|janecarnall (janecarnall) wrote,|
@ 2008-07-23 11:50:00
|Entry tags:||crossover, highlander, m*a*s*h, my fanfic|
M*A*S*H: Walker among the dead
Walker Among The Dead
With thanks to Evie, an exemplary beta-reader.
Mulcahy struggled awake out of a dream in which the sun was shining directly into his eyes. The shadowy figure shining a flashlight in his eyes snapped it off as Mulcahy came awake.
“I need your help, Father.”
Mulcahy reached for his glasses, his hand fumbling. His tent was cold – the stove had gone out. He was warm in his army sleeping bag, in a way, but moving had changed that. He was shivering, not only from the cold. He found his glasses and put them on. “Could you turn on the light, please?” he said.
“I don’t want anyone to see I’m here,” the voice said. Definitely a stranger’s voice. “I need your help.”
Mulcahy sat up on the cot, still mostly in his sleeping bag, looking in the direction of the voice. He could just see a shadow of the man who was speaking to him. “Of course I’ll help you if I can, my son.” He paused. “If anyone sees the light on in my tent, especially so late, they’ll think someone is here to say their confession. They won’t interrupt, unless it’s an emergency.”
The man laughed, very briefly. “I’m not here to say my confession.”
“That makes no difference,” Mulcahy said. He tried to keep his voice bland and unexcited. “I’d still rather you put the light on.”
After a moment, the shadow that was a man crossed the tent, and the overhead light came on. Mulcahy blinked, dazzled for an instant, staring at his visitor: a young, thin, dark-haired man, not in uniform. “Thank you,” he said. “What can I do for you?”
“There’s a soldier here who’s dying,” the young man said. “I don’t know his name. He was shot in the guts earlier today. He was brought here about five hours ago. I’m surprised he’s still alive, but I know he’s dying. I have to see him.”
“What’s his name?” Mulcahy asked, clutching at routine.
“I haven’t the faintest idea,” the young man said. He sounded impatient. “I’ll know him when I see him. I need you to help me see him.”
“What’s your name?”
“Do you need to know that to help me?”
Mulcahy hesitated. It would be easy enough to let this young man see the post-op ward. It wasn’t crowded tonight. Most of the wounded had left – evac bus, ambulance, or airlift. There had been three gut-wounded soldiers today.
“Are you sure your friend is still here?” Mulcahy asked.
“He’s not my friend,” the man said, with another brief, odd laugh. It made him look older. “Look, can you help me? I just need to see him. I know he’s still here.”
“Not your friend?” Mulcahy asked. He wished he hadn’t, as the man’s smile vanished: he looked at Mulcahy with grave, unblinking eyes. He looked much older. “Who are you?”
The man held out his left hand to Mulcahy, palm up. A switchblade knife was in his right hand – Mulcahy didn’t see where he’d taken it from. The blade of the knife flicked out like Hawkeye’s tongue and licked across the man’s palm, leaving a red ribbon of blood behind. He did all this as if he had planned it in advance, like showing an ID card. The man took a step closer, holding out his hand, as the blood dried – fast, fast – and Mulcahy could see the cut closing, healing as if it had never been.
Mulcahy’s back was cold. He was pressing up against the tent’s canvas wall, so hard his shape was probably visible outside. He wasn’t sure how long he had been there. His mouth was hanging open. He had been told what they could do.
They do not die unless the head is severed from the neck: it is lawful for a member of the Society to use violence against one of them. They do not fight or kill within a church, or any other enclosure of sanctity. Yet they are for the most part wholly given up to rage and killing: they slay each other in single combat, and have great readiness to murder.
“Oh dear,” he whispered. The inside of his mouth felt dry. “Oh dear Lord. What are you?”
“You’re a Jesuit,” the man said. “Don’t tell me you don’t know.”
Mulcahy closed his mouth and swallowed hard, several times. The man’s hands were back in his pockets. The switchblade was nowhere in sight. He was staring at Mulcahy with a detached air.
Father Mulcahy had been told what immortals could do.
“Do you cut heads off?” They were supposed to carry swords. Or axes. You couldn’t cut a head off with a switchblade, could you? Or could you? Hawkeye would know. If Mulcahy could possibly ask him.
“I’m not here to cut anyone’s head off,” the man said.
“Why are you here?”
“I told you,” the man said. “Are you going to help me, or not?”
“Of course,” Mulcahy said. He made a move to get up. “Excuse me. I wonder if you’d mind just stepping outside? I want to get dressed.”
“As as a matter of fact, I do mind,” the man said. He sounded amused.
“Really, what difference could it make?”
“Indulge me. I have a terminally suspicious mind.”
The man was at least not staring at him as Mulcahy got dressed: he had his face turned away slightly to one side. Nevertheless, Mulcahy felt watched.
“Your friend will be in post-op,” Mulcahy said.
“What’s your name?”
“Why does it matter? Any name you like.”
“But really – ” Mulcahy felt he was stuttering. “I can’t just take a complete stranger into post-op and – and then say I didn’t know who you were.”
After a moment, the man shrugged. “I’m Clayton Walker,” he said. “I’m a doctor.”
“Are you?” Mulcahy felt relieved, and then didn’t know why, as the man grinned.
“My last medical degree was some time ago. Shall I be a priest, instead?”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Mulcahy said dryly.
Walker laughed. He looked much more trustworthy: he smiled with his whole face, mobile and graceful. “Father, I understand this is awkward for you. I hadn’t planned it myself: but I got closer to the front lines than I meant to be, and I felt this young man – and I saw him being loaded into a chopper. He’ll die soon, and when he dies, he’ll wake as one of us.”
Vampire. The thought came to Mulcahy with a complicated shudder, and it took away all the warmth the other man was projecting. He didn’t believe it literally: the Jesuit records about these people never said that they sucked blood, or didn’t reflect in mirrors, or were afraid of the Cross or the Host – or garlic – but he was conscious of how practiced the charm in the man’s voice was.
“I want to avoid complications,” Walker said, still with that practiced charm. “I just need to know who this young man is. He’ll appear to be a corpse for a while – well, he will be a corpse, until the quickening repairs the damage to his body that killed him – but if he comes to in the middle of a military storage unit for dead bodies, that could cause all sorts of problems. And questions. Especially if he’s sent back to his unit afterwards. Just take me along to post-op, tell your colleagues what you like, and show me round. I’ll know which one he is when I’m close enough.”
“I thought you didn’t want anyone to see you were here?” Mulcahy asked.
Walker shrugged. “I can wait here till he dies, if you like.” He pointed down at the floor of the tent, and with the same movement made as if to sit.
Mulcahy opened his mouth to say No, and closed it again. “I don’t wish to appear inhospitable, but – ”
“But you’d rather have the walking dead out of your hair?” Walker was laughing at him again. “It’s unavoidable. I can see that. Tell them I’m a friend of yours, or a visiting priest – you’re the one who’s going to have to deal with the questions, so pick a story with answers you can handle. I shouldn’t have to tell a Jesuit that. By the way, I have been ordained. Longer ago than my last medical degree, but I was told it would never wear out or wash off.”
“Who ordained you?”
“Aelred of Rievaulx.” The man smiled. “It was a long time ago.”
Mulcahy opened his mouth to argue, stared at the man for a long moment. “Clayton Walker isn’t your real name.”
The tent felt colder than ever. Mulcahy stared at the man. “What are you going to do with – with your friend?”
“Take him to St. Benedict's Abbey,” Walker said promptly. “Abbot Kwan will take care of him.”
That was unexpected. The ancient abbey was only a few miles away – an enclosed order that had endured centuries of war. It was holy ground, of course, but leaving a US soldier in a Korean abbey would be awkward – “Why there?” Mulcahy had visited the abbey only the other day, to deliver a mixed-race orphan from a nearby village and attend Mass. “Why?”
“You can’t be as much of a fool as you look,” Walker said, for the first time sounding impatient. “You’ve been inside the enclosure, I assume you’ve talked to them – ”
Mulcahy fumbled, feeling slow. Abbot Kwan was a splendid, dignified man, in his forties, young to become an Abbot, but wielding his authority firmly and with compassion. Mulcahy had drunk tea with him on several occasions, ekeing out the Abbot’s oddly-accented English and Mulcahy’s stumbling Korean with fluent notes in Latin and Greek: they could not understand each other’s pronounciation of either language. A few of the monks spoke better English than the Abbot, and Mulcahy had enjoyed sitting with them at recreation.
There had been jokes, but quite proper ones to tell about an Abbot. Chinese monks referring to him as if he were Emperor – “They say – he’s been abbot for ten thousand years – ”
“They’re joking,” Walker said easily. “It’s not even been a thousand years since he was ordained, he’s younger than me.”
Mulcahy sat down on his cot. The metal edge was a hard line against his backside: he put out a hand and gripped the frame, trying to make himself believe this was real. “They say he’s one of the Immortals – ” which Mulcahy had known just enough about Buddhism to think was funny –
“Well, he is,” Walker said. “So am I.” He did not speak for a couple of minutes: the night was so quiet that Mulcahy could hear him breathing. The second wave casualties had been and gone, if they were well enough to travel: no one was expecting new patients tonight, though that didn’t mean they wouldn’t get them. If they did, Mulcahy would be needed. The longer he delayed, the more likely that something would happen.
What harm, after all, could it do to show Clayton Walker round post-op? There were patients there: Hawkeye was duty surgeon, and there would be a night nurse, and a dozen more within call. Two sentries in the compound. And once the man Walker claimed was immortal was dead –
Mulcahy looked up, sharply. “How were you planning to take the – the body – to the Abbey?”
“Steal a jeep,” Walker said frankly. He met Mulcahy’s eyes and smiled: he looked like an honest man when he smiled. “But if you’d rather drive the body to the Abbey yourself, I’ve no objection. So long as he gets there before he wakes up.”
“What if he’s not dying?”
Walker shrugged. “It’s unlikely. But if he’s going to live, he’s not my problem.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, tilted his head on one side, and smiled. “Can you imagine what it’s going to be like for him if he wakes up inside a bodybag in an army freezer on a plane on the way to the States? I’ve woken up in a morgue a few times, and even when you know what’s happening to you – and I always did – it’s never a pleasant experience. You’re naked, and it’s freezing, and you’re surrounded by corpses. He’ll be sealed in a body bag. He’ll probably think he’s gone mad. And there won’t be anyone there to explain it to him. What are you going to do, Father?”
Mulcahy got to his feet. “I’ll take you round post op,” he said dryly.
Post-op was almost empty: Baker and Hawkeye were on duty, and there were two beds occupied.
Hawkeye unfolded himself from the chair beside one patient’s bed, and ambled towards them, looking tired but curious: his head poked forward in a stoop like a bird’s thrusting beak, but his eyes seemed to be only half-open, the lids heavy and full over the blue.
“Morning, Father. If you’re here for midnight mass, you’re too late – we already did ‘this is my body, this is my blood’. Or rather, this is Nurse Able’s blood.” He waved his hand at the patient – a North Korean, lying very still, with a dark red bag half-full above his left shoulder – but he was looking at Walker. “If I were a vampire, I could be in love with that woman. Who’s your friend?”
“He’s a doctor,” Mulcahy said.
Walker held out his hand, his voice full of friendship. “Doctor Clayton Walker. Father Francis and I are both from the same neighbourhood. He taught me how to box.”
“That so?” Hawkeye straightened, his eyes suddenly more wide-awake. “So you knew him before he was ordained?”
“Oh no,” Walker denied, in complete sincerity, “he’s always been a priest – as long as I’ve known him.”
Mulcahy managed what felt like a very feeble smile. “Boxing… builds character,” he said.
Hawkeye shot him a wicked smile. “The only thing Father Mulcahy fights these days is temptation,” he said blandly. “Did you drop by for a refresher course in holy fisticuffs, Doctor Walker?”
“I’m assigned to the evac hospital for this area,” Walker said. “I asked to take a look round the MASH units – you’re one of our best suppliers, Captain.”
“Hawkeye,” Hawkeye said automatically. “We do our best with what they send us, Doctor. When the wounded keep coming, there’s no time for anything but meatball surgery,” Hawkeye said, and he was off: Mulcahy could almost have recited this lecture himself, he’d heard it so often from Hawkeye. But each time Hawkeye sounded as if he believed he were talking to someone who could change things. The passion came through even when Hawkeye was exhausted. Mulcahy saw Nurse Baker, who had been doing paperwork at the far end of the ward, get up and slip out. They had all heard Hawkeye on this subject all too often, any time someone new came to the 4077th.
“Can you tell me something about this patient?” Walker said, interrupting as Hawkeye fetched breath: it took Hawkeye aback, and it was a moment before he answered.
“He was hit by shell fragments and nearly disembowelled. I took out his spleen and his gall bladder and a chunk of his liver, and Doctor Hunnicutt did a double anastomosis – about three feet of intestine – and he’s had all the Type A Positive blood we could find for him. He’s on his tenth pint, he’s had a complete oil change. He’s looking good on it, though.”
The man didn’t look good: but Mulcahy had seen men worse off recover. There was the other patient down at the far end, but surely he hadn’t been gutshot? Mulcahy stared at Walker, who was standing with Hawkeye by the North Korean’s bed, examining the patient’s chart with every sign of professional interest.
“What about this other patient?” Mulcahy asked.
Hawkeye glanced up and said, without interest, “He got hit in the butt. Flesh wound. That’s the guy I got Frank Burns to do, remember?”
(“Why do I have to spend two hours picking metal out of an enlisted man’s backside?” – “Because it suits you, Frank.”)
“Then he’s going to be all right?”
“Sure,” Hawkeye said, still without interest. “Is he one of yours, Father?”
“No,” Mulcahy said, though he didn’t think Hawkeye was listening. “What about this man? – the North Korean?”
That caught Hawkeye’s attention. He turned to stare at Mulcahy: Walker’s attention was still on the wounded man in the bed. “I don’t think he’s one of yours, is he?”
“Hawkeye, I’m simply asking….” Mulcahy’s voice trailed off. He realised he was not sure what he was simply asking, nor of whom he should be asking it. “Is he going to live?”
Hawkeye’s eyes widened and his mouth grimaced open: Mulcahy saw the symptoms with some dread. Hawkeye couldn’t be sure yet that the man was going to live, but wanted him to.
“He’ll live,” Hawkeye said: his voice had dangerous edges to it.
“Yes,” Walker said, turning away, “I really think he will.” He had a calm voice. “He seems quite stable now – I suppose he’ll go to a PoW camp?”
Hawkeye looked away. When he responded to Walker, he sounded calmer. “I got the Colonel – our CO here, Potter, he’s a good man, the best – I got the Colonel to make an application to the Red Cross to send him to the evac hospital. So he’ll be your patient for a few days – we can’t move him to a PoW camp till we’re sure his insides are in order after the rearrangements we did.”
“My patient?” Walker sounded amused. “Well, well. You certainly did an impressive job, Doctor – I’d have been certain someone with those injuries wouldn’t survive.”
“How will he survive?” Mulcahy asked.
Walker looked at him. He didn’t say anything. Hawkeye’s voice was ragged again. “He’s going to be okay.”
“Will he have a normal life?”
Hawkeye shrugged. “He’ll – well, he’ll live.”
“But you took out a lot of organs,” Mulcahy pressed on. “Is he really going to be okay?”
Hawkeye whipped round and stared at him. His eyes were wide and sharp like glass. “No, Father, he’s not. He’s going to have just one kidney and that not in A1 condition, and we’ll hope his liver does OK without a gall bladder when we had to take out a chunk of it, and his digestion’s never going to be normal again with all the intestine we had to take out, but – ” Hawkeye’s hand came out, a wide sweep as if he could cut with it “ – but he’s going to be alive, Father! He was almost dead when he came in, and now he’s going to live – he doesn’t need your last rites or your prayers, I saved his life.”
Mulcahy looked down. “Yes,” he said, unable to bear it any longer. He turned away and went quite unsteadily towards the doors: outside, he stood leaning against the wooden wall, breathing the cold night air, and trying to think a prayer.
Clayton Walker was standing in front of him. Mulcahy hadn’t heard him come out.
“Thank you,” Walker said, with formal politeness. “Though it turns out I needn’t have bothered you.”
“What are you going to do?” Mulcahy asked. He hugged his hands under his armpits: he was cold.
“Nothing,” Walker said, and smiled, a long white smile like a bleached snake. “No need. You heard the doctor: he’ll live.”
“What would happen – what will happen if he dies?” The ‘quickening’ – the fire of immortality that could heal any injury except a beheading – did not show itself in an immortal until after their first death.
“That’s an interesting question,” Walker said. He took out his knife again and tossed it from one hand to the other. “If he were to die of his wounds, right now, he would become immortal. If he dies in ten years time of kidney failure, I don’t think he would – no more than if someone poisoned him or he died of old age. Best thing for him, really.”
“Why do you say that?” Mulcahy could not take his eyes off the knife: right hand, left hand, right hand, sent tossing neatly and precisely.
“Because if he were to die by violence some time in the next ten years or so – I mean, if someone killed him after his wounds healed – he would become immortal with all the problems your friend outlined: bad kidney, bad liver, no gall bladder, no spleen. He’ll be vulnerable – he’d probably die fast in a quick challenge, it wouldn’t be worth anyone’s while taking him as a student. It would be a mercy, really.”
Baker came out of the nurses’ latrine, saw Mulcahy and Walker, and went across the compound into the mess tent – coffee, of course, for herself and Hawkeye.
Mulcahy’s mouth went dry. “God,” he said out loud. He still had no words for his prayer.
Walker tossed the knife again. “It’s almost a pity he didn’t die of his wounds right here. Or die in surgery. I suppose if you’d been any busier, he would have died, wouldn’t he?”
“God,” Mulcahy repeated, and was holding the knife in his hands: he could not remember having reached out for it. He turned and walked back into post-op. Hawkeye was leaning on the end of the bed, looking down at his patient: for an instant, before he looked up and saw Mulcahy, he looked ancient with tiredness, lines raddled across his face.
“Father,” Hawkeye said, and his face seemed to relax a little, his shoulders straighten.
There was nothing to say: there were no more prayers. God, Mulcahy thought, like a thud in his ears. If he hesitated, he wouldn’t be able to do it. He put his hand out with the knife in it, to the man’s torso. He had confiscated flick-knives from young thugs in his parish days, he knew how the release catch should work.
The blade must have been very sharp. There was no resistance as it went in.
There was not much blood, either: but Mulcahy knew the man had died. He looked up, and knew in a moment’s glance that Hawkeye knew it too.
God, Mulcahy said again. Thirty pieces of silver could not have hurt more. Please God.
Like an answer to a prayer, Hawkeye fell: collapsing sideways, his face going wide-eyed and relaxed, landing in a crumple of white coat and bleeding black hair.
Walker’s hand fell to his side. He smiled at Mulcahy, and he looked terrible. “Let’s steal a jeep, shall we?”
Mulcahy had dropped to his knees. “He’s not – ” Hawkeye was still breathing.
“I haven’t killed anyone,” Walker said. “Unlike you. Shall we go?” His voice betrayed some impatience. “The doctor will wake up with a headache in about an hour. You and I need to go, now.”
Hawkeye’s hair looked coarse as wire but felt soft –
Mulcahy tried to forget the last time he had knelt by Hawkeye and slid his hands round the curve of Hawkeye’s skull. Hawkeye had grinned up at him, mouth opening in lazy, sinful goodwill, and he had said –
As far as Mulcahy could tell, there was no damage to Hawkeye’s head, beyond a bump. He would wake, and remember – He would remember, for the rest of his life, what Mulcahy had done.
To lose a patient: to lose a patient Hawkeye thought would live: to lose a patient to murder: to lose a friend –
To lose a beloved friend. Hawkeye loved him.
Mulcahy’s prayer, foggy and wordless, seemed answered, with a rush of clarity as abrupt as dawn in Korea. He stood up. “Can you get Hawkeye out of here to a jeep?” He spoke abruptly, and, of all things, Walker looked surprised.
“Oh don’t argue,” Mulcahy said, on edge with frustration. “Just do as I say. Get Hawkeye out of here and into a jeep. Don’t hurt him!”
Walker paused an instant in picking Hawkeye up, and gave him a poisonous look. “Father, I can do it fast or gently, which would you rather?”
“Fast!” Mulcahy said, in agony of mind. “But be careful!”
“You’ll be joining us, I take it – ” Walker was stronger than he looked “ – Father?”
“Yes, yes,” Mulcahy said. He pointed at the corpse. “Both of us. Just get into a jeep and keep out of sight, go, go – ”
The door was swinging behind Walker, lugging Hawkeye, as Nurse Baker came in, carrying two tin cups of coffee. She glanced around and came over to Mulcahy. “Father, did you see where Doctor Pierce went?”
“Yes,” Mulcahy said. He had pulled the flick knife out and pressed the catch: the knife was weighing in his pocket like his sins should on his conscience. “I’m sorry, nurse, the patient didn’t make it – ”
If Nurse Baker had lifted the blanket, she would have seen. But she lifted the man’s wrist, and frowned. “He died?”
“Yes.” Mulcahy swallowed. “Hawkeye was – very upset. I sent him off – BJ can finish this shift.”
“He shouldn’t have died,” Baker said. Her voice went up on the end of the sentence, and she caught her breath, almost in a sob. “We worked so hard – and he just died?”
“I’m sorry,” Mulcahy said.
Baker put the cups down on the man’s bedside table, with a nurse’s automatic neatness, and put her hands to her face. After a moment, she took her hands away again: no nurse trained by Major Houlihan would let herself be overcome for more than an instant. “I shouldn’t have left the ward,” she said.
“There was nothing you could do,” Mulcahy said. “Nothing anyone could do.”
“I just – ” Baker swallowed. “You were there, and Hawkeye was there, and that other doctor, and – I didn’t want to hear that – you know, that speech Hawkeye makes to everyone as if they could do something about the war – I shouldn’t have left.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Mulcahy said, with all the sincerity he could muster. “He was dead before Hawkeye could save him – there was nothing you could have done. You mustn’t feel bad about this – you weren’t responsible.”
“That’s not what the major’s going to say,” Baker said.
“I’ll tell Major Houlihan,” Mulcahy said. “In fact, I’ll deal with this myself – I think you should go and sit down.” He shepherded her back to the other end of the ward, where the other patient lay on his face, lost in the sleep of recovery.
Two deaths out of every hundred patients meant Mulcahy had sad practice in how to transfer a corpse from bed to coffin, from post-op to the temporary morgue: the sloppy shack between the hospital and the upper helipad, the building that no one ordinarily discussed or went near. The M.P.s who transferred the body at Mulcahy’s direction did not ask what a patient carried out of post-op had died of. Nor did they find it surprising that Mulcahy stayed behind: he had before, whether a patient was Catholic or not, for a final prayer.
The jeep pulled up beside the morgue a few minutes later. Walker was smiling. “I knew you couldn’t be as much of a fool as you look,” he said pleasantly.
“Oh, do shut up,” Mulcahy said, and Walker laughed. But he said nothing more: they levered the lid of the coffin open between them, and lifted the corpse out.
Mulcahy swallowed. “He’s cold,” he said.
“Of course he’s cold,” Walker said. “He’s dead.” Hawkeye was in the back of the car, dumped so that he lay flat: he was still unconscious, breathing stertorously. “Where do you want to be dropped off with your doctor, Father?”
“I’m driving,” Mulcahy said.
“Do I even need to be along?”
“No,” Mulcahy said. He got Hawkeye upright and fastened a seat-belt round him: the corpse went next to him, held upright with the other seat-belt. He flung a blanket filched from stores over them both, to get them past the M.P.s at the gate. “No, I don’t think you do.” He was surprised that he was not in shock: he still seemed to be filled with such clarity of light that everything was transparent to him. “No, you can go now. I know the route to the monastery.”
Walker’s eyes widened. For the first time since Mulcahy had seen him, he looked truly surprised.
“Well,” he said. “Well, well.” His mouth curved in a thin smile. “Trust a snake before a whore and a whore before a Jesuit – they say.” He got into the passenger seat, too quickly for Mulcahy to react. “I’ll be damned if I miss this.”
Mulcahy thought of retorts, and didn’t make them. He drove. They were not stopped: Mulcahy was not surprised – he had half a dozen untruths ready to tell, to explain his passengers – but he didn’t expect to need them.
The drive to the monastery took only half an hour: the roads were quiet and Mulcahy did not switch the car lights on. He had driven by night before, trusting God and good luck and the frequent day traffic to save him from mines: a solitary jeep showing lights got shot at by both sides.
The clarity he had felt drained away as he drove. He had been so sure – so very sure it was the right thing to do. Walker was one of the immortals. That was sure. Their existence was a secret Jesuits shared with no one. Mulcahy had seen the blade move, the flesh part, and the blood dry as the wound healed. That the North Korean he had killed was one of them…
…that depended on Walker telling the truth.
And even if were… what if Hawkeye died? Mulcahy couldn’t hear him breathing any more – the engine was making too much noise. What if Walker had hit hard – too hard? People died.
Hawkeye had nightmares about it. People dying. He woke screaming and clutching his bed partner, sobbing –
What if the North Korean were dead flesh, and Hawkeye was dead, and Walker was nothing but a charlatan, and this secret of the Jesuits was trickery and lies –
Mulcahy held to what he had been sure was true, and drove.
Mulcahy sat in the chair between the two hard beds in the monastery infirmary, and waited. Hawkeye’s breathing had changed some time ago: he was asleep, normally asleep, and could wake at any time. They were both already AWOL: Colonel Potter would demand explanations. Mulcahy was feeling too relieved to think of any except the truth. It was a large, peaceful feeling, and Mulcahy felt as if he were floating in it.
Hawkeye woke: not with a twitch and a sob, as he would if Mulcahy had woken him, but gently and easily, as Mulcahy had seen him wake from sound sleep only twice before. But this time, unlike those other times, when his eyes came into focus on Mulcahy’s face, instead of his whole face breaking into a smile, he frowned.
“Father,” he said, and sat up. He glanced round. “Where are we?”
“We’re in the monastery,” Mulcahy said. “Hawkeye, please look at the man on that bed over there.” He pointed.
“Say what?” Hawkeye leaned and stared. “What?”
“That’s the man I killed,” Mulcahy said. “He’s alive again.”
“What?” But Hawkeye had a good eye for his patients. He was still staring.
“It’s quite complicated,” Mulcahy understated. “And part of it I shouldn’t tell you without permission from the head of my Order, so I need you to promise not to tell anyone I did.”
“What?” Hawkeye’s gaze twitched away from his patient, and he looked at Mulcahy. Walker was gone, hours gone, but Abbot Kwan had given amused permission.
“He’s immortal,” Mulcahy said. “And he’s not the only one. There are others like him.”
1st June 2008
PS: Yes, Highlander crossover. As my beta evie pointed out, though, you really only need to know M*A*S*H to enjoy it.