The Ultimate Acceptance/I Love You Goodbye

A M*A*S*H story by Katie Murphy

Plocks of rain smite the sidewalk.
Evening tightens its hood, lowers its eyes.
The girl enters, shakes a shower
from heavy hair, turns, and passes
  - from For Trakl by Rosanna Warren


Pairings: Ho-John/Hawkeye, Hawkeye/BJ, and Ho-John/Frank
Rating: PG-13
Category: Angst, Post-war, Death, Mysticism, POV, Challenge Fic, Romance
Summary: Fifteen years after Ho-John left, he muses on America. An Americanized South Korean anti-Cinderella pro-Communism fairy story intertwines.
A/N: Kind of a response to those fics that feature one character who's in a relationship with a guy who loves someone he can't have. Usually written by Banky/Holden fans who can't handle seeing a Nubian god getting some touch. Scratch that. A hot-ass Nubian God getting some touch. Give credit where credit is due. *snark* I'm also sorry for my side story thing. My farthest knowledge of Korean folktale is reading Amy Tan and living in California. Extremely minimal, as Tan is Chinese.
Disclaimer: Ho-John, Hawkeye, Frank, BJ, Daniel, and any situations and characters of the MASH ilk do not below to me. I do not own Norman Rockwell or any of his art. I do not own the piece of poetry featured below. I do not own Ben Folds Five or their song that the side story is named after. I did think of the side story's characters and situations all by my little self. If you would like to use this situation I have created, hit me up and tell me where I will find the fic.


I could live with Ben forever, but I know it wouldn't be what I wanted to have all those years ago. I owe so much to him, though. I would still be in Korea if it weren't for him. I wouldn't have gotten a proper education if Ben wouldn't have sent me to school. But he didn't teach me to read or make me aspire to become an American. If anything, he made me not want to be American. Ben's not grateful for his country. He complains about Korea neurotically, and once I told him so. I said that he was there for three years; I was there for eighteen. Ben just shook his head and stomped off to the bar. I try not to mention Korea anymore.

Korea's here still. When I wake up, I expect to see desert instead of ocean. Ben says everything he sees is a shade of Gortex green. But I know that the sea-air is good for him, he feels in his element. Ben's where he knows. I feel like I'm out of place. Like I'm on a vacation and any minute someone is going to reveal me as a tourist. I have been here for fifteen years.

The town loves Ben. When he came back, they didn't treat him like a war hero; he was just the scrawny boy down the road. They don't care about him living with a Korean, or a male for that matter. They love me too, I suppose. They still think that I'm an eager, little kid. Ben once said I was the "cutest thing this side of the Mississippi." Of course, he was drunk, and we were still in Korea and I had no idea what the Mississippi was. He still says stuff like that now. When Ben does, I feel in love.


In the old days of Chosun, a poor man and his wife owe money to the old lady on the hill. The man could not pay back the loan lady on the hill, so he runs away into the mountains with his wife. Together they make a cozy home in a cave. Soon, the man's wife announces that she is with child. The man fills with joy, praying that he would have a son to carry his name. When the baby comes, the wife dies, and the man is left with a baby to raise. A daughter.


In the dining room, there's a set of plates with paintings on them. They all have different pictures, but they look almost the same. There is a white man, a white woman, three white children, a dog, and they are all smiling. Ben says that Norman Rockwell made them, and that they are supposed to be images of the American life. To me, they are like the Mona Lisa; their eyes follow me wherever I go.

I knew a man with eyes like that. His eyes were always on you, checking to see if you were doing right. He wanted to preserve America, like Rockwell did with the paintings.


The man tries to teach his daughter the ways of the court, but their wilderness home leaves his daughter wild and carefree. The man's daughter gradually grows into a beautiful woman with dark black hair and a snow-white face. The man dies the day of the girl's sixteenth birthday, leaving her alone in the mountains. The girl flees from her cave, into the city of Chongjin. She finds wages as a washwoman at the home of a prosperous merchant named Chang. The women of the city whisper of his family's American tastes and expensive clothes. They say that any young woman to wed the handsome son of Chang would surely live in luxury. The girl knew of Chang's son, yet she has never seen him. Seung Chang is making business deals in Pyongyang for his father. But one day, the castle buzzes with excitement as the servants prepare Seung's return.


I was almost finished with nursing school when Ben came home. I didn't speak to him much for those two years, and things were awkward. I was grown and he loved another while I was gone. Korea was the only thing we shared and Ben wanted to rid himself of that. I knew that every time he looked at my oriental features, flashes of hate, death, poverty, Korea passed through his eyes. But when Mr. Pierce passed away, it all changed. I returned to his bed once more. I don't know if I was being used like the nurses in the war, but I didn't care.

He was communicating to me in a way that he could manage. Ben might be good with words; however, they are usually hollow, only used for show. They are never for communication, never for really talking to a person. He can communicate a joke or a quip, or his happiness, not his sadness. Sadness is too deep. Ben can't explain Korea in words because Korea is like Oz; it can only be truly understood in the pictures.

That's why he needs me. None of the women in Crabapple Cove know Korea. I know Korea. I saw Korea. I lived Korea. I am Korea.


Seung's arrival is met with a feast of such size that the girl was asked to work as a waitress. As she serves the first dish her eyes locks with Seung's and he grins brightly. Another waitress kicks the girl sharply on the shin, signaling her to leave. After the guests left, Seung approaches the girl, smitten. He places a cherry blossom from the table in her hair and asks of her name.

"I am Dae," she quietly answers.

"Shall I see you at breakfast, Dae?" Seung asks.

"I work with clothing and starch, not noodles and duck sauce."

"Hmm. Would you like to?"

"Not so much. I enjoy being outside with the fresh air."

"Is the washing not hard work?"

"Oh, no. It is a very peaceful act."

"Then I shall visit you sometime," Seung smiles, exiting the dining room.


I don't know if I love Ben or if he loves me. We haven't said anything about love or if we'll live together forever. Sometimes I think that we are what we are because it's comfortable and we both know Korea. Then there's the times when Ben is sweet to me and is undeniable.

I wish I was in a home where love is unambiguous. I wish I wasn't walking on eggshells. I wish I was with the man with Mona Lisa eyes. He would protect me from harm, make sure I was American. He would make me American. We would live in a small home with his children, like in the paintings. He would work and I would stay with the children. He would help me study for the citizenship test, and I would pass. I would learn to cook American. I would learn to be American.


The next day, Seung visits Dae at her work. They chat as Dae lays out the wash.

"Listen, I have a meeting this morning, but I will be back in the afternoon. Come with me then," Seung charms.

Dae is speechless. "What about your mother? She would not approve of this."

"Do not worry about that. I will take care of it. Now, I must leave."

Seung returns and brings Dae to the finest restaurant in all of Chosun. After their meals arrived, Seung looks Dae in the eye and asks her to marry him. "I know it will be difficult, but I will take care of everything," he says. "Since I have been back, I have watched you in wonderment. You are unlike any girl I have met. You are so... untamed."

"Why would you want a wife that is untamed?" Dae asks, shocked.

"You have not allowed anyone to transform who you really are. All the women I have been introduced to have been altered by society. You do not change for someone else. You are you all the time, in front of everyone. For that I love you. For that I want you for my wife."

The girl smiles and nods.

"Wonderful! I will tell my parents. Come to dinner with us tomorrow. Everything will be perfect!"


Ben never saw Burns the way I did. Ben hated him. I don't know why he did. Burns was only trying to keep his way of life safe. My mother was the same way. After the Russians came to the North, she was paranoid that another country would take the South. When the U.N. came in and my father was shot, she crumbled. She couldn't forgive me for working with the Americans, and when I left for the US, she said she would not speak to me again. He was like her, but more forgiving. I cannot remember how many times he tried to make friends with the two men he supposedly hated. Maybe that's why my eyes wandered toward him.

Ben does not forgive easily. He makes snap judgments of people and goes only by that. He doesn't see anyone's redeeming or devastating qualities. The world is frozen in time; it is only the beginning, not the middle, or the end.

Frank thinks the best of every situation. When he "hated" Hawkeye and Trapper, it was only for defense. There were also other times when he was kind to them and tried to make them live up to his ideals. When I did, it was the ultimate acceptance. Ben recognizes the immoralities and oddities of the world; Frank takes in the pleasant and righteous. Being accepted by Frank is like being told you are good, perfect.


Dae arrives at the dinner wearing her finest clothing. Seung rises as she comes to the table, "Lady, please join us."

"Much obliged," Dae smiles, sitting.

The food is brought in and the meal begins.

"Did you grow up in the city?" Seung's mother asks Dae.

"No, I grew up in the mountains," Dae replies.

"Oh. In one of the tiny villages at the base?" Seung's father asks.

"Well, no," Dae murmurs nervously. "I grew up in a cave with my father."

"Why is that, Dae?" Seung's mother asks.

"My parents fled when they could not pay a loan officer."

"Well, I think we must be going," Seung's father says. "I have affairs I must attend to tomorrow morning and must get my best rest."

"Father!" Seung yells. "Can you not stay any longer?"

"Seung, you know we have business tomorrow and must retire. Come now, Seung."


Dae looks at Seung pleadingly. "I will make it easy for you, I will leave. Goodbye." Dae runs out of the house, into the rainstorm outside. She puts her back to the building and cries.

"Dae!" Seung cries, running to his love. "I will work everything out with my parents. They will love just as I do!"

Dae backs away from him. "You cannot! Your parents have such principles that they will tear us apart. Please save us both the pain and let me go now!" Dae walks back to Seung and kisses him softly on the lips. "I love you. Goodbye." Plocks of rain smite the sidewalk. Evening tightens its hood, lowers its eyes. The girl enters, shakes a shower from heavy hair, turns, and passes. Dae runs to her old mountain cave. She draws out her life in quiet simplicity.


Ben still telephones BJ Hunnicut, All-American Doctor Extraordinaire. He's the other one. The other one Ben had in Korea. I can tell by the way they talk that Ben still has him. But they can't have each other because BJ has a wife and child and life, which Ben cannot understand. When he is depressed after one of their calls and comes to me, I feel like telling him that he's not the only one going for the second best. That he's not the only one with an impossible love. To look me over. But I can't. It's against the whole arrangement.



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