "Benjamin Franklin Pierce. Hawkeye. I want to help you, but you have to explain things to me. I don't want everything to fall apart."
"I will not allow you to leave with… with my kid." He raised his bowed head to look up at her, and Sofia saw pain and determination in his eyes, not what she was looking for. "I'll do anything to keep you here. Anything." His voice broke.
"Ben," Sofia sank back against the nearest wall, away from him and his hands and prepared herself for disappointment. It would be hard enough to force herself to leave without him holding to her, if what she wanted more than anything didn't enter his eyes. "Hawkeye," She had to take a deep breath before continuing. "I want is to know that we're enough to stop all of… this."
"You are." And what he said was echoed in his face and the way he attempted to curve himself around her like an anchor.
She closed her eyes, head tilted back, nervous and sick from anticipation and doubt. "I want to be loved."
Sofia did not open her eyes right away, terrified. For a moment, she was scared that she would open her eyes and find nothing but repentance and anger, that he wouldn't mean it.
But he did.
I did toy with making this a two-shot instead of a one-shot, but in the end I decided that the two separate chapters would be too short for my taste, and I went with the longer one-shot. I really hope that you all enjoy my take on Hawkeye's homecoming - I know it's not nearly as cheery or perfect as all of us would hope. We see how funny and humorous the character is on the show, and we envision a life after the war for him that's like a sitcom.
But I don't think that's what really happened. This is a little out-there for his character, I think, but I enjoyed exploring Hawkeye like this, and I hope you all enjoyed it too! It sounds like a truer account than any I've ever heard to me.
Please review! And let me know what you think!