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Just One of Those Clerical Errors

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They don’t keep too good records in Iowa, at least not in the part Radar’s from. His birth certificate comes back from the hospital saying Walter O’Reilly and a little M right where it’s supposed to say F.

He thinks maybe he prefers the M as he grows up.

On the farm, all the kids get treated the same. Walter learns to care for the animals and the harvest, how to cook dinner, and how best to get grease stains out of a white tablecloth. It doesn’t much matter if he’s a girl or not, legally, and they never have the time or money to get it fixed.

It seems fine, only then he gets drafted the day after he turns eighteen. There are ways to get out of it, there have to be, but Radar’s so scared he finds himself past medical checks and training and in a tent in Korea somehow.

A tent full of doctors, too. Radar knows any of them could send him home, which he wouldn’t mind so much, except that Iowa would probably make him be a girl for real, which he does mind.

He meets Colonel Blake first, who barely looks up from his desk to say, “Hello, O’Reilly.”

His ma would say it isn’t very polite, but Radar doesn’t mind. He thinks maybe it’s better if his commanding officer, who is also a surgeon, doesn’t pay much attention to him. Only then Colonel Blake looks up again and meets Radar’s eyes.

“Welcome to the 4077th.”

“Thank you, sir,” Walter says. Then, “Choppers, sir.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Wait for it.”

And a moment later there they are, clear as day. Colonel Blake looks at him, dumbfounded. “How did you do that?”

“Sometimes I know things before they happen. Sir.” On the farm, it was mostly useful because he could tell before any animal went into labor. Here, most of the future comes soaked in blood. He holds Colonel Blake’s door open for him and as they run towards the landing field together, the colonel holding onto his fishing hat, Radar realizes he may be okay here.

He meets Captains Pierce and McIntyre as a unit. Hawkeye looks at him once and says, “Are you sure you were old enough to enlist and it wasn’t a mistake on your birth certificate?”

Radar flinches. “Drafted, sir.” He tries not to bristle.

The other doctor finishes washing his hands. He’s much taller than Radar, with a mop of curly blonde hair. “Join the club.”

Colonel Blake pulls on his hat. “Kid heard the choppers before anyone.” He sounds proud, sort of like Radar’s science teacher when his experiment worked, back before his teacher realized he was meant to be a girl. He thinks maybe the doctors would refuse to spend any time with him if they realized, too. He tells himself they won’t find out, treats it like a promise.

“He’s like a radar,” Colonel Blake adds.

“Radar. I like it,” the tall doctor says. “I’m Trapper McIntyre, and you’ve also had the misfortune of meeting Captain Hawkeye Pierce.”

Hawkeye smiles and backs into the double doors. “C’mon, Radar. Once more unto the breach.”

Radar smiles. He could learn to like that, better than Walter, anyway. He follows Hawkeye into the operating room.

Radar likes to be useful. He learns Colonel Blake, how to anticipate what he needs more than what he wants. Sometimes, he misuses the trust Colonel Blake’s put in him, but never for anything bad. He’s careful about that. He thinks Colonel Blake knows anyway. Things continue and, except for being in a warzone, Radar feels safe for the first time in ages.

He even makes another friend, aside from Colonel Blake and Hawkeye and Trapper and his animals. His name is Corporal Max Klinger, and Radar is the only one who will sit with him when he first shows up to the mess tent in a tight pink sundress with a flower in his hair. He thinks Klinger might have the opposite problem of him, but all he says is, “Pink looks good on you.”

Radar starts spending his spare time, when he’s got it, with Klinger after that. He doesn’t mind Radar watching him sew and lets him bring his hamster, Black Beauty, for company.

One night, Klinger hands him soft blue cotton to hold—”It’s only a house dress, nothing fancy”—and it reminds him so vividly of his childhood that he finds himself saying, “I used to hate it when Ma made me wear dresses.”

Klinger lowers the measuring tape. “Your ma made you wear dresses?”

Radar’s dug himself a hole. He takes a deep breath and tries to dig deeper until he’s free just like Hawkeye would. “Sometimes she thought she had a daughter. But she didn’t. Not ever.”

Radar is reminded by Klinger’s reaction that he is not Hawkeye and that what works for him does not work for a farm boy from Iowa. “Did she never look down or somethin’?”

“She seen it,” Radar says, somewhat desperately, “but on the farm—sometimes—it says male on my birth certificate and everything!”

“Cool it, Radar,” Klinger warns. He’s stopped measuring entirely and Radar realizes he’s got the cotton balled up in his fist. “Look, every family has a thing. My Aunt Carol and her roommate have lived together for years and do needlepoint of the Loch Ness Monster.”

Radar’s never been able to keep up with Klinger’s family, so he just nods. Later, curled up with his bear, he wonders what would happen if he did tell Klinger. Out of anyone in the 4077th, maybe Klinger is the most likely to understand.

He doesn’t say anything. He’s good at keeping secrets. And he’s not sure anyone else could keep it quite like he can.

It’s all going to be fine, he promises himself. And maybe it would be, but then it’s time for check ups and the people here actually care about his health.

“I’ll do yours, Radar,” Colonel Blake says absently before he hands him the sheet with the doctors’ assignments.”

“No—I don’t need a check up. I’m okay, sir.”

Colonel Blake sighs and looks up at him. “Give that to Major Burns and then come back. We’ll do it right now.” Piece said, he goes back to staring into the depths of his drink.

“Sir—”

Colonel Blake looks up again and Radar decides he’d better go find Hawkeye. Of anyone, Hawkeye will know what to do.

Hawkeye doesn’t help. “Trapper, tell Radar that a check up is good for him. We’ll give you a lollipop and everything.”

“But I can’t!” Radar can’t tell Hawkeye and Trapper, but he can’t tell Colonel Blake either, because he’ll get a dishonorable discharge and lose all his friends and be sent back to Iowa to be a girl. “I can’t tell Colonel Blake.”

“Can’t tell Henry what?” Hawkeye can never just let a guy say something.

“Got a secret medical history you forgot to disclose?” Trapper teases.

“Maybe!” Radar wants to storm out, but he can’t. Hawkeye and Trapper are still his best chance. “C’mon, Hawkeye, I’m serious. I really need your help.”

“So am I! A physical is important. You’ve got to know about your overall health.”

Radar knows Hawkeye isn’t going to tell Colonel Blake he doesn’t need a check up, so he says, “You can do it! You’re a doctor.”

Hawkeye gasps. “Who told you?”

Radar turns to Trapper. He doesn’t have the same innate sense of safety Hawkeye does, but he probably won’t send Radar home like Colonel Blake, or worse, Major Burns, would. “Will you do it, Trapper?”

“Sure,” he says, easy, but he doesn’t put down his martini or even stand up. “Open your mouth and say ah.”

Radar doesn’t. “You’re no help,” he tells him and his voice actually wobbles for a moment, even though he doesn’t cry anymore and hasn’t since his Uncle Ed told him only girls cry.

“Geez, Radar.” Hawkeye springs up and puts his arm around him to lead him to a chair. “It’s only a check up. The Army has already done plenty. It’ll be fast no matter who does it.”

“I haven’t had any,” Radar admits. The tears are, miraculously, still at bay.

“None?” Trapper asks. He even puts down his drink. “How?”

“They never pushed too hard, not like Colonel Blake. And people always sign what I tell them to.”

“A true superpower,” Hawkeye says. “Come on, I’ll go with you to talk to Henry.”

“Me too.” Trapper flings Hawkeye’s robe at him. “Say, Radar, who’s doing my check up?”

“Captain Pierce, sir. Colonel Blake thought maybe it was good if neither of you did Major Burns.”

“Can’t argue with that logic.” Robe on and fastened, Hawkeye claps Radar on the shoulder. “Take us to your leader.”

Colonel Blake just sighs when Hawkeye and Trapper stride in. Radar follows, wondering if he’s made the right choice. Hawkeye sits on Colonel Blake’s side of the desk, perching right in front of him.

“I’ll perform Radar’s dissection,” he announces. “He’s sensitive about his everything.”

Radar tries to look innocent. He’s gotten good at it, because Hawkeye and Trapper give him a lot of chances to practice.

Henry frowns at Radar over Hawkeye’s shoulder. “I can look in your ears just as well as Pierce can.”

“It’s not my ears I mind, sir.”

Trapper looks over at him, then says, “C’mon, Henry. What does it matter if the kid wants Hawkeye to do his check up?”

It’s hard to stand up to the combined forces of Hawkeye and Trapper, so it’s no surprise Colonel Blake folds. “Fine, Radar. Pierce will do your check up. Next you’ll be wanting my office to do it in!”

“Well, if you’re offering…” Hawkeye says and then he uses whatever magic it is he has to usher both Colonel Blake and Trapper out with promises not to return and some token sputtering from Colonel Blake.

“Buy you a drink,” Radar hears Trapper offer as they leave.

Finally, Hawkeye faces Radar over Colonel Blake’s desk. “Out with it, then. What’s going on?”

Radar shifts, but there’s no way he’s getting out of this now that Hawkeye is curious. “It would be easier if I showed you.”

Hawkeye raises his eyebrows. “Show away.”

Radar unbuttons his first shirt and slips it off. Then he pulls his white undershirt over his head to reveal his first tanktop.

“Jesus, Radar, how many shirts are you wearing?”

“Four.” He takes the two tank tops off together and then looks away. He doesn’t want to see Hawkeye’s reaction to his breasts.

“Huh,” Hawkeye says. “This makes a lot more sense now.”

“I’m not a girl.”

“I believe you.”

“It says male right on my birth certificate.”

“And on your draft card.” Hawkeye comes around to Radar’s side of the desk to look more closely. “There’s a condition, you can have both male and female sex characteristics…”

“I don’t got,” Radar blushes as he realizes what he’ll have to explain, but there isn’t any way around it, “anything down there. It was a clerical error.”

Hawkeye pauses his examination. “So you were born with a vagina but someone in admin messed up and said you were male?”

“I guess Walter sounds like a boy’s name.”

“That’s because it is. So your family raised you as a boy because that’s what it is on your birth certificate?”

“No!” It comes out as mad, which Radar didn’t quite mean. “They raised me as—as neither. But I am a boy.”

Hawkeye studies his face. He’s never serious for this long and Radar doesn’t like it. “A lucky clerical error, except you ended up here.”

“You can’t send me home, Hawkeye, you can’t. They’ll say I’m a girl.”

“I won’t send you home. But Radar, you should tell Henry.”

“Why?”

“Because he cares about you. We all do. And if Henry agrees and Trapper’s done a mastectomy recently, we might be able to do something about those.” He gestures at Radar’s breasts.

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Now open your mouth and say ah.”

Radar does. He feels lighter, now that Hawkeye knows, like maybe if he goes outside he’ll drift up like a balloon. He wants to tell Colonel Blake.

After his exam, Hawkeye walks him to the mess tent and declares him, “As fit as you’d expect, considering how he eats.”

Trapper laughs, but Henry looks relieved, just like he had when Radar had thought he lost Black Beauty in the office and it turns out she was curled up in his hat on his desk.

“Trapper,” he asks after he’s fetched coffee for the whole table, “what’s a mastectomy?”

Trapper starts to answer by rote, “It’s a surgery to remove both of the breasts, usually due to cancer—hey. Why do you need to know?”

“You ever done one?” Hawkeye asks.

“Sure,” Trapper says. “Not every surgeon back home would, so the oncology docs and I got pretty friendly.”

“Why not? Is it dangerous?”

Colonel Blake sighs. He does that a lot more around Hawkeye and Trapper. “Radar, what’s going on? Is your ma sick?”

“No, sir. I just didn’t know what a mastectomy is, that’s all.”

Trapper shoots Hawkeye the sort of look that means they’re going to talk about it later, so Radar figures he’s got to tell Colonel Blake soon, now that Hawkeye knows. And no breasts! That’s almost be worth being sent home a disgrace for.

Telling everyone in the mess tent still feels like a bad idea, so he looks in Hawkeye’s direction and sort of widens his eyes. Hawkeye is not the sort to miss a direct hint, or at least not one that obvious, so he stands and says, “Shall we take our coffee and adjourn to Henry’s office?”

“I’ll get you more, sir,” Radar says in tandem with Colonel Blake realizing, “My mug’s empty!”

Hawkeye leads the way even though it’s Colonel Blake’s office, arm in arm with Trapper. Radar trails behind Colonel Blake and tries not to sweat too much, which is hard enough at the best of times in four shirts.

In Colonel Blake’s office, he takes his chair and Trapper sits in the spare by the window. Hawkeye perches on the table behind Trapper so he can play with his curls. That leaves Radar standing alone in the middle of the room.

“Well?” Colonel Blake asks, but he’s not using the tone he would for Hawkeye or Trapper or Major Burns. His brow is furrowed.

“It’s easier if I show you, sir.”

“Not the shirts,” Hawkeye moans. “Not again.”

Radar turns to strip this time. He still doesn’t feel so good showing Colonel Blake and everybody, but maybe this will mean he can stop hiding all the time and he may actually be able to shower during the daytime.

After the second shirt comes off, Trapper says, “Your laundry bill must be enormous.”

After the third, Henry mutters, “I’ve known nuns less modest than this.”

“He’s almost done. The third one isn’t quite the charm.”

Radar takes off his last shirt, breathes deeply, and turns around.

“Huh,” Trapper says. “You’re a woman.”

“I’m not!”

But it’s Colonel Blake’s reaction that matters. And he’s still silent and staring. “Where’d you get those from?”

“I grew them, sir.”

“A perfectly natural process, Henry,” Hawkeye cuts in.

“But you were drafted.”

“Clerical error.” Radar finally looks over at Hawkeye. He’s stopped playing with Trapper’s hair. Instead they’re holding hands over Trapper’s shoulder, their palms pressed together.

Colonel Blake scrubs his hand over his face. “So you want a mastectomy?”

“‘Snot exactly the same,” Trapper says.

“Can you do it?” Hawkeye asks.

“Sure. You’ve heard of Boston marriages. Sometimes they want to be a little less Boston.”

“How do they find you?” Hawkeye and Trapper have entered their own conversation, but Colonel Blake is clearly still rearranging his internal world, so Radar starts putting his shirts back on.

“My wife. Word of mouth is it in the breast removal business.”

“You never told me that!”

“What, you got a secret pair of bazingas you forgot to mention too?”

Radar tunes them out. It’s as much a survival skill as listening for the whistle of bombs, practically. “Please don’t send me home, sir.”

Colonel Blake starts. “I won’t, Radar. Not if you don’t want to go. But how did this happen?”

“First time he saw me, my grandpa Walter fell right over and died. He had a heart attack. If the hospital had any doctors he might’ve had a chance, but the only one there was the veterinarian who delivered me. So Ma wanted to name me after him, only there aren’t too many girl Walters, so the clerk must’ve put down I was a boy. And I am, sir. It’s only that the outsides don’t agree with the inside.”

“Okay,” Colonel Blake says, but Radar’s pretty sure it’s not okay. “Why not? My clerk’s a man with breasts. We’re in the middle of a war anyway.”

“Don’t think so hard, Henry,” Hawkeye says. “Steam’ll come out of your ears.”

Colonel Blake glares at him, but he seems to stop thinking so hard. He pours himself a drink instead. “McIntyre, what does this procedure look like?”

Trapper frowns. “Long recovery time. He’ll need at least a week off. Can’t lift or strain himself for about two months after.”

“A week off in Tokyo?”

“Send Frank to Tokyo. He’ll need a doctor, not a vacation.”

“Henry’ll send Frank to Tokyo and you and I can do the procedure, Trap. I’ll assist. We can say we’ve taken Radar’s appendix out. Radar, clutch your stomach and say ow.”

Radar does. He’s not sure he’s very convincing. “I’m not a very good actor.”

“You’re a good liar,” Trapper says. “It’ll translate.”

Is he a good liar? Radar wonders. He guesses he must be, if Trapper says it’s true, because Trapper is a good liar but never tries to spare anyone’s feelings.

“You’re sure, Radar?” Colonel Blake asks. “Trapper can’t go and put them back.”

“Don’t second guess Radar just because you’ve never been sure of anything in your life, Henry.”

Radar ignores Hawkeye. He looks Colonel Blake right in the eyes and says, “Yes, sir. I’m sure.”

“This weekend work for you, Radar?”

“That soon?”

“If Henry gets us passes.”

“Sure.” Henry looks around. “Radar, get—”

“Three day passes for Major Houlihan and Major Burns,” Radar says, pulling them out of the cabinet. He keeps two ready, plus two ready for Hawkeye and Trapper, just in case.

“A pass for Frank,” Henry says, before he catches up to what Radar is handing him. “Why Major Houlihan?”

“She’s almost as nosy as Frank.” Trapper lets Hawkeye’s hand go and leans forward. “You’ve got to admit, Henry, the kid’s got a point getting her out of here too. We’ll need at least one nurse to know what’s going on, because Hawkeye and I can’t spend every minute with him, but it shouldn’t be Hot Lips.”

“A nurse?” Colonel Blake asks.

Radar is feeling a bit shaky himself. “I don’t want anyone else to know.”

“What if we get casualties?” Hawkeye says. “We can’t watch him.”

“He will need help the first week,” Trapper agrees. He’s looking at Radar, though. “He could maybe stay in the Swamp, he won’t need an IV. We’ll have to drain them, though, and he can’t do that by himself.”

“He’ll stay with me,” Colonel Blake says firmly. “I don’t want Frank and Major Houlihan going over my head on this.”

Hawkeye doesn’t say anything, but he still looks annoyed. Trapper holds out his hand to Radar. “I’ll need to look you over before it and now’s as good a time as any.”

“But I just had my check up!”

“This is your pre-op examination. C’mere.” Trapper’s arms are long enough that he’s able to grab Radar with barely any stretching.

Hawkeye hops off the table. “I don’t know about you, Henry, but I can’t watch the shirts again. Care for a stroll?”

“It’s my office,” Radar hears Colonel Blake complain as he leaves, but Trapper’s stripping his shirts off incredibly fast.

“I have experience,” he says, as if he’s the one who can read minds. “And Hawk’s right, I’m not watching the world’s saddest striptease again.”

Radar lifts his arms when Trapper indicates. “I don’t want to cause trouble.”

“You’re not trouble. Just some bad luck, some good luck, and then bad luck again.”

He squirms a bit as Trapper gets the last tank top off and Radar’s breasts are once again exposed.

“I’m going to examine them,” Trapper warns. “It may feel weird or… well, you’ll see.”

He does and he’s right. It sort of hurts at first, but Radar dislikes it even more after it stops hurting and starts feeling weird. Trapper glances at his face and laughs at whatever he sees there. “I’ll be done in a minute. Hawk said you’d never had sex with anyone. I guess you never did anything.”

“I don’t like boys. And none of the girls wanted to go steady with weird Walter.” His voice has a tang of bitterness he thought he’d left in Iowa.

Trapper doesn’t laugh like Radar would have expected before today. Instead, he says, “When we all get out of here, you come and visit me. I’ll introduce you around.”

“To the other people like me?”

Trapper nods. “The ones I’ve operated on and other people Louise knows. You aren’t alone in the world, Radar.”

“Other people like me,” he repeats. “With clerical errors too?”

“Maybe. Just been born that way too.” Trapper takes a step back. “Put your shirts on. You’ll be coming to Boston for a medical exam with me anyway. I always check my work.”

This is all moving very fast for Radar, who didn’t even know he’d have to be examined when he woke up this morning. “Captain McIntyre,” he says, then pauses.

“Call me Trapper. This is personal.”

“Trapper,” Radar agrees. He’s called him and Hawkeye by their nicknames before, even though he’d never dare to call Colonel Blake by even his first name, but he likes feeling invited. Trapper and Hawkeye may talk to everyone in the camp and take nurses to the supply tent, but they’ve always been a closed unit. “Thank you.”

Trapper ruffles his hair. “For you, anytime.”

Radar spends the next few days all mixed up. He considers writing his ma, but he’s got no idea how to get it past the censors and a part of him thinks she won’t like it too much, him messing with nature. The war seems to have moved a bit and they’ve been relatively quiet for days. One more, please, Radar begs before he goes to sleep. One more so Trapper can operate and Radar will finally feel like himself.

He gets one more day. Hawkeye shows up with Klinger in tow. Radar watches Trapper scrub up dispassionately.

“Wait outside,” Hawkeye tells Klinger, “and no one comes in and gets Trap unless the camp is collapsing around our ears. Even then, get Henry first.”

“What’s wrong with Radar?” Klinger asks.

He clutches his stomach. He’s supposed to be acting sick, which isn’t hard because he feels like puking every time he thinks about being unconscious and under Trapper’s knife.

“Appendicitis,” Hawkeye says. “Poor kid.”

“Where’s the nurse?”

“I’m assisting.”

Klinger looks at Trapper, who’s still washing his hands. “Why?”

“We wanted to spend more time together.” Trapper turns off the sink with his elbow. “Hawk, scrub up. Radar, take your shirts off and get on the table.”

“Yes, sir.”

Klinger doesn’t need to ask. He knows about the shirts. He looks good today, wearing his blue cotton, and if Radar was sure his mouth worked he’d compliment him on it. As it is, he can barely stand up and follow Trapper through the double doors.

“He sure is a sick one, huh?” Klinger asks Hawkeye.

The water turns on and Radar can’t hear Hawkeye’s response.

He’d sort of hoped Colonel Blake would be here. He doesn’t tell Trapper that as he strips, but Trapper’s almost as good at reading people as Hawkeye is, when he wants to be.

“You’ll be fine,” he says. “I’ve done this before and Henry knows that. He probably thought you’d be uncomfortable if he showed up.”

Radar nods. Hawkeye comes through the door then with a pair of gloves for Trapper. Too soon, Radar is lying down between the two of them and Hawkeye’s holding gas over his nose. “Count down from ten,” Hawkeye says.

The door opens. Radar blinks and he’s almost asleep. “Nine,” he says.

“You skipped ten,” Trapper points out.

“How is he?” It’s Colonel Blake’s voice.

“Eight,” Radar says.

“He’s almost asleep,” Hawkeye says. He’s still at Radar’s head, or maybe above him. The world is starting to feel fuzzy.

“Seven.”

“I’ll do that,” Henry says. “Pierce, you assist.”

“Six.”

“I’ll make my incision here, honey.” Radar doesn’t even feel Trapper’s hand. “Hand me a—”

“Five.” And he’s asleep.

“Blood pressure is stable. Good work, Doctor.” It’s Hawkeye’s voice he comes back to.

“You sound just like Hot Lips. I think he’s waking up.”

Radar blinks his eyes open and wishes he was asleep immediately. His chest hurts like nothing he’s ever felt before.

“Welcome back,” Hawkeye says. “Tell your aunt and uncle how you’re feeling.”

He tries to make his mouth form words, aiming for, “Where’s Colonel Blake?” but he slips back asleep before he’s sure he’s succeeded.

When he wakes up, Klinger’s there. “Appendix,” he says as a greeting. “I remember getting mine out.”

Radar stares at him. When he opens his mouth, only a croak comes out.

“Doc said you could have water.” Klinger helps him sit up and holds the cup for him. “They said no nurses, so here I am.”

“Where’s Trap?” he manages after some water.

“Asleep. He was here with you for the first three hours, but then casualties came in. Nothing bad, Hawkeye and Trapper managed them without Colonel Blake’s help. He kept worrying about you.” Klinger pauses. “Three doctors on one appendix.”

“Never stood a chance.” Hawkeye enters post-op with his usual flare. “Radar, you’re the only one staying with us. The others got flown out by Flagg practically as soon as we’d sewn them shut.”

“I missed Flagg?” He doesn’t think it comes out clear, but Klinger nods anyway.

“You’ve been in and out. He kept trying to find you to send messages.”

“He doesn’t even know who he works for. You’re fine.” Hawkeye picks up the clipboard at the end of Radar’s bed. “Trapper does good work. Your initial recovery time is a week, like he said, but don’t join any bodybuilding competitions.”

Klinger laughs. “Radar, bodybuilding. I’d love to see it.”

“He’s full of surprises. Never say never with Radar.”

Radar falls asleep to the sound of them talking quietly. He smiles to himself. Colonel Blake was there.

The next time he wakes up, it’s to Trapper changing his bandages. “Shh,” he says, “we’re flying under the radar.”

He laughs at his own joke. Radar struggles to keep his eyes open.

“Appendixes usually don’t lead to chest bandages, so Hawkeye has Ginger distracted in supply and I’ve got to change these quickly. Help me out and sit up.”

Radar does, but with difficulty. His body feels different and still tired, despite the hours of sleep he must’ve gotten. “Am I okay?”

“Recovering well,” Trapper promises. “We’ll move you to Henry’s tent tomorrow and he’ll take care of all of this.”

Trapper strips off his bandages with practiced efficiency. When Radar looks down at his chest he almost passes out and not just because of the doctoring. It’s him looking back, flat chested like he was meant to be.

Trapper watches him, a soft look on his face. “Work what you were looking for?”

Radar nods. It’s all blurry, his glasses somewhere off to the side, but it doesn’t matter that he can’t see every detail. He’s never wanted anything more.

“Thank you,” he says. He’s never meant anything more. He thinks Trapper knows.

Trapper grins. “Free of charge.”

Radar spends a week in Colonel Blake’s tent. He doesn’t need to, really, because Klinger and Hawkeye are much better at actually taking care of him. But one night when he just can’t get comfortable, he feels Colonel Blake’s hand on his forehead, a comforting weight as he sinks into sleep.

Radar has never had a father before. But he thinks he’d like one just like Colonel Blake, if he had the option.

“Good night, son,” he hears in the last seconds before he drifts off.