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19 November 2007 @ 11:24 am
(fic) Forgive Me  
Title: Forgive Me
Chapter: 1/1
Pairing: Sidney/Mulcahy
Rating: FRT
Disclaimer: Belongs to many other people, not me
Summary: Who does the confessor confess to? What are his sins?
Notes: First posting on the group. I’d really like feedback on it. And consider this a prayer for more Sidney or Mulcahy fic.
Beta(s): none so feel free to point out errors.



Forgive Me

By Lady Gray


“Forgive me Sidney, for I have sinned.”

Sidney was half drunk, half asleep in the sticky night air. He wasn’t sure if he’d heard right.

“Shouldn’t that be my line, Father?”

“I have no one else to hear my confession.”

A welcomed breeze ruffled the tent but did not enter. Priests and shrinks must have privacy, but not for themselves.

“Tell me you sins, Father.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“What? Father?”

“Francis, Johnny, John.”

“John.” Sidney said softly. He couldn’t make Francis or Johnny fit.

“I have committed the sin of envy, of vanity, of pride, of lust, of rage. I have contemplated unforgivable sins, yet felt no guilt in my soul.”

“That’s a lot of sin, John.”

“Not really. You hear sins when souls are breaking. Everyday I’m told of sin and I look into their eyes, and their souls are glad, and yet it is a sin.”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

Francis Mulcahy shrugged and poured himself another drink. Good scotch, won in a poker game, a fortune on the black market, it should have been saved for the orphans. He poured Sidney another drink as well.

“I can pick them out you know. There’s a way they move and I envy them their sin.”

“Which sin?”

“The sin of Hawkeye. I had to invent a new category. There is always the sin but I never see guilt, never regret, just an academic knowledge of right and wrong.”

‘The sin of Hawkeye.’ Sidney mulled over. ‘That man would be a sin in himself.’

“My own sins are slight.” Mulcahy continued. “I make myself clean in this dump, and feel pride when the right kinds of words fall from the right set of lips, and I have lusted for those lips and felt rage at them for even existing.” Sidney knew he was too drunk to properly analyze an equally drunk priest having a minor homosexual crisis. He took another drink.

“To me sin always seemed like nothing more than basic human expression. You are human John.”

Mulcahy closed his eyes and took another drink. “No one will touch me, Sidney.” He wined suddenly.

“I thought that was a big no no?”

“Not to touch, a simple pat on the back, punch in the arm, they won’t even bump into me, won’t touch my hand when passing the salt, won’t give me a hug. Is it wrong to desire just that much.”

“Well touch is primal. The first thing we are aware of is the doctor’s hands on our bodies and our own scream in our ears.”

Mulcahy shifted sideways on his cot and looked at Sidney in the dim light, in a way that made him think of Hawkeye drunk and lounging in the heat.

‘The sin of Hawkeye.’

“Would you like a hug John?”


Sidney got up and sat next to Mulcahy and wrapped his arms around him. Mulcahy hugged back and they both closed their eyes.



Sidney was laughing when he returned to the VIP tent. Frank was wet and all was right with the world. Mulcahy was sitting on his bed, waiting.

“John. What can I do for you?” Sidney never called him John where anyone else could hear, always Father, just like Doctor or Captain.

“I came by to check on you. I wanted to see how your spirits where. I hope you’ll forgive my coming in. I didn’t want to lurk outside.”

“I’d forgive you nearly anything John, you know that. And as for your previous concern, I’m feeling much better.”

Mulcahy smiled. “That’s good to hear. Someone in this mess needs to have their head on strait.”

“I didn’t say that. I just said I felt better.”

“Well that’s something I guess.” Mulcahy smiled and moved to leave the tent.

Sidney put his hand on Mulcahy’s shoulder to stop the man then pulled him into a hug. Both in their bare sleeves the skin of their arms touched. “Thank you for caring John.”


 The cold wind came through camp as the fire began to burn low. Sidney realized, perhaps a little too late, that he didn’t have a change of clothes.

“Can I offer you sanctuary?” Mulcahy whispered in his ear.

“Thank you, yes.”

In the chaplain’s tent a spare blanket was found and drinks were poured.

“The doctors tell me that this doesn’t actually warm you up, it merely creates the illusion of warmth.”

“As a psychiatrist I can state that illusion is a very powerful thing.”

“That it is.” The two men sat in quite contemplation.

“How have you been managing, John?” Sidney asked.

“The war goes on, I go on with it, and how I manage means little to the army as long as I carry on.”

“Such a good little soldier.”

“Ours it not to reason why...” Sidney reached out and touched Mulcahy’s hand.

“This isn’t the valley of death, John, even if it feels that way, you can to better than just manage.”

“I know. I try.” Sidney sat next to Mulcahy and drew him in for a hug. Sidney felt the warmth of a cheek pressed against his neck. Sidney felt John begin to shake, and held on harder.


 Sidney heard the soft tap on the door of the VIP tent.

 “Come in.” The door opened letting in the night and a lone figure. “Hello John. What can I do for you?” The priest looked agitated, looking over his shoulder as the door closed.

 “Hawkeye? Will Hawkeye be ok?”

 “He’ll be fine. He had a couple of old bats in the bell fray but I’ve scared them out.”

 “He was just so sick.”

 “I know, he’ll be fine. Sit down.” Mulcahy sat in the offered chair and quickly stood up again. “John please, what’s wrong?” Mulcahy went to his knees but did not cross himself.

 “Forgive me Sidney for I have sinned.”

 “What is your sin?” Sidney watched as the man he called John began to cry, he kneeled down in front of him and took the fine, scholarly hands into his. “John?”

 “Is it so wrong to want to feel, Sidney? To want to remember what the doctor’s hands on your body felt like the first time, in that first breath.”

 “No John.” The hands shook and began to move. They moved around Sidney’s wrists, never stopping, like a blind man seeking for something. Mulcahy had closed his eyes. Sidney felt himself begin to shake. How long had it been since someone had touched him with gentleness? Certainly not as long as a priest would have gone, but in war every touch seemed tainted with violence. Sidney pushed up his sleeves. Mulcahy squeezed his eyes tighter as if blindness would somehow negate what was happening, but his hands began to shake harder. Sidney pulled him in, wrapping his arms tight around the slim body.

 “Ssshhh, it’s ok, it’s ok,” Sidney whispered. “It’s ok.” Mulcahy nodded into Sidney’s shoulder.

 Hands began to rove along his back and he reciprocated. Sidney could feel where a bit of his shirt was untucked. Mulcahy’s long fingers found it and froze, fingertips lightly touching skin.

 “It’s ok.” One voice whispered.

 “Forgive me.” Said another.

 Sidney felt the hand creep under his shirt and he sighed, squeezing his own eyes shut. ‘To far, to far’ a voice in his head said, but he didn’t listen. After all one of the first things they teach you is listening to the voices in your head means you’re crazy.

 He worked his own hand under John’s shirt. The skin was too soft. He could feel bird thin ribs under his fingers bellowing with deep shaking breaths.

 He became aware of a noise over the pounding of his own heart. A thin sound, like a scream from a great distance. The man in his arms was screaming, vocal cords pulled so tight it was hardly more than the faintest whisper. Over and over, a lifetime of screams.

 Sidney pulled back and pulled his shirt over his head then pulled off Mulcahy’s as well. The men grabbed each other pressing chest to chest, skin to skin. The screams became great wracking sobs.

 “Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.” One voice said.

 “I forgive you.” Said another.


 Sidney opened to door of his apartment letting out a blast of frozen, conditioned, air into the muggy New York summer.

 “John.” Sidney said with a smile. “Come in. You made it.”

 “Well I could hardly come to New York without looking up my favorite shrink.”

 “Sit down. Let me get you some ice tea.”

 “Thank you. That would be lovely.” Mulcahy sat in the tidy living room and looked around at the pictures and knickknacks.

 “So how have you been John?” Sidney called from the kitchen. He got no answer. He carried the drinks back into the living room. “Did you want sugar?” He asked, but also received no answer. He sat down across from Mulcahy.

 “Ah. Ice tea. Lovely thank you.”

 “You’re welcome. How have you been?” There was a moment of silence and Mulcahy had a look of concentration.

 “I’ve been well, getting by.”

 “Does the tea need sugar?”

 “No. It’s just fine, thank you. It’s odd seeing you in civilian clothes.”

 “I’ve got my class A in the closet if you’ll be more comfortable.”

 “Thank you, no.”

Sidney peered at his friend. “Why are you watching my lips?”

Mulcahy flushed slightly and looked down for a second. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I’m quite deaf these days. I have to read lips.”

 Sidney felt the shock run through him. “What happened John?”

 “The war, the last days.”

 “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

 Mulcahy shrugged. “I didn’t tell anyone.”

 “You could have told me.” Sidney said a little hurt, but suddenly aware of the movement of his own lips.

 “You had a bigger worry in those days.”

 “I could have made room.”

 “True. I rather bent God’s ear on the issue instead.”

 Sidney laughed. “I’m sure you did.”

 “So how have you been?” Mulcahy asked. “Is your family about?”

 It was Sidney’s turn to lower his head. “I’m afraid I’m divorced, she took the kids upstate, I get them every other weekend.”

 “I’m so sorry Sidney. What happened?”

 “The war. I came home with too many nightmares that belonged to other people. The last straw was when I woke up screaming about chickens and couldn’t stop crying for an hour.”

 “You spent three years scooping up the remains of shattered minds, it’s to be expected that you’d get stuck with a shard or two.”

 “Perhaps. And what about you John? Did you come home with the guilt of sins you never committed?”

 “And a few that I did. Yes.” Mulcahy lowered his eyes and Sidney realized he wasn’t just averting his sight but plunging himself into an even greater silence. When he finally looked back up Sidney smiled.

 “So what brings you to New York?”

 “A job interview actually.”

 “Really? I thought you sort of had a job for life.”

 Mulcahy shrugged. “Not a lot of use for a deaf priest. I’m on semi-permanent sabbatical.”

 “I’m so sorry.” And he was.

 “It’s ok. There’s a school for the deaf a few stops up the line from here. They have an opening for a history teacher.”

 “I didn’t know you taught.”

 “Priests are encouraged to get their teaching credentials. It makes it easier to staff all the Catholic schools.”

 “Of course. Do you think you’ll get the job?”

 “I have an interim yes until final approval goes through.”

 “Well congratulations.”

 “Thank you.”

 “Think you’ll be able to handle a classroom full of kids?”

 “After the 4077th?”

 Sidney laughed “Fair enough. Do you have a place to stay yet?”

 “No. I honestly didn’t think I’d be offered the position, I only went to the interview on a whim. I suppose I’ll have to find an apartment. At least the move will be easy. I’ve been staying at the seminary, all my own stuff still fits in a duffle bag.”

 “You know you’re always welcome here.” Sidney gestured to the large apartment, meant to house a family.

 Mulcahy flushed a little. “I wouldn’t want to be an intrusion.”

 “It would be no intrusion. I could use the company, this place is way to big for just me. I’d move but it’s rent controlled.”

 “I take it that’s a bonus around here?”

 “You have no idea. Besides, it would be nice to have a roommate that I can’t wake by screaming in the middle of the night, not to mention one that will forgive my cooking.”

 “Only if you forgive my screams as well, Sidney.”

 Sidney reached out and took Mulcahy’s delicate hands into his.

 “I’d forgive you anything, John.”

bronzelionel on November 19th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
Powerful, powerful stuff. Beautiful; thank you.
ladygray99ladygray99 on November 19th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading it. It's kind of an odd combo. I'm not even sure what bit of my brain it came from.
Kaytee4everkaytee4ever on November 27th, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
oh, I do really like this!

I'd be curious to see what happens later, after they've gotten used to each other and settled in.
ladygray99ladygray99 on November 27th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
I think they'll get on better than expected. I hadn't planed on writing a continuation on this one but you went and fed the bunny.
Kaytee4ever: *purrs*kaytee4ever on November 27th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
bwa ha ha! My evil plan is working!

Erm, I mean, I'm so glad that you have an idea to continue this *looking at you angelically with huge blue eyes*


*feeds the bunny some radioactive carrots when you're not looking*
ladygray99ladygray99 on November 27th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
I have a 60 page Numb3rs epic to finish first, not to mention writing I'm meant to be getting paid for. I'll get to it when i get to it. Just picture Sidney trying to explain his new roommate to his own shrink or his ex-wife.
Kaytee4everkaytee4ever on November 27th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)

Just picture Sidney trying to explain his new roommate to his own shrink or his ex-wife.

call_me_kei on December 20th, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
Okay, wow, that was really well done, I have to admit, I truly enjoyed it.
The whole thing has this wonderful sense of being balanced right on the edge of something, and you're not sure if it's you or the characters who are about to fall over. Nicely paced. Very sweet without being too sticky. And believable too. Mulcahy's always been my favourite character, and I always get a little worried reading him, but I think you've got him well done.
Although, one must remember he's a boxer and a hardass under there. The only sour note in this symphony of a fic is, I think, throwing that "delicate" on him at the last. But it's just a small, personal thing. Four stars - one between each letter, and a bonus for making me smile. :}
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 20th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it.

I know Mulcahy's not delicate. He survived the war after all I just always picture his long thin fingers on the piano. I guess that's just the word that came to mind for his hands.

I've been puttering around in my mind for a sequel. There's been a few requests but I'm not sure if I'll be able to manage the balance again. That was the one thing I was working on with this. walking the razors edge.
(Anonymous) on December 20th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
Well, personally I don't think it needs a sequel. To be honest I felt contented with the story as is, from beginning to end, it feels complete to me. Sometimes life leaves us with a few threads hanging, and we don't need all the sordid little details of the afterward; a good writer leaves much to the reader's imagination.

And it doesn't seem like you're inspired by anything more than those requests right now, and while repeating a wondrous work can be accomplished, it doesn't come about by appeasing the bleating masses, as it were. (Lead your sheep, don't slaughter them, eh?)

Delicate, then is a fine word, in this case for the string of the story. If you find yourself truly inspired to write more, you should do so, but beware, for that razor is sharp, and such strings can become easily tangled. Weave your words carefully, as you did in this first instance. It would be a joy to see more of this kind of thing... but in its own time, as needs be.
call_me_kei on December 20th, 2007 10:56 am (UTC)
Damn. That was me by the way. *stabs the above post*
ladygray99ladygray99 on December 20th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
No Worries. I do that all the time. :)
selkiechick on March 11th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
That is really really beautiful! Thank you.
ladygray99ladygray99 on March 11th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading :-)
ruefullruefull on October 16th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm new to the fic, if not the fandom, so this is probably coming to you from out of the blue, but I had to write and tell you just how much I adored your story! Lovely and gentle, and perfect, it made me feel good, deeply good, if a touch sad. Wonderful!
ladygray99ladygray99 on October 17th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
:) Thank you. People seem to run across this fic from here and there. I always like feedback on my older work. I'm glad you enjoyed it and gave it a read.
aura218: good lifeaura218 on June 8th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
So gorgeous. Love it.
ladygray99ladygray99 on June 8th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
Thank you.
writergurl91writergurl91 on August 16th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
I saw all of the Mash episodes on rerun and the ones with Sidney were always my favorite. I saw Mulcahy on the Andy Griffith show the other day so his voice is fresh in my memory.

This is so sweet, in a melancholy way, it's just kind of cool that you brought these two characters together... and that you kept Mulcahy from actually sinning. At least that's how I read it. I could be wrong.

Still, bitter sweet and a happy ending. :)
ladygray99ladygray99 on August 16th, 2010 07:28 am (UTC)
I just sort of left the sin up to the reader. I keep hoping I'll be able to write something like this again with those two but it's never happened. Still I'm always glad when someone reads it.