That's My Desire ***Maybe Deleting 4/15. Download to save.***
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

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No Archive Warnings Apply
B. J. Hunnicutt/Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
B. J. Hunnicutt, Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Frank Burns, Maxwell Klinger, Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Radar O'Reilly, Original Male Character(s), Sherman Potter, Father Francis Mulcahy, Original Female Character(s)
Additional Tags:
Slow Burn, hunnihawk, Bi-Curiosity, Masturbation, Jealousy, period-appropriate bi confusion, idk how long this will be, or precisely where it's going, so let's all just enjoy the ride, Mutual Masturbation, general 4077 Family feels, Bisexual Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Angst, Fluff, Comedy, Smut, Yearning, Peg letters (to and from), Mutual Pining, Oral Sex, Infidelity, Mature up to ch9 - ch10 explicit and more in future, Kissing, I love Trapper but this fic doesn't so much, (set in seasons 4-6), (tried to rework the tags and they came out a MESS wtf oh well), Bisexual B. J. Hunnicutt
Published: 2020-06-10 Completed: 2020-08-21 Chapters: 27/27 Words: 114664

That's My Desire ***Maybe Deleting 4/15. Download to save.***


"The truth is told in jokes." -proverb

or, BJ makes a discovery about Hawkeye.



(soundtrack/ref pics at

Chapter 1

Just as the survival manuals warned against things like enemy capture and hypothermia, they warned against boredom. And rightfully so, BJ thought, his dog tags and one arm falling over the side of his cot. Boredom was indeed proving a worthy foe. Maybe the third strongest, most pervasive one, outdone only by North Korea and food from the mess. 

It should have been easier to enjoy the quiet. There'd been more than one occasion he'd found the Swamp, with Frank's love for squabbling and Hawkeye's love for baiting the very same, too loud and too small and he'd longed for a full day of solitude. Of course, now that he had it, with Hawk on his second of three days in Seoul and Frank tied up in conducting emergency drills (as if this whole place wasn't one ceaseless emergency to begin with), he hadn't a clue what to do with it. Wasn't that always the way of things? 

The sluggish summer wasn't helping to perk him up, either. Sure, California got sun and heat, but BJ was unused to the heavy mugginess that had settled over the camp, weighty and wet enough that it might be difficult to lift himself from the cot even if he had a good reason to. But despite that, the utter lack of Reason To still grated.

His limply hanging fingers touched something sticky and he frowned. Did he even want to know? He withdrew his hand, craned his head over the side, and wrinkled his nose at the offender: a half-eaten chicken wing. Whether Hawkeye had flung it some time ago at Frank out of annoyance or a rat had dragged it in, he couldn't be sure. 

But was he really so bored enough as to clean?

Well, it beat re-reading the survival manuals.

Heaving a sigh, BJ pushed up off the cot, stood, and doffed the shirt that sweat had glued to his back. Tossing it away, he gave the chicken wing a halfhearted glare.  At least he knew where to start, he thought as he located the broom, and began the ever-futile effort of tidying an ever-filthy place. 

It wasn't really so bad once he got into the swing of it. Despite the heat, it felt good simply to move, to exercise with a purpose. He swept and he straightened, he fixed up and folded, and even went so far as to dust the surfaces that had enough area clear to justify it and needed it the worst. Why, it was such an unobtrusive version of cleaning that Hawk might not even complain, Frank probably still would, and he himself might nap easier later, knowing his environs were that much less an air quality hazard. 

BJ was singing to himself by the self-decided end of it, pleased to go some time without interruption or emergency, and very nearly finished without incident. It was only as he was tugging the first-dry clothes from the line that he bumped a shelf, sending paper materials sliding off with a soft whoosh and sprawling behind him on the floor. 

"Oh, wait your turn," BJ murmured good-naturedly in the direction of the new mess as he settled a slightly older one, divvying up the dry shirts between his cot, Hawkeye's, and Frank's. It would earn him goodwill from the latter, which wouldn't be important except for that it meant being left alone, and he was savoring this little bout of domestic peace. Shirts sorted, he turned to the fallen papers, not surprised to find the small pile was comprised of some of Hawkeye's arguably artful nudist magazines. 

Those were another fine way to kill some of an afternoon to one's self, he mused, but somehow the mood wasn't there. And Hawkeye really had amassed quite the collection at this point but BJ didn't think there was a particular order to them, so he was quick and careless in slotting them back into place on the shelf. Perhaps too careless, since one slipped from his arms in the process, an envelope of loose pictures sliding from it as it fell. He bent over again with a little sigh, picking up the pictures one by one to tuck them back in before a passing glance at them gave him pause. 

They were indeed erotic in nature.

And they could still be called artful.

But not a one featured the female form.

In one, two well-muscled men in jock straps stood, one smiling at the camera and the other, arms folded, gazed away. In the next, the same men were wrestling, the smiler still as jovial despite being held down and pressed nearly in half. 

The next few were of bodybuilders, greased and posed just so and wearing just as little. There were actually several like that. Then two men in fine suits, eyes closed and mouths a mere inch from each other's, destined to meet. 

Following that were two sailors, or at least wearing the uniforms of such, the slighter one perched on the broader man's knee, a hand slipped between parted thighs to press over an obviously excited organ. Their lips had passed 'destined' and might need a crowbar to pry apart.

The next was a smaller picture, just a few inches by a few, but was a print of a drawing so explicit that it drew a tiny gasp of surprise from BJ. Right as the door to the Swamp flew open. 


"Frank," he greeted tonelessly, calmly sliding the pictures back between the magazine's pages and flipping to a different page, using all his reserve not to let on that anything had rattled him. 

"Don't 'Frank' me, you... you," Frank took one glance at him, the magazine cover, sneered smugly, and spat, "Pervert."

"Only for the next 15 minutes," BJ quipped brightly, hoping it would traumatize Frank to the point of leaving. 

And blessedly, because he'd only popped in for something he'd forgotten, it had the desired effect, and it was only after the door clattered shut again that BJ let himself exhale. 

Horror and understanding had both settled in his gut. Horror, because what the hell was Hawkeye thinking, having pictures like that just sitting around? They could get him in a world of trouble not just with the brass but far beyond, trouble that followed him home and lasted a lifetime. Didn't he realize the danger?

And the understanding, that seemed to come in waves. Hawkeye's bachelorhood, explained better than ever. His constant flirtations with anyone, BJ included, not just for laughs, apparently. The answers to questions BJ hadn't even realized he had, tucked between the pages of a magazine pressed tightly closed in his hand. 

Wait, was that really what horrified him? That Hawk could get into trouble? 

Casting a wary glance out the mesh and seeing no one near, BJ opened the magazine again, eyes landing on the picture of the sailors. 

He wasn't disgusted, somehow. And that should bother him, he knew it should, but it didn't. 

Granted, the picture didn't do anything for him, either. But it did something for Hawk, he supposed, and that was... fine, somehow. Wasn't it? That Hawkeye looked at these and was aroused by them, had maybe even experimented with men, had kissed them, or had relationships with them, been kissed by them, touched...

Nope! Nope, nope. BJ didn't like that at all, actually, though he had no idea why. A knee-jerk reaction to the surprising-but-not discovery, his sudden sense that the Swamp felt dirtier than ever despite just having been cleaned. And that deserved some real thought and self-examination, didn't it? Hawkeye deserved, rather. 

Some other time, BJ decided as he shoved the pictures back into the envelope - addressed from Crabapple Cove of all places, making it as innocent a stash spot as any could be, maybe - and pushed a hand back through his own hair. He was now in a rush to slot the magazine back amongst the others and wipe the stunned look off his face because he'd just heard it outside, the summons of South Korea, the calling to his calling, the only possible reason he'd be putting his shirt back on in this godawful heat. 

"Attention, all personnel! Incoming wounded..."

Yeah. Some other time. 

Chapter 2

Or, as it turned out, all the time. 

In a hurried stroll to pre-op, he found himself absently trying to justify the photographs any other way. Some part of a long con prank, maybe; a misguided push for discharge, no matter how disastrous, acquired and then forgotten once internalizing how disastrous. Or blackmail material, saved for planting on anyone Hawkeye decided he loathed even more than Frank. Or maybe they belonged to someone else entirely, safely kept among Hawk's precious smut collection, along with that imagined mystery soldier's secrets. 

Okay, Hawkeye may have been the type of person whose compassion made him trustworthy with the strangest of things, but that did sound more than a little farfetched. 

Running through quick assessments in pre-op helped take his mind off it. BJ was glad to see fewer bodies than expected, the result not of a serious, planned skirmish but a surprise attack on just a portion of a troop. It would make for a short workday, or shorter than the norm, at least. "Burns, you take that leg wound," Potter barked orders, "And Hunnicutt, be careful with that pelvis - there's probably nerve damage."

"In for a pelvis, in for a pound," BJ sighed in acceptance, went to scrub up, and put his mind to the grindstone of guts.

If only it stayed there!

He would do no less than his damnedest for a patient, of course, but some things were just muscle memory at this point, his hands busy and something in the back of his mind free to roam. Between scalpels and scissors, he found himself unwittingly considering in this new light the way Hawkeye flirted outrageously with everything with two legs, no matter what might be between them. The way he swung the bat hard at every nurse in sight, yet never truly complained when he struck out. 

His seeming devotion to bachelorhood. 

His temporary devotions to Margie Cutler, an apparent favorite who, really, when you compared her physicality to that of the more buxom, longer-haired nurses available, had something of a boyish look...



The thoughts seemed to flit in and out as breezily but determinedly as Klinger through the OR, bouncing around this-where and that. He remembered Hawkeye's yet-unexplained aversion to married nurses, and that he himself had been asked not five minutes into their acquaintance whether he was married and, rather absurdly, whether he'd brought his wife along. It seemed a little odd now, didn't it? 

"Nurse, pull up the intestine just a touch."

"Here, doctor?"

"Riiight there..." BJ leaned in to get a better look, gratified to find no injury to the bladder, and carried on. Unfortunately, so did the unbidden curiosity. He hadn't even been aware his mind had registered and kept the memory of the night stuck in the bus, sharing tales of first romances with the unlikely likes of Potter, Radar and Frank. Hawkeye, consummate storyteller, had seemed distant from the wistful reminisces, and upon his turn to spill had changed the topic. Radar's absence had seemed a valid enough reason at the time, but what if there was more to it? What if Hawk's story was one he couldn't tell?

It was all adding up fast, too fast, but hearing Potter tell Klinger to summon Father Mulcahy snapped him back quickly to reality. "Anything I can help with?" he offered over the din of the busy room, risking a quick glance from his own patient to Potter's. 

"Just a precaution," Potter assured, though to a discerning ear his tone seemed grim.

BJ shook his head quickly as if to clear it, silently hoping for the best before glancing to the head of his own table where Nurse Donovan sat, reading all the necessary markers. "Blood pressure?" 

"Little low but still stable."

"Good," BJ grimaced with resolve behind his mask, his eyes back on the wounds and his fingers back in careful motion. If they were going to lose one today, it wouldn't be his, especially not for wandering attention span. It was inexcusable, really. It boiled down to potentially risking a life fretting over Hawkeye's lifestyle, and it was uncharacteristic of him, to say the least. He barely understood it. He didn't find himself liking Hawkeye any less, he didn't think badly of him for it, he didn't feel threatened in any particular way, so what was it that he just couldn't drop?

Well, he had to, he told himself firmly, just as firmly as he pushed all thoughts of his absent friend further back in his mind.

BJ made it successfully to his third and last patient of the day before they resurfaced, though this time he understood why. Margaret had switched, not needed at the moment at Frank's table and relieving the newer nurse who'd been at his own. It wasn't the most urgent case of the day but his most complex, and Margaret Houlihan was as capable as they came. BJ was grateful to have her there. Or so he'd felt at first. 

She was intent on the suction site when he heard her murmur softly, likely to herself, "Almost a good thing Pierce isn't here..."

"Retractor," he'd just called for, but the statement caught his attention over the table and put a furrow in his brow. "How's that?"

Margaret found it by practiced rote and provided it with her free hand, glancing briefly at the patient's face before back to her work. "Oh, well, with those curls, this kid could be McIntyre's twin," she explained the comment airily. "I mean, if I notice it, so would he, and you never know how he'll react to that sort of thing."

BJ felt himself bristle, and didn't know why, but stayed the calm course. "Think it'd bother him?"

In his periphery he saw Margaret shrug. "He lost a friend once in this very room," she said softly, "An enlisted man he knew as a kid. It might remind him of it."

"...right," BJ commented as if he comprehended how the two were related, but it seemed tangential at best. But Margaret wasn't wrong, necessarily. It was often hard to know how Hawkeye would react to things that got to him. 

"Might make him work harder, who knows?" 

BJ thought it an unfair thing to say when Hawk worked plenty hard, but chalked it up to her probably meaning that he'd joke less during, and little else. "Who knows," he agreed. "Metzenbaum."

"Metz," Margaret parroted, handing the scissors over, and her observation received no further remarks for several minutes. 

Not aloud, at any rate. 

Or inwardly to himself, because BJ's brain suddenly teemed not with remarks but more questions. What little he'd learned about McIntyre implied a nurse-chaser extraordinaire, his reputation on par with Hawkeye's for the same, and something of, well, a goofball jock. Not the kind of guy who'd take too well a discovery like the one BJ had made. Or was that stereotyping to assume? And they'd been so close, it seemed. Just how close? Had McIntyre known Hawkeye was, to at least some small degree, some variety of queer? 

"Oh, my God - so what if he is?" 

That, BJ realized belatedly, had come out not just with a self-impatient stomp but aloud and with appreciable volume, judging by the way the room went quiet and all open eyes turned his way. He sucked in a breath, cheeks warming with embarrassment under his mask. 

"Something on your mind, Hunnicutt?" Potter questioned, perfunctory and no-nonsense, reminding BJ where he was and what he should have been thinking solely about. 

BJ cleared his throat. "...Nothing more important than this hepatic duct," he promised by way of apology, turning his gaze back to the body before him, away from the curious gazes already changing course. 

Frank, pleased to see BJ thus chided, was unable to keep from sharing whatever in his pea-brain wanted so badly to pass for wit. "Well, with Pierce out, no wonder he'd talk to himself," he tittered.

"Oh, blow it out your barracks bag, Frank," BJ muttered, now as annoyed with Frank as he was with himself. 

"We're in the last lap of today's race, boys," Potter now authoritatively chastised both. "Let's keep it peaceful, hm?"

"And ruin a good war? Shame," BJ murmured too quietly for Potter to hear but Margaret had, if her little eyeroll was anything to go by. Still, he got the point, took it and ran with it, and almost before BJ knew it, they were sewing the curly-haired kid back up. 

He left Margaret to bandage the newest Purple Heart recipient for a relaxing stay in L'Hotel du Post-Op and was promptly de-gloved and scrubbed down, greeting the evening air with hands in pockets, a sense of bemusement at the universe in general, and some unshakeable, more specific bemusement about Hawkeye. 

He'd be happy to let it go and forget it entirely, if he could just figure out why he couldn't.

"Oh, BJ?"

He couldn't help smiling, hearing Father Mulcahy catch up to him as if having sensed a soul in bemusement. "Padre," he greeted cordially. "How are ya?" 

Father Mulcahy caught up to walk beside him, a sage smile pulling at his lips. "Oh, every day without the Last Rites is a good one, in my opinion. But how are you? You seemed... troubled by something in the OR. If possible, I'd like very much to help."

It wasn't possible, BJ knew. Or at least it wasn't possible the way the good Father meant. None of this was anything he could talk about. But as friendly distractions went, for conversation that might amuse rather than bemuse and take him out of his own head, he couldn't imagine better company. "Well, right now I'm more troubled by an empty stomach," BJ deflected pleasantly, head tilting in the directon of the mess. "How'd you like to be my dinner date?" 

Blessedly, Father Mulcahy wasn't one to push, BJ's phrasing making him take a playfully conspiratorial tone. "Oh, but you don't suppose Hawkeye would be jealous?"

Jealous. The word stopped BJ mid-step. As did the whole sentence, actually. But Christ, he had to relax, if he thought for a second Father Mulcahy was remotely serious about anything being perceived like... like that. BJ half-forced a smile that scrunched up his nose and crinkled his eyes upon reaching them. "Weellll, he doesn't have to know."

"I won't tell if you won't," Mulcahy promised, and they shared a laugh as they fell back into step. And for at least the next hour, thank God or His earthly foot-soldier or both, BJ didn't think about Hawkeye at all. 

Chapter 3

It was morning when a Jeep honked outside and a boisterous voice could be heard calling, "Make a right at the Green Mill, driver! There, with the lights and the saxophone player out front. And try not to hit the curb. Or the lady in the red dress. It's simply impossible to get tire tracks out of satin, or so I've heard."

Klinger, en route to kitchen patrol and appreciative of the consideration, saluted in greeting as he passed.

BJ, perched on an overturned crate with medical journal in hand and his back to the door, couldn't help a chuckle. Hawk had returned and with gusto, which was always preferable to returning with a hangover. If it had seemed too quiet and dull around the compound the past few days, the problem would soon be solved, and BJ gave up then and there on finishing another sentence of the article yet appeared as if he'd still try.

"Honey, I'm hooome," Hawkeye sang out, the door flying open carelessly behind him. 

"Thought of you every second," BJ deadpanned, turning the page as if he'd actually get to read the next one, and realized the words were very nearly true. Then he felt weight against his back and an arm flung over his shoulder from behind in a sloppily day-drunk version of a hug, a bottle of booze now thumping against his chest. He laughed but shifted his shoulder with purpose, muscling Hawkeye gently away. "Will you get off me? You smell like... geisha," BJ wrinkled his nose. 

"Among other things," Hawkeye agreed blithely.

Frank's newspaper rustled loudly as it was lowered in a huff. "Oh, that's disgusting!"

"Among other things," Hawkeye repeated as he straightened, even more enigmatically impish in tone, and BJ was turning to read his expression for context when he was blocked by the bottle being wiggled in his face. "I humbly apologize for my apparently unforgivable stench, and its undertones - nay, a barely offensive, light spritz of bad decisions - with a present, if it so pleases your highness."

BJ glanced from Hawkeye's face to the bottle, his own expression pleasant but doubtful, expectant. "You drank half my present." 

"Well, it's the thought that counts, and the chauffeur refused to stop for lunch," Hawkeye explained, turning away to drop his travel bags beside his cot. 

"So nice to be half-thought of," BJ mused, his magazine cast aside so he could read the bottle label instead.

"Hey! What'd you do with my dust and my... my air of general disarray?" Hawkeye demanded, gesturing wildly around the room he'd just noticed had been tidied up.

"Relax," BJ rolled his eyes. "I left you some on the still." 

"Oh, sure, maybe some dust, but the disarray? Hm?"

"Try checking your head," Frank suggested from behind the paper whose stock reports he was still futilely trying to take in.

"Missed you, too, Frank," Hawkeye smiled a sneer in his direction, and made for the still. His lunch given magnanimously away, he was already considering supper plans, and swiping a finger over rounded glass, he hmphed in triumph to find its tip, indeed, coated with dust. BJ was as good as his word. All geishas (and several drinks with a real looker of a First Lieutenant) aside, the brief holiday probably would have been more fun with his better, blonder half along, and he found himself strangely glad to be home. "But did I miss anything fun?"

BJ had to fabricate quickly if he wanted to amuse. "Well, let's see..." He rubbed his right hand over his chin as if in thought, the left's fingers splaying as he counted. "One good rainstorm. A couple of short shifts. And oh, yeah! Radar finally cracked, borrowed one of Klinger's dresses, and ran around insisting he was Rita Hayworth and that his teddy bear was  Glenn Ford." 

The mental image sent Hawkeye into hysterics, and BJ found himself suffering from the same. That infectious laugh! That, he'd decided (for good or for now) the night before, was really all that mattered in the grand scheme of things. Hawkeye had been a friend from the start, a steadying hand on his back when he'd been unsteady, a downright masterly colleague, the life of every party even when life was no party, and an all-around gem of a human being. His best friend here. And BJ might still worry about those photographs landing in the wrong hands, but he wasn't worried about what Hawkeye did with his hands while looking at them. Hawk's proclivities were no concern of his before, so why would they be now? 

Hawkeye had dumped the majority of his clothes and personal effects out over his cot, selecting what he thought was cleanest among them. "Alright, I'm gonna shower off what lipstick's left and hit the O Club. Joining me, Laurel?"

"Hardy luck," BJ finished the joke but shook his head in the negative. "I've got rounds in post-op in..." He glanced at his watch and winced, "20 minutes." He'd lowered his wrist but raised it again, another glance to be sure. "And the O Club isn't even open yet!"

"Like that's ever stopped me," Hawkeye grinned mischievously from the doorway, shooting BJ a wink.

"I'll find you after my shift if you're still upright," BJ promised. "And find stretcher-bearers if you're not." 

"Well! Is no one going to invite me?" Frank, mostly forgotten, chimed in hoping to make himself otherwise. 

"Nope," BJ said simply, the last consonant popping with relish, just as Hawkeye was replying, "Oh, sorry, Frank. I just assumed Hot Lips already had." 

The noise Frank made in response was somewhere between a whimper and a growl, and Hawkeye, laughing his way out the door, was gone in as merry a flurry as he'd appeared.

BJ's chuckles died down as he stood and stretched, though he had a full 19 minutes before it was professionally respectful to keep them at bay. His sense of relief that Hawkeye made it back in one piece, though, would last far longer than that. Probably until it was nudged aside in his consciousness by patient complaints or supply concerns, or overshadowed entirely by bouts of laughter at the officers' club. That he'd made it back happy and safe from a world full of misfortunes and sniper fire - that was all that mattered to BJ about Hawkeye. 

And if ever he forgot that, why, he'd merely remind himself again then, too. 




After hours of follow-ups, observation, directing nurses on plans of care and waiting on test results, BJ made his way to the O Club, looking forward to a nice, relaxing drink or three. Yet he was only mildly surprised when he found the club in a state of chaos. Why expect any different? But what surprised him most, he supposed, was who stood in the chaos' center; he'd stepped in just in time to witness Hawkeye taking a wild swing at Zale, missing by about a foot as the room erupted around them. 

So much for relaxing...

Margaret made a beeline for BJ's side. "Oh, doctor. Will you get him out of here?" She leaned in closer and he had to lean down to hear her, Margaret's then-lowered voice barely audible over the noise, "Before he gets himself pulverized." 

BJ watched the ruckus for a few seconds, trying to make sense of it. Hawkeye was passionately promising to punch Zale's throat off his body, prevented from doing so by Straminsky holding his arms back. "How'd this all start?" he asked Margaret.

"He was defending my honor, sir!" came Klinger's voice from BJ's other side.


"And my mother's," Klinger added, staring venom-soaked daggers at a red-faced, huffing Zale. BJ hardly knew where to begin with any of it, but distantly found himself sympathizing with school teachers, nannies, or anyone else who had to break up the fights of children. Really inebriated children. 

"Then you can help me get him back to the Swamp," BJ suggested, his chaos management skills earning an approving smile from Margaret before she slipped back into the crowd and wherever Frank was likely cowering. 

Klinger sighed, placed his cigar atop the piano with the burning edge hanging off, nodded, and into the loose circle of staff they went.

It took little convincing for Igor to release him, Hawkeye shouting truly creative if not clearly articulated invective at Zale as he was passed over, but he seemed to lose steam once he realized whose arms he ended up in. 

"Beej! Beej. When I'm done with that... that Zelmo the zero's throat, I'm'onna sneak into his tent and cut off his-"

"Sure you are," BJ strained to sound pleasant, giving Klinger a look that called for cooperation. 

Hawkeye was too many sheets to the wind to fight them physically, staggering limply between BJ and Klinger as they got him by either armpit and guided him outside. But verbally, he fought plenty. "Put me back in there! I wanna finish what that loudmouth started," Hawkeye declared, though it fell on deaf ears. "I'll land my next punch, I'm not too drunk, there's not that much blood in my alcohol system..."

"We can tell, sir," Klinger said dryly. 

"You'll explain all this later, right, Klinger?" BJ asked over the curve of Hawkeye's bent back. 

"Guess I'll have to, since he won't remember." 

"To Potter, at least," BJ grimaced. They were almost to the Swamp door.

"Heeey. Klinger. Those're nice shoes," Hawkeye was saying as they tugged the door open.

"Roger Vivier," Klinger boasted, though his face darkened when he realized the peril said shoes were in. "And they look best without vomit on them, so don't even think about it."

"He started early today. I'm not sure he's thinking of much at all," BJ commented as he pivoted, working with Klinger to haul Hawkeye inside. 

A low murmur came from between them: "I resemble that remark." 

"At ease, Corporal. I've got him from here," BJ assured, not able to return the salute he received before having to bear the brunt of Hawkeye's weight. 

"Got who? Huh?"

"Got you," BJ explained to Hawkeye as he shuffled him towards his cot, "Out of trouble and into bed, where you probably should have been a few drinks ago." 

"Mm. Bed..." Hawkeye was falling in that direction willingly, though his arm around BJ only seemed to tighten. 

"Yes. Bed. But if you don't let go of me," BJ groaned as he tried to maneuver them both without injury, making sure Hawkeye was on his stomach for safety's sake, "I'm gonna end up landing on you, which would probably break the bed, and then where would you be?"

"...the floor?" 

BJ barked a laugh, working now on extricating himself. 

Hawkeye continued, slurring more by the moment, "An'I can think-o'-worse'n you on top of me."

BJ found himself wondering for a moment what it might be like to give up on extracting himself, to land on the cot with Hawkeye, just to... see what happened! See how Hawk might react, if actually given the opportunity. But it was the dumbest thought BJ had had in a while, he was well aware of that, and thankfully, it didn't stay long. "Sorry, Casanova," BJ said almost gently now that he was free and could breathe without a death grip on his ribs. "But I'm not tired yet, and still want a drink, and I owe Peg a letter."

"Mm... Peg... lucky lady..."

BJ debated pulling a blanket over Hawkeye but decided it was too warm a night for it, and made for his side of the tent to get his notebook, decidedly finished having a conversation with someone who sounded a moment away from sleep and had more drool on his tongue than rapier wit. Finding a pencil in the dark took longer.



"Come'n check my... pulse ev... every so off.... often-in... inna wrist... yeah?"

Pencil found, BJ made for the door, but knew he might be back soon enough to do just that. "Sleep it off, sweet prince," he wished Hawkeye well, but heard only a grunt in response so headed for the club once more. 

Klinger was gone, so was Zale, and the less raucous atmosphere was nice - more along the lines of what he'd hoped for the night. Equally as nice was Margaret, subtly grateful enough to pay for his first drink. BJ settled in with his glass, paper, pencil and Peg, or as close as he could get to her from all the way in Korea, and he'd filled a couple pages in no time. Writing to Peggy always cleared his head. He told her about Haweye's probable broken jaw he'd just prevented, how much he missed her and Erin, that Radar thought he could get Sunset Boulevard for a near-future movie night, and a whole slew of whatever else he could think of.

Some other things he could think of, whether he wanted to think of them or not, he left out.

Chapter 4

Chapter Notes

There was a magic trick that nature had reserved for seasoned alcoholics. They couldn't do it at will, unfortunately, and it was more the body's decision than the brain's. But every so often after a multi-day binge, it was actually possible to pop up after a mere few hours' rest feeling... completely fine. 

Maybe still technically drunk, maybe a hangover looming like a faraway cloud carried on a slow wind, but fine. Pulling off the trick got rarer as one got older, of course, but still happened on occasion.

Thus, Hawkeye had risen before the sun.

He shuffled towards the mess in search of coffee, avoiding anyone who'd want to hear passwords he didn't know. There wouldn't be food yet but coffee, which at any hour could, if not found to be especially drinkable, at least be found. Hawkeye was pleasantly surprised to find it hot and as fresh as could have been expected. He poured himself a mug, sniffed it, opted for sugar, and plopped himself down alone at a table made for eight. 

The environs weren't half-bad on mornings like these. No patient critical, no Hot Lips griping, no unpleasant surprises, no need to be or do or say anything in particular but sit and savor what passed for coffee as he watched the first light break through the mosquito netting. 

Radar, just as reliably as the sun itself, appeared soon after.

"Mornin', Hawkeye."

"Ever observant, Corporal," Hawkeye smiled some. "Is that why you're turning the lights on? Morning'll be here soon enough. Seems a waste of electricity, not to mention rude, to rush it."

"Gotta order new light bulbs," Radar explained distractedly, peering upwards and counting with bouncing fingertip how many bulbs had either faded or were already out. "Need a count for the requisition forms."

As always, it struck Hawkeye as patently absurd that one needed a form to get something so simple and necessary as light bulbs, but he didn't bother with a spiel about it. Radar would only agree with him, deep in his soul; better to save the spiels, rants, and downright unhinged fits for those who didn't see it the same way. 

"Duty roster puts you in post-op, by the way, 'less we get wounded," Radar announced as he scribbled a number down.

Hawkeye, chin in hand, only hummed in acknowledgment, absolutely refusing to let the day get to him before he'd decided to get to it. "Say, Radar. You ever wake up before reveille and feel sort of... peacefully strange about it?"

Radar had finished counting and turned the lights back off. "I'm always up before reveille, sir," he said tiredly, and Hawkeye was left to his own devices once more.

Which, despite the pretty, pink serenity of the dawn as it expanded, got boring pretty fast.

Hawkeye slugged back the last of his coffee, rose, and poured himself another. He fixed a second mug for BJ, departing the mess just as bread and other dry goods were being carried in. If he and his liver were lucky, there wouldn't be more wounded, thus no new fresh hell to drink away, and he could take it more or less easy. Post-op, then maybe write a letter to his dad and, after that, see who of the usual suspects could be convinced into Texas hold'em. 

Or, he thought as he set BJ's coffee atop the stove, he could redecorate the place. BJ had cleaned so it was only fair, right? He could start by tearing down all the posts and the canvas - they didn't need them anymore, considering BJ was pitching such an impressive tent in his sleep.

Hawkeye knew somewhere in the back of his mind that it was impolite to stare, and beyond that, dicey. Really dicey. But probably 10 whole seconds passed, his jaw lax and mouth gone dry, before he cast a guilty glance at Frank's cot, breathing a mental sigh of relief to see it empty. His gaze flicked back to BJ without really intending to. 

The fact that his tent-mate and friend was attractive in a golden-boy, California sort of way, hadn't been lost on Hawkeye. He'd developed a discreet crush one minute after meeting him, and after finding out BJ was married a minute later, casually worked on tamping it down every minute since.

But it helped that most minutes spent in BJ's presence, BJ wasn't laying like that, his shirt ridden up, his hand resting over the bunched hem, his long legs too long for the cot and splayed over its sides, his shorts under evident strain. 

No, like that, BJ was goddamned gorgeous, and Hawkeye had to forcefully whip his attention elsewhere. 

It wasn't anything special, he told himself as he put down his mug and grabbed his toothbrush. Nocturnal penile tumescence was the medical term, and that BJ happened to look that good with its main symptom didn't matter. Couldn't. Hawkeye knew mixing wartime affection and wartime sex could lead to lifelong troubles, and he had affection for BJ Hunnicutt in spades. 

It couldn't even matter that he found the name BJ Hunnicutt suggestive in a Tijuana bible kind of way. Unwise, he reminded himself as he found a clean-enough towel, to consider blending his person into others' personal affairs. He didn't mess with Married. 

Even if sometimes he wanted to. 

He left BJ, BJ's massive erection and the actual tent poles undisturbed, and made for the shower. Maybe he didn't mess with married, but his body was telling him to at least consider it a little more. 

Reveille wasn't for another 10 minutes or so, after all, and he suspected it might not take long.

But once in the shower, his unoccupied hand gripping the compartment's edge and one eye on the door in case it moved, he forced his thoughts away from BJ and to the handsome first lieutenant, a bachelor or so he'd said, he'd met while away. He knew they'd have gotten a room together if the guy had had more time. As it was, the most they managed were drinks, flirtations only a little more overt than his norm, and some teasing caresses well-hidden by a table. 

It hadn't been much but it made for vivid daydreams of the indecent variety now, and was more than he'd expect from an average day in Korea. Granted, a little frustrating, which was likely why BJ had sparked a fire that now demanded putting-out. But Beej always took his normal overt flirtations and flung them back playfully. It never ended in under-table caresses. And if it ever did...

Okay, fine, he might have a hard time saying no to married. 

Or if Beej ever, say, took a casual joke in the supply room seriously, seriously enough to corner Hawkeye with it, literally corner him, smiling that playful smile while he did, and push him to the wall with a serious kiss and that damned third leg rising to full height between them...

...well, at least he'd be done with the shower before any nurses charged in needing it. 

Hawkeye washed up as Radar sounded reveille outside. He was vaguely aware of growing dehydration, the beginnings of a headache that he hoped wasn't planning to cross the border into Hangover City, but that was all physical. Mentally, spiritually, he had no real hang-ups about a quick round of self-abuse and looking its featured star in the eye after. It would hardly be the first time it had happened. Hell, it wasn't even the first time it had happened in Korea. 




Said featured star was absent from the Swamp upon Hawkeye's return, and for reasons Hawkeye couldn't begin to guess, had chosen to share a breakfast table with Margaret and Frank. Hawkeye begrudgingly joined them, setting down a tray of something that technically could have been food but smelled more like it hastened hangovers rather than hampered them. 

"Morning, Slugger," Margaret said archly. 

Hawkeye lifted his fork and his brows. "Huh?"

BJ turned his attention from his own tray of slop to face Hawkeye, grinning. "Well, we're curious: how much of last night do you remember?"

"We're"? Gross. And last night? Hawkeye blinked owlishly, turning away in thought rather than get electric-shocked by BJ's million-watt smile. Last night, last night... The O Club! It had been nice and rowdy rather than dreary, and that was really just about all he could recall. And Klinger having nice shoes, but when didn't he? "I dunno," Hawkeye admitted, forking cuts into meat that may have once seen a picture of a breakfast sausage and devoted its long shelf life to pulling off a subpar impersonation. "Waiting for the hangover to show up with its cousin, Regret, and they'll fill me in."

"Just avoid Zale for a couple days, you'll be fine," BJ advised with a nudge, and Hawkeye felt either too nauseous or too flirtation-wary to nudge back. Zale? What had happened with Zale? Whatever. He busied himself with a mouthful of sausage impersonator despite all common sense and senses raging against it.

"You really should cut back on the drinking, Pierce," Frank advised less entertainingly. "As a doctor, you should know better."

"The day an actual doctor tells me so, maybe I'll listen," Hawkeye mumbled, Frank's voice another headache trigger, pain beginning to sneak up and close in around his skull.

Frank huffed, slamming down his mug. "Well, at least I remember last night!"

Hawkeye remembered Frank's empty cot and shrugged. "Good thing, too, or Margaret might not speak to you for days." 

He felt BJ's small chuckle as much as he heard it, and didn't fight the natural lean that occurred just from sitting so close to the other. "After this, wanna walk me through our boys in red, white, blue, and traction?" 

"So long as you can walk," BJ agreed.

Hawkeye did wonder a little what had happened last night, given all the wisecracks, but he simply didn't care enough at the moment to dig for the story.  There weren't enough wisecracks for it to be truly important. "I'm fine," he insisted. "Just my head starting up a big band." But on second thought, Hawkeye frowned, rotating his arm. "And my shoulder a little, too."

"Maybe you over-extended it," BJ suggested helpfully before sipping his coffee.

"Maybe, but how?" Hawkeye questioned aloud, more to himself than anyone, but still felt too much the zombie to care when BJ and Margaret exchanged a cryptic, seemingly indulgent smile he didn't understand.




From then on, it was a fairly average day: brush up on the new patients, avoid the melancholy of mourning their governmentally-misspent youths, test Frank's patience whenever possible, and a nightcap with BJ to sort his stomach back out. One more average, uninspiring, not-lusting-actively-for-his-best-friend, 200-CCs-of-hangover, morning-becoming-day-and-day-becoming-night, dusty, dull, dry-gin-and-early-to-bed day in Korea for Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce. 

And so was the next, and the one after that, and a few more that followed before a wave of wounded kept them busy, and a new attempt by Frank to get him in trouble failed. Thoroughly, gratingly, mind-numblingly average, all of it, always, as if nothing in this wretched place ever changed.

But BJ, if asked, and it was a good thing no one did, wouldn't exactly have been able to say the same. 

Or maybe he would have, because he hadn't consciously noticed it yet, that some heretofore unacknowledged switch in his head was flipping, apparently due to Hawkeye's mere existence. He didn't let himself admit that some lighthearted jokes, like Hawkeye saying Frank wanted his virginity and BJ telling him they all did, might mean more than a quick giggle to annoy the brass. 

Teasing jokes didn't make him queer. Harmlessly, occasionally thinking his fey friend was uniquely pretty as men went, didn't make him love Peggy any less. He likely could have carried on years without a single self-disturbing thought about Hawkeye coming naturally to him. 

But in a truckload of near-casualties came a staff sergeant named Bellamy, and suddenly, not noticing wasn't an option anymore. 

Bellamy was 27 years of age, had movie-star good looks favoring Montgomery Clift, and came off in manner, one could say... distinctly un-GI. 

And no one took a bigger, more intense interest in him than Hawkeye. 

Chapter End Notes

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: If there was ever a Bellamy in the series, I forgot that, should have picked a different name, and this one's an OC. Thanks, all, for the nice comments so far! Will try to stick with steady updates for as long as work sched allows.)

Chapter 5

Bellamy, Adam Michael. Staff sergeant currently in the role of a technical engineer. BJ first knew him as a leg he'd barely been able to save, then a recovering patient to whom Hawkeye took an immediate shine. At first, it seemed based on common roots alone. Bellamy was born near Muscongus Bay, close to Crabapple Cove. He'd attended Bowdoin, not far from Hawkeye's alma mater of Androscoggin, before being drafted in the last war, and for some inexplicable reason, decided he liked the military life enough to keep it and make it his own.

"It's easier than going back to Maine in some ways," BJ had overheard Bellamy say wistfully his second day in post-op. "You know... making that picture-perfect little New England life... finding a job, finding a girl..."

"I could see that in... some ways," he'd heard Hawkeye say just as wistfully, despite all in earshot knowing that Hawkeye would probably give a limb for even an hour of picture-perfect Maine. And maybe that's what it was about, more than anything. But BJ sensed otherwise, and decided simply to give them space when possible. 

Bellamy loved to read - aside from the classics, some were novels by authors like Blair Niles and Richard Meeker that it turned out that Hawkeye had read and BJ had never even heard of. Bellamy wasn't very good at playing cards, so Hawkeye was going to give him a crash course between other duties. BJ learned worlds more about Bellamy than would be on his patient chart through Hawkeye's chatter about the guy, and by the fifth day with him around, BJ had to bite his tongue to keep himself from reminding Hawk not to get attached. 

It would be insulting to his intelligence to bother saying it, BJ knew, no matter with how much compassion. The two had a sparkle in their eye about each other. It was there and it was plain (to BJ at least), and he had no business trying to extinguish it. After all, he had Peg. Why shouldn't Hawkeye have someone, ill-advised though wartime romances could be? 

But why would he even think about it in those terms, as if they belonged to each other somehow?

He just missed his friend, he told himself as he up-righted a clean, overturned glass from beneath the still. The Swamp was too quiet again more often than not. The spare time Hawk was spending with Bellamy, he would have spent with BJ. In circumstances like those, it was natural to feel a little left out. And Hawkeye was still coming home at night, if not a little later than usual. 

Then he was trading shifts with BJ to put in more post-op time. When Potter remarked on it, just curiously enough, BJ played it off and said Hawk was just trying to fill up on points. ("That isn't how points work," Colonel Potter had grunted, and BJ had shrugged, smiled, and said, "Yeah, but let a man dream.") It was nice of him to do, he thought, when he was fairly sure Hawk was trying to fill up on something, but it sure wasn't points. 

But BJ didn't think he was bitter, exactly. He was bored, more than anything, and bored with being bored. And there wasn't anything wrong with how Hawkeye was acting. He was no more distracted or distracting in surgery than usual. When on duty, he never played favorites, didn't linger longer at Bellamy's bed than other patients'. And if there was anything wrong in how the... friendship was progressing, BJ didn't discourage it. If Hawkeye said he didn't think Bellamy was ready yet for shipping to Tokyo General on the way home, BJ didn't argue, just signed off on the man's staying put, despite a growing, gnawing sense that this might not end well.

Because, inevitably, Bellamy would go home. BJ would have Hawkeye to himself again. But who would Hawkeye have?

Nurses, BJ supposed, who Hawkeye, for all his Bellamy fascination, hadn't forgotten about. Or appeared not to have.

The night before, BJ had been discussing with Nurse Able the next steps for a soldier who'd come into the compound with two lungs, one full of shrapnel, and would be leaving someday with just one. He'd make it, thankfully, but it would take time and a close watch. As they talked, he could hear Hawkeye and Bellamy chatting behind him but it was background noise, nothing he really made out until Nurse Able had walked away. Chatting and laughing about some joke or another Hawkeye had made.

"I know you're clever, Dr. Pierce, but that one came straight from Wilde!"

"Nothing came straight from Wilde," Hawkeye deadpanned, before his voice went softer in tone. "Had a feeling you'd recognize it." 

"Well, they didn't have the class reading him at Boothbay Region High..."

"But you did anyway," Hawkeye surmised, and BJ could all but hear the twinkle in his eye. 

"And so did you," BJ heard Bellamy say just as warmly, and when he chanced a look over and saw the staff sergeant actually stroke Hawkeye's hand, he began to feel vaguely nauseous. Yet he still looked around to be sure nobody else had noticed, and was relieved for Hawk's sake that it seemed to be the case.

Nurse Able returned soon with medication for the lung patient but was sidetracked on the way by a now-standing Hawkeye, who had pulled her to his side and was nuzzling at her neck. "Oh, nurse. I know you're Able, but are you willing? Say, my tent around 10:30?"

"Oh, Hawkeye! You never give up, do you?" she laughed, and shaking him off, went to prepare the medicine course.

BJ busied himself with patient notes while taking mental note that, actually, Hawk seemed to have little trouble giving up, plopping himself back onto the empty cot beside handsome Bellamy's. 

"What do you think of Nurse Able? Cute, huh?" Hawkeye was asking.

"Sure, she's cute..." Bellamy sounded hesitant, permissive rather than in true agreement.

BJ was just coming up to Bellamy's bed, and he knew he shouldn't cut in but somehow couldn't help himself. "Evening, Bellamy. The leg's looking good, but isn't Nurse Able a little old for you?" he teased. 

Nurse Able was only a couple years younger than Hawkeye, of course. Hawk knew this even if Bellamy didn't, and BJ thought the look Hawkeye speared him with in response was utterly priceless.

But thinking back, he wasn't sure why he had said it. He only knew it was likely the biggest reason he was drinking alone in the Swamp tonight.




A couple days before he'd be shipped out, Bellamy had been practicing his mobility on crutches, and BJ came home from a supper Hawkeye had skipped to find home less lonely. For someone, at any rate. They had a magazine opened between them, Hawkeye on his cot and Bellamy close by in Hawk's chair, and BJ strolled in just in time to see Hawkeye's hand being pulled back quickly from the staff sergeant's leg.

BJ was tired for him at this point, really. He wanted to tell Hawk it was fine, he didn't have to hide anything around him, and that he was slightly insulted Hawk bothered, but he felt a little less generous when he noticed Bellamy was wearing Hawkeye's red robe. 

That didn't look right somehow, and BJ knew he wouldn't stay long, despite Hawkeye's exuberance in inving him to pour one from the still and pull up a crate. It felt nice to be missed, BJ had to admit, and perhaps he'd like Bellamy, too, if he spent more time around him. But he'd interrupted something, and it didn't leave him feeling as wanted as Hawkeye made it seem.

"Sorry, boys, but Doris Day Mulcahy has requested the Les Hunnicutt band for backup," BJ said by way of excuse, and it wasn't entirely a lie, just not an event he'd intended to participate in so early in the evening. It was still warm enough at nights to pretend he'd just popped in at home to lose his sleeves, rather than actually planning to spend time there. The transition was as smooth as it was polite, but if he ended up having to run distraction on Frank, Hawkeye was really going to owe him. "Care to join us for harmony?" 

"Oh, I'm not much of a singer," Bellamy said after a moment's thought, and BJ couldn't believe it but Hawkeye was taking cues from the guy to the point that he didn't urge him otherwise, simply raised his glass and hummed as he savored a sip.

"Oh, well, Hawkeye's an excellent singer. You should hear him with accompaniment," BJ prodded further, his back to the pair as he hung up the semi-clean button-down he'd taken off.

"His leg could use the rest, Beej," Hawkeye said. "And the rest of him could use all the antifreeze the still has to offer, free of charge." 

"Uh-huh," BJ muttered as he straightened the shirt. Just the answer he'd expected. He wasn't wanted, and those two were actively looking for time alone, somewhere away from the prying eyes of nurses and others; the majority of the canvas was drawn down, BJ now noticed. Yep! He had to get out of there. And somehow keep a pleasant smile on his face as he made to do so. 

"Well, don't keep our patient up too late, Hawk, unless you want Margaret in here looking for him," BJ warned lightly, giving a little wave he hoped looked friendlier than he felt. "Bellamy - enjoy the acetate."

BJ made it outside but made it only six steps before he heard the door clatter shut again, and Hawkeye running up behind him. "Hey, BJ, wait!"

Well, this'll be interesting, BJ thought, stopping and indulging in a long, deep breath before turning to face Hawkeye. "What's up, Hawk?"

"What's up with you, is a better question."

BJ choked on a laugh. "What's up with me?" he repeated incredulously.

Hawkeye glanced around for any who might overhear them, and lowered his voice. "Well, this isn't the first time I've tried to spend time with you both and you've fled. So, more specifically, what's up with that? Is it Bellamy?" Hawkeye pressed further, almost a taunt, as if he suspected one answer or another already and was just waiting for confirmation. "Something you don't like about him?"

BJ wasn't sure what to say for a moment. It was true that Hawkeye had offered, tried to pull him along into Bellamy's poker education and other entertainments, and he'd joined in the first couple nights. But more often, Hawkeye was skipping meals and movie nights with no warning to BJ that he would. And BJ thought 'fled' a hell of a strong word. "I was just giving you space, Hawk. Is that so awful of me?"

And there it was between them, the awareness that BJ knew, silencing Hawkeye for several seconds, his eyes blazing and lips pressed tight as he mulled over how to feel about that. 

Granted, BJ wasn't running to higher-ups with it, or to Frank, or bullying him, or treating him differently at all. But it was obvious from Hawkeye's dark look that BJ was doing something wrong. He just wished he understood what.

"Yeah, well," Hawkeye ground out, taking another step into BJ's personal space. "You might be somebody's jealous husband, Beej, but you're not mine! So how about you quit acting like it?"

BJ felt his eyes widen, stunned by the verbal blow. Jealous? He could scarce believe the word had just been thrown at him again about Hawkeye, but this time about himself. And Hawkeye looked hurt and sounded angry, and BJ didn't understand any of it. He'd been accepting and understanding as possible the moment those two love-birds had started talking about more than Maine, and wasn't that the right way to react?

Because he didn't understand, he feared anything else he might say would only piss Hawkeye off more, and that was the opposite of the kind of evening BJ had hoped his friend could have. Silly me, trying to be nice. He stared at Hawkeye a moment longer, feeling the daggers those blue eyes were staring slice a heart-string or two. Hawkeye was angry at the world, not him, not really, he told himself. And that was bigger than either of them could fix with Bellamy waiting inside. 

"Have a good night, Hawk," BJ said evenly, and turned his back on his quietly, baffling-ly seething best friend. 

Hawkeye offered a sardonic laugh. "Oh, I will," he snapped, and BJ felt frozen to the spot until he heard the door bang shut again.

BJ kicked rocks large and small as he wandered, hands in pockets. Jealous. That was laughable, for Chrissake! What was there to be jealous of, aside from Hawkeye's company? Bellamy would be gone soon and everything would be like it had been before him, so the statement really made no sense. The only difference between the way Hawkeye spent time with BJ and with Bellamy was the intent behind flirtatious jokes, and some grabbiness possibly going on, grabbiness for which BJ had compassionately left them the Swamp. 

Jealous. What a crock of absolutely nonsensical horse-shit. 

Why would he be jealous of whatever was going on between them? They were probably pouring another drink, Hawk was probably nonchalantly telling Bellamy to forgive the disruption, and then he'd be on him the way BJ had seen him pounce nurses, all eager teeth and fast-wandering hands. 

Jealous. Just ridiculous.

The next rock he kicked was too big, and BJ let loose a harsh curse at the pain. 

Chapter 6

Chapter Notes

After that, BJ gave Hawkeye even more space. A wide berth was a good term for it, and Hawkeye seemed determined to return the favor. BJ found it depressing as all get-out, but it gave him a couple whole days to think.

In thinking, he came to some conclusions. The biggest one surprised himself, but another among the most important was that he and Hawkeye had to talk.

Unfortunately, the morning he woke up with arms crossed over a chest tight enough to burst with the need to do so, to call this distance out as stupid, to break the ice and fix things between them, Hawkeye wasn't talking to much of anyone. 

Especially not Frank.

"Pierce, you're late. And hungover, I'd bet, too. Well, that's no excuse," Ferret Face was hissing, leaning over Hawkeye as if proximity and volume would get his point across. "Hear me, Sleepyhead? Get your butt up, on the double!"

"Frank, leave him alone before he uses you for pillow-fight target practice, or before I do," BJ threatened groggily from his own cot. 

"If you're not up and presentable in 10 minutes, both of you, I'm taking it to Potter," Frank threatened back. "You know that general's coming today, and I won't have you two ruining it for me!" 

When BJ made good on his promise, his pillow hit the closed door, Frank already on the other side of it. He sighed, rubbed at his face, and sat up. It was actually troubling that Hawkeye had had no witty rejoinders, but, BJ reasoned selfishly, if he spent all his spare minutes worrying about Hawkeye, he'd never get in a letter to Peg or much of anything else. 

So he focused on morning push-ups, which was like punching the floor in lieu of Frank even if it didn't feel as rewarding, and made it to 34 and wide awake before Hawkeye's sleep-roughened voice cut in, sounding uncharacteristically small. 

"Hey, Beej?"

BJ was paused with his face above the floor, arms holding himself tensely up. What's that? We're on speaking terms today? My, oh, my, what a surprise. But he was a bigger man than that degree of sarcasm, especially when a glance Hawkeye's way showed the dark-haired doctor curled in on himself, his back to the rest of the tent. "Yo?" BJ rose from the floor and dusted off his hands. 

"Take my morning shift today, will you?"

BJ laughed in disbelief. "What? Come on, Hawk," BJ gestured in annoyance, palm up, at Hawkeye's back. "I promised to help Radar out with some bunny cage repairs."


"And Bellamy's leaving today! I mean, don't you want to say goodbye to your boyf-"

"Outta line, Hunnicutt!"

Was it, though? "...Your friend," he corrected with a blink, appropriately cowed by the brusque, offended almost-roar, licking his lips and watching Hawkeye tentatively, worriedly for movement.

"We'll write each other," Hawkeye mumbled. They'd even decided to do so from return addresses with female names so no one would suspect a thing. 

BJ's hand rested on the tent's center pole, his head low as he sighed. He wasn't going to call this display pathetic, but it struck him as such. Hawk sounded miserable and it hurt to watch, but it was like adolescent mooning gone awry. He now regretted not going with his earlier gut instinct, to gently remind Hawkeye the perils of attachment.

"Look," BJ took a breath and began carefully, "Maybe this isn't my place to say-"

Hawkeye cut him off curtly, "Then don't."

BJ rolled his eyes, stymied by the attitude. He'd wanted to say this was going to eat at Hawkeye if he let it happen like this, if he didn't man up and say goodbye, if he chose to make it McIntyre Part Deux, and that BJ didn't want to see that happen to him.

But that wouldn't have been fair, would it? 

This was a sequel to McIntyre only insofar that Hawkeye was being left again. 

Through nobody's choice or preference but the army's, but all the same. 

Okay, maybe he was glad Hawkeye'd cut him off. 

"I'll take your morning," BJ stated finally, anodyne and with a decisive lift of his chin, "If you promise me we can talk later." 

He stared at Hawkeye as if willing an answer to rise from his his tightly closed-in, robe-cocooned frame, and it felt like a long while staring before he finally heard a dull murmur of, "Fine." 

BJ fought an urge to go to him, squeeze his shoulder, even kiss his cheek if it helped. But he didn't see how it would, and closed the Swamp door quietly on his way out.




In moments, he was knocking on a different door, aiming to solve another problem before it could take root and sprout into hospital staff homicide. 

"Who is it?" Margaret called.

"Hunnicutt," BJ answered, militarily clipped.

"Guess I've got a minute or two. Come in, but make it fast."

BJ stepped in and saw Margaret, brush in hand, and smiled. "How do you look that put-together this early in the morning, Major? Gotta admit, I can't quite get the hang of it yet."

Margaret's reflection smiled at him in the mirror, and he knew he'd taken the right tactic. She was dressed and pressed with all the usual pride she had every time someone higher than a brigadier general deigned to visit their lowly, chaotic little MASH unit. "Army habits," she explained, but frowned as her hair and her brush apparently didn't want to see eye to eye. She kept trying.

"Well, they look great on you."

"Thank you. I mean, he's only a lieutenant general, but first impressions being what they are..."

BJ nodded with a smile, though hoped no one would notice he had no earthly clue which general, lieutenant or otherwise, would be turning up that day. 

"What did you need, Doctor?"

"Just a little favor."

"Oh? How little?"

He could hear the suspicion in her voice and smiled broadly, indicating a mere micro-favor with pinched-together thumb and forefinger. "A teensy one, and the general - excuse me, lieutenant general - being around might even help."

"And that is?"

"Think you can assist me in keeping Frank off Hawkeye's back for a couple days?"

Margaret hummed a curious note and, knowing Frank's aptitude at groveling, had to admit, "Well, you're right about the general's help, but what's wrong with Pierce?"

"Uh, food poisoning," BJ invented sans hesitation. "He thinks so, anyway. I took his morning shift. And - I'll let Radar know so he doesn't get his schedules mixed up."

Margaret sighed. "I'll do my best. And if Frank hassles either of you, tell him I said it was fine."

"Ah, you're a national treasure, Margaret," BJ gave her shoulder a pat, but one purposely too light to disturb anything about her outfit or hair. "Pretty sure you'll be the general visiting MASH units someday, making majors like Frank sweat buckets."

If Margaret were less anxious for the day ahead, she may have accused Captain Hunnicutt of laying it on a bit thick, and grow skeptical. But with her nerves and misbehaving locks, the compliments were welcome. "Well, that's very sweet, Captain, but there are no female generals."

"Then be the first one," BJ said with a casual shrug. "Why not? I could see it." 

Margaret felt a proud blush rising to her face. Hunnicutt was a dear, really. Pleasant and charming, not half as acerbic or disruptive as Pierce. She felt better about the day already and turned, letting him see the smile he'd put there. "You know... I wouldn't normally say things like this, but... but I'm glad he has you. I can't imagine how difficult he'd be if you weren't here."

In that case, you should go see the storm cloud currently brewing in the Swamp, BJ thought wryly. Then you might have an idea. BJ only smiled tightly, not knowing what else to say when things between he and Hawk were so odd, and remembering her time limit for his impromptu visit, raised his hand to salute her on his way out. "Knock 'em dead today, Major." 

Once Captain Hunnicutt had left, Margaret set down her hairbrush and rose to her full height, abandoning the table mirror for the one in her wardrobe, practically vibrating with ambition as she met her own clear gaze in the mirror. General Margaret Houlihan, first female general in United States history. All the majors groveling to her, not just Frank. 

Oh. Oh, yes. She liked the sound of that very much. 



For BJ's part, he didn't actually care if Hawkeye snapped and murdered Frank Burns. Well-deserved, BJ thought sometimes. But Hawk's being arrested would make it that much harder to talk in private, and the talk he wanted to have had to be in private. 

Not that he actually thought Hawkeye would kill Frank - he plum didn't have the energy to, for starters. BJ just wanted to protect what little peace Hawkeye could find, and felt too guilty about the thoughtless things he'd almost said. So BJ took on his work, arranged the day around him to be a relaxing one, and had to bid Bellamy adieu in his stead, a far easier task for him than for Hawk. Almost a relief of one.

Bellamy didn't seem terribly surprised or bothered to find him at the departing trucks, either, rather than Hawkeye. Maybe they'd decided beforehand on not doing the goodbye thing. It was premeditated at least on the staff sergeant's side, because he handed BJ a letter for Hawkeye, which BJ swore not to read before Bellamy could ask him not to, before BJ helped him into the truck over pleasantries. 

As he was handing the crutches up to join their owner, Bellamy leaned down close. "It's a shame you didn't stay the other night, Dr. Hunnicutt. We could have had fun, the three of us."

BJ shot him a look that was half pure shock and half disdain at the brazen come-on, and he felt like insisting in a bellow, I'm married! But the outgoing truck's doors were already closing, and that was that.

Married, he'd have shouted, not Not Interested.

Well, he wasn't interested in Bellamy.

But Hawkeye? 

That was one of the conclusions he'd come to.

The other conclusions, Hawk might like less. Hell, he liked them less, but they'd both feel better, he hoped, after discussing them later. And if Hawkeye's mood was still too black for it, he could graciously extend 'later' to mean a later date altogether.

Or if something else disrupted his plan.

Like Radar's voice tinnily blaring throughout the compound, for instance.

"Attention, all personnel! All personnel, e-even ones who may or may not have food poisoning! Expect wounded out of Wonju within the hour. All personnel, anticipate wounded, and a whole heap of 'em, and, well... a real long day. Sorry, all personnel. Repeat, wounded incoming from Wonju within the hour. All personnel, all shifts, prep for triage within the hour."

"Oh, for Pete's sake..." BJ's chin briefly fell to his chest in resignation, but it didn't remain there long. 

He wasn't the type to keep it there, simple as that, though despite having just woken up, he felt bone-deep exhaustion in advance. And Hawkeye would be bound to feel worse, BJ knew. But it would be good in its own way. Finally, and respectively, something to think about that had nothing to do with that damned Bellamy. 

Chapter End Notes

(again, ty for reading, you guys are making my day with these comments! What a warm welcome to the fandom. I appreciate it greatly. <3 Hope this last chapter was up to snuff. Next one will be... dun dun dun... The Talk)

Chapter 7

Chapter Notes


The Swamp's resident storm cloud took, BJ thought, his sweet time in joining the usual pandemonium. Hawkeye, hands on hips, surveyed the hustle and bustle of staff and supplies with a scowl. "Almost worse when we have a heads-up," he muttered, prematurely frayed, before stepping into the pre-fray properly. "Goldman, help Klinger. And damn it, Bigelow, don't drop those!"

Not helping, BJ thought with a glare Hawkeye couldn't see from where he stood, but knew it would only make matters worse to say so. He slipped through a rolling wave of nurses in so constant a stream of motion it would be silly to try to tell them apart. "Could get low on B," he reported, grateful Hawkeye's dislike of guns made it impossible for him to shoot the messenger.

"Let's hope we get a class of straight-A students. How're supplies otherwise?"

"4-0 might not hold us long but Radar called the 8063rd a few minutes ago."

Hawkeye sighed through his nose. "Not gonna be a good day, is it, Beej?"

"Probably not," BJ agreed grimly, but just in time remembered Bellamy's parting letter. He pulled it from his hip pocket and tucked it neatly, quickly into one of Hawkeye's back ones. 

Hawkeye, surprised at the touch, half-turned to try and place it. "Huh, whuzzat?"

"Note from your friend."

Hawkeye faced the commotion again. "Mm." 

"And if Margaret asks, your food poisoning cleared right up."

"My what?"

"Your non-contagious ailment that was gonna let you stay in bed." 

"Attention, all personnel! Choppers incoming, both pads. Jeeps and ambulances right behind 'em. Attention, all personnel. Be where you oughtta be, and step on it!"

"How's he do it?" BJ asked, still, after months now, able to find the occasional marvel in this rotten place, Radar's abilities among the most mystifying of them all. "I don't even hear them yet!"

Well, when he's in the office, the phone helps, Hawkeye thought, but in these last few seconds of relative peace, felt just free-handed enough, and grateful to BJ for trying to make his day less miserable, to let him keep his apparent wonder. "Give it 30 seconds."

"Move it, you two!" they heard Potter bark behind them. 

"Showtime," Hawkeye murmured impassively, mentally preparing to rise to the occasion as dread rose in his throat like bile. 

"Yeah." BJ reached over and gave Hawkeye's arm a brief supportive squeeze. "Break a leg." 

"And don't mention The Scottish Play," Hawkeye yelled in parting over the sudden thwip-thwip-thwip of helicopter blades. Whatever dirt the pilots left on the ground, Jeep tires sent swirling upward as they barreled towards the compound's main building, where many meters of ground, once it settled, would serve for admitting ward and triage outside. 

For the next however many hours - too many, always, always too many - the OR was filled with the increasingly tired voices of expertise and the overwhelming twin stenches of body odor and blood. 

And if a general of any number of stars was observing from the wings, even Frank was too busy to notice, much less care.



It was day again when, looking and feeling (and smelling) like a pack of beaten and long-starved street dogs, the 4077's finest ambled out into the sunlight en masse.

What day, only God and Radar might know.

"BJ, I love ya," came a slur and pressure against the blond surgeon's side, "B'don't even think about thinking about talking... until've slept... for at least two weeks."

"Equally fond... Hawk, but... lean another gram of weight on me, and I'm letting gravity... have us both," he cautioned in a barely intelligible drawl, even his tongue joining the rest of his muscles, sapped to point of dysfunction, on rightful strike. And his bones? They felt empty, marrow-less. His spine? FUBAR without a doubt. His eyes, fast closing even as he walked. "See your two weeks and... raise you a month..."

Hawkeye stretched with a long, body-wracking yawn. "Deal me in..."



"I won't report him, Margaret..." 

BJ and Hawkeye's heads both slowly churned on their necks to follow Ferret Face walking by, strung-out and dazed-looking, tone pitched as he pursued a stuporous head nurse. 

"But he couldn't have been eighteen! He should never have enlisted, Margaret! That kid, he was... why, he was... fifteen at the most. Oh... Fifteen... M-Margaret... That's not even sixteen..."

And for once, for perhaps the first and only time in all their shared acquaintance, Doctors Pierce and Hunnicutt's eyes and chests burned with really, truly feeling for, and alongside, their colleague Dr. Franklin Delano Marion Burns.



BJ felt Hawkeye's fingers tug, with what he knew must be the pitiful last of their joint mobility for a while, at his wrist.

"Come on. Let's go home. Get some sleep." 

Home. That word felt more foreign to him by the workday. But even if Hawkeye meant the Swamp, BJ wasn't sure he'd make it the remaining paces. 

He'd napped on the beach in California all the time; South Korean dirt looked just as inviting all of a sudden as the sands just a hop, skip and Pacific away. His limbs felt so useless, and the ground, sun-kissed for hours, would be so warm.

He watched without real awareness as bare feet left prints in it, and above them Klinger, sluggishly limping by like the Hunchback of Notre Dame with broken, bright orange heels in hand. 

He stumbled at the next tug, and Hawkeye's voice was closer now to his ear. "Few more steps, Beej. I got you." Gritty but gentle, that voice, familiar and warm and the only one that could coax him into movement at present; a shoulder to prop him up, more goddamned putting of one ton-heavy foot before the other, a creak of a door. 

"Mind your head," he heard, and wasn't even sure it was his own cot he landed on. 

Hawkeye sounded utterly drained. 

"You'll get used to it. Even this part, the exhaustion part, the more it happens to you."

BJ, barely conscious, didn't probe himself on whether or not he found that reassuring. 

"Trust me on that. And you'll hate yourself for being used to it." 

BJ was too wiped to care if he hated himself. But he trusted Hawkeye plenty. He felt a pillow being shoved under his head.

"Trust me on that, too." 

Hawkeye sounded so resigned. 

"But you'll get used to it." 

And BJ was out.

Chapter End Notes

((((sorry, all, but incoming wounded wait for no men or their Very Important Talks. Next chapter, if the boys are lucky!)

Chapter 8

It was a whole two days before BJ had slept, eaten, showered, and shaved enough to feel human again. So human and so himself and so normal that the talk he and Hawkeye needed to have felt far less urgent than it had. 

But that hesitation sounded in his head a lot like cowardice, and he could no more abide that than he could the thought that such misunderstandings between them might happen again someday. 

BJ found Hawkeye, awfully predictably, with his hand propping his weight against the shower wall exterior and his mouth running miles to a pretty nurse too new to know any better. He rolled his eyes and strolled over. 

"Are you asking me on a date, Captain Pierce?" the nurse giggled. 

"Actually," BJ announced his presence, slinging an arm around Hawkeye's shoulder. "He's got a date with me first."

"Oh, yeah?" Hawkeye asked, facing BJ with raised eyebrows and obvious interest, before he remembered, and his smile faded. "Oh, yeah..."

The nurse, clad in her robe and with a towel folded over her arm, didn't look deterred. If anything, she looked more interested upon BJ's comment, and that was... something he was going to have to try very hard not to think about next time he saw her in the lunch line. 

Hawkeye turned his attention back to the petite brunette, not entirely amused with BJ's timing but too much the gentleman to show it. "Gimme a yes and I'll pick you up at eight. And if you've already been warned against me, I'll pick you up at eight, anyway." 

"I have..." the nurse said, eyes sparkling and dimples on display. "But I'll say yes, anyway." 

And then she disappeared into the shower tent, and even BJ, determined on more serious conversation, was a little impressed with the smoothness of it all. "Gotta love a girl who knows how to make an exit," he remarked. 

"The Bard'd have fallen to his knees and wept," Hawkeye agreed, and looked as if he suddenly remembered BJ, whose arm had slipped off his own at some point, was still there. "Anyway, what's up?"

"Oh, come on..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, all right, I know," Hawkeye waved away his own poor attempt at pretended forgetfulness as he shoved off from the wall, "But last I checked, Frank's home." 

"Klinger's not. Office duty. Said we could talk at his place, so long as we don't try on his bras. I begged, but he said we'd only stretch 'em out."

"Well, there go my four o'clock plans," Hawkeye said dryly, protesting further even as they started to walk. "But there's no gin in Klinger's tent, Beej." 


Hawkeye stopped walking and whirled on him, clutching at his forearm, all muted melodrama. "You expect me to have a talk without gin? I didn't even have my finals without gin." 

BJ really should have expected this resistance. "Hawk," he said softly, meeting Hawkeye's half-crazed eyes with what he hoped was gentle openness in his own. "Relax. I'm not gonna bite."

Shame - I might complain less if you did. His hand on BJ's arm loosened but Hawkeye was resolute, self-aware and unwavering in his needs. "I will meet you there," he stated, chin jutting up with all the haughtiness of a king, "But with gin or not at all!"


"Marvelous. Should  I bring two glasses, or twenty?"

BJ only blinked at him, his patience with the whole performance thinning a touch.

"It's a simple gauge..." Hawkeye raised his hands in surrender, and made for the still. 

BJ rolled his eyes again, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and hoped no one bothered him on the short walk to Klinger's tent. Just because the conversation would make their future interactions easier didn't make this any easier for BJ now, and if Hawk could just act a little more like he was actually interested in the process, it might help. But then, BJ was already planning to start it off with something Hawkeye wanted to hear. The rest, he was less sure about, that was all, and... it didn't make him nervous, exactly, but...

It was just new territory. But he'd been navigating new territory of some kind or another every day since reporting to the draft office. Quite the seasoned pioneer by now, or so he had to give himself a little credit for. Maybe it was just Hawkeye's obvious nerves rattling his own, in which case, the gin wasn't so bad an idea. Still, when he got to Klinger's, he pushed satins and laces to either side of the laundry line and opted for the cot, leaving Hawkeye the folding chair nearer to the door, hoping it would appease his instinctive urge to flee. BJ didn't think he would have to, but it was, as Margaret had once said, hard to tell.

Hawkeye swanned in not long after, two glasses and glass carafe in hand, and for just a moment, BJ himself wanted to flee. Wanted to wave it all off, tell Hawkeye they didn't need to talk, and they could spend the afternoon down at Rosie's and everything would be just fine. The nerve system was a more powerful force than most recognized.

"Brought enough for twenty, just in case," Hawkeye murmured as he poured, giving BJ a questioning glance. BJ shook his head, valuing his sobriety for now, and Hawkeye set the carafe and spare glass down.

He drank without wincing and BJ just watched him for a moment, offering up a small smile. "Well, now that you've got your medicine, think you can behave less like a skittish stray cat I've been feeding for months that still won't let me pet it?"

"Oh, Beej. If you wanna pet me, you only have to ask," Hawkeye teased in a purr, smile downright lascivious.

To BJ, it was just one more sign that Hawkeye wasn't going to take this seriously, and he sucked in a quick breath, gaze roaming the room in something approaching desperation as he bit his lip. It wasn't fair he was about to spill his soul and Hawk was being like this, but he knew what would get his attention, where to start. "Look..." BJ leaned forward, elbows on his knees. "How about this?" BJ's hands spread out. "You were right!"

Hawkeye tossed his head back with the victory. "HA! I knew it!" Then he flew to perch upon the chair, one knee crossing over the other, and he was suddenly all interest, leaning forward and searching BJ's face intently. "About what?"

BJ let tumble a small, shaky laugh. His hands flopped between his calves and he shrugged, not meeting Hawkeye's fervid gaze. "You... were right," he granted again slowly. "I was jealous. And..." He placed the conjunction to hold Hawkeye's attention and silence while he worked out how to phrase things. "At first..." He licked his lips, feeling the nerves bubble up anew, and tried to disperse them with a brief shake of his head. "I figured it was just all the time you were spending with Bellamy. You know, I... I felt pretty left out."

Hawkeye opened his mouth to interject, and BJ held up a finger to stop him, grateful and a little surprised when it worked.

"That night, when I left the both of you..." BJ's eyebrows rose and fell in a mini-shrug. "I don't know! I couldn't stop thinking about it, from... plenty of angles, and realized I... was jealous for more reasons than that." Was that putting it clearly enough? BJ's head rose, eyes flicking wildly to read every millimeter of Hawk's expression, whatever it might hold.

Hawkeye had at some point put his glass down, hand at his chin, pointer finger poised over his upper lip. He was taking things seriously now, that was plain. But he wasn't sure... of many things here, and he tried to sound light. "You mean, more than my... enviable free-as-a-bird-liness, my precipitate hopping from tent to tent?"

"Holds no interest to me," BJ confirmed. 

Hawkeye nodded, face dropping more into his hand as he rubbed at a phantom itch at his brow. "Listen, Beej, uh..." He wanted to put this nicely, with the full understanding that the trust BJ was placing in him deserved, but was afraid it would come out wrong regardless. "I know it feels like it, but this doesn't exactly warrant a talk I brought all the gin for." When  BJ looked at him like he had a screw loose, he shrugged. "It happens, you know? Happily married man becomes unhappily faraway soldier... realizes how long it's been, how cold it gets here in winter, starts finding other soldiers' calves appealing... I mean, you don't seem to be beating yourself up over it, and that's good - it's great, actually, and you'll save yourself a lotta grief - but... It's war. It's Korea. It could be in the manuals. You could set it to music, even. Radar could play it over the loudspeakers and everyone'd know the words to sing along."

BJ thought the spiel dismissive as all hell, no matter how benign the delivery, or it would have been if it related to precisely what he meant. He rubbed at his forhead in minor frustration before his hand dropped again. "It's not... men, Hawk. If it was, I'd have been drooling over Bellamy, too."

Hawkeye wanted to say he hadn't drooled, but his mouth had gone too strangely dry to speak.

BJ continued, stilted but brave, repeating like he was convincing himself, saying it aloud to really be certain of it. "It's not men."

Hawkeye's lungs stopped working, air caught curiously within and staying put. 

"It's... well, so far, at least... It's just you." 

BJ offered a close-mouthed, wavering smile, bright blue eyes wary but warm.

Hawkeye had never wanted to kiss anyone more in his life. 

Instead, his lips worked past a pregnant pause to form an "uh-huh" of comprehension, though it came out with no sound. He swallowed thickly, and it felt like ages, closing his eyes to process, before he was able to form audible words. "What's this mean, Beej," he asked softly. 

BJ admired the way Hawk's long lashes brushed his upper cheeks even as he steeled himself to deliver the blow they both knew was coming. 

"Not much."

He saw Hawkeye nod, eyes still closed.

"I love Peggy. You know that."


"And... maybe for all those... textbook Korea cases," BJ reasoned, thumbs tapping an idle, anxious tattoo against each other's tips, "It's different, or means less because it's men. Or... irresistible, because it's something new they've worked out about themselves, and have to play with to figure it all out." 

"I still get Christmas cards from some of those."

"Well... for me, it's not different. Same as if I... felt this way about a nurse." Hawkeye deserved that much respect, goddamn it. "Veronica Lake could walk through the door right now, put on Klinger's best garters, and I'd say the same." 

"I know, Beej."

BJ forced a weak laugh, rubbing at his chin, realizing what a presumptuous ass he may have been making of himself, but thinking that it might be nice... just to know... "God, but why am I even bothering saying all this?! For all I know, I'm not even your type."

Then Hawkeye's eyes snapped open, bugging out at BJ in a way that told him, in no uncertain terms, that that last thing he'd said was nothing short of insane. But then Hawkeye's gaze rolled to the floor, seeking his gin, which he snatched up and drank in one long gulp. He stood, and poured another. 

"Think I'll cash in my rain check," BJ said softly, mostly for sake of saying anything.

Hawkeye nodded and took his time, face tilted away from BJ as he poured both glasses slowly full. "You know, I thought you were disgusted that night."


"When you left the Swamp to us. I didn't think you were being gracious, just repulsed - by us, by me..." 

Understanding washed over BJ and his gut twisted unpleasantly. 

He didn't want to exaggerate his own importance any, but it was no wonder Hawkeye had attacked; if he wasn't exaggerating his importance, that had to have been no less than terrifying, thinking his best friend had seen something he took offense to out of more than mere envy. 

BJ fought an urge to scoop Hawkeye into a squeezing embrace, sorrier than he could begin to find words for.

Hawkeye didn't seem to need them. He handed a glass over, remaining standing as he sipped thoughtfully at his own, then guzzled, then sipped again, staring hazily at fluffs of tulle and summer pastels. "So. We..."

BJ didn't know, either, yet he did. "Understand each other better, for a start..." he reminded gently of the positive. But beyond that? Well, it would be just like if he felt the same about a nurse. The attraction would exist, either within himself or between two people, and go just as neglected as it had to until it burned out. 

Hawkeye nodded, an arm extending an already-empty-too-fast glass to clink against BJ's. "Here's to business as usual," he proposed, sounding glum and still not quite looking at his friend. 

"Yep." BJ clinked, and sipped.

Hawkeye shrugged listlessly as he considered everything they shared as it was. "Business isn't so bad."

"Ours boomed from day one," BJ concurred cheerily.

Hawkeye was turning to pour himself another. "Say, Beej?"


"I'm an exception, right?"

BJ wasn't sure he understood the question exactly, but going off what he'd explained... His head tilted as he answered in the cautious affirmative."...Yeah?"

Hawkeye smirked to himself a little, his tone more buoyant. "Well, what is it that you find most exceptional? The brightness of my eyes? The shine in my hair?" He sipped, and savored the moment more than the atrocious gin.

Oh. Oh, no. BJ groaned, realizing too late that the last few maudlin seconds had been a ruse, and that this, all of this, was far more than a talk it had been crucial to have.

Hawkeye may have loathed weapons but he lived for ammunition, and BJ had just gifted him a surplus truck-ful. 

"Dooon't do this, Hawk," he pleaded around the start of a laugh.

"Perhaps it's my wit? My dulcet crooning? My prodigious skill at tables, both gambling and surgical?" Hawkeye turned to face BJ more, tossing his head back like a starlet to stare dreamily at the ceiling. "Or is it my moonlighting as a cunning linguist?"

BJ set down his glass to bury his face in both hands. It was business as usual, all right, and then some. 

"Oh, but how could I forget how utterly charming I look in hunter green? The curve of my ample derriere as I bend to triage wounded?"

"Hawk..." BJ was laughing into one hand even as the other sneakily reached for ammunition, any ammunition, of his own.

"Do you cry uncle, sir?!" Hawkeye demanded. "Or shall I tell you how, with my dexterous fingers! And a mere scoop of surgical jelly! I could turn your whole world upsi-"

One of Klinger's empty purses, made of light fabric but well-aimed, hit Hawkeye square in the face. 

Unfortunately for BJ's sanity, this only seemed to encourage him. 

"Ohoho! Beware, Captain Hunnicutt, beware!" Hawkeye crowed, bolstered by mischief, hanging dresses waving in his wake as he bounced towards the door, "You shall suffer defeat! For I, the indomitable Captain Pierce," the lovable lunatic before BJ boomed, "Have to this point only flirted without shame! But hark! From this day forth, I shall flirt! Without mercy!"


Chapter 9

Chapter Notes

(((((......this went off the rails and I hope not too far. I really do. Hope it's still good. Thank you all again for your lovely comments so far.)))))

When several days passed without being flirted with mercilessly, BJ was secretly a little disappointed. But it was almost a relief. It meant that nothing between them, on the surface or deeper, had really changed. When Hawk sat too close to him in the mess, pressed against his side, it was as close as he'd always sat. Or when BJ felt a warmth in his chest after Hawkeye made him laugh, some overall warmth about the man and his mischievous blue eyes, it was the same warmth he'd always experienced. What had felt at the time like a confession to something new on his part may have just been a voicing of something that had been there from the beginning.

And they were almost too busy for flirtation, merciless or otherwise. A full day of wounded, a full half-day's sleep the next. More wounded, and they caught naps where they could. When post-op was nearly empty and life had eased back into a chance at the same old boredom, even showering together wasn't that different. Sure, maybe he let himself notice a little more how pretty Hawkeye looked with drips of water sliding down his chest, but he'd probably noticed long before letting himself recognize he was doing so. 

Or maybe Hawk had been right, and it was Korea getting to him. 

Either way, BJ thought it wisest not to dwell. 


"Soap," he handed it over.

"Payday poker night?" Hawkeye proposed as he scrubbed under his arms.

BJ turned, leaning back to wet his hair. "Gotta set some aside for Peg's birthday, but plenty left to play with. Who else is in?"

"Anyone but Margaret," Hawkeye decided, soaping his neck and chest. "I'd never, ever hit a woman, Beej, but if I hear the name 'Penobscott' one more time, I might anesthetize one by force." 

BJ chuckled. "Oh, come on. It's put a spring in her step and gotten Frank out of her hair. Let her have her pre-marital bliss."

"Right, but it just makes her indignation when I try to get into her hair that much more legitimate," Hawkeye griped.

"Have you tried hiding in her combs? Maybe she won't notice!"

"Would have to drag Frank out of 'em first," Hawkeye played along, setting the soap back on the sill, closing his eyes to savor the spray as he rinsed off. "Anyway. I'll ask Klinger and the good Father. Radar, Potter, the usuals." 

BJ took back the soap bar, lathering plenty on his hands and using Hawkeye's meditative obliviousness to wash below the waist. Not that he really thought Hawk would try to watch, or act inappropriately if he did, but... well, some things struck him as just different enough now to be mindful of. 

In Hawkeye's mind, closing his eyes was helpful. Because even as he spoke of Margaret in potentially lustful terms, there was plenty to be said about his friend, too. His arms, for one. The bizarrely alluring bob of his Adam's apple when he talked. His broad shoulders. Really are crazy about a guy if back hair doesn't put you off... But he wouldn't dare make BJ uncomfortable in the shower, of all places, especially right after bemoaning Margaret's attachment making her more untouchable. And she was merely engaged, not married and in near-constant correspondence. Ignoring it all, or trying to when it was all on display, would bring him more peace than the alternative.

"Morning, boys," came Potter's voice from the opening door. "Leave some hot water for these old bones?"

"You can win some back in poker later," Hawkeye invited him officially, moving away from the spray and rubbing drops from his eyes before giving his head a good, dog-drying shake.

Potter hung up his robe as he considered it. "Houlihan playing?"

"I wouldn't mind it, but Hawk votes against," BJ reported as he finished rinsing off.

"Good," Potter grunted. "Think I like her better when she's hot with rage, rather than hot for this Donald-"

"Don't say it!" Hawkeye begged in a shout.

"Don't say it, sir," BJ amended politely.

"That's more like it," Potter nodded at BJ, but it only mattered so much when they'd already taken to calling him by his first name on occasion, and a shortened version at that. Far more crucial was the temperature of the water in the stall Hawkeye had vacated and left running for him. 

BJ, despite all best intentions, caught a wondering, wandering eyeful of Hawk's tanned skin before he'd slipped into his robe, and he could only hope, with a pinch of guilt, that Potter didn't notice. 





"Raise by two bucks," Klinger declared around a mouthful of cigar, grateful for his current winning streak. "Mama needs a new pair of hose."


Father Mulcahy frowned at his cards, and shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't justify it this time, not for a pair of fives," he said regretfully, laying his hand face-down.

"Colonel?" BJ asked.

Potter looked between his cards, Klinger's placidly smiling face and back again, and placed his cards out, too. "I don't trust that smile." Radar had already folded, and Potter relied on his instincts more than he realized consciously. 

"Nobody should," Hawkeye chimed in. "Too many aces could fit up those evening gloves." But he tossed in to meet the raise all the same, confident enough with his three tens.

BJ hung in with pairs of nines and queens, since Klinger could always be bluffing, and when he could afford to risk it, it was fun to do so. "All right, flip 'em." He took quick stock of the hands as they were turned over, and Klinger's straight earned a groan from all who'd stayed in. 

"Boy, am I glad I folded!" Radar exclaimed.

"Some girls have all the luck," Hawkeye grumbled before rising from his chair, making for the still. "Raise your glasses for refills, or forever hold your peace..."

It was relatively early in the game yet. Two hours later, Klinger had evened back out to about what he'd entered the game with, Potter was up twenty-three dollars, Father Mulcahy's orphanage fund looked on the light side, and Radar had left to finish paperwork. BJ was in a sweet spot both financially and drinking-wise, not entirely loaded but feeling good. Hawkeye, too prone to loud laughter at almost everything and having won a fair number of hands, seemed just a little further gone.

"Your deal, Hawk," BJ said, placing the deck neatly before him and picking up his glass. 

Hawkeye nodded but lost coordination somewhere in the process of shuffling, sending cards whooshing out of his hands and all over the floor. "Ah, shit..."

"This'll be my last hand, I think," Father Mulcahy yawned.

"I've got a few more in me but only that," Potter concurred. 

"Always wise to quit while you're ahead," the priest smiled.

"Or no worse for wear," Klinger agreed, "But no better, either..."

Meanwhile, Hawkeye was scrambling around to retrieve the cards. BJ scooted his chair back to make more room, and would have leaned down to help if he didn't suddenly have Hawk's chin on his thigh as Hawkeye strained to reach some beneath the table. 

"What's this week's sermon, Father?"

"I'll let you know, Colonel, as soon as I've written it," Mulcahy answered. 

BJ was giving Hawkeye a quizzical look. "Need some help there, Hawk?"

"Nah, I got it, I got it..." A long stretch craned his head, his cheek now squished to BJ's leg, and he smirked up at him. "Or I could just stay down here a while... You know, to hide from Potter's luck." 

Something about Hawkeye's smirk just a couple inches from his groin made BJ raise his brows, silently asking, Oh, is that the reason? 

"Pierce, quit horsing around and wasting time while I'm tired and winning!" Potter demanded.

Hawk winked up at BJ and, last couple cards swept up, he clutched BJ's leg for leverage as he rose. BJ got him by the back of the shirt to assist in hauling him upwards, straightening his own shirt and scooting his chair back in once free to. His face felt warm, and he was glad the light in the Swamp wasn't the best.

"But, Sherm, you love horses," Hawkeye delayed further as he settled back into his chair. "Buck ante," he added more soberly and began to deal, seeming not to notice the look BJ was giving him. 

BJ wasn't even sure what the look was. Part disbelief that that had happened in front of others, much less happened at all, and made him... well, think about forbidden things for a half-second there. It was rude, crude, and made BJ struggle somewhat to look as innocently as possible at the proceedings atop the table.

"Ante, Beej," he heard Hawkeye repeat, and BJ cleared his throat, tossed in his ante, and tried to push to the back of his mind that he'd just been flirted with mercilessly. 

Things like that... couldn't just happen, could they? Without people - including a man of the cloth! - noticing? Without lines being crossed? Without unspoken rules being broken? Without plopping into his mind vivid pictures that should not be there, ones that made his pulse kick up without his permission?

Maybe they could, BJ thought as he focused on his cards, selecting two to trade for hopefully better.

But, he found himself deciding, not without retaliation. 




"Baker, come on, sponge. Lotsa sponges. Beej, gimme a hand here," Hawkeye called from his table.

"Whaddya got?" BJ asked, turning to Nurse Preston for glove removal, stretching his neck towards Hawkeye's case as Preston supplied a fresh pair.

"Coagulation problems, unless I missed something big. Let's get the metal out of his colon fast, get ahead of a hemorrhage."

"Yeah." BJ pushed past Nurse Baker, taking her spot beside Hawkeye as she slid to the table's other side. "Aren't they supposed to screen for coagulopathy?"  He met Nurse Baker's eyes briefly before they flicked down to Hawk's work. "Suction, but keep the blood coming. Pick-ups."

"Not too much blood, though, just enough..." Hawkeye didn't put that much faith in the Army screening process, considering they let the likes of Frank in, but it wasn't the time for jokes. 

Nor would it be for several hours.

But even afterwards, as bloodied clothing was tossed into the hamper and arms washed up to the elbows, the mood wasn't light enough for it. No matter how many they'd saved, the losses always stood out and weighed heavy on the heart.

Frank's, of course, seemed heavy for other reasons. He'd barely finished his last patient before he was pestering Margaret, whining that he just wanted to talk and causing all eyes in the scrub room to roll. 

"What's there to talk about, Frank?" Margaret asked, sounding exasperated.

"Well... Things. Your day... how it went... things like that."

"You know how my day went. You were there."

"I wouldn't be so sure, Margaret," Hawkeye cut in. "I think he slept through his patients."

"At least I didn't need any help!" Frank taunted. 

Hawkeye appeared to ignore the jibe, carrying on where he'd left off in an effort to take Frank's attention off poor Margaret as he dried his hands. "Frank Burns in the Land of Nod, drooling into open wounds while dreamy-dreaming of being one Donald Penobscott..."

"Oh, you're cruising for a bruising, Pierce!" 

"Or a spanking," BJ suggested, discreet and close to Hawk's ear, and Hawkeye practically gave himself whiplash to stare at him with wide eyes. BJ smiled, retaliation a fine start to forgetting the day behind them, no matter how minor a retaliation it seemed. 

Hawkeye was about to ask if that was a promise when Potter appeared, hands folded behind his back. 

"Good work today, gang. And I know, I know, it might not feel like it sometimes. But who's for joining me in the office, and washing it all off with the help of my liquor cabinet?"

Hawkeye straightened to full height and pulled off a very by-the-book salute. "You, Colonel, are both a gentleman and a scholar." 

"Well, I'll go if Mar- Major Houlihan does," Frank simpered, which made Margaret tear from the room, a frustrated yell rising in her throat. Unsurprisingly, Frank followed her.

BJ, shaking his head, caught the door before it closed and held it open at its top. "After you, scholarly gentleman," he directed, and Potter passed through.

Hawkeye paused before the door, looking up at BJ and batting his lashes.

BJ suppressed a snort. "Yes, Hawk?"

"Where's my spanking?"

BJ laughed, shaking his head. "In your dreams."

"Only mine?" Hawkeye asked coquettishly. 

BJ rolled his eyes good-naturedly and beat Hawk outside, letting the door swing shut between them. 




"Oh, that dress!" Klinger gasped from beside the projector. 

"Bet you wish you had her costumer," Margaret turned, in rare and happy agreement with Klinger's tastes. 

"Hey! Quiet down in front!" Hawkeye chastised her for the fun of it, earning a glare that made him snicker as he sipped at the bottle he'd bought from the O Club to pass around. 

"Eh. I could make my own," Klinger shrugged, studying the skirt's folds as the starlet followed Gary Cooper around the boat.

Radar hadn't, after all, been able to get Sunset Boulevard, but the four-year-old Unconquered was still worlds better than the VD videos. A little slow at times, but the oft-rowdy room could always be trusted to talk over the slower parts, and it had its perks. Namely... 

Hawkeye nudged BJ, leaning in close as he handed over the bottle. "Paulette Goddard," he sighed dreamily. "How'd you like to loosen her corset?"

"Wiiith my hands, or my teeth?" BJ asked with a grin, taking the bottle and indulging in a swig.

Hawkeye didn't know why the comment took him by surprise. It was a little saucier than BJ might usually voice, and that amused him. Korea's getting to you some way or another, he found himself thinking as he took the bottle back. "Wow, Beej. Do you and thoughts of Miss Goddard need a few minutes alone in the Swamp later?"

Not the worst idea I've ever heard, BJ thought but, a little embarrassed by the question, put weight into a harder, fuller-bodied nudge against Hawkeye's skinny frame. "Shut up, Hawk." He dropped his voice to a stage-whisper. "Before Margaret gets mad at us."

Margaret heard her name if not the rest of it, and turned again to glower at them both in suspicion. This being their second bottle of the night, they were too susceptible to dissolving into laughter, and did so with her annoyance as the cue. 

"Pipe down, all of you," Potter told the room at large. "And don't make me make Radar repeat it!" 

"God forbid we talk over all the propaganda," Haweye muttered.

"Yeah, quiet down! I want to see those savages get what's coming to 'em!" Frank could be heard from somewhere near Margaret.

Hawkeye gestured in Frank's direction with a look on his face that said to BJ, See?

But for the most part, the room only really erupted when the reel spun out, the screen flickering to nothing, and Klinger waved down the cacophony to change to the next one in peace. "Come on, come on, it's a long movie," he sought compassion as he worked to get it back up and running.

"Let the man work, damn it, or we won't get to see the damsel tied up in distress!" Hawkeye blurted, teasing the room into giving Klinger space. 

"Don't be a pig, Pierce," Margaret reprimanded.

"Well, it's tamer than what we used to watch in the office," he smiled faux-sweetly at her. 

"What did you watch in the office?" BJ couldn't help asking, not knowing if he'd missed a secret party or if Hawk referred to how things had been before his time.

The movie came back to life on the screen, and Hawkeye figured it wise, with Kellye at BJ's side and Bigelow at his own, to lower his voice to a murmur. "Oh, Henry had quite the collection. Trap and I used to join him for our own little movie nights." While it hurt Hawkeye to speak of both of them, the booze helped numb it, and the memories were sunnier than many they'd shared.

"Maybe they're still in the office?" BJ asked almost hopefully, rather than voice any of several questions he had about McIntyre. 

Hawkeye nodded, eyes on the screen, but now without really watching. "Yeah, dunno." He uncapped the bottle again, drinking deep before going quiet. They might be in the office, tucked away somewhere, or Radar's desk, or...

or the bottom of the ocean. 

He felt himself handing the bottle over to BJ's custody before he realized his own intent. "I'm, uh... gonna get some air, Beej. Save my spot, uh-huh?"

"I didn't mean raid the office now," BJ laughed, but it died down as he watched Hawkeye leave. There was no sneaky smile on his face. He looked stricken, if anything, and made his escape through the rows of people like... well, an escape. 

Understanding hit like a bag of bricks, and BJ debated following him. He'd give him five minutes, maybe, then do so if he wasn't back by then. Or should he send someone who'd understand better, who'd been around and known both people Hawkeye had mentioned? Radar, the absolute sweetheart, came first to mind.

But that was bound to ruin Radar's night, too. 

BJ was no longer watching the movie, but casting his gaze around for someone who fit the bill. Who'd been here longer, who'd known them both, who knew Hawk well enough, who Hawkeye trusted, and maybe who could lighten things up. And it may have been an oddball choice, but when BJ slipped off the bench, he went to the back of the room rather than the front. 

"Hey, Klinger."

"What's shakin'?"

"If you can do me a favor, I'll mind the projector for you." 

"Oh, yeah? You know how to work one of these?"

"Of course," BJ lied with a shrug. "Easy as apple pie."

"What's the favor?"

When BJ explained it in the least detailed terms possible, Klinger thought it over for a second or two, reached up and gave his arm a solid pat. "Yeah, okay, doc," he said, sliding off his stool, bunches of fabric following. "You owe me, though."

"Anything, anytime," BJ promised, relieved, and took Klinger's spot. He wouldn't touch the projector if it could be avoided. He knew as much about its function or possible sudden lack thereof as he did about how to help Hawkeye, which was to say, unfortunately, very little. 



Hawkeye wished sometimes that BJ was less affable, less curious, less willing to encourage Hawkeye's own deviousness. If he hadn't asked about the films, Hawkeye wouldn't have needed to be outside, sucking in night air through a tight chest, and all but seeing Henry and Trapper like ghosts in his mind's eye, laughing their way down the dirt paths that passed for roads. 

It wouldn't be hurting him to think on how the last time he'd heard Henry's laugh was truly the last, and the same might as fucking well be said for Trap, who was yet to call or write and might never, the prick. And how could someone with his brains even be close to making the same mistake, getting as close as he was to BJ, knowing it could only end one of a few ways?

Stupid, stupid, stupid. And yet, the only choice. The only available distraction, the only means of survival so long as they were stuck here, clinging to BJ's friendship and goodness and even casual flirtation the way he did. But it would cost him dearly eventually, he knew that. Someday Beej, dead or alive, might be one of his ghosts, and the thought chilled him to his soul. 

Hawkeye heard steps and wiped at unshed tears. Very distinctive steps, given the heels. Great. That goofball. Just what he needed.

"Yo, Cap'n. You leavin' early? But you'll miss the tied-up scene..."

Hawkeye, arms crossed over his chest, sighed, eyes on the distant mountains and the near-black sky. He felt just steady enough for words, though didn't know for how long. " ever miss Henry, Klinger?"

"Course I do. Henry was the best. Maybe not the brightest. I mean, love the guy, but I think I almost got my Section Eight there a few times, and that ain't flyin' with Potter so far. It's enough to make a man lose all hope, I tell ya. But sure, I miss him. Henry was a blast. Is that what's got you all bummed out, missing Henry?"

Missing, mourning, what was the difference? Hawkeye shrugged limply. "Trap, too, sometimes," Hawkeye admitted, not sure why he was putting all this forth to Klinger, of all people, but... somehow, it helped to get it out.

"Yeah, you two were tight. But he ain't even been in touch, so in my opinion, not sure he deserves the missin' on your part. Then again... deserve's never much a factor, when it comes to what you feel. I get that." 

Hawkeye only nodded.

"Look, doc." Klinger sidled up closer to Hawkeye. "There's nobody wants out of here more than I do, except maybe you. You raise hell about it. I just put on a skirt and hope a CO, any CO, will sign the papers. But even if you want stuff to change, it's still shitty when it does change. Gotta be an adjustment period for that kinda thing, and we've got too many emergencies around here to adjust to anything. All happens too fast and too ugly." 

"Stop. Klinger. You're making too much sense for it to be coming from you," Hawkeye protested weakly with a raised hand, even as he appreciated the effort. 

Klinger smiled. "See? Adjustments. Not easy. But you got a lot of us who care about you. Sure, Henry and McIntyre ain't around. And maybe something might happen to the other doc, and then you've stilll got the rest of us. Something might happen to Major Houlihan, and you and that idiot Burns can fall apart together. Or something might happen to Potter, or the padre, or... Nah, I don't wanna think of anything happenin' to the little man," Klinger shook his head. "That'd bum me right out, too. But any or all'a those things happen, and you know what you still got?"

"Enlighten me."

"Me. Your friend, the headcase in the dress. And I ain't changing out of it until I'm out of this stupid place, so there's one thing that's not gonna turn around on on ya. And I'm not gonna let you stand here alone, bein' sad about Henry and some jerk-off that won't even call to see how you're holding up, when you've got a roomful of people in there that love ya to death. And that's all we got here in a war - death, death, sometimes booze and girls, and, wa-hey! More death. And the only thing you can do, any of us can do... is live with it." 

Hawkeye smiled ruefully. Klinger's speech helped, God knew why, but it really did, at least for now, and he wanted to show it. "...Thanks, Klinger." He leaned over quickly to press a grateful kiss to the corporal's cheek.

Klinger smiled but held his hands up at either side. "Hey, watch it there, doc. This is a bound-for-bedlam costume, not an invitation to cads with your reputation."

Hawkeye laughed. "Right, right. My sincerest apologies," he said, pressing his hand over his heart. "You're a real lady. How dare I forget?"

"Have to buy me dinner first, or no dice," Klinger confirmed, grinning. "And not from the mess, either. Somewhere nice on the Ginza. I ain't a cheap date. Anyway, what say we go finish the movie?"

Whatever lingering pain Hawkeye felt was tempting him to go home, to leave the party, drink until he blacked out, and wake up tomorrow with no worse feelings than a hangover. But it was easy to figure who'd sent Klinger out for him, and Hawkeye felt pretty sure he deserved thanks, too. 

So he nodded, and followed Klinger back in, and took his seat. 

Klinger reclaimed his stool, giving BJ a happy thump on the back and leaning in to talk quietly over the movie's dramatic music. "He's all yours, doc. Even got him to laugh a little. He'll be all right."

"I'd give you that Section Eight this second if I could," BJ asserted warmly by way of thanks. 

"Hey, that means a lot," Klinger beamed, but gestured to the seats. "Now shut up and go sit your tall ass down - you're blocking the movie for us in back."

BJ couldn't help laughing, and ducked on his way back to the bench. He slid in beside Hawkeye, and as much as he wanted to ask, to read his expression, he did neither. Instead, he found Hawkeye's hand on the seat between them, and took it in his own.

Hawkeye felt the pressure on his hand, his breath catching as he glanced down. BJ's long fingers were wrapped around his own, thumb brushing his palm before squeezing tightly. 

Hawkeye swallowed. He didn't care what it meant aside from the obvious question, or how long it could mean anything. He met BJ's eyes out of the corner of his own, and squeezed back hard. And though both their gazes gradually returned to the film neither cared about, their hands, safely concealed in the dark of the mess-turned-theater, didn't part even for popcorn as it was passed down the row.





The next day, the camp suffered shelling.

BJ's priority was the patients, of course, doing everything possible to keep open wounds covered as windows got blown in, to keep his cool as every too-close explosion seemed to reiterate: You could die here.

You could die here and never see Peg or Erin or Waggles ever again.

You could die and Hawk would lose you, or he could die and you'd lose him, and there's just about nothing you can do to control any of it.


He'd never known terror like it, no matter how well he hid it.

He never wanted to again. 

Even though he knew he likely would.




The day after that, after the shower tent walls had been repaired, they were sharing it again and Hawkeye was putting his rich baritone to use for Jimmy Dorsey's 'Green Eyes'. Helen O'Connell's portion of the song strained him a little, but BJ stopped him before he could go too long, paused in his soaping and tilting this way and that to look at Hawkeye's neck. 

"Hey, Hawk, hold on, you've got... a bump or something, there..."

"Mmm? Where?" 

"Hold still, lemme see..."

Hawkeye did as bade, not remembering an injury or bug bite, but who the hell knew after a day like the one before? 

When he felt BJ's lips touch his nape, he shivered, eyes popping wide open.

When BJ's mouth moved, teeth grazing the side of his neck, his jaw dropped, eyes sliding shut, knees nearly giving out on him. 

And then the kiss, as surprisingly as it had been bestowed, was gone.

"Um..." Dazed, he blinked rapidly. "Beej... Wh-wha... was there..."

"Just me," BJ smiled, softly ebullient, as if he had no concept in heaven or hell what a terrible idea the move had been. "Problem?"

Hawkeye licked his lips and glanced downward. "Oh... just one." 

BJ clicked his tongue, reaching over for the tap. "Well, here. Lemme help with that."

Hawkeye yelped at the first brutal hit of freezing water.


BJ knew he'd crossed a line. Three, actually, if one were counting. At least one line as regarded himself, at least one regarding Peg, and yet one more regarding Hawk. He knew that. And he could hardly work out what had compelled him to do so. 

But a few nights later, it would seem like small potatoes. 

A few nights later was when merciless flirting, no matter whose fault, really got out of hand. 

Chapter 10

They didn't talk about the kiss, and that was Hawkeye's choice as much as anything else. He might be confused about it if he were a little younger, a little less wise, or sober enough on a regular basis to worry about it. It was simply something that had happened, just as strange as anything else that happened since arriving in Korea. The shelling had freaked BJ out, he figured. Brought him into the realm of quiet desperation that Hawkeye had existed in for what felt like years now. Needed life and love and new things pumped in just to be able to breathe, to want to wake up the next day. Oh, he understood too well. 

It was also what BJ had said in Klinger's tent he wouldn't do, wasn't it? That just because he'd put his finger on some mystery of himself, didn't mean he needed to test it to see how it worked. 

Well, desperate times. And somewhere in the purposely mixed signals of hot reaction and frigid water, some message came across that maybe a game of merciless flirtation wasn't the best way to go. Or if it was some turning point, or breaking point, beyond mere retaliation... well, it still wasn't very fair.

Okay, maybe he was a little confused. Yet they could work and drink together, laugh and live together, discuss the latest reports in the medical journals, unite to pick on Frank, and when two new letters from Peggy came, Hawkeye tried not to begrudge BJ his rightful and evident delight.

Fair was fair. And how could he decide to dislike her, apropos of very little and even less that was concrete, when she sent baked goods enough for them both again?  

So, even if interest and instinct said to strike when the iron was as hot as surprise kisses in the shower, he'd lay off being merciless for a while. Or at least try. 





"Up and at 'em, Hawk," BJ patted his side. "You've got post-op." 

"Talk to me when I'm post-sleep," Hawkeye mumbled.

"Doing so now." 


"Brought you coffee," BJ held out the mug. 

Hawkeye sighed, forced his eyelids to peel open, and sat up sluggishly. "Hot cup of sludge from a tall drink of water. Guess there are worse ways to start the day..."

BJ rolled his eyes, but smiled just this side of inscrutably enough to be interesting to a discerning eye. And Hawkeye may have let his fingers brush BJ's for longer than technically necessary while accepting the proffered cup. He forced down the first sip, lips curving in a tiny smile of his own despite its taste.

After all, if he tried to stop flirting altogether, he might as well be dead. 





Dear Peg,

Your letters still smelled like your perfume when they got here, and I couldn't have been happier about it. And it's finally starting to cool off a little at night, and I couldn't be happier about that, either. The humidity was getting to feel like Fr. Mulcahy's greatest fears.

We had a pretty scary time here the other day. I'm not even sure how much I can say of it without getting the black marker treatment, so I won't try, but the war is louder the closer it gets. It came and went, thankfully, and nobody on staff got hurt, nor did patients that were already hurt, and that's all that matters. Back to the boredom, for the most part. At least our Hawkeye's pretty formidable at chess. (He prefers the oatmeal raisin over the peanut butter, by the way, but as I've said before, he's an odd duck. Send more when you can and we'll both be grateful. He gets moody but I like to think I'm some help, and the cookies definitely are. Best thing either of us have eaten in a long while, and we've kept them a closely-guarded secret or we'd be swarmed.)

If I write of a Major Penobscott, that's just Major Houlihan - she's gone and gotten herself engaged! Mentioning it to avoid confusion in letters, and I can't help but be happy for her. We'll take whatever cause for celebration over here that we can get. (F.B. more the ass ever since, but that's a different story.) I think you and Major H.-soon-to-be-P. would get along well. Maybe at a reunion someday. 

Would you believe I found lavender gum all the way in South Korea? I won't send any since I know you can get it at Clark's, but it reminded me of you. Not much here does, because nothing's nearly as sweet, and at the same time, everything does - everything on the jukebox, at least. If I could take all the romantic songs out I would, just so I don't miss you as much. 

But I'd miss you anyway. And Erin, and her giggle, and her grabbing my nose, more than words. And Waggles, too. (Don't forget his vet annual. Not that I think you would.) And I REALLY miss the pink dress you bought last spring. (You know which one I mean.) I can't stand lavender gum and here I am, chewing some anyway...

See? Censor-friendly! Or maybe I'll luck out and he'll have just run out of ink. Maybe if he gets to some of Hawk's mail before mine... 

I love you, Peggy. 

Tell the little princess that her silly daddy who sings her silly songs will be home as soon as he can. Do it in a silly enough voice, and she'll know who you're talking about, I hope. 

I don't know when this will get to you, but in case - happy birthday, honey. I'll make it up to you someday, I promise.

Yours til Niagara falls,


P.S. Any word on the real estate front, try to call, it's faster. And check the bike's not rusting, please? It would soothe the soul to know it's in good shape.

P.P.S. Hawk sends his warmest. 

P.P.P.S. Why'd I mention the pink dress? Now I'll be thinking about it all day. xox



                                               to: El Marin Florist, Mill Valley, CA

To Mr. Black,

The sum I'm sending along might be a little obscene for flowers, but I'm all the way in South Korea and can't bring myself to care. You did such a beautiful job for our wedding, and my Peggy's birthday is the 9th of next month. Mrs. Horn has the address. My love to you both, and feel free to go absolutely wild with the arrangement (my only specific request being some lavender thrown in), and save a little for yourself and the Mrs. for a nice dinner out. 

            All the best,

                    Dr. BJ Hunnicutt 





"Need some 3-0 here." 

"3-0 silk," the nurse confirmed, holding it at the ready.

"There is no verse! To this song!" Hawkeye burst out as he worked. "Cause I don't want to wait a moment too long...

"Oh, that's a good'un," Potter murmured from above his patient. "Always liked that one."

"To say that I'd love to get ya, on a slooow boat to China," he crooned, his range favoring the Kay Kyser rendition, "All to myseeelf alooone..." Hawkeye chanced a glance away from the start of the suture, and was only so surprised to see BJ's eyes meet his own from the middle table, a question either unspoken or unspeakable stuck in their depths. He found it encouraging, and carried on. "Get ya and keep ya in my arms ever mooore..."

BJ's gaze flicked up at him again, and if ever a look could be called thunderous...

Okay, so he'd skip the next couple lines. 

Hawkeye cleared his throat, and leaned over towards the nurse. "Wipe?" He closed his eyes briefly, glad for the patting away of sweat on his forhead even if he hadn't exactly needed it yet, and tried to remember the next verse despite the interruption. 

"Where was I? Oh, yeah. "Out on the briny with that moon biiig and shiny, melting your heart of stooone... Honey, I'd love to get ya on a slooow boat to Chinaaa, all to myseeelf alooone..."

Hawkeye remembered a musical break and used the time efficiently rather than hum it, dropping a shoulder to lean closer to the nurse at his side. "Unrelated, but what time are you off tonight?" 

"Depends what for, Doctor." 

God, but they all knew him too well. Was his name and picture in the nurses' handbook, given to all as soon as they entered the country? "Well, I figure if I tip the captain well, could make it a fast boat to China. Who's got time for a slow one?"

"My nurses are here to work, Pierce, not get harassed," Margaret reminded him from BJ's table. 

"Harassment? Moi? Je suis offensé!" He could be casually offended and suture at the same time. "I heard Chinese food's her favorite, that's all." But he gave up fast, and it was easy to do when the nurse wasn't the one on his mind. He inhaled deeply and started singing again. 

"A twiiist in the rudder, and a rip in the saaail, drifting and dreaming - throw the compass over the raaail... Out on the ocean, far from the commotion..." He tried to catch BJ's eyes again and didn't like it when he failed. "Melting your heeeart of stooone..."

"Mind changing the station, Hawk?" BJ asked evenly as he took great care drawing metal from his current patient's spleen.

"Or stuffing a sock in it," Frank suggested snottily. "Some of us are trying to focus here." 

"Oh! Poor Frank, straining all nine of his brain cells," Hawkeye sighed. "Let's see, let's see, something Frank would like... Oh, I got one! Bet Margaret'll love it, too. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, and we'll all stay free!"

BJ stifled a laugh as he dropped a chunk of metal into the waiting bowl. Hawk screwing with Frank's head was easily more fun than Hawk screwing with his own, and on the next repetition, he sang softly along. "Praise the Lord and swing into position, can't afford to be a politician. Praise the Lord, we're all between perdition and the deep blue sea..."

Hawkeye was delighted to find BJ's eyes on his own again as he sang jauntily on. "Yes, the sky pilot said it-"

"Ya gotta give him credit," BJ tossed back, and they were back in unison for, "For a sonofagun of a gunner was heeee! Shouting, praise the Lord and-"

"That is inappropriate in this room!" Margaret cried out, and oh, did she sound like she meant it.

All went silent, and Potter grunted quietly, "I think you boys both know she's right." 

"Sorry, Mother," Hawkeye said impudently, but returned to suturing in silence.

BJ looked and sounded far more sincerely guilty. "Sorry, Margaret."

A tiny bubble of, "Ha!" came from Frank, but Potter glared him down, too.

Margaret Houlihan felt the tremble of rage from her shoulders to her hands, one of which opened to gesture at the bloodied, broken, barely-older-than-boys on the table, seething, "You should be apologizing to them!"

Hawkeye lowered his head, feeling appropriately more than regretful, before braving her blazing eyes and muttering, "I'll do it by saving their lives, how's that?" 

And the long workday went tensely on. 

How was it always so easy to fall in step with the worst of Hawk's choices?, BJ found himself wondering - not for the first time, and he'd be flagrantly, delusionally lying to himself if he dared to dream it would be the last. 






Much later that night, the atmosphere in the O Club wasn't much happier, but Hawkeye came prepared with a $10 bill, handing it to Father Mulcahy the moment he walked in the door. While the chaplain hadn't been present for the screw-up, news usually traveled faster in the camp than Hawkeye liked, and he hoped the donation would help his odds of not getting chewed out by a priest he respected quite a bit, profession aside. "For the orphans. Or my soul, take your pick," Hawkeye explained, handing it to him over the piano.

Father Mulcahy glanced up from the keys, switching to playing with one hand. "Praise the Lord and good start on contrition," he said with one of those wry looks that told Hawkeye he'd been rather out of line but would be forgiven regardless, and slipped the money into his shirt pocket before going back to tinkling the ivories properly.

Hawkeye smiled in appreciation at the pun, and BJ at his side couldn't help doing the same, even though he wasn't much in a smiling mood. He was tired, and it had been an unpleasant day, and it seemed damn near everyone had had the same thought for relaxation that Hawkeye had. So BJ lingered in the doorway, a light hand at Hawkeye's chest in hopes of giving him pause."Come on, Hawk, let's stick to the still..."

"Nah, nah, nah, nah. I'll buy everybody a round if that's what it takes," he said, waving off the concern and striding forward with purpose, reaching the bar and pulling out two stools. 

"Think you'd have to buy Margaret a small house," BJ winced. "With a pool." He was less certain of current public opinion but perched tentatively on a stool all the same. 

"Bo-oy, you guys really stepped in it today, huh?" Radar appeared at Hawkeye's shoulder, eyes big and voice soft. 

"Yeah, thanks, Radar. Barmaid, get the kid a grape Nehi. No rocks, just some ether," Hawkeye said pointedly, then sighed. "And beers for the room." He let bills tumble listlessly from his fingers to the bar-top.

"You got it, boss," Klinger said, emptying an ashtray and wiping his hands on a rag tied to his skirt before hurrying in his own unhurried way to comply.

From the far wall, typical Frank nonsense could be heard, in a typical Frank whine, and Hawkeye spun halfway around on his stool. "Careful, Frank!" he called out. "She's got a short fuse today."

BJ sighed. "Hawk." He spun him back around by the shoulder. "You know that thing you do, when you... turn your head towards Margaret, and open your mouth, and sounds come out?"

Hawkeye nodded, eyes narrowing. "Uh-huh?"

"If you actually want anything to get better there, why don't you let me try instead?"

Folding his arms over his chest, Hawkeye's head raised in clear affront. "Oh? What makes you the expert head of the bomb squad?"

BJ laughed. "Okaaay, well, for starters... the very week I found out Peg was pregnant, I bought a second motorcycle!"

It took Hawkeye a moment to understand and then he was imagining it, and the aftermath of such a decision, and smiled in a half-wince himself. "Ah-huh..." 

"And I've only got the one now!" BJ added, sardonically bright. 

Hawkeye nodded. "Yeah, all right." He patted BJ on his lower back. "You're officially the more qualified. I'll be over here, ready with Nurse Radar to dig the shrapnel out of you afterwards."

BJ grabbed a bottle off the moving tray as Klinger passed, and took a long swig. The things he just doesn't get about women...

Hawkeye watched BJ walk away, reaching for the bowl of pretzels and setting them between himself and Radar, eager to watch but not quite done mulling over what he'd learned. He has a motorcycle?! 

"I'm just concerned for you, Margaret! Really!" Frank could be heard insisting. "What if he's not all he's cracked up to be?"

"Oh, I've heard more than enough about your concern, Major Burns!" 

BJ tapped Margaret lightly on the shoulder. "Hiya, Major."

She turned slowly, eyebrows raised. "You're interrupting, Captain."

"Thought maybe we could have a dance?" he asked with his most charming smile.

From the bar, Hawkeye and Radar observed, drinks in hand, in suspense and some awe. "He's really got guts," Radar murmured.

"Yeah-huh," Hawkeye said absently, still a little stuck on the motorcycle thing. 

Margaret's imperious glare would have leveled weaker men, hands firmly on her hips. "What exactly makes you think I'm any happier with you?"

BJ set his bottle down and held out his hand. "The fact that I'm not Frank?"

Frank, back pressed to the wall, could only huff his indignation. This was just great, wasn't it? But, oh, there was no way she was going to dance with Hunnicutt, not when she was so adamantly against any man so much as talking to her since the arrival of that Penobsnot-

"I'd call that a good start," Margaret admitted begrudgingly and, more to spite Frank than anything, allowed Captain Hunnicutt to take her hand and draw her to the middle of the floor. "But don't think for a second, Prince Charming, that rescuing me from Frank excuses the gross disrespect you two displayed in the-"

"I don't!" BJ assured, hand wrapping more firmly around Margaret's smaller one, the other settling over her waist, replacing hers that she'd planted there in anger, and he led them into swaying, simple and slow. "I really don't," he said more quietly. "You were... entirely right. It was..." BJ's smile faded, and he looked at a loss for words.

"Completely out of line!"

"We got carried away," BJ nodded. "Forgot where we were."

"He forgot," Margaret spat, even as she... had to admit, dancing with Hunnicutt, tall, pretty-eyed and married, thus no threat, wasn't... so bad... "I don't know know why you let him goad you into such stupidity, I really don't."

"Some days, I don't either," BJ admitted, his hand moving to splay over her back.

Margaret looked uncertain for a moment, but allowed that the touch drew her in an inch closer. Many a nurse had had an interest in Hunnicutt, showed that interest, and gotten no more than basic politeness back. He was safe. And likely making Frank fume, which was just plain funny. 

"He has a... certain persuasive way about him," Margaret admitted even as she resented it, pouting some.

"He does, but don't pin it all on him. I was as much at fault, and we'll stick to respectful songs from here on out."

"Oh, maybe you're able to promise that-"

BJ gave a small shake of his head, and leaned down, even though his back ached like a sonofagun, to share a fact only she would hear. "Margaret, he heard you. Trust me. I've never seen him look that sorry. He gave Father Mulcahy money the second we walked in the door. He made sure God heard him hearing you." 

Margaret smirked. "Really?" 

"Yep!" He straightened up, letting his hand fall from her back before anchoring her at their joined ones, sending her away in a twirl that earned a surprised laugh, before pulling her back in. "So, give him a break, maybe? You're the most... respected and powerful woman here. Not only did you get your point across, but... you also know he's the first one to rage against everything that puts those kids on our tables..."

Margaret's eyes had gone from furious to appraising in a way BJ wasn't sure anymore was entirely above-board, but he wasn't about to let it all fall apart now. Besides, it was nice to dance with a beautiful woman for a while. Just a little while, just dancing, and their hips weren't even touching! It was fine, wasn't it? He thought it was.

"Well... all right," Margaret said. "You're right as well as charming; he hates every bit of it, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but only this once."

BJ grinned. "Can I dip ya?"

"Is Frank watching?" came her sly question back.

"Preeetty sure everyone is," BJ guessed without having to look, and was a little scared to, truth be told.

"In that case, dip away," she decided, and he did with obvious relish. Margaret was pulled back up quickly, and it took her a second to speak before they were back in swaying motion. "Well, you're no Donald, but you're... stronger than you look..." 

"Morning calisthenics," BJ shrugged, and they continued to sway.

At the bar, Radar was watching with dreamily warm eyes. "Wow... You know, if Captain Hunnicutt weren't married, and if Major Houlihan weren't engaged, they'd make kind of a cute couple, don'tcha guys think?"

Frank had slunk over at some point, tail between his legs and seeking the support of his fellow man, and snarled at Radar with real menace. "You take that back this second, Corporal!"

Radar, clearly alarmed, puffed up. "Well, I didn't mean nothin' by it!"

"Yeah, no, Radar, for once I'm in agreement with Frank," Hawkeye drawled, chin in hand, growing unamused with the show those two were putting on. Getting back on Margaret's good side, with the added bonus of getting one over on Frank, wasn't even worth witnessing all of that. He turned his back on the display to sip his beer. "You say anything like that ever again, and I'm letting Klinger cut up your teddy bear and serve him as meat-fluff surprise."

"Oh!" Radar exclaimed. "Boy, that's- Oh!" 

Hawkeye meant no real harm but carried on, more vaguely melancholy than he'd walked in the door feeling. "Probably'll taste better than what we usually get. Can pretend it's cotton candy..."

Radar snatched up his Nehi, casting a supremely distrustful look at Hawkeye, and decided to leave the bar so he could find a safe new hiding place for his bear. 

"This is just... disgusting," Frank, watching the dance floor, scowled. 

Hawkeye deigned to clink his bottle against Frank's.

"She's engaged! And he's married!" Frank carried on.

"So're you, Frank."

"Well! ...Well, that's... different."

Hawkeye wasn't sure he could bear subjecting himself to anything as insipid as the logic behind that, but Father Mulcahy had finished his song, and the oh-so-merry couple was returning to the bar. "Oh, hey, it's you two crazy kids," he deadpanned.

"Pierce... Hawkeye, I... I was a little hard on you today," Margaret began, glancing up at BJ as if for confirmation she was making the right decision. When he only shrugged, turned away and went to reclaim his drink, she straightened her shoulders. "As a major, it was... poor leadership skills on my part to come down on you so hard." 


"Uh, Pierce! Major Houlihan is addressing you!" 

"Stuff it, Frank," Margaret stopped him before he could make things worse.

"Well, do I get a dance, too?" Hawkeye asked, turning halfway around to face her.

"I'm tired. It's been a long day, and I'm going back to my tent," Margaret sighed, squeezed Hawkeye's shoulder, and knowing how much it would infuriate Frank, offered, "But maybe tomorrow night." 

Beej going with you? Hawkeye almost said, but he held it back. He was melancholy, not suicidal. And the squeeze, not to mention her change of tone, did help. Really, it was just one more night in hell. No big deal, nothing he couldn't handle, and tomorrow he might even apologize to Radar's bear. "Night, Margaret." 

BJ amused himself with a quick chat with ever-amusing Klinger, and raised his bottle in salute as she passed, echoing, "Night, Major!" 

"Good night, gentlemen. And Frank," she declared on her way out, feeling every bit as powerful as Hunnicutt recognized her to be. 

Frank whimpered. 

Hawkeye gave the poor bastard a pat on the back. "You quit making that sad-sack noise for the rest of the night and I'll buy you another beer," he offered. 

Frank peered uncertainly between Pierce and Hunnicutt, his pinched little ferret face full of warranted misgivings. "Well..."

"Or if it cheers you up, I'll dance with you next!" BJ proposed. 

"...I'll take the beer!" Frank said, hopping up onto the stool next to Hawkeye.

"What about me, Beej? I'll take Frank's dance." 

"Ohh, no, Hawk," BJ shook his head, taking another sip, eyeing him tauntingly over the bottle. "I don't trust myself with you. I might get handsy."

Well, Hawkeye was feeling much better now. "Fine." He patted the stool on his other side. "Sit down and tell us about your motorcycle."

"You're still thinking about that?" 

"Oh, yeah," Hawkeye grinned. "Klinger! Another round all around. Even for you, you fabulous beast." 

"'preciate it, doc, but that doesn't really count as a tip," Klinger said tiredly. 

"May I join you, gentlemen? My hands are getting a little achy," Father Mulcahy asked. 

"Praise the Lord and pass the pretzels down, Padre," BJ said.

As nights in hell went, Hawkeye thought, his knee pressed to BJ's below the bar, this one really wasn't bad at all. 





"All right, listen up and listen good. I need you relatively sober for the next few days," Potter told them the next morning.

BJ's eyebrows raised. "Expecting wounded?"

"Nothing's come down the pipe, but Burns is driving Houlihan up the wall, so I'm sending him on R&R for a couple nights." 

BJ frowned some. It didn't seem entirely fair that Hawkeye had gone recently, and now Frank was going. He could use a break, too. But he held his tongue. 

"Doesn't it make more sense to send Margaret?" Hawkeye asked from where he lounged on the opposite side of the desk. "She can meet up with her precious Donald." 

"Not when he's driving me up the wall, too. In case of a surge, though, I need you two in tip-top shape, you hear?" 

"When's Beej get a break?" Hawkeye asked next, and BJ smiled in gratitude. 

"When Burns gets back, if nothing big's expected, I'll send both of you."

"Margaret with us, too?" Hawkeye smiled, batting his lashes.

"Hmph. Don't push your luck. Think you can manage?"

"What do say, Beej?" Hawkeye leaned back, gazing upward. "Think we can survive a Frank-less existence? The luxury of the Swamp all to ourselves?" 

Well, when Hawkeye put it that way, and looked at him like that... he was a little less sure, but wouldn't let on. "We'll make do," he assured Potter.

"Right. And try to lay off Burns if you can help it. That bullcrap in the OR yesterday wasn't much of a party for anybody. Dismissed." 

Hawkeye leapt from the chair, from languid to energetic at the flip of a switch, leading the way out and BJ made to follow him.

"Oh, and Pierce?" Potter called, stopping them before they'd reached the door.

Hawkeye swung on his heel. "Sherm, yes, Sherm!"

Potter leaned forward over the desk, spearing Hawkeye with a serious look. "Did you threaten Radar's teddy bear last night?"

"I did, and I deserve a court-martial," Hawkeye admitted dramatically. 

"You've got some apologies to make, son." 

Hawkeye knew it. He saluted stiffly, snapped his heels together with a dull click, and turned about-face with military snappiness that faded to his usual slouch immediately after.

"You threatened his teddy bear?" BJ asked incredulously as he followed Hawkeye out. 

"Ehh, long story..." 

Sherman Potter smiled as the doors to his office swung closed. All things considered, they really were very good boys. 

At least they didn't drive him as fudge-blasted crazy as Burns. 






A late summer storm had come and, unlike most brief downpours that graced the recent days, decided to stay a while. It made for cooler air, lowered canvas, and a muddy trek to the latrine and back. Hawkeye put the latch on the door upon his return to keep it from blowing open again; any emergencies could knock, hard, and get drenched while they waited. He whipped off his rain poncho, hoping the rustling of it wouldn't disturb BJ much. But as he settled back into his own cot and undid his laces, he heard a soft sigh from the other's cot. "What's up?"

BJ shrugged, hands folded behind his head, eyes wide open. "Can't sleep. Not tired enough, I guess."

Despite Potter's orders for alertness, they'd drank enough from the still that Hawkeye found that a little surprising. But they also hadn't been pushed to exhaustion by work, and, if he was being quite honest with himself, yes, Frank's absence had put a slight... tension, or a wisp of a tenuous promise of something, in the room. Which they'd both been ignoring all night, because it was easier. Easier to drink and joke around and relax, not worry over things that confused them both in different ways. But, yeah, he wasn't tired enough, either. The hours without Frank Burns around were too pleasant to waste on sleep, it seemed.

Boots off, Hawkeye reached to a shelf and drew down a big candle and matches. "I could go for some reading. Could do it aloud if it helps," he offered while working to get old matches to strike.

"You've got something to read we haven't memorized by now?" BJ asked in surprise.

"Nabbed one of Radar's National Geographics the other day," Hawkeye confirmed, getting his third match to strike. He lit the candle and located the magazine, holding it near to the fire for light. "All right, we have... Yugoslavia: Between East and West... Next one's so boring it's fatal... Flags of the United Nations, we know enough of those... Sea Birds of Isla Raza, and ah, the Nuba Hillmen of Kordofan. Real party animals, those guys." 

"Let's go with the sea birds," BJ smiled. 

"Sure you don't want the flags? I'm sure all their origins are plenty exciting to put you to sleep." Hawkeye teased, but opened the magazine to the birds. The pictures seemed nice even in the wan light, but when he tried to read further than the headline... "Damn it..." 

"What's wrong?"

Hawkeye hated the weakness that remained from the heater incident as much as he hated admitting to it. "I, uh... think my eyes are still a little... anti-small print." 

"Oh. Hey, Hawk, that's all right. Can turn on a light if you want." 

"Nah, I can do better than National Geographic," he decided, tossing the magazine onto his chair and leaning back in his cot, hands folded over his stomach, taking a couple moments to think. 

"Ooh, a bedtime story?" 

"You betcha." He turned his tone into one more theatrical, dramatically befitting a storyteller. The idea that had come to him was... risky, maybe, but... well. He'd try it out. See what BJ thought. "So, there we are! You, me, and-"

"Don't say a slow boat to China," BJ laughed softly. 

"No, no. I was thinking... a little room in Tokyo..."

"Does Lana Turner knock because she left her sweater behind?" BJ asked, playfully hopeful. Although after recent thoughts of Peg's pink dress, and after dancing with Margaret the night before, and whatever the hell had been simmering between himself and Hawkeye, maybe fantasies weren't the smartest thing...

"What if she didn't, Beej?" Hawkeye asked softly, eyes closed as if to blind himself to what he felt fairly sure would be a disappointing response, and was determined not to let it be crushingly so. "What if it was just you... me... and a little hotel room in Tokyo?"

BJ gulped. Firstly, the story set-up was almost too realistic. Lana Turner was an obvious fantasy; this, though, as it already stood, would be reality in a few days. "Seems like...dangerous waters a little, doesn't it?" BJ asked cautiously but without judgment. 

"Sure, sure..." Hawkeye allowed, feeling his own nerves kick up as he nodded. These were dangerous waters. But BJ could still jump off the slow boat to Tokyo, as it were, and then at least Hawkeye would know. There would be set limits he could take note of and mind, and that might help a lot of things.  "But wanna hear it anyway?"

BJ stared at the canvas roof, the rain pattering against it the only sound for several seconds, although his pulse seemed loud in his ears. Hell yes, he wanted to hear it, from the safe distance of his own cot, but would it warp things between them too much? Would he like it too much? Would Hawk? What was 'too much', after the kiss to Hawk's neck, and an attraction he was getting worse at denying? 

"Don't leave me hanging, Beej. Yes or no," came an almost embarrassed mutter from the other cot.

Right. That wasn't very fair or nice, to let his own doubts find their way across the room. "Well, it's... just a story, right?" BJ justified.

"Just a story," Hawkeye confirmed soothingly. 

BJ's eyes squeezed shut hard before the lids smoothed out again, but stayed closed. He was crazy, this was crazy, but damned if his curiosity didn't have him wider awake than before. "All right, Hawk," he murmured, voice low, and wet his lips. "Take me to Tokyo."

Hawkeye released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, and nearly joked You mean take you in Tokyo, but no, no, this had to be done right. Gently. And with all the cleverness of his usual storytelling, if he wanted to entice and amuse and avoid letting on that he was already feeling a twinge of arousal in his gut. Which presented a sudden complication because, in truth, this was far more vulnerable a thing, to share any of his own fantasies rather than cutely curtailed silliness about starlets, and because, well - he hadn't actually expected to get this far. He'd have to make one up that he had no previous attachment to, and fast. 

"There we are," he repeated with more confidence than he felt, "You, me, and a little room in Tokyo. We... checked in, but really just threw our bags down and made for the bar, so... So it's a surprise later," he continued measuredly after a moment's thought, "When I go to brush my teeth and - oh!" Hawkeye feigned a gasp. "Beej, you'll never believe it." 

"What's that?"

Hawkeye felt bolstered by BJ's willingness to participate, considering it a good sign he wasn't overstepping boundaries. "Oh, I almost don't want to tell you," he smiled as if with a secret. "Because of course, if I tell you there's a bathtub instead of a shower, I'm sure you'll only say-"

"I got dibs!" BJ interjected, smiling at the ceiling despite his nerves.

"Yeah, I knew you'd say that," Hawkeye waved away the comment, hand falling back to rest over the other. "Of course, that's utterly wishful thinking on your part. There's no way you're getting into that tub before me."

"Oh, I'd fight you for it," BJ warned, shaking his head as he pictured it. 

"Which is why I came out and closed the door before telling you about it!" Hawkeye added, "And I'm a veritable octopus of limbs in the doorway, blocking you from getting past." He paused, picturing it more fully. Provided BJ didn't opt immediately for a tickle attack, the story might still sound realistic enough. 

"And you... try to get my arms down, but I'm stronger than I look when it comes to dibs, and it doesn't work. So... after a few tries and no budging," Hawkeye continued casually, "You... wanna catch me off-guard. Surprise me with something, so you can get past me to the tub."

"Of course," Hawkeye went on, voice oscillating between thoughtful imagination and frisky playfulness, "I'm all alertness! Like a hawk, really... and catching me off-guard won't be easy. So... you try the one thing you know'll really throw me off." 

BJ's eyes slipped closed again. 

Hawkeye's voice was barely audible over the rain. "You kiss me."

BJ released a slow breath. 

Unsure whether the silence that followed his last words was reverence for the thought or BJ beginning to change his mind about the bedtime story, Hawkeye's tone returned to casual. "Just a quick one. And... I admit, it... does throw me off. Might even let up some muscle against the doorjamb, my ego doesn't mind saying." 

Hawkeye shifted some where he lay, one knee raising, hands intertwining over it. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so timid and brazen at the same time. He had to remind himself it was just a story. "So, yeah, you could probably get past me if you wanted to," he shrugged. "But... then I'm looking at you in a way that... that sort of says it just occurred to me... that it really is just you, me, and... and a little room in Tokyo, no... no prying eyes, no need for hangers on the supply door, plenty of privacy... and I can't help staring at your mouth for a second and wishing you'd do it again."

His pace of speech had already slowed to a hypnotic one; he was dazing himself, it seemed. Pausing again, as bold and uncertain as ever, Hawkeye licked his lips. "And it surprises me... or does it? I'm not sure... and this is my fantasy here, mind... and well, whether it's a true surprise or a... foregone conclusion, who knows, but, uh, Beej, I... feel like you're looking at me the same way. Like it just occurred to you, too. That it's just... you and me, and you could kiss me again if you wanted."

BJ's hands had turned to fists behind his head, but he hadn't noticed. His temperature had risen and his breathing seemed shallow, but he didn't know that, either, transfixed by the sound of Hawkeye's voice, the little quaver of vulnerability in it, the imagery Hawkeye was drawing up, and the rain battering the canvas didn't register because he was there in that room, with Hawkeye in the moment, and... was he being asked a preference, consent, permission? It was plenty polite, far more polite than Hawk was with nurses, but somehow it felt like making a bigger choice. Just a story, just a fantasy, he calmed his own nerves. Shouldn't be nervous. Just a fantasy. 

Mesmerized by said fantasy, BJ found himself murmuring, just loudly enough to be heard, "Goddamn me, but I might." 

"Might want to," Hawkeye repeated, "Or do want to?"

BJ exhaled a soundless laugh, feeling pained by the suspense, among other things. "Oh, just go for it, you rascal." 

"And make you the envy of every nurse? You go for it," Hawkeye taunted back, relieved, but wouldn't dare putting the onus on BJ to take over as storyteller, not when this seemed to be working so well in his favor. "My fantasy, thank you very much, so you're the one to... to lean in and try it again, but you, um..." Hawkeye's tone bounced back down to one designed to enrapture, which was a great cover both for his on-the-fly story construction and feeling so uniquely exposed. "Seem to mean it a little more, this time... And I guess my guard is down because I... close my eyes and... sink against the door a little, and against you..." 

BJ bit the inside of his cheek in subconscious revolt against the pleasant tension thrumming through his veins, engrossed enough to forget nothing should have gone this far in fantasy or otherwise. He felt warm and restless and moved a little to combat it, right arm flung loosely over his eyes, the left hand plopping to his abdomen. It was when his hips shifted that he noticed the other effect that Hawkeye playing raconteur was having. And who could blame him, really? He was a loyal husband, he didn't have dalliances with nurses or attractive patients, and he hadn't been touched in months. It was a completely natural, predictable response to a tale meant to thrill, and he was too busy being thrilled to be concerned that he found the thought of driving his tongue into Hawkeye's mouth thrilling at all. 

"And you might not know it... in fact, probably for th'best you don't, but I've... got this fascination, kinda, about your neck, your throat," Hawkeye went on, "So... as nice as the kiss is, and it is... so nice I've forgotten about the tub, and keeping you from it, because my hand's in your hair somehow, I think, I... break off the kiss so I can bite you a little, right... right around the thyroid cartilage, until we're back to kissing again..." Hawkeye was only barely aware that his hand was moving, stroking his sternum lightly as he dreamed up the story's progression, and he forced his tone into lightness again to announce, "Think I'd suck on your tongue. And whine while doing so..."

Barely holding back a knee-jerk response whine of his own, BJ squeezed his eyes shut tight once more, a monstrously delicious heat flooding his senses. "The mouth on you, I swear..." he muttered in equal parts reproach and awe. 

Hawkeye rumbled a laugh, immensely gratified by such a statement and, oh, looky, more ammo to play with. Silly BJ, tossing him grenades so thoughtlessly, perfectly usable with the pin still in them. And if BJ wasn't at least a little tempted to rut against his cot at this point, he was failing miserably as a manipulative spinner of yarns but had no intention of letting up, even if a slight body tremble was plaguing himself. "Oh, Beej, you... you don't have the faintest clue about the mouth on me, but... well, we've got time enough in Tokyo, and if the... these kisses are any indication, you're passionate about finding out..." 

In Hawkeye's mind's eye, BJ's mouth was attacking his own with the eagerness of someone who'd been thinking about it for a long while before acting, and being pressed to the door thus was magnificent. "Then again, if you let up a little and... backed off an inch or two, I'd have the room to, to... drop to my knees'n show you faster..."

BJ moaned, hand clamping over his mouth too late to stop it, and immediately remembered the devious smirk up from his lap at the poker table, which did no favors for the growing nuisance that was the ache in his groin. He wanted, damn it, even if he barely knew what, and Hawk seemed determined to drive him crazy with it.

Unbeknownst to him, that single moan wreaked similar havoc on Hawkeye, who savored the insensibility with fluttering lashes and a hand that rose higher up his own tee-clad chest. "And, uh... I'd love to tell you that part of the story, but..." Hawkeye swallowed, unashamed of his own breathlessness but dimly aware enough that yet another line was being riskily toed, "Might necessitate... conducting a blanket drill..."

Oh, God, does that ever simplify things, BJ sighed in relief, knowing his own problem was by now impossible to ignore. "I don't mind," he assured Hawkeye, voice sounding throaty and shaky to his own ears, and as much as the idea simplified, it complicated, too. He knew this, he really did, but at the moment, a date with Mrs. Palm, her five daughters and Hawkeye's impure imagination was all too necessary. And although BJ had made a fair effort so far not to take his gaze off the tent ceiling or the backs of his own eyelids, the will for that was fading as fast as the will to behave in other respects. "Gonna go over shy on me, or mind if I watch?"

Hawkeye felt a blush spread over his skin, and was grateful for the crap lighting situation. "Only if you're joining me," he decided, the cot creaking beneath him as he sat up, wrenching his shirt off. "Might get lonely if you didn't..." But he didn't need BJ to state that he would do so, certain the voicing of the fact might be too much to ask or to accomplish, so kept talking. 

"Where were we... Right... On my knees..." He stayed seated, not needing to put on that much of a correlating show, thighs parting wide. "Nuzzling for... a second at that... Brobdingnagian monster you keep in your pants, before unzipping your fly with my teeth..." Hawkeye sighed in pleasure as he wrapped a hand around himself, his head falling back as he drew himself out of his shorts. "Looking up at you all the while with the most... wicked of glints..."

"God, Hawk..." BJ breathed, overwhelmed. Hawkeye was beautiful like that, there was no other word for it, all long neck and shamelessness and something downright pretty about him that BJ would never be able to un-notice, nor had ever been able to put a finger on. So he put a hand over himself instead, a cursory squeeze over his shorts that did nothing by way of relief, warming to the reality even as the trail of the fantasy picked back up.

Hawkeye found it trickier to form words with this new self-distraction, and knowing BJ's eyes were probably on him was almost too heady so he took it slow, the fist around his length loose and moving leisurely. "My hands at your hips, getting your clothes out of the way... One of your hands on... the doorframe, probably, the other maybe at... my neck, shoulder, don't know, don't care," he babbled, fighting for focus on the mental picture rather than the sensations. "I'd... get a hand on you and then my tongue... long, tormenting licks, gotta... gotta drive you a little crazy for a while first..."

Gathering saliva on his tongue, BJ collected it with a swipe of his hand before reaching down into his boxers and making use of the slick with a soft moan, unable to tear his eyes away from Hawk's every movement. "Don't tease..."

"Oh, begging already?" Hawkeye asked, but it was as much breathy and lust-lost as self-applauding, not half as smug as he'd have liked to sound. "Don't worry, I'll take care of you... Shouldn't rush it, what with plenty of time, but..." His hand sped up a touch, tightening, mouth dry, making coherent thought and words both more difficult. "Well. Call me over-eager, Beej, but... once I had my mouth on you, slippery... h-hot, wet... I'd suck til I felt you at the back of my throat..."

BJ matched the pace of Hawkeye's hand, free hand working his shorts down enough to make it easier, sweat breaking over his skin. He couldn't believe the vulgarity tumbling so easily out, the potent effect it was having, or how hard it was to resist some primal urge to go pin Hawkeye down and have him make good on any of it. 

"And if I did... move too slow for your tastes..." Hawkeye panted, "Wouldn't mind if you... put a hand to the back of my head... yeah, that's... what you're doing in Tokyo... you're impatient but I don't mind, I can take it..."

"Oh, you're..." BJ sighed incredulously, not even knowing how that sentence was supposed to end - phenomenal, maddening, an absolute hussy? Any and all of the above? He could picture it too easily, could almost feel Hawk moaning around him the way he was making obscene noise now, the phantom vibration drawing a moan from BJ in turn.

"Close at the... thought? Yeah, I am," Hawkeye improvised an answer, hips pushing up towards the touch, plans for story expansion fading with his ability to maintain coherence. And he hadn't looked at BJ once yet, knowing what such sights might do to his control. "Think you should come on my chest, when you do... oh, d'love to feel that, and see it..." 

"Filthy is what I was gonna say..."

"Methinks he doth protest too much," Hawkeye laughed breathlessly, all but glowing with what he considered high praise in the moment. "Seem to be liking it a lot, actually... twitching against the roof of my mouth like that, like you're... oh... seconds away..."

And BJ was at this point, because it had been a while, and Hawkeye was that much the devil or at least his own personal one, and BJ couldn't focus on watching him anymore, his head falling back against the pillow, eyes closing, Hawk's voice and his own rapid hand the only sources of pleasure he could chase in so overwhelmed a state.

Hawkeye had never been more grateful for rain, that it would keep them from being overheard by passersby every time he couldn't stop a moan, though the drumming of his own pulse seemed louder yet. "C-come on, Beej," Hawkeye rasped. His free hand gripped the edge of his cot tightly and he finally let his gaze roam his friend's way. In the poor illumination of the candle he couldn't see much, little more than a silhouette, but light on BJ's stretched neck and pumping arm, an arm that looked as intriguingly, appealingly muscled during surgery as it did amputation as it did during push-ups, was stimulation aplenty. "All over my chest, I, I want you to..." 

And if BJ didn't find it so easy to picture, gently wrenching Hawkeye's head back and complying with the request, maybe he'd have lasted longer. 

But the ardor and desperation in Hawkeye's voice got to him, made his nerves flare searingly to the point of combustion, curling his toes and tensing his muscles and spilling over his busy hand, pleasure that gripped and gripped him again as he fought to keep all expression of it to a harsh gasp. 

Hawkeye had long ago, aside from uneven breaths, perfected coming in near-perfect silence. But he'd said so much that night already that he allowed himself a low-pitched cry as he came, seized by BJ's burst of heat as if in sympathy, his head falling back once more as he wrung with twisting wrist all he could from the shared moment.

And for nearly two minutes after, the only sounds were heaving breaths, BJ's so gorgeous to Hawkeye it could have made him hard again in seconds if he thought there was good reason to be, and the steady rat-a-tat of the rain.

"Beej, you..." Hawkeye spoke once there was enough breath in his lungs to do so, "Got somethin' to clean up with?"

BJ nodded, sitting up still dazed and pulling his soiled shirt off his head, doing a quick job of the same before rearranging his shorts to propriety. "Since the... lovely Miss Turner didn't forget her sweater? Sure..." He tossed it over.

"Never let Klinger hear you say such a thing about angora." Hawkeye leaned to catch it before it could hit the candle, grimacing somewhat when a sticky part of the fabric hit his hand, but what the hell, he'd live. He wiped at his chest, not daring yet to meet BJ's gaze even if it waited for him. "Think you'll be able to sleep now?" he asked with a yawn, tired from overuse of his voice and the excitement of such electricity having been passed between them. 

Humming in the affirmative, BJ laid back down. "Think so," he said softly, licking his lips in contemplation. "Might need... talking about, tomorrow," he informed Hawkeye lightly. "Or it might not! I can't tell yet."

"I'll take your not knowing as a compliment," Hawkeye smirked some, tossing BJ's shirt to the tent floor. 

"Well. You should. Hell of a storyteller." 

"What can I say? I love a receptive audience."

BJ chuckled, but decided to keep the rest of his thoughts, if any came through with great clarity, to himself. Hawkeye sounded legitimately tired, and BJ felt... good, more than anything. A wildfire put out, a liberation of sorts; felt as if, if they had done something wrong, by morning the rain would have washed it away. 

"Need this light for anything?" Hawkeye asked, leaning over the candle. 

"Nope. ...night, lover."

"Night, Beej," Hawkeye murmured back and blew out the flame, plunging them into more complete darkness before BJ could notice the slight furrow of worry in his brow. 


Chapter 11

Radar breezed through the doors, scribbling something on his clipboard, and Potter didn't bother glancing up from his desktop as he asked, "Well? What'd they say at-"

"The 8063rd's got some of 'em, sir," Radar announced at the same time. "I told 'em I'd be over as soon as I sign out a jeep."

Hawkeye straightened with interest from his lean against the liquor cabinet, genuinely curious but putting on airs for the hell of it. "Oh, yeah? What's the 8063rd have that we don't, huh?" 

Radar, who'd been on the whole issue for the past couple of hours, only felt like explaining in the barest necessary details. "The supply truck's gonna be a couple days late, and Major Houlihan gave me a whole list of stuff we're low on."

"Think I'm more surprised when they are on time," Potter muttered. 

"What're we low on?" Hawkeye asked. 

"She said carbolic acid and Pentothal, and..." He handed the clipboard over to Hawkeye. "Stuff I'm not gonna try to pronounce." 

Unfolding his arms and glancing at the list, Hawkeye saw reason enough to do some borrowing. Not everything was crucial, but some supplies wouldn't be fun to go without if they had a room or two full of patients. Hawkeye licked his lips, pushing off the wall entirely. "Hey, Colonel, lemme go with him?" 

"What for?"

Hawkeye bristled. "I don't like the idea of Radar going out alone. Those snipers shoot low enough to the ground, they might actually hurt him."


"Well, you're just Mr. Selfless this morning," Potter mused, leaning back in his chair and casting Hawkeye a subtly curious look. 

"You can look in on my patients and we'll be back before you know it," Hawkeye shrugged, hands on his hips, the toe of his boot tapping impatiently. 

"I can. But I think I should be the one to say so," Potter reminded him. But he didn't much like the idea of Radar leaving by himself, either, even if it was just to the next MASH unit over. "Well, Radar? You want him along?"

"Only if he lays off the short jokes," Radar sighed. 

"A tall order, but I know a good deal when I hear it," Hawkeye agreed.

"Fine. Don't dawdle, and no drinking on the road," Potter said with a pointed look upwards.

"Oh, well, in that case I might as well stay home," Hawkeye rolled his eyes, but smiled thinly in thanks before following a mumbling Radar out.

Hawkeye, content to let Radar drive at his usual snail's pace, slid into the passenger seat and shoved his hand back through his hair, scratching idly at a phantom itch on his scalp before putting on a helmet from the backseat. He cast a slightly guilty glance around. As far as anyone knew, they weren't expecting wounded, but leaving Potter and BJ to their own surgical devices wasn't what concerned him. 

"Radar, come on. Gas, foot, pedal," he urged.

"Aw, I'll gas when I'm good and ready," Radar griped back, the engine kicking to life a moment after, and he peered carefully in all directions before putting the jeep into motion. 

"Then I won't bother burping you," Hawkeye murmured, leaned his head back against the seat, and promptly broke the first rule of a good shotgun rider by closing his eyes. 

He just needed a little time out of the house, as it were. 

A little time to think, even if he felt fairly certain he'd enjoy it about as much as he did the first pothole that rattled the helmet against his skull. 

Grimacing, Hawkeye sat up, resting his elbow on the door and watching passing fields with chin against his hand. 

There wasn't even really that much to think about, all in all. What had happened the night before was just... a thing that had happened. A fantasy that went a little further than it should have, amusing them both and at least temporarily slaking a thirst that had few other outlets. He reminded himself of these things and it all sounded like a big So Far, So Good. 

Only there were a few problems with it.

One was that such thirsts tended to return, sometimes worse than before, and Hawkeye knew he'd never quite forget anything about how BJ had looked or sounded at the time. How receptive and willing he'd been to play along despite his devotions elsewhere. That could really come to bite both of them in the ass later, and not in a fun way. 

Or maybe it would all drive him crazy, just him alone; that was a far less flattering possibility. Yeah, his ego definitely liked the first one better. 

And even if Beej was perfectly fine with the night before, and it drove him a little crazy too, and they could go back to a normalcy that overlooked the (non-)event entirely, he was still married. Still untouchable. Still nobody Hawkeye should get to liking enough to let his bitter, brittle heart hang any sort of dreams on. 

Things could go that way, he thought and he felt, all too easily if he wasn't careful. If they both weren't. And last night, they hadn't been.

However, Hawkeye thought as he dimly registered MPs on the road ahead, most of those possibilities, while potentially painful, weren't fatal. He could meet the first with flirtatious relish, and technically survive the rest. 

But the chance that he could meet BJ's eyes that next morning, and see anything there that resembled regret...

Evidently, the high odds of snipers in the South Korean hills terrified him less. 




"Morning, Major," BJ, tray in hand, greeted Margaret with a smile he cast around to acknowledge her table full of nurses. "Any chance you've seen Hawkeye?"

"No, but now I know why it seems so quiet in here today," she said, scooping up a forkful of something that had in a past life been eggs. 

It was quiet, BJ noticed, what with Frank absent with leave and Hawkeye mysteriously so, and he shrugged. "Oh, well. Thanks."

"You can sit here if you'd like, Doctor," he heard someone say at his right, and glanced down to see the pretty nurse Hawk had had a date with struggling to scooch over and make room at the end. It was laughably not enough room, which the nurse didn't seem to mind and BJ couldn't help but be amused with. 

"Awfully nice of you, but I'd be damned if I let a priest eat all on his lonesome," BJ chuckled at his own joke. 

"Language, Captain Hunnicutt?" Margaret chastised gently as there were ladies present, even if more than one present liked to give the doctor a less than ladylike, less than professional once-over every time he entered a room.

"It would be a drat-able offense," BJ amended, grinning and excusing himself with a nod to where Father Mulcahy sat, nibbling at bread and fortunately without a book for distraction. "Mind if I join you, Padre?"

"Oh, not at all, BJ," Father Mulcahy brightened, scooting his tray nearer to himself to make room for BJ to settle across from him. "No Hawkeye this morning?"

Huh. BJ clicked his tongue, trying to keep growing concern from showing on his face. "Well, that answers whether you've seen him. Got a no from Margaret, too." 

Father Mulcahy hummed in thought. "I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation, even if it's one I'm better off not hearing about," he smiled wryly. 

"Probably, and probably," BJ breathed a small laugh despite the sense that Hawkeye wasn't simply doing a morning round of nurse check-ups. "But on a different topic - how do you like your breakfast with a side of theological rhetoricals?" BJ asked, picking up a piece of burnt bacon and giving it a test bite. 

"That certainly sounds more nourishing than what's on my tray," Mulcahy sighed, glancing back up and folding his hands before his chin. "What's on your mind?"

"Uh... Commandments!" BJ said once he'd swallowed and reached for his coffee, sipping to kill time as he thought fast. "Suppose... a certain tentmate of ours, before skipping town, paid me back for a prank... by leaving a dead snake in my bed."

"Oh, dear..." 

"And I know, I know, we've never exactly been nice to Frank, but... well, Father, I'm just not very fond of snakes! So I may have spent some time last night imagining, in great detail, mind... honestly, just strangling the guy."  

"I think we've all imagined that about a certain major from time to time," Father Mulcahy admitted under his breath. 

BJ wondered for a moment if lying to a priest was yet another ticket to hell, but, hey, he had called it a rhetorical first. "But, and here's the question - once Frank's back, of course I'm not going to actually strangle him. Might have enjoyed thinking about it a whole heap, I'll admit that, but I wouldn't do it."

Father Mulcahy nodded, leaning back some with a thoughtful look, his own mug in hand. "In essence, you... wonder if, in a spiritual sense, in the Lord's eyes, the mere imagining of committing a murder is the same as committing it?"

"Got it in one!" BJ smiled. "And I do feel almost silly bothering you with it," he said conversationally, pushing eggs around on his plate. 

"Oh, heavens, no, it's not silly at all. It's actually more complicated than it seems on the surface, I should think."

"Yeah? How's that?"

"Well, in all earthly practicality, of course thoughts and actions are different things. But the Good Book has much to say about impure thoughts of all kinds in the first place, given how they can poison the soul and lead to action, sometimes despite one's best intentions." 


Father Mulcahy smiled. "I don't think there's all that much cause to look uneasy, BJ. Unless you assume you're going to be dwelling on this? Picturing it regularly, I mean, to the point where you might become more comfortable with the idea of harming Major Burns, and thus stoop to such a level."

BJ smiled tightly, shook his head, and raised his right hand. "Hippocratic Oath." Or a marriage vow. 

"And that's the best answer, really!" The chaplain went on, "If all that stayed your hand was, say, fear of retribution from the spiritual realm, or any other authority, I'd frankly be a little disappointed. But if you stick to promises made in the right, for the sake of rightness itself, that's far more noble in my opinion, and the Lord's." Father Mulcahy drank more of his coffee despite that it was barely warm. "Just keep it a fleeting thought, not one that burrows in and makes itself comfortable."

BJ didn't feel all that noble, and knew he shouldn't take too much consolation from a verdict served up on entirely false pretenses that left out other supposedly sinful things. But it wasn't as if he could tell Father Mulcahy anything close to the truth. And he didn't even really feel anything wrong about the night before! But a trusted friend's second opinion... was nice, somehow. He hadn't wronged Peggy, just... indulged in a really good time thinking about doing so. It wasn't the greatest, but there were worse things. "I hear you, Padre. Thanks." 

"You're most welcome. Now..." Father Mulcahy leaned over the table, voice low. "As for the snake... what did you have in mind for revenge?" 

Laughter proved the best temporary medicine for any of BJ's doubts that lingered, and Father Mulcahy joined in. 

"What's the joke, boys? Haven't heard a new one in a while," Potter declared as he reached their table, sliding in beside BJ.

"Oh, good morning, Colonel. Not a joke, really..." Father Mulcahy blushed, realizing that a priest talking about revenge was perhaps not the best look, and refocused on the contents of his tray.

"Just one at Frank's expense," BJ shrugged. 

"Well. Those tickle the ribs even when they're not new," Potter smirked, "But remember, I asked you to lay off for a while if you can."

"Easy enough when he's not around," BJ said mildly. "Speaking of not around, Colonel, have you seen Hawk anywhere? Tent, post-op, showers, I checked around and didn't see him." 

"He was an early bird today," Potter said as he started his breakfast, "And seemed a little on the nervy side. I let him go on errand with Radar, figured it'd do him good. I'll look on his patients until they make it back." 

"Mystery solved!" Father Mulcahy said, clearly pleased even if errands came with their own aspects to worry about. 

"Yeah," BJ nodded slowly, a furrow forming in his brow. Hawkeye was noticeably nervy, and took off without so much as a word? That wasn't good, whatever it meant. BJ licked his lips, and plastered on a more pleasant expression. "Where to?"

"Just over to the 8063rd for some loaner supplies. Supply's gonna be late again." He'd noticed the passing concern between bites, though. "Radar'll call when they make it there safe, I'm sure." 

"Well... Radar being away explains why there was bacon left for anyone else," BJ said, happy to take the focus off Hawkeye's absence, and his caring about it, and put it elsewhere. 

Potter laughed. "That boy sure can pack it away. Reminds me of a couple of friends I had back in the first World War. But our boy's in better shape. Can run a lot faster, for one..."

Breakfast seemed to continue around BJ as Father Mulcahy engaged Potter in chit-chat and he himself was free to get lost in thought. What if something happened to them on the road? It was always a possibility, and the lack of at least a pleasantries-grade See You Soon was slightly disturbing. And what did Hawk even have to be anxious about? He'd started it, after all. But then, BJ knew he might be getting ahead of himself. What kind of ego did he have, anyway, to assume Hawk's volunteering for errands had anything to do with what had happened the night before? 

Either way. You didn't just leave without letting your best friend know you were doing so. And, BJ thought with clenched jaw, Hawkeye of all people should know that. 

"You gonna eat that, Hunnicutt, or just stare at it?" Potter asked. 

"Uh... less hungry than I thought, I guess."

"You're not the only one," Father Mulcahy sympathized, deciding to give up on what was left of his tray, and began to rise. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen, but I'm woefully behind on my letter-writing." 

"Send your sister all our best," BJ tipped an imaginary hat in his direction.

"Padre," Potter dismissed him, and continued, "Well, not a bad idea to save up the appetite for the Shinbashi district. Plenty of good eats there. Soon as Burns is back tomorrow, you can get packing. Radar'll sort out the rest."

"Looking forward to it," BJ forced another smile in gratitude. "But I think I'll let Hawk pick the restaurants. He knows the terrain and can keep us from spending the whole trip food-poisoned." 

"Pierce didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

Potter leaned back some, baffled and scrutinizing as he pursed his lips. "Why, he said this morning he wanted to stay behind. Didn't want to stick me short-handed with just Burns if we got busy."

BJ was so confused that some signal in his body mixed, causing his surprise to bubble out as a disbelieving laugh. "He what?" 

"Mm. I thought it mighty strange, but even stranger now..."

Instinct kicked in hard, the foremost priority being that they couldn't afford being seen as strange, least of all by a perceptive CO. "Oh, well..." BJ scratched beneath his nose, at his chin in thought. "It makes sense," he found himself justifying. "Frank's... more distracted than usual lately, and I'm sure if it did come to a bad day, you and Margaret'd be grateful for it."

"Mm." Potter sipped his coffee. "Might be so, but why do I get the feeling it's not the whole truth?"

BJ was beginning to get tired of thinking fast, and the day had only begun. He sucked in a breath. "There... may've been a... disagreement, last night. A teensy one, at least I thought it was."


"Bound to happen in close quarters eventually, right? Look, I'll talk to him tonight, and I'm sure it'll all straighten itself out."

"Hm. Hope so. Don't need you two in a rhubarb while we're down a pair of hands."

"We'll be fine," BJ promised, even as he felt like starting the disagreement he'd just invented. "And unless Radar's already booked me a solo seat, maybe hold off on the paperwork until tomorrow?"

"Fine," Potted allowed with a nod.

Appetite thoroughly ruined, BJ regarded his tray with a shake of his head. He needed fresh air and a minute simply to process the sheer ridiculousness of Hawkeye's reactions. Perhaps even of his own, considering he'd run the bewildering gamut of worry, confusion, disappointment and hurt over breakfast, and managed to smile through most of them. "Meanwhile! Think I'll get a head start in post-op. See you there?"

Potter raised his mug. "Indeedy." 

BJ had set his dishes aside and was on his way outside when Klinger, clad in flouncy purple, barrelled past him into the mess. "Yo, Colonel!"

"Yo yourself," Potter called back to signify his place at the many tables. 

BJ noticed Klinger's frantic look. "What's up?"

"We're gonna have guests. Chopper accident, so mostly bones and burns!"

"Burns?" Potter asked in alarm.

"Flesh, not Major, though probably not minor, either," Klinger clarified. "Should be here in a few minutes."

"Helicopter accident means only two or three, right?" BJ asked. 

"Not a long day," Klinger confirmed, "Just a time-sensitive one." 

"Well, let's hop to it," Potter called out. "Houlihan!" 

Margaret was already rising along with the morning shift of nurses, and BJ had the presence of mind at least to hold the door for them all on their way out. 





"Welcome back, o weary travelers," Klinger said around his cigar, approaching the jeep as it rolled to a stop. 

Hawkeye, glad he no longer had to mind the precarious pile in the backseat, drew his arm back and rotated his shoulder a few times before slipping out of the jeep. "Hey, Klinger. Where's Zale? Get him on this stuff, sooner the better." 

"Hope you didn't mess up the office," Radar grumbled in Klinger's direction before beginning to unload. 

"We miss anything?" 

"Three wounded from a chopper crash," Klinger reported, helping Radar with the many small crates.

"Damn it," Hawkeye muttered, nibbling at his thumbnail as road dust settled back down around them. The little peace of mind adventure out hadn't done BJ or Potter any favors, only serving himself, and only so he could come to the conclusion that he couldn't hide from last night's potential consequences forever, even if he might have liked to. Now he had to make himself useful to make up for it. "I'll find Zale," he offered, knowing it was better than making Klinger do so. 

The supply sergeant was found napping, which Hawkeye had no qualms interrupting before sending him on his way. Next, guilt tugged him towards OR, where he hastily half-tied a mask on before pushing the door open. "Anybody need two free hands?" he called out.

"Ah, the prodigal son's returned," Potter smiled beneath his mask.

BJ hadn't needed the announcement; relief and annoyance had washed over him in equal amounts the second he heard Hawkeye's voice. He glanced up from his table, meeting his tentmate's eyes, wondering if both emotions were evident in his own. "We got it, Hawk." 

"You sure?"

"Post-op could use you, Pierce, I'm sure," Potter directed, and BJ wondered if the colonel in part had their little, imaginary tiff in mind as he did. 

"Yeah, okay," Hawkeye nodded, closing the door reluctantly, feeling on the useless side. And since BJ was busy, there was no way of knowing where his head was at... 

It was frustrating. 

But there were patients stuck pained and bored and full of their own worries in post-op, and their rightful frustration, as always, took rightful precedence over his own. 






By the time BJ was free to look in on his own patients at rest, Hawkeye wasn't there, which was fine with him. Extremely charred flesh, surgery and bone-setting made for a difficult, very careful combination, and work had stolen away his chance to take stock of his own emotions, which he felt pretty damned necessary before they interacted again. He debated Rosie's, but it wouldn't be quiet enough there to really think, and the odds were high that Hawk would have the same thought. 

Funny how he'd started the day just fine and ready to greet it, and ended up longing for a bout of arguably immature avoidance of his own. 

So he made for the edge of camp. The ground was still muddy from the rain but the sun had dried the rocks, and there were trees and tall brush enough to conceal him however long it took to gather his thoughts and to cool down. It would remain light for at least a couple of hours, which he figured he may as well appreciate with autumn right around the corner, and the surrounding mountains, when not swarming with choppers, had reminded him of home from the start. 


Oh, he was absolutely kidding himself if he thought last night wasn't some degree of betrayal of home itself. He wasn't oblivious or selfish enough to think otherwise. Selfish enough to have let it happen, okay, that was plain. The curiosity had been too strong and Hawkeye too alluring to resist. But he'd made peace with that part already.

What he grappled with now, as he laid back against the big rock with a hand over his eyes to block the sun, was why Hawkeye's reactions stung the way they did. BJ had done, uh, very damn little wrong as far as he could tell, and Hawkeye was all but punishing him for it. Or punishing himself, but if Hawk had simply manned up about it all, BJ would have told him there was no reason for that, and it'd have been fine. 

But then, why did it feel like co-punishment to be ignored for the day, and sent alone on their imminent R&R? It shouldn't have. They were attached at the hip 98% of the time, so it should have been a welcome treat to have a trip out by himself. But it simply wouldn't be as fun without Hawk, his spark, his raucous laughter, his eternal hunt for trouble both innocent and otherwise. That's what he'd miss. 

And all he'd miss, wasn't it? He was upset with Hawkeye overreacting and losing out on good times together, not because he held any strange or particular hopes about himself, Hawk, and a little room in Tokyo.

He felt a bug land on his arm and smacked it hard, rubbing the spot absentmindedly after with a grimace. Okay, fine! Maybe some dreamy, eager, hungry and unthinking side of himself was disappointed about that; he had come to terms with the attraction, but it was hardly one he planned to indulge. Even last night's relatively well-behaved misbehavior could never be repeated if it freaked Hawk out this badly or, like Father Mulcahy had said, became a habit of some kind. There were many considerations to be made there but a big one, among so many others, was that Hawkeye's obvious interest didn't exist for his convenience. No matter how annoyed he was, and he really was, or how intrigued, he couldn't lose sight of his legitimate caring about the guy. 

BJ sighed and slapped at another bug. He knew there'd only be more as the sun lowered further, which made his contemplation spot near so much fauna a poor choice. A lot of those going around lately, it seemed. 

But the answer to such things between two best friends wasn't to just hide and hope it all blew over by itself, and at least one of them knew as much. 

So he'd watch the start of the sunset and once the bugs got too numerous to tolerate, head back to the Swamp and start the conversation Hawk was too skittish to start himself.





"It's not that you're attractive, but oh, my heart grew active, when yooou came into vieeew..." Hawkeye crooned, trying to kill boredom and anxiety with pensive song and spirits as he sprawled in his chair. He took another languorous sip, closing his eyes, falling more firmly into a reverie of his own making, his knee moving from side to side to keep time. "I've got a crush on you, sweetie pie. All the day and nighttime, hear me sigh. I never had the least notion... that I could fall with so much emotion... Could you coo, could you care? What a cunning cottage we could share... The world will pardon my mush...

He heard the door swing open, and didn't dare another line. "Rough day at the office?" he asked casually. 

"Little bit," BJ answered, striding straight for the still, checking the cleanliness of a glass before pouring as smoothly as he lied, "Popped over to Rosie's to take the edge off. She says hi! And to pay your tab." 

Hawkeye's eyes snapped open as he sat up. "You went to Rosie's without me?"

Bingo. "Why not?" BJ shrugged, grinning in a way he hoped looked guileless. "You're letting me go to Tokyo without you." He sipped, watching Hawkeye closely. 

Hawkeye sank back against the chair, gaze rolling to the door as he cursed how easily he'd leapt into the obvious trap. 

"And, if I'm being honest, it was a rough day," BJ continued as calmly as possible, but needing to lay it all out so Hawk understood where he was coming from. "Because that's confusing enough, but I also had to make up excuses to Potter for both our sakes, while worrying you'd get hurt on the road, and wondering what the hell I'd done wrong to earn your up and running off." BJ landed so hard on the end of his cot that a few drops of his drink spilled over. 

"Whoa, whoa. Slow it down, Beej," Hawkeye insisted nonchalantly, free hand raised and lip curled as he turned his head to face him. "You've got how many years before your kid's a teenager? No need to practice for it with such gusto now." The way BJ's jaw clenched in response to that was mildly fascinating to Hawkeye, but he wasn't about to say so.

BJ closed his eyes for a half-second, a brief attempt to clear the tension and restart from a more pleasant angle. "Fine. I'll try to remember I'm dealing with an adult, if you try to remember I'm not... not Bellamy."

"What's that supposed to mean," came from Hawkeye flat and sharp.

"I mean you can't just... fake-sleep your way through the unpleasant parts," BJ sighed, softer in tone. "Or, in this case, hop into a jeep with Radar." BJ took another sip but had lost his taste for drinking for now, setting his glass on the floor and rubbing his hands together in thought. "It's me, Hawk. Your best friend? Who cares about you? And apparently doesn't even rate as high as nurses you at least invite to sit with you at breakfast the morning after?"

At least they put out. Well, some of them do, Hawkeye thought, but that was a very ugly train of thought to let himself follow. He knew he was scowling, and probably looked every bit the brat teenager he'd accused BJ of chewing out, but there was more to his own thought processes than he wanted to let on, so he chose just one. "Thought we could use time to think, so sue me," he muttered, picking at a stray thread on the tie of his robe. 

"Well, if you mean think about last night, I could have told you as early as my morning shave that we didn't."

Hawkeye looked at BJ again, simultaneously attentive but circumspect, even as his brain felt aflame wanting to say, Speak for yourself.

"It was just a story, right?" BJ prodded, even if he knew in his very soul that that was an oversimplification of things. But he was trying to make things simple, damn it; make it something Hawkeye didn't have to close his eyes against like he was doing now. "One that, okay, got out of hand, but..." He laughed a little. "Give me some credit here, Hawk. If I was gonna panic, I'd have done it last night."

"And some of us do our best panicking before 1200 hours, Hunnicutt! What's wrong with that?" Hawkeye asked, rising from the chair he felt all too trapped and tight-chested in, beginning to pace a little, slugging back the last of his drink as if the bottom of the martini glass was a big enough space for even a claustrophobic man to hide.

BJ felt lost all of a sudden. When it came down to it, he hadn't yet given Hawkeye much of a chance to speak his piece. An apology for that tried to make its way out but stuck between just-parted teeth, more important words making their way through instead. "Panic why?"

"Nah, nah..." Hawkeye shook off the question with a jittery hand, because where could he begin? BJ was keen enough to realize it had to do with whether their friendship would be strained by the storytelling, or whether BJ would feel he'd been manipulated somehow, or agonize over a slight fidelity infraction, but the rest? 

Like the fact that BJ Hunnicutt was, in his eyes, the kind of perfect one only saw in advertising but never expected to meet, or get to know enough to conduct blanket drills with, or foolishly find oneself thinking that if they were ever going to settle down, why, it would be with someone just like them? 

No way in hell did BJ need to hear any of that. Wouldn't be fair. And Hawkeye knew so because it wasn't even fair to himself to have a modicum of awareness of it.  

BJ watched him pace and hated that he'd caused it. "Hawk," he said evenly, reaching out and catching his cagey friend's hand in his own, tugging Hawkeye to be still between his wide-spread knees. "I... I was ticked off because you made me worry about you, but I didn't... I don't... If you wanna drop it, consider it dropped." He compelled himself to smile up at Haweye's uncertain, unhappy face, squeezing his hand even if he wasn't sure at all that touching was the right thing in the moment, even if it did seem to ground Hawkeye a little. "Just... reconsider R&R? Please?" he implored. 

Hawkeye swallowed. BJ smiling up at him like that, with that warm friendliness in his eyes, didn't entirely dissipate yet unvoiced concerns. He hesitated, drawing in a long breath. "You, uh... don't think..." That we could use time apart? That it's a dangerous idea? That after a few drinks, one or both of us might forget for a little while you're married?

"I don't know what I think!" BJ admitted. "I just know... that going without you'd take almost all the fun out of it."


"I didn't even go to Rosie's without you," BJ revealed to prove his point.

"You said you did," Hawkeye accused.

"Knew it'd rile you into conversation," BJ said, smile more genuine for its victorious smugness.

"You, sir, are a bounder, par excellence," Hawkeye announced, selling the show of umbrage by withdrawing his hand, eyeing BJ with dramatic suspicion, the playacting helping him ignore that he was standing directly between BJ's legs.

"Never said I wasn't," BJ reminded cheerily, leaning back on his elbows. "But I'll make it up to you. Rosie's, burgers and beer, my treat..."

"Beers, plural?"

"If you want." 

"Your poker-bound scrip versus my liver?" Hawkeye asked, stepping out from the space he'd been tugged into, turning towards the still. "Hell of a wager... Wanna bet on who wins?"


"Eminently wise," Hawkeye smiled some. "But gimme a minute," he requested, reclaiming his glass from where he'd left it beneath the still."It simply wouldn't do to go drinking without a drink first. We're not barbarians." He could almost hear BJ roll his eyes as he poured. "By the way, what'd you have to tell Sherm?"


"Said you had to make something up. What for?"

"Oh." BJ wasn't sure he wanted to bring it up now when Hawk seemed nearly back to what passed as normal for him, but having their stories straight was always key. "He... put together that you seemed off, and the R&R thing, and was curious. I just told him we'd had some disagreement or another. Kept it vague." 

Hawkeye took a long sip then nodded, pondering for a moment how that could have been terrifying to a married father who just the night before had entertained thoughts on so deviant a level. "Well... thanks. N'sorry." 

"It's what friends are for, I guess," BJ sighed lightly, leaning down and taking his glass back up. 

Hawkeye tried to evict from his head that last night, BJ had called him Lover; even jokingly, it was... well, different than Friend. But Friend, he knew, meant a whole lot, too. They were probably reinventing definitions for it by the day, really, and he was just going to have to work with that. What choice did he have? "...and I'll think on the trip."

"And let me know before Potter?" BJ reminded gently.

"Yeah," Hawkeye nodded, secretly hoping BJ was done for the night with telling him all the ways he'd messed up. And he'd even been annoyed enough to call him Hunnicutt, hadn't he? Damn. "Cheers, Beej." 

They clinked and BJ sipped, still not sure that everything was right between them, but relieved that the most important things seemed to be. 


Chapter 12

"Hey, Beej. Wake up. I figured it out." 


"I got it! Separate rooms!"

"Wh're y'talkingabout..."

"For the trip. We'll stay in separate rooms."

BJ half-opened his eyes, turning to regard Hawkeye groggily, his mind springing immediately to his friend's easily anticipated antics with geisha girls or whoever else he could gets his hands on. "Hawk... how is that not a given?"

"Oh," Hawkeye said simply, nodded once, and wandered away.

BJ turned back to face the canvas wall with a groan. From what little he'd registered, the sun was out already, so he'd probably only have gotten a few more minutes of sleep, but those minutes were precious. Anyone who disrespected their preciousness deserved to be put before a firing squad. 

Maybe he should've told Father Mulcahy it was Hawkeye he'd thought about strangling, because some days, it was awfully close to the truth. 






One room or two, a given or not, it ended up not mattering. 

The whole idea was scuppered after Potter received a call letting him know that within an hour or two of Frank Burns' return, countless waves of wounded would follow. 

For what felt like an eternity after, a few minutes' sleep became even more precious, and Tokyo an even more distant dream. 






Over a week later they brought their high hopes to Potter's office, finally well-rested, clean-shaven, and ready to be anywhere that wasn't the compound.

It still came as a hell of a disappointment to be informed, "Best I can give you boys is two nights in Seoul."

BJ didn't bother voicing his disappointment, knowing Hawk would do a fine job of it for both of them. 

"Oh, come on, Sherm!"

"Don't start, Pierce..." Potter sighed tiredly.

"We're wrung out! We just came back to life after being dead on our feet. We need... need to smell something that isn't blood! Might as well send us to Calcutta for how nice it is this time of year." 

"Hawk, give the colonel a break. He's just as wiped," BJ played begrudging diplomat from his perch on the saddle rack. 

"Look," Potter said levelly. "I know it's no Tokyo, Coney Island or much of a picnic. But there might still be action and if you two want the break, I want you one phone call and short drive from home away. Capisce?"

"We can make our own fun," BJ tried to soothe Hawkeye before steam started shooting from his ears. 

Hawkeye, head hung and hands splayed on the desk's edge, sighed. It was better than nothing, he had to admit that. It would set them in depressingly war-torn streets but away from Frank, the mess, reveille and responsibility... All in all, still worth it. "Yeah. Okay."

"Knew you'd see sense. And better yet, you could have a jeep and a driver in just a couple hours if you pack fast."

Hawkeye shrugged limply and glanced over at BJ, who shrugged amiably back. "Laundry was just yesterday," BJ reasoned, "It can't all be dirty yet." 

"You're good sports, and trust me, I do appreciate it," Potter approved. "And you have my word, Tokyo'll happen when I'm more certain we can spare you. A whole five days, even." 

Well, that helped. Hawkeye gave him a feeble smile. "We'll call Radar with the number when we get there. Probably from the Chosun."

"All their rooms might be full up with generals, ambassadors, and God knows what other riff-raff," Potter warned. "Try the Hanto."

"And if all else fails, the floor of the train station, or a back-room brothel," Hawkeye deadpanned.

"So long as they've got a telephone," Potter nodded, unperturbed.

"Come on, Droopy," BJ said, sliding off the saddle, tapping Hawkeye's side to encourage him towards the doors. "Let's go pack. Thanks, Colonel."

"Mm. Behave yourselves..."

Once outside, BJ couldn't help asking, "So, why'd you wake up on the wrong side of the cot?"

Hawkeye shrugged, hands in pockets, gaze on the pebbles he kicked as they walked. "I dunno. Just... wanted something a little more lively, I guess."

"I told you, we'll make our own fun." 

Hawkeye eyed him with the beginning of a smirk. "Is that supposed to sound as suggestive as it does, or am I just sick in the head?"

"Ah, see? Smiling already," BJ answered without answering, giving him a nudge.

Hawkeye rolled his eyes, deciding the non-answer meant negligibly little after all. He turned his mind to the practical. "Should bring our pinks and greens," he suggested.

"Little warm for 'em, don't you think?"

"Yeah, but all the same. Safety. Status. Impresses the ladies."

It was BJ's turn to roll his eyes. "Not the highest on my list of priorities..." 

"Impresses some of the gents, too," Hawkeye continued, wiggling his brows as he held the Swamp door open for BJ, amusing himself into trying to actually look forward to the trip. 

"With your chivalry? Seems like overkill," BJ teased, ducking inside. 

"Well, anybody can impress. I prefer to aim to devastate," Hawkeye said casually as he made for the stack of clean clothes on his chair. 

"Starting to wonder if I'm gonna see you at all this weekend..." BJ mused playfully.

Hawkeye didn't miss a beat as he tugged his duffel out from under his cot. "Depends how much of me you wanna see." 

BJ laughed. "Heya, Hawk?"

"Yes, dear?"

"Shut up and pack."






Street after street of devastation. Children in obvious poverty. Buildings turned half to rubble, half held up seemingly by sheer will. Scattered troops hoofing it elsewhere. Locals with worried, stricken faces as they went in and out of a street market. UN-affiliated helpers present but only capable of doing so much at a time. He had expected it to a degree, of course, but recent action in the city hadn't done it or its people any favors.

"Definitely no Coney Island," BJ murmured grimly, lost in thought as he took it all in.

The jeep rolled slowly further into town. "But hey, look on the bright side," Hawkeye said tonelessly.

"There's a bright side?"

"Hospital's still standing," Hawkeye lifted his chin in its direction before his attention returned to scanning the road ahead. "Hotels, too..." A block from the Hanto Hotel, he found himself watching BJ for a long moment, rarely having seen him look so distractedly, distinctly troubled, and he wanted to say, Sorry, Beej, but your big, bleeding, parental heart's not gonna do you much good here. Turn it off for a while. Instead he nudged BJ's knee with his own to catch his attention. "Check in fast, freshen up faster and find drinks immediately - good itinerary?" 

BJ turned towards Hawkeye and smiled tightly, knowing he understood how it felt, as a healer and a human, to take stock of so much misery. Seoul had been through hell not for the first time; it wasn't pleasant, but even the familiarity of Hawkeye's expressively cynical face in the moment helped. "...when in Rome, right?"

"Just call us the Blottoman Empire!"

BJ chuckled and groaned at the same time. 

"I know," Hawkeye grinned cheekily. "I'm proud of that one." 

"Come on, guys. Out. I gotta get this jeep back so I can catch some Z's," Rizzo said from the driver's seat. 

"Two in your name already," Hawkeye mumbled, on a roll, "Between you and Zale, it's a wonder there's any left to catch." 

"Aw, just one more time around the block?" BJ asked. 

Rizzo snorted. "What the hell for?"

"So I can kick him out while it's moving," BJ threatened merrily. 

"Ah, you love me," Hawkeye simpered, batting his lashes at BJ before grabbing his bag and hopping gingerly out before Rizzo could take the request seriously. 

BJ, because he couldn't find in himself a solid argument against the point, snatched up his duffel and followed suit. 






The interior of the hotel was more impressive than the exterior would have led one to think. The lobby was big and clean, the list of communal meal offerings long, and they were able to get checked in quickly. Calling Radar to let him know their room numbers was something of a difficulty, but that was more on the 4077th phone line's end than the hotel's. BJ worked on it while Hawkeye dug a bottle of scotch out of his duffel, taking discreet sips. BJ waved it away when offered, wanting to keep a clear head for now, and in the elevator to the fifth floor, he sought to adjust the proposed itinerary a little. 

"Think we can check out the street market before the drink-a-thon begins?"

Hawkeye shrugged, stuffing the bottle back in his bag. "Sure, but you might have to drag me out. Once I see a real bed, I might not make it much further." 

"Ohhh, you're not kidding," BJ agreed, nearly giddy. No matter the city's condition, it was a vacation, and the prospect of non-GI furniture and actually edible food was one to be savored. "Civvies or pinks, you think? For the market."

"Let's save the monkey suits for dinner, but not civvies, either." He lifted an arm, taking a brief sniff to check his current condition. "Yeah, I don't need to change. Oh, here..." Hawkeye handed over one key from the two he carried which read 511 and 512. "We'll either be adjacent or across. That's nice," he said as the elevator dinged open.

"Looks like adjacent," BJ nodded as he checked the number order on their way down the hall. "Let's say... give ourselves 20 minutes to sprawl across real furniture, then regroup?" 

Hawkeye hummed in a way that was very nearly a moan, the thought of an actual mattress just that beautiful to him. "Make it 25." 

"Thereabouts," BJ confirmed, and turned the key in the door of Room 512.

Once in Room 511, Hawkeye kicked the door closed behind him, flung his duffel onto one of the sofas, and regarded his new best friend for the next two nights through the traditionally wide doorway that separated sitting room from the rest. "I'm flying high, but I've got a feeling I'm falling," he sang Ella at the bed as he stepped towards it in a dance. "Falling for nobody else but you...

He landed atop the blankets with limbs akimbo and the dreamiest of smiles on his face.






Hawkeye was examining a wallet, maybe real leather but probably not, from a seller's stall as he felt fingers pushing into his right pocket. He glanced down in alarm, thinking it might be a pickpocket - all too likely in so desperate a bustling crowd - but it was just BJ's hand, not removing anything but pushing an apple in. "Wha...?"

"I bought too many apples," BJ reported cheerfully. "Can't carry 'em all!" 

"Well, buy a basket or something!" 

He pushed another into Hawkeye's left pocket, his own already too full. "Why do I need a basket when I have a handy-dandy basketcase?" he snickered.

"Uh-huh." He set the wallet back, giving the seller an apologetic smile, likely to come back for it tomorrow if he really wanted it, and raised his eyebrows as he asked sardonically, "Any special plans for the carrot?" 

"What's up, doc?" BJ quoted Bugs Bunny, raising the carrot and biting off the end. 

"You know, there are restaurants. Chosun's got a good one. We could go get an actual meal, not just fare for the likes of Radar's zoo." 

"I'm sorry, I'm just... excited to see vegetables," BJ said once he'd chewed and swallowed and they ambled towards the next stall. "Ones that haven't been steamed, creamed, or otherwise beaten into submission. Besides," he took another bite, "Still want to find something Peg would like, then we can go get something to eat." 

"I browse first day and buy second. Better bargaining power if they remember your face."

BJ scrunched his nose in slight disapproval as they walked. "I don't really mind about deals, Hawk. I mean, look around. Pretty clear they could use the money." 

Hawkeye shrugged. BJ was still a little green around the edges, that was all. It was sweet but perhaps naive to think that an extra dollar would go tremendously far in so run-down a place. It was just the sad truth of things. 

"Captain Pierce?" They both turned at the sound of Hawkeye being called, and BJ saw two men in uniforms and Ridgeway caps coming closer, one with a Second Lieutenant's bar attached and who approached first with a smile. "I thought that was you!"

BJ knew Hawk well enough to read his body language, to see that the smile he returned was of the slightly uneasy variety.

"Aha... Gregory..." 

He'd drawn the name out, familiar but with warmth that sounded not entirely genuine to BJ, who watched as Hawkeye offered a handshake, and a cheek that the Second Lieutenant promptly kissed. 

BJ's brows jumped and dropped again. Well. All righty, then.

Hawkeye would have liked to have put his hands in his pockets for a nonchalant look, but remembered at the last second they were full of apples, so loosely crossed his arms. "Haven't seen you in an age. How've you been?" 

"Got moved from Anjung-Ri to Daegu City, and promoted, if you can believe it, but other than that... Oh! Manners. This is James." 

"Nice to meet you, James," Hawkeye nodded. "Gregory, James, BJ." 

"Hiya," BJ offered, not quite able to read the situation but feeling vaguely sure he'd been turned into a prop in some sort of contest. In that case... well, he was taller than James. And had better skin. 

"BJ?" Gregory asked, glancing quickly from one captain to another. "What's that stand for?"

"Anything you want," BJ smirked, raised his carrot, and took another big crunch of a bite. 

Hawkeye had never been more pleased to be seen with him, but wouldn't let on. "So, what are you two crazy kids up to? Enjoying the dazzling rubble of the Quonset Strip?"

"Got tired of our room, finally," Gregory said, a little glint in his eye as he looked back at Hawkeye. "Where are you two staying?" 

"Uh... dunno yet," Hawkeye said after a second's thought. "We just got in."

"Well, we were gonna find a coffee house! Care to join us?" James offered, not at all minding the idea of spending time with others who knew, who accepted, who understood.

"Nice of you, but according to him, this isn't a real lunch," BJ chimed in helpfully, "So that's our next stop." 

"Well, we're at the Hanto, right across from the tea room," Gregory said, slinging an arm over James' shoulders even as he cast BJ an openly appraising look from head to toe, or at least from head to knee, and gave Hawkeye another fond yet inscrutable smile. "Knock any time you like?"

"Yeah, maybe we will," Hawkeye lied and, if only to finalize the parting, put fingertips to his lips and blew a halfhearted kiss their way. "See ya, Greg. James." 

They were already turning away, James with a friendly little wave and Gregory calling behind them, "Ciao, BJ. Benny." 

BJ was so surprised he dropped his carrot.

"Damn," he muttered, crouching down to reclaim it, but after seeing how dirt-covered it was decided to leave it for a stray dog should one wander by. He rose slowly, giving himself a moment to force a burning curiosity into something that sounded casual. "Aaand that was...?"

"Oh, just... something of a mistake," Hawkeye said, lowering his arms with his defenses, hands on his hips as he watched them walk off. "One James can make now." 

"Oh, come on!" BJ laughed. "I don't even get the story?"

"He doesn't even rate in my top ten stories," Hawkeye muttered, hands falling back to his sides as he started walking again. "Or my top ten mistakes..." 

"Whatever you say... Benny," BJ couldn't help taunting further as he fell into stride, poking fun to hopefully put Hawk back at ease.

Hawkeye decided to ignore it, focusing on his secret and proud delight of moments before. "You played that beautifully, by the way," he tossed his head back to say, positively sparkling up at BJ.

BJ shrugged. "Played what?" he asked innocently. 

"Wascally wabbit. Let's get some lunch." 

"I told you, I wanna look around and find something for Peg." 

It occurred to Hawkeye that more time spent at the market would put more distance between themselves and Gregory and his new friend. "Yeah, sorry, forgot."

"Get hungry meanwhile? Pocket apples!" 

Hawkeye let BJ take the lead on their meandering, wondering how the man could sound so lighthearted in such a heavy-hearted place. They took turns, he supposed, cheering each other up and distracting each other from the vagaries of life in the military, in the OR, in cities that had been shelled, taken, terrorized and taken back. Hawkeye was more a melancholy type himself. He'd seen and felt and been through too much, and a grim scowl came too naturally even on the sunniest days.

Beej, Hawkeye thought as he watched him grin through a chat with a bracelet maker who spoke just enough English, outshone the sun itself even on those days. And sometimes Hawkeye hated him for it as equally as he adored him, or envied his greenness and lesser damage, his steadfast self-possession. 

But more than anything, something wistful and almost needy in Hawkeye's spirit hoped that, for both their sakes, BJ never changed. 

The inevitability of such a thing, of Seoul getting to a soul, of war killing warmth, of shelling shaking the unshakeable, made him wish he'd brought along the scotch.



Chapter 13

Chapter Notes

(WARNING: this gets heavy in a some-military-men-were-not-necessarily-well-behaved-or-anything-short-of-bastards-while-in-Korea kind of way)


Lunch, it turned out, included almost as much drinking as it did eating, and the combination of full stomachs and plump pillows awaiting them made afternoon naps a necessity. Hawkeye seemed back to his usual relaxed self, or as relaxed as he could ever be, and BJ nearly had the same outlook except for lingering questions he'd managed to bite back between bites of noodles. He wasn't sure why he wanted to know - about Lieutenant Gregory Whomever, about other stories and mistakes, about anyone who'd been as important to Hawkeye as Trapper - but he did. Maybe it was just that Hawkeye could probably use talking about them, trusting someone with them, even if he didn't realize it, and didn't Hawk know that BJ was as trustworthy as they came? 

But he didn't press. He didn't even ask. It wasn't worth any upsets, Hawkeye's or his own - suppose Hawk went into more detail again, just to tease, than was good for BJ's self-control? And God knew if it turned out Gregory had done any serious wrong, he was going to regret telling them what room he was in.

He knew dimly how ridiculous the thought was. Hawk was a big boy. He could take care of himself. It wasn't BJ's place to think such things, or to pry any stories his friend didn't voluntarily share. But somehow it was easier to know in the abstract that Hawkeye liked men, rather than put names and faces to them. Bellamy. Gregory. Oh, and himself. Nice thought. Not that did either of them much good. 

In fact, the only reason he was probably thinking about all of it was that settling in for a nap in his own room, after so long in a shared tent and before that, a bed of wedded bliss, felt... bizarrely lonely. Napping usually happened somewhere he knew Hawk was nearby. Being in a real bed again only made him think that Peggy in a nightgown or, if he was very lucky, just a towel, might round the corner at any moment and join him. 

Peggy in a towel... A short one...

If BJ were more sober, the thought might have gone further and the privacy would have allowed it, no self-control needed. But sun-baked, full and too lazily hazy to keep his eyes open, it made for something very nice to smile about as he drifted off. 






Hawkeye had had the presence of mind to request a wake-up knock before landing on the sofa in his room, knowing he'd be more easily roused from it than the massive and inviting bed. So by the time BJ knocked, Hawkeye was mellow from the alcohol still in his system but awake, had showered, and was at least wearing pants. 

"Ah! The first visitor, hopefully of many, to my humble abode," Hawkeye threw open the door. 

BJ stepped in, closing the door behind him, and looked in amazement at the piles of clothes flung haphazardly over sofa and coffee table, the scotch bottle standing proudly among them. How had he managed to trash the room so quickly? He tossed his own jacket onto the pile for now. "Well. Love what you've done with the place..."

"I know - homey, isn't it?" Hawkeye asked, heading to the bathroom to retrieve his watch from the sink counter. "How'd you sleep?"

"Like I was anesthetized," BJ answered, flopping onto a sofa, his eyes following Hawkeye in all his shirtless prettiness. "Probably could have slept longer but it's too quiet here. Just not a real nap without the dulcet tones of boots and Frank crying over Margaret in the background..."

"You know, I think it's really nice of us to pretend we don't hear that," Hawkeye mentally patted them both on the back as he returned, snatching his shirt up from the table. 

It was only as BJ watched him slide into the sleeves that he found himself realizing that they were alone together. Truly alone, no chance of Radar bursting in with news or mail, or the sound of choppers meaning something to them. The thought unnerved him a little and he forced it out of his head. "Well, we're nice guys. Anyway, what should we do tonight?"

"Korea, Korea, that toddlin' town," Hawkeye spoofed the song as he worked on his buttons, and shrugged. "Only so much trouble to get into but dinner, drinks, dancing. The usual."

BJ uttered a little 'oof'. "Not so sure about dinner. Think I'm too used to starvation to eat again 'til tomorrow."

"A romantic stroll through the debris, then! Play it by ear."

Hawkeye's phrasing made BJ quirk a little smirk. It wasn't merciless flirtation, just Hawk being Hawk. "Any game plan for if we run into your old buddy again?" BJ had to ask, thinking it useful to have one in advance.

Frowning, Hawkeye looped his tie around his neck and started tying it. "I'm not worried about it. And by that I mean, just ignore him." 

"James seemed nice enough."

"Yeah, more's the pity," Hawkeye muttered. "Any particular reason they're occupying more of your brain than they are mine?"

BJ hesitated. There were several, actually. Maybe if he kept the vague inquiries impersonal, Hawkeye wouldn't be so guarded. BJ shrugged, hands spread. "I guess it just... surprises me a little."

"Wondering how exactly Gregory got promoted, huh?"

BJ scoffed. "Crude. And it's not that I'm... entirely oblivious, Hawk. But it's like there's... I don't know, a whole secret side of Army life there, a club with its own language or something."

Yeah, and you're not in it, so it's not really your business, Hawkeye wanted to say as he looped the tie wrong on purpose so he'd have to start over. "Well, it's either a secret, Beej, or it's discharge on grounds of... whatever phrase they're using nowadays. Disgraceful conduct! Of an unnatural kind!" he said dramatically. "And don't get me wrong. If it was just a discharge, I'd have hopped into Bellamy's bed right there in post-op for all to see. Or someone else's, right after the first 29-hour shift." 

BJ nodded as he watched Hawkeye, thoughtful and sympathetic. "But it's not just discharge." 

Hawkeye sighed. "Life. Patients. The world. Maine. Dad even sometimes, much as I love him..."

"California's not... perfect about it, but probably better than Maine," BJ mused.

"Mm. Cary Grant sure does fine for himself," Hawkeye said, fingers still working with the fabric. 

"Okay, when's the last time you've tied a tie without a mirror?" BJ couldn't help asking to lighten the pensive mood. 


"Because you're terrible at it," BJ answered cheerfully, rising from the couch and walking to where Hawkeye stood. He was just being a helpful friend, of course, or so he told himself. 

Hawkeye's hands fell to his sides as he tilted his head back and closed his eyes, deciding it better not to meet BJ's eyes. The conversation, touch and proximity seemed a stupid combo what with Beej being so happily, devotedly, capital-M married. 

"Mind if I ask a probably stupid question?" BJ began as he undid Hawkeye's poor job thus far. 

"Why not."

"The nurses..." BJ started, beginning on the proper loops. "Women in general, I mean." 

Hawkeye hooted a hearty laugh. "Oh, that is a stupid question," he smiled. 

"The way you carry on, can't blame a guy for wondering..."

"Mm. No. They're not a cover. Well. Sometimes. But I like both, Beej. Equal measure."

"I gotcha." 

"Don't tell me that's been eating at you," Hawkeye murmured, glad the levity had distracted him from precisely whose hands were at his throat, so gentle in the occasional brush of fabric and skin.

"Not eating, just... curious, like I said," BJ clarified. He tugged the tie tighter, and fixed Hawkeye's collar around it. "There! Much better." 

Hawkeye straightened his neck back to normal, eyes opening in a catlike blink. "What ever would I do without you?" he teased, reaching up and daring to stroke a fingertip over BJ's cheek.

"Well, I don't know what you'd do," BJ said, hands falling to Hawkeye's hips in a quick squeeze, touch so natural between them that he didn't even know he was doing it. "But you'd look like something the cat dragged in."

Hawkeye smirked. "Let me do your tie now?"

BJ's brows furrowed. His tie was perfect already. "It's... already done?"

"I know," Hawkeye purred, hand finding Beej's side and squeezing lightly in return. "I just think you're gorgeous in this get-up and wanted to enjoy it a little longer before you put your jacket on."

BJ's head fell back in a throaty laugh, heat rising to his cheeks. That was merciless flirtation, but he knew from Hawkeye's playful look that nothing was expected from it, which made it fine to enjoy for the sake of it rather than fret. "Ah... You..."

"Me, what?"

"You..." BJ repeated, drawing the word out as he looked back at Hawkeye. "Have the prettiest eyelashes I've ever seen on a man, for a start." 

Hawkeye leaned back in pretended affront, moving his hand from BJ's side to his own hip. "Well, you can't have them! They were a gift. From my mother."

BJ chuckled, rolling his eyes. "Really know how to ruin a moment, don't you?"

That was a moment? Silly me, Hawkeye wanted to jest. But he knew it had been. That was the problem. "Had to, didn't I," he said, forthright but with understated regret.

Closing his eyes for a second, BJ sighed through his nose and nodded, giving Hawkeye one last pat at his hip in affection and thanks for having the good sense to stop them both in their wildly careening tracks. Sense or self-preservation? Either way. He was right. Unfortunately, BJ wasn't sure how to conversationally recover from the way Hawkeye had looked when he said it. 

Fortunately, Hawkeye did. He drew away from BJ and went straight for the bottle, taking a quick swig before recapping it.  "Come on, Beej," he encouraged, grabbing both their jackets and tossing BJ his. "Let's go paint the town a nice non-communist red." 








"It's kind of amazing, isn't it?" 

"What is?" Hawkeye asked as they strolled, taking stock of what establishments were open - bars even grittier than Rosie's, gambling clubs, places that could have been either but were likely brothels more than anything - before deciding which appealed most. They were nearing more residential areas but had a block or so left of ramshackle businesses before they'd turn back and pick somewhere to entertain themselves.

"The life of the place, despite everything," BJ marveled quietly as they walked.

"Mm. Life goes on..." Hawkeye said, enjoying the almost-night air, head somewhat in the clouds.


The sharp, insistent hiss of BJ's voice gave Hawkeye pause. 

He turned to see that BJ had stopped already and was staring down a small alley, and after joining him, it took him all of maybe three seconds to understand why.

A soldier stood with his hand against the wall, effectively trapping a young, too young, Korean girl between his body and the bricks, a bag of groceries fallen near her feet. 

Everything in her body language said she didn't want to be there. 

Everything in the soldier's said that he didn't care.

Hawkeye didn't have to think, just pulled BJ quickly out of view to the front of the building. "Count off 20 seconds to let me get around the back," Hawkeye proposed, seeking BJ's eyes. "We'll block him off." 

BJ nodded but didn't speak. Couldn't. His jaw had gone nearly as tight as his fists. 

Hawkeye disappeared and BJ, through the sudden adrenaline of near-blinding fury, began a mental count. 










BJ pushed off from the building, shoved his fists into his pockets, and forced his tone to pleasant as he turned into the alley. "Howdy, friend!" he called out. "Whatcha doin' there?"

Both looked his way, the girl fearfully and the soldier all greasy smile beneath not-guilty-enough eyes.

"Hey," the soldier, on the stocky side and probably no older than 25, tried to warn him off, "I found her first." 

"Worst possible answer to my question," BJ shook his head in disbelief as he approached. He could see Hawkeye mirroring his steps from the other end of the alley, but wasn't sure he'd need him, frankly. Maybe only to keep him from killing the guy. 

"Must be new around here," the soldier scoffed, hand dropping from the wall, turning towards BJ. "This is how the local girls earn money, you know?" 

"Going to pay her afterwards, were you?" BJ asked, only six or so feet away now. 

The soldier shrugged, crossing his arms, getting a better look at his interrupter as he got closer. "Captain's bars, huh? Guess you think you have a right to her instead, being higher-up and all." 

"Two captains, actually," Hawkeye piped up. 

The soldier stumbled a step backwards in surprise, looking a little less certain as he realized he was outnumbered. 

"Captains and surgeons," BJ added as calmly as he could, stepping into the space the soldier had left, shielding the girl while backing the creep further towards the opposite wall. 

"You know what that means, don't you?" Hawkeye asked airily as he got within range to make himself useful if need be. "Means we're real good with sharp objects."

"You happen to bring your knife today, Hawk?" BJ bluffed casually.

"Never leave home without it," Hawkeye bluffed back, taking up BJ's spot near the girl, watching the proceedings with concern and keen attention.

"Great!" BJ feigned cheer. "I've never castrated anybody before, but what the hell. First time for everything."

The soldier, apparently tired of talking, tried to throw a punch. BJ had been expecting it ever since walking up and managed to catch his wrist midway, his other hand pushing the soldier back hard by the chest. His back hit the wall and something crunched.

Hawkeye couldn't help wincing. "Easy, Beej," he muttered, even if he doubted BJ could hear it. 

The soldier yelped in pain, expression turning to rage, struggling against the hold. "Broke my fucking arm!" 

"I'd love to break your face next," BJ said with pretended glee, staring the man down as he held him against the wall. "But know what I'm gonna do instead?" 

"Get off me!"

"I'm gonna memorize it," BJ leaned in closer, staring into the soldier's eyes, voice quiet and deadly threatening. "Because someday. You might get hurt. It's the nature of war, right? Bombing. Sniper. Land mine."

The soldier's eyes narrowed. 

"And if there's enough of your pathetic, sorry, scumbag carcass left that they bring you to a MASH unit?" 

Hawkeye had to strain to hear what was being said. He noticed the girl moving, reaching for her bag, but waved her to remain still for now, too on edge to deal with more movement to keep track of. 

BJ ground out a laugh that wasn't one. "You better hope it's not ours, buddy! Because neither of us would lift a finger for the likes of you." The fear in the man's eyes was gratifying, and BJ went slowly on. "I'd tell every doctor and nurse in the room what you tried to do. I'd say that, in my professional opinion, the world's better off with you bleeding out. Dying right there on the operating table. And every. Single. One of them. Even the chaplain! Would agree." He searched the soldier's face. "Understood?"

BJ raised his eyebrows in question, and the soldier nodded frantically.

"Good," he snapped, and immediately released his hold and stepped back. "Get lost."

The soldier obeyed and fast, clutching his possibly fractured arm as he went. 

Releasing a slow, shaky breath, BJ pressed a palm to the wall, chin dropping to his chest, other hand raising to rub the bridge of his nose. 


"Her. The girl, just..."

Hawkeye stared at his bent back, swallowed, and nodded. "Yeah," he said, turning back to face the girl, whose eyes were wide and fearful still. "Look, uh..." Hawkeye began, dropping to one knee to help collect a couple of onions that had rolled from her bag and put them back in. "You go home, okay? Home." He gave her the bag, wracking his brain for the Korean word. "Uh, uh... Jib!" Wasn't it? "Where is jib?"

She pointed in one direction and then another, drawing a map in the air, words beyond his knowledge of the language. 

"Walk with her, Hawk," BJ insisted. "I'll be here." He just needed a while to breathe, and get over the godawful tremble adrenaline and rage had left in their wake. 

"I don't think it's far," Hawkeye said, as if the distance would matter to either of them, and he put a gentle hand to the girl's shoulderblade to urge her into taking the lead. 

But after a couple of steps away, she turned, looking towards BJ and rattling off a couple of sentences. 

"Think that means thank you," Hawkeye dully prompted.

And BJ turned to look at her, giving a brief nod of acknowledgment, even if he didn't want to. Because looking at her meant realizing she was, oh, only about 12 or 13. Realizing that they were able to help and stop something terrible, but once. For her, for just one girl. How much of this shit was happening out there that they wouldn't be able to prevent? 

"Back soon," he heard Hawkeye say, and nodded again.









"Home safe?"

"Home safe. You still shaky?"

"I'll... be alright." 

"...We did good, Beej."

"Sure." This time.

"...Come on, get up. Let's get shitfaced. I'm buying." 

BJ said nothing, but when Hawkeye offered a hand to help him up, he took it.









The next morning when BJ woke up, he wasn't surprised to be experiencing the beginnings of a dizzying hangover.

What did surprise him was to turn from one side to the other and see Hawkeye, fully dressed, sprawled like a starfish and leaving a thin line of drool on the other pillow, asleep beside him.

BJ, still barely conscious and also still dressed, struggled to remember.

There had been four shots in quick succession and five minutes letting the barrage of booze settle into his system before he'd been able to speak much.

Everything beyond that, aside from the fact that there had been yet more shots... 

He was drawing a potentially worrisome blank.

But what was evident was that Hawk, whether needily or stubbornly but obviously with heart, hadn't let him be alone.

BJ's hand flopped limply atop Hawkeye's arm, and he let himself fall back to sleep. 

Chapter 14

When BJ woke up some time later, Hawkeye was gone, a note on hotel stationery left in his place. 

Morning, Sunshine -

Go get a massage today, you could use it.

Knock around 6, we'll do dinner? 

He'd signed it with a hastily drawn picture of a bird that one had to assume was a hawk even if it didn't look much like one. BJ smiled, a little grateful for the time to rid himself of the hangover's last symptoms, not entirely slept off, however he saw fit. He wondered vaguely what Hawkeye would be up to, but not enough that he worried about it. And the massage wasn't a bad idea. It was possible that, for many reasons, he was a little more tense lately than he realized.

So BJ showered, got dressed in civvies, and went in search of a late breakfast. After that, a massage (which was wonderful, and no, he didn't want the special massage, thank you very much for the offer, Ms. Eunjoo, but no), and made for the market again. He did end up getting a bracelet for Peggy, though immediately after the purchase, he debated whether she'd like it enough to wear or not. But that was a common occurrence. Mostly he thought the blue beads too simple, and she deserved all the best things - but any present was better than none. He bought postcards as well, ones that featured pictures of Seoul in better days, which seemed an innocent enough lie to send homewards.

The overcast sky gave way to a light spatter of rain, and BJ decided to head back to the hotel before it got worse. By then, thanks to juice and plenty of hydration at breakfast, and more handy market snacks since, his hangover had completely gone. He was definitely going to go light on the drinks tonight, if he drank at all, and if Hawk had any sense he'd do the same. 

BJ still wondered about the night before but the only real impressions he had were that it wasn't a great time. Downright dismal, actually. He remembered everything before the bar, of course, and that they'd drank just to drown in it, so if forgetting was the goal, he chalked the night up to a success. 

All through his daytime wanderings, he'd kept an eye out for a familiar-faced soldier with his arm in a sling, but never did encounter the man. Bravado had done its job, and he had to consider that a success, too, or he'd lose his mind thinking too much on the unique sorrows of children in wartime. Better to send Peggy nice pictures, nice words, nice enough souvenirs, and focus on the good.

The beef bulgogi he and Hawk had for dinner at the Chosun was very good. So was the fact that Hawkeye wasn't pounding drinks, either, which meant that whatever events the evening held, they'd both remember the next day. As the waitress scooped up their money and walked away, he wondered aloud what those events might be.

Hawkeye shrugged, leaning back and folding his hands behind his head. "Somewhere with a dance floor and music that's got more to it than chimes and ukeleles. Live or jukebox, I'm not picky." He'd had a massage today, too. Between that, excessive sleep, good food and thought-obliterating intoxication, his R&R check list was almost complete. But where there was a hospital, there were nurses, and that meant new and exciting dance partners with no awareness or suspicion of his reputation. 

BJ could guess at Hawk's line of thought with little effort, and he realized, not happily, that it was possible R&Rs used to be more fun for Hawk before his time. From what he'd heard, McIntyre had been just as nurse-hungry, therefore a more like-minded partner in crime. And there were other reasons, no matter how much BJ wanted to pretend they didn't factor in, to hesitate slightly before agreeing to join him. 

But it wasn't as if BJ had so much better to do, and he felt it strangely important to be around in case of further Gregory encounters. Besides. What right did he have to prevent or discourage Hawk, so often too heavy-handed and too fast in his semi-heavy nurse-petting in public, from striking out? "I think I'll turn in early tonight, but I'll come along for an hour or two," he cautiously committed himself, finishing the last of his water before rising with Hawk from the table.




It didn't take long before they found a place from which laughter could be heard and drinks and smoke and music poured. It reminded BJ of Rosie's but was maybe double the size, with half the back wall turned open-air by recent military maneuvers and no budding fistfights to be seen. Enlisted men and officers danced with local women to Cab Calloway and, as if by fate, just two seats remained at the bar.

"Hey, Beej, I got kinda reckless on the wallet last night. Think you can cover the first couple rounds?" Hawkeye asked as they claimed the seats.

BJ knew he could, and knew it wouldn't be so damaging since he planned to take it easy. "Suuure..."

Hawkeye leaned an elbow on the bar, smiling at him and fluttering his lashes. "Thanks, sugar daddy."

BJ laughed despite the ridiculousness, handing Hawkeye a few bills. "Save my seat. I'm gonna hit the gents'. And get me something sippable - no shots," he directed before heading off to find the men's room. 

Hawkeye nodded, ordered acceptable drinks, and looked around the room just in time to notice two well-coiffed, prettily dressed ladies crossing the threshold arm in arm, talking amongs themselves. He sat up straighter. Nurses? Donut Dollies? Whoever they were, they were a sight for sore eyes, and upon entering looked disappointed that no chairs were available. 

Hawkeye ran his hand quickly back through his hair before rising, introducing himself and making a gallant offer, ever so pleased when they accepted. 

BJ emerged from the men's room just over a minute later, rolling his eyes when he saw the seats' current occupants. He should have expected it but, really? God, Hawk worked fast. And didn't even look apologetic about it as he waved an arm in the direction of BJ as he approached, tugging him gently in to introduce him. "Ladies, allow me to introduce the dashing Captain Hunnicutt, freshly returned from the little girls' room and hopefully with clean hands." 

BJ raised his hands, soap rinsed off but still damp, to make a point as he glared halfheartedly Hawkeye's way, reaching carefully behind the blonde to take up the beer Hawk had ordered him. "Pleasure, I'm sure," he greeted, observing that Hawkeye stood nearer to the brunette with red lips, apparently having already made a choice there. 

"They've graciously allowed me to buy them drinks, but they've presented a Holmes-worthy mystery otherwise," Hawkeye reported.


The blonde turned in the chair, and BJ couldn't help but notice her dress was as delightfully low-cut - tasteful yet, but tempting to the temptable - as the brunette's. "It's a little game, see? You can only dance with us if you can guess our names."

"Well, do we get a clue?" BJ asked. 

"We're both flowers," the brunette offered one up before giving her cocktail a careful first sip. 

"You certainly are," Hawkeye purred, but made his first throw a foul ball, meant to amuse. "But let's see, let's see... Amaryllis!"

The brunette shook her head. 

"Lily," he tried again.

"Strike two, I'm afraid."

Hawkeye appeared to be thinking hard as he peered at her with narrowed eyes. "...First name Mary, last name Gold." 

She laughed. "You're lucky I didn't put a limit on guesses!"

"Ohh. Wait," Hawkeye smiled, resting his arm on the back of her barstool. "Of course. Red lipstick. If you're not a Rose, I'll eat my captain's bars." 

Rose uncrossed one leg from over the other, setting down her drink, giving Hawkeye a teasing smile. "And here I thought I'd have to wait for the next song," she said, standing. 

"Good thing you're not a Zinnia; that'd have taken me all night..." Hawkeye quipped as he led her out to the dance floor, casting BJ a smirk as he went.

Huzzah, open seat, BJ thought and slid into it with a friendly enough smile as he looked at the blonde beside him. She was cute. Rounder in the cheek than Peggy, more buxom, bouncy curls and lighter lipstick than her friend's - awfully cute. Not that it mattered in the least! "Have to admit I'm not the greatest dancer, but can I still play the game?" he asked earnestly.

"Oh, I'm not either, really, so by all means." 

BJ sipped his beer, looking her over, keeping his gaze politely no lower than her eyes, dimples, and pink stud earrings. "I'm going to say... either Daisy, Iris, or... Poppy. That's it," he nodded. "You could definitely be a Poppy." 

"How about this? I'll give you another clue: you've got the first letter right!"

"I see... Hm." He bit his lower lip in thought, pulling a face that expressed the next guess' self-doubt. "Pansy?"


He doubted the next one even more. "...Primrose?"

"It's Petunia," she smiled. 

"Drat!" BJ said, giving the bar's edge a gentle thud with his fist. "I'm sure I didn't have that many left. Why'd you give it away?" 

"Well, I would like to dance eventually," Petunia giggled. "Maybe after this drink?"

She had a high-pitched, peculiar laugh that BJ wouldn't necessarily find appealing, but it wasn't as if he was making a lifelong friend here, just a partner for drinks and maybe for dancing. "Well, why not? I'm not a flower, by the way. Just BJ."

"And what are you doing in Seoul, BJ?"

"As little. as. possible. How about you?" 

Over conversation, he learned that Petunia did paperwork at the hospital through the Red Cross, that she'd been without a boyfriend for a year, was from just outside Minneapolis and loved dogs. He made sure to mention his happily married status very early on, told her all about Waggles, and kept his back purposely to Hawkeye and whatever antics he shared with the red-lipped Rose. Not for avoidance's sake; he didn't think so, anyway. More that it was polite to all involved.

When she was on the last sip of her drink, he equally politely asked if she'd like another, and Petunia shook her head. "How about that dance? I adore Dean Martin."

"Even though I'm no Fred Astaire?"

"Well, you're certainly the most gentlemanly of any man I've ever met here," she complimented him as she carefully slid from the stool, "So if you step on my toes, I think I can forgive you." 

BJ smiled and took her hand, leading her out. "Is this you and Rose's usual spot, then?" he asked as they began to move together. 

"It's close to work and the rooms the Red Cross has us up in, so it's easy. Do you and your friend stay nearby?"

"About 20 miles away. We don't get out too often, but it's not a long drive. Who knows! Maybe you'll run into us again." 

"I'd like that. And..." She peeked over BJ's arm, shaking her head with a wry smile. "I think Rose would, too." 

"Oh?" BJ raised his eyebrows. 

"Well, she's... never been shy, let's put it that way?"

Ah. BJ got the picture, or some idea of it, without having to look. "Yeeeah, Hawkeye's never been, either." In fact, he could hear Hawkeye behind him nearby, saying some nonsense about how he'd always wondered how he'd look with red lipstick, and Rose saying, "Well, let's find out," and yeah, BJ got the picture just fine, and shared an eyeroll over it with Petunia. He wasn't sure an eyeroll properly expressed all his feelings, but it was the best, most appropriate outlet for now.

"You haven't stepped on my toes once, by the way!" Petunia called his attention back to her. "I'm almost disappointed." 

"Well, it's a slow song! Any faster and I'm sure you'd end up needing new shoes, or new toes."

"You said you're a surgeon, right?"

"I'll give you a deal, promise."

She giggled that shrill giggle again and on they chatted and swayed, passing another two or three dreamy songs pleasantly and painlessly. Occasionally they'd turn, a change of angle and scenery putting Hawk and Rose in view, and it wasn't all the grabbiness that BJ had expected. Sure, Hawk's smile was occasionally of the smarmy variety, but his dance partner didn't seem to mind, and they talked with faces as close as if they'd known each a long while. And it occurred to BJ that it might be fun to dance with Hawk someday, that he'd like to, that it was genuinely unfair that they shouldn't publicly, but he spun his own partner back around and dreamed up any innocent question to put before her, before he could dwell on it. 

When the jukebox picked up the pace, BJ grinned. "Well, that's me out!" he said, turning playfully away from Petunia.

"Oh, but it's such a fun song!" 

"All right, all right, but your toes are now officially at risk," BJ teased, giving her a little spin before their hands clasped together again. 

Their change of position put him back in sight of Hawkeye, who had a hand on Rose's waist, the other holding hers. But as Hawk either sang or mouthed along with Ella's lyrics, BJ couldn't tell which, mischievous and knowing blue eyes were pointed BJ's way. 

"First you say you do, and then you don't

And then you say you will, and then  you won't

You're undecided now, so what are you gonna do?

Now you wanna play, and then it's no

And when you say you'll stay, that's when you go

You're undecided now, so what are you gonna do?"

BJ was giving Hawkeye a look that plainly told him he wasn't playing fair, and tried to refocus his attention on Petunia, leading her in ways that would make her skirt flare up around her prettily, but some lightness in his mood had been dimmed. And even if he looked at her instead of Hawkeye, the lyrics seemed to poke at him whether Ella's voice was the only one he heard or not. 

I've been sitting on the fence and it doesn't make much sense

'Cause you keep me in suspense and you know it

Then you promise to return - when you don't, I really burn

Well, I guess I'll never learn, and I show it

He couldn't say why he chanced another look at Hawk. Maybe in hopes he'd dropped the little... whatever it was he thought he was doing. But no, even with his cheek pressed to the brunette's, his chin on her shoulder as they danced, Hawkeye was doing it again - no longer singing along but sending a message through the talented Miss Fitzgerald and a gaze broken only by a few slow, catlike blinks that, BJ supposed, he couldn't send any other way. 

If you've got a heart and if you're kind

Then don't keep us apart, make up your mind

You're undecided now, so what are you gonna do?

"Oh! Ow."

BJ winced, looking back down at Petunia. "Sorry..."

"Can't say I wasn't warned, can I?" she asked with a smile. 

"No, but I'd hate for it to happen again," BJ said. "What do you say to another drink?"

She thought it a pity to cut the dance short but shrugged anyway and nodded, and BJ was glad to leave the floor with her. He wasn't fed up with Hawk exactly, but... something close, and he planned to buy them all drinks and bid them goodnight before he showed as much.

Now, if you don't love me, I wish you'd say so

Our love is so much, honey, I've just got to know

"Uh, one more round, for us and them," BJ told the bartender, waving vaguely at Hawkeye and Rose until the bartender nodded his awareness and memory of their order.

I'm just a fool for you, what are you gonna do?

"Well. Petunia. You've been... as delightful as the flower itself," he smiled at her, "But I think after this drink, I'm gonna call it an early night." 

"Aw, that's a shame."

"Early start back home tomorrow." 

"Guess I can dance with Rose..."

"I think Captain Pierce might stay a while," BJ said, hoping it would be the case. "Maybe you can take turns?" The bartender was back and BJ paid up quickly, picked up his beer, and thought better of it, setting it down and turning it between his fingers. "...Actually, I'll leave this one for him. Had a few too many last night." 

"I'll watch it for him. Where did you say you were stationed, again?"

"The MASH 4077th. If you're ever by that way, drop on in." 

"I'll do that," Petunia promised, and seemed to question herself, hesitating before she leaned in, pressing the briefest little peck to his cheek. "Thanks for the dances. Oh, and the drinks." 

"Right back atcha," BJ smiled some, giving her a parting nod before standing. Should he tell Hawk he was leaving? Probably better to, or Hawk might run out into the night after him. He sighed a little and stepped over to the dance floor, giving Hawkeye a brief tap to the shoulder. "I've got some postcards for Peggy that need filling out, so I'm heading back."

"Already?" Hawkeye asked from somewhere in Rose's dark waves of hair.

"Uh, yeah," BJ said, and it sounded too sharp and cold, probably unfairly, even to his own ears. He tried for nicer. "You've got another one on the bar. Another dancer, too. Have fun." 


BJ rolled his eyes, straightened up again, and walked out. Thankfully, it was too short a walk back to the Hanto Hotel to spend too much time in thought.







Back in his room BJ did push-ups, not even counting them, just went until his arms tired out. It helped only so much. Whatever tension the massage had removed that morning, it felt like Hawkeye had put back. 

But that was an unreasonable thought, wasn't it? Because it wasn't like Hawkeye was the only one being unfair. He shouldn't let it get to him, because he knew deep down that he'd made some questionable moves already. Let things happen that shouldn't have. Played that more might happen between them, just because he wanted, not because he would. And Hawk had every right to question it, to call him out on it, to want to know what the hell he was thinking, or what it could mean. 

If only he was certain himself.

He'd write Peggy postcards to relax. It always worked to center him, to remind him of priorities, and it was the only move he could make that he was sure without a doubt was right.







Lying on his stomach, he was nearly asleep when he heard voices on the other side of the wall. 

Hawk hadn't struck out.

Well, how nice for him.

Why not? He could use relaxation, too. Maybe he'd even be satisfied enough to lay off BJ's limits for a few days. Relaxation for everyone!

BJ could sleep through it, he figured. He couldn't really make out the words, just voices, the details muffled by the wall and two headboards between them. Conversation, laughter, a certain intimacy implied in the tone of it all but, yeah, he could ignore it enough to sleep.

Or so he thought, until he heard a deep moan.

Was this really happening? 

There was something about the timbre of Hawkeye's voice, somehow, a certain depth to it that carried. And the hotel was, as BJ had noted, quiet in general. And this wasn't the Swamp, or behind the mess on a movie night, or in the supply room or a nurse's tent. Hawk didn't have to be quiet.

Nor did Rose, so BJ assumed but couldn't be sure, though she was just talking, not making more salacious sounds yet. 

It had been a while since BJ had heard a woman make salacious sounds.

Whether consciously or not, his ears and interest was piqued to remedy that, because apparently he had no choice. 

Hawkeye's rich, low laughter. 

BJ sighed, his hand squeezing the pillow his friend had occupied that morning.

More muffled words were exchanged.

And then another voice. With a recognizably shrill giggle.

BJ's eyes flew open as his jaw dropped.

No way that that was happening. There was just no fucking way! 

Except... this was Hawkeye, a person for whom Impossible seemed most of the time to mean Merely Unlikely. And hadn't Petunia so casually mentioned that, in their absence, she could always dance with Rose?

More warm laughter. Words. A female moan this time, loud even through the wall.

BJ clamped his hands over his eyes, rubbing at his forehead. He told himself in vain that he could still ignore it if they were just quieter and sat up in a huff, giving the wall a few pounds with the side of his fist.

He heard nothing for a long moment, then the unmistakable rapping back: 

shave and a hair-cut -- two! bits!

And shortly after that, another low-pitched moan that went straight to BJ's groin.

BJ groaned softly in a mix of arousal and dismay, not sure what he wanted more, to kill Hawk or to kiss him senseless. And no, he wasn't going to be able to sleep through this, not least of all because he was already growing hard. But now he was sure that Hawk was well aware they could be heard, and that BJ had his full permission to do with the sound effects whatever he liked.

Again lying on his front, BJ rolled his hips once against the mattress, somehow still fighting the urge to just go for it. But now he was consciously listening, consciously trying to picture what was happening, and having seen all parties involved, he could see almost too easily his pretty dance partner's ample breasts exposed, Hawkeye attacking them with his eager tongue, maybe with a hand up Rose's dress, or her hand on him, or both.

He didn't know precisely what he was waiting for until he heard it.

Back at the Swamp, Hawkeye had been too limited by volume constraints and too distracted by inventing stories to really let loose. And BJ wished he could hear exactly what was being said now, but at least he could tell when Hawkeye's speech patterns seemed to break. When the moans changed, both female and male. When the headboard on the other side of the wall rattled with obvious rhythm. When he could hear enough of Hawkeye less restricted, more raw.

BJ was burning from the inside out. 

What if he could be the reason Hawk moaned like that? 

Maybe simply by BJ's hand. 

Maybe by outright nailing Hawk into the goddamned mattress.

He finally took himself in hand.

When in Rome...







The next day, BJ was nearly done packing when he heard a knock. He carefully slid the postcards to Peg between the pages of a book he'd brought, added the book to his bag, and went to open the door.

There Hawkeye stood with his duffel slung over his shoulder, hair floppily disheveled, a violently red hickey where neck curved to meet shoulder, and a toothbrush in his hand. "Got any toothpaste, Beej? I ran out and trust me when I say it's a dire need," Hawkeye announced, sounding a little tired, general expression a little leery of how his presence might be received.

BJ stepped back to let him in with the bulky bag, and snickered before ribbing him lightly, "Well, that's what happens when you eat flowers right before bed."

Hawkeye set his bag on the sofa and chuckled dryly under his bad breath before heading to the bathroom. 

And for some reason, after several seconds, BJ followed him. He leaned against the doorway, arms folded over his chest.

Hawkeye rinsed and spit, shaking his toothbrush dry before he looked up and caught BJ's unreadable stare in the mirror. 

BJ wanted to say, I don't like that hickey. Not that he'd do anything about it. Just stating a fact. He didn't like it, period, end of statement. But he couldn't, because he had no right. And because Hawkeye was bound to toss a challenge back. Something like, then go over it, do it better, double-dog dare you. Bet you won't. How's ten bucks sound?

It wasn't so dissimilar to their usual impasse: I won't cheat. I won't touch married. This was just an impasse with an edge, but even their usual impasse was simultaneously a war - with whom but themselves? - and an alignment.

Proxies. Showmanship. Taunts. Self-abuse. They were outlets, expressions, modes of release and far preferable to nothing at all. 

So what, BJ wasn't happy with the hickey. He wasn't mad at Hawk, either. He even sounded amused and fond when he asked, "You're a real shit sometimes, you know that?"

"Maybe I do," Hawkeye's reflection smiled at him in the mirror. "You love it, though."

"Maybe I do," BJ shrugged, smiling back. 

"Was it as good for you as it was for me, darling?" Hawkeye asked with played-up dreaminess.

A laugh rumbled in BJ's chest as he unfolded his arms, reaching past Hawkeye for the toothpaste, needing to break the spell somehow. "You've got to admit, Hawk, that seems kiiind of unlikely," BJ said as he went back to the living room, stuffing the tube into the top of his bag before tightening its cords closed.

"When's Rizzo showing up?" Hawkeye asked as he left the bathroom and walked to his bag, pushing his toothbrush into it. 

"About..." BJ glanced down at his watch, "Ooh! Five minutes." 

Hawkeye hummed a down-turned note, distinctly unimpressed with the notion. He lugged up his bag and BJ did the same, and for a second they just stood there looking at each other, thinking the same thought.

Even if it was a stupid thought for either of them to have, let alone both.

Even if neither were sure they truly meant and accepted it, or would say the same if asked the next day.

Even if it was a thought that threatened their usual impasse's secret agreement, their limitations, the very vows and principles by which they lived and stayed sane.

It was the only thought in both their heads, and they both knew it.

If only we had a little more time.




Chapter 15

Within a couple weeks of returning home, much around the camp seemed to change very quickly. Donald Penobscott, it turned out, was more than just a silly name for a lieutenant colonel but a flesh-and-blood man, one who showed up to marry Margaret and then whisk her away. Frank, a man who was so fond of marbles, lost every single one of his own and so they lost Frank. 

Neither BJ or Hawkeye was terribly fond or sure of the major's replacement, who one morning had delivered yet another sanctimonious insult before chuckling to himself and making for the shower.

"That guy's really something else," BJ muttered as he glowered after Winchester. 

"Don't let him get to you, Beej," Hawkeye said, giving the full chess board a final few seconds of consideration before moving his rook. "I've got a plan that should get him out of our hair for good."


"It's simple," Hawkeye shrugged. "We just get him to fall in love with a one-of-a-kind knockout, make sure she marries someone else, wait for him to go batty and voila, we'll have the place to ourselves. The Army would wise up and stop sending us more at some point, right?" 

BJ smirked down at their careful arrangement of game pieces. "Not your most original plan." He moved and took the rook. 

"Ah," Hawkeye wiggled a finger, smiling. "But we know it works!" He looked at the table, lips turning downward. "Hey. I liked that rook." 

"Should have been more careful with him, then," BJ advised, leaning back with a smile, gesturing loosely at the board. "Take your time! Don't be so impulsive."

"Impulsive? Me? Surely you jest," Hawkeye played up his offense then, just to amuse, waited a mere seven seconds before making his next move, which would probably do him no favors in the long run but at least swiped one of BJ's pawns. 

Only proving my point, BJ thought but didn't bother saying, leaning forward, rubbing his hands together and putting more intense concentration on his face than was genuine. He knew he could win in three moves if Hawk kept being so careless, which he wasn't always but just didn't have his head in the game that day, but maybe he'd draw it out for lack of better to do. 

"Got mail for you, sirs!" Radar announced, entering without bothering to knock, a smile on his face as he organized the small pile in his hands, dropping a small parcel on Winchester's cot before stepping towards them. 

That was better to do! "Anything from Peg?" BJ perked up as Hawkeye did the same in expectation. 

"Sorry, Captain Hunnicutt. Just one from a flower shop, it says," he handed it over to BJ, who took it with lesser eagerness but a little all the same, wondering if Peggy's birthday flowers had gone over well. "And for Captain Pierce..." Radar stood as tall as he could, smiling again, holding an envelope behind his back. 

"What? Gimme! What, what, what?" Hawkeye reached madly around Radar, who twisted away. 

"Hey! Careful or you'll tear it, and you'd be real mad if you did," Radar warned but smiled still, pleased and proud to be messenger as he drew it from behind his back and gave it to Hawkeye, watching his reaction.

"Well? What is it?" BJ pressed.

Hawkeye, to Radar's surprise and BJ's confusion, had gone curiously still as he stared at the envelope in his hands, very nearly doubting his own eyes, mouth gone dry. "It's, uh..." He blinked a few times, processing, voice hushed. "It's from Trap."

Now BJ understood why it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the tent.

"Why's it open, Radar?" Hawkeye then demanded, glaring up at him. 

"It came like that! Honest, I didn't read nothin'," Radar promised, hands raised, before he shrugged and guiltily admitted to perusing a portion of its contents. "Just looked at the picture, and came right over." 

Picture? Hawkeye glared suspiciously for a moment longer before slowly lowering his gaze, shaking out the envelope's contents. The letter was lengthy, probably three or four pages, and dropped straight into his lap while the picture slid out onto the chess board. A family photo. The typical cutesy, schmoopy deal with wife and daughters, and Trapper in a comfy-looking sweater, that familiar grin on his face.

"Cute," BJ commented lightly.

"Yeah," Hawkeye said dispassionately. 

"I meant the kids," BJ clarified with a one-shoulder shrug, sounding casual but watching Hawk closely. He may have understood that the mood had deflated and something about why, but it wasn't like he had all the details there. Poking probably wasn't the way to get them, either, but it was simply habit, the way he badgered Peggy into admitting things on her mind. But he knew his comment was more taunt than he'd meant it to be, and regretted it a little when Hawkeye raised his gaze and appeared more despondent than annoyed. 

Radar had thought Hawkeye would be happy with the surprise but understood slightly better why he didn't seem to be. "Well, um," he shifted awkwardly, "I've still got mail to deliver, so..." 

BJ glanced up at Radar and gave him a barely perceptible nod, the gesture saying, Go ahead, I've got him. 

"Thanks, Radar," Hawkeye mumbled and tucked the picture back into the envelope. He heard the door open and shut and did the same with the letter, folding the whole thing and shoving it into his  inner pocket. "Your turn, yeah?"

A scoff of surprise fell from BJ's lips. "Seriously? You're not gonna read it?" 

"With you staring at me like that?"

"I... I can leave, if you want?" BJ offered, at a loss, realizing it was intrusive as hell but still a little hurt by how sharply Hawkeye had spat the question out.

"I'll read it later." Hawkeye tapped the middle of the board, staring back insistently. "Your turn, Beej." 

Breath filled BJ's chest slowly as he tried to fight off the hurt, fight off how strangely impeded he felt by the request. He was more than happy to help distract, but just wished Hawk let him in sometimes. He wouldn't even mind not having the full story, so long as he knew enough to truly be helpful in its wake. But if this was really how Hawk wanted to go about it... all right, okay, he'd play along, and make a point after the game to find somewhere else to be.  It was fine, or so he told himself.

Things had been fine between them lately. With how much had changed in the camp, not much changed between them, or if it did it was for the better. They were a united force of annoyance against Charles Emerson Winchester The Pompous, rather than be annoyed with each other. Hawkeye still flirted but there seemed to be less subtle demand to it, where there had been some before that, on rare occasion, pressed almost angrily. BJ still flirted back, but they never danced on so sharp a vow-severing knife's edge as they had in Seoul. Probably because they were back at home, sweet busy home, and there were always people around and too many other things to do than tempt each other.

BJ hadn't expected the wrench in co-contentment that a letter from McIntyre worked in, that was all. Probably because Hawk didn't seem to ever expect such a letter, and that was sad in a way BJ couldn't put a finger on. If chess made Hawk happier, he'd readily oblige, and made a snap decision on his next move just so his gloomy-faced roomie would have something to put his mind to. 

Not two minutes passed before Radar ran back in. "Captain Hunnicutt?" 

BJ looked up. 

"Colonel Potter says you're on OD duty," Radar reported, and gave him the armband that signified as much.

"What? I thought Margaret was Officer of the Day," BJ said, accepting it with great reluctance.

"You knew your time would come eventually," Hawkeye muttered, gaze dully pointed at the board. 

"Major Houlihan's not feeling too good. And not very nice, either. So I think it's... you know," Radar said uneasily. "Lady troubles."

"Do you even know what lady troubles are, Radar?" Hawkeye asked mockingly. 

It was one thing, BJ thought, for Hawkeye to let his bad mood make him a grump, but another entirely to pick on The Little Corporal That Could for little reason. "I've never been OD before..." BJ pointed out, engaging Radar so Hurricane Hawkeye couldn't. 

"It's okay. It's not that hard. I mean, most of the time. I'll show you the ropes, but we kinda have to be quick about it."

BJ sighed as he stood. It would give Hawkeye needed space, but was that really the best thing? Who knew. And as much as he might need BJ's help and not want it, BJ might need his and did. "Hey, Hawk?" he asked as he secured the black OD band around his arm. 

"I'm fine, Beej." 

The hell you are. "...I was going to say that if this cuts into my rounds, can you keep an extra eye on Hayes for me?" 

"Which one's Hayes?" 

"The liver case. No news from Baker's good news but still, I'm watching out for an infection." 

"Yeah, yeah. Fine." 

Radar waited in the doorway. BJ hesitated but really had no choice, and gave Hawkeye's shoulder a brief squeeze on his way out. 








Radar had been right. Being Officer of the Day wasn't that hard aside from the triplicate paperwork. BJ just brought all his easygoing diplomacy into every interaction Radar nudged him towards, and it made the checks in the lab, kitchen, mess and motor pool fairly painless. Nobody ran to him with emergencies, supply problems or personnel gripes, and he knew he'd lucked out as the requisite duty went. 

Pushing worry for Hawk to the back of his mind was more difficult, and running into him during rounds didn't assuage it any. 

"How's Hayes doing?" BJ asked quietly when he found him at the desk.

"Got a little swelling. No vomiting, though, and everything that is coming out of him's the color it should be," Hawkeye reported listlessly as he stood up.

"That's in your professional opinion?" BJ snorted.

Hawkeye gave him a look that said, sorry, but he wasn't feeling that professional today. "You want detail, ask a nurse," he shrugged.

Unimpressed, BJ raised his eyebrows. The close proximity had sent the scent of booze from Hawk's mouth to his own nostrils, and it wasn't even four o'clock. He wasn't slurring, his shoulders were no more hunched than was his norm, and God knew it would take a lot of alcohol to knock Hawkeye off-kilter, but it was the principle of the thing. "I'll do that. You finish your own patients?"

"Yeah. Stuck around to keep an eye on him." 

"Thanks, but glad to hear it," BJ said, tilting his head nearer, keeping his voice low. "Means you can go dry up somewhere." It wasn't an order as OD, simply a suggestion, one he tried to make sound as friendly as he could. 

Friendly or not, Hawkeye hated it. He'd have liked to lean on BJ a little - for distraction, or physically, or emotionally, whatever he could get, if he could get it without having to explain too much. But BJ was OD. That left Klinger, Potter or the good Father for solace if he needed it, and was in the mood for none of them. "Yeah. See you at home." Paltry solace to be found in a bottle, but maybe he'd look again, anyway. That brand of solace, he could have without having to explain a thing to anyone. 

BJ felt helpless and very nearly neglectful as he watched him leave, but struggled to talk himself out of the sentiment. Hawk had already rebuffed his concern once. Shouldn't he respect that? He didn't know enough about McIntyre to have context enough to be helpful. He wasn't even sure he wanted to. But it was hard not to feel neglectful when Hawkeye's whole demeanor seemed one of quietly abject misery. 

"Hey, Doc?"

BJ glanced down the row of beds, scanning the faces for one both awake and expectant, and found the source of the summons just two beds down. "What can I do for you, Toole?"

"Well," soldier Randall Toole began, "You said yesterday you didn't know yet whether I was gonna be sent back to the front, or sent back home. So, I was wondering if you had a better idea today? The not knowin'... it's almost as bad as the nausea from that medicine you gave me."

BJ smiled. At least I can cheer somebody up, he thought, and delivered the good news.








Over-the-top Documentation. That's what OD stood for, BJ was sure by the time he'd finished up the necessary paperwork. He was grateful for Radar's help on what went where but cared less about the Why, just wanted to get it all done so he could check in on Hayes one last time and get back to the Swamp. It was possible Hawkeye had picked himself up out of his black mood, he told himself as he signed off on the last of the reports; that Hawkeye switched between moods the way Klinger switched dresses, and that he needn't have worried. 

But when he got back in for the night and the only roommate present was their new one, he knew he'd been kidding himself, and only worried more. 

"Heya, Winchester," he greeted over what he figured was Beethoven, almost feeling tired in advance of whatever the night would hold, and reached for his robe. BJ shrugged into it. "Seen Hawkeye recently?"

"Only briefly, I am relieved to say," Charles reported with a smirk. "He made mention of the supply room, so I can only imagine there is an unfortunate nurse being made the center of his childishly intemperate attention as we speak." 

"Ohhh..." BJ nodded as he tied his robe and, just to irritate the Bostonian, said brightly, "You mean fucking!"

Winchester visibly shuddered, and shot him a look both pained and contemptuous. "Must you be so thoroughly unrefined, Hunnicutt?"

"Only on days that end in Y!" BJ said as he left the Swamp, even if such language was more rare than that. Winchester was just so damned condescending, it almost made him miss the walking, talking lack of brains that was Frank. Okay, that was exaggerating a little. Besides, for somebody so self-important and smart as Winchester loved to think he was, BJ wasn't so sure about his theories. Hawk didn't usually mix depression and flirtation, saving his libido for days he felt flashy and fun enough to show it off. Unless a nurse had initiated an effort to cheer him and was successful, BJ figured it was far more likely he'd find Hawkeye with a bottle than a bottle blonde.

Still, the Do Not Disturb hanger on the supply room door gave him pause. He hesitated before knocking. If Hawkeye had a woman in there, he'd probably yell at anyone knocking to go away and come back after the war was over.

But BJ heard nothing. He then tried the doorknob, and decided to leave the hanger up as he entered the cluttered room. "Hawk? You in here?"

The only response was an ornery little grunt. BJ thought it came from near the mattress pile and followed dim candlelight to its source. There sat Hawk, one knee raised, one hand flopped limply at his side and the other clutching a bottle of who-knew-what, his head tilted back against the mattresses that stood against the wall, his eyes closed. If it hadn't been for the grunt, he wouldn't have even been sure Hawkeye was conscious. 

BJ sighed inwardly and leaned lightly back against the end of the nearest shelf. "Guess drying out didn't work too well, huh?" he asked gently, hands in the pockets of his robe.

"I barely follow Potter's orders, Beej. What made you think I'd follow doctor's?" Hawkeye asked, raising the bottle for a swig before he wiped his mouth on his sleeve. 

BJ's lips pressed into a line as he raised his eyebrows, an expression of sensible if not happy acceptance of the logic. "Fair enough point... Can we talk?"

"'Bout what."

BJ found that awfully combative, no matter how lifeless it came out, for its willful obliviousness alone. But he didn't say so. Poking and bullying Hawk wasn't the way to go about this, he knew that much. "About... whatever's bothering you. About getting that letter today." 

Hawkeye sighed, eyes peeling open and cast towards the ceiling as if it had answers better than the plethora in his own head to choose from. "He could have written sooner," he mumbled finally. 

"Well..." Maybe McIntyre was having trouble separating memories of Hawkeye from the war itself; he'd read that happened. And BJ had to bring up another fair point of his own, and he didn't think it counted as undue bullying. "Did you write him?" 

Hawkeye simply stared at BJ, fighting a sudden tightness in his chest. No, he hadn't. Because the moment BJ had arrived, and Hawkeye had worked to endear himself almost desperately as he might to any new person destined to take Trapper's place because he needed a friend that badly, he hadn't needed to write Trap. It was selfish in his own way, he knew that. That BJ was BJ, in all his handsome, smiling perfection, and seemed to accept him right off the bat, and take all the chaos of Korea and the Swamp in stride, and became very quickly more than Trap had been to him... 

No, he hadn't needed to write him, so didn't. Regardless, he probably could have, should have. But how dare BJ point that out. And it wasn't like he didn't have his own reasons for being bitter about the whole thing. 

But Hawkeye didn't sound angry when he answered the question, just exhausted. "That's what the war does, you know. It gives you these... people, these..." His gaze drifted from BJ's shape in the half-dark down to the filthy floor. "Government-issue but sometimes really great people, and it... takes them away, replaces them without a word, and that's... just how it goes, like a... a revolving door," he rambled without thinking on it much, slurring here and there, rattling it all off without analyzing the way he missed Trapper without letting himself miss him. "It's just how it goes and it's supposed to be okay. Even if it's not, and you..." Hawkeye shrugged limply. "You don't have a choice." 

He suspected he wasn't making a ton of sense but it was better than admitting the other side of it, admitting aloud that BJ had grown in a short time to mean more to him than Trap had, and meant more to him than he knew was wise. 

BJ, to his credit and too stricken by the glimpse into Hawkeye's wandering thoughts, remained silent.

"And I'm the one still here. You know? Stuck here, so..." Hawkeye wet his lips, nodding with drunken conviction. "Yeah. Yeah, he coulda written first before now, and... and I don't even have any pictures of us together, and then he sends me that. I..." 

Hawkeye reached up and scratched hard at his forehead at the center of his hairline, the tiny spark of pain grounding him somewhat before his hand fell away, the words simply stopping their progress without his say. He couldn't put them together cohesively, he knew it, and it was frustrating. Some part of him wanted BJ to understand, but Hawkeye's brain was moving either too slow or too fast or both to make it a simple process of handing off information the way BJ seemed to be asking for it. 

BJ could tell there was too much there to wrap into a tidy ball and toss his own way, and sympathized. It hurt, too. Hurt to know Hawk was right in a way, to hear aloud that he was Trapper Part Two, a replacement just as Hawkeye said, but more than anything it hurt to see Hawk like this. All his devilish, sparkly-eyed merriment gone. All his ineffable lightness in how he coped with being here, brought down so heavily. Granted, booze often went maybe halfway to lifting him, but BJ suspected it was doing the precise opposite now. 

Still... if it helped Hawkeye at all to vent this, to get it all out and get past it, even while treading whatever liquid the bottle contained... he'd keep poking as neutrally as he could. "Is that what's so wrong with the picture?" he asked softly. "That he's home and happy, and you're... well, pretty in the right, to feel jealous of that?"

It was some of it but Hawkeye shook his head, still staring at the floor without seeing anything at all. 

BJ watched him for clues, but with his head down and the light no better than a candle, it was tricky to glean any. It was on the tip of his tongue then, something he'd wondered ever since he found Hawkeye's hidden collection, the erotic photographs that would likely never get loaned out to Radar or anyone else in need of private entertainment material so long as he lived. That little revelation felt a world away now when so much had passed between them, but the question had lingered unspoken, and BJ had never found the right time to ask. If ever one might come, it seemed now or never. He inhaled slowly, nails scratching repeatedly at his left palm in his pocket, and chanced it. 

"You and McIntyre, was it... Were you..." Like us? More? Lovers? 

BJ's tongue seemed to trip over the many ways the sentence might end, so he didn't try.

Hawkeye shook his head again, but it wasn't entirely honest. There'd been one night... after some of Henry's special-order movies, when they'd gotten back to the Swamp both a little keyed up, and-

No. No, that wasn't right. That was one of Trapper's secrets to keep and since he'd promised to keep it, one of his own by default. No matter how close he and BJ were, he was still allowed a secret or two. 

The more frequent occurrence, one that was bound to illustrate a clear enough picture to sate BJ's curiosity, was... just a little hard for an accomplished Lothario to admit to, that was all. A bruised ego kind of thing if nothing else, even though there was plenty else. 

"A few times..." Hawkeye started haltingly, "Um. After a couple rounds with the still, you know, when we were... out of our heads, basically, uh, he'd..." Hawkeye let his eyelids drop closed again, reminiscing despite himself, despite how much it absently ached to do so. He'd set the bottle down at some point and only was aware of the fact because of the way his fingers pressed each other, the right hand's anxiously worrying at and squeezing his left thumb.

"He'd kiss me. He... He always initiated it, I never did. I wouldn't presume, but, uh... The next morning, it was..." Hawkeye felt his lips twitch, and he forced the rest out after swallowing hard. "He never brought it up. Never... acted like he remembered it, or... wanted to, and I... I took the cue, and never asked." 

It was what had made the kiss Radar had delivered all the more excruciating, both at the time and now again as he remembered it. It was the only kiss from Trap that he'd known had been given fully consciously while sober. Right when Trapper knew he'd never have to face up to it, and only to say goodbye. 

It wasn't fair, and Hawkeye felt hot tears spring behind his eyelids as if his body agreed with his brain on that fact. 

BJ had begun to feel the most curious tingle creep over and cover his skin as he listened. It invaded him and sickened him and made it difficult to breathe, and if he had to try to place or name it...

It was loathing. 

But oh, no, not just for Trapper McIntyre. 

He inevitably thought of the time he'd kissed Hawkeye's neck in the shower, and hated himself more than he ever had in his life.

He hadn't known then, of course. And now, he had to work pretty damn hard to remind himself that this wasn't about him, or his sudden sharp shame and self-disgust, or them, but that he'd come in here to find Hawkeye, and understand, and help if he could. It was just that his voice sounded a touch tremulous when he asked, "Did you love him, Hawk?"

Hawkeye's jaw worked to take pressure off the lump in his throat and he sniffled once, shrugging slackly. He had, but it was a convoluted thing to be sure about when the feeling itself, if it was a feeling outside the friendship aspect, had since been eclipsed. "I dunno, Beej. Maybe. I mean, yeah, as a friend. Yeah. Hard to be sure, with circumstances... Korea. Probably did, sure I did, but I dunno..." 

The confusion was strangely familiar to BJ's understanding, only he felt more certain of his overall affection for Hawkeye than that. It was also possible Hawk was playing it down for whatever reason, maybe for his own sake or pride. Either way, BJ just... needed a second, his hand rubbing over his mouth and chin as he exhaled heavily. 

Okay, so, he'd first met Hawkeye and Radar when Hawk was, what, a whole hour-plus' drive on the emotional rebound? That was a lot. It explained a lot. Nothing all that bad, merely a good thing to be aware of. And everything he'd just learned explained why it didn't even matter what McIntyre's letter said, but that he'd waited so long to send one, or maybe even that he'd sent one at all! It explained also how Hawkeye could flirt with a nuance of anger BJ hadn't been able to grasp, and took perhaps too personally before. 

And, damn it, but if BJ could just somehow take back that kiss in the shower. Nothing else, he'd keep the rest, they'd shared the rest, but that had been goddamned inexcusable and nothing like it could ever occur again-

Stop it, he scolded himself. He might enjoy wallowing, but you've never been the type. You came in here to help, right? So quit thinking and do what you came in here to do. Stop asking questions that hurt him and say something useful, for Chrissake.

"Hawk..." He pushed off from the shelf before he knew where he was going, but it didn't surprise him that he landed on the same pile of stained mattresses, feeling too gangly as he stretched out his legs and tried to fit between Hawkeye and the boxes of surgical tape at his other side. "Look at me. I want to tell you something, and it's... I mean, I think it's important, and you might, too." 

Hawkeye, eyes reddish and wet in the candle's glow, turned his head. "What."

"I want to tell you..." BJ said slowly, looking downward as he tried to find the right words. "How it'll be when we get back home," he decided on for a start. "When this stupid war is over. And you're on your coast, and I'm on mine. I picture it like this... I'll get home, and... and scoop Peg up in one arm, and Erin in the other, and I'm... not gonna want to let either of them go for at least a week, I know that." 

Was this really some big speech he needed to hear? Hawkeye wasn't sure, and didn't feel or look inspired or much comforted by it.

"I also know... that after that week..." BJ licked his lips and finally looked up into Hawkeye's tired eyes. "The first thing I'm gonna wanna do... is call you."

"Ah, Beej, come on, I don't-"

"Will you shush? Just listen." He snatched Hawkeye's hand into his own, and turned a little more towards him. "I'm going to call you and often. And we'll see each other at least once a year. Maybe twice! You can come to Mill Valley, I'll come to Maine, and bring Peggy and Erin... maybe every time, maybe not. Maybe we'll hit the same medical conferences, who knows. But especially if we don't... we're gonna rack up some outrageous phone bills, you and me." 

Hawkeye appreciated all this. Maybe less drunk, he'd appreciate more how good it was to hear, how much he'd needed to without knowing it. But it struck him as BJ trying so valiantly to prove he was better than Trapper, or something, and having dwelled so much on the latter, suspicion reigned yet. "How do you know that? Things could... change, here..." We could mess this up in ways you haven't even imagined yet. Or the world could. The war could. Just how naive are you to think we're both gonna make it home? Tommy didn't. Henry didn't. 

BJ laughed softly, but it was tinged with sadness. Couldn't Hawk just take him at his word? "I just know, okay?" he implored, leaning in closer and pressing his forehead to Hawkeye's with a sigh. "I just know. Like the way I know I love Peg. It hasn't been long, but it's... you're just... I'd miss you too much otherwise! I know that. Please believe me?"

Squeezing his eyes shut, Hawkeye nodded a fraction, a little distracted by the press of BJ's face to his own. They were so damned close. And he needed a little more convincing, but... limits. Always the limits. They were both responsible for them. 

"I..." Hawkeye's head tilted slightly, the barest move towards a nuzzle. BJ's mouth was so close to his own and it was a realm of temptation he wasn't used to fighting off. "Say I believe you." God, I want to. Want... His hand slipped out of BJ's to clutch at his wrist, his forearm, leaning some weight against him even as he protested, "But you've gotta... you've gotta get your face off me."

BJ nuzzled back slightly, too aware of Hawkeye's lips moving against his cheek so near his own and, he had to recognize, he didn't hate it. The opposite was true. In the moment, it might even be the right thing, if it sealed the promise he'd made. Less a promise and more an incontrovertible truth, but all the same. A good excuse, and there was something about Hawk in candlelight that got to him... "Why?"

"Because I'm drunk," Hawkeye mumbled, "And if you're gonna kiss me, I want to remember it tomorrow." 

Well, that pulled BJ back a couple inches, eyebrows raised in surprise. Did Hawk just insinuate that, inebriated or not, such a thing wouldn't be memorable enough to break through even the most gargantuan hangover? "Uh, wow," BJ blinked at him, too shocked by it to be truly annoyed. "That's... insulting."

"Tell me about it," Hawkeye deadpanned, rubbing idly at BJ's arm as his gaze fell back to the floor.

...Oh. While it wasn't exactly comparable... well. There were other reasons Hawkeye stopping them was smart. "On that sour note I didn't mean to hit..." BJ tried to brush over what had almost happened, his hand covering Hawkeye's on his own bicep. "I want you to forgive me for something." 

"Yeah? What's that?" Hawkeye peered back up at him, eyes half-lidded from the booze.

"For the shower that day," BJ said evenly though he paused, the next part more an emotional strain to admit, shaking his head a little, uncertainty in his eyes, regret in the way his back teeth pressed together tensely before he spoke again. "I'm not sure it came from the right place."

Hawkeye smiled crookedly. "Mmm, still liked it, though..."

BJ's voice went sing-song. "Not the point, lover..." He drew Hawkeye's hand from his arm, holding it between them, giving it a light squeeze as his tone returned to normal. "So, please?  Forgive me? I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight until you do." 

"Right, right, heaven forbid I screw with your precious sleep-"

"Hawk? I'm sorry. Really."

Hawkeye could hardly stand the earnest brightness of BJ's eyes on a good day. On a day like this one had been, it was damn near intolerable how beautiful he found it, needed it, took strength from it. "In that case - I, Captain Pierce, declare you, Captain BJ Honeybutt-"

BJ sputtered an embarrassed laugh. "Seriously?"


"You said... never mind," BJ decided, his chest shaking with another laugh he tried to hold back. 

"I declare you forgiven," Hawkeye said more soberly with a regal nod.

BJ sighed with genuine relief. "Thanks." But the importance of the absolution had been a trifle humor-skewed, hadn't it? "And never call me that again."

"Call you what?" Hawkeye blinked.

"You really..."

"What? What'd I say?"

"If you remember to ask me tomorrow, I'll tell you. Now, come on," BJ patted Hawkeye's leg before rising carefully from the makeshift sofa. "Let's get back home so you can sleep this all off." He sought Hawkeye's hand and began to tug him up.

Hawkeye went with the motion, swaying slightly on his feet. "You're really great, Beej, you know that? Wait, lemme go first. Make sure the coast is clear."

BJ thought he had a point but wasn't certain Hawk in all his drunkenness would end up in the right cot, or even tent, if he shuffled back out alone. "You sure?"

"Yeah, yeah. You blow out the candle. I'll be the suave, dark-haired gentleman..." Hawkeye directed as he dragged his feet towards the door, "Throwing up in the dirt..."

Wincing a little, BJ hung behind as he left, the open door throwing plenty of light into the room. He blew out the candle, listening for voices outside, and after a full minute had passed he set the hanger atop a cabinet and followed Hawkeye out. 










"Once I loved such a shattering physician, quite the best-looking doctor in the state," Hawkeye sang as he worked, getting through the hangover with his trusty friend Cole Porter. "He looked after my physical condition, and his bedside manner was great! When I'd gaze up and see him there above me - nurse, Kelly clamp - looking less like a doctor than a Turk, I was tempted to whisper, Do you love me-"

"Must we work under these uniquely unbearable conditions?" Charles demanded.

"Told you, Major, I'll have that bulb replaced in a jiffy," Klinger promised as he left the OR to find a new one. 

"I do not mean the flicker," Winchester clarified. "I was referring to Pierce's musical..." He chuckled sardonically. "Taste."

"Aw, come on, Winchester. This one's even work-related!" BJ stuck up for Hawk, deciding not to take the choice of serenade personally even if it might be. He knew also, given things he'd learned last night, that some of it might not be, just as Hawk's bitterness may not have really been. But Hawkeye had a little sway going in time with the music, which occasionally bumped his own backside and told him all he needed to know about how good-naturedly the words were being sung. 

"Yeah. Listen well, Chaaahles. Maybe you'll learn something," Hawkeye murmured. "Sponge..." It bloodied quickly and he dropped it to the floor. "He said my bronchial tubes were entrancing, my epiglottis filled him with glee, he simply loved my larynx and went wild about my pharynx, but he never said he loved me. He said my epidermis was darling, and found my blood as blue as can be... That line's for you, Charles - He went through wild ecstatics when I showed him my lymphatics, but he never said he loved me..."

BJ grunted as Hawkeye's hip bumped him a little too hard to ensure steady hands. "Stay still, Hawk, won'tcha?"

Hawkeye stopped moving and straightened up some, inching his feet further under the table. "Good?"

"Mmhm. Play it, Sam!"

Where had he left off? Ah, it didn't matter. Whether it was clever Cole or the mere act of irritating Charles Emerson Winchester The Turd, Hawkeye was amused, and seven hours into a workday with an egregiously abused liver, that was a good thing. "With my esophagus he was ravished, enthusiastic to a degree. He said 'twas just enormous, my appendix vermiformis, but he never said he loved me...

It was another four hours before they ran out of patients and Hawkeye, galvanized by an empty stomach, scrubbed down in a noticeable rush. "Think I'm hungry enough to risk the mess. See you there?"

BJ nodded, turning off the tap and drying his hands. When Klinger passed through, arms full of fresh towels, he jumped at a chance that had been in the back of his mind all day. "Klinger! Just the well-dressed man I wanted to see." 

"Don't tell me your tent's out of light bulbs, too," he sighed.

"No, no. I've got a little favor to ask, and there's yards of fabric from Tokyo for you in it when I can swing it."

"I'm listening..."







The next day, Hawkeye sat at the end of his cot, knees spread wide and eyes on the board as BJ's dart hit far from center. "Ha! Two dollars."

"Shut up - I'll get the next one," BJ said, lining up the shot in his mind's eyes but staying his hand as he saw Klinger's face in the window.

Klinger tugged open the door, grinning. "Good morning, my good captains," he said, holding his camera up and wiggling it for BJ to see as he stepped in. "Are you darling little boys and girls ready for School Picture Day?"

"Huh?" Hawkeye asked, looking from Klinger to BJ and back again. 

BJ set the darts down atop the empty stove. "Well... I realized I've told Peg all about you but she hasn't seen you yet, and hasn't seen me in too long. So. I asked Klinger to swing by with his camera and take some pictures," BJ shrugged, as if it meant less than he knew it would.

Realization washed over Hawkeye, warmth filling his chest almost overwhelmingly as he looked up at BJ in open-mouthed awe, searching his face.

"Ah, ah, ah," BJ wiggled a chastising finger, stopping him before he could speak. "Happy faces only. I want these to come out nice." He stepped over to stand beside Hawkeye, leaning down some and tossing an arm loosely about his shoulders as he looked at Klinger. "You think the light's good enough in here, Teach?"

"Eh, should be," Klinger said as he backed up some, his beaded hem brushing the stove as he lined up his shot. "All right, kiddos. Big smiles!"

There was already one on BJ's face, and Hawkeye hurriedly brushed a flop of hair out of his eyes before he let his own shyly burgeoning one pull at his lips. He couldn't help that his hand rose to clamp over BJ's forearm for the second picture. He was just that grateful, and didn't know how else to show it in Klinger's presence.

"Good, good, lookin' good. Wanna get some standing?" 

"And let Beej's wife know I've got the physique of a sheikh? Sure, sure," Hawkeye teased as BJ's arm slipped away. They moved to stand in front of the still, arms about each other's waists. Klinger moved this way and that, changing his shooting angles, even raising the camera as high as he could to capture more of the space around them. 

"Ooh, Klinger, come on," BJ said. "Think if you show her how we're living, she's gonna worry even more..."

"Everyone's a critic," Klinger muttered, lowering the camera and smiling with a shrug. "Think I got enough?" 

Hawkeye looked at BJ questioningly, and BJ shrugged. "Uh... one more!" he decided, turning his head and turning Hawkeye's away with pursed lips against his cheek. 

Klinger saw Hawkeye's eyes go wide with surprise, an embarrassed, delighted laugh parting his lips, and he captured the moment with two quick clicks. "Cute. Too cute, the pair of ya. How many copies you want, Doc?" he asked. 

BJ dropped the cheesy grin, but didn't draw his arm away yet as he considered it. "Three, I think? One set for Peggy, and one for each of us."

"You got it. Give me a week or so," Klinger said. "Anyway, I gotta get back to the mess. But you're good models!" He turned to leave with a little wave. 

"Wait, Klinger! Can you make five each?" BJ stopped him as he reached the doorway. 

"Ooh. That's a lot of fabric, you know," he warned. "Might have to find me some feathers, too."

"Think I owe you a few favors by now. Get me a spare duffel from surplus and I'll fill it up for you," BJ promised to confirm his final count, and Klinger shot him a thumbs-up before he left.

"You big spender, you," Hawkeye smirked.

"Worth every penny."

"Why five?" Hawkeye questioned. 

"Well, let's see," BJ said, slowly unwinding his arm until just his hand was at Hawk's hip, and inched back a scooch. The canvas was up, after all, and the way Hawk was looking at him... If it left him a little breathless, anyone passing might notice it, too. "You, me, Peg..."

Hawkeye tried for casual mockery. "Math isn't your strong suit, huh?"

"Your dad."

"That's four."

"And... if you feel like it's appropriate... can send a set to your former tent-mate," he said pointedly. 

A new and double-edged smile spread over Hawkeye's face, a low chuckle rising from his chest. He wasn't sure he'd do it but he loved, for sake of spite alone, that he could. "You're nefarious sometimes, you know that?" he asked adoringly.

"Only on days that end in Y," BJ shrugged, feeling Hawk's fingers at his own side, a thumb digging probably subconscious little circles above his hip. Distracting. He liked it. Yeah, they had to break this up and soon. It just felt like each time they did so, it was more a difficult undertaking than the last.

"Hey, Beej?"


Hawkeye was stuck on how to put it. After all, BJ had just ensured they'd have pictures, kissed him (on the cheek, but the sentiment counted) sober and with a witness, and encouraged his worst side. They might as well be married. But even if those things didn't amaze him the way they had, his friend had made an effort to trim a little pain off the top, to cheer him up in a way that made a difference, his heart more touched than his liver had been a couple nights back. Maybe he could believe those promises about the future BJ had given him. He wanted to more than anything. "...Thanks."

BJ smiled back before taking a surreptitious look out the mosquito netting from all angles, then pressing a quick kiss to Hawkeye's forehead before patting his side. "Come on, Hawk," he said, loath to pull away even as he did so, reaching immediately for the two darts he had left. "I owe Klinger a boatload of dressmaking supplies."

"Your point?"

"That I'm gonna win back those two bucks." 

Chapter 16

To: Cpt. BJ Hunnicutt, c/o US Army, MASH 4077, Uijeongbu, South Korea 480-010

Hello, darling!

I've just gotten Erin down for her nap, which she wasn't very interested in having. We had a nice afternoon visiting June Gaskell down the street. Her daughter's nearly five but was so enamored with Erin, and held her as carefully as a porcelain doll. It was sweet. June says she may homeschool little Sally, which could mean one more trusted babysitter if I do decide to take that real estate course. (Darlene is still wonderful but she's been telling me all about a boy called Jack, and may become less reliable if busy with a beau. We'll have to wait and see.)

June also said that her Jack could help if anything's needed with the car or house, which I suppose is a relief but I'm handling things just fine. The bathroom sink had a leak but I got your tools from the garage and tightened the pipe up easy as pie. Which is to say, you don't have to worry, because I know you might and I don't want you to. I'm sure you have plenty to worry about there. 

I'm putting together another little package soon, and will make sure to send some winter things in case it gets very cold there. But not your gray Jack Frost sweater, no matter how fitting the brand name - it's my absolute favorite to wear on the porch at night, and frankly, you'll be very lucky if I don't claim it for myself altogether. If you want it back, you'll just have to take it off me yourself! (Hello, Mr. Censor. What a fun work day you must have.) 

But it looks like it's still warm there from the pictures you sent. I plan to buy frames for the best of them as soon as I can. And I'm not sure how it's possible, but Hawkeye is almost exactly as I imagined him. Rebellious natures and military haircuts don't mix, after all. You're looking a little shaggy yourself there, mister. It's very cute. Does Hawkeye know how lucky he is to have a kiss from you? I could go for several of those. Better than on the cheek, of course.

I should wrap this up so I still have a little time while Erin's sleeping to get things done. June shared a recipe for radish asparagus salad that I think will go nice with some leftover ham, and your nap-protesting princess will have mostly mashed potatoes and bananas. But dishes first, which may be the one piece of housework it's actually easier to do with you away - you can hardly sneak up on me while doing them all the way from Korea, after all. If only you could. Finishing the dishes isn't as fun as not.

But I must, since the only chore Waggles can help with is digging in the garden. I love you and miss you so, and I truly love the pictures. It's one thing to know you're safe and in one piece, but seeing as much is better. Give Hawkeye an extra peck from me, and tell him there will be more cookies on the way soon. 

Yours till butter flies, 


BJ had already begun a letter back, but gotten only two words down - Dear Peg - before picking hers up and reading it again. One of the best so far as missives from home went, and also the most suggestive. A letter like that said they'd be welcoming a second kid into the world nine months after he got home. The time apart was getting to her, too, he figured, and that was as enticing as it was a shame. A shame because he couldn't dwell on it, because Charles rarely left the damn tent on his off hours. 

He was glad and relieved she'd liked the pictures, though. He'd even second-guessed sending the one with the kiss but did so in the end, knowing she'd see it as no more than a moment between close friends. Was that awful of him? It had been a long half-week of wounded that had only slowed to a stop that morning. He was still in recovery mode, finally at something like rest after a post-rounds nap, and to analyze things was expecting too much from his own brain yet. She always sprayed the pages with her perfume before putting her pen to them, and that was really all he cared about for now. 

"How many times are you gonna read that thing?" 

BJ glanced over as Hawkeye entered the Swamp. He'd been gone, what, just under an hour? And the question had such a griping tone... "As many as I want. How many times are you gonna strike out with the same nurse?" 

I don't need to take that from you, Hawkeye said with a glare, and the fact that Charles chuckled told BJ that maybe the comment had gone too far.

"She's a prude," Hawkeye muttered as he made for the still.

BJ rolled his eyes. Maybe she was or maybe it was social conditioning, that women were told from day one that sex was something to be ashamed of, or maybe it was that Hawkeye generally lacked patience and finesse when it came to his approach. If BJ could have changed one thing about Hawkeye, it might have been his attitude on that front, which made for occasional embarrassment to be so closely associated with him. It wasn't a particularly nice road of thought to mentally drive down, but they were all a little tired, a little edgy, a little off. That was likely why he wasn't sure what he wanted to write back to Peg, much as it might have been a 100-CC shot of normalcy into his system to do so. 

He was scanning his favorite sentences again when he could feel Hawkeye's gaze on him. BJ looked up from the paper in his hands. Hawkeye stood with a glass in one hand, the other resting on the edge of the still's table, expression unreadable. 


"You want a drink or not?" Hawkeye asked blithely.

"Nah," BJ said, casting a small smile up at him from the pillow. "Thanks anyway, bartender." 

Hawkeye hummed with a nod, sipped, but didn't move away yet.

At first, BJ didn't get it. He couldn't figure out why Hawk, in his date outfit of Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts, was lingering there. Not trying to pester or read the letter or anything, just looking at him. BJ assumed it was boredom; a pause before he worked out what to do with the rest of his night, before he'd draw BJ into a game of chess or cards or harassing Charles, or whatever else he could think up that would be at least marginally entertaining in the aftermath of a hell week. 

But that wasn't quite it, was it?

He watched as Hawkeye's eyes wandered with purpose down his body and back up, and was able to place the look as one of alarmingly open hunger.

BJ's brow scrunched as he looked from Hawk, pointedly towards Charles' occupied cot and back again, silently asking, Are you nuts? Hawkeye was barking up the wrong tree. Possibly ambling along a trail in the right forest, he'd give him that much, but definitely at the wrong time for a bedtime story - which in itself seemed to BJ a mighty long stretch of gutsy assumption for Hawk to be making.

Hawkeye only shrugged and sipped again, finally tearing his eyes away from BJ's frame and calling over the music, "Charles, you want a drink?"

"The day I accept that swill, gentlemen," Charles said from behind the novel he was reading, "Would you be so kind as to examine me for a head wound?" 

Ignoring him, Hawkeye walked with a slight stomp back to his cot. He didn't care if Charles wanted a drink or not, would have told him to make one himself, but he didn't like the look BJ had given him. Had he made him uncomfortable? Not the best feeling, no matter how delicious Beej looked in just tee, shorts and robe, and he wanted distraction from the possibility. Fine, maybe he wouldn't be getting off with a nurse or anyone else that night, but he at least wanted friendship, attention; he also didn't know what he wanted, really. Celebration of getting through another long stretch of work, or mourning that so many hours of work were necessary at all? Domestic and peaceful quiet, or more raucous companionship? The O Club or sleep or blackjack or Rosie's? He didn't know, and he tended to get irritable when he didn't know, and make his not knowing as much a problem for other people as himself. 

BJ, well aware of this and thinking it best to ignore it even if he couldn't get that loaded look out of his head, set aside Peg's letter and tried for meaningful progress on his own. Predictably, the quiet that might have led to productivity on that front didn't last long.

"Beej, once Charles is asleep, wanna help me fill his boots with chipped beef?"

"Not especially..."

"How about wasabi in his toothpaste?"

"Nice one, but I don't think the kitchen has any." 

"Then let's cut open all his tea and spike it with chicken bouillon." 

"Pierce, I will not be goaded in this infantile manner," Charles declared.

"But I bet you won't trust your tea for a couple weeks," Hawkeye smiled smugly.

BJ set aside his pen and pad and sat up fully, sighing as he reached for his boots. Writing, he could tell, was going to be impossible.

Hawkeye looked over in immediate interest. "Where you off to?"

Taking you for a walk, since you're acting like an attention-starved puppy, he thought but wasn't so mean as to actually say. "Let's go for a walk," BJ revised his initial thought as he laced up his boots halfway. "Get some fresh air. Take a break from the atomic Brahms falling around our ears." 

"We are listening to Schumann," Charles corrected. "Though I will allow your ignorance to pass without insult so long as you're getting him out of here." 

"Don't be too happy with me yet, Charles! I absolutely would put beef in your boots, just not when you're expecting it," he grinned as he stood. "Come on, Hawk." 

"Yeah. Better watch out," Hawkeye warned Winchester, standing and setting his drink atop the stove before heading for the door. "We'll have come up with something better by the time we're Bach." 

"Well, let's not put him through more than he can Handel," BJ added, pleased to earn a little cackle from Hawkeye as he followed him out. 

"Where to?" Hawkeye asked once they were both outside. 

"Not a clue," BJ admitted as they began an aimless stroll. "Between the music and Charles and your antics... I don't know. Can't focus on letters, I guess." 

"I thought you loved my antics," Hawkeye pouted, half-meaning it. "You saying my pranks are less than first-rate?"

Actually, the ones Hawk had rattled off weren't as clever as he was capable of, but there was no point in saying so. "Giving him a heads-up will only make him suspicious," BJ observed mildly. 

"I know. He probably won't even sleep tonight. Isn't it fun?"

Sure, unless you'd like a little time being the only one awake to think about interrupting your wife doing dishes, BJ thought. All right, so maybe he was just as restless as Hawk. The walk would probably help even if all they did was circle the camp 20 times and discuss nothing of importance. But that look Hawk had given him... He couldn't shake it somehow, no matter how much he'd have liked to. BJ's head seemed everywhere at once, and nowhere technically useful even for making conversation.

Still, when Radar appeared seemingly from nowhere, he tried. "Evening, Radar. How goes it?"

"Oh. Hey, guys. Not much," Radar said, pushing his glasses higher up on his nose and pausing before them. "Had to fix up the VIP tent for Major Freedman tomorrow." 

"Sidney's coming?" Hawkeye lit up, suddenly animated, clapping a hand on the corporal's arm. "Hey, that's great news, Radar! We'll set up a poker game." 

"He said he was over at the 8063rd so it's easy to come visit. But only for a night, I think," Radar reported around a yawn. 

"Do you know what time he's getting in?"

BJ heard their chat continue but his mind was drifting elsewhere. Was it a terrible idea he was having, or only a very bad one? It didn't sit wholly right, given his own dual torments he shouldn't let blend in his consciousness, and he wasn't up for the mental gymnastics it might take to make it sit right, but still... It could work to ensure one of his roommates slept peacefully...

Hawkeye bade Radar goodnight, which brought BJ back to the present. "Tell your teddy bear we wish him sweet dreams," BJ called as Radar walked off, and they took up their stroll once more. 

"No, that's really great. I love when Sidney drops by," Hawkeye mused almost to himself, hands in his pockets as the toes of his boots kicked up dust with every step.

"Hey, Hawk?"

Hawkeye paused and turned, not having realized BJ had stopped.

BJ stood outside the VIP tent, holding its door open a crack in invitation. He could hear footsteps somewhere distant, presumably Klinger on guard, but the only person he could see was Radar as he made his way back to the office, and he tilted his head toward the tent's interior.

Hawkeye met his eyes for all of a second before darting inside, and BJ ducked to slip in after him.

Ordinarily Hawkeye might find the VIP tent all too small and all too dark for his nerves' liking. But they had to be in here for a reason and the sheer curiosity, not to mention surprised spark of hope, was ample distraction from his issues. He turned as soon as the door closed behind BJ, nearly bumping into him. "Well, hello, sailor," he purred. "Come here often?"

"You know I don't," BJ reproached him lightly. "And I wouldn't, except..."

"Except what? Come up with a prank for Sidney? 'Cause I'm not sure trying to mess with a headshrinker's all that good of-"

"Except," BJ repeated, cutting him off and patiently drawing Hawkeye's hand away from where he felt fingers fiddling with his tag chain. This wasn't about him, this wasn't selfish, or so BJ tried to tell himself as he inhaled deeply. He struggled to keep his tone light as his eyes worked to adjust to the dark he didn't intend to remedy. "Except that... it's my turn to play storyteller, isn't it?"

"Mm," Hawkeye hummed another purr. "Is it a bedtime story?"

BJ rolled his eyes. Was that not ridiculously obvious? His tongue seemed to stick on saying so, too, his face flushing with warmth. "Might be, but don't... This door opens behind me, you on the cot's gonna be hard to explain." If they lingered here, with BJ's back to the door and Hawkeye close by, it might look like they were plotting a prank for Sidney, after all.

"Well, lock it," Hawkeye pointed out, and reached past BJ to do just that. "You really don't come here often..."

That seemed stupidly clear now, but it was hardly as if BJ had had much time to think the finer points of this through. He supposed now if anyone knocked, they could be informed through the door that there was a prank in progress, and a little time to collect themselves would be bought. Rather - Hawkeye could collect himself. BJ didn't plan to indulge. This wasn't for his sake, not with Peg so close to mind. It wouldn't be right. And ever since learning more about McIntyre, BJ had been a tad more careful about whether things that might be wrong as hell in the broader sense, were right as regarded Hawk. 

Regardless, distance wasn't right, either. "Okay, but remember... this isn't a hotel in Seoul," BJ reminded, catching Hawkeye gently by the hips and turning him to face the other way. "Have to keep our voices down so nobody's got a reason to try the door." 

Hawkeye shivered. BJ's voice had been awfully near to his ear, and he could feel his soon-to-be-storytelling's friend's right hip against the back of his own left side. He couldn't tell yet exactly what BJ was playing at, and playing at at far less distance than cots some feet apart, but he certainly wasn't complaining. "Not my first rodeo, Beej..."

"I- did you borrow my aftershave?"

"Maybe," Hawkeye admitted in a murmur. "What's the story?"

It wasn't the borrowing that threw him off, but the familiar smell. There was something about that, some primal, evolutionary holdover relating to territoriality that said if something had your scent, it was yours. 

BJ didn't consciously realize it effected him any, though. He was too busy suddenly realizing, as he let his hands fall from Hawk's hips, one dropping to rest on a chair's back, that he was nervous. It was why he'd forgotten the lock altogether, and why he hesitated to speak. The proximity wasn't the cause of his nerves, but the fact that Hawk was probably naturally more inclined to dirty storytelling. He read more filth and was likely better at stringing together a narrative than BJ could be. It struck him again that this had been a snap decision made on the fly, and despite being eager enough to please, he might be a little out of his depth. 

But he'd never forget any of the story Hawk had told, and maybe if he started where it had left off, he could pull this off with confidence intact. 

"Well..." he began slowly, quietly. "I was thinking that room in Tokyo. Showed me a great time, but it'd be selfish of me not to return the favor, wouldn't it?"

Hawkeye smiled like a cat who'd gotten a whole carafe of cream to itself, his hand already absently, shamelessly brushing over the growing bulge in his shorts. It would be smart to be quick about all this, no matter how much he'd have liked to spend hours with BJ's soft but still crisp voice so close. 

"Now, maybe not the same favor," BJ admitted, the inexperience on that front blocking his brain from letting even a story - just a story - go that far. "But... well, something like this. Only... instead of your hand unzipping your fly and wrapping around you, it'd be mine."

It was clear enough a cue for Hawkeye, already partially dazed, to see the story through with action. A shaky sigh left his lips as he gave himself a slow stroke, the back of his head resting on BJ's shoulder.

"Just like that, nice and slow," BJ said approvingly. He was grateful for the dark for many reasons, but he could feel every move of Hawk's arm if not see it, standing so close. That was both a blessing and a curse, and he kept his body tilted just so that only his hip made contact, even if he could already tell that was going to prove a serious test of self-control. "You know, to tease you a little first," he added with a smile, managing to sound more cool-headed than he felt. "And... kiss your neck..." He tilted his head, letting his breath sweep Hawkeye's skin, tempted but not daring - just a story, damn it. "Maybe even mark you up more than the flower girls did..."

"Oh, Beej..."

"Shh," BJ reminded and soothed him simultaneously, but the sheer lust in those two words made him want to hear more, no matter how quiet they had to be and no matter how it might turn a bad idea into a terrible one despite his best intentions. "I'll be nice, all right? Won't tease. You were so good to me, so I guess If I'm gonna bite, the least I can do is go a little faster."

Hawkeye wasn't sure exactly why, when he could do as he pleased, he was following BJ's suggestions to the letter. Made it more realistic, maybe. Would make it last longer, which was a nice thought even if the reality was that a pretty nurse had let him get only so far and left him high and dry. And there was something about the self-assured quality of BJ's tone that, much as he savored that the breath that caressed his neck had sounded unsteady, triggered in himself an obedient streak very few people were aware he had. At the moment he didn't mind BJ knowing, and his left hand sped up its strokes as the right slipped into the partially open front of his own shirt. 

BJ felt knuckles hit his upper chest before they moved away, and realized Hawk must be doing something self-enticing with his nipple. Stroking, tugging, pinching? Damn the dark. "Oh, is that where my other hand would be?" he asked as coolly as he could, a touch of amusement in it, even as all of Hawk's hunger and heat was getting to him.

"Well... you didn't say... wh-where would it be?" Hawkeye panted, letting loose a quiet moan as he tightened his encircling fingers and gave his nipple a twist at the same time.

In reality, BJ's right hand was gripping the chair-back hard enough almost to break it, the left in his robe pocket and forced away from sating his own needs. But in the story... "Maybe... making little circles at your lower back... base of your spine, just to make you shiver..." 

Hawkeye shivered plenty from the way BJ's voice had dipped to a lower register, and it was a struggle to keep his own breathing quiet enough to hear and relish every hint of a tremble in the other's. 

BJ hummed as if in consideration, drawing this all out for Hawk's benefit, proud of himself for being slightly better at storytelling than he'd given himself credit for. "Maybe lower..."

Hawkeye's eyes had closed as his hand pumped faster, a little whine rising in his throat as he let BJ behind him support more of his weight.

BJ knew it had been along the right lines to say. Still, to tease further and to torment himself with how beautifully broken he knew any answer from Hawkeye might sound, he had to ask, "Oh, so you would like that, wouldn't you?"

"Yeah, yeah, Beej, please..." 

It was too easy, in a place where he felt so powerless in general, to be drunk with power on Hawkeye's response. So BJ nearly asked Please, what? but stopped himself, remembering Seoul and how loud Hawk could get when he wasn't thinking. If he sounded so thoroughly lost, so appreciative of BJ's storytelling despite lack of flair, he definitely wasn't thinking now. "Guess it depends if you brought lubricant," BJ said just above a whisper, lips nearly brushing Hawkeye's lobe, dark hair tickling the side of his face. "Then I could remind you... that all inexperience aside, Hawk... still a doctor," he said almost cheerily despite his own arousal doing a real number on his composure. "Well aware of what the prostate is and where to find it." 

More of Hawkeye's weight relied on BJ to hold up as he rose onto his toes, hips pushing forward into his hand which would have been a blur if there was any light to see it by. He'd thought about BJ's big hands in many contexts but to hear a fantasy's use of them from Beej himself was dizzying and had him unmistakably close with helplessly repetitive, clipped, tiny moans stuck in his throat and saying as much. 

BJ's jaw tightened in minor aggravation. Hawk had to be quieter than that, or they risked ending up in trouble the likes of which neither could live with. But he could sense the end was near so soon already, and kept on the same track. "What I don't know... What I'd love in that little room in Tokyo to learn... is what kind of gorgeous noises would come out of you when I find yours."

Hawkeye cried out and BJ panicked, his hand leaving the chair rung and clamping over Hawk's mouth. He felt teeth move against his fingers and could tell from the way Hawk's whole body tensed that he was coming, and he'd have wondered if Hawk was always this easy or if it was the strength of their attraction, but wondering was hypocritical - he felt perilously close himself without so much as a touch. And stupidly, so stupidly and so achingly hard, he tilted his hips for a single moment of pressure against Hawkeye's backside, so good that it made his head swim and drew a groan, indiscreet but almost pained, from himself. Just a few good grinds like that in so heated a moment, he knew would do the trick -

But he allowed himself only that one before he shifted back again, put his focus to keeping Hawk standing as he wrung the last of the pleasure from himself, his hand slowly falling from Hawkeye's mouth to his shoulder, steadying them both. A few seconds later they were both panting in the darkness, one with satisfaction and one only desperate for the same.

Hawkeye wiped his hand on his stomach beneath his shirt, utilizing the fabric nobody would notice, licking his dry lips and trying to put his brain back to rights as quickly as he could. His eyelids felt heavy, his nerves abuzz in the best way, but it seemed to dawn on him only then to care that this had been a one-sided session. "That, uh... seems like a big problem you've got there, Beej. Sure you... you don't wanna see a doctor about it?"

"I'm... gonna see a shower stall about it," he insisted softly and not without a little regret. And he was going to think about his wife, not his friend, and having her over the dining table while the baby slept, not Hawk in a room in Tokyo. Or so he told himself. "Make sure the room's as good as Radar left it?"

"Yeah, sure," Hawkeye nodded as he made himself presentable again, a mite confused but still too orgasm-wrecked to think much on it.

BJ lifted the canvas shade to peek out the window, relieved to see no one walking by, and unlocked the door. A crack of dim light entered the tent as BJ left and was gone again as the door closed behind him. Hawkeye, still trying to even his breathing back out, flipped the overhead light's switch.

It was very reckless, and not classy or gentlemanly at all, but BJ briefly considered dipping behind a tent at the camp's edge and having a swift chase of his own pleasure there, considering how quiet the night was and how unlikely anyone would notice. But he talked himself out of it, knowing the short walk would help him calm down a little, and that the shower was at least some kind of plausible excuse and coverage, and would wash all evidence easily away. It was a painful short walk, though, and he might not even have time to picture Peggy or Hawk once he was in the shower's safe confines, he was that on edge. 

He pulled the shower tent door open, ducking as he stepped inside and staying low, eager to rip off his boots and the rest of his clothes. 

But staying low didn't matter, the sight of Father Mulcahy in a stall startling him so badly that he jumped, the back of his head hitting the frame of the door. "Goddamn it..."

Father Mulcahy, scrubbing his neck, looked over at him in surprise. "Oh! BJ. Are you all right?"

"Yeah," BJ ground out, the shock of both the pain and his plan's ruination almost too much to keep a friendly face for. "S-sorry, Padre..." he muttered, face scrunched tight in annoyance, rubbing at what was definitely going to be a bump on his head the next day.

"Well... just this once, since you're hurt," the chaplain frowned even as he allowed the taking of God's name in vain. "I'll be out in a few minutes, if you'd like the tent to yourself."

BJ would have, a half-minute ago. And he wasn't even religious, but the sight of a priest after what had just happened with Hawk might spook any hot-blooded man back to near flaccidity. "No, no..." he sighed, wracking his brain for anything plausible as he pressed hard over the pain. "I was... just looking for Hawk. You seen him?" 

"I'm afraid not," Father Mulcahy said. "Are you sure you're not hurt?"

"Yeah. I'll be okay. Thanks," BJ nodded, and stepped back outside. 

He stood there a long moment, asking himself for the first time why he bothered torturing himself with fidelity, since the universe was so good at torturing him in general. First the draft, and the pressures and sorrows of the work environment, and then the mounting temptation that was Hawkeye, and now this. Couldn't a guy catch a break? A small one? 

At least there was no blood on the hand that he'd pressed over the rising bump, but that was a smaller break than any he might have in mind. In truth, he hardly knew what he expected from the universe anymore, or what the universe expected of him. 

All he knew was that if Hawk and Charles didn't fall asleep fast tonight, why, he'd be sorely tempted to bludgeon them both to death with a golf club.








"It was a very strange case," Sidney told them over the poker table the next night as he arranged his cards and debated their worth. "Right hand was fine, but his left, he'd be breaking things, grabbing people, smacking them. Stabbing sometimes, if he was holding something. Said he couldn't control it."

"Oh, that happens to me all the time," Hawkeye said casually, throwing a couple of his chips into the pot. "I don't remember pouring the gin, but like magic, there it is in my hand." 

BJ rolled his eyes, considered his pair of queens one last time, and tossed in two chips of his own. "Did you figure out what was wrong with him?" 

"Mhm. It's called Alien Hand Syndrome," Sidney nodded, continuing the story in his usual placid manner. "Usually from neurological damage. This kid, it was a mix of a head injury and feeling out of control with everything he had to do for the military. They made him do so much that he didn't want to, that he ended up with the same kind of thing with his left hand." 

"That must have been awfully troubling," Father Mulcahy said, shaking his head as he laid his cards down in a fold. 

"Well, what happened to the kid?" Klinger asked, puffing his cigar and throwing in his own bet. "You sort him out okay?"

"Yeah, he was all right," Sidney said wryly, and after a beat Hawkeye laughed so hard he tilted, forehead landing on BJ's shoulder.

BJ laughed, too, but shook him gently off. "Come on, Hawk. Keep it together, at least while you're dealer."

"Ah, Sidney - I really miss you when you're not around, you know that?" Hawkeye asked with true warmth as he sat back up.

"Should see about getting stationed here full-time," BJ suggested. "We could use whatever surplus sanity you've got." 

Sidney sighed, lightly waving a plume of cigar smoke out of his face. "Nature of the beast, going where I'm told. Always enjoy dropping in, though. I'm folding, too, by the way." 

Hawkeye nodded. "Gentlemen," he glanced at BJ then nodded at Klinger, "Ladies," and puffed out his chest to bark his best drill impersonation. "Preseeeent cards!"

Sidney covered his ear but was mostly amused. He'd seen Hawkeye Pierce through more than one bad day, so the good ones were nice even if they were louder than necessary. "Someone's in a feisty mood," he commented.

"Well, I had a very hot date last night," Hawkeye said, eyes scanning the table for the best hand, and Klinger let out a whoop as he realized it was his.

BJ got up to fix himself another drink before Sidney, trained to be incredibly observant about the most trifling details, could notice his blush. 








For the next couple weeks that followed, things felt pretty much normal. Charles had a couple days in Seoul, but they didn't take any special advantage of his absence. He and Hawk said what they meant most of the time. The times they meant more than they could say, when their eyes met too fondly for too long, or the times flirtation reared its bewitching, bothering, bewildering head, it was harder to resist acting on it. But they both did, for each other's benefit in the long run as much as their own.

When Hawkeye left for a week for the 8063rd, BJ missed him more than he expected to, and not only because his temporary replacement was a goofball to an intolerable extreme. And it'd have to be intolerable to have teamed up with Winchester of all people. But to do so was almost a mad grab for familiarity because he had no frame of reference for existing happily in Korea without Hawk. The day after Hawk's return, BJ more than once had to talk himself out of dragging him to Supply and kissing him senseless. But it'd have been giving up, giving in, and giving himself grief in the end. So he didn't.

But he wanted to.

Maybe first thing in the morning after they'd both brushed their teeth, and Hawkeye's lower lip would be plump and pretty from the brush's friction, and they would taste of matching mint, and Charles had already left for the mess...

Or when they were in the lab together, scouring the shelves for a medicine Margaret had asked about and they were dead certain there was more of somewhere, and they had a minute alone...

Or later in the Swamp, after rounds, when BJ poured them drinks and Hawkeye, eager in his eternal boredom for alcohol to numb it, hovered too close with his empty glass. 

BJ wanted to as he thought, God, I'm glad you're back, and wanted to even though the tent canvas was up, and laughter from a joke faded between them, and Hawkeye seemed to sense that he wanted to because he was looking at him a little oddly, a little curiously, and was just about to question the silent stillness when-

"Attention, all personnel! Incoming wounded! All surgical staff, report to the OR."

They were both crushed, and they both knew it. 

They were both relieved not to complicate things, and they both knew that, too.

They set down the untouched gin in unison, and left the tension in the tent behind.










Battles were raging somewhere in Korea and for the better part of three days, the surgeons of the 4077th slept in half-hour bursts on whatever pre- or post-op bed happened to be empty. They survived on little more than orange juice sipped from straws poked under their masks by their handily helpful chaplain, and bites of sandwiches nurses held to their faces before making them disappear all too soon.

They saved soldiers but some of those soldiers lost limbs, and wouldn't be happy about it when they woke up.

The Army won battles but lost soldiers, young men whose families wouldn't be happy about much of anything ever again.

It was disheartening as hell, as always, and after the last of the bunch had been stitched up, the staff had a respite of just under ten hours before it all started over again.

Even if Hawkeye hadn't already exhausted all his favorite songs, he'd have been too demoralized to sing.

BJ's quiet faith that the universe held any meaning for anyone at all was fast fading.

Colonel Sherman Potter was getting too old for this, he was sure of it now.

And it turned out Winchesters did sweat sometimes. Sometimes, no matter how skillful or proud of said skills, they even came very, very close to falling asleep with their hand in someone's open, pulsating guts.

Soldier and surgeon alike, every human being had their limits, and this never-ending atrocity disguised as a military action seemed bent on testing those of everyone involved.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. 

When Radar came to tell his two favorite captains about it, he found them on the same pre-op bed still wearing blood-spattered white, partially upright and back to back, heads fallen lax against each other's shoulders. They looked asleep, but he tried regardless. "Hey, Hawkeye? Captain Hunnicutt?" He deemed BJ's arm less dangerous to tap.


"The colonel just got the call that everything should quiet down for a while. He says if he doesn't hear anything all tomorrow, you guys can go to Tokyo the day after."

"Tokyo?" BJ mumbled, half-asleep and barely cognizant of the syllables' meaning as he repeated them.

"Who gives a shit," Hawkeye muttered, too tired to care.

"Be nice to Radar, Hawk," BJ muttered back.

"Guys, seriously, come on. Can you go sleep in your tent? The nurses have to sanitize stuff."

"Can't move," BJ said. 

"Leave us alone, Radar," Hawkeye grumbled.

Radar huffed, arms folded, but knew a losing battle when he saw one. He'd give them twenty more minutes before trying again, or better yet, asking Major Houlihan to bully them into it. But, Radar figured once his huffiness died down, if any two guys deserved whatever peace they could find in the middle of a war, it was the two of them. 

Chapter 17

Chapter Notes

(((((I mentioned in comments that Chapter 17 would be more exciting, but muses piped up with a transition chapter instead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ))))




The plane was a small one, seating about twenty, though only half the seats were filled. One enlisted man had a bandaged arm and a badly burned face, likely on the way to Tokyo General, but the rest were revelers bound for R&R like themselves. 

Hawkeye's mind, from the moment he sat down, had trouble focusing on revelry. 

He stared out the window, his knee bouncing, a thumbnail occasionally finding its way between his teeth. 

"Hawk?" BJ asked, his forehead creased with concern. "You all right? You look a little green."

"I... probably shoulda mentioned."

"Mentioned what?"

"I, uh... even back home, I, I don't fly very well," he admitted, looking away from BJ as he fought thoughts that the plane was too small, that they were in a cramped little box that would soon be a cramped little box in the air, and that that wasn't good or okay by any means. 

BJ didn't judge him for it. It was a common phobia and perfectly understandable given the war, but he would have liked to know whether Hawk was seconds away from a full-on freakout, because he looked a bit like he might be. "Seriously?"

Don't think of Henry, don't think of Henry, don't, don't. Not here, not now. "Yeah," Hawkeye nodded, his eyes flitting wildly, wondering if it was too late to decide to let Beej go to Tokyo by himself, to run out onto the tarmac for fresh air and solid ground and to be okay again. 

"Well, is there anything I can do? If you brought a... book or something, I could read it to you?" BJ offered, hoping to distract before this got worse. 

Hawkeye shook his head, the movement short and jerky. "I'll pass out soon. I hope. Popped some diphenhydramine about a half hour ago."

"Okay... what's 'some'?" 

"A couple," Hawkeye muttered, and had presence of mind enough to realize that still sounded evasive. "Two."

BJ hoped not only that it would help but that he'd brought some for the return trip, too. He probably had, if he knew this was coming. "No drinking tonight, then," he said gently.

"Fine, yeah..."

Frowning, BJ reached for Hawk's wrist, not surprised to find his pulse was going nuts. The plane had only started taxiing, so that wasn't a good sign at all. "Hawk," BJ dipped his head, trying to catch his eyes. "Look at me?" When Hawkeye turned, BJ thought he looked like a frightened rabbit. He'd seen him sad, sure, but scared like this? He'd handled shelling better than this. 

BJ's hand moved from the pulse point to over Hawkeye's bouncing knee, giving it a light squeeze, and was encouraged to feel it bounce less. "We're gonna be fine. You're gonna be fine."

Hawkeye didn't believe him but nodded anyway, the mere sight of BJ's beautiful blue eyes working to ground him just enough to pay attention.

"Your adrenaline's way up and there's... nowhere good to put that right now. So sit tight with me. Your body'll tire out with it," BJ explained as if he wasn't speaking to a fellow medical professional, but the scared, shifty-eyed critter Hawk had become. "And then you'll fall asleep, and use my shoulder as a pillow, and I won't move an inch. Won't even mind if you drool on me," he smiled. 

Hawkeye focused on BJ's smile, his eyes, the steadiness of his voice. He wasn't sure it was doing real good for how tight his chest and throat felt, but BJ was right about the adrenaline and the coming crash he needed badly, and the medical spin on things was familiar, reminded him of the biological reasons he felt the way he did. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," BJ nodded, not breaking their locked gaze. "It's a short flight, the Sominex'll kick in... and before you know it... I'll be nudging you awake in Tokyo, on the ground and perfectly safe." BJ wished he could run a hand through his hair, or stroke his face, or any kind of touch more soothing than just the hand on his knee to calm him down. But there were too many people around for it. He wanted to say, Father Mulcahy's a boxer, and he'd punch God himself out if anything happened to us. He wanted to say, There's no way in hell we're dying before I kiss you at least once. But he didn't, searching Hawk's face for signs of further distress.

"M'claustrophic, Beej. The plane, it's too small..."

Hawkeye's voice was so small it nearly broke BJ's heart. "I've got you, Hawk. Just... lean back, close your eyes... and while the plane takes off, I'll tell you all about the biggest, most open places I know back home. Okay?"

But Hawkeye didn't want to close his eyes, if it meant losing sight of BJ's. 

"And you just listen and picture them before you fall asleep. Okay? You with me?"

Hawkeye inhaled shakily. "Yeah," he nodded, blinking a few times before he made his eyes slide shut, swallowed hard, and leaned back uneasily in his seat. 

BJ hadn't expected any of this today, but he was doing the best he could. He leaned back slowly, keeping his fingers curled over Hawk's knee, looking quickly around to be sure no one noticed, and was pleased no one appeared to. But he'd have kept it there even if they had. 

He started with the ocean, not caring how obvious a beginning that was - it couldn't be beat for vastness and the sense of standing on the edge of the world itself, though maybe it had been the tumult in Hawk's pretty eyes that put his mind to the water and waves before anywhere else. Then he talked about a family road trip he'd been on as a kid, the San Bernardino Mountains and their valleys breathtaking against so much clear blue sky, and it kept Hawk just sane enough as the plane took off. He wasn't sure how Hawk felt about bridges so left out the Golden Gate and how surreal-ly boundless it felt to drive across it, but filled him in about how the stars looked when you watched them from a peak nearby. 

It hurt to think about it all in such detail when he missed home so much but he did it for Hawkeye, who soon enough had stopped trembling, and who soon after that was drifting off against his shoulder. He only stopped talking once he was truly sure Hawk was asleep, and then he watched the skies out the window, marveling with a traveler's awe that even in wartime, the world could be that beautiful. 

Maybe it hadn't always been for Hawk. Maybe the world at large had wounded the magnificent man at his side too much, and he hated every sign of that. But for now, Hawkeye slept, and BJ stuck to his vow not to leave him for an instant, and reminded himself again that no matter what happened, or could happen, it wasn't worth it if it did his best friend any further damage. 

It was a thought that encompassed big things, but little things were important, too. So rather than take out his paper and write Peg, which might have jostled Hawk to unhappily waking, he looked out the window over a mop of black hair, and thought of home rather than reached out to it. 









"Hi, there," BJ smiled at the young Japanese woman at the front desk, taking the paper from his pocket and unfolding it, giving it a glance before handing it over. "Hunnicutt and Pierce. Our CO called ahead."

She took the paper with a smile, comparing it with the registration book open on the counter. "I see. Two room," she said, and frowned a little before plastering a smile back on her face. "We are this week very busy... Can give you one room, two bed?"

It was hardly the worst mix-up he'd suffered since leaving the States, though BJ's first thought was that it might put the kibosh on some of Hawk's more amorous friend-making. "Hey, Hawk? Okay if we double up?"

"Bed..." Hawkeye murmured, his loose hold on the duffel threatening to fail altogether. 

"Yeah, that sounds fine," he told the clerk, smiling still even though Hawk's weight against him was threatening to topple them both. A doped-up Hawkeye had been hard enough to shove into the back of a rickshaw; BJ hoped he wouldn't have to put him in a fireman's carry to get him to the room.

BJ waited while she wrote information down and turned to the rack of keys behind the counter, selected two along with a folder, full probably of maps and menus, and handed him the whole pile. Great. More shit to carry.

"Room three-zero-nine," the clerk told him. "Take elevator and make turn right, okay?"

An elevator helped. "Thank you very much."

"You most welcome. Enjoy your stay, sirs." 

"Swap you?" BJ asked as they turned away from the counter. 


"You take these," he handed the keys and papers to Hawkeye, then leaned down to take the duffel that would end up being dragged otherwise. "I'll get your bag."

"Beej, I want a bed, not a bag..." 

"Yes, I know, just... Look, the elevator's right there."

"Where's an alligator?"

Jesus Christ. "Boy, I can't wait till you've slept this off," he muttered, the suitcases and duffels barely workable, but his eyes lit up when he saw an employee with an empty luggage rack. "Oh! Uh, sir? Could we have your help for just a minute?"

The employee nodded, stepping over with the cart. 

"Oh, a stretcher. Goody," Hawkeye said, shuffling to the cart and immediately making to sit. 

"Ah, ah, Hawk, no!" BJ caught him around the middle before he could land, holding him with one arm while shifting the duffels and travel bags to the cart with the other. He gave the little old man an apologetic smile. "Room 309, please? We'll be there in just a moment."

But the elevator that opened next had room for themselves, the cart and the hotel employee so they shared it, and BJ told himself he didn't mind, he supposed, how much Hawkeye leaned on him - he leaned on Hawk just as heavily, albeit in less literal ways. 

When they got to room 309, he took the bags off the cart and gave the man a tip as Hawkeye leaned against the wall. "You got the key?" BJ asked.

"I... thought I did?"

BJ sighed but spotted the folder and shiny keys ten feet behind them, and went to retrieve them where they'd slipped to the carpeting from Hawkeye's fingers. Better than them having been left downstairs, at least. 

"You're so lucky you're cute, you know that?" BJ asked as he turned the key in the door.

"I'm cute?"

Smiling, BJ shrugged. "Course." 

"Okay, but why'm I lucky?" Hawkeye asked, dropping an arm to try to pick up a suitcase, but once he felt its weight decided against being useful. 

"Because you're also ridiculous," BJ said pleasantly, crouching to get the bags over his shoulders and handles into his hands in one go. 

Hawkeye peeled himself off the wall and followed BJ inside, immediately honing in on the nearest bed and flopping onto his stomach, boots hanging off the end. He watched as BJ separated their bags, setting his own on the other bed and Hawkeye's on the floor in the few feet between them. "M'lucky 'cause I have you," he mumbled.

"That's very sweet, Hawk," he said, smiling some as he unzipped his suitcase, looking for his toothbrush, always liking to refresh a little after traveling. "I saw a PX not far back. Will you be okay here if I go pick some things up?"


BJ dug blindly for the toothpaste as he took quick stock of the main room. It was pretty small, really. The windows were big, that was nice, but did the room really need four chairs around the central table and a couch? Oh, well. They'd be out a lot, so the fact it had less pacing space than the Swamp might not drive them up the walls too much. His fingers closed around the toothpaste and he made for the bathroom. 

"Hey, Beej?"

"Yes, dear?"

"You know when you walk around sometimes, you move like a big, giant cat?"

BJ snorted, not sure how to take that but decided it was a compliment. "Thanks, I think?" he asked, turning on the sink. 

"I like it!" he heard Hawkeye call, and smiled as he rinsed his brush. "But why didn't I get to see the alligator?"

BJ spread toothpaste on, shaking his head as he chuckled. "Go to sleep, Hawk." 

"Mm. Sleep. 'Kay. Wake me if there's wounded."

"No wounded. We're in Tokyo, remember?" he called back before his mouth was full of toothbrush.

"Tokyo. Right" Hawkeye paused. "...Is there a bathtub?"

BJ paused his brushing, calling as clearly back as he could around a mouth full of foam, "Yes, and I beat you to being aware of it, which means dibs." Among other things.

Hawkeye hmphed and nodded a little, the blanket scratchy against his chin with the movement. In his last few seconds of consciousness, he mumbled to himself, too quietly for BJ to hear over the brushing, "Thassokay. I'll think of somethin' else..."

Chapter 18

They definitely wouldn't be spending much time in the tiny room, BJ knew. If Seoul was Calcutta, Tokyo was Vegas. San Francisco. Civilization. He'd been able to tell from the rickshaw ride, but walking through it all was a different and more powerful wonder. There was life, there was prosperity, there were children that looked happily pampered rather than ragged and starved, and BJ found it grand. He was still a leftover kind of tired from the work week but was immediately enlivened by being in a real city again. Here and there remained signs of the wear and tear of war but they were from the previous war, and few and far between the signs of better times. He couldn't wait to see it at night, when all the neon signs he walked under would be brightly lit, and he and Hawk could bask in the almost overwhelming vitality of it all.

It was due to the lack of Hawk beside him that he limited his adventures to the PX and USO office, picking up everything from deodorant, soap, new socks to snacks and hot coffees that had to be better than could be found in the mess. But everywhere he looked there were potential adventures which he mentally filed away for later and found exhilarating. Yet he had to walk carefully with the coffee, the streets so crowded he feared being bumped, and it was almost a relief to make it back to the lobby where people were fewer and more spread out. 

Hawkeye was still asleep when BJ returned to the room, so he'd have to put his enthusiasm on hold for a while. But that was fine. A bath awaited and that was as exciting as all of Tokyo's delights combined. Granted, he might have to soak for a full year to soothe the OR from his muscles and wash Korea grime out of his pores, but so be it. 

The sound of running water stirred Hawkeye into groggy wakefulness. He yawned, rolled onto his back and luxuriated in a long stretch, and that he was able to do so without his limbs hanging off the edge of a cot reminded him of where he was. The bliss of a real bed! There was nothing like it. He hummed in delight which only increased when he noticed two coffees on the table between the beds. A nice bottle of sake would have been better but he'd make do, and blearily contemplated the night ahead as the coffee began to work its magic. 

"Hey, Beej, did you read this thing?" he called out some time later once he heard the water being drained.

"What thing?" BJ called back through the door. 

"This bag from the USO," Hawkeye scowled at it, and put on his best Reading Voice. "While In Japan I Stopped At the Tokyo USO On The World-Famous Ginza!" The smaller print lower down was what had caught his attention. "Checked my luggage! Had free coffee! Made hotel, theater, and tour reservations! Yada, yada... Relaxed in the lounge, got some information, and went on my way. Gee, that was nice! And they all spoke Engrish!" He shook his head, setting the bag back on the table. "Can you believe that? The Army waltzes into any country it wants, then makes fun of the locals for how they speak the language." It disgusted him.

BJ couldn't help but agree as he dried his dripping hair, but was too excited about Tokyo to rummage through causes for umbrage the way his friend did. "We're on vacation, Hawk," he called back. "Can't you give your indignation one, too?" 

"I know, I know, it just bugs me," Hawkeye said. "And pique wakes me up faster than coffee!"

"Well, write Folgers about it," BJ said, leaning down to scoop his clothes up from the floor. "See if they can find a way to mix non-conformist fury into their beans."

"Can tap it straight from my veins," Hawkeye mumbled as he stood up, dragging his duffel up onto the bed and promptly dumping its contents out. BJ might have beat him to the tub, but he planned to spend a good while there himself.

The bathroom door opened and BJ emerged with a pleased sigh, altogether refreshed, and shook his head in amusement as he made his way to his own bed, tossing the dirty clothes to the floor beside it. Hawkeye was simply compelled to make every surface around him as chaotic as the insides of his head, wasn't he? And in such short order. "How're you feeling, though? Alive enough to go out tonight?" 

"Yeah, getting there," Hawkeye nodded absently. He wanted to thank BJ for taking care of him as he had, but didn't quite know how to so figured he'd do it by treating for drinks. He glanced up from the clothes pile, about to ask BJ how he'd best like to spend the evening, but all capacity for speech halted on him. 

On a normal-sized person, the hotel towel around BJ's waist might have stopped a few inches above the knee. On Beej's 6'3'' frame it was almost obscenely small, and Hawk got a good eyeful of strong-looking thighs and fuzzy, nicely muscled torso before forcing his attention back down to his clothes. It was hardly anything he hadn't seen before, but it was different when they were alone. The Oh, the things I would do to you if you gave me half a chance kind of different, and Hawkeye did his best to ignore it.

BJ rooted around in his own clothes, frowning a little. "I can't believe I didn't pack my robe..." 

"Well, you won't hear me complaining." Hawkeye just couldn't help himself, he really couldn't. 

"Come on, don't be a lech," he chastised lightly even as he felt a telling, not-disinterested warmth creep over his face. "I like my robe!" 

"Lechery's my favorite hobby - you should try it sometime," Hawkeye wiggled his brows. "Besides. You leave it back home, you're preventing the spread of a Swamp-exclusive breed of flea that only knows how to survive on gin. You're doing Tokyo and all the baby fleas a favor, not just me. Done with the bathroom?"

"Yeah, go ahead," BJ nodded, pulling on an undershirt and fighting a sudden whim to burn his dirty clothes as Hawk left the room. "And as lechery goes... want to hit a cabaret tonight?" 

Hawkeye leaned against the doorjamb, clasping a hand over his heart with all the melodrama he could muster. "Beej. I'm offended you'd phrase that as a question," he answered, turned, and closed the door behind him. 











The next day BJ stood at the window, munching from a tin of Lay's potato chips and watching the street below. "I think they're setting up for a parade," he told Hawkeye. 

"Pretty common," Hawkeye said, stepping over to look alongside him, reaching into the tin BJ naturally tilted his way. "Probably a holiday." 

"What holiday?"

"Search me," Hawkeye shrugged, grabbing a couple more chips before moving away. It wasn't a particularly wholesome breakfast, but they had plans for the Suehiro Steakhouse later, and to ruin their appetites with much more would be downright criminal. 

BJ frowned in thought as he finished chewing. "Think the stores'll be open to shop for Klinger?"

"Oh, yeah," Hawkeye said, taking his suitcase off the floor and plopping it onto the round table. "Japan has so many holidays, their economy would be in shambles if they closed for all of them..." He unzipped the suitcase, moving toiletries around as he sought a small zippered case inside. "Is that really what you want to do this afternoon?"

BJ shoved off the wall near the window. "Rather get it over with than forget later."

"He does get that real sad puppy look when he's disappointed, doesn't he?" Hawkeye asked, still digging around between shaving cream and brushes, spare socks and miscellany.

"Can't bear to do it to him," BJ agreed as he closed the tin and set it on the table, certain he'd eat them all unless he stopped himself.


"What's that?"

Hawkeye extracted the small case, unzipped it, and held up three large, plastic coins covered with Japanese lettering. "These, my dear Beej, are IOUs for drinks not yet drunk at the Ginza Beer Hall." He kissed one and held them high, smiling at them. "My beauties! I'd never travel without you."  

"No, I mean what's that?" BJ taunted, giving Hawkeye's hip a playful nudge with his own, gaze flicking pointedly down at the suitcase's contents, among which was a pack of Saxon condoms and a tube of lubricant near the top.

A low, snide chuckle came from Hawkeye, who slipped the coins into his pocket before turning to look at BJ with one of his half-sneering smiles. "Ohhh. You think any of that has anything to do with you? Mm. That's very cute."

BJ scoffed despite not knowing why he felt offended or cocky enough to do so, folding his arms. "Never said they did." 

Tell me something I don't know. "Well, those are my other constant traveling companions," Hawkeye said, closing the suitcase before he stepped away from the table. He didn't know precisely what BJ was playing at but where there was smoke, there was fire, and playing with fire tended to lead to getting burned. Or maybe it was simply that it was more fun to team up to invade Charles' privacy, not each other's, and he didn't like BJ nosing around in his things. He wasn't sure, but shook it all off as easily as he made for the phone atop the dresser. "And we were supposed to have separate rooms." 

"Well, if someone wanted to look for another hotel that had separate rooms, they should have been functional enough to say so," BJ forced a smile. He knew it wasn't an entirely fair statement, but Hawk's didn't feel fair either somehow, even if it probably was. Nor did his retreat, when BJ had really just been poking a little fun. Mostly. As far as he was aware, anyway. "Pressing social call?"

"Just wanna check in with Radar before we head out," he explained, dialing for the front desk.

"Ah. Smart."

The front desk answered and Hawkeye asked to be patched through, if possible via however many jumps on the line, to Uijeongbu. It was smart. Bad things could happen when you didn't check in, and that was a lesson he'd only needed to learn once before it stuck. 









So BJ's teasing had fallen flat. It was hardly the end of the world, and they'd both mostly forgotten it by the time they hit the streets, admiring parade preparations that included groups of tumblers in bright costumes that entertained them for a minute before they walked on. Thankfully, Hawk helped on decision-making for fabrics and colors Klinger might like, though only so much care was given to the process. In fact, more care and debate was given to picking out a top as a present for Margaret - "Think she'll wear it? It's kind of skimpy." "I know, and I can't wait to see her in it." - though they decided to wait until the last day of the trip to grab Charles something edible, if they got the pompous bastard something at all, and let inspiration drive gifts for the others as the days and adventures wore on. 

Between stores, Hawkeye couldn't help but appreciate the way BJ slowed every so often and took it all in as if breathing in life itself. "Tokyo everything you dreamed it would be?"

"As cities here go, it's right up there with Frisco," BJ grinned.

Strange, Hawkeye noticed, how that didn't exactly answer his question. 

By the time they dropped everything back in the room they were both near starving, and didn't care that the Suehiro claimed to be the largest steakhouse in the world so long as it offered the largest steaks. After dinner was the beer hall, which BJ thought sure looked like the largest one in the world whether it claimed to be or not, and they had to wait for a spot at the bar before they could cash in two of Hawkeye's coins for freebies, leaving a tip for as much as the drinks would have cost.

They sipped Sapporo and people-watched, which was a good enough time when all walks of life were there for the watching. Tourists, soldiers, couples old and young, but the place was almost too loud for conversation, which they both realized after a few attempts were made, and too crowded and too much like a large version of the mess tent to be interesting to BJ for very long. Hawkeye agreed, and appreciated the fresh air and semi-quiet of the streets as soon as they were back in them. "What say you, Beej? Movie? Sumo wrestling? Cabaret, round two?"

"Somewhere with whiskey? Smaller and quieter than that, though," he said, covering up that he'd been wondering not for the first time if his presence was cramping Hawk's vacation style. The beer hall might have been more intriguing to someone single and mingle-ready with no obligation to play Tokyo tour guide to their best friend. But Hawk warmed fast to the idea, said he knew a nice spot, and led the way. 

He turned at a corner and BJ followed, but almost immediately his elbow hit a passerby, and he apologized profusely. The young woman glared at their olive drab clothes before going on her way, and BJ was momentarily startled by her single eye, her scarred face, her one arm. Hawkeye had stopped when he did, and they both watched her walk away. 

"Hiroshima," BJ guessed softly, suddenly reminded that Tokyo wasn't a happy holiday for everyone.

"God bless America," Hawkeye muttered darkly, then after a moment clapped him on the back. "Come on. Whiskey awaits."








The bar was normal-sized and the appropriate amount of lively compared to the Germanic behemoth the hall had been. Easier to ease into, especially since those clad in olive drab outnumbered evident tourists from elsewhere, and Hawkeye had let BJ have the only available seat, saying they could swap eventually. They were finishing up their first small glasses, Hawkeye seeming to come back to more life than he'd been even before the post-steak lethargy, and they were sharing the longest jokes they knew that they were sure the other hadn't yet heard, when the bartender was sliding them refills they hadn't yet ordered. 

"What'd we do to deserve one on the house?" BJ asked. 

"Not on the house. From those two," the bartender jerked a thumb towards the end of the bar. 

BJ turned his stool to look, brow furrowing. It was just a couple of soldiers, who only smiled and raised their glasses. Tentatively he raised his glass in thanks before sipping, passing his confusion to Hawkeye. "Do you... know them from somewhere?"

"Not from pre-op, OR, or separate rooms," Hawkeye only added to the confusion, raising his glass their way in thanks with a more enigmatic smile before adding, quietly and nonchalantly, "But they're in the club."

Club? What club? 


But... BJ laughed a little, shaking his head. "Okay, how the hell do you know that?" Maybe since BJ's back was to them but Hawkeye could see them, he'd noticed something that proved it.

"Really, Beej?"

BJ shrugged, spreading his hands in bafflement as he smiled. "Yeah. Come on, tell me." 

Hawkeye sighed but not in real aggravation, and stood taller to get a quick but good look around the mostly full room before turning back to BJ. "All right. Let me flesh this one out for you. Tell me, Captain Hunnicutt - how many attractive women can you count in this bar right now? Not just attractive-if-you-haven't-seen-a-woman-in-a-while, but Nurse-Able-if-you-weren't-married grade. Take your time." He sipped his whiskey, watching BJ with all the patience of a benevolent if not slightly smug saint.

Rolling his eyes, BJ tried to overlook Hawkeye's way of speaking of the fairer sex, too aware he might be waiting for an actual answer. He sat up straighter, scanning the crowd as best as he could. Two obvious working girls, one of which he'd put almost on par with Able. A pretty blonde near the jukebox didn't look terribly interested in the guy she was talking to, which made her available, he figured, if someone were dead-set on redirecting her attentions. A waitress that surpassed Able, and caught the notice of every soldier and civilian she served. One whole table full of five women, three of which he'd think were real lookers if he allowed himself to think such things. He was losing count, actually; everywhere he focused, there were more, and many men taking an active notice in them by turns. "Okay, quite a few. What's your point?"

Hawkeye grinned. "Ha! You see, my dear Watson, but you do not observe," he quoted Holmes, reaching down and spinning the seat of BJ's stool to turn him to face the bar's end again, his chin resting on BJ's shoulder. "Plenty of fish in the barrel, and it's likely they haven't seen a woman in a while, and what are they doing?"

"They're... pressed together, sharing a book, aaand giving us the occasional look," BJ admitted defeat as soon as the darker-haired one's eyes flicked his way from the pages, and he spun the seat back around to face Hawk. "Okay! Point," the word popped. "I'm glad I didn't put a bet on it." 

"And do they have wedding rings?" Hawkeye smirked. 

"Couldn't tell but I already gave you the point," BJ said evenly, lifting his glass and taking another sip, giving Hawk a look that said he was half-genius and half-absurd. "But why do you think they..." 

Hawkeye shrugged, not bothered by wondering. "I dunno." The way we look at each other, maybe. The way we touch each other without thinking about it. But that was putting too fine a point on it, and could send BJ tearing out into the night, pulling a letter from Peg from his pocket and shouting Why, God, Why? to the heavens. He didn't want that. "The way I stand, maybe. That neither of us are chasing the girls. Could be anything. How'd you know with me?" Hawkeye asked suddenly. 

BJ had just sipped again and sputtered as he tried to swallow it. He coughed once, wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, and thought it was crazy they were actually doing this, but... "Well..." He licked his beginning-to-smirk lips, clicked his tongue, and raised his brows. "Do you mean in the first five minutes, or ever since?"

"Oh, cute. Really cute," Hawkeye sneered at him for the second time that day, but it was far more playful than it had been that morning. They hadn't had all that much to drink but it was warming him. The candor, oddly, was doing the same. "But I mean it. Come on," Hawkeye insisted with the lightest of smacks to BJ's arm with the back of his hand. "I want to know." 

Drawing in a deep breath, BJ's mouth pressed into a line as he found himself stumped on how to put it. He didn't want to say how sometimes he thought there was something feminine, coquettish about Hawkeye, because that really wasn't it at all, even if there was a lot of prettiness to him physically. There was more to it, and labels and neat boxes didn't... suit, somehow, but there weren't ready words for such a thought. So he stuck to the obvious. "You're not shy about it," he settled on. "Is that good enough?"

"I'll give you that for the first five minutes, but most people just assume that's me playing up to annoy people like Frank," Hawkeye said, hand on his hip.  

"I... guess I'm more observant than most people, then, Holmes," BJ said cheerily. Or maybe I'm special, and that's why you took a shine to me you weren't shy about. But cocky hadn't worked well for him earlier, and he wasn't about to try it again now - not when he was a little afraid of what might happen if Hawkeye agreed with him. 

"Was it the whole thing with Bellamy?" Hawkeye pressed casually, if anything could ever be pressed casually. "We didn't try very hard to hide it, I'll give you that." But Hawkeye remembered the little chat outside the Swamp too well, and how BJ had spoken with such conviction, stating facts in his mind, not guesses. 

Bellamy. There was a name BJ was glad he hadn't heard in a while. And he wasn't sure why Hawk was going down this road but his opening up about everything was, well, a little fascinating and something BJ felt like he'd fought for, so why deter it? 

"I knew for sure before that, but don't! get mad about it," he warned, making rings of condensation on the bar as he twirled his glass between his fingers, uncertain it was right to bring the pictures up after Hawk's reaction to his being invasive this morning (when he really had been just playing around a little). "When you went on R&R by yourself, and I cleaned? I knocked over some of your stuff and... found some photos in your stash. Got the picture clear as day." 

Huh. Hawkeye processed that with a furrowed brow, counted himself extremely fortunate that BJ had found them and not Frank or anyone else, and pressed curiously on with a simultaneous question and statement: "And you didn't mind." 

A soft, abrupt laugh shook BJ's shoulders, and he felt his lips curve into a smile as he regarded Hawk's strange insistence and almost pouting mouth. "You're... you, Hawk. What would I mind?" He raised his glass for another sip.

Hawkeye blinked, a peculiar warmth spreading through his chest. 

Most people, decent people, might have asked Why would they mind. It only served sometimes, he thought, to make the asker sound cooler, more worldly, more accepting than they truly were. But BJ had said What. As if he'd forgive or accept or love anything in the world Hawkeye was or said or did or might do. 

Or that he didn't care one way or another about Hawkeye at all, but even his neuroses weren't so bad as to convince himself of that for a split second.

It really floored Hawkeye. 

He'd never heard anything quite like it, actually. 

And it had slipped so naturally, thoughtlessly from BJ, like he hadn't even had to think about it.

He knew he was staring at BJ as he drank with a reverence for the moment that probably bordered on bug-eyed gaping and looked away, clearing his throat, and beckoned the bartender with a little wave as he pulled bills from his pocket. 

"Um. Those two, who bought us the drinks. Their next round's on me. And water for us," he directed, handing over the bills with a little extra for a tip, still trying to discreetly dislodge a breath that had taken root in his heart, pushed at the edges to make it a little bigger, and stuck in his throat without springing further outward. 

BJ watched him, a little amused, a little worried at the way Hawkeye had suddenly let up with the questions. Was it something I said?  "You all right?" he had to ask. 

Hawkeye nodded, leaning forward towards the bar and taking another slow sip as he let himself think something he never really expected to think: 

This gorgeous, brilliant idiot loves me, doesn't he? He really does.

He glanced sidelong at BJ, smiling softly. "Better than ever, Beej." 

BJ quirked a smile back but it was tinged with bemusement. Was it something he'd said? Something had changed right there, right then, and he couldn't place what it was or why. But he noticed Hawkeye's gaze wander, watched him straighten up and look past him, and Hawkeye told him, "Company, nine o'clock," in a murmur before sipping again, so BJ turned. 

The men from the end of the bar had gotten up and were walking their way, the shorter, light-haired one holding the shared book to his chest, the taller man murmuring something to him as they came over, their heads bent close together in further, intimate-looking chatter before they approached. "Hey, we just wanted to say thanks for the drinks," the one holding the book said. 

"Right back at you," BJ smiled politely, and noticed Hawkeye had been right about the lack of rings. 

Hawkeye leaned with elbows behind him on the bar. "I'm Benjamin. This is Christopher," he tilted his head at BJ, whose eyes widened for a second over his glass but he said nothing, and Hawkeye was glad for it. They'd been heavily clocked and he wasn't sure why, and he wasn't about to drag BJ into anything until he was, not by his real name. But he offered the taller one his hand. "And you are?" he schmoozed. 

"Reuben," came the answer and a firm handshake that was then extended to BJ, and it was handshakes all around. "This is Archie." 

"And what marvelous book have you two been poring over so cozily?" Hawkeye asked, looking between them. Reuben had nice, high cheekbones, and Archie a nicer smile, and together they made a pretty, happy little picture he hadn't been able to help but notice over BJ's shoulder even before drinks had been sent this way and that. 

"Rimbaud's poems. Have you read him?" Reuben asked. 

"We just bought it yesterday," Archie volunteered. 

"Christopher!" Hawkeye exclaimed. "They want to know if I've read Rimbaud," he said in taunting boast. 

"Imagine that," BJ murmured, trying to contain his amusement to just a smile.

"I hope that's in French, because nobody's done it in English right," Hawkeye went on.

"I'm better at French, so I'm helping him through it," Archie smiled. 

There was something very cute about them. Even BJ found himself thinking as much. They seemed... well, just as delighted to be near each other as he supposed he and Hawkeye must have looked to people sometimes. 

"Ah, Reuben, you're in for a treat," Hawkeye assured him, then went more playful. "You know about him and Verlaine, right? You know? Yeah, you know," he waved off the antique news with a sly smirk. 

"What can we do for you, boys?" BJ asked. 

"Actually," Reuben said, "We're having a little get-together tonight. A bunch of us rented an apartment not too far from here."

"About a half-mile away. Here..." Archie cracked open the book, pulling out a napkin on which was an address and a hastily scrawled map.

"Mm. What kind of party?" Hawkeye asked, a touch of suspicion in it, not about to get talked into an orgy -- if only because Beej would hate that. Or love it, but hate himself the next day.

"Oh, no, nothing too crazy," Reuben promised with a wave of his hand as BJ accepted the makeshift map. "Just drinks, dancing, meeting people. Letting our hair down." 

"Social without society," Hawkeye offered knowingly.

"The place is too small for anything crazy, honestly," Archie added. "And Susanna, the hostess, she just got a bunch of great new records." 

BJ was beginning to get the picture. And he knew just enough to be, well, a little wary of the idea. He certainly liked these two more than Gregory and James, something about their energy being altogether more affable, but... "Parties..." he began cautiously, quietly. "Get raided sometimes, don't they?"

"Not when your cousin works for the embassy and has friends in high places," Reuben gave BJ a wink. 

"What do you say, hm?" Hawkeye nudged BJ. "Wanna go let our hair down, darling?" 

Still unsure for many reasons but not wanting to be rude, BJ shrugged with a smile. "How about we think on it over one more drink?" he suggested, tight in a way that said there'd be no yes forthcoming unless he had that much time to consider it. 

"Sold!" Hawkeye nodded judiciously. 

"We're on drinks duty, so we've got to run to the store, but it starts in about fifteen minutes," Reuben explained, his arm finding its way around Archie's waist on the second 'we' and staying there. 

"And it'll run late. So, really, guys, any time! You're absolutely welcome. It's the only yellow curtain in a sea of blue ones. Just knock on the yellow glass door, okay?"

"Put us down for a firm maybe," Hawkeye promised, and out of some strange goodness of his heart, pulled another five bucks from his pocket. "And here. I'll throw in for drinks whether we show or don't."

"And if we do, you'll be glad he did," BJ commented lightly, fighting a slight suspicion that Hawk had just made the choice for them both. He wasn't opposed, really, but... 

"Thank you. That's sweet," Archie beamed.

"Nah, you two are sweet. We like gin, by the way," Hawkeye smiled. 

"Come on, Arch. She'll kill us if we're late," Reuben squeezed his other half's side, and away they went, appearing for all the world like two merry friends who hung off each other because of booze and little else. 

"Ah... young love..." Hawkeye turned to face BJ, swiping up his water and raising it. "Counsel? Your opening remarks?"

BJ opened his mouth but closed it again, not sure where to begin. They didn't know these guys, and had no real assurance it couldn't get raided. Secondly, it was one more thing he wouldn't be able to write home about, and that put an odd feeling in his gut. Thirdly... God, but all the times he'd sought insights from Hawk and been brushed off... No, he wasn't part of the club, so what the hell would he be doing there? He'd be out of his element, and that was never a nice feeling. But Hawk so clearly wanted to go. And BJ could always go back to the hotel and let Hawk go by himself, but... 

He slumped a little, knowing a futile argument when he saw one. 

Hawk might come back in the morning covered in hickeys, and BJ would hate it more than he cared to admit. 

"Tell me why you want to go," he requested softly, partway to resigned already.

"Because!" Hawkeye began, "Being social without society's a... rare treat. And you're always so curious..."

"That's about me, not about you," BJ pointed out. 

"Fine, Beej. If it must be about me... maybe I..." Hawkeye sighed, one elbow on the bar, chin in hand and a knee nudging his seated friend's calf in something like encouragement. "It'll be relaxing in a way I don't really expect you to get. And you don't have to. But maybe more than anything, it'd just be nice to..." Hawkeye kept his voice low for sake of discretion. "Nice to dance with a handsome man for a while without the world looking sideways at everything."

BJ tilted his head in thought. It was cocky, what he was about to ask, because he already knew the answer. "And you really need me there for that?"

"Of course," Hawkeye said immediately. "Christopher's the handsomest man I know." And oh, he only got handsomer when he smiled like that, and ducked his head as if it would conceal the blush Hawkeye had put there.

"You've... been to a few of these back home, right?" BJ asked after lifting his head again.

"Plenty. And a few since."

"...I'm trusting your gut here, Hawk. I mean it. Mine's gonna be on new ground, so I won't know if something's off," BJ said more soberly, not loving the vulnerability of that.

"Beej, have I ever steered us wrong?"

Oh, where to begin? he thought sarcastically. But it wasn't right or fair to say, because... no. No, from minute one at Kimpo, Hawk really hadn't. He shook his head, regretting his doubts - they were so awfully unfounded - and picked up the napkin map that would tell them where to go.

Chapter 19

Chapter Notes

((soundtrack links posted at! Enjoy, SongofErin and whoever else would appreciate it.))





When Hawkeye knocked on the glass with a yellow curtain behind it and Susanna opened it, a lesser man might have balked. 

But not BJ.

He was just that used to Klinger.

"That," he said after a mere millisecond of hesitation, "Is a hell of a hat!"

"Oh, why, thank you, dear," Susanna said, stepping back to get their flowing dress out of the way so the new arrivals could step in, and they all made introductions before the hostess laid down the law. "Now, there aren't many rules, but absolutely no cameras, smoking is out back because Aiko has asthma, and the bedroom is... well, mostly off-limits, but I suppose if emergencies... arise, be quick about it and it's all right." The last was said with a sly wink.

"I like it here already," Hawkeye grinned, taking Susanna's hand and pressing a gentlemanly kiss to the back of it, his other hand sliding around BJ's waist to draw him further inside. 

BJ liked already that, if there was an 'out back', that meant there were two exits. His nerves had eased a little as they'd discussed on the way over that they'd be vague in conversations about where precisely they worked as doctors, and he'd like to stick with the name Hawk had chosen for him. But aside from that, he was tossing caution to the wind, keeping an open mind, and letting Hawkeye lead if leading was needed. 

The apartment was built to comfortably house two people but if BJ had to guess, there were at least ten already. A dim living room had furniture pushed to the walls to make space for dancing, one man hovered near the record player atop a table, clearly playing disc jockey. The rest of the rooms he could see ahead weren't dim, though, and that surprised him for some reason. Habit, maybe, to expect that it would all be happening in darkness.

They'd just begun to wind their way past dancers when Archie turned into the main room, face lighting up. "Oh, you showed! I'm so glad!" 

The fact that Archie was probably a decade their junior didn't keep Hawkeye from feeling indebted to him already, and he gave the fellow Rimbaud reader a brief squeeze with his free arm. 

"Just silly to toss in for drinks and not have any," BJ commented.

"Reuben, the guys from the bar showed up!" Archie called out into the tiny dining room, where his counterpart stood behind a makeshift bar. "He's playing bartender for a little bit, then it's my turn. I was just going to have a smoke, though. Do you want to come out with me?"

"Uh, sure, yeah," Hawkeye nodded, and glanced at BJ. "Christopher, dear, get us drinks and meet us there?"

Bailing on me for another guy already, BJ pouted playfully in his head but didn't mean it, and nodded. It was fine. He wanted to get the lay of the land a little bit, to get used to the space they were in, the topics and faces that would surround them for anywhere from the next fifteen minutes to several hours. Besides, one face was already familiar. "Hiya, Reuben!"










"Hey, Archie, listen," Hawkeye leaned in as they stepped outside and Archie closed the door behind them, keeping his voice lower than the Josephine Baker coming from the speakers within. "Uh, Chris is..." God, the disrespectful oversimplification was a terrible, inaccurate way to say anything about anyhing between them, but BJ wouldn't hear it, and Archie would grasp the gist. "I'm breaking him in a little." 

"Ooh. A Rookie and His Rhythm, huh?" Archie giggled as he lit his cigarette.

Hawkeye would be lucky indeed to ever find out anything about BJ and rhythm in the same context, but the apt reference served his explanation well enough. "And trust me, I usually hate that song," meaning rookies altogether; the song wasn't bad.

"He's special, though? You two seem close. And I mean, going off looks alone, nobody would blame you."

Oh, kid, don't get me started on his looks. Peeking quickly back to make sure the door was still closed, Hawkeye simply nodded, their details nobody else's business. And this wasn't at all as callous as it sounded - he simply didn't want BJ singled out in any way for not quite belonging. "Yeah, special. Just make sure he feels included, okay? If we get split up more than to get drinks or something. Sure he'll be fine, but..."

"Oh, of course. I'll tell Reuben, too. I think he wanted somebody else tall to help hang up some decorations. Did you want a smoke, by the way?" 

Hawkeye shook his head, standing straighter and folding his arms casually so nothing conspiratorial would be suspected. It hadn't been conspiratorial, anyway. He just hoped BJ would have a nice time, and it was no sin to ask for help on that as a general goal. "Anyway. What else have you been reading?" 

Archie was about to answer when BJ emerged with three beers tucked in his arm. "You boys being good?"

"Aren't I always?" Hawkeye smiled as he accepted one and Archie the other. "Close the door, Bee- hind you," he reminded lightly, aware there was no fence around the garden to block whatever could be seen inside, and realized how tricky this alias business could get.

"We can't have any smoke blowing in. Aiko's really sensitive to it," Archie explained. 

BJ closed the door, asking, "Is that the Japanese lady in the tux?"


"She's nice!" BJ said, smiling around a quick sip.

"Making friends already," Hawkeye mused, not without a hint of warm pride. 

"Seems a friendly enough crowd," BJ shrugged. 

"Do you like reading, Christopher?" Archie asked. 

"Love it but it's mostly medical journals nowadays, and those are tricky enough to get our hands on." 

"Mail hold-ups?" Archie asked sympathetically, blowing smoke downwind. 

"Oh! The worst mail hold-ups!" BJ groaned in emphasis before raising his bottle. "Oh, hey. Cheers." 

The three of them clinked their bottles together, and Hawkeye sensed with pleased relief that the evening was going to go just fine. 







By the time they went back in, Archie had had two cigarettes one after the other, and they'd traded the most basic of origin, draft, meeting stories and reading preferences. Archie wandered off to talk to Reuben for a moment then into the living room-turned-dance-floor, and BJ thought the apartment more crowded by at least another six people than when they'd left. He certainly hadn't noticed before the two very pretty, ponytailed women, cuffs rolled up on their jeans, who were nuzzling at each other in a corner of the dining room-turned-bar.

"Don't stare, Beej, it's rude," Hawkeye murmured as he leaned against a wall and sipped at the last third of his beer.

"I know, but..." Wow.

"Oh, I know," Hawkeye empathized, partaking in some brief, discreet lechery himself before his hand settled at BJ's hip to gently turn him, tug him nearer thus further from forgetting all his manners. "Having a good time?"

BJ looked as if he thought about it for a moment before deciding aloud, "I am, actually."

"Paranoia fading?"

"More by the minute," BJ assured with a smile, appreciating the caring in Hawkeye's asking. There were certain things that had surprised him - how many wedding rings were in evidence among the paired-up men, for starters. And snippets of conversation one could catch just by standing around, things like, 'Well, she's got the upper floor of the house with Lucy, and he's got the lower one with David, and they all feel dandy about it,' and from one guy nearby to a shirtless one, 'I didn't let him... you know. Not in, just between', and some of those snippets made him even more curious, but the full stories weren't his business. He was learning plenty without meaning to, which was probably half Hawk's point in bringing him along. "You?"

"Me? I'm grand. Looking forward to dancing, though..."

There was a sparkle in Hawk's eyes that BJ liked very much, and that seemed to narrow his awareness of the party down to just that familiar blue. "Once there's something slower on," he promised.

"Such a hopeless romantic," Hawkeye fluttered his lashes.

"Oh, Christopher!" Reuben summoned him, dragging a small box out from under the table that served as a bar. "Can I get your help on these?"

"What's that?" BJ looked over, and Hawkeye patted his hip in permission to be elsewhere. 

"Well, I cut up some party leis, stuck them all together, and wanted to put them up in the living room just to spruce the place up. I think we're the tallest here, so are you able to give me a hand?"

"Even two," BJ offered and set his near-empty bottle on the table. 

Hawkeye smiled thinly as he watched them go, tapping his foot in time with the music as he tried not to take the current song too much to heart in the moment. 

Oh, it's sweet for me, it's swell for me to feel that you're going through hell for me
Yet no matter however appealing, I still have a feeling it's bad for me...

But that song ended early and then Archie was back from a chat with the man at the record player, taking his spot behind the bar table to replace Reuben and giving Hawkeye a grin. "I'm sorry in advance, Benjamin, but it got stuck in my head!" he said, before grabbing a bottle of gin and pouring two shots.

"Huh?" Hawkeye asked, then heard the beginning strains of A Rookie And His Rhythm, and tossed his head back with a laugh, side-eyeing Archie in amusement. "And you seemed so sweet at the bar."

Archie only wiggled a little dance as he poured, handing a shot to Hawkeye. "To your luck!" 

Hawkeye put on an air and a Transatlantic accent. "Thank you, dear boy, but discretion is the better part of... eh, something or other," Hawkeye waved off valor and the accent, and they drank. It seemed half the partygoers knew, liked, or found something clever in the tune, too, as the occasional chorus of laughing singers rose up rowdily along with it - He's got what commissioned officers like! and he's new in the service, with a gun he's still nervous got the most raucous rises from both rooms, and Hawkeye felt strangely merrily young and too old at the same time. But he noticed how many of those who'd sang were gathering around the little table and he shoved off the wall, joining Archie. He unfolded a napkin and tossed it gaily over his shoulder to fit the part, and without much ado but with charisma in spades began to help his new, just-naughty-enough friend satisfy the growing crowd.







"Uh, Susanna?" BJ called towards the sliding door's sentry, one hand holding up an end of the decorations to the wall as Reuben decided how high he wanted to hang it. "Have you got a hammer and nails somewhere? Or scotch tape, even."

"I'm sure I've got something. Give me a minute," Susanna said, and made for the bedroom.

"Maybe if we do a higher string and a lower," Reuben debated with himself. "Or even three rows. I think it's long enough, but easier if we move the couch." He glanced down at said couch between them upon which two men, one in uniform and one not, were making good use of the space. Almost too good for propriety's sake - one straddled the other, and they didn't look like they'd break their kiss for oxygen any time soon, much less like they cared about all the fancy footwork and singing going on around them. 

BJ had noticed and decided it was polite not to dwell on it, instead pretending he cared how many rows of fake flowers would look best against the empty wall. Because that was safer than watching them out of the corner of his eye, and wondering despite himself whether he'd like similar with Hawk, what it would feel like to have Hawk on his lap like that, pressed so close. 

Much, much safer. 


He looked over at Reuben. "I think we're strong enough to move it with them on it," he suggested, only half-kidding. 

Reuben shook his head with a faint smile and peered down at the amorous pair. "Ahem. Ladies? Susie said the bedroom's discouraged but not strictly verboten, remember?"

The sofa-seated one broke the kiss and smiled dazedly up towards Reuben. "She said emergencies."

"It's not one yet," the other said, catching his breath. 

"Maybe in five minutes, it will be," the first smirked and they rubbed noses, clearly in their own world. 

"Ooh. Is that a promise?"

BJ's eyes rolled but should have done so towards the ceiling rather than down, as it only put them in a position to catch the seated man's hands sliding over the other's ass and squeezing, and that really didn't help him any. 

"I found tape!" Susanna called, emerging from the bedroom and striding over. 

"Oh, good. Thanks. Got a crowbar?" he asked next with a sardonic smile and a tilt of his head at the sofa.

"Young love!" Susanna crowed, handing over the tape and returning to a previous chat with a pair of Asian men who stood comfortably arm in arm. 

BJ took the tape, tearing some off, and the echo of Hawkeye's earlier words made him feel like a real jerk. Who was he to begrudge what was happening on the sofa just because seeing it made him think

He tossed the rest of the tape Reuben's way before moving a few feet to the left, stretching the string of flowers longer so they could leave the love-bugs to it. "One row sound good?"

Reuben caught it with his free hand and laughed. "I like you, Christopher. You're not just cute but practical, too." 

BJ chuckled and again set to pretending that securing the elongated lei was the most interesting thing in the room. A quiet revelation swept through his head, that more than anything he was here because Hawkeye trusted him. BJ wouldn't be here if he didn't, said an inversely correlating thought - and leaving if he had to would be better than losing sight of that while in attendance.

But why leave? 

It was hardly as if he didn't like what he'd seen.







He passed the dining room where Hawkeye shook a cocktail shaker and laughed with Archie, the kitchen where two men sat playing cards, muted except for the bright pink feather boa around one's neck, and stepped outside again. A minute or so of fresh air would help, he thought, to try to talk himself out of a crisis in the midst of all Hawk's relaxation.

It wasn't a crisis, anyway. It wasn't anything he didn't already know would be appealing, and it wasn't like he and Hawk hadn't shared stories of far more intense things than those occurring on the couch. Seeing was different, was all. To know these things happened between people in rooms that weren't pitch-black, to know these same people would be returning to their battalions, or uniquely split houses, or entirely conventional houses where their wives waited for them... To know some of these pairs of happy lovebirds might be lucky, but most would inevitably be split by the horrors of war, or by the world itself, or by peace talks the way he and Hawk someday would...

BJ needed a minute with all of that, and after that, another drink. 








"You're supposed to be on R&R," Hawkeye heard beside him, and felt BJ's arm land around his shoulder. "How'd you get roped into martini duty?"

"I take martini duty very seriously, dear," Hawkeye answered in jesting reverence for the fact, stopping himself at the last second again from calling him Beej.

"Mm. He causing any trouble, Archie?" 

"No, no, except..."

"Except, what! You're lucky to have me," Hawkeye insisted dramatically. "This would be a ramshackle operation without my olive-plopping expertise." 

Archie looked over Hawkeye to BJ with a sly hesitation. "...well, now I know more than I ever needed to about Maine!"

BJ barked a laugh. "God. I'll bet." 

"So I'm a chatty bartender," Hawkeye shrugged, handing his latest creation to a woman who stood with Aiko's arm around her. "Those are the best kind." 

"Well. If Miss Crabapple Cove 1951 would pour me a shot, I'd like a dance with her after," BJ said smoothly. The music had taken a slower turn, and truth be told, he wasn't sure how much longer he wanted to stay. It wasn't that he necessarily wanted to leave, either; certainty was hard to come by for much of anything aside from wanting Hawkeye, the most familiar thing in an unfamiliar setting, to himself for a while.

"'Tell me, miss'," Hawkeye put on his best announcer's voice as he reached for the gin, joking around to cover that he suspected he might be blushing a touch. "'What makes you think you're the best candidate for this title?'" But he switched tracks as he poured, remembering an old joke. "Say, do you know the difference between the Miss America pageant and a circus?" 

"No, what?" Archie asked. 

Hawkeye handed BJ the shot, saying, "One's a cunning array of stunts." 

It took BJ a couple seconds to get it, but when he did, he groaned a laugh. "That's really bad." 

"You'll still borrow it, though," Hawkeye predicted.

"Of course I will," BJ grinned before he tossed back the gin, pleased by how little it burned, licking his lips as he set the glass back down. "Mm. Definitely better than the still."

"You guys make your own?" Archie asked, having considered it but not knowing precisely how.

"Oh, yeah," Hawkeye said. "Filtered through the cleanest of Army skivvies, and just a cut above botulism in a bottle." 

"We haven't gone blind yet," BJ added helpfully. "Archie, you wanna hear more about Atlantic lobsters, or can I take him?"

"Oh, Christ, no. By all means, go, go!" Archie teased, waving them off, casting a tiny, secret smirk towards Benjamin before they turned away. 

"Take me anywhere you like, Beej," Hawkeye flirted casually up at BJ as they made their way into the living room. Susanna was clearly a hostess that believed the more, the merrier, considering the space for dancing, which wasn't all that big to begin with, was nearly packed now. BJ almost envied the card players in the kitchen for all the space and relative quiet they had, but...

No, no, he didn't, when the anonymity and gentle crush of swaying bodies made it that much easier for him mentally to take Hawkeye's hand in his own. It wasn't easy, some instinct telling him to look around first, and he suddenly understood all the better what Hawkeye had said over whiskey about the eyes of the world. He'd already been watchful of it himself a few times. But to not have to be took getting used to. 

Hawkeye had noticed BJ's quick, furtive once-over of the room at large and smiled knowingly, saying gently, "At ease, Captain."

BJ nodded, an embarrassed little laugh falling from him. "I... yeah," he breathed out, shaking his head to shake the feeling off, taking in the dreamy look on Hawkeye's face as Kay Starr sang of being So Tired of waiting. "I'm leading," he added.

"I don't mind," Hawkeye said.

You look like a bomb could go off in the backyard and you wouldn't mind, BJ thought, and he had to admit, it was very flattering. Then again, it could have been booze as much as anything. 

But he knew, despite the ring on his finger and his devotion to everything and everyone it meant, he wouldn't have been able to say the same; Hawkeye looking that peaceful was a singularly beautiful sight. The hand on BJ's arm wasn't slapping in silly excitement, or clutching in anxiety or alarm. It was simply there, thumb stroking idly as they fell into movement, and he couldn't believe he'd ever questioned whether coming to the party was a good idea. Bigger picture, okay, possibly one of the worst ideas ever, but he couldn't see that far at the moment, too overwhelmed by long lashes that blinked slowly at him, and the little upward curves at the corners of Hawkeye's mouth. 

"I'm impressed with you tonight, by the way," Hawkeye spoke again. 

"Oh? What for?" BJ played dumb, thumb at Hawk's hip stroking without meaning to.

"Come on, Beej. Even I didn't expect Susanna."

BJ laughed. "Klinger-trained and party-tested. I'll thank him with a new pair of heels."

"You're a hard guy to throw off," Hawkeye mused. 

Pausing, BJ didn't know what to say to that. Some things had thrown him. But that was his problem to see and deal with, nobody else's. "Well... were you trying to?" he couldn't help asking, because that wouldn't surprise him much, either. 

Hawkeye shook his head a little. "Nah. Just glad you came with me and don't hate it." 

BJ's face scrunched. Didn't Hawk know him better than that? But then... it was likely there'd been people Hawkeye had cared for in the past that would never have agreed to join him here. McIntyre came first to mind, though BJ didn't know him so it probably wasn't a fair assumption, no matter if it was an easy one. "Nothing to hate about this," he stated softly. 

Hawkeye wasn't sure he wholly agreed. For starters, he could hate, just a little bit, the sheer unavailability of BJ. The injustice handed him by the gods placing this adorable, capable, witty man with cute hair, bubblegum-pink lips, the warmest eyes and sunniest disposition - and that was all above the belt - right in his very tent and saying No, he couldn't have him, or if he did it couldn't be for keeps. And he wasn't about to let hatred spoil the mood - he had "Christopher" for now - but he might poke at the statement a little until Christopher hated that limit, too. His hand slid up BJ's arm, settling below his nape, the gap between their bodies closed a little. All for the fitting of BJ's preferring to dance to the hopelessly romantic songs than the fast ones, of course. Of course. "Sure about that?" 

BJ tsked a few times but did nothing to discourage Hawkeye's repositioning, biting back an indulgent smirk. "Back to merciless then, are we?" he asked in faint amusement.

"Only because you deserve it." Hawkeye thought of the cruelly gorgeous seduction of the VIP tent. It could be argued that BJ had only been trying to help, but to decide to pick up where a nurse left off had been an interesting choice on where to make himself useful.

"Whaaat? What did I do?" BJ played at innocence. 

"Oh," Hawkeye nearly shouted the laughter-tinged exclamation of disbelief, but forced the mirth down. "Yeah. Sure, buddy. Mmhmm. Keep telling yourself that. Whatever helps you sleep at night."

"Well, it helped you sleep that night," BJ pointed out with a snicker, and relished the dramatically un-amused look Hawkeye regarded him with in return. 

All the joking around helped distract from Kay Starr singing about how if she could be with someone for an hour, if she were free to do the things she might, that she wouldn't go until she'd told them she loved them so, and... where had the DJ gone, that the same record was still playing? Maybe dancing with someone they cared about, BJ figured, and as neglect of party duties went, it was forgivable.

"Yeah, well. The jig's up with you, Hunnicutt," Hawkeye bantered in warning. "That innocent act's not gonna work on me anymore. I've seen you play too many quality pranks to buy it." 

"Ah, damn," BJ grinned. "You sure? But I've got such a sweet face! No court would convict me!"

"Charles wised up fast. Took me a little longer, but that's only because I like believing it." 

BJ shrugged, tossing back Hawkeye's own logic pleasantly. "Whatever helps you sleep at night!" And then he was fighting a shiver, because Hawk's thumb had grazed his nape, and it was... in a word, nice. He couldn't be sure it was accidental, either, but given that Hawk didn't look smug, it probably was. Hawk actually seemed back to the languidly peaceful look he'd had earlier, and BJ couldn't entirely guess what he was thinking, not enough to have rapidfire wit at the ready for anything he might say. 

You're perfect, you know that? I wish I could keep you, Hawkeye thought, but again didn't let it get to him. Every second he could steal here was too precious to stain with melancholy. He even unclasped his hand from BJ's just to wind both arms around his neck, searching the other's face for signs of concern as he did so, and breathed a mental sigh of relief to see none. 

Hand now free, BJ let both his own meet against Hawk's lower back, his chin raising some as he peered down at him with, admittedly, the tiniest sliver of a scrap of suspicion. But it was hard to care about suspicion with the press of Hawkeye that close and how nice it felt. Very nearly too nice, and when Hawkeye's forehead rested against his neck... Well, he just fit there, and BJ sighed in recognition and very torn feelings about that fact and how good everything felt. 

But they danced without banter or tongue-in-cheek blame for a while, his jaw pressed to Hawkeye's hair, and maybe he didn't forgive the negligent record-changer after all, not when Miss Starr had gone from hopelessly romantic to hopelessly hurt.

I'm not fooling myself, I'm aware - yours is a changeable heart, ours is a one-sided love affair
So, won't you say it sentimentally and answer my plea? Break it to me gently if that's how it has to be...

If the words were getting to BJ, he knew they had to be touching Hawkeye, too. The man was ever-musical and this moment, getting to dance together, getting to be close, proper-seeming if only because they were in a roomful of people rather than hidden away in the dark... damn it, but BJ should be the only one to touch him. It was a barely logical thought, but it was brimming inside him all the same as he murmured, "Hey, Hawk?"

"Hmm?" Hawkeye began to lift his head, the same placid, dreamy look on his face.

BJ thought his lazily half-lidded eyes looked a little sadder than before, though. Or maybe that's what he told himself as some kind of similarly illogical excuse for making the stupid move he made next, which was to stop Hawkeye's slow rise by capturing his lips with his own.

He felt Hawk's frame twitch a fraction in surprise, the hand around BJ's nape tensing and curling around it. His own fingertips dragged over spine bumps and shirt fabric, bunching an inch of it beneath them. He felt Hawk's lips purse against his own and part on a shaky breath, and the breath he gave back was no steadier before they crushed together anew for several seconds, the connection of their hips just as close. And then Hawkeye's lips parted again but only to draw BJ's lower lip between them, and BJ sensed an opening his tongue pushed at. He heard the softest whine from Hawkeye in response and, oh, hell. 

That was the thing, the problem, the factor that had made the move so stupid. 

Once he'd started kissing Hawkeye, BJ really didn't want to stop. 

Chapter 20

But by some miracle of willpower neither knew he had, Hawkeye did stop him, a hand slowly sliding from BJ's neck and splaying over his chest to keep him in place as he pulled back a couple inches. He didn't want to, truly didn't, but if their tongues met again it would set off a spark that could only be extinguished in the mostly-off-limits bedroom. "That, um..." Hawkeye breathed out, dizzy, unwilling yet to open his eyes lest it all prove to be a dream. "That one came from the right place." 

Past-tense already?! BJ wanted to exclaim but held it in, on the breathless side himself. "Not sure I know what's right or wrong just now," he admitted in a murmur.

"No, no, it did," Hawkeye nodded, wetting his lips as his eyes opened, meeting BJ's. "I felt it."

Jesus, don't look at me like that. He looked so... soft, and dazed, and it only made BJ want to keep kissing him and gave him reason enough to be cocky. A smile of pure wonder tugged at his lips but he didn't know what to say to such a statement, one that told him Hawkeye remembered more of that night in the supply room than he'd thought he would, and was more romantic than anything a songwriter could give Kay Starr. "I-"

"Shh," Hawkeye pressed a fingertip immediately to BJ's mouth, eyes flicking over his face. "Just dance with me, Beej, okay?" There's too much acceptance and testosterone in this room for you to be in your right mind, and you're gonna snap back to reality soon and it won't be fun for anybody. If this is all we get, don't ruin it with words.

Heart fluttering, BJ fought confusion down with a thick swallow, nodding finally as he felt Hawkeye's hand slip away. He took it in his own again but rather than a simple clasp threaded his fingers through Hawk's, and even that much contact was enticing. Okay, okay, maybe Hawk had a point in breaking the kiss. If it went much longer, BJ would be tempted to pull him out of the crowd, get him against a wall, and-

Yeah. Hawk definitely had a point. And it was a good thing the next song was more lively, less reason to be pressed quite that close to move in time with it, though Hawkeye's fingers tapped rhythm lightly against the back of his neck. 

When he held me in his arms and told me of my many charms
He kissed me while the fiddles played to Bonaparte's Retreat
All the world was bright when he held me on that night
And I heard him say, 'Please don't ever go away'

"Give us some real jazz, Matty!" a dancer shouted when the next song began.

"Put on some Porter!" Reuben added. 

"I'm dancing with Bobby, someone else do it," Matthew the disk jockey called out from somewhere in the room.

"I've got it," Archie said, parting from Reuben to get to the record player, but stumbled into BJ's arm. "Ooh, Christopher! Sorry, honey."

"He's had a few," Reuben chuckled, having caught Archie by the arm to right him. 

"Well, you know what Oscar said about alcohol in sufficient qualities," Hawkeye chimed in, making conversation as a desperate attempt to recover from the kiss. 

"All the effects of inebriation!" Archie beamed, straightening up and sliding away from Reuben to work his way through the couples.

"Good thing I'm here or you'd be stealing Archie from Reuben," BJ teased, making an attempt himself to break the all too tempting haze that lingered. Or knowing you, you'd go home with them both.

"Nah, he's too young for me," Hawkeye shrugged the suggestion off, finally able to meet BJ's eyes again without fearing he'd sink further into their depths than usual, though his attention turned quickly to Reuben beside them. "Hey, how long are you guys in Tokyo?"

"We leave day after tomorrow." 

"Perfect! Let's trade details later. Get together tomorrow, the four of us, for brunch?" Hawkeye asked. 

BJ, paused by the chatting, winced along with others as a record scratch squeaked through the speakers, and Archie called out, "Oops! Hold on, hold on..."

"Yeah, let's do that," Reuben smiled in agreement, and Archie returned as the opening horns of Anything Goes filled the brief silence, much to the room's delight. "Arch, brunch tomorrow?" He tilted his head towards Hawkeye and BJ. 

"I love it," Archie smiled beatifically their way before returning to dancing with Reuben, if not gracefully.

I can think of a couple things I'd rather do tomorrow, BJ thought, but damned if that wasn't getting ahead of himself, and foolishly at that. He should know better. It had only been a kiss, one he'd wanted without knowing it probably since the minute they'd met, and should stay one. To lose sight of the fact at the party was all too easy, but to focus on that error would be a different brand of error, so he didn't let himself. Merely gave himself a swift kick in the butt in his head - Hawk was right to stop us - and moved on. "Dance break?" he suggested.

"What's wrong, Beej? Not a fan of intruding at nudist parties in studios?" Hawkeye smiled. 

"As de-lovely as that sounds, so does hydration. Maybe some air, too?"

"Yeah, good call," Hawkeye nodded, giving BJ's neck a pat before his hand slid away, although the one interlocked with BJ's stayed that way as he turned and led them out of the living room. 

They got much-needed glasses of water and stepped outside, and Hawkeye nodded a greeting at Aiko's partner and the men BJ had seen Susanna talking to earlier. Hawkeye was tempted to jokingly ask for one of their cigarettes; BJ would point out he didn't smoke, and Hawkeye could tell him he needed one after that kiss. But, no, it was probably best to not do any of that, well-deserved as it may have been. 

"So! How much longer did you want to stay?" BJ asked as casually as he could, closing the door behind him. 

Hawkeye thought that an odd question, one that would give him a little too much misplaced hope if he misread it. "You want to head out already? Where's the fire?"

BJ opened his mouth to answer that, thought better of his first answer, and closed it again as he shook his head. Did Hawk not... Huh. "No fire," he shrugged. "We can stay if that's what you want." 

"Well, what do you want to do?" Hawkeye challenged casually back, leaning a shoulder against the wall as he looked at BJ and sipped his water, free hand in his pocket. 

"I..." Was Hawk doing this on purpose? Wanting or waiting to hear something in particular? Perplexed, BJ's brows furrowed as he searched Hawkeye's face for clues. It was tricky when, standing inches apart, all he could think about was kissing him again. "You've got to admit, it feels a little strange being close to the oldest ones here."


"And it's getting kinda loud in there."

"Mm," Hawkeye nodded noncommittally, never taking his eyes off BJ's face. He didn't especially want to go back to the hotel yet, not when he was relatively sure it would bring reality crashing down around their heads. 

BJ sucked in a breath, blinking a couple times, his eyebrows raising as he tried again. "Some... privacy... might be nice?"

Bingo, Hawkeye thought, heat flaring in his chest, his eyes flicking from BJ's eyes to his candy-pink lips and back again. "Yeah... It might..."

They may as well have been back in Seoul those last five minutes before Rizzo showed up, having a staredown with the exact same thought in their heads, only this time the thought was:

I am so screwed.

"If you guys aren't too far, we can probably give you a ride," Aiko's American partner spoke up. "She has work early so we're heading out soon, and you won't have to worry about the train." 

Oh. Right. Other people existed. And could hear them. 

It wasn't easy to tear their eyes off each other, but Hawkeye managed it somehow. "Uh, uh, thanks. Benjamin, by the way," he pulled his hand out from his pocket to shake hers.

"Bartender Ben! I'm Melinda."

BJ secretly savored how flustered Hawkeye looked before giving her a nod and extending his hand. "Hi. Christopher." 

"Can't remember the last time I've had a tuxedoed chauffeur," Hawkeye joked.

"We can chip in a little for gas, too," BJ added. "We're really not far, are we?"

"No, I don't think so," Hawkeye hurried to agree, swigging more water and holding a hand out for BJ's glass. "I'll run in and tell Archie and Reuben where to find us tomorrow."

BJ took a last sip and nodded, watching him go before turning back to their new friend, hoping conversation would distract from everything he wanted to do with Hawk at first chance. "So, how did you and Aiko meet?"

"Oh, it's a long story. But a fun one!" She opened the small, over-the-shoulder purse she carried, pulling out perfume to cover any smoke that might have gotten to her from Jiro and Banzan nearby. "Can tell you all about it in the car." 









Aiko's car ended up being a '49 Datsun DB, and as much as BJ would have liked to sit beside Hawkeye, there was no way his height would comfortably allow for it. He'd have liked, too, to be able to tease him with squeezes or strokes to his thigh, but had to settle for reaching behind the shotgun seat and discreetly caressing the back of his left calf with light, spidering strokes. 

Aiko and Melinda's meeting story was indeed long and cute - Melinda had even emigrated to live with her, in the end - but damned if they could really pay attention to it. Sure, they nodded and commented at the appropriate times, but BJ looked out the window, taking in more of Tokyo as he pretended he wasn't doing what he was doing, and Hawkeye eventually had to move his leg out of range and cross it over his right, or he was at risk of going completely out of his mind.

From such a simple touch, too. 

Oh, he really was screwed.

But he had questions still about stakes and mistakes, apprehensions and intentions, and he already knew he'd never be able to bite into one of Peg Hunnicutt's home-baked treats without the tiniest touch of guilt. And if he was thinking about that in some dim corner of his mind not currently occupied with the way BJ's touch had left fire in its wake, what the hell could BJ be thinking? Or was he at all?

No. BJ wasn't much. Or at least trying not to, and put almost more attention to Frankie Laine's That's My Desire playing softly from the car speakers as Melinda talked than his own thoughts. 

There was a certain resignation at work on him, but Korea wasn't entirely to blame. He could have arrived at the 4077th and bunked with anyone, suffered untold, near-daily strains with anyone, and not felt the same way. It was just Hawk. Who he was as a person, how much they'd grown to rely on each other, how much they loved each other even if he wouldn't use that word for it if asked. The incessant flirtation and strange beauty of Hawkeye Pierce had worn him down, pushed his limits, made him soft for the man and sometimes almost unbearably hard for him. It was ridiculous. And it would be more ridiculous, in this backwards world where every night they survived was a hearty laugh in the face of death that threatened to return the next morning, not to give it something of a chance. An outlet. A try. Anything to help them both sleep at night. 

But if he changed his mind about the niceness of privacy somewhere between the lobby and their room, he knew Hawkeye wouldn't be too surprised, and that was a relief to fall back on. 

He simply didn't see how he could, though. He wanted Hawk that badly.

So badly they couldn't even look at each other in the elevator, as it was too small and risky a place to set off a powder keg.

So badly his usually steady hands fumbled with the room key. 

He knew he was screwed. The universe knew he was screwed. Hell, Cole Porter knew he was screwed. They were unwilling draftees countless miles from home and stuck in a war and were wild about each other - no shit, anything goes. How could real world rules apply, when Hawk felt like the only real thing he had access to anymore?

BJ wanted him so badly that almost as soon as the door was closed behind them, he drew Hawk in for another kiss, an arm clamping around Hawkeye's waist and pulling him in tight as their lips connected. 

Which made it all the more frustrating, all the more unbelievable, when Hawkeye's hand was pushing gently at his chest again, and he heard a soft, "Beej, wait."











You're kidding, right? Tell me you're kidding, BJ thought as his forehead fell to Hawkeye's shoulder, and he exhaled harshly. Of all the times you decide to play hard-to-get, it's now?

Hawkeye didn't quite believe his own audacity, either, but brought a hand to BJ's nape again, fingers pressing as they moved up and down as if massaging out tension rather than stroking to tantalize. "And trust me, I'm... wading in the irony up to my pits," Hawkeye chuckled mirthlessly as he read BJ's mind, his head falling lightly back against the wall. "I, uh, I-" If the art of speech could return to him sometime soon, that'd be great. He licked his lips and tried again. "I think there's a couple of things we need to sign off on, here..." His chin dropped, and his voice dropped with it to a babbling mumble. "Couple of... promises we should make each other..."

Don't do this, BJ wanted to warn. Don't make me think right now. The stutter spelled out sympatico and was plenty flattering, but really

But it wasn't as if BJ had a choice. He was a gentleman, wasn't he? He had to listen. And maybe, given their mutually short fuse when riled in each other's presence, maybe a pause wasn't the worst thing in the world - it only felt like it. 

He breathed purposely slowly, backing up a step as he lifted his head, his hand unwinding from Hawkeye's waist to splay over the wall beside his shoulder, a point he could press at to hold a distance that respected the other and allowed for conversation. His other hand reached up and gently, so gently as proof he'd regained self-control, brushed dark locks from where they'd fallen over Hawkeye's eyes. "What is it, Hawk?" he asked finally.

"I know you're not Trap," Hawkeye blurted immediately and winced inwardly after. The statement wasn't entirely fair to Trapper, and wouldn't make the degree of sense he needed it to unless he found better words. 

"Or anybody else," he went on, his hand reaching up to curl over BJ's forearm beside them for support. "I mean, I..." Words eluded him and he hated it, swallowing before he made another attempt to find the right ones, soothed and bolstered by BJ stroking through his hair over and over. "Everything you said in the supply room..." It all had sunk in despite his drunkenness, and he was constantly reminded by every bit of care and affection BJ had shown him since. 

"I, I believe it enough," Hawkeye settled on shakily, though the statement didn't feel complete somehow. But it wasn't as if he could outright say I can tell you love me, not right into BJ's blue eyes that he knew sparkled just as brightly for a lucky lady named Peg as for himself. "Um..." He wasn't used to this much vulnerability, especially right before a tryst, but this wasn't an everyday fumble with a nurse in the x-ray room - this was his Beej, and he knew he'd brought this all upon himself and had to push through it to get it out of their way. "If, if this is all we... the only time we... I won't hold it against you, Beej. I won't... hate you for it, or get bitter, or push you on... anything again, ever." He breathed in and out slowly. "Okay?" His eyes searched BJ's for comprehension, for assurance.

Oh, Hawk, BJ thought, touched by the evident nervousness and the promise he hadn't been aware he'd needed to hear but realized as it settled over him was crucial, after all. Your sweet, heavy heart's really doing a number on mine here... 

And it changed the tone of the moment, but not in a bad way.  "I... appreciate that," BJ began reverently, fingers still brushing comfortingly over Hawkeye's scalp. "A lot." And the shift had slowed them down, answered questions he'd have been afraid to raise and, yes, just a little, made it easier to ask the one he had to. It still scared him to have to, but if Hawkeye had been that brave to let reality creep under the door of their little room in Tokyo, he'd have to be, too. It was only fair. "What do you need from me?"

God, this was going to be trickier. Hawkeye knew that. The hand that had rested over BJ's arm slid up to elbow, back down to wrist and up again in uneasy movement. "Any concerns, you know, that you might..." Regret came to mind but Hawkeye didn't want to let himself use the word, let alone put it in BJ's head. "Thinking. All of that." Was he being clear enough? "I want... want us to enjoy the vacation, Beej. So, can it wait 'til we're back on home ground?" His voice grew stronger when he summarized with a touch more self-respect and confidence, sounding far more himself, and suddenly it wasn't at all an unreasonable demand to make. "If you're here with me, you're here with me. Not you, me, and your conscience."

Well, gee, Hawk, nice of you not to put too fine a point on it. His hand had stilled against Hawkeye's head without meaning to. This was close to what he'd been afraid of, something that might let too much reality seep in under the door and curl itself around his ring finger, but... 

BJ sighed softly. "That's kind of a big ask-"

"I know, I know it is, I just... I dunno if I could survive a flight back, worried that you're worried-"

"I was going to say..." BJ cut him off as he'd been interrupted himself, meeting Hawkeye's eyes again, registering uncertainty in them but so much beauty, too. "It's also a perfectly fair one." 

He offered Hawkeye a wavering smile. It may not have been the kind of promise he was truly sure he could guarantee, but they wouldn't be having this discussion at all if he hadn't already, if only subconsciously, made some kind of decision close to it.

"And... lucky for us..." BJ continued more softly, his fingers sliding from Hawkeye's hair down to his chin, a delicate touch encouraging it upwards. "Maybe I'm tired of thinking for a little while."

Hawkeye's heart skipped a beat, the hand that had run laps up and down BJ's forearm loosening up, starting the next one more slowly. "Oh, yeah?"

BJ hummed his confirmation but knew there was a better way to prove it than by the spoken word, nuzzling stubble-to-stubble for a moment before pressing a soft kiss to Hawk's lips. And another and another, until he felt Hawkeye relax a little, felt the hand on his arm fall to side, felt Hawk's mouth work against his own and he smiled against it. There you are. Got you back now. No more thinking, for Chrissake, please...

One hand at BJ's side and the other sliding tentatively into his fluffy hair, Hawkeye tried to remind himself to take this slow. Beej seemed to want to, that made plenty of sense, and the night was yet young. But he also had BJ Hunnicutt kissing him, and what did time or sense matter under circumstances like that? He sighed through his nose, tongue darting out to sweep from one side of BJ's lower lip to the other. As invitations went, it proved a success - BJ's tongue flicked against his own before their mouths locked over each other's with a new fervor, and Hawkeye heard an abrupt, deep little noise in BJ's throat that drove him crazy and made both his hands tighten their grip. 

It occurred to BJ absently that there was some kind of difference, that he could be rougher with Hawk than he might be otherwise, and that held an appeal he could only understand yet through kisses that aimed to devour. The way Hawkeye's tongue stroked his own sent sparks down his spine, and BJ gave back as good as he got. 

His hand curled around the back of Hawk's neck yet the one on the wall remained, because that slight distance it forced wasn't unimportant. Mainly it kept him just far enough back to keep their lower halves apart, not out of any dubeity or revulsion but because he knew the second he closed the distance, the moment he pressed close enough for contact, for friction...

The kiss broke with a gasp from BJ as his head dropped back, from Hawkeye a low moan, and they both had a hard time catching their breath.

"Jesus, Beej..." 

BJ's only answer was to lean in again, but this time his lips fell to Hawkeye's neck, pressing eager kisses from his jaw downward. Maybe it would have been stranger to feel Hawkeye hard against him if he hadn't already seen him that way. Seeing and feeling were two different things, but how long had it been since he'd been touched? Hawkeye felt great against him, and he didn't dare move yet.

Hawkeye's hand fell from BJ's hair, nails scratching down his back as he tried to keep his wits about him. BJ was huge, he knew that already, but to feel him left him even more dazed than the kisses had, and set him to babbling again as he shivered from the occasional graze of teeth. "Do... do you know how badly I, I wanna make good on that bedtime story..."

BJ groaned against Hawkeye's neck at the thought. "You can't say shit like that, Hawk. We've got..." He kissed at the side of his throat, laughing softly as he licked, the feeling of stubble against his tongue a new one but again, not bad. He wanted to test and taste Hawkeye all over, learn all the differences, learn what made Hawk shiver hardest. "A short enough fuse as it is..." His hand dropped from the wall finally, finding Hawkeye's hip and slipping beneath his shirt, amazed at how hot the skin beneath his palm seemed. 

"Not always, not nurses, just you," Hawkeye panted in a rush, giving a little rock of his hips that he immediately regretted for how incredible it felt. But he didn't like BJ assuming he was a 60-second man overall. He had his pride, damn it.


Hawkeye's face burned. That was embarrassing, wasn't it? Revealed a little too much, didn't it? "Uh... I mean..." Damn. Why bother struggling for words when air was enough of a challenge? BJ's mouth kept surprising him, a hard flick of tongue here, a lingering kiss there. Hawkeye tilted his own head to catch what he could, nuzzling at BJ's jaw before catching his earlobe between his lips, lapping at it. Shut up.

BJ felt another shiver shoot down his back, Hawkeye's hot breath against his ear shimmering through his nervous system, and he still felt it wise not to move his hips too much even though he was dying to. It would all be over too soon if things went that way. The couple of times he and Hawk had gotten off together had been absurdly fast, and he'd be lying if he blamed Korea alone. 

"Relax - feeling's mutual," he admitted in a murmur, and finally gave into the urge he'd thought about ever since spotting that hickey either Rose or Petunia had left, catching skin just above Hawk's shoulder between his teeth, tonguing at it as he sucked but had to stop and add, "Which is why you can't say things like that." He'd have to make a second attempt at leaving his mark soon.

Hawkeye moaned at the suction, all but writhing, his hands pulling at BJ's hips to bring him closer even though that was more or less impossible. "Yeah? Why not?" he taunted. 

"'Cause," BJ said, drawing Hawk into another searing kiss, grunting softly when he felt teeth tug at his lower lip, a move that BJ was sure made his temperature spike a full ten degrees. It was so tempting to kiss and grind until they'd need to hit a laundry service the next day, but he made himself pause the kiss, making a note to return the bite later to Hawk's appealingly friction-puffed lower lip. "We're not teenagers in the back of a Buick?" 

He pressed his forehead to Hawkeye's, forcing them both into relaxing for a second. "We've got a room..." His hips shifted up a touch and he was definitely reminded of the days of someone's dad's Buick. "And real beds..." He moved again and relished Hawkeye's whine, and couldn't help a soft moan of his own. "And three whole days to ourselves."

Could BJ stop flaunting his size for five seconds? Hawkeye wanted, desperately wanted so many things, and dropping to his knees for it was but one of them. The pressure was gorgeously distracting as he tried to follow what BJ was saying. Wait, what? 

"Wait, what?"

"What, what?" BJ asked, brows quirking, the hand beneath Hawk's shirt sliding up and down his side, getting more used to the feel of Hawk's skinny-but-not body than he'd ever been able before. 


"Hmm?" He couldn't stop kissing Hawkeye, it seemed, pressing another soft one to the corner of his lips.

Hawkeye blinked, trying to wrap his head around it. Where had he miscalculated, misread? What hadn't he left himself dream, thus failed to ask about? His hands were paused at BJ's waist as he processed. "You, uh... y'said three days..."

Breathing hard, BJ pulled back some, reading the hazy bafflement on Hawkeye's face, and caught on quickly. Hawk had said three days until he was 'allowed' to 'think', hadn't he? BJ planned to make those all three of them count, and smiled slowly as he tsked. "Look at you..."

"What, me?" Hawkeye questioned, wide-eyed, short of breath, and none too sure of BJ's smile.

"You," BJ said, pulling his hips back enough to relieve the constant temptation to grind, much as it pained him. "Really thought..." His knuckles stroked across Hawkeye's abdomen, and he savored the little hitch in Hawk's breath. "You could get away with tormenting me for weeks, and settle that all tonight? With, what, a... highly charged half-minute on your knees?"

"I..." He shivered at the touch and at the teasing tone Beej had taken, and wanted to say, Look here, buddy, I was plenty tormented, too. "Dunno what I thought," he admitted, but it had definitely been on the more reserved side, assuming the party and kiss had gotten to BJ enough that this was, despite discussion, a heat of the moment kind of thing. A star-studded, one-night-only performance at the Thank God, Finally amphitheater. And he wanted Beej's body back against his own. Why had he moved? Not fair, not fair, he needed-

"No, you did! I can see it on your face. Oh, Hawk..." BJ rumbled a laugh as he shook his head. His hand drifted lower and he savored being the one to win at teasing, the one to have thrown the great and merciless Hawkeye Pierce off his footing. He was irresistible like that, with lashes fluttering naturally rather than in impish flirtation, stunned and slack-jawed with lust that BJ had caused. It was about as glorious as the VIP tent and something he'd sensed there about Hawk, how in-control BJ had felt because Hawk let him feel as much, only now he could do something about it. 

The urge to play with that discovery was even stronger than the urge to get off and, if he was being entirely honest with himself, this was all still new ground. He didn't feel unsure about it but they were still dressed, and still mostly just kissing. BJ would keep his air of confidence while he could. He risked his hand roaming lower, fairly sure touching Hawkeye wouldn't be all that different from touching himself and wanting to test the theory. "I thought you said you were over my innocent act, didn't you?" 

Hawkeye had definitely miscalculated, he realized as he felt BJ palm him over his clothes, gasping as BJ's thumb made little circles over the tip of his trapped cock before it stopped to stroke slowly downward. He released a shuddering sigh, becoming aware that if he thought he was screwed before, he'd been a complete idiot. The screwed of a short while ago didn't begin to cover the kind of screwed he was now. His gut twisted in the most delicious dread and he couldn't form words now, so how was he supposed to answer that? 

BJ honestly wasn't sure how he was playing things this cool when he knew a similar touch from Hawk might do him in completely. But Hawkeye's hands seemed to seize at his hips yet stay there so he was safe for the moment, and having pulled back in time to draw this out was so worth it. His hand rose to Hawkeye's chest but over his shirt, giving a few conciliatory pats to the center of his sternum, knowing the lack of touch would drive him even further up the wall. 

"And I'm sure you'll have your moments here... I know very well what that half-minute on your knees would do to me," he said with a cheeriness he forced over his own acute arousal as he stroked Hawkeye's chest with a broad, warm hand. "But why rush it... when for the next three days, lover," BJ said, leaning in close to ensure his breath hit the shell of Hawkeye's ear, and he let the brightness fall to a more genuine and husky tone as he said something he'd been wanting to be able to for ages. "You're mine."


Chapter 21

Chapter Notes

((((HOT off the presses. You know I love you all, right? Special thanks to shatteredwriters for some crucial brainstorming help. <3 Will update tags in a couple days to avoid spoilers, and ref pics added to the soundtrack post at A mental image/faceclaim for Archie and Reuben? You know you want one for those cuties (since I suck at OC description lol) Go check it out.))))






Hawkeye had to summon the unforgettable scent of mess tent liver in his mind to keep from losing it right there. 

He was also kind of regretting that brunch invite. 

But no, he owed Archie and Reuben big-time, and there was always before brunch, and after brunch, and the day after that, and now. 

Yeah, now was a good start. BJ wanted to tease? Fine! That was fine. What, did BJ want him to beg? Hawkeye was more than a little tempted to, except... had BJ forgotten who he was dealing with? Hawkeye stroked the arm against his chest, again from wrist to elbow, as he caught his breath. "Love... everything you've said, Beej," he breathed, "But I think you're... overestimating our patience a smidge..." His other hand's thumb dipped below the waist of BJ's pants, feather-light circles drawn over his hip. 

"Oh, come on. We're grown-ups," BJ defended them both, left hand drawing Hawkeye's shirt down from his shoulder to lay kisses in spots he couldn't before as the touch made him hiss, and maybe... well, maybe he shouldn't have tilted his hips away...

"Sure, sure, yeah..." His hand clasped to BJ's right one and drew it up higher, paused near his own neck as if in mere thoughtfulness, thumb kneading BJ's palm. "Still, though, you... you want me for three days, think we might need to knock one out real quick, take the edge off..." It wasn't begging. Just suggesting. 

"So romantic," BJ scoffed lightly, fighting to ignore how badly he wanted to push against Hawkeye's hand if it were just a little lower. "Can see why all the nurses are tripping over themselves for a night with you!" 

You want romance, call your wife, Hawkeye thought blithely. "And you're not?" Hawkeye asked, before drawing their hands up nearer to his face and wrapping his lips around BJ's forefinger. His tongue flicked once against the pad before he sucked, drawing it further into the heat of his mouth with a filthy moan.

BJ's knees threatened to buckle. 

Maybe Hawk had a point. 

His hand dropped from Hawkeye's mouth to get a fistful of shirt fabric, the other forceful at his waist to pull him off the wall. "You? Bed," BJ all but growled, patience gone, and once he'd turned Hawkeye as if dancing again, gave his chest a light shove.

Hawkeye stumbled backwards, landing back on the bed and supported by his elbows, and he had to think of mess tent fare again because BJ had just been rough with him and if he wasn't madly, stupidly in love before, he was now. The only problem was that BJ didn't land on him immediately, instead walking (with that lion-like, stalking stride Hawkeye adored and that looked even better with an erection) towards the middle of the room. He blinked. "Beej? The bed you just threw me on? It's over here." 

"I know; I'm getting that slick you brought," BJ explained through uneven breaths, walking to the table and tossing open Hawkeye's suitcase.

Whoa, cowboy. Hawkeye chuckled nervously, rising to sit up further. "Uh, I don't know what you think you think you're thinking, but-"

"I think I'm gonna touch you for the first time and I want it to feel as good as possible," BJ clarified, though there was fuel for amusement in Hawkeye's reaction, and found the tube. "Why? What'd you think I was thinking?" he asked in wry challenge, licking his lips as he stepped away from the table, towards the bed and Hawkeye sprawled at its edge, standing between his spread knees. 

I think if you keep looking at me with a smirk like that, you're gonna be late for the floor show altogether, Hawkeye thought, eyes roaming from BJ's face down to his groin nearly at eye level. His hands rose and spread over the front of BJ's thighs, worshiping his muscles with a squeeze, his mouth hanging open with pure want as his fingers made for BJ's belt. 

Hawk's face was so agonizingly close. It would be so easy, BJ knew, to have his mouth for however long he could last in it. He throbbed at the thought, and reminded himself again that they had plenty of time for such things. Better to start simple, and more equal, too. Belt loosened workably, he got a knee on the bed between the other's thighs, his body encouraging Hawk to lie back. "You're pretty; you know that, Hawk?" he asked, the hand that held the tube of lubricant supporting his weight and the other reaching for Hawk's belt. 

"Beej, please, the compliments can wait, I need-" Hawkeye panted, imagining it was anyone else's hand on his belt to hold off the heat. Frank Burns'. MacArthur's. Radar's mother's. Anyone's but BJ's. He couldn't handle it. Wouldn't even need the lube, having been so close a couple times. 

"Not the only one," BJ managed to sympathize and compliment simultaneously, getting Hawk's fly undone as he felt Hawk's fingers scrabble to mirror the helpful gesture, every brush of the side of his hands as they moved too tantalizing. BJ wished they had the stability and presence of mind to undress properly because he was too warm, but they really, really didn't. He felt tugs at his sides, Hawkeye wanting clothes out of the way, and did his best to accommodate that with shifts of his hips. He'd have been more helpful with Hawkeye's pants and shorts, but suddenly Hawk's fingers curled around him and it shook his focus too much, his hand going still and limp from distraction. "Oh, shit..." His head drooped.

"Move up, up, right up against me, come on," Hawkeye urged breathlessly, giving BJ a squeeze, barely believing how long and thick he was. And oh, god, he wasn't the only one who'd been overeager; he felt liquid at BJ's tip when he swiped a thumb there, and depravedly wished he could be licking it off. He pressed back against the mattress, letting movement alone draw his own pants down as he scooted up an inch or two, free hand working with a rise of his hips to pull them down further, far enough for the most basic degree of comfort. If BJ could be useful, that'd have been wonderful, but he seemed too dazed, which Hawkeye took as a compliment. 

Panting, BJ moved up as directed, knees shuffling higher on either side of Hawkeye's thighs, finally beginning to get the concept of where Hawk wanted him and why. They could find friction together that way, and when Hawkeye pressed them together with one hand, BJ gasped. The lube would have improved things but the slide was slick enough regardless as he gave a test thrust into the squeezing hold, a shudder passing through him. 

"Beej, y- hand's bigger, will you-"

"Yeah," he nodded and, ever the gentlemen, thought ahead far enough to push Hawk's shirt high up on his chest to keep it clean through the inevitable. His hand replaced Hawkeye's and there wasn't much skill or care applied as he began to tug them both, too frenzied for it, but he loved how much Hawkeye didn't seem to care, hips rising up into the touch, shaky breaths becoming deliciously wanton little moans. 

BJ craned his head down and pressed hot, open-mouthed kisses to his throat, feeling Hawkeye's hands sweep over his sides, relishing the way he trembled beneath him. He could tell they were both close. "Give us a little more slick, H-Hawk, come on," he encouraged in a rasp against Hawkeye's ear. "Come all over us..."

Hawkeye couldn't take BJ saying that, he really couldn't, and his eyes rolled back as heat swept brutally over and through him. "Beej, Beej-" he gasped, clutching hard at BJ's sides as his hips juddered, and his whole existence narrowed down to need and throb and pulse and sparks that spilled into BJ's pumping hand. 

To BJ, it was an entirely new sensation to feel another man twitch against him like that, fall apart in his hand, not just another man but Hawkeye, and to know he'd made that happen was too much. He buried a loud curse against Hawk's shoulder as his hips bucked, muscles tensing up hard, pleasure rising to a crest that burst inside him in two intense waves and shot out across Hawk's midsection. 

For a short while, all they could do was breathe or try to, and when BJ sighed, it was a sigh that seemed to let months of strain out in one go. 

His supporting arm threatened to give out on him so he kissed Hawkeye lightly before dropping onto the bed beside him. Something poked at his ribs and he reached down, finding the tube that had been unnecessary after all, which he set on the little table between the beds before his hand flopped to Hawkeye's upper chest. 

"Not bad for a short fuse, huh?" Hawkeye muttered when he found his voice again, his heart and lungs still operating at abnormal rates, left hand falling lightly over BJ's right, gaze on the ceiling. 

"You weren't wrong it... needed lighting," BJ agreed, preferring that analogy to Hawk's earlier crass phrasing. "Too many clothes, though..."

"Mm. Who knows. Maybe by tomorrow we'll have enough patience to get our boots off."

BJ chuckled, low and warm, and he found himself laughing longer than the quip really deserved as his thumb stroked Hawkeye's clavicle. What could, other than familiarity, elongate the fuse between them? He wasn't sure, but hummed in consideration. "Maybe if I tie your hands up..." he joked. 

"Hey," Hawkeye said faux-sharply, turning his head to regard BJ beside him, a playful sneer narrowing his eyes. "You can't threaten me with a good time." 

Laughing again, BJ pressed his forehead to the side of Hawkeye's shoulder, and Hawkeye smiled thinly. Look at you. You're giddy, he thought, and raised his hand from atop BJ's to brush his fingers through that swoop of blond hair he'd found charming from day one. 

Practically purring at the touch, BJ pulled his face back enough to look at Hawkeye, meeting his eyes with a smile. "You're really something, you know that?" he asked softly. 

Pillow talk with BJ Hunnicutt. Who'da thunk it? That smile could ruin Antarctica's ecosystem, Hawkeye thought. But it wasn't an everyday, casually-devastating-Hawkeye-and-a-handful-of-nurses smile. It looked suspiciously like a BJ-Loves-Me-But-Might-Be-Falling-In-Love-With-Me smile, and Hawkeye didn't know if he was imagining that, but whether he was or not didn't matter. It didn't sit unreservedly right either way. "Yeah, well... I'm gonna be really something with a fine crust if I don't shower soon. Wanna go get in a whore's bath first?"

It would be pointless to point out Hawk's continued crudeness, wouldn't it? The suggestion wasn't a bad one, but BJ wasn't sure he wanted to get up yet, the strokes against his scalp too pleasant. "Could shower together," he shrugged. 

"We'll be showering together the rest of the war," Hawkeye said plainly. "Might as well get our... rare scraps of privacy in where we can."

"Yeah, okay," BJ relented, rolling onto his back and sitting slowly up, another small, disbelieving laugh tumbling from his lips. Here he was giving Hawk playful hell for lack of romanticism, and they really did still have their boots on. That short a fuse should have disturbed him more but a need was a need, and his needs felt too sated for him to care. He gave Hawkeye's thigh a parting squeeze before standing and making for the bathroom.

Hawkeye watched him go and released a slow exhale, the hand that had been in BJ's hair moving to his own, rubbing at his temples. He wasn't sure precisely the direction his brain was moving in, but he didn't think he liked it. This was what he'd wanted, right? Of course it was. But a whole R&R? He couldn't remember the last time he'd spent that many nights in a row with the same person. It seemed, for many reasons... risky. 

But since BJ had promised not to think, Hawkeye would have to try for the same, even if he knew promises made when one's blood had fled their brain weren't always solid ones. Hell. Beej might wake up tomorrow and call the whole thing off. But that would be terrible, too. Both extremes scared Hawkeye to think about. If they could just exist somewhere in the middle, take the time they'd decided they had and make the most of it, that was the ideal. And how utterly maudlin, to let himself deeply consider much of anything at all when he was still splattered with BJ's spunk. That was a happy occurrence no matter how you sliced the surrounding circumstances.

He smiled at the thought, humming a little purr of his own before getting to the matter of tucking himself back into his shorts for decency's sake and sitting up. He stood and made for his own bed, beside which clean clothes sat piled and waiting for further adventures in Tokyo, and picked a tee and clean shorts to wear to bed. By the time BJ emerged from the bathroom, Hawkeye was singing Too Marvelous For Words, his rendition increasing in volume in the echo of the bathroom once accompanied by the shower's spray. 









"You asleep?"

"Mm?" BJ blinked. He'd cleaned up, gotten down to just shorts, laid down to relax and apparently had drifted off. It had been a long day full of good food, better-than-usual drinks, a slew of emotions and new experiences, and the morning watching the parade preparations felt strangely like it had been decades ago. "Guess so... You need something?"

"Nah, you're good. Sweet dreams, Beej," Hawkeye said, turning off the light on the table between them before sliding beneath the blankets of his own bed.

BJ wondered blearily what Hawkeye was doing all the way over there. Sure, only a few feet separated them, but... 

He didn't bother asking, since Hawk would likely say something similar to what he had about the shower, that they might as well enjoy their space and privacy where they could, that an entire real bed to oneself wasn't a gift horse to punch in the mouth by letting someone else share it. It just surprised him a little, was all. Or was the surprise his own vague sense of disappointment about it? What had he expected?

BJ wasn't sure.

It simply struck him as odd that when he felt closer to Hawkeye than ever before, when they were closer than before, Hawk still found ways to pull away.

It didn't strike him particularly hard, though. He was too sleepy for it to. And that was, BJ reasoned as he closed his eyes again, probably for the best in the long run. 

"You, too." 











The next morning, the first thing BJ was aware of was a hand on his chest, gentle caresses of a palm from the bottom of his ribs to his jugular notch, occasionally sweeping further to the sides and brushing over his nipples. It was the most pleasant wake-up he could recall in a long while, peaceful and warm. "Mm... that feels nice, Peggy..." he rumbled in his half-sleep. 

"I'll do us both a big favor and not take that personally," Hawkeye's voice replied, sounding as warm as the touches and dryly amused.

Oh. Right, was BJ's first thought, quickly followed by, Well, thank god for that. It was an immediate relief to not have to apologize for something so innate to him. He opened his eyes slowly, taking in the sight of Hawkeye sprawled beside him, shirtless and leaning on one elbow, cheek in hand and a small smirk on his face. "Morning..."

"Sleep well?" Hawkeye asked, hand still stroking BJ's chest, savoring the hair that tickled his splayed fingers. He was enjoying this, and the enjoyment hid the selfish undertone that he didn't want BJ to wake up and start thinking. Anything but that. 

"Very," BJ nodded some, then paused. "...having fun there?"

"I've always wanted to do this, you know," Hawkeye murmured, smiling faintly still. 

"What, pet me?"

"Mm." BJ had a forest on his chest, compared to the relatively sparse crop on Hawkeye's own; BJ was all man and it was appealing in a way Hawkeye couldn't help but respond to. "Ever since the first time I saw you without a shirt. You're like a big, fuzzy bear..."

BJ laughed, waking up more as a blush warmed his face. "That's the second animal you've compared me to. How can I be a bear and a big cat at the same time?"

"I dunno," Hawkeye shrugged, continuing to pet BJ's broad chest. "I'm a Hawk but I'm also a cuckoo, an ass, a chicken..." 

You're in rare form this morning, BJ thought, and offered an addition to the list. "A silly goose?"

"That, too. But speaking of cocks..." Hawkeye's hand roamed, following a trail of hair towards the blanket hem at BJ's waist.

"Oh, well done. Very subtle," BJ teased, laughter on the tip of his tongue, and realized his case of morning wood Hawkeye was so subtly referencing. Now I see what brings you back into bed with me, he thought sardonically, but the brush of Hawkeye's hand, now more fingertips than palm, had an unmistakable allure.

"Oh. Beej." Hawkeye dragged his gaze from the bulge in his blanket to BJ's face. "There's nothing subtle about that. In fact, you want to know what I'd call it?"

BJ quirked a brow. "Uh... honestly? Little afraid to ask!" he admitted, another laugh shaking his shoulders, certain another animal joke would be slung his way and he'd just have to take it lying down.

"Fine, then. I won't tell you," Hawkeye pretended to be miffed.

Rolling his eyes, BJ craned up and pressed a kiss to Hawkeye's chest in apology before his head fell back to the pillow, heaving a resigned sigh. "Go on. If you must."

"No, no - I'm still deciding, anyway," Hawkeye said casually. "It was a toss-up between 'mouthwatering' or 'delectable', and I was going to be as sultry as Yvonne de Carlo about it, but you killed the moment. So I hope you're happy with yourself." 

BJ clapped a hand over his eyes, gasping comically and joining in the dramatics. "That's unforgivable! How will I live with myself, Hawk? Can you order a firing squad from room service? It's clearly what I deserve." 

Hawkeye's hand drifted away from BJ's stomach and he pretended to examine his nails. "Your loss, big boy. I hardly need you to sate my oral fixation. The PX has plenty of lollipops." He peeked slyly at BJ from the corners of his eyes.

"Low blow..." BJ groaned.

"No blow, you mean," Hawkeye amended.

BJ chuckled despite himself. As fascinating as Hawk's ideas on how to spend the morning were, and they were, his bladder was sending him slightly conflicting signals about the whole non-subtle ordeal. "Think I need to settle this the good old-fashioned way," he said, sitting up and drawing the blanket away. "But hold that thought?" 

Hawkeye watched him stand, eyes naturally drawn to his back and shoulderblades - he had, for three days, permission to ogle BJ as much as he pleased, and he wasn't going to waste the time. "Mm. In that case, wash more than your hands." 

Pausing in the doorway, BJ sighed. Why was Hawk like this? Really. It was as if he had no filter between his brain and his mouth sometimes, and every thought that could potentially embarrass someone even a little just had to fly out of him. Of course BJ might have given some care towards being sanitary, but the crudeness bordered on legitimately annoying.  "Ya know what?" He turned in the doorway to point at Hawkeye, posed coquettishly on the bed, and flashed him a cold grin. "Just for that, I think I'm gonna have a nice, long bath, and the most careful shave of my life. I'll probably still be shaving by the time Archie and Reuben show up."

"Oh, yeah? Then I'll order a banana at brunch, and stare at you the whole time I eat it. Lashes a-flutter and all. You think I care if they hear my best moans? I'm an exhibitionist at heart, Beej." 

"You're horrible," BJ declared but not without amusement.

"Whore? Kinda. Able? Don't dawdle, and you'll find out how much." 

God. "Impossible, then!"

"Yeah? What are you gonna do, spank me?" Hawkeye taunted. 

"Thought you said I can't threaten you with a good time?" BJ shot back.

Hawkeye threw his head back with a laugh, a satisfied smile on his face as he looked at BJ again, his sigh merry and mischievous. "Ah... gotta love a fast learner." 

BJ clicked his tongue and made purposeful eye contact. "Careful what you wish for, Hawk," he said coolly before turning into the bathroom, and closed the door behind him.

The fact that BJ was very likely kidding to mess with him didn't do much to prevent a shiver running down Hawkeye's spine.











When BJ returned to the main room, he felt a hint of dismay to see that Hawkeye was no longer on the bed but standing near the desk, digging through the USO bag and the small pile of remaining snacks beside it. "I don't think this sandwich is worth keeping. I'm gonna toss it."

"That's... fine," BJ said hesitantly, not sure if the return to boring domesticity meant the flirtations had ended and the opportunity missed. If so, he could either press the matter, get dressed for the day, or get some morning exercise in. Hawkeye being tricky to read sometimes, he decided against pressing and opted for the lattermost first, stretching this way and that before dropping to the floor. "Keep that Lay's tin, though. Can rinse it and use it for something or other," he added before starting push-ups. 

Hawkeye motioned as if he were dribbling the sandwich before tossing it towards the garbage can several feet away. He missed by a foot and shrugged, digging back into the bag, gaze inevitably wandering towards BJ as he moved. Show-off, he thought, but why shouldn't BJ show off when he knew he had an appreciative audience? Those arms... Bastard. "Hey, can you make the check-in call when you're done?" he asked, examining a bag of grape licorice laces and tossing them back in to keep. Probably a gift for Radar.

"Five... six... seven... What?"

Pulling a high-and-mighty, downright Charlesian accent, Hawkeye said, "Do give the 4077th a ring, dear Jeeves, once you're finished working out your... mm, frustrations, and ensure all's going swimmingly back home." 

"Ten... eleven... Can't you? You did yesterday."

Hawkeye dropped the affectation. "Your mother never teach you to take turns?"

"Thirteen, took you... fourteen, almost half an hour to get through..."

"Yeah, Radar and Sparky were playing Battleship again. Or did you have something better to do?"

BJ paused his push-ups, glancing up at Hawkeye with a halfhearted glare, and said only, "You're making me lose count." 

"Oh, you were at seventeen." 

"Enjoying the view?" BJ asked sarcastically before continuing. "Eighteen."

"So much that it pains me to make you stop, truly. But get on it. The boys'll be around in an hour or so," Hawkeye reminded, poking idly at the remaining snacks, still seeming to debate whether anything was truly of interest and could be motivated by more than boredom alone. 

"Who died and made you CO?" BJ asked in a mutter, but rose from the floor anyway, dusting off his hands and noticing the way Hawkeye was looking at him. No longer the appraising interest, but something... oh. BJ's lips pressed into a regretful line as it sunk in that, perhaps, 'CO' and 'died' didn't belong in the same sentence. "Bad phrasing. Sorry."

Hawkeye shrugged. He'd heard worse things, harder reminders, and besides, he had plans, and a silly slip on the part of a probably-slightly-confused BJ wasn't the end of the world. "It's fine. You call, I snack." 

"Roger that," BJ nodded and walked around the bed to the phone atop the dresser, his back to Hawkeye. He hoped it wouldn't take an eternity to get through, but if it did, he could use the time to ponder what had changed in Hawk's mind, because it was more than a little ludicrous that Hawkeye would take the call of nature as some kind of rejection. He could be attention-needy, sure, but wasn't that pushing the limits of logic a tad unreasonably? BJ knew he shouldn't obsess, but it wasn't as if he had all that much he could let himself dwell on and keep it to a strictly, exclusively nice vacation. And he was somewhat disappointed. But the front desk put him through to the first operator in a matter of two minutes, so at least some things were going right.

BJ leaned his right elbow against the dresser, closing his eyes out of sheer boredom with the process, and nearly jumped out of his skin a moment later when he felt a kiss pressed to his left hip. 

His eyes popped open and there was Hawkeye, moving to perch on the bed just in front of him, his knees at either side of BJ's legs, a hand creeping up to rest over the spot he'd kissed.

"Hi," Hawkeye smiled upwards, eyes full of promise and trouble. 

BJ wanted to believe the look but at the same time, for sanity's sake, really didn't. "Oh, no, you don't," he said, barely louder than a whisper, knowing the line could crackle to life with a voice asking for further direction at any moment. 

"Why not?" Hawkeye asked, thumb drifting along the waistline of BJ's shorts.

"Because I'm on the phone?"

"For a check-in. Goes like this," Hawkeye elaborated, his hand turning, knuckles brushing slowly up BJ's soft-but-still-impressive length over his shorts. "Operator, operator, operator. Then, 'Hi, Radar. How are things? Good? Good.' Then you hang up..." Hawkeye leaned closer, nuzzling at the trail of hair below BJ's navel, making sure his breath hit skin as he slowed his speech. "And then you're all mine..."

Jaw tensing, BJ closed his eyes again. He should discourage this, he knew it, but...

"I didn't get to appreciate this nearly enough last night, Beej," Hawkeye continued, knuckles slowly brushing back down, delighting that he could feel BJ stiffen already at the touch. "And I really want to." He kissed with an open mouth, fabric brushing his lower lip, tongue dipping just below the waistband and lapping hard at the skin there.

You're such. a little. shit, BJ thought as he gasped softly at the sensation, left hand falling to Hawkeye's shoulder but not pushing him away. He hadn't decided yet, or so he loved lying to himself.

"Will you let me?" Hawkeye asked huskily, hand unfurling, fingers feather-light as they stroked upwards, down and up again. "I called the PX. They said they're all out of lollipops today," he lied in jest. "But I'm not sure those'd have satisfied me, anyhow... Not when I want something bigger..." 

When an operator came on the line, BJ had to wrack his brain for a moment remembering who he was calling, but then all was silence and more waiting again, one hurdle successfully jumped. But it shouldn't have given him the false confidence he had to open his eyes and glance down, because Hawkeye's eyes were stunning with that big a promise of trouble emanating from them, and he could tell he wasn't the only one whose shorts were filling out, and the sight combined with the slow touches was no longer something he could lie to himself about and believe it for very long. "I'm sooo getting you back for this..."

"Really? I can't wait," Hawkeye beamed, taking the threat for the permission it was. His hands swept to BJ's sides, running from the base of his ribs over the muscles of his abdomen before getting to the shorts again, which took some stretching of the fabric to work over BJ's erection and down. The few seconds of the night before's rushed touches had nothing on this, Hawkeye breathing an admiring sigh as his hands drifted up the backs of strong legs, a light caress from knee upwards, over backside and back down to BJ's thighs. 

BJ shivered and made himself mentally call up breathing exercises from basic training. 

"You know, some things grow best in adverse conditions," Hawkeye murmured thoughtfully, his fingers forming a light circle around BJ, the side of his hand tickled by wiry hair. 

Was that supposed to make sense? BJ's brows furrowed. "What?"

"Fuses, Beej," Hawkeye smiled serenely, hand stroking slowly once from base to tip.

BJ suddenly understood. With attention torn between phone and Hawk's devilry, this could well last longer than their norm. He tipped the mouth part of the phone away from his face, his hand at Hawkeye's bare shoulder curling into a fist to steady himself. "You planned every second of this, didn't you? The snacks, making me call in..."

"Every inch," Hawkeye purred, pleased with himself, leaning forward and flicking his tongue out, kittenlike and experimental, once against the thick head, gratified by the the twitch of BJ's stomach muscles and hitch of breath the move earned. Hawkeye stroked at lower back with his free hand and let saliva pool on his tongue before it stuck out again, rolling wet and slow below the head, feeling the weight of BJ resting on it, letting him see it there before his lips pursed lightly around him. 

Fuck, fuck. "Ah..." BJ blinked, not sure if he should keep watching because, once more with feeling, fuck. Sometimes Hawk shutting the hell up was a blessing but it was as much a curse now, when BJ had to stammer his way through an interaction with the next operator while anticipation ran riot through him. And Hawk's mouth was so wonderfully wet, and already all BJ wanted to do was thrust into it but held back, fingers tentatively splaying over Hawk's neck. No, he couldn't look away.

Hawkeye was finding it was one thing to know BJ packed a third leg and quite another to accommodate it. He'd manage, and enjoy every second doing so, but it took getting used to. He pulled his mouth off with another stroke of tongue to the underside (and loved BJ's curt, tiny grunt of annoyance as he did so), and nuzzled briefly at BJ's hairy arm beside his head. "Tell Radar I send my love, by the way," he teased, looking down and stretching his jaw for a second before returning to the task in his hand, inhaling BJ's scent deeply as a long lick from root to tip ended with wrapping his lips around him again. The brief stretch had helped and Hawkeye closed his eyes, taking BJ further into his mouth with a moan.

BJ had to bite his lower lip at the strain of not moving, not moaning, not doing any more than letting Hawkeye get his bearings. He hurt Peg sometimes by accident, he knew that, and that was just the bare basics. She didn't do this often at all, and as he heard a choked little noise from Hawkeye, and Hawk readjusted to take a half inch less, he knew Hawk was learning why. But that constriction of Hawk's throat around him had felt... Jesus Christ. BJ breathed slowly, his hand rising to stroke through Hawk's hair even if he wasn't sure he'd be able to keep the touch gentle. But it was more gentle than his tone when he taunted in a mutter, "What's wrong, Hawk? Bite off more than you can chew?"

Hawkeye's eyes flashed in challenge up at him, lips widening in a smile, and BJ shouldn't have said that because Hawkeye only doubled down, more fingers curling around him and beginning to stroke in tandem with the movements of his mouth. BJ hissed through gritted teeth at the more thorough squeeze, saliva working its magic to ease the push, and damned if he didn't want to just use and abuse Hawk's gorgeously hot mouth for all it could take-

"MASH 4077th."

Fuck. "H-h-hey, Radar. Hey. Hi." 

Chuckling low in his throat, Hawkeye breathed through his nose and tried to be careful. He was loving this as much as he loved BJ's evident difficulties, but the gag reflex was a very real thing, and despite his stroking hand that kept him in control, his eyes watered from BJ hitting it one too many times. But that laxity that had come over BJ's face, the way his mouth hung open between words, the way his eyes had glazed over and the fingers in Hawkeye's hair were pressing tensely, oh, it was all worth it.

"Is that you, Captain Hunnicutt?"

"Yep, yeah, hi. How're... how're things?"

"You okay? You sound kinda funny."

"Uh... exercising. You... things good?" 

"Yeah, we're all okay here, except Major Houlihan and Major Winchester were yelling at each other in the mess tent, and she said she was gonna-"

"Radar? Sorrybutgottagobye," BJ said in a single breath, all but slamming the phone back onto its cradle, spearing Hawkeye with a heated glare. 

Hawkeye slowed his hand, tongue-tip stroking a vein as he pulled his lips slowly off. BJ groaned his chagrin and Hawkeye, jaw grateful for the brief break, faked a frown. "Why didn't you didn't tell him I say hi?"

"Hawk, I swear to God-"

"Put your hips into it, Beej," Hawkeye rasped then, holding eye contact, longing to see and feel the way BJ's muscles moved when given the chance to snap. His hand sped its strokes temporarily, and he licked his lips. "Want you to," his voice fell to a worshipful whisper before pressing a kiss to the gleaming tip of BJ's length, and drew it back into his mouth. 

In that moment, BJ was sure Hawkeye's friction-reddened, plusher-than-usual lips were the most tempting thing he'd seen in his life, and the hunger in his eyes was so genuine it struck something deep in BJ's instincts as if they were springing to life just to satisfy it. Still, the first thrust was no more than a slight shift forward, palm spreading over the back of Hawkeye's head as a moan reverberated through his chest. Hawkeye answered it in kind and the vibration was a pleasant shock that sent heat crawling through every limb, and the next nudge of his hips forward had a touch more force behind it.

Hawkeye moved his hand less, keeping it around BJ for some semblance of control, his mind and body thrilling to the new momentum. That's it, that's it, Beej. Give it to me. He felt BJ slide against his tongue of his own volition and his hand slipped away from the warm skin at BJ's lower back, dropping to between his own thighs, gripping over his shorts to ease some of the need; the just-noticeable ripple of BJ's muscles at his eye line made him weak against the concept of patience. 

BJ's head dropped back, his breaths ragged huffs as he widened his stance. He felt Hawkeye's cheeks tighten around him, adding more suction into the mix of already perfect sensations, tongue and the ridges of the roof of Hawk's mouth all a tighter squeeze, and his selfless self-control waned more by the second. "Fuck, Hawk..." BJ pushed forward with less care and more enthusiasm, the hand at the back of Hawkeye's head holding him more firmly in place as the rhythm they moved in picked up. 

There was something about hearing ever-polite BJ growl so heated a curse that melted Hawkeye from his core outwards, made the brush of his own hand over the fabric more urgent, but when BJ dared to return his gaze to the sight of Hawkeye's lips wide around him, he noticed and made a mad grab for Hawkeye's arm, pulling it hard upwards to hold to his own side. "No, y'don't," he panted, and the desperate whine that came from Hawkeye as a result was a thing of sheer beauty, pushing BJ ever closer to the edge.

Distracted by the cease of idle relief, Hawkeye lost his focus on keeping the worst of the pressure at bay. The next thrust was too hard and he choked on it, eyes and throat burning as he pulled his mouth away, almost frantic. "Sorry, I-" BJ rushed to say but Hawkeye only shook his head jerkily, shook the need for apology off, his hand back to pumping and faster than before. 

The break in friction hadn't been long enough to discourage BJ's need or senses any, his breath coming fast. He felt Hawkeye lick at his leaking tip, saw the tremble in Hawkeye's body, in the flat pink tongue that Hawkeye let hang wantonly atop his lower lip in wait. And then BJ was thoroughly gone, a soundless shout contracting his chest and abdomen, his hand gripping Hawk's wrist at his side hard enough to hurt, Hawkeye's cheek and neck and outstretched tongue streaked with dripping white.

Aching throat and his own need aside, Hawkeye Pierce was in heaven.

He watched BJ's heaving chest, drew his tongue back in and swallowed the bitterness on it before leaning back in closer, forcing shuddering aftershocks through BJ's body with clever swipes of tongue around the head. BJ gasped, his hand on Hawkeye's head loosening further, dropping down limply to his neck. He wanted to recover quickly and return the favor or something like it, but that had... really taken the wind out of him in the best way. "E-easy, easy, I..." he puffed after a few seconds of Hawk's continued ministrations, the hand at his neck pushing him gently away before the sensitivity began to grate.

Hawkeye nodded, drawing off and licking his lips salaciously, which only made BJ shiver again. He released Hawkeye's wrist, reaching down and staring with open, dazed wonder as his thumb wiped come off Hawkeye's cheek, and wasn't remotely surprised when Hawkeye took that as an invitation to suck it off afterwards. He'd have liked to say something, anything but couldn't quite breathe yet, and Hawk was so unearthly good-looking like this, satisfied in his own way but still evidently on edge with lust...

For all BJ's scolding of Hawk's terminal crudeness, it certainly had its moments.

When BJ felt like he could move again without falling over, he bent over to pick up the shorts pooled at his ankles, tugging them back up around his waist as he considered next moves. It might be easier to repay the favor than it had been for Hawkeye to pay it in the first place, Hawk being not as well-endowed, but BJ wasn't sure he was capable. Was it unfair not to be sure? He wasn't even sure he wanted to kiss Hawkeye at the moment, considering the taste that must be lingering on his tongue, and yet... 

He did want to, and did want to try. Anything that made Hawkeye relax only to shake pleasantly apart soon after, at BJ's doing no less, was a good thing. But it might make him lose his nerve or cause a real mess in his head to give that too much thought so he didn't, instead leaning down again and pressing a kiss gingerly to Hawkeye's shiny lips. "Can't believe you were gonna try and pull yourself off," BJ reproached softly. 

"Why not?" Hawkeye inquired between kisses, one becoming several, throat still raw and desire's spell over him causing a lingering tremor.

"Wasn't it you who said something about taking turns?" 


Chapter 22

It was, without a trace of a doubt, a tempting idea. 

But another idea hit Hawkeye as BJ spoke. It was a painful one, almost physically painful, but...

"Actually, Beej, I... Maybe hold that thought for after brunch?"

BJ laughed his disbelief. "What?"

"Call it, umm..." Hawkeye leaned back on his elbows, smiling up at the ceiling as he declared grandly, or as grandly as possible when splashed with ejaculate and in need of getting off oneself, "An experiment in patience!"

"You've never been patient about anything in your life," BJ commented as he straightened to stand properly, folding his arms, subconsciously unsure he really bought this, whatever it was, when there was still a breathy waver in Hawk's voice.

"Well, there's always room for self-improvement," Hawkeye said, rolling his eyes and regarding BJ again, dropping the smile. "Okay, okay. Call it another plan."

Hm. "All right..." he began slowly. "But don't see how it'll help with your fuse any." 

"Because you don't know the plan," Hawkeye continued as if speaking to a child, reaching up and stroking BJ's side, tone returning to normal as he met his eyes. "I'll keep," he said plainly. "Step one's an ice-cold shower. The rest... all in good time."

BJ had to admit, Hawkeye's plans historically were either very clever, very hilarious, very selfless or, like the most recent one, very hot. But to torture himself like that didn't make much sense. "...You really are a raging masochist, aren't you?"

You don't know the half of it. Hawkeye only smiled again, humming an affirmative. 

"Well... should I be worried about this plan?" BJ thought it wise to ask, curiosity sinking in as he rocked back and forth once on his heels. 

"Oh, did you not like the last one?" Hawkeye asked innocently, and BJ's faint blush as he laughed told him everything he'd already known without needing to ask. He stood, hand falling away from BJ's flank. "Think I'm gonna shave, too, so let the boys in if they get here before I'm done."

He nodded and watched Hawk walk off. Truth be told, he still wasn't sure he bought it. Or was that egotism at work, telling him it'd be impossible for Hawk to turn him down on an offer like that? Shaking his head, BJ decided curiosity was a more fun state to exist in than concerned puzzlement, and set about getting dressed. After all, when Benjamin Franklin Pierce felt any way about anything, the whole population of whatever continent he was on at the time tended to be made aware of it. Whether hints of a plan or anything else showed themselves throughout the day, BJ was pretty sure he'd notice them. 










Some of the finest acting of my career, Hawkeye thought dryly as he closed the bathroom door. 

The shower didn't end up a cold one, but BJ didn't need to know that. 

Nor did Hawkeye keep his urgent, quickly fixable arousal on hold, but BJ didn't need to know that, either. 

And there sure as hell wasn't any plan but he'd probably come up with something, even though the only idea that had come to him was that they shouldn't be doing any of this. 

He'd lost his nerve, that was all. Hardly a rare occurrence. Hawkeye's nerve abandoned him all too often at the strangest times only to reemerge when and where its whims pleased, so he wasn't terribly worried about it going AWOL when it came to BJ doing rather than being done unto. And the fact that he'd lost his nerve this time over the sight of a ring? BJ really didn't need to know that. 

He knew there was something horrendously selfish about not letting Beej in on his real thoughts. But if he did, this could all blow up and ruin their trip, and once his nerve did return... he'd probably want BJ again no matter what was right or smart. Which was also selfish, even if some acts involved weren't.

But for now... damn it, he'd arranged a whole moral code about his love life that prevented rings ever being a problem. BJ was the exception to that, obviously. Just as he was BJ's, he mused as he lathered his face with shaving cream and tried not to meet his own gaze in the mirror. 

Of course, his reflection was really the only one he could talk to about it, and what it could come to mean or not.

But none of it was Beej's fault. He'd done nothing wrong. He didn't need to know. 

Hawkeye set to shaving, and wondered in the back of his mind when the ache in his throat would stop burning.








"Who is it?"

"Dorothy and the Tin Man!" Reuben called out from the other side of the door.

Oh, come on, guys. Not in the hall, BJ thought as he strode to the door, but all rebuke had been wiped from his face when he opened it. "Does that make me the Scarecrow?" he asked with a smile as he stepped aside to let them in.

"Sure thing. And here's Toto," Archie smiled tiredly, handing over a sturdy paper bag from which the tops of two bottles poked out. "Party leftovers," he explained. "I don't think we need them, really." 

Fitting that leaves me the Cowardly Lion, Hawkeye thought, now cleaner-shaven, dressed, and brushing his teeth. 

"Still feeling the ones from last night," Reuben added as he closed the door behind them. 

"That's nice of you. Thanks," BJ said, setting the bag atop the nightstand between the beds. "Hungover or still drunk?" he asked pleasantly. 

"It's hard to tell sometimes, isn't it?" Archie pondered, meandering to the other side of the room where he then dropped onto the sofa.

"Sometimes," BJ agreed. "H- Ben, you almost ready to go out?"

Hawkeye swung the door open, voice booming through the tiny room as he held his toothbrush aloft like a scepter and warbled his best Bert Lahr, "If I! Were the king! of the foreeeest!" 

BJ noticed Archie and Reuben's slight wince and joined them in sympathy; dealing with a hangover and Hawk at his loudest was never a good time. But Hawkeye leaned back, tossing his toothbrush into the sink. "Think I'd rather be Glinda; I could take a bubble all the way back to Crabapple Cove! But first order of business, ladies: did I hear something about leftovers?"

"Gin and whiskey," Reuben nodded, leaning against the wall and pointing to the bag. 

"Don't say whiskey," Archie groaned.

"Then I say gin!" Hawkeye declared, moving towards the bag. "How was the party after we left? We miss anything good?"

"Nothing saucy," Reuben shrugged, watching Hawkeye, and bit back a smile at the sight of the lubricant on the nightstand. "You two have a nice night?"

Hawkeye only chuckled as he uncapped the bottle and indulged in a long swig. BJ had stepped towards the window to check the weather, which looked overcast but not raining, which was good since they hadn't packed ponchos and would have to buy umbrellas if they proved necessary. "Oh, us?" What a question. And he wasn't sure how to answer it, so swung casually away from the topic. "No, I loved the party - thanks again for the invite. Do you know where you want to go eat, by the way? We've hit more dinner spots than anything else." 

"We saw an American diner-type place a couple blocks away," Archie said, rubbing his temples. "An omelet might be just the ticket." 

"Think I've got some Aspirin in my bag," BJ offered and moved away from the window to check.

"Oh, Christopher, if you do, you're my hero," Archie smiled. 

"I could probably use a couple, too, if you've got enough to spare," Reuben admitted.

"Feel like I'm dealing with amateurs. Don't you know the best cure for a hangover is to start drinking again? What are they teaching you in school nowadays?" Hawkeye teased as the medicine was distributed, but was less interested in any answers than in the remains of the good gin he was polishing off sip by sip. As BJ gathered up his wallet and room keys, Archie rose tentatively from the sofa, and Hawkeye capped the bottle again with a smack of his lips. "To Oz?"

"To Oz," BJ smiled as they milled out of the room, relieved that Hawkeye seemed his usual self.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye was relieved to have Archie and Reuben around. 

Acting was always easier with an audience. 











The American-style diner was, oddly enough, populated mostly with Japanese couples and families. There was only one group of Army types, loudly discussing the sumo match they'd seen the night before, and BJ chose without much thought the furthest free table away from them. He associated Archie and Reuben all too easily with freer conversations and environments, and couldn't get used to that being easy. 

They wasted little time deliberating on what to order, and fell into conversation once the waitress walked away. Archie and Reuben, it turned out, hadn't met in Korea. They were childhood friends turned lovers from a Minneapolis suburb who'd been drafted together and rarely parted since. They told Hawkeye and BJ a little about life on the front lines, the basic things the doctors could easily glean despite living some distance away from the same, but once food was placed before them and water glasses refilled, the conversation went a little deeper. 

"The biggest thing," Reuben said, "Isn't just keeping our heads low with the rest of the guys. I get scared sometimes about... well, if something happened to one of us, and the other wasn't allowed to be there for him." 

"Come on, Rube. That's not very nice brunch talk," Archie commented, reaching for the ketchup. 

"Allowed by Army assignments, you mean?" BJ asked, spearing potato onto his fork, the prospect of fresh, un-powdered eggs almost too delightful to dive into without letting anticipation sink in. 

"Well, you know how if someone's real sick, and nobody's allowed in to see them except their husband or wife? Kinda like that." 

"Nuh-uh. Land at our MASH and you don't have to worry about it," Hawkeye said, having given his bacon a cursory sniff before he ate half the piece in one bite.

"Not that we'd ever want you to!" BJ was quick to add. 

"You mean it, though? Doctors are usually okay with visiting... friends?" Archie asked.

"Sure," BJ assured him between bites. 

"I could never bring myself to break it up," Hawkeye said, remembering many such times when regulations may have wanted him to. "Friends, more, doesn't matter."

"Helps the healing process, boosts morale... So long as you're not AWOL with MPs barking at the door about it," BJ clarified.

"Or that is to say:  AWOL's fine, so long as the MPs don't know it yet," Hawkeye amended. 

"We don't ask if you're AWOL," BJ promised with a brief smile before he cut into his eggs.

"That's really a relief," Reuben sighed out, glancing between the doctors with a grateful smile which faded quickly. "I mean, here's hoping it never comes to any of that, but... can't help thinking about it, you know?"

They both nodded. Maybe not the same concern, but the general one of doom around every turn of a jeep? They both knew.

Archie, the Aspirin helping enough with his hangover to put him in a playful mood, turned to Reuben and asked, saccharine sweet, "Would you go AWOL for me, darling?"

BJ couldn't help smiling at the display. Young love... He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Hawkeye was smiling faintly, too. 

"You kidding me, Arch? I'd die for you," Reuben insisted and gave Archie's leg, concealed beneath the table, a quick squeeze.

"Well, let's hope it doesn't come to any of that, either," Hawkeye said smoothly to cover the fact that he was now wondering the same about himself and BJ. If it meant ensuring the wonderful man beside him made it back to the family he so loved? Maybe he would. He wouldn't enjoy the process much at all, of course, and scream like hell the whole while, but it was a distinct possibility that he would. What he wouldn't do, however, was let himself wonder whether BJ was now considering the same question. He wanted to enjoy his breakfast, after all. 

"Well, I told him this wasn't good brunch talk," Archie pouted some, attention back on his breatkfast. 

"I had to ask! Peace of mind," Reuben defended the topic before taking another bite.

"Which is a rare thing in these parts," BJ pointed out. 

"See? He gets it." 

"Does it happen a lot?" Archie asked. "I mean, not the sad parts, and having to visit, and all that stuff. But there's only one other guy in our troop that we think-"

"Archie thinks. I don't," Reuben cut in. 

"Well, you never do know, do you," Hawkeye muttered.

BJ gave him a somewhat sharp look that went unnoticed, returned his gaze to his food and simply tried to follow the conversation. Hawk wasn't all that wrong, though, and he wondered vaguely what Reuben's reading of him might have been, oh, even the day before R&R. Not that anything had really changed, aside from Hawk's presence in his life that had changed so much.

"I mean, social life-wise, it's... not great," Archie laughed mirthlessly with a roll of his eyes. "Where you're at, do you end up meeting a lot of-"

"Those who salute the other flag?" Hawkeye smirked, earning a chuckle from Reuben.

BJ, whose face warmed at the phrasing calling up to memory that morning's round of fun, hadn't much thought about it unless someone was blatantly obvious - as obvious as Hawk, maybe - and the personal business of others was far more their business than his. But Hawkeye fielded the question more readily. "We get some, yeah. But not everybody's invite-strangers-down-the-bar-to-a-party brave like you." He meant it as a compliment. 

"Not really the fraternize-with-patients types, anyway," BJ said, who not long ago could have said he didn't fraternize with anyone, but he was trying not to think in those terms and meant it more about Hawk - who, thanks to the earlier comment, he felt like giving a little hell. "Well, except..."

"Except?" Archie smiled, sensing a story and interested. 

Oh, great, thanks, Beej, Hawkeye glowered mentally, wondering why a dip into his love life was necessary. BJ had been weird about Bellamy from the start. Hawkeye had a far better sense of why now than he had at the time, but still. Necessary? Not so much. A very short version would suit well enough. "There was one. Before... you know," he jerked a thumb in BJ's direction.

I'm a You Know? BJ asked with eyebrows raised in amusement above his coffee as he sipped.

"We hit it off for a couple weeks," Hawkeye shrugged, scooting potatoes around on his plate with his fork. 

"Well, then what happened?" Archie pressed. 

Why is everyone always so interested? But here Archie was, clearly looking for hopes about social lives he could hang his drab green hat on. Hawkeye just wasn't in a gossipping mood, that was all. "He got better. He went home. No other way it could have gone." 

"Did you at least get to spend some time together?" Reuben asked, tone warm and empathetic, all too constantly aware of how difficult such was for himself and Archie.

Time together, hell - I barely saw you for two weeks, BJ wanted to scoff but kept it to himself. Hawk didn't seem entirely comfortable with the conversation, he'd noticed, and he didn't want to make it worse. In fact, he very nearly regretted bringing it up. Conversational revenge wasn't always worth it.

"Yeah, we had time. Time and a place," Hawkeye nodded. "But, uh... ended up getting into a little... spat with a friend that night and it killed the mood." Hawkeye took a quick sip of water, not looking at BJ as he set the glass back down. "It was fine. He was from Maine, too, so we mostly... snuggled up, talked about home. Nice in its own way, I guess, even if it doesn't make for the most thrilling of tales." 

"Aw. That's a shame," Archie said. "Pass the pepper, Rube?"

BJ had paused with fork midair, secretly stunned. 

He hadn't known that. Why hadn't Hawk ever told him? To keep him guessing, keep him curious? Or was it to keep him from feeling as low and guilty as he felt suddenly for poking his nose where it hadn't belonged? He understood better than ever now how maddeningly impossible a safe time and space could be. What it felt like to have that space. 

BJ slowly lowered his fork to his plate, wishing Hawk would at least look at him, but... maybe it was better that he didn't. What could he say here in front of other people that would do or help anything? And what did it mean that so small an upset between them could change Hawk and Bellamy's whole night like that? 

He had to make himself refocus on his food, the act of eating, rather than pull Hawkeye aside and at least apologize. With a kiss, if it felt right at the time. Nothing felt right now, somehow. 

Reuben, noticing too that Benjamin didn't seem all that happy with the conversation, tried to redirect it. "How about you, Christopher? Any fun stories?" 

Not the kind you're curious about, BJ thought, and shook his head some. "Beautiful wife. Beautiful daughter. Love 'em to bits," he said simply. It wasn't wrong to say. Why would it be? It wasn't anything Hawkeye didn't already know. 

Archie and Reuben exchanged a look with Benjamin, all realizing that the meal that had smelled so wonderful to those used to mess tent fare and C-rations now reeked distinctly, unmistakably of faux paus. 

BJ kept his eyes firmly on his plate. 

It was salvageable still, Hawkeye thought, even if his heart wasn't in it. But apparently Archie had the same thought, because right as Hawkeye asked, "So, you want to learn how to make your own gin?", Archie too rushed to save the day, piping up simultaneously with, "By the way, we're gonna hit a Kabuki show after this, if you guys want to come along."

Kid, you're great, but you're killing me here, Hawkeye thought before finally turning to look at BJ, giving him a nudge. "What do you say to Kabuki, huh?" was what he asked aloud as his eyes bore warily into BJ's with a secondary question: Come on, Beej. Let's keep that second R in our R&R? 

BJ drew in a quick breath, reading Hawkeye's meaning with no trouble, and even if it felt downright stupid when there was so much he felt like saying...

BJ nodded as he smiled tightly at Archie and Reuben. "Sure. Never been!"

"But let's hit a bar first," Hawkeye added. 

"Hey, I'll try for Dr. Benjamin's miracle cure," Reuben smiled. 

"Oh... no more bars," Archie said with a laugh and a hand pressed over half his face.

"Don't worry," Hawkeye promised as he picked up another piece of bacon. "We'll drink fast." 










The drinks, plural but indeed fast, helped, as did the spectacle of a kabuki play. Entertaining enough, relaxing enough to take the edge off the awkwardness at brunch. Then they were parting ways with Archie and Reuben, who had shopping and packing yet to do, and well-wishes were exchanged by all. ("Don't take this the wrong way, guys, but I hope we never see you at our MASH unit." "That's really sweet, Christopher. We hope so, too.") And then it was just the two of them again, standing under an awning to shelter temporarily from a light drizzle, and Hawkeye was trying to talk BJ into going to a movie, and...

It still didn't feel right. And BJ didn't know how to put any of it, for good or bad, into words. "Not really in a movie mood, Hawk..."

"Then what do you wanna do?"

"I don't know. Go back to the room and... talk, maybe." 

"Beej, come on. When's the last time we got to see a whole movie that's not shorting out every ten minutes because of Klinger's ineptitude? Is this about the Bellamy thing? Because I don't need an apology on that." You didn't know what you were doing, let alone what you could do.

I think we both know there's more to talk about than that, BJ wanted to say but held his tongue. He wasn't ready for that, either, even if it felt cowardly to shy away from it. 

Hawkeye tugged at BJ's sleeve, tone softening. "Come on. We need this break. Let's go see a movie. Maybe two. Get out of our heads for a while. We'll be up to our eyeballs in guts again before we know it. We both need... to relax while we can." 

BJ wished he could kiss the deeply rooted exhaustion off Hawkeye's face. Standing in a doorway in public with loads of passersby, he couldn't. Nor could he force Hawk into going places mentally, emotionally that he himself wasn't really prepared for. But a movie? If that's really where Hawk wanted to go, and neither of them would see it as avoidance or something worse... "You sure?"

"If I had a problem, don't you think you'd be hearing about it already?"

Puffing out an abrupt laugh, BJ nodded. "Yeah... yeah, you wouldn't be able to stop yourself, would you?" 

"I'd implode if I bottled," Hawkeye said straightforwardly, and mostly meant it. But then, it wasn't really all about him, was it? He searched BJ's face, and was afraid of the possibilities of the answer but had to ask regardless, "How about you? You okay?"

Aside from realizing I ruined your night with Bellamy? BJ thought. Aside from realizing over brunch that I'd die for you, just as I would for Peggy and Erin, and I'm still trying to figure out what that means? Aside from all that... "Yeah. Let's go catch a movie or two." 

"But first another drink or two," Hawkeye prodded.

"You're a liver's worst nightmare!"

"Well, you know what they say," Hawkeye said as they stepped out from under the building's cover and into the light rain. "Alcohol might not solve all your problems, but it's worth a shot." 

BJ followed with a groan.











Two bars with two movies between them later, they made it back to the room. BJ was too drunk to be actively curious about any plan or hidden worry Hawk might have, and Hawkeye was too drunk to be active, period. It was a first-rate puzzle getting his laces undone, and BJ seemed to have just as difficult a time with the buttons on his shirt. The goodnight kiss they shared before landing on their respective beds was short, sloppy, and might not even be remembered the next day. For once, in both relief and instinctual understanding, both were okay with that possibility, and passed out without much preamble soon after.












Some hours later, BJ was awoken by degrees by a constant stream of words that rose in alarm and volume as he became aware of them. 

"Don't go that way. Don't, don't, there's mines! That's the minefield!"

Oh, no. BJ groggily pulled himself up, pacing the few steps over towards Hawkeye's bed. 

"Don't follow him, it's not worth it! Get out of the minefield!"

Hawkeye wasn't at full-tilt scream yet, which meant there was still time to prevent him waking the whole third floor. BJ, already more alert than he ever wanted to be at such an hour of night, sat on the edge of the bed and slid a hand down Hawk's arm, keeping his face out of the way in case of an abrupt jump. It was a smart thing to be aware of; Hawkeye shot upwards, panting and wild-eyed, and BJ had both arms around him the next second.

"Shh. Hawk. Shh." BJ kissed his cheek. "It was a dream. Just a bad dream. I've got you. You're all right. It was just a dream." He sighed heavily, squeezing with just enough pressure to be sure Hawkeye felt him there, willing him back to reality. It was better than sleepwalking and shooting phantom hoops down the length of a hotel hallway, sure, but that didn't make it good. The way he shook in BJ's arms was godawful.

"I-I... Beej, I..."

"Shh. Breathe. Just a dream." 

Gasping for air, Hawkeye blinked tears out of his eyes, chest tight. "I couldn't talk him out of it- The minefield-

"Don't worry about talking yet, okay? Just breathe." BJ felt so useless in the face of this, but they'd been here before. It would pass with enough time. And he could be more comforting, as comforting as maybe he'd always wanted to be, in this room than back in the Swamp. He let his forehead fall to Hawkeye's shoulder, loosening up the hold on his chest and back but not moving away. "You're okay. We're in Tokyo. No mines."

"He was, he was gonna step on one, I saw-"

"Shh, shh. Easy. I've got you. I'm sure he's fine. Breathe, Hawk." BJ didn't care who the 'he' was or what he was doing in the minefield, only that Hawk was okay. The hand at Hawkeye's back began to rub soothing circles, but it was probably a full five minutes before he felt them do any good, before Hawkeye's breathing slowed and sounded less desperate, before his pulse began to ease back down from a pace only Louis Armstrong's most frenetic drummer could have invented. 

Hawkeye wanted to call him, but he'd been here before. He knew those phone calls solved nothing, proved nothing, meant nothing to their recipients. He wanted to call Sidney, but wouldn't know where to reach him. But sometimes, if he really needed him, he could summon Sidney's wisdom and patterns of logic, even his voice, in his head. He'd been here with Sidney before, too. 

  Sidney, help me out here. Why'd I dream that? 

What was the nightmare this time?

  It was Trapper in the minefield with Kim. But he wasn't being careful. He was running right in and wasn't looking where he stepped. 

Well, does that have anything to do with what you must be worried about?

  I don't know, I don't know...

You might not, but some part of you does. Do you equate McIntyre and Hunnicutt somehow?

  Maybe I did once. I don't anymore.

All right, then let's break down what you saw, step by step. Who was McIntyre to you, Hawkeye? 

  A friend.  A best friend. Best friend I loved.

A best friend. All right. And in the dream, what was your best friend doing?

  Doing? Sidney, he was running into the goddamned minefield.

Fine, that's fine. What's a minefield mean?

  Death. Danger. Disaster.

So, you've got a friend running head-first into danger. Do you know why McIntyre was doing it?

  He was trying to save a little boy.

Okay. If what you're worried about deep down is a belief that a friend is running towards disaster... do you know why he's doing it? 

  No, no, I don't know.

Then I'm afraid that's a question for him, not me. 

  Sidney, come on, you're supposed to help me...

I can only help you with what's in your head, Hawkeye - not somebody else's.

  Well, I can't ask him now! I'm shaken up. I'm still drunk.

Of course not. Just, when you're ready. 

Hawkeye wiped tears off his cheek then rubbed his forehead, clearing the image of Sidney out. BJ thought the movements promising, a sign the hellish haze was clearing up little by little. "Do you... want me to get you some water, or anything?" he asked in a hushed tone. 

"No, um... Stay," Hawkeye murmured. "This bed, I mean. Here, with me. Will you, Beej?"

"You don't have to ask," BJ assured just as softly. "Scoot over a little."

"Yeah, okay." Hawkeye shifted further to one side, making room. This part didn't count as disaster, danger, not right now. This part, BJ taking care of him, he understood if only because he needed him, needed his arms and soothing voice and the warm pressure of his body. Just for tonight.

BJ's arm withdrew from Hawkeye's back as he turned further onto the bed, left leg leaving the floor to meet with right, and he kissed Hawkeye's hair as he settled in beside him. He wished it could happen under any other circumstances. Before Korea, he was used to this at night and sleeping alone felt a little dismal in comparison. The night before, Hawkeye hadn't been interested in or aware of that kind of BJ's loneliness, and BJ wouldn't really expect a bachelor to understand, anyhow. Still, that didn't make this any kind of success, per se, or anything he should take much warmth from. Hawk couldn't be used as a replacement. He was here because Hawk needed and wanted him there. Nothing more. But nothing less.  

Laying on his side, he felt Hawkeye turn to face him, forehead pressing to his chest, Hawk's arm winding around his waist. BJ reached up and stroked through his hair as gently as he could. "Comfortable?"

"I... maybe. Dunno yet."

BJ breathed a laugh. "Okay, well... let me know if-"

"You're fine, Beej," Hawkeye mumbled. "Just stay."

BJ nodded once. He knew he wouldn't be able to fall back asleep until Hawkeye had, and the silence stretched long and peaceful until he felt Hawk relax more against him, his breathing slowing, the arm flung over BJ's side ceasing even the smallest movements. It felt right to have Hawkeye trust him that much to fall asleep against him. To find that much solace in him, when these nightmares used to send him running straight for the phone and anyone who'd barely listen on the other line.

As BJ let himself drift back to sleep, his mind and his heart, which had recently been in a state of half-accepting, half-panicked discord, felt like they agreed on one thing if nothing else. 

You know what? I think I love you. And there might not ever be a time or place to say it. If I'm even able to say it, or have any kind of right to. If you even wanted to hear it. I know those things might never line up, Hawk, and that we both have to be okay with that. I know we might never have an R&R like this one again, if that's what's best. But I've got a big heart, and I'm learning there's room enough for three in there - Peg, and Erin, and you. And even if it's never right to say it, even if I can't say it, I'll do what I can to make sure you know it anyway.


Chapter 23

Upon waking, BJ's first thought was that they had to talk. But Hawk looked so peaceful asleep beside him that he couldn't bear to wake him for it, and was careful in moving off the mattress so that nothing else woke him, either. Hawkeye hardly needed help having his slumber disturbed, being so good at disturbing himself, and BJ went about his morning routine with extra care towards quiet. 

He left the simplest of Back Soon notes before leaving the room, and headed out once again into Tokyo's bustling streets. It still astounded him somewhat to be among families and faces that looked happy, to see signs of industry rather than destruction and decay. Like so many aspects of the trip, he knew he shouldn't get used to it, but was glad for the time to enjoy it while he could. 

It was over the course of a half-hour massage that he thought over everything he would want to say if Hawkeye gave him the chance. 

Then, over a fantastic plate of yakitori, he realized how improbable it was that Hawk would give him the chance, and that he might have to trick him into it a little. 

As luck would have it, he spotted the means to do so in the window of a secondhand shop on his way back to the hotel. 












When Hakweye woke up, he did so unhappily. Not because of BJ's absence but because he was, very possibly, getting a little old for this hangover shit.

It was a blessing BJ had left the Aspirin out and easy to find, but he knew it could only go so far when the hangover seemed to extend to all of life itself, when he felt as unsure of his choices as well as the bartender's pour decisions. His head would be physically fine soon enough, but the rest? Who knew. 

He shambled back to the diner of the day before to fix what little he could with food and excessive hydration, then after breakfast returned to the room. BJ wasn't back yet, so Hawkeye called to check in, then ran a bath and tried not to imagine that Beej was out somewhere walking off a crisis of conscience the size of California itself.

But it was hard to see how he couldn't be. And asking about that, no matter what Imaginary Sidney recommended, felt like both a waste of precious time and harder still.













Hawkeye was getting dressed when he heard the key turn in the door, and regarded BJ over the neck of his shirt that stuck over the bridge of his wet nose as he worked on tugging it on. "Where'd you get that old thing?"

"Secondhand shop!" BJ reported merrily, walking towards the dresser with the radio under his arm. 

"They let you test it before you bought it?"

BJ snorted. "Yes, dear. Learned my lesson from the watch." He set the radio down, curling the cord up neatly beside it. "But figured since Frank took his home with him, it'll be worth it when we want music that's less than a hundred years old."

"Yeah, good investment," Hawkeye nodded. From tone to body language and general air, BJ seemed his usual self, which was as big a relief as he'd expected such a realization would be. And he wanted to thank BJ for being there the previous night but didn't know how to, and suspected it would only result in a lighthearted Don't Mention It, so he didn't. "You, uh... have anything in mind you want to do today?" Hawkeye asked as he secured his belt.

Shrugging, BJ turned to face him, leaning back against the dresser. "Not sure yet. Depends on... You feeling all right, after...?" He wasn't sure if Hawk would appreciate a direct mention of the nightmare, so he let it hang.

Hawkeye busied himself with picking up the couple days' worth of clothes he'd let pile up on the floor between the wall and his bed, shoving them piece by piece into a spare bag he'd brought for laundry. "Yeah, just... tail end of a hangover. We could find something to do in a bit." 

"Fine by me. Though... I should admit," BJ began as he pushed off from the dresser and made his way to where Hawkeye seemed - seemed - so occupied with anything but looking at him. "Might have had a sliiight ulterior motive getting the radio." 

"Oh, yeah? What's that?"

"Well, I thought..." BJ approached Hawkeye's side from behind, putting a hand to his waist to get his attention, a smile evident as he spoke. "Since we've got two days left to ourselves... Might be nice to dance with you again."

The longer you're not thinking, the worse this is going to be when you do, Hawkeye grumbled in his head, a thought quickly followed by, And stop giving me everything I want when I can't keep any of it! It was hardly as if he hadn't played a part in getting it to begin with, so the thought wasn't exactly a fair one, but it threatened to overtake his brain all the same. He didn't want it to tumble out so sought better sentiments, ones closer to the truth of things if the truth could be as simple as he'd have liked. "Yeah, that would be nice." 

He sounded like he'd been invited to a funeral rather than a dance, and it would have been offensive if BJ hadn't been expecting it. He forced a laugh that he hoped sounded genuine in its surprise. "What, you don't want to dance with me anymore?" 

Hawkeye bit back a sigh as he straightened up from his lean over the bag on the bed, closing his eyes in exasperation. "Beej..."

There you go. Trust me a little, why don't you? BJ used the hand at Hawkeye's hip to gently urge him to turn, though the wary suspicion in Hawkeye's eyes as they opened wasn't helpful. "Look." He took one of Hawk's hands in his own. "I think it's... probably one of the nicest intentions you've ever had, to make sure we have a good time on break, but... come on, Hawk." Raising Hawkeye's hand, he pressed a light kiss to it. "Your smile's one of my favorite things about you, and I think I could count on one hand the amount of times I saw it yesterday. How can I have a good time if you're not?"

Hawkeye wondered vaguely if it was too late to throw himself out the window - would a drop from the third story kill him, or just maim him for life? Oh, the workings of a melodramatic mind. He gaze fell from BJ's and wandered to the carpet. "I don't want to do this yet," he muttered lifelessly. 

"Well, whatever you think 'this' is, I think we have to." BJ kept his tone gentle though some strain showed as he went on. "And I know I promised but, what? You think a better time is when we're back at work? Dealing with too many wounded to count, and the stress of that, and Charles never leaving the tent? I'm sorry, but that's a promise I can't keep," BJ shook his head. "Where would we even find the time?" ...Ah. Well, that's disappointing. The realization wasn't one he could stop from coming out in soft but unamused, flat accusation, and he let Hawkeye's hand drop from his own. "Or... is that what you were hoping for. To never find the time." 

Sighing, Hawkeye couldn't look up at him yet. "That's not..." 

Sure, Shifty Eyes. If it's not, then prove me wrong. Still, he spoke softly. He wanted to know what was going on in Hawk's head, not attack him. "Don't I deserve a touch more respect than the one-night stands you plan to never see again?"

"Of course you have my respect," Hawkeye defended himself. You're dangerously close to having my damn heart, you idiot, whether you want it or not, whether I want you to or not - respect goes hand in hand with that.

"Then... can that please translate into some honesty? I kinda have to know what you're thinking here, or else we can't..."

"Can't what?" Hawkeye asked, glancing back up at last to read BJ's face.

Opening his mouth to speak, BJ closed it again, less sure than ever that the things they'd done had been right though not for the reasons Hawkeye might expect to hear. "Can't anything," BJ settled on. "Not 'til I know what's going on up here," he said, giving Hawkeye's head a light nudge with his own. "Please?"

Hawkeye's head hung down loosely on his neck once more as he mulled over the request. BJ was sweet to care that much, he really was, but how could he voice his concerns without them becoming BJ's the moment after? Maybe there were some aspects of the vacation that, more than others, he didn't want to ruin. Some possibilities, no matter how unwise. Hawkeye swallowed. "Think you gotta go first," he said, smiling weakly, tiredly as he moved away enough to perch on the corner of the bed. "Chicken, remember?"

"First about what?"

"Everything, Beej. Whatever you're... thinking, or not."

Taking Hawkeye's cue, BJ sat on his own bed, feet firmly planted on the floor, and sighed. He hadn't exactly worked that part out yet. It was possible that being concerned about Hawk's thoughts had been a good distraction from his own, but... "Is that really what you think, that I haven't been thinking? That I'm blindly letting you sweep me off my feet?" He smiled some, eyebrows raised - see? Still not attacking you.

"Are you implying I'm incapable of doing so?" Hawkeye purred, clearly still able to muster some brand of humor.  

BJ took that as a good sign but didn't want this to get off-track, even though his train of thought seemed to be barreling off on many tracks at once. "I'm just saying..." he began patiently. "We've had a while to think about this. From a lot of angles." 

"Well, pardon me for assuming from, I don't know, your... singular devotion to your family, that you'd be swimming in a hearty broth of guilt by now, or that I should expect that pot to boil over at any second." Hawkeye thought himself rather brave for putting it that bluntly, though regretted almost immediately how annoyed he sounded about the circumstances.

"Hawk..." BJ rubbed at his chin in thought and minor frustration before he looked at Hawkeye steadily. "You wanted me to talk first. So, can you just listen?"

With a heart more heavy than annoyed, Hawkeye nodded. "...Yeah, okay." 

BJ's hand dropped as he gave another small sigh. He didn't want to give Hawkeye any false hopes. Silly to assume Hawk would have any, though, when they both knew coming into this where they were both coming from. He could only put into words the parts he did understand so far. "There is some guilt; I can't say there's not. Not... regret, don't think that, but guilt? Of course, but there's... I don't know... less than I thought there'd be! I almost... almost wish there was more." 

Hawkeye stared, jaw lax with stupefaction. This wasn't what he'd expected. When he tried to prod further, the attempt came out almost voiceless. "What?"

"I... I don't know how else to put it," BJ admitted with a shrug. "Or. If I did... It'd probably all sound like a whole bunch of things I told you in Klinger's tent wouldn't happen." He stared at the ceiling for a moment, as if any easy answers were written there, shaking his head. 

"But, uh, you don't regret...?" Hawkeye double-checked.

"How could I?" BJ asked, looking back at Hawkeye with a baffled trace of a smile. No, he couldn't regret a thing about closeness with the marvelous, gut-bustingly funny, curiously irresistible and whip-smart lifeline-in-Korea across from him. Not with his Hawk, even if lack of regret complicated things far more than its presence would. "I wouldn't let something happen if I thought I'd regret it, Hawk. I couldn't do that to us. Hell, more could happen and I still wouldn't..."

Hawkeye thought he spotted the signs of conflict on BJ's face as he said that, but he felt his own concerns dissipating as if a sculptor had chipped them expertly away. Well, some of them. The immediate ones, not the Jesus-Christ-it-would-kill-me-to-fall-in-love-with-you-for-real ones, even if he had a sick sense it might be too late on that. But he was still too surprised to add much of worth to the conversation, and held his silence to let BJ keep talking. 

"I do, though, need to..." His gaze fell to the floor as he blinked in thought. "Find a way to tell Peg."

"Are you nuts?" Hawkeye was up off his bed like a shot. "Nuh-uh. I'm not letting you do that, Beej."

"Letting me?" BJ looked up.

"Not to yourself, not to me, and sure as hell not to her!"

Agitated confusion rose in BJ alongside Hawkeye's spike in volume, brows high on his forehead as he repeated, "To you? It's my marriage!"

"Yeah, me!" Hawkeye insisted, finger pointing at his own chest. "You wanna risk my goose getting cooked so you can get some... some ham-handed confession through the censors? Nuh-uh. Not happening."

"Hawk? She has a right to know," BJ said, grave and unwavering in his conviction on that point. "She's not just my wife. She's my best friend, other than you. She deserves to have the truth enough to... make decisions based on it."

"Be that as it may-"

"And if that means I'm... I'm picking up Erin from school someday and... bringing her back to my house, not mine and Peg's, I..." BJ released a shaky breath full of pent-up mental tension. No, that was... infinitely more horrible saying aloud than he thought it would be, and he rubbed at his forehead in an attempt to get the idea out of his head.

"Oh, you can't stand that and you know it," Hawkeye pointed out, but it was quieter and more gentle than his burst of aggravation had been, his compassion taking over now that a portion of his own anxieties had been proven wrong. "Beej..." Hawkeye sighed and stopped the bout of pacing he'd flung himself into, walking back over to the beds, a knee on the mattress propping him up beside BJ. He stroked a hand down BJ's back, then it rose to stroke soothingly through his adorably fluffy hair. "Listen to me, okay?" 

BJ, eyes closed and heart twisting unpleasantly in his chest, simply nodded. 

I love you this much, Hawkeye pained himself thinking before he spoke again. God help me but I must, or I'd be way more selfish about this. "Tell her after the war, if you still feel the need," Hawkeye said softly. "I don't know the... divine Mrs. Hunnicutt more intimately than that she over-bakes her cookies sometimes, but..." But she's a part of your sunshine, and you're mine. 

"You're gonna go home to her..." Hawkeye continued, "And your daughter... and either you'll lay this... wild new discovery about yourself on the table for her perusal or not. But you can't do it now. Not when she's already lost you to Korea. You'd hate yourself if you let her think she's lost you altogether, and you'd go off the deep end if you worry you've lost her, too. Save it for after the war, Beej. Okay? After."

The logic wasn't entirely convincing to BJ, but the hand in his hair did a lot to soothe his rising panic, as did Hawk's obvious caring. It felt like last night's shoe was on the other foot and Hawk wore it well, almost as if he'd expected to eventually. But that was how it always went, wasn't it? They took turns taking care of each other, no matter what that entailed. BJ let himself lean some against Hawk's chest, sighing heavily. "But that makes it sound like... like you're just part of the war to me," he mumbled.

Maybe I am. Maybe I will be. Maybe that's its own kind of self-preservation, after looking into the sun so long. Still beats regret by a mile. Time will tell. "You already told me it won't be like that," Hawkeye murmured despite his first thoughts. 

"It's like it cheapens... this," BJ tried still to explain despite not having vocabulary for what This meant.

"It doesn't, Beej," Hawkeye promised as he shifted his knee, sitting more fully beside him, nudging BJ's head off his chest and catching his gaze with his own. "Because I can tell how much you don't want it to."

There was a wistful look on Hawkeye's face that BJ didn't want to consider too deeply, but no deception in it. Hawkeye did understand that BJ wasn't like McIntyre, had no intention of ditching him without notes or a future friendship to speak of, or a future More if he could figure out how that could happen and not do anyone any wrong. "Yeah?"

Hawkeye smiled back, wan but warm and wise. "You know what you need?"

"Since you seem to know better than I do?" BJ asked with the slightest hint of sarcasm, but not ungratefully. "What." 

Hawkeye rose partway to reach across BJ to the nightstand, grabbing the bottle of leftover whiskey from it and handing it over. "Dr. Pierce's never-fail cure-all. Several doses recommended." 

BJ took the bottle with a soundless chuckle. "...Can't hurt," he admitted, uncapping it quickly and having a long swig, then another.

Hawkeye watched his throat as he drank, enthralled as ever by it for reasons he couldn't put a finger on aside from being enthralled by BJ in general. Despite lack of decisions, conclusions, he felt strangely calm. If they could weather a storm of this nature and he could feel that way, they could weather nearly everything so long as they were sat so close together. Then again, he'd always felt that to be true. 

"Okay, okay, not all the doses," Hawkeye said finally, reaching for the bottle. "My turn."

"You're right - it is your turn," BJ pointed out with an expectant look after swallowing the last sip he was allowed.

Hawkeye took a tentative sip, marginally wary of the dreaded hangover's return, eyeing BJ over the bottle as he did so. Was that really necessary still? He handed the bottle back, a signifier of passing the proverbial buck untouched. "Nah, I'm... better, I think." 

"Mm-mm. Still your turn."

Hawkeye rolled his eyes. "I swear, it was mostly... fretting over how you'd end up feeling. And whether we should, um... a moratorium of sorts."

BJ tsked. "When we've still got two days to ourselves?"

"Oh, well, I didn't say I loved the idea!"

"I still owe you one."

Hawkeye's face scrunched with disdain. "Beej... You don't owe me a thing." 

"Fine - want, not owe. Figure of speech," he said and sipped again. 

"Well, de-figure and un-speech it, posthaste." 

"You think on it," he suggested lightly, "And I'll think on... everything you said, too," he promised, offering the bottle back but setting it on the nightstand when Hawkeye shook his head. "Meanwhile..."

Hawkeye wracked his brain for something they could do that didn't involve drinking, lechery, or BJ having time to write letters, honestly informative or otherwise. "Hey, you know the Ueno district has a zoo?"

"You wanna go to a zoo?"

"Why not? Bet it smells better than the Swamp. Something we can tell Radar all about when we get back. Something you might do back home to relax, right?"

BJ laughed softly, turning to regard Hawk with evident fondness. "'re downright sweet sometimes, aren't you?"

"Yeah, well... Keep that under your hat, huh? It's been a fine art, cultivating my reputation as a jackass. You blab and it's all for nothing." 

"Ooh, I think I'll tell Margaret first!" BJ's face lit up before falling into pretend thoughtfulness. "No, wait... Charles first, then Margaret-"

"Ah, shut up. Let's go visit Charles' gorilla cousins," Hawkeye said as he stood.

"Do they have big cats? Been too long since my last family reunion," BJ joked back, rising too.

"If there's a petting zoo, I shall provide the finest supper of seed to all my fowl brethren! Unless they take exception to my foul breath?"

"I was right next to you - it wasn't unbearable." 

"Was that one on porpoise? I can't tell." 

"Come on," BJ urged with a laugh and a light smack to Hawkeye's backside as they made it to the door. "Let's... get otter here." 

Well, now I'd rather stay in, Hawkeye thought in immediate response to the playful swat, but led the way into the hallway nonetheless. 

Chapter 24

The next curve-ball BJ threw Hawkeye was an accident. He wasn't sure whence it had come, and it was one he might have let bounce around the bases in his own head, un-thrown and un-catch-able, with something akin to confident ease. But Hawk must have noticed something in his expression - a certain pensiveness to a chuckle, or a sudden and knowing smile that knew enough to be suspicious - and Hawkeye, never a fan of lulls even if they occurred over a pleasant stretch of garden between exhibits, asked, "What's so funny?" 

I'm not sure I'd call it funny, exactly... "Oh, just... something I noticed."

"What, what?"

"...Nah. You wouldn't wanna hear about it," BJ said casually, hands in pockets as they walked. He knew the statement might put a fence between Hawkeye and the general ballpark of his thoughts, but knew, too, that Hawk might think such a fence was built only for the fun of scaling it. BJ wondered if he should have laid a conversationally sturdier, taller one, but if Hawk wanted to be nosy...

"Yeah, that's only ever code for 'now I have to hear it'," Hawkeye insisted, stopping their progress by turning to stand in BJ's way.

Fine, but try to remember five seconds from now that you did this to yourself, BJ shook the clear prescience out of his head with a so-be-it smile. "It just occurred to me..." he began evenly, "That I've told you a couple times now that we'd be in touch after the war. And I've never heard it back."

Hawkeye had gone still, hand on hip, eyes flitting to the crowds milling around them at either side before they bugged out at BJ to make his first point. Beej, you're doing this to me at the zoo?

BJ shrugged. Your fault, not mine. 

Discomfited by BJ's realization and the public sharing of it, Hawkeye blurted immediately, "Beej, that's a given."

"It might be nice to hear it, is all."

Where is this coming from and how can you look so unflappable about it? Hawkeye wondered but before he could ask anything like those questions, BJ spoke again.

"In fact, even today - reassuring me with who I'd go home to. You didn't mention a thing about phone calls, letters, visits..."

Maybe I have a rough time figuring out precisely where I'd fit and be happy about it, Hawkeye thought not for the first time, and he'd come by now to accept it most days, but other excuses, thankfully, came readily to mind. "So I find it a little hard to make promises," Hawkeye sneered, though his derision was all about the world and little to do with BJ specifically, "Under present conditions, first of which being that we could all get blown to smithereens any day the war machine decides it's our turn."

All the more reason, in some ways. But BJ laughed, both at Hawkeye's predictability - he knew the other too well to take the tone personally - and to keep the curve-ball light. "Hawk, I don't need that reminder from you! That's what dog tag numero dos is for." 

But it wasn't funny, BJ supposed, that Hawkeye couldn't see past it, and his laughter dwindled. In the version for me it's all California sunshine, but yours is solely doom and gloom? Pick a side and stick to it. But Hawk bounced between extremes of emotion all the time; when he wanted this particular ball to land in his mental glove and stay there, it might well. Either way, BJ's first thought sounded combative, and he couldn't brush Hawkeye's hair out of where it had blown over his eyes to soften the impact, so he revised it before adding, "I'm just saying. You'd think such an... accomplished storyteller, would have a broader imagination than that." 

"What does that even mean?" Hawkeye asked, too discreetly rattled by truths flung his way to achieve more than a tenuous grasp on the words. 

"Don't know," BJ said brightly. "Maybe you can figure it out." He held Hawk's confused gaze a long moment before side-stepping him, letting him off the hook he hadn't planned on casting in the first place, and gave his stomach a quick pat to encourage him onward. "Anyway! Incoming zebras," he reminded as he started walking again.

What the hell did you just do to me? Hawkeye stared after him.

Reach a little further sometimes, Hawk, BJ found himself thinking as he heard footsteps catch up behind him. I don't think I have it in me to smack your hand away. 











It was one of the few times Hawkeye decided it was acceptable, nay, preferable to let BJ have the last word. 

Mostly because he didn't know what to say, and the chatting turned easily enough to the zoo exhibits, and BJ hadn't said 'needed' but 'nice'. 

Still, what had rattled him continued to rattle around in his head long after, and he kicked it here and there all afternoon without meaning to. Hawkeye wasn't sure he should remedy the observation, because sometimes BJ's sunniness exhausted him, and what were promises in wartime, really, but laughably thin threads of hope? Besides, BJ had dropped it on him casually then embodied the complete opposite of pushing it, so the opportunity to remedy it never presented itself clearly. After the animals, the plan was to get back to the hotel, shower off zoo scents Hawkeye insisted had stuck somehow in his nostrils, and then go out in search of dinner. A romantic dinner, however, wasn't within Hawkeye's scope to envision.

But upon the return to the room, his scope narrowed further to a piece of paper stuck to their door, which  BJ snatched off first. "Call 4077. -Front desk," he read. "That's all it says." 

"Great," Hawkeye rolled his eyes, wasting no time jamming his key into the door. 

"Easy," BJ reminded gently. "It could be anything." 

Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of, Hawkeye griped inwardly, almost tripping over himself to make it across the room to the phone. 

BJ held back a sigh, watching Hawkeye scramble as he closed and locked the door. For all you know, it's Margaret looking for a patient file somebody set down in the wrong place, BJ chided mentally but didn't say. At the core of the thought, he wished for Hawk's sake that Hawk could relax more often, so insensitivity wasn't at all the message he'd want to go for. And if Hawk could relax without the help of booze more often, that wouldn't be a terrible thing, yet BJ handed him the bottle of whiskey from the nightstand by rote.

Hawkeye accepted the bottle with a grateful nod, uncapping it as he barked directions at the second operator, and took a swig. There wasn't much left but BJ's helpful thought counted for something. Yet he set the bottle down again, too anxious for it to count for more. Wouldn't that just be the cap on a fascinating day, something going wrong back on base when they were too far away to help? He hated the thought as much as he hated the waiting, the clicking of lines connecting, disconnecting, until finally the familiar voice of Radar cut in. 

"Radar! Hey, you okay? How's the colonel? Is Margaret all right?"

BJ could have gone straight for the shower but stayed nearby, leaning back against the tabletop and listening to what he could catch, Hawkeye's evident and genuine concern a touching thing to behold when it showed itself. Oh, he knew it applied to himself as well; he couldn't help but razz Hawk about it when pressed, and he hadn't lied - it could be nice to hear it back, or so he imagined. But it was so very unnecessary when you could watch Hawkeye's face for a mere ten seconds, the quiet but clear worry in it, and know everything you wanted as to how the man felt about those for whom he cared. There'd be dread all over it until he'd heard everyone he'd mentioned was fine, as well as several he hadn't. 

"...Oh, even Charles is okay. Okay." Tension in Hawkeye's shoulders immediately eased. "That's great, Radar. Look, why'd you call?... Uh-huh..." He glanced over at BJ as he listened with an eyeroll that said he was already bored of the conversation now that the adrenaline-bolstered part had passed. 

BJ, simultaneously relieved but context-less, only shrugged back and watched as Hawkeye re-gripped the phone and returned to more or less barking at it.

"They want us to- what?" Hawkeye listened to Radar's explanation before dropping to a mutter. "Well, why'd they switch it?... Uh-huh..." Then far louder than a mutter, "And nobody from the 80-... Yeah. Yeah, okay, Radar, I got it!" Hawkeye sighed and returned to muttering with sarcasm in spades. "I just hate waking up that early... Sure... Yeah, great, see you sooner than planned." He hung up the phone with a huff. 

"And that means...?" BJ asked, folding his arms. 

"It means military intelligence, because that's not a contradiction in terms, says we can expect wounded tomorrow night. So, our flight, the one at 2000 hours? Is now a flight back at 0800! Bye-bye PM, hello A," Hawkeye reported, complete with a displeased satire of a wave.

BJ looked down at his watch, a bitter, why-am-I-not-surprised chuckle dying soon after. "But that's in... fourteen hours."

Yeah, that really puts a topspin on things, doesn't it, Beej, Hawkeye might have said, but he was already heading back towards his bed. "Yeah. Look, I'm gonna shower the zoo off," Hawkeye said, peeling off his tee and tossing it to the floor. "We can work dinner out after."

"Sure..." BJ murmured, eyes cast downward though they drifted over Hawk's bare upper half when he walked by. 

Fourteen hours. 

That didn't leave time for much more than dinner, drinks, packing, some sleep. 

Fourteen hours, really? 

That was inhumane. 

One more cruel reality of the army life and all it could give and take back on a whim - in this case, a whole 12 hours. Which could have been spent... well, any which way. 







Could just... skip dinner, BJ thought.














We could skip sleep. Maybe he can't but I could, Hawkeye thought as he showered. 

All very rhetorical, of course. Because it's not as if a literal time limit, real numbers and all, might galvanize us. No, no, no. Heavens, no. An unthinkable notion.

Hawkeye smirked. 

Of course having their trip cut short was agitating. Of course it was a negative surprise to know they had only so long together without the eyes of the world, so long before they'd be covered in blood and far from real beds, and of course everything about that rankled him tremendously. But Hawkeye wasn't incapable of seeing the positive in a crap situation. 

Granted, the feeling of immediacy had a finger poised and ready over the badly-tuned harp of his nerves, but it seemed to hover unmoving. He had to wonder what was keeping it at bay. What felt different? 

Maybe permission, of a kind.

Not that the vague permission they'd granted each other would hold up in any court or court martial. Not that it would appease any angry spouse or curious CO. Not that it was guaranteed to last. Hawkeye didn't consciously think of it as permission, anyhow. More that two people could look at each other and seem to agree, Here we are, doing the worst thing we think we can do, and nothing's changed in how we see each other. Or was that forgiveness? Funny how easily the latter could transform into the former if you couldn't stop looking at each other in the first place. And why would I want to stop you doing the worst things when you look so good doing them?  Ah, Selfishness, there you are.

Sure, it wasn't anything Father Mulcahy would recognize as absolution or rightness, but if they could be selfish and vow-breaking and creators of some Korea-centric moral code where this was all just fine, if only for a while... What did it matter if they came to hate themselves, so long as they loved each other that much?

He wasn't sure he was making sense to himself but it all checked out on first mental pass, and the earlier clearing of the air felt to Hawkeye like permission to have a little more fun with this than he'd been having of late. The perspective could change the next day, or the one after, but for tonight it meant to fret less and flirt harder, to consider throwing caution and clothes further to the wind to see where they landed. 

Of course, there was always a chance Beej would see it differently. That he wasn't thinking about it at all, that a fourteen-hour countdown was more an unhappy inconvenience than a snap-to-it reminder to seize the day; that he'd insist on last-minute shopping, or dinner, or something he hadn't seen yet of the Tokyo nightlife. 

The thought made Hawkeye laugh aloud to himself. 

A tenth of a chance, and believe it or not, that's with the benefit of the doubt tacked on. Sorry, Beej, but you're crazy about me.

And that didn't need, Hawkeye reminded himself, to be guaranteed to last, the same way fourteen hours was better than none. Really - a now-or-never sort of night with BJ Hunnicutt? He was getting a little tired of his own capacity for wasting those, and oh, he'd make a few nurses jealous if it was a story that could be told. It couldn't and wouldn't but still, any moron with eyes wouldn't turn down a deal like that. 

Even when I didn't have my eyes, actually, his voice was still nice...

He'd known his nerve would rally eventually. 

If mischief be the food of love, play on and damn the consequences. 













BJ's mind was elsewhere but he killed time perusing the few menus they'd collected on the desk anyway. When Hawkeye came out from the bathroom, the first thing BJ noticed, on a level barely above the wavelengths of conscious thought, was that Hawk's hair was dry. It was one of those things he'd picked up on over time... about women, not Hawkeye, so it probably didn't count, but wet hair implied time set aside to deal with drying it. Not having to dry it implied more time for other things. But again, that was about women, not Hawk or likely very many men at all, so if BJ made any correlation or considered it a gauge, he'd likely be off by a mile. 

But that didn't matter, considering the second thing he noticed was that Hawkeye wore nothing but one of the hotel towels around his waist, and flopped stomach-down on his bed in the same. BJ raised an eyebrow. "Shame I didn't bring Klinger's camera," he commented.

Hawkeye reached down to fix where the towel had ridden up high on the back of his thigh, then made a pillow of his arms atop the actual pillow, right cheek smushed upon them so he faced away from BJ. "Why's that?" 

"Well, if you wanted to apply for a guest spot in the nudie mags, I don't have the means to play photographer."

"I'm air-drying," Hawkeye smiled to himself. 

Do you think you're being subtle right now? Because that's very cute, BJ thought, gaze sweeping over Hawkeye's legs and back since it had clearly been invited to. 

"Anyway, shower fast. We could get massages in before dinner," Hawkeye suggested.

Actually, you're so bad at being subtle, I kind of love it, BJ bit back a laugh, keeping his tone casual. "What for? I could give you a massage," he offered as he rose from his perch on the corner of the desk, setting the menus down. I love fishing - I know bait when I see it.

No hesitation there, huh, Beej? Do you think you're being sly right now? That's adorable, truly, Hawkeye preened in his head, but restrained his amusement to a soft, abrupt huff of a laugh as he turned so his forehead laid on his arm. "Beej, you walk on my back, I end up half-dead at Tokyo General," he deadpanned despite a growing smile.

"Not that kind, you dunce," BJ laughed, eyes still inexorably drawn to Hawkeye's shoulder blades, the dip between them. "A regular massage."

"Oh? No happy ending?" Hawkeye couldn't help taunting.

The very un-subtle tease may have given the whole game away, but thankfully BJ knew how to play the next one as smoothly. "Never said that." 

"Mmm. You spoil me so." Hawkeye was glad his smile was hidden, since it felt embarrassingly big on his face until he controlled it. "Shower the zoo off first," he murmured. 

BJ rolled his eyes. "I swear you're imagining that," he said, bunching up fabric at the front of his tee and giving it a quick sniff as he made for the shower. Nothing, no elephants, no cows, yet Hawkeye had been offended enough to gripe about zoo smell lingering on them both the whole train ride back. He was so strange sometimes. 

But BJ wasn't really thinking about the strangeness as he started up a shower he planned to make very brief. More about how Hawkeye's lower lip was always plush and pretty, friction-burned or not, and he hadn't bitten or licked it nearly enough. Nor had he had a chance to make good on that hickey from before, or several more like it. And then there was the way Hawk's towel covered just enough to be decent, and that his back was beautiful, and that he was pretty much laying there just asking for it, and...

And BJ didn't enjoy the half-minute of frigid water he put himself through before turning it back to warm, but it did help. 

One step at a time. 

Time-wise, they had enough to draw this out; BJ might even willingly miss sleep for the right reasons. His own short fuse made sense, what with having gone months without and some aspects being new thus over-exciting, but Hawk's? He'd probably trained himself for efficiency two weeks into life at the compound, opportunities for privacy being so few and far between. That worked fine at the 4077th but now it was them and a little room in Tokyo, and at least twelve hours before anyone had to be wearing clothes.  

All very promising.

As was the massage idea if it helped Hawk genuinely relax. In BJ's estimation, and he'd begun to consider himself something of a Hawkeye Expert, there was appreciable value in simply getting the man to ease up. Sometimes his languid lounging could be a pose that concealed much, and BJ was still learning to read that. But he didn't have that sense about the way Hawkeye sprawled on the bed now. It wasn't a play or a ploy; already there seemed plenty relaxed about his body language, and almost an unspoken acceptance of whatever BJ might want with him. 

So, really, BJ figured, if the massage ended up partially a medically-informed, therapeutic effort and partly an attempt to redefine the word 'merciless', all the better.













BJ was secretly relieved to return to the main room and find Hawk precisely where he'd left him, and still as wonderfully underdressed. He'd opted for shorts himself, but Hawk in his languor had a way of making a simple towel all too appealing. "Any chance you brought lotion?" 

"Maybe?" Hawkeye answered, lifting his head some from the pillow of his folded arms. "Check the suitcase." He only needed it for rough work days, too many hours spent in gloves, but he thought there could be some tucked away. 

BJ nodded and went to the table, opened the suitcase, and dug through the collection of jars, bottles, and tubes. Hawk really should have hit the PX considering how many toiletries seemed one or two uses away from being empty, and BJ silently resigned himself to the certainty he'd end up loaning out his own. The lotion tube he found had plenty, though, and  BJ was about to close the suitcase when his gaze landed on the condoms within. 

Would those be relevant?

If they could be, did he even want them to be? 

A surreptitious glance at Hawkeye on the bed was all it took to answer that question, the realization hitting him like a brick. Yes, he absolutely wanted them to be. Some intrinsic and primitive urge insisted so to the point it flooded his brain with images of Hawk beneath him, breathless and as vocal as ever in his receptivity-

"Find some?"

Oookay. One step at a time, right?


Don't even know if that's on the table, BJ thought, and since it seemed, oh, only somewhat insanely presumptuous, he walked to the light switch and flipped it off with only the lotion in his other hand. For now. Hawkeye was reaching already for the switch on the nightstand lamp, the softer light more pleasant by far. 

"You look comfy," BJ said, since you look downright edible wouldn't sound nearly as casual. But Hawkeye did. All bare skin and subtle softness, the dip in his back just above curves the towel covered... How the hell was BJ supposed to focus on providing a massage? We have all night, he reminded himself, and decided he'd have to start on Hawk's legs because the temptation elsewhere to rush things might be too strong. 

"I'm awaiting my masseur," Hawkeye drawled, shifting to shove the pillow aside and re-settling his cheek upon his arms, smiling as he watched BJ sit at the foot of the bed. "Get a bartender in the mix and it'd be heaven." 

"You know, I wanted to be a masseur, but they fired me for rubbing people the wrong way," BJ punned as he turned, left knee curling on the bed beside Hawkeye's legs as he uncapped the lotion.

"Mm. Rub me any way you want, Beej."

You're gonna have to stop purring at me if you want this to be a massage worth anything, BJ warned psychically as he caught a dollop of lotion in his palm and capped it again. "Gimme this leg first," he directed, drawing Hawkeye's left ankle closer and smearing lotion onto his calf. But almost the moment BJ put intent and pressure into the touch, another purr rose from Hawk, relaxed and (probably purposely) distracting. "Oh, come on," he rolled his eyes. "It can't feel that good yet." 

"We walked a lot today," Hawkeye mumbled, shifting his hips to get more comfortable with the slight stretch BJ's placement of his leg required. "It does."

BJ only nodded, and tried to keep his focus to the pressure he applied as his hands swept down either side of Hawk's calf and back up. He was hardly a professional but knew enough to want to warm the muscle up some before going harder at it. "Speaking of bartenders..." Nope, don't look at his back, not until you can kiss every inch of it. "Feel like we've met fewer of those than in Seoul." 

"Yeah, maybe we went a little light on the bottle," Hawkeye said, letting his eyes drift closed, all the better to enjoy BJ's thumbs kneading at sore muscles. "I'll make it up to the still once we're back home." 

"Met fewer people altogether, aside from the party..."

"I'll make it up to the nurses, too," Hawkeye smiled placidly.

Yeah, I'm sure you will, BJ thought as his hands pushed upwards at muscle. He wasn't sure where he was going with the observations, only that massages seemed made for conversation, and more pressing topics were ones he wasn't certain how to ask about. "Well... nice of you," he said lightly. 

"What is?" Hawkeye asked, sighing in pure peace at the way BJ's skilled, strong, massive hands felt. He was even more useful like this than as a yarn-holder.

For sticking with me. For not making me jealous of anybody, or wonder when you'd get back and with how many people, or any of it. Stuck with me even through the less fun parts, and that's big of you. "For... making sure I had a travel buddy, instead of running off into a field of flowers?"

I don't want anyone else almost slipped out, which distressed Hawkeye far worse than the thought itself. The thought, he was used to. The almost-voicing it made him think he was too relaxed, too close to letting his guard down, and his eyes snapped open. BJ was just talking, right? Not digging into anything more than his gastrocnemius, simply making conversation; Hawkeye could tell, or thought he could, because he saw nothing worrisome in BJ's profile. "Well, Christopher was marvelous company," he put on an air as his nerves settled quickly back down, "And you're not so bad. In fact, make this a weekly event and I'll promote you to superlative."

"Captain Superlative's kind of a mouthful, isn't it?"

"So's Hunnicutt," Hawkeye said, and added wryly, "I would know." 

BJ laughed through his nose. Probably should have expected that one. "You and your mouth..."

Hawkeye didn't miss a beat. "Well, that, you would know."

Know what? Just for that... It wasn't a particularly hard swat BJ landed over the towel, but he loved the way Hawk jumped a little in surprise at it. 

Oh, Beej. Please. "...You know, if you meant that to sting, you're gonna have to try again," Hawkeye said as blandly as he could, lifting his hips for a moment to readjust, relieve discomfort that hadn't been as obvious a few seconds before.

BJ could have tried again but wasn't particularly inclined to; he had no desire to hurt Hawk, for fun or otherwise. "I'm trying to give you a massage here," BJ reminded as he shifted a couple inches over, reaching for Hawk's right leg. "Not get..."

"Get what? Bowled over by flirty talk? Dirty talk?" Hawkeye's left foot moved blindly, but he was fairly sure his toes were kneading at BJ's thigh. "Why-isn't-your-tongue-in-my-mouth-already talk?"

"Yes! Something like that," BJ laughed, scooting further away from Hawkeye's wandering digits as he reached again for the lotion. 

"Well. In that case," Hawkeye said simply, replacing his chin upon his forearm, sounding as if he hadn't a care in all the world whether BJ spanked him again or put his tongue anywhere. "You forgot my left thigh." 

"I'm working my way up, you... you godless slut," BJ collapsed into laughter, the lotion loose in his grasp.

Oh,  Hawkeye loved that laugh. And the compliment. He grinned cheekily but played at indignant. "Oh, I see. You praise me for being around all week, but now I'm a slut? Wanna try that again, but make it make sense this time?"

"It was thanks, not praise."

"Let us give thanks and praise," Hawkeye said soberly.

"And quit... talking to me about your thighs!" BJ insisted once the laughter subsided enough to talk, acquiring more lotion at last and spreading it with his palm over Hawk's right leg.  

Hawkeye chuckled and forced himself into silence, but it was only evil humor lying in barely-patient wait. 

The moment BJ's hands stroked down his right leg, he let loose an obscene moan followed by, "Oh, harder, Beej."

"Okay, that's it! I give up!" BJ threw his hands into the air, another bout of laughter mixing with his arousal as he crawled higher up on the bed. "You?" he began, landing to Hawkeye's left and throwing an arm over his bare shoulders, "Are the literal worst!" He wanted to squeeze him, wrestle him, bite him, fuck him; he didn't even know anymore! Whatever might shut Hawk up first would do.

Hawkeye turned his head enough to face him, body shaking with laughter that died down into a grin. "Yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it?" 

I think that's the question of the day, BJ thought, but there was something about Hawk's bright eyes and merry smile that stopped him being able to speak altogether. He looked so damned happy with himself, happy with everything, and seeing his smile reach his eyes after a couple days when it hadn't was so unbearably beautiful... BJ shook his head some, reaching away from Hawk's shoulder to stroke through his hair. Your light... I don't know how I'd survive Korea without it. "Haven't decided yet," BJ said softly. "Come here."

Hawkeye lifted his head, neck decidedly unhappy with the angle for receipt of the kiss that BJ clearly wanted to deliver, smiling still against his lips. But he wasn't sure how; there was so much of BJ's warmth in the gesture, passed in unmistakable message from psyche to psyche as firmly as the kiss itself, that he could have wept if he let himself think on it too long. It quieted his mirth, his mercilessness, his connatural malaise. BJ's kisses, even the tongue-less ones, quieted everything in him like nothing else he'd ever found. But his neck didn't love that angle, either, and Hawkeye moved slowly to turn onto his side before seeking more of them.

BJ felt him shift, hand sliding down from Hawk's head to nudge his shoulder gently back down. "Hey. I promised you a massage and if you can behave yourself long enough, you're getting one." We have time, Hawk. Enjoy it with me. 

Well, yeah, but I want kisses and to bowl you over with dirty talk and to pet your chest and to bite your biceps and feel your stubble on my neck and suck you off again, was Hawkeye's first and lengthy thought as his eyes roamed BJ's upper half, lips parted in indecisive thought. Granted, it was impossible to do all those things at once, but he could give it the old college try... "Thought I was a lost cause?"

"Well, what kind of masseur would I be if I couldn't work under difficult conditions?" BJ asked, sitting up and pressing a brief kiss to Hawk's shoulder before moving down the bed towards his legs.

You make me sound like a fatal Floridian hurricane. Flatterer. "One that wouldn't get a tip, you're right," Hawkeye nodded, about to lay back down properly but instead peered back over his shoulder, something important on the tip of his tongue. "Hey, Beej?"

If this is about your thighs, but not about me between them, I'm done this time and I mean it, BJ thought as he looked up. "Hm?"

Hawkeye could barely see BJ's eyes from the strained twist of his neck, but maybe that was for the best. "I'd call you every day. For as long as you picked up," he said simply.

Oh. BJ knew that, of course he did, but... hearing Hawkeye say it, no matter how casually, did mean something. Something that paused his hands, something that made him grateful Hawk turned towards the headboard again and settled down seconds later as if he didn't need to hear anything back. 

How could he do that to BJ with one sentence? BJ couldn't name what Hawkeye had done, but it was something that reached inside his chest and squeezed. Something in the incongruous timing alone that seemed to say, Maybe we'll never be able to shake off all the horrors, but someday down a phone line, I'll be remembering this, too

The sudden lump in BJ's throat did more to ensure a long fuse than the half-ruse of a massage could have. Was he tearing up? God, Hawk's timing was worse than his misbehaving mouth. BJ bit his lip, releasing a shaky breath, and tried to bury the lump with a swallow. "...I'll always pick up, Hawk," he said finally, eyes boring into that lovable mop of black and silver hair.

Hawkeye closed his eyes, smiling to himself despite how impractical and unlikely such a promise was for a guy with a wife and small kid. 

It wasn't that he hadn't meant what he'd said, or under-appreciated the response. But there was a tinge of revenge to it all, some gremlin in his brain that hadn't had its calming quota of gin for the day and that provided a nice emotional barrier as crowed, There, you superlative schmuck. You relaxed me and made me laugh until it wrung actual sweetness out of me. Genuine, unadulterated sweetness! Deal with that. Maybe now you'll think twice before causing people emotional pandemonium at the goddamned zoo. 

That gremlin didn't change that he had meant it, and he was sensitive enough to that to give BJ a minute of recovery time before speaking again. "If you're still bent on this massage business, my back could use it more than anything," he mumbled. "And if you're not bent on it, get up here and kiss me again - take your pick." 

BJ chuckled softly. Okay, Hawk had thrown him, but at least he'd worked the lump down by now. "Are those my only two options?" he asked. 

"Oh? You have a better idea?" 

"Well..." BJ sounded thoughtful as he rose up on his knees, admiring anew the expanse of so much bare skin. How could Hawk seem so lean yet so soft everywhere, or pale and tanned at the same time, or foreign and familiar simultaneously? "Gotta be some kind of middle ground, right?" His knees settled at either side of Hawkeye's legs, and at first BJ was almost afraid to touch him. If he caressed, he'd want to grab. If he kneaded and Hawkeye moaned about it, he'd need. It wasn't the easiest tightrope to walk. "Or a loophole..." 

Ha. Middle Ground Loophole could be your middle name, Hawkeye amused himself thinking, but shivered when he felt a single finger slide up his spine. 

"Think I found one already," BJ declared with a smile before he leaned down, right hand supporting himself on the bed, and risked the barest brush of his front against Hawk's towel-clad backside to lay a single kiss between his shoulder blades. "You didn't say where I should kiss you again."

"Mmm... fair point... but I don't think you can do that and give me a massage at the same time..."

BJ tsked. "Damn! You might be right," he straightened up again, hands falling to Hawk's sides. "Massage it is," he teased, palms sweeping further inward and up. 

"I didn't want to be right, Beej," Hawkeye murmured, though he realized it might sound ungrateful. His back could use this, BJ was nice to see it through, and it all felt pleasant. Not as pleasant as that kiss had, though. He wanted more of that. In fact, maybe he should have told BJ their flight was in four hours instead of fourteen, and pretended to be surprised when they were stuck at Yokota Air Base overnight. That might have sped things up considerably. But it wasn't as if he wasn't appreciative, and he felt more relaxed than he had in ages. "Why don't you grow some extra arms?" 

"As handy as that would be for this, the OR, and a few other things," BJ said, "Why don't you just pipe down and let me work on these knots, okay?" He rubbed at a particularly hard spot he'd found to convince him. 

"Yeah, okay," Hawkeye sighed his agreement, and for the next several minutes, he kept blissfully quiet. When the occasional moan escaped him, it was solely from appreciation for BJ's wonderful hands, not by design. BJ was still distracted by his arousal but at least he didn't have Hawk purposely making it worse, and he was able to feel the knots he targeted dissipate over multiple goings-over. Still, every sound Hawk made was libido fuel, and most of the trouble spots he'd worked over were fairly central. If he leaned higher up to press stress out of Hawk's shoulders...

Sure, they could try to pretend this was still about a massage alone, but contact like that, contact that drew a deeper purr from Hawkeye and a slow, pursed-lipped exhale from BJ at the friction, tended to clear the smokescreen fast. 

"Been holding out on me, huh, Beej," Hawkeye observed, somehow resisting the urge to squirm back against BJ's ever-impressive erection, though he wasn't sure how long he'd be able to resist it. 

"You wanted a massage," BJ shrugged verbally, head hanging down from his shoulders as he rubbed at Hawk's, a strained and soundless huff escaping him at the first shift of Hawkeye's body against his own. 

No, I wanted to lie around naked and threaten leaving until you did something about it, but if you don't realize that, may your ignorance be our bliss. "And it was a lovely massage - you've melted me into the mattress." 

"'Was'?" BJ repeated. 

"Well, I don't expect it to last much longer," Hawkeye smirked, though the sense of victory soon faltered. BJ felt so good pressed against him like that that it distracted from his own smugness.

"And why's that?" BJ asked, hanging onto his restraint with all the force his fingertips put into Hawkeye's slim-seeming shoulders. 

Hawkeye answered in actions rather than words, his body raising but his hips highest of all, the dip in his back becoming a pronounced arch as he pushed back against BJ like a cat in heat. The sudden feeling of BJ's short nails digging into his shoulders? A perfect and awfully telling reward. 

"Ohh, you-..." BJ breathed, a low laugh rumbling in his chest. You're the worst and I love you for it. And as much as he hated to prove Hawkeye right yet again, he dropped the massage pretense, hands supporting his weight just above the conniving tease below him. Hawkeye was driving him a whole new kind of crazy, and the only outlet he could make for it was to grind against him, to get to his neck with kisses that couldn't rightfully be deemed hungry but starved. Kisses with teeth, with tongue, an onslaught of kisses whose delivery along neck, along jaw, along lobe he wouldn't be happy with until they resulted in gasps or better.

Only once BJ heard a helpless sound or two out of Hawk did he shift back, denying himself the pleasure that was Hawk's godlessly sluttish writhing so he could lay kisses further down, lips and tongue in worship over one bump of vertebrae, then the next. He'd made himself slow his breathing, made himself slow everything because, well, there were some logistics at play here, or would be, if he knew for sure whether... 

One hand raised to Hawkeye's neck, caressing his throat before sliding downward, sweeping over his chest. "Hey, Hawk?"

Hawkeye loved that his towel had gotten disturbed somewhere along the way and that only thin shorts separated them. BJ grinding against him was a sensorily suggestive thing - a fantastic thing - but the passion meant more than the friction, that he could feel the tension in BJ's body against his back, could tell Beej was coming untethered from his usually flawless self-control by the way his breath on Hawk's neck seemed to carry a growl. 

But it was better that BJ had turned to softer kisses, had backed up; it was easier for Hawkeye, who relished the way the roaming hand splayed and stayed possessively, to keep his own wits about him. Shimmery and shivery though the kisses to his upper spine felt, as desperate as he himself was getting to feel about things, and as much as he in many ways regretted the decision, he still had the voice to hoarsely clarify, "Not, uh... not tonight, Beej..."

Hawk, damn it, I need this, and when the hell else? 

Luckily that stayed in his head as he kissed another bump of bone. It wasn't a particularly polite thought or demand. It was the back-of-someone's-dad's-Buick feeling all over again, but in a different way. Shouldn't have assumed, anticipated... Stride, take it in stride, or try to... He wanted to ask why, but that was best saved for later. "You don't know- what I was gonna ask," BJ asserted, tone on a breathy upswing if not a little sharp. 

You're too cute now. Devastatingly hot, sure, but still precious, Hawkeye stopped himself chuckling but only just, knowing it'd be rude. BJ's hand had moved again, swept over his side and found its way to the back of Hawkeye's thigh, and the upward drift of fingertips over such sensitive skin was... was... what were they talking about? Oh, yeah - the inevitable conversation. "Don't I?" 

Not since I changed what I was going to ask! Relying on the first thing that popped to mind as recovery from his disappointment, recovery meaning some kind of revenge, BJ nuzzled a stubbled cheek at Hawk's lower back. "Was going to ask..." he began huskily, hand groping high on Hawk's thigh. "If you remember that little story... in the VIP tent..." For effect, for a tease, or because Hawk was delicious despite BJ's disappointment, he followed up the question with a long lick up his spine.

The mix of sensations, wet and surprising, the squeezing hand, the question, combined to put a whine in Hawkeye's throat. 

BJ smiled. Good answer.

"Beej, I... I bribe my brain with drinks on an hourly basis to stop remembering that," Hawkeye admitted, not minding the vulnerability in the only slight exaggeration but glad he didn't have to look BJ in the eye for it. And how'd you go from cute to devastating so fast? You're a menace. 

Now BJ had his bearings back. Of course he'd wanted to help Hawk relax, but he'd been almost too relaxed, too blase, too calm. That needed fixing. BJ kissed Hawk's right shoulder, smiling. Time to be merciless. "Oh, good. Maybe you can jog my memory on something..."

Hawkeye hummed a questioning note that ended in a gasp as he felt BJ's fingertips, light and delicate, drift from his thigh to the base of his spine and back down again. 

"Don't remember the specifics," BJ murmured, black strands tickling his face as he kissed Hawk's nape. "Did I say I'd use one finger, or two?"

The question made Hawkeye shudder with hope and anticipation. BJ hadn't been specific, which meant it was all left up to Hawkeye's imagination, which had always chosen the oddest things to be optimistic and ambitious about. "Two," he blurted, distracted by the roving touch. "No, uh... three..."

BJ's eyebrows raised as he considered that, laughing low and deep and licking his lips in thought as he lifted his face from Hawkeye's neck. "Hmm..." His hand stroked the middle of Hawk's back, the skin beneath his palm wonderfully smooth and warm. "Bring any gloves?"

Oh, Christ, please. "Uh, the rubbers'll do..."

"Go get 'em, then," BJ suggested, easing himself to lie down, knees in need of a break. He could ruin Hawk this way from any position, really, though as he watched Hawk get up and walk towards the table, he couldn't help imagining bending him over it, couldn't help wondering, Why does he want that but not me? If it had to do with his size, he was going to start considering that a curse rather than a dubious blessing. BJ sighed softly, closing his eyes for a moment. He should stop thinking about it, he knew that, because it still wasn't a good time to ask and it would only sound needy or demanding if he did. And there was always the chance Hawk could change his mind... But I won't count on it, he told himself firmly. 

Condom packet in hand, Hawkeye returned to the bed, gaze sweeping over BJ who was halfway sat up against the pillows and gorgeously tenting his shorts, gorgeously enough that he almost regretted his earlier call. Almost, but not enough. But BJ's wonderful hands? The thought drove Hawkeye almost mad. It was one thing to get a quick jerk in within the confines of the shower stall, but penetration was always a more difficult maneuver to find the time and privacy for, and that was an itch that needed scratching every so often. It had been a while.

BJ opened his eyes as he felt Hawk's weight dip the bed and was immediately drawn into a heated kiss, Hawk's fine, long fingers curled around his neck and tongue driving against his own. Well, someone seems eager, he smirked in his head, but when Hawk's hand slid from his neck and palmed him over his shorts, BJ drew back from the kiss. "Easy, lover," he said, reaching down and moving Hawkeye's hand gently away. His focus (and he would need a little) would be shot if he let it be. "You can take care of me later - good?" he asked, craning up to press a kiss to the side of Hawk's swanlike neck. 

Hawkeye nodded, knowing a fully-focused Beej was bound to be his ruin and looking forward to it immensely. "Where do you want me?" he asked, reaching over BJ and around an empty gin bottle on the nightstand for the lubricant. 

"And keep your hands off yourself, too," BJ added before considering the question. He sat more or less in the middle of the bed, Hawk kneeling at his right, and yeah, that was about perfect, because he didn't want to miss a single second of Hawk's expressions through this. He ran a slow hand up Hawk's leg from knee to inner thigh, and leaned forward to place a kiss just above his hip, smiling up at him. "I think that's about right," he murmured with an easy smile.

Hawkeye licked his lips, chest rising and falling with a harsh pant. Couldn't BJ not do that? As in, not be so near his cock, and grinning, and have eyes that marvelous a shade of blue, with so much provocation and warmth in them at once? The man's whole existence was a menace. Hawkeye reached to pet his hair but his hand soon dropped as BJ sat back against the pillows and gingerly extracted the Saxons from his hand. 

"Gonna go about this nice and slow..." BJ said evenly, gaze on the condom packet as he opened it.

"I know, Beej," Hawkeye nodded hurriedly. "I trust you."

"And," BJ continued, nodding up at the tube in the other's hand, "With as much of that stuff as you say we need. Buuut..." he went on as he unwrapped the prophylactic and rolled it down over his right pointer finger, "I mean slow in two ways." 

Hawkeye had been watching BJ's hands with open expectancy but took the cue, uncapping the tube. "Oh, yeah?"

Humming an affirmative, BJ looked up at him again, offering his hand with finger outstretched for Hawk's addition to the necessities. "First, and mostly... that I will listen and do my best not to hurt you, but second..." He let the silence hang, savoring the way Hawk looked up from the lube into BJ's eyes with the best kind of apprehension, the desiring kind, the kind that knew its own hunger and feared, maybe rightly but with its own brand of masochistic enjoyment, that its slaking was suddenly at risk. "Well. Just means you might not get what you want when you want it."

Menace, menace, menace, Hawkeye's brain repeated, but oh, he loved it. Loved the devious sparkle in BJ's eyes, the suggestion of such a torment, everything. With his thumb he spread the generous dollop of lubricant evenly over BJ's covered fingertip, watching as he did so, certain there might be a telling blush crawling its way over his face. Yeah, I'll let you believe you're in control of that, when I might blow my top as soon as we get to two fingers. "Always by pain one gets to pleasure," he muttered. "That's paraphrasing de Sade, you know. You, uh, reminded me of him there for a second..."

"Funny, that doesn't sound like a complaint," BJ smiled, lowering his hand to reach between Hawkeye's thighs. 

"No, it's a complimmm..." Hawkeye trailed off as he felt BJ's hand part his cheeks and a slick fingertip spread the lube in miniscule circles. That alone was pleasant, the skin hypersensitive from neglect and the touch robbing him temporarily of speech. He sighed shakily, hips rolling to rock back against the stimulation, dropping the lube before his hand found BJ's bicep and squeezed lightly.

To a doctor, this wasn't exactly rocket science, but BJ wasn't approaching it clinically; he wanted to make this as good and comfortable for Hawk as he could, though the enthusiasm was certainly a good sign. "I'm gonna guess... you don't get away with this too often," BJ posited with a hint of amusement.

"Guessed right... Beej, come on, you're not gonna hurt me..."

"I'm... making sure of that," BJ said simply, slowing the circles he made as his finger pressed up harder and with more intent, feeling out the tiny, tiny ingress into Hawk's body. "How long's it been?"

Was this conversation doing something for BJ? Or just testing him on whether he still had the capacity for language? "Uh..." Hawkeye forced his hips into stillness to make this easier, head hanging as he blinked, thinking back. "Months, months..." 

Oh, Hawk, sweetheart, you sound miserable about that, BJ thought, biting back on a smile. But here's me sympathizing... He pushed slowly up, the very tip of his finger working through tight muscle, and gasped along with Hawk. If Hawk's denial of him did have anything to do with his size, he might be more patient with that now because Hawk was incredibly tight and nearly unyielding. But as BJ heard nothing resembling a grievance, he kept pushing, watching Hawkeye's face with care and curiosity as his finger slipped inside past the first knuckle.

"Jusss... just hold on for a second," Hawkeye struggled with breathing and giving even the simplest direction at the same time, eyes closed, hand dropping from  BJ's arm to blindly feel around for the lubricant. "Little more of..."

"I've got you," BJ assured softly, awed and provoked by how dazed Hawkeye seemed. His left hand reached out towards Hawkeye's right, tapping his hand for attention to get him to open his eyes, and then he had another squirt of the liquid to work with. BJ brought it up to where his finger was partially buried, spreading it over the rubber around his second knuckle. He wiped the excess off onto the towel Hawk had abandoned before reaching up to stroke his hip, steadying him in place. "Good?" he checked, prodding in the smallest possible increments to apply the additional slick. 

"Not yet but it will be," Hawkeye murmured, voice gone rough and rushed, hand returning to BJ's upper arm for support. There was always a sting to this, that was par for the course; he just had to get past it. 

BJ hummed in thought, not moving his finger any further except to slide it a smidge out and in again, using his knuckle now as much as the tip for minute rotations, seeking to open him up more. "Maybe this'll help..." he suggested, voice just above a whisper as he sat up more from the pillows, deciding now was a fine time for a previously aborted experiment. He made contact with Hawk's cock with a single flick of his tongue against the tip, watching it bob in a hard twitch after, Hawk's fingers now a death grip on his bicep.

"Bejus, Jeez- I, I mean,  Jesus, Beej..." Hawkeye deeply regretted that his eyes were closed again for that, and forced them open. "Not, not too much, it's too much, but..." BJ Superlative Middle Ground Loophole Hunnicutt had just licked his cock and he could barely wrap his mind around that, much less his restraint. So long as Beej didn't wrap his mouth around anything, Hawkeye might survive a little while yet.

Hawkeye sounded utterly wrecked and BJ began to doubt they'd get to two fingers, let alone three. But now that he had Hawk's full attention, he knew he had to try that again, maybe more. "Just a taste," BJ confirmed in a whisper, taking Hawk's blown pupils and shaky breaths as encouragement in spades. His tongue stuck out again, swiping just beneath the head in a few slow licks, eyes on Hawk's face all the while as he pushed in further, feeling him clench around his second knuckle. He could have sworn his heart fluttered along with Hawk's long lashes.

"Your hands're so big, I love... oh..." Hawkeye babbled, moaning in disbelieving pleasure that BJ was doing everything he was doing. Those perfectly pink lips were all too tempting, and if BJ ended up with pre-ejaculate on his tongue, well, that was his own fault. Hawkeye swallowed back saliva that threatened to drip from his hung-open mouth, pushing back against BJ's finger with a stuttering exhale. The burn plagued him again but so did the thrill, the beginnings of gratification, the sense of slowly being filled with whatever of BJ he thought best to get for the evening. "More, I can take more..."

BJ sat back slowly, careful not to dislodge his hand, not at all minding the taste of Hawk on his tongue. He'd have liked to experiment further if only to make Hawk squirm, but it wasn't how he wanted to get him off, and Hawk was already squirming besides. "You probably could," BJ shrugged against the pillow, again fighting a smile. Awfully tight still, but he loved the fraught lust in the other's voice, a far cry from Hawk's lazy insouciance during the massage. No, he thought it too soon for a second finger (though how could he really know?), but as Hawkeye rocked back against his hand, BJ pushed further up, giving him what he could in the moment.

It was starting to feel good to Hawkeye, truly good, the sharpness and ache still present but fading, and again he wasn't sure he saw the value anymore in not sinking down on BJ's length in a minute or two. There was value, but it was harder to remember now... "Don't tease, I can't take it..."

Little rich coming from you, BJ mused silently but it was more humor than annoyance. "But you're so, so pretty when I tease you, Hawk..." he murmured.

Hawkeye felt heat spring to his face once more at the compliment but was warm all over, a light sheen of sweat breaking over his skin, his knees resettling as he parted his thighs further. "You know I'm shameless, I'll beg if I have to," he panted.  And then BJ's finger curled and hit just beside a glorious spot inside him, nerves singing and sparking, but only for an instant before it straightened out again. "Oh, fu- Beej, please..." 

Not just pretty. Gorgeous, goddamned beautiful, BJ thought, the long column of Hawk's neck as his head fell back looking good enough to cover with hickeys. And that reaction, the evident tremble in Hawk's legs... "I'll give you another finger, just... relax," he soothed. Despite Hawkeye seeming better than fine, BJ was still conscious - overly conscious? - of hurting him, and reached for the little tube once more. 

"We should... reposition," Hawkeye wheezed out, eyes drifting over BJ's wonderfully woolly chest, the luscious bulge in his shorts, "So I can have you in my mouth while you do this..."

"Told you, I'm taking a page from your... weirdly masochistic book," BJ said, even though the idea appealed, as he managed one-handed to get more lube onto his left thumb. Still, focus would be an issue, no doubt about that. And just because Hawk could form sentences again, BJ crooked his finger once more, not quite hitting the spot but he knew it was close and any pressure might be welcome. The sound that burst out of Hawkeye as a result was almost a mewl and eminently gratifying. "Patience..."

Hawkeye suspected BJ couldn't understand, didn't know the way this particular lust crawled into one's skin and just needed, needed putting out, and it was one thing to lose a battle with lust, but lust and BJ both? The world could be so cruel. But he felt more cool slickness, felt BJ readjust his hand, and moaned at the way BJ's wrist brushed against the sensitive underside of his balls. I save lives, I have enough virtues, I don't need patience... 

BJ had, with a small amount of effort, worked his middle finger beneath the condom's edge and into it. He slipped his finger out partway, the middle rubbing against Hawk's tight opening as he pushed it slowly back in. 

Hawkeye felt the extra stretch with a renewed burn, but the pleasure overrode it immediately enough to ignore. "Yeah... yeah, Beej... stretch me out, fill me up..."

Fuck. The words went straight to BJ's cock, all but barraging his brain with more imagery of what other circumstances in which they'd be inappropriately appropriate. The distraction made him a little careless, middle finger pushing in beside the pointer probably too fast, but Hawk, gleaming with sweat and a long, multi-syllabled moan rolling out from his chest, didn't seem to mind. 

Hawkeye sank back onto BJ's fingers, lips pressing tight together with strain before another moan parted them. "Need... need you... Tr-Trap, and Bellamy-"

Two names I never want to hear in bed now or ever again! BJ thought immediately. 

"Didn't... didn't need them, Beej, you... please, I need..."

Okay, maybe this once. Because Hawk was right and it hit BJ more intensely than it should have as his fingers, pressed together by Hawk's clamping around them, worked in rhythm with his increasingly more frenetic rocking. He got to see Hawk like this, sweaty and lost and so vulnerable - they didn't. And Christ, had they missed out. And BJ didn't feel sorry for either of them at all. 

BJ had been consciously careful but wiped the fingers of his left hand on the towel again for good measure before leaning forward, capturing Hawk's lips in an impassioned kiss. He caught Hawk's lower lip between his teeth and pulled before letting it go, tongue seeking the other's as Hawk's low moans reached his ears. Not theirs, never theirs, mine. If only for tonight, mine. Beautiful and mine. His fingers crooked inside with purpose, seeking Hawk's prostate gland as his left hand wrapped around his weeping cock. Hawkeye sank against him at the shoulder and BJ relished the tension that thrummed through him, his trembling, his sweat, the needy ruin BJ had reduced him to, that he'd let BJ reduce him to. 

"Beej, Beej, oh god, there-" At the merciful mercilessness of BJ's skilled hands, Hawkeye couldn't speak, breathe, move, do anything but cling to him. The long fingers inside him rubbed at just the right spot over and over again, pleasure rising in him as if long pressurized, tears springing to his eyes solely from how phenomenal it all felt. When he came, it was with a body-wracking, voice-cracking, almost agonized sob, and harder than he had in months.

Holy shit, was BJ's first thought as Hawkeye's forehead fell to his shoulder, his fingers crunched together by Hawk's spasming muscles as BJ kissed his hair, breathing harshly and silently astounded. 

You. are stunning, was the second as Hawkeye shook against him, gasping for air. 

The third was no less amazed, but definitely more on the crass side: You practically covered my chest in come, didn't you? I think I'm dripping with it.

BJ wasn't necessarily un-proud of that.

"Hey, sweet thing," he rumbled softly near Hawk's ear. "Feel better?"

All Hawkeye was capable of was a low-pitched, drawn-out noise, actual language a possibility eventually but a distant one.

BJ wasn't un-proud of that, either. He grinned, left hand moving from Hawk's groin to stroke his side. "All right, you just breathe," he suggested, but paused. "I, uh... might need my hand back, though? You know. Whenever works for you."

Hawkeye, still quivering and catching his breath, only grunted.

Furrowing his brows, BJ decided to make extracting his fingers a solo effort, fairly sure Hawk would adjust as need be. But he did it very slowly, as slowly and carefully as he'd gotten them in, feeling Hawkeye shudder anew as the tips slipped out. "Sorry," BJ muttered, having to assume that wasn't the greatest feeling in the world. He kissed Hawk's sweaty shoulder, nudging him lightly. "Be right back," he said in warning lest Hawk land straight from BJ's side face-first into the bed, and rose to throw away the rubber and wash his hands. His chest, he realized in the bathroom mirror, would require another shower. More pressing was his positively aching erection, but if Hawk didn't snap to liveliness in another minute or so, taking care of that himself might be simpler.

Hawkeye stayed mostly upright as BJ departed, the roar of his pulse in his ears slowly diminishing. He felt... melted. Perfect. Divine. Satisfied in a way he'd gone too long without, in a way that still shivered through all his senses. If he were a smoker, he'd need a whole pack. And he'd still take care of Beej and wanted to, but was the capacity for words there yet? Because even in a little room in Tokyo, somewhere their consciousnesses had chased pleasure long before their bodies had, there might be room yet for storytelling. He had one in mind. He knew he should go clean up, but BJ had spoiled him, and this likely wouldn't take long at all...

He reached for the lube, squirting a coin-sized amount into his palm before setting the tube on the nightstand - only God knew where the cap was. "Hey, Beej?" Oh, good. Words. Ragged-sounding, but speakable and spoken. A fine start.

"Hmm?" BJ returned to the main room, and was about to settle on the bed again when he noticed Hawk sprawled on his side where he himself had been before, and was stopped by a gently-curled fist at his abdomen discouraging it. "Yes?"

"Got a story you might like," Hawkeye said slowly, fingertips tugging at BJ's waistband. "Not a true story." Still partially dazed and heavy-lidded, he blinked up at BJ where he stood at the bed's edge. "Well. Not the whole truth... ask me later, but it could be true, I suppose... A hands-on story," he clarified, drawing down BJ's shorts to free his pained-looking hard-on. Hawkeye regarded it with a catlike smile. "One you'll like hearing whether or not it's true." 

That... was a puzzling start, but BJ was so grateful for the attention he wasn't about to say so. He was intrigued at the very least, though knew the story would only matter so much the moment he felt Hawk's slim, lovely fingers wrap around him, lube easing the way and all. "I'm in no position to turn down an offer like that," he admitted with a smile, though it faded when his breath hitched quietly on the first long, wet stroke. 

"Wanna know why we didn't tonight?" Hawkeye asked, stroking again, the pad of his thumb raising over the head, playing at BJ's slit.

"How is that..." Part of a true/not-true/maybe-true story?, BJ had meant to ask, but that touch was distracting. "What, why?" 

Leaning up on his elbow, Hawkeye's thumb drifted downward, running over a thick vein. "Because I wouldn't have wanted you to stop," he said softly. "Ever. I mean it, Beej. I'd have wept begging you not to..."

You're right, that's not a true reason, and I do kinda like hearing it, BJ thought, his left hand dropping to stroke through Hawk's mussed hair as he shivered. "Is that so..."

"Here on the bed... Or up against the wall, my... my leg wrapped around your waist..." Hawkeye continued, his hand tightening around BJ's cock as the next stroke was done in more swift a tug. "Or over the table, and you could pull my hair..."

BJ exhaled slowly, imagining it, wondering if Hawk had been reading his mind somehow. He hadn't pictured the hair-pulling but it was a hell of an addition, making his fingers tighten against Hawk's scalp as he spoke, making heat pool in his gut.

"But you'd get tired eventually, or come, and I'd... I'd really hate that, Beej... Don't really care if I couldn't walk tomorrow..." Hawkeye licked his lips, straightening his supporting arm to sit up higher yet remain on his side, the strokes coming faster, his gaze raising from his hand to flick up at BJ's eyes. He was pleased to see them slipping shut, delighted by Beej's breathing taking a turn for the erratic. No, this wouldn't take long at all. Hawkeye's tone stayed slow, seductive as he spouted filth. "I'd need you, just, mmm... pounding, fast and deep as you like... Oh, Beej..." 

It wasn't so much the less-than-creative filth itself but the sultry way Hawk's voice sounded, his vulnerability in saying any of this outright, and his come-hither eyes and faster-moving hand that had BJ on edge. After so long hard and ignoring it, it was damn near close to enough. "I, I wouldn't wanna stop..."

His strokes now covering most of BJ's length, Hawkeye leaned the final couple inches forward. "Course not - you know how tight I am. Can you imagine it?" he asked, a sloppy kiss laid then over the tip, tongue wet and swirling. BJ's shaky gasp, the tug to his hair, all were encouraging signs. "If it weren't for the condom factor, you could come inside me, too," Hawkeye murmured, knowing it was a stupid notion but knowing neither of them would care in the teasing moment. "Would you, Beej?" Hawkeye smiled up at him. "Christen all the furniture in the room with me, and fill me til I'm dripping with you?" he asked, lashes aflutter once again before he drew BJ into his mouth with a hard suck.

It was all of two inches and all of two seconds before BJ's release flooded his mouth, a bitter and viscous rush Hawkeye loved the symbolism of more than the act itself, brows knitted as his throat worked on not choking. Like a shot of cheap liquor, it was possible to taste it less by swallowing fast, but if he had to choose he'd pick tasting over choking, and was glad he hadn't taken BJ any further towards the back of his throat. Hawkeye still hummed a pleased note, letting BJ feel the vibrations of it before sliding his mouth slowly off. He smiled upwards, licking his lips, noting that BJ had a hand on the wall beside him for support, and wasn't that flattering? "Well, that story wins the award for least amount of time haunting our psyches..."

"I... wouldn't be so sure about that," BJ breathed heavily, fairly sure the image of fucking Hawkeye against a wall was one that might return anywhere at the compound that had walls. "Oh, you meant..."

"Mm. No dripping, though," he said, hand slowing on BJ to a barely-there, parting sort of stroke. "Sorry."

BJ chuckled, leaning down to his outstretched arm to wipe sweat off his forehead. It hadn't been the most wildly intense orgasm of his life but he had needed it, and his legs felt on the shaky side. He petted Hawk's hair idly, getting his breath back by degrees. "Does that... taste good?" he couldn't help asking.



"As a rule, not especially, but I don't mind," Hawkeye said with a shrug. "What, you've never tasted your own?"

BJ couldn't believe the conversation was going this way, but it was his fault, and there were some orgasms, rather, some people with whom one shared orgasms, that tended to leave only good-natured silliness in their wake. Apparently, this was one of those times, no matter how embarrassing. "...Shot in my own mouth once when I was 18 or so. Wasn't great!"

Beats pink eye, but nobody needs to know that story. "Were you aiming for that, or...?"

"God!" BJ's hand moved from Hawk's hair to smack him lightly on the shoulder. "No," he laughed, blushing, relying on his arm again, this time for a place to hide the pink in his cheeks. "You're such a pig." He said it fondly despite it being entirely true. 

Hawkeye oinked for effect. "Do feel vaguely like I've been rolling around in a trough," he admitted, rising slowly from the bed, standing before BJ and leaning in for a kiss before going to clean up and brush his teeth. When BJ's head swerved away, Hawkeye blinked. "Well, it's not like you don't know what it tastes like," he deadpanned.

"Will you just... go, get," BJ laughed, nudging him away playfully. 

"You'll miss me when I'm gone, Beej," he teased as he walked away. 

"You're only going to the bathroom!"

"That's what you think!" Hawkeye called back before the door closed, and because it made no sense whatsoever, it only made BJ laugh more as he finally felt steady enough to stand on his own two feet, pulling his shorts back up. He still needed to clean up properly, but perhaps less so than Hawk. 

As he dropped onto the bed, it hit him, light and warm but bittersweet, that this was the kind of tone their whole trip should have had, none of the nervous and worried shit. It had been necessary in its own way, but... Well, he wouldn't dwell on it. There could even be some trip left. Many a restaurant was still likely to be open, and he knew he'd forgotten presents for a couple of folks who might expect them and had always brought him a little something from their trips. He almost missed them after so many days away. Well, everyone but Charles. But... he didn't really want to think what getting back to the 4077th might mean quite yet. And, he realized, the second Hawk emerged from the bathroom, BJ sort of wanted to just... lay down with him for a while, and be close, away from the eyes of the imminent world outside.

Hawkeye conducted the bare basics of cleaning and teeth-brushing, but would save another shower until he knew what the rest of the night might hold. After the other previously pressing needs, hunger was making itself known. "What do you want to do for dinner?" Hawkeye asked as he came back towards the beds, feeling slightly more self-conscious about his nudity now that there wasn't sex involved, but he fought to brush the feeling off. 

"You mean our death row breakfast?" BJ asked, and when Hawk gave him an odd look, he clarified, "Before the mess."

Hawkeye visibly shuddered. "Don't mention the mess," he said as he walked towards his collection of still-clean clothes. 

"Bacon my heart just thinking about it." That earned an eyeroll from Hawk and BJ grinned, but the smile softened a moment later. "Forget clothes, Hawk. Come here."

Hawkeye paused in mid-reach for his bag. Was he... being invited to... cuddle, snuggle, canoodle? BJ had that look about him, lying in the middle of the bed, ample space for Hawkeye to slide in beside him. It made him nervous; he wasn't sure why, other than that he didn't want to let himself get used to it. Pillow talk, talk-talk, whatever it was bound to be, he wasn't sure he wanted to know. 

But all things considered, it was where he wanted most to be, even if the guy did have an unfortunate glaze stuck in his chest hair. 

But Hawkeye had to say something as he wandered over, some kind of icebreaker to it, some kind of accusation even, or it would all be too... canoodly. Naked and canoodly, no less! He wasn't sure he approved. "I surmise, dear chum," he put on an English accent but dropped it immediately as he moved onto the bed, dropping his head to the pillow and facing BJ, "That there's a question ready to burst right out, huh?"

Considering how deer-in-headlights you just looked? Now I've got two, BJ thought, but in truth, he couldn't count, categorize, or voice his current stack of unknowns if he tried. But Hawkeye was facing him, not running from any questions, and... "One or two," BJ admitted with a small nod, reaching up and running a tender hand through salt-and-pepper locks. 

Hawkeye closed his eyes, letting the touch soothe his nerves, and stroked BJ's arm absently. "Lemme guess," he murmured, "Why not tonight?" His eyes opened slowly again, staring into BJ's with a wry quirk of a smile at the corner of his mouth. 

"I wasn't gonna press it," BJ insisted, brows raised and eyes wide and earnest as he shook his head a little. If I was going to, I would have then. "Can't... blame a guy for being curious, though, right?" he asked more softly. Especially when we... don't have much written in stone, here...

"No, I guess not," Hawkeye sighed. Rookies, he scoffed in his head. Always so used to one way of doing things, that anything lesser than full-out fucking barely registers. But that wasn't fair to BJ at all, not when a single kiss at a party had meant so much to them both. No, not his beautiful, beloved Beej. 

Hawkeye couldn't handle the openness of his gaze, though, and turned his head to look up at the ceiling, hand falling from BJ's arm and BJ's hand shaken out of his hair. There were a few reasons, but only one that BJ needed to be aware of. Hawkeye just didn't know how to put it. 

God, I hate when you do that. You just shut me right out. Me! While I was petting your hair and everything. I hate it, I really do, he stared at Hawkeye's profile, waiting for any kind of answer. "You really don't want to tell me, do you?" he forced a laugh to take the edge off the statement. 

"It's not that," Hawkeye murmured, swallowing thickly. 

"Well, is it... me, somehow? Did I..." BJ's eyes narrowed the slightest bit in confusion, not sure how to finish the question. 

Oh, a question designed to make me feel like an asshole. Thanks for that. Hawkeye turned his head, eyes fond but wary. "It's not you, Beej."

"Hawk..." I swear, we just had this talk. "Please just be honest with me? All the time?" BJ offered him a wavering smile. "I'm a big boy. I can take it. I mean, if it's personal, fine, that's your business-"

"We're having a nice night," Hawkeye said simply. "I don't want to say anything that... hurts that," Hawkeye admitted, wetting his lips nervously. 

"It can't be worse than mentioning the mess tent," BJ half-joked, searching Hawkeye's face. We always bounce back, you and I. Why do you look so scared?

Maybe you're huge and I didn't want to bother with that much prep tonight, Hawkeye thought, grappling with his own reasons before tossing BJ the one relevant to him. Maybe I reserve that for Forever kind of people - not always, but preferably. Or maybe there's some spiteful gremlin in my head that wants to punish you subconsciously, for being out somewhere in the world and getting married and having a kid before we found each other. 

"The... the ball's actually in your court, Beej," he murmured. 


"Yes, yours, when you know the reason. I..." Hawkeye sighed, reaching for BJ's left hand, staring at the ring as he twisted it in circles around BJ's finger. I hate this thing. But I love you. "You can think on this. Okay? Because we... we weren't thinking much. But I thought maybe you'd... no matter what happens, you'd want..." Drawing a deep breath into a suddenly tight chest, Hawkeye's voice fell to nearly a whisper as he met BJ's eyes once more. "You'd want something about you that's just hers."

BJ stared for a long moment before it was his turn to look away, to close his eyes, for them to roll hard behind his lids. He was annoyed. Very annoyed, because where the hell did Hawk get off, thinking that such a call was his to make? And maybe Hawkeye shouldn't even mention Peg, or touch his ring, if he was going to look close to tears while doing so. 

And maybe, Hawkeye thought, watching BJ's jaw clench, I wanted to leave a stone un-turned, and see how long it takes you to come back for it. 

BJ knew that had been a cruel thought. He remembered his own jealousy over Bellamy, Trapper... Different, way different situations, but... He was going to have to start asking the important questions at the time, start putting his foot down or raising his voice more, because otherwise Hawk would apparently make decisions for them both. Decisions that weren't his to make for everyone, but... 

Damn it, but BJ knew in his heart it came from the right place. 

They hadn't been thinking much, too lust-soaked. And Hawk might make snide comments every time BJ brought up his happy family, but...

He cared so much. So obviously much. And even when he seemed relaxed and thoughtless, he was thinking and seeing further ahead than anyone else in the room at all times. Even if it clearly hurt him to do so. And for BJ to be annoyed about that... 

Well, he couldn't be. Not really. 

BJ withdrew his left hand, tucking it close to his leg, but took Hawkeye's in his right, pulling it close. He ducked his head down to kiss it, laying it over his heart and his own hand over it. He still needed a short little while for the annoyance to fade completely, but... BJ exhaled slowly, whispering, "Thanks." 

"Don't mention it."

He stroked the back of Hawkeye's hand with his thumb, just breathing. The things he was confused about, unsure about, they all seemed so looming but so distant yet. He had to put his mind on one track and stick to it, put it in the present, and in the present... He had Hawk beside him, possibly upset, and was getting over something of an upset himself, but if he could fix something, or ease either of their fears... 

Right. Hawk had been afraid of ruining the night, or said he was.

BJ gave himself another short bout of silence to think about that before he spoke again. "Hey, Hawk?"


BJ clicked his tongue, opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. "Well, I've got another question, and I swear it's nothing... heavy, but it... It is important," he said haltingly, knowing he had to pull off the asking just right. 

Despite the promise it wasn't heavy, Hawkeye still mistrusted the moment, heart clenching inside his chest in advance. "What? What is it?"

BJ swallowed. "I'm... actually not even sure I deserve to ask it..." With an uncertain look, BJ turned again more fully onto his side, bringing Hawk's hand to his lips to kiss again.

"You're killing me here," Hawkeye said evenly, eyes roaming BJ's face concernedly for hints, too aware his own face probably had gravity written all over it.

BJ kept their hands folded together near his face, his eyes big and guileless as they met Hawkeye's over out-of-focus rows of fingers, eyebrows raised in question. "...Am I in the club yet?"

Hawkeye stared for a moment before laughter possessed him utterly, sent him pealing off into a new mood altogether, the kind of full-throated, full-body, uncontrollably wheezing laughter that BJ always loved causing him, and that reminded him a little of the hyenas they'd seen at the zoo. 

Chapter 25

As patently disheartening as it could be to return to the 4077th after time away, there was something warm in the way everyone in the ragtag family of the unit would swarm the jeep with smiles and hugs, clearly relieved you'd returned in one piece and maybe even, despite all past disagreements or downright loathings, genuinely happy to see you. But everyone must have been busy doing other things, since the only one to greet their vehicle as BJ slowed it to a stop was Radar. 

"Oh! Welcome back, sirs!" Radar called, smiling and half-jogging from the office door towards them with clipboard in arm. "I sure am glad to see you made it back safe." 

"Hiya, Radar," BJ smiled tightly as he turned the ignition off, swinging his legs out of the driver's seat and wrapping an arm about the smaller man's shoulders in a brief hug. "Good to see you, too. And thanks for getting us the wheels - think we'd have been up the creek otherwise."

"Oh, no problem," Radar shrugged, smiling upwards. "Did you guys have a nice trip?"

"We did! But, hey, listen," BJ leaned in closer with a slight grimace, cocking his head towards the jeep's backseat. "Did you know about him and planes?" 

"Huh?" Radar asked, following Captain Hunnicutt's gaze to where Hawkeye sprawled half-upright against their luggage and open-mouthed in uneasy sleep. "Oh. Yeah, I think Captain McIntyre mentioned it once. He doesn't fly too good." 

Some days I wish that idiot had left a handbook, BJ thought.

"Has he been drinkin'? 'Cause we've only got a couple hours before we're supposed to get wounded," Radar added with alarmed concern. 

"Just a sedative," BJ shook his head. He'd only let Hawkeye take one this time, though, and it still hadn't been the easiest of mornings for anyone involved. For many reasons. But a couple hours? BJ thought Hawk had said action was expected in the evening. But, he supposed, only God and those in charge of the action ever really knew. "I'll... put him to bed for an hour or so, then it's a coffee IV." 

Radar's brow knitted. "Really, you can do that?"

BJ laughed, giving Radar's head a fond, playful rub over his cap. "You got a minute to help me with these bags?"

"Yeah, but only a minute," Radar nodded, eager to get the jeep back where it needed to be, but less sure about disturbing a sleeping Hawkeye. 

Klinger emerged then from the office, head low from another failure of a Section Eight attempt but enlivened as soon as he saw the jeep and those it had borne home. "Hey, hey! There's my favorite captains!"

BJ's mind flashed immediately to Susanna without meaning to, which he tried to ignore. "Hey, Klinger! Santa's got a whole sack here for you." 

"Oh, yeah?" he grinned as he approached the jeep.

"Yeah, here, this one," BJ said, leaning over into the backseat, drawing up a duffel from the vehicle's floor and handing it over. "The fabric's all yours but I had to wrap some stuff with it, so be careful, and just bring the rest back later?"

"You got it, doc. You two have a good time?"

"Yep. Those new earrings?"

"Ah, you're sweet to notice," Klinger beamed over the duffel's top as he wrapped his arms around it, and he meant it. "Traded some lace to a working girl at Rosie's for 'em."

"Very worth it," BJ smiled, nodding at Klinger's salute before he left to stash his new fabric in his tent. 

Hawkeye, leaning against the remaining duffels, was having a hard time enjoying his half-slumber with all the chit-chat going on. "Can you all shut the hell up," he muttered but didn't much care if he was heard, forehead grinding into the heel of his hand. It was too bright. He was too sleepy. He didn't want to hear, be heard, see, be seen, any of it, all stemming from how vehemently he didn't want to be back here at all.

"So, did we miss much while we were gone?" BJ asked Radar as he began to nudge Hawk gently up and off the bags he was using as pillows. 

"Well, Major Houlihan and Major Winchester have been pretty grumpy with each other, and Colonel Potter started a painting of Sophie, and we got a few new records for the jukebox," Radar reported, "But that's about it. Oh, and you got two letters from Mrs. Hunnicutt! I left them on your cot, and Hawkeye's got one from his dad."

Hello, other shoe. Nice of you to drop in, Hawkeye thought glumly, sitting up slowly as he decided to let Radar and Beej handle the jeep unpacking. He'd decided that already, being too sluggish to be useful; he was just more sure of it now, gaze on his own boots as they made contact with the dirt. Easier than watching BJ light up over letters from home - he was barely in the mood for that on the best of days. "Thanks, Radar," he mumbled, reaching over and giving the little guy a squeeze on the arm before he made for the Swamp. 

Radar, a suitcase in each hand, watched him walk off. "Boy. You'd think right after so many days in Tokyo, he'd be in a better mood." 

"...Yeah," BJ agreed curtly, grabbing the last of their stuff from the jeep, some concern written on his face despite having a better, more intimate understanding of how Hawk might be feeling and why. "You'd think." 












BJ unpacked only shower supplies and the bare necessities before deciding to visit the mess. He'd stocked up on snacks enough to avoid the culinary cruelty for probably a few straight days if he wanted, but it was more for the social aspect. He wanted very much to be sure he could get back into the conversational swing of things when he wouldn't have Hawk leering, joking, making him blush, or merely sitting there being beautiful when BJ wasn't allowed to do anything about it. He knew it was bound to be an adjustment of sorts, considering every well-intentioned question about their trip thus far felt like a trap of some kind. He'd never been more grateful for his poker face.

Hawkeye appeared to be asleep again already, but BJ, hands on hips in the middle of the tent, tried anyway. "Want me to bring you back something from the mess?"

"Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today," Hawkeye muttered dully against his arm. 

That one went over BJ's head but he wasn't going to worry about it. He watched Hawkeye for a few seconds longer, then it occurred to him that he was standing dead between a cot full of Hawk and a cot upon which sat two letters he didn't feel quite ready for, and wasn't that just a metaphor for everything? 

He left the Swamp quietly. 

It would be an experience yet unknown to man or beast, he was sure, to leave the mess tent feeling better than when you came in. 











"Up you get, Hawk. Caffeine time." BJ's voice was no-nonsense yet gentle, the mug hot in his hand.


"You'll be happier with it than without, come work time."

Functional, sure, but happier? Ha, Hawkeye thought as he dragged himself to sitting. The gremlin in his head was back with a vengeance, loud, and seemed like it was going to stay a while. He accepted the mug, chin raising slowly, chest rising and falling with a slow sigh through his nose as he regarded BJ. BJ, who didn't look exactly happy either but was trying harder, maybe. Or maybe he was just naturally better at it. BJ, who had said in Tokyo he didn't regret things but had since received two letters from his wife, and who knew how he'd feel now? His Beej, but not his at all. I wasted so much time.

"You okay?"

BJ wanted his honesty, right? "No," Hawkeye admitted, face dropping so he could sip the first coffee of what would likely need to be many. "I hate this place," he muttered.

The statement hit BJ with a scant but noticeable wave of relief. He'd wanted to tell Hawkeye don't look so upset, we haven't decided anything, I haven't decided anything, and if you've decided anything on your own, you shouldn't have, but that wasn't what Hawk was upset about. The compound compared to civilization, the army life instead of freedom and parties, the limitations, the anticipation of a depressing workday - those were familiar vacuums, the same drains down which Hawk's spirit always swirled with the tiniest push. BJ hoped the coffee would help but had a sense there'd be no surgical serenades or OR operas to enliven the upcoming shift, and that was as disheartening as anything else. Not doing so hot myself, lover, but I guess it's too much to expect you to ask.

"I'm gonna check in with Margaret on supplies," BJ said finally. "See what we can expect for the day."

Somewhere deep down, Hawkeye was grateful Beej could be logical and useful enough for the both of them, but it sounded a lot like deal with your own shit to him, and he didn't appreciate it. "Yeah, do that." 

But BJ didn't leave right away. He stepped closer, hand settling just below the other's nape, thumb brushing there lightly. "Hawk?"

Hawkeye felt the sweetness and hesitancy of the touch like a burn, and looked up again.

"Try, okay?" BJ asked softly, managing to fit a lot of meaning, more than he even understood but hoped Hawkeye did, into the two words. "Not... not because you're Chief Surgeon. But for me?" I need you to. His brows lifted, his expression as earnest as ever in its complex imploring. I don't want to be here, either. I don't want to spend the day wrist-deep in the ripped-up guts of teenagers whose pulse is barely holding when we could have been kissing in Tokyo instead. You thought I wasn't thinking then but I'm trying desperately not to think now, and I need you at your... if not best, at least better than this. I need not to worry about this, about you. I need you. Because I can't face any kind of music yet, and that's on me, but I still need yours to get me through the day.

Beautiful Beej, Hawkeye thought, missing BJ's hand the moment it slipped away before anyone walking by the tent could notice it. Sometimes I wish we weren't so responsible for each other. "I'll try," he murmured despondently, and proved the point with another sip. Anything for you.

Hawkeye felt one last squeeze upon his shoulder before BJ was gone, and sighed heavily as his gaze roamed the confines of the Swamp, home but not, hell away from home. It helped that the autumn chill in the air reminded him of long forest walks with Dad in Maine, but on the other hand, it didn't help at all. 

He drank his coffee. He somehow resisted the gravitational pull of the still. His eyes landed on BJ's cot and his heart sank. There lay the two letters from Peg, unopened. Beej always ripped those open the second he got his giant hands on them. So, what the hell did that mean? He wished he knew. He didn't want to know. 

He'd need another coffee soon. That meant shambling to the mess. It meant people. Radar, Charles, Potter, Margaret; he could run into any of them, people he shouldn't have had to ever meet in the first place, not when Radar should be home with his mother and his animals, not when Potter should be teaching his grandkids to ride horses, not when Charles - a charitable thought for Charles, go figure - should be at a concert somewhere with music so loud in his ears it would start welling behind his closed lids. Margaret thought she belonged here but she could do better, too. He wondered when she'd realize that. Then he wondered again why Beej hadn't opened his letters.

Hawkeye set his empty mug on the stove and, limbs heavy, leaned over to open his footlocker. It was a stupid little thing in his pocket, for a stupid reason that was both big and little at once, but he'd wanted to keep it. 

("Hey, Hawk, you have the other key?" 

"Huh? Oh, yeah... Shit, I thought I did. Must've dropped it somewhere." 

"Well... guess they have extras." 

"Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it."

"Hold up."

"What'd you forget?"

"Nothing, just...")

That kiss had lasted so long, and not nearly long enough.

Hawkeye didn't know whether the proverbial locks would be changed on him. He just suspected they might, and it wouldn't surprise him at all if they were.

He dropped the key labeled 309 into his footlocker anyway, knowing it might be the one souvenir from this rotten place that he'd take back home someday. 













"Retractor," Hawkeye said listlessly, thinking, I hate this place. 

"Sponge," he said a moment later. I hate how much time I let us waste. When the sponge was soaked with blood, he threw it to the floor with force.

"Need a little suction," was what came out when he spoke again, even as his thoughts worked without his permission to trample him. I should have let you fuck me. Why not? Should have slept every night in your arms while I could.

Hate myself for all of it, he thought as he worked. And if you don't open those letters as soon as we're off duty, think I'll hate myself as much as I hate this place, and that's saying a whole lot, Beej. 

So much resigned hatred boiled inside him that he wanted to drink the O Club dry, and they were only on hour four of who knew how many. 

Didn't even let you dance with me again, he thought, breaking his own heart at the sight of BJ's attractively broad back, the cutely unkempt tufts of hair that escaped his cap. 

You bought a radio and everything. 

It made Hawkeye wish he were on the table and that Frank 'Malpractice' Burns was his surgeon.

He sutured and stewed simultaneously. He hated the army, its generals, its death, its missing limbs and 12 stolen hours. He hated himself most of all.

He thought so, anyway, until a while later when he heard a certain still-cool-but-rising distress in BJ's voice, frustration and impatience in commands Dr. Hunnicutt barked at his nurse. 

Tough case, then. 

He kept an ear on it, and only once the emergency had been deescalated by BJ's skillful hands, Hawkeye mustered his voice enough to be heard over the usual din of the room. He wasn't in the mood whatsoever, but he'd try. "I'll plug the jukebox in if you've got a nickel, Beej." I've got you. Come hell, high water, or hatreds by the haematic hatful, I've got you.

BJ didn't smile behind his mask but gratitude for the secret meaning and for Hawk's self-rallying swept through him like a light summer rain, the kind the sky didn't darken for, and he tried to think of a song to request whose lyrics would do no harm. 

Chapter 26

Chapter Notes

(((another short transition chapter, and last of the cliffhangers - last one was mostly Hawk, so let's see what BJ's got on the brain...)))




As soon as they were free to, BJ sat in the Swamp and read his letters, and Hawkeye sat outside by choice and drank, listening to the drone of the crickets and hoping no one bothered either of them. He felt rather inclined to swing a golf club and shout unintelligibly at anyone who dared try.

It wasn't the world back to spinning perfectly on its axis, but it was as close as either could hope to get. 

Sleep that night didn't come easy but both were grateful it came at all, especially when the sun had only two hours being pure and bright up in the sky before more wounded flew in to stain the day red.

On and off for two days it was like that. Even if either had half an idea what they might ask of each other or say, between triage and Terramycin was no place to try to squeeze in truths. A busy breakfast table full of tired officers wasn't either, and from there it was straight back to bowel resections. When they shared a patient for a brief time, they did their best to goad each other into wry laughter behind their masks. 

Business as usual. 

Maybe that's why I like his throat so much, Hawkeye found himself thinking. Apart from his eyes, I can see it while we're working. 

Maybe there's nothing to say, crossed BJ's mind more than once. The implications of the thought scared him a little but gave him a sense of relief so strong he knew it was probably selfish beyond all reason, and that he had to re-check it when the time was right. Whatever peace he could find meanwhile, in such close proximity to Hawkeye's startlingly lovely eyes, would have to suffice.












A better time to contemplate it all came two nights later when BJ sat in the O Club with a pen in one hand and a beer in the other, writing a letter back to Peg. Charles was in post-op so the Swamp was blessedly free of classical music, but it seemed more inspiring to write where others danced, laughed, commiserated, hung up their hats and hung their heads. He could see Margaret chatting to a few of her nurses about Donald, and throw in a detail about her. He could watch Klinger and Mulcahy talk, and fill Peggy in on the wild or wonderful things they'd done the past few days. He could even mention Hawk at the furthest table away from him, bounced back enough from his moodiness to schmooze a nurse who'd recently arrived, which BJ was trying not to think too hard about. 

Such inspirations would make for a nice, full, long letter, long enough that she might never think anything could have been left out. 

But a lot was. 

Lying by omission didn't feel great, hence the beer being his third of the night, but Hawk had been right. As right as anything in Korea could be, at any rate, and that wasn't saying much. 

But writing to Peg about how much he loved her, how much he missed her, wasn't a lie nor did it feel like one. He missed everything about her, from the tips of her painted toes to every strand of hair on her head. Her messy hair days were actually his favorite ones, and she was probably having plenty of those while taking care of Erin by herself, and he was heartsick to miss out on them. And when he wrote of missing Erin, he felt in his very bone marrow that his hand should be curled around a rattle or some other toy, handing it back to her after it fell from her tiny, uncoordinated fingers, rather than a beer. It was no less real to him or less painful. He felt no different about them after the time in Tokyo with Hawkeye. 

It went both ways, though. 

When he looked up every so often for the bar's patrons to motivate his pen, he watched Hawk discreetly, and nothing about being mid-letter to his wife made him any less envious of the nurse he flirted with, or made true regret rear its ugly head.

Wasn't that the damnedest thing? 

It puzzled him so much that he'd started a second letter beneath the first, one that was less cohesive, one that would never be read and would end up in a trash can in shreds at night's end rather than an envelope. 

You remind me of that line in Gatsby, about slipping into 'an intimacy from which they never recovered.' That's what we've got, I think. Got? Made? Fell into? Can't help? Need? All of the above, I guess. 

His eyes flicked up briefly again. He was jealous of the nurse Hawk leaned in and whispered something to, maybe more so now since he knew precisely what he was missing out on. But he knew it was just Hawk being Hawk, getting his boisterous jollies and pick-me-ups wherever he could that was socially acceptable at the time, and it wasn't as if BJ wasn't otherwise occupied with his own woman, if only in his head. It wasn't unfair, even if Don Cornell crooned the exact opposite from the jukebox - that, BJ was certain, was just a fluke of the universe being funny again, not Hawk's fault. 

And don't think for a second that I think "tell her after the war" isn't the cop-out of a lifetime. It is, and I'd almost suspect manipulation on your part if it weren't the only sensible way. But there's so much here that happens to us that she could never understand, nor would I want her to. If she or Erin ever experienced, could empathize with a tenth of the kind of godawful desperation we know and see and feel here on a regular basis, I'd think I was the worst husband and father in the world.

Smoke from Klinger's cigar wafted too close to BJ's face, a semi-intolerable thing when one wasn't smoking oneself. Scrunching his nose, he waved it away before taking another hearty swig of his beer, risking another look Hawkeye's way, reading the Oh, sure on his smiling lips in response to the nurse's obvious offer to dance. BJ looked back down as they rose together. 

I worry a little about you in all this, have to admit. I'm not used to blurring lines. Love for ya in spades, and mixing that with the physical? I guess I know one way of doing things and separating the two is new to me. It all blends together and we have to catch ourselves, and I can tell when you're doing that. And maybe my approach is all wrong. Probably is - you pull away from it often enough. Maybe I shouldn't make promises because you don't want to hear them? I have to think on that. Guess I've already made the important ones.

But I trust so much about you, admire so much, have from the start, and for all your abandon, your self-preservation's strong. Got a weird sense of it! But strong. How would you manage being here otherwise? Maybe you're right to steer clear of my way of things sometimes. If anything about this was too much, more than you wanted, or less, or more than you felt like you could take, you'd let me know, right? Hope so. Think I'd have to make a pass at you and see if you turn me down or not to find out, since dragging you into conversations you'd rather not have is a bad approach, too. Can't say I know what the hell I'm doing here with any of this, but so far you haven't seemed to mind that much.

None of this is to say I think it's 100% right to have this happen again. More that we will because we can't help ourselves, and need each other, and you're the best thing about this godforsaken place, and to accept that for what it is, everything it is, will keep us both saner than the alternative. I think. I hope. I don't know. Maybe you do and you'll find a way to explain it. I'll let you in on my thoughts soon. Needed to do this though to be sure of them, or sure enough, and maybe it won't matter anyway - your call whether you'll have me. I'd understand if you decided it wasn't worth it. You deserve better than even the (granted, oversimplified) suggestion of second fiddle. We both know that. Very possible it's my turn to be a jerk and a pig here. But I'm also watching you with her and hanging back, and if another Bellamy comes along, I'll do better by you second time around.

BJ polished off his beer and decided a fourth was in order. He set the page for Peg carefully atop the other ones, leaving the empty bottle as a temporary paperweight as he made for the bar. As he waited for Igor to find another cold one, he rapped his fingertips against the wood and tried not to look around too much lest he see something he didn't like. But once his drink had been refreshed, he turned and noticed Hawk looking at him over the nurse's shoulder.

It was a wistful smile with a clandestine wish in his eyes, which BJ understood to the point of pain. 

He returned the smile weakly, raising his bottle in distant cheers before returning to the table and the pages. God, but to Hawk it probably looked like all of these words were for Peg. After all, why shouldn't or wouldn't they be? He hoped it didn't sting Hawk any. Or at least not as much as Hawk's Remember, Beej? message of a minute ago had stung him.

Nothing to be done for that, BJ knew, without disrupting whatever might be in store with the nurse. But if Don Cornell could shut up about wondering whether his listeners were lonesome tonight, that would be nice! BJ sighed, picking up his pen once more. 

And I know you can't read this, but do me a favor and don't bring her back to the Swamp. That might be a little more than I could take. Maybe we should set a rule about that, even if we're terrible at following most others. Merciless is one thing - cruel's another. 

But even without a rule, he figured he could cut the opportunity off at the get-go by claiming their tent for himself first. It wasn't the worst idea. He could finish up the letter to Peggy there, no longer be plagued by the sentimentality of the music here, and all would be well. He might even be generous enough to not sit there actively hoping Hawk struck out. Then again, to a discerning eye, Hawk didn't seem to be trying his hardest. Not when he'd looked at BJ the way he had. 

He gathered up his beer and papers, gave Hawk a pat on the shoulder in passing and made his way out into the night air, breathing easier than he had the past couple of days. Just because nothing here was perfect didn't mean it couldn't be okay in an imperfect way. 

The diary-like letter got ripped up and thrown away shortly thereafter, though BJ regretted it almost immediately. Not just because he stared for a moment at the scraps, hands on hips, suddenly thinking, On second thought, we should shoot for better than Gatsby altogether; it could have made things easier to simply give the pages to Hawkeye, let him make of them whatever he would. But just because things were okay didn't mean they'd always be easy, and that, they'd both accepted already. They never would have kissed if they hadn't. He'd tell Hawk soon what was on his mind one way or another. 

As it turned out, the opportunity arose a couple days later, strangely motivated in part by Radar and one of his rabbits. 

Chapter 27

Chapter Notes




"And tomorrow night's movie," came the tail end of Radar's announcement over the speakers, "Will be Dive Bomber again. See you there!"

BJ sighed around the clothespin between his teeth, adjusting the wet tee to hang better on the line. "Again? This is the fourth time in a row!"

"I know. It's so gauche they give us war movies instead of police action ones," Hawkeye commented from his cot, but not with as much annoyance. True enough that they all deserved better mental stimulation than the repetition could provide, but he had few qualms with another evening of Errol Flynn, and it beat the VD films. Hell, Errol could give him a venereal disease and he might not even be that upset, so long as it was treatable. But - anything for Beej. "Be nice to have a comedy again, though," he added, setting down his knitting needles, gaze on BJ's back. "Wanna go pester Radar about it?" 

Finished hanging the laundry, BJ waved the idea away. "Why bother? There's only ever so much he can do." 

"Ye of little faith, Beej. This is Radar we're talking about. What he lacks in finesse with girls, he makes up for finessing everything else. Come on," he encouraged, rising from the cot. Beats sitting around wondering why your legs are so long, you freak of nature, he thought as he led the way out. It hadn't been bothering him exactly that there'd been no real indications yet from Beej about... everything, as sliding back into their usual day-to-day was preferable to potentially difficult conversations. But he did wonder, and BJ simply existing around him, full-time gorgeous, was something of a trial at times. But to cast out a line of flirtation or more, and be given a Listen, Hawk, I think we should talk...? Oh, no, no, he couldn't have that. Thus, no news was good news, and the Swamp didn't have the air of active avoidance - just home. 

Still, he had questions for whatever deity saw fit to give BJ Hunnicutt the assets that they had. That was all. Unfortunately, the closest thing they had to an all-seeing deity around here was Radar, and such questions would go right over his head. Film acquiring was more within his range.

They found him tending to the outdoor portion of his zoo, separating scraps of vegetables to ensure none of its residents went hungry. "Morning, Radar," BJ greeted. 

"Morning, Captains. Hey, does Rascal look okay to you guys? He hasn't been eating much."

"Uh... which one's Rascal?" BJ asked with a glance at the menagerie. 

"He's my raccoon," Radar said, gesturing towards the far end with a proud smile which soon faded. "He's still pretty young, and I've been taking care of him since he was a baby, and I'd hate to think he's not feeling good..."

"Eight years in med school and here we are, diagnosing raccoons..." Hawkeye muttered, moving to peer into the cage from one side with BJ at the other. 

"Well..." BJ squinted through the wire, "His eyes are bright, his tail's pretty bushy, and his middle doesn't look distended or anything, so I don't know what to tell you." He rose back to his full height with an apologetic smile. "Sorry. Not a vet."

"Aw, well, that's okay," Radar sighed, knowing it was a long shot to ask two human doctors about animal stuff. "Maybe he's sneaking somebody else's food when I'm not lookin'. He's got those cute little hands, you know?" Radar was back to beaming and shrugged. "Anyway, you guys need something?"

"Not need but hope," BJ said, an elbow resting atop the cages. "A change of scenery, movie-wise." 

"Maybe something a little less combative," Hawkeye added. 

Radar rolled his eyes as he ripped lettuce into smaller pieces. "You know I can't control that kinda thing. Besides, I thought you said you liked Errol Flynn."

"Well, sure, but really more as a one-night stand, not a month-long affair," Hawkeye breezed, ignoring the oddly chastising flick of a look BJ shot his way at the phrasing. 

"I'll call Sparky later," Radar sighed, knowing it was easier to put in the effort than to listen to the two of them harp on and on when they wanted something. "Do me a favor, though, and hold Fluffy for a minute? I gotta sweep her cage out." 

"For a new movie? Why not," BJ shrugged, hands open and ready for the rabbit. 

"Come here, girl," Radar coaxed in a murmur as he opened the cage, reaching in to bring her out. But at that moment Hawkeye, standing at the other side of the cages, let loose a sneeze. It might have startled anyone but especially Fluffy, who leapt from the cage like a bullet and ran off. "Oh, no! Fluffy! It was just a sneeze! Come back, girl!" 

"I got it, Radar," Hawkeye volunteered, considering it was his fault, and took off after her. 

Radar watched with horror in his eyes. "Bunnies aren't even supposed to jump from that high! And what if she goes into the road and gets hit by a jeep?"

BJ smiled thinly, giving him a pat on the shoulder for comfort. "I'll watch the road and yell at anybody speeding, okay? We can even x-ray her later. She'll be alright." 

"Oh, jeez... Okay..." Radar said hesitantly, reaching up and drawing his hat off his head, wringing the fabric nervously as he watched Hawkeye dart behind a tent in pursuit. All kinds of things could happen, not just jeeps; the minefield, wild dogs, or anyone wanting to make rabbit soup... 







A few minutes later, Hawkeye's voice rang out. "I got her!"

BJ, standing in the road with his hands on his hips, turned towards the direction of the shout, a hand raising to shield his eyes from the sun. "Yeah? Took you long enough!"

"She outran me... all the way to the motor pool..." Hawkeye panted, Fluffy firmly in his arms as Radar jogged to meet him. 

"Oh, gee, Hawkeye, I really can't thank you enough! I was real worried about her."

"Yeah, yeah... Got the... cage open still?" Hawkeye asked, making his way towards the rows of animals. He was scared she'd take off again if he attempted a handover, so set her inside himself before Radar slid the lock on the wire door. 

"Whew," he breathed, fanning himself with his cap. "Really, guys, thanks," Radar said, glancing between them, a little embarrassed by them knowing how much he cared for an animal that was probably inconsequential in their eyes, but grateful for their help all the same. "She bite you or anything?"

"Nah, nah..." Hawkeye said, bending partway with his hands on his knees, catching his breath. He wasn't a man given naturally to willing exertion and the whole mad dash had blown dirt into his lungs while taking the wind out of him. 

God, you're out of shape, BJ wanted to tease, but rabbits were fast little bastards and he wasn't sure he'd have fared much better without tripping over his own feet. He gave Hawk a playful thump on the back, rubbing between his shoulders for a moment. "Good work, champ," he grinned, earning a glare from Hawkeye who rose little by little, still breathing hard. BJ's hand fell naturally away but it hit him then, now that Hawk was level with his height, that the last time he'd heard Hawk breathe that raggedly was in Tokyo. 

On a bed. 

With BJ's fingers buried inside of him. 

He felt heat spring to his face and coughed, choking on the thought and trying to cover it at the same time, looking away. It wasn't that he didn't like remembering it, but it was hardly an appropriate thing to reminisce about in broad daylight and Radar's innocent presence. It would be a hell of a lot easier, too, if Hawk wasn't right next to him. BJ licked his lips, gaze distantly settled on the ever-lively camp full of people going about their business, and tried not to think about it. 

"Think this earns... you trying Sparky and the 8063rd," Hawkeye suggested, chest still heaving. 

"Yeah, I'll do my best, I swear," Radar promised, nerves settling now that Fluffy was back safe. "I'm gettin' tired of that movie, too." 

Hawkeye then noticed BJ staring off and nudged him. "What's up?"

"Hm?" BJ's eyebrows rose as he turned, keeping a poker face on above crossed arms, but oh, great, Hawk was sweating, too, and that didn't really do his wandering mind any favors. "Nothing! Just... thinking." 

If asked, Hawkeye wouldn't be able to pinpoint what clued him in. Maybe it was that he was a BJ Hunnicutt Expert by now and knew the man's eyes almost as well as he knew surgical techniques, and the pupils seemed a bit bigger in that familiar sea of crystal blue than usual. Or maybe it was like Seoul, like a back porch in Tokyo, suddenly knowing beyond all doubt what the other was thinking. Hawkeye smirked. Well, this is encouraging

Don't smirk at me in front of Radar, BJ thought futilely back, face heating further. 

"Uh-oh," Radar said suddenly, standing from where he'd knelt to push bits of carrot through the wire to feed his skunk. He'd heard the usual bump and rattle of a jeep, and nobody was off the base today, had signed one out, or was expected to visit. "Incoming."

A few seconds later, a jeep turned the final corner before it entered the compound, two soldiers upright on the seats and a wounded one prostrate across the back. It broke hard to a stop, the driver calling out, "Hey, we need a doctor over here!"

It was only one, and BJ was on call. Hawkeye thumped his back as Beej had thumped his own a minute ago. "Good luck, champ. Let me know if you need a hand?"

"Yep, yep," BJ nodded, loath to tear himself away but grateful for the distraction, too. Funny, he thought as he approached the vehicle. Save a patient and embarassment at the same time. "Hi, guys. What've we got?"









BJ's secret thoughts went a long way for Hawkeye. He had a quick, celebratory splash of gin, letting all of Charles' jibes slide off him, and went on the lazy prowl for nurses to flirt with. Considering none of them reported any immediate problems in the OR or elsewhere, he considered it more or less a day off and enjoyed it in the usual ways. He was just considering indulging in golf at the camp's edge when Margaret stormed out of her tent. "Can anyone explain the thrill of a kiss? No, no, no..." he sang out, catching her loosely by the arm. 

"Not in the mood, Pierce!" she barked, forcefully pulling her arm away. 

"Oh, well, dancing always puts me in the mood," he smiled, knowing better than to reach for her again but falling into step at her side. "But when two eager lips are pressed against yours, you'll know, yes, you'll know..."

"Not for singing or dancing," she spat. 

"Why not? Donald won't know," he shrugged, hands in pockets. 

"I don't care if he does, that absolute rat!"

"Mm, trouble in paradise?" 

"I don't want to talk about it." 

Hawkeye didn't like Margaret upset. Well, alright, he had plenty of fun making her upset, but if someone else had done it? Never pleasant to see, think about, feel for her. He always had this feeling that he wanted to stop it happening, and that was almost too much responsibility for a guy like him. Yet he stepped quickly to block her path. 

"Pierce, I'm warning you-"

"No, come on," he urged more seriously, eyes searching her face. "If you don't wanna dance, sing, or talk about it, let's drink about it, at least. My treat."

Margaret huffed up at him, annoyed enough with men in general to be annoyed with him, too, but the ire died down marginally. He cared. She knew that. "I can't drink. I've got a nurses' staff meeting in 20 minutes."

"...Want me to get Beej to beat him up?" he offered.

Now there's a mental image, Margaret thought with a touch of appreciation, but it wasn't enough water on the flames of rage to extinguish them. "...Maybe I'd like to talk later," she admitted begrudgingly, pouting, staring at the wild print of his shirt rather than his face before looking back up. "But don't hound me - understood, Captain?"

"Here if you need me," Hawkeye said immediately, and meant it. 

They all say that, she thought. "What are you in such a good mood for, anyway!"

Hawkeye smiled, shoulders raising high and falling again in a merry shrug he knew she'd find secretly cute if she were less infuriated, lashes fluttering as he let nonsense flow. "It's just a beautiful day, Margaret. Birds are singing somewhere they won't get shot down by snipers. Maybe they're singing the Ames Brothers. And even breakfast was mostly edible. You know, I thought Straminsky really outdid himself on the light grease of yesterday's eggs on today's bacon..."

Margaret had no time or curiosity for any of the nonsense, eyeing him icily and bypassing him with a snarl.

Hawkeye watched her go. He'd tried, right? That was the best anyone could ever do. But she did have a point - why was he in such a good mood? It wasn't like BJ's clearly intriguing thoughts meant anything earth-shattering. But throw into the equation that Beej seemed no less delighted or more disturbed by letters from home than usual, and that they'd shared what they had in Tokyo and treated each other no differently after, and no doors had been slammed in his face yet... 

Well. He wouldn't push it. He just thought it promising, whatever it promised. 

"But now that you and I are sharing a sigh, we know, yes, we know...






He meandered back towards the Swamp, half-wondering what he could pilfer literally behind Charles' back to use as spare golf balls, and how far into the minefield a tin of fine caviar could be hit, when he heard Father Mulcahy call his name. He turned to see the good Father with his arm around the shoulders of a distraught soldier. "What's going on?"

"This young man says his friend was brought in some time ago," Father Mulcahy said, turning to the soldier. "What did you say his name was, my son?"

"His name's Abernathy. Noah Abernathy," the soldier said, looking between the chaplain and the doctor he'd directed him to. "I gotta know if he's alright. I gotta! He's my best friend, we... we look out for each other. He's like a, a brother to me, and I don't know what I'd do if..." The soldier, at a loss for speech, wiped fresh tears from beneath his eyes, clearly trying to fight more from springing forth.

Hawkeye hadn't gotten the name of the soldier on the back of the jeep earlier, but nodded all the same, giving the priest's arm a squeeze. "I'll check. Thanks, Father. Hey, stay with him for now?"

"Of course," Father Mulcahy nodded, giving Hawkeye a strained smile before his attention returned to the distraught man. "There, there. Why don't we find somewhere to sit in the mess tent? It's quiet there just now, and there's always coffee... It's not very good coffee, mind, but it works in a pinch..."






There was no Abernathy in post-op, so Hawkeye quickly tied on a mask and pushed through to the OR. "Hey, Beej! That an Abernathy on your table?"


"Yeah? What's his deal?"

"His deal... is a blast mine and that he's lucky," BJ said distractedly as he worked. "If this were a full day, I wouldn't have the time to save his leg. Can't say the same for his eye, though... Started the day with two, leaving with one..."

Hawkeye frowned, entering the room properly and coming around to the other side of the table to assess, standing beside Kellye. The eye was already wrapped up and he was glad for it, having had his own troubles in that department and the memory not a particularly nice one. "Might want to get the specialist on that."

"Colonel Potter's placed a call to him," Kellye reported.

"Good. Need extra hands anywhere?"

"No, it's fine, just... delicate, and time-consuming," BJ sighed. "What's up?"

Hawkeye nodded, watching BJ's hands. "His buddy turned up, wanted to see how he's doing."

"Kellye, more light..." BJ directed, leaning in closer. "Oh, yeah?"

Hawkeye beat Kellye to the punch, tilting the overhead just so that BJ's head didn't put a shadow where he needed one least. "Yeah. Kid's pretty shaken up."

"Can you blame him?" BJ asked, hands paused as he glanced up briefly, meeting Hawkeye's eyes over his mask. 

"Course not," Hawkeye murmured, fully aware for a long moment that they were bordering psychism again, thinking back to that breakfast with Archie and Reuben, the conversation, the realizations. If it were Beej on the table, Hawkeye would be tearing his own brain apart with worry, and once he'd exhausted that, he'd keep on tearing at the whole world. Father Mulcahy's new charge was actually pretty calm in comparison to how he might feel. "It's his best friend, after all." 

BJ didn't especially want to break the moment but he had to, looking back down at the pulsing veins and muscles beneath his hovering fingers. "Well... give him the bad news and the good," he said. "He'll make it." 

"Yeah," Hawkeye said. "Good. Post-op's got spare beds for tonight, but I'll offer the kid a drink meanwhile." 

"Unparalleled hospitality here at Chez Meatball..." BJ said softly. 

Hawkeye watched for another half-minute but didn't want to risk distracting him with quips or emotions so decided to go. BJ was taking care of one and he'd take care of the other - good, solid arrangement. He made for the door. 

"Wait, Hawk?"

He'd just been about to push open the door but turned at the sound of BJ's voice. "Huh?"

BJ had straightened up from the stooping the table required, sparing a few more seconds of inattention. He'd nearly forgotten, just for a second, that Kellye was across the table and Donovan sat at its head, and nothing he wanted to say could be said with them around. "Uh... nothing. Never mind." 

Just wanted to see your eyes again, I think. 

Hawkeye thought he got the message, or some version near enough to it, and let Beej know so with another little nod before he left the OR. 















That night, BJ sat at the end of his cot, shuffling cards absently and thinking again. 

He whistled along with Charles' music, and kept thinking.



Hawkeye stepped over to the still to pour himself another drink and BJ stopped shuffling, lifting his glass from the floor and rising to stand beside him. "I'll take a refill, bartender," he said with a smile that was more confident than he truly felt. Hawk might turn him down. Might have decided this was all too much for one reason or another, and BJ would have no choice but to let it be. He set his glass below the still, lowered his voice to a barely audible level, and nudged Hawk's left hip with his own right. "Miss you."

Hawkeye had been about to pour but paused, eyes flicking to BJ beside him. They were very nice words to hear, no doubt about that, but their meaning needed testing. "We're attached at the hip," he muttered back as he poured, low enough to not be heard over the ever-present Beethoven. "Literally. How can you miss me?"

BJ shrugged one shoulder, eyebrows raised, giving Hawk a quick once-over before he licked his lips.

The night was a cool, breezy one, but all of a sudden Hawkeye's robe felt too warm. His face did, too. BJ's smile always had a lightning effect head-on but from the side, the pure mischief in it was a wonderful, nearly overwhelming thing. He gave BJ a sidelong once-over in return, setting the carafe back down as he took epithetical inspiration from Beej's kimono print. "Easy, tiger," he muttered from the corner of his mouth, mind suddenly racing over where they could go to be alone for a little while. Whether he wanted to be alone for a while wasn't even a question, not with BJ looking at him like that. "Let's take a walk?" 

BJ nodded, leaving his glass behind and shuffling the cards again as he moved away from the still, leading their quiet, casual way out of the Swamp. 

Hawkeye followed without a word.

Charles watched them from the corner of one freshly cracked-open eye, hands folded over his stomach. 

If the two of you were any more obvious, gentlemen, he smirked as the choir singing the Cantata On the Death of Emperor Joseph II died down, leading way to an instrumental portion, They'd have you shot at dawn.










Once outside and wandering, Hawkeye made eye contact with a finger to his lips, wanting as much sneaky silence as they could reasonably get because he wasn't sure yet where they were headed. Supply was as risky as anywhere else, given its frequent traffic. The VIP tent had been something of a fluke. The motor pool shed was likely to be too alert and alive with Rizzo's grimy gambling buddies. But when he heard Klinger, on guard and softly singing to himself, a light bulb of inspiration hit. He smiled slowly. "Ruckus with me, Beej," he muttered with a beatific grin and a sparkle in his eyes, finger raising to bob and float like a symphony conductor's stick, before it dropped and his voice raised to a yell.

"I'd rather give Zale a sponge bath than listen to Beethoven for another minute!" Hawkeye shouted as their steps brought them closer towards the office.

BJ looked at him askance, not caught on yet to what must have been a full plan here, but joined in quickly. "Every! Damn! Night!" He clenched a fist for effect. "I'm so sick of it!"

"Bach this! Mozart that!" Hawkeye bellowed. "Wagner's Ring one more time and I'll wring his neck." 

"And he never even turns it down when we ask! Someday he's gonna find them de-composing at the bottom of the Yalu."

"Yeah, well. If Charles were a body of water, God knows he'd be Lake Superior," Hawkeye added with less volume as Klinger rounded the office building. 

"Guess I don't have to ask who goes there," Klinger said drily. 

"Klinger!" Hawkeye pounced at just the man they wanted to see, grasping his arm. "Charles is driving us nuts with his 200-year-old tunes. Can we borrow your tent for a while?"

BJ saw the whole picture now and had the ready means to put a nice frame on it. "Please, Klinger? We just want a quiet place to play cards," he said, putting on his most innocent expression as he shuffled the deck again loosely. 

"Yeah," Hawkeye nodded hurriedly, glancing at BJ and back again, his senses finely tuned to the imminent success of the ruse. "Poker in peace rather than pomp and circumstance." 

Klinger looked from one to the other. "Yeah, alright." If it were anyone else he might not allow it, the place being full of perverts and much of his clothing temptingly lacy to the touch and imagination. But he trusted his dear captains, and would be on night guard duty for hours yet. "But don't spill any drinks on the Klinger Collection. And it's not a cash game, right?"

"Without you?" BJ played at incredulity meant to flatter.

"We wouldn't dream of it," Hawkeye assured with a smile. His hand fell from Klinger's arm to thwack BJ lightly on his flank. "Let's go, Beej."

"Night, Klinger," BJ called backwards with a wave as they turned and strode away. 









Klinger's desk was covered with sewing supplies, a small lamp above them lit. BJ set down his deck of cards and flicked it off. "A well-executed ruckus," he complimented softly, waiting until Hawk had closed the door behind them to turn, reaching immediately for his tag chain and using it to tug him close. 

Hawkeye could no more resist BJ than he could the pressure of the chain at the back of his neck. The grab was insistent, possessive, pulled them flush together and thrilled him to his core. "Yeah, you, too," he breathed before his fingers splayed at the back of the other's neck, the kiss pulling them both in as if magnetized. Doesn't matter how long I get you, so long as I do, Hawkeye thought. We could all get slaughtered any day now, after all. Their lips pursed against each other's once, twice before Hawkeye ruined the relative innocence, his tongue slipping out against BJ's lower lip and behind it, sweeping between it and teeth before pushing further. 

Releasing the chain, BJ's palm swept over Hawk's jaw and held it, the other hand at his hip. How was it possible Hawkeye could set a fire in him so quickly? He wanted already, and badly at that. When Hawkeye rose high up on his toes to flaunt his arousal in a slow drag against BJ's front, the feeling only intensified. 

Unfortunately, he could only enjoy it for a second before it occurred to him how stupid this was!

"H-hawk, wait-" He used the gentle grip on Hawk's jaw to deter the kiss and pull back from it, licking his lips nervously. "What if Klinger comes back for something, or to chat-"

"It's Klinger, he adores us, he'd turn right back around and never say a word," Hawkeye said in a rush, leaning in for another kiss that BJ prevented with a jerk of his head. 

"Come on..." Certainly, Supply might have been smarter. And the ruckus, and talking to Klinger? Sure, good way to let everyone know precisely where they might be found.

"Beej, really." Hawkeye resigned himself to conversation taking precedence, the fingers in BJ's hair playing with the fluff of it, lips parted between words. "I'm not saying we, we should play fast-and-loose or anything, but..." Hawkeye took in the reluctance in BJ's expression from the outdoor lights that shone through Klinger's gauzy curtains, and tried to explain. "Nobody here that matters would... would do something to hurt each other for real," he said softly. "For how much this place is the... the unwashed armpit of the world, there's... everybody, uh..." Hawkeye wet his lips, meeting BJ's eyes, not ashamed of the sudden vulnerability in his own. "S'a lot of love here, too." 

BJ blinked, a breath stuck in his chest. He wasn't about to make more of the statement than was there. But from ever-cynical Hawkeye, there was a lot there, and he could read all of it with ease. "...Yeah," BJ nodded slowly, face nearing Hawk's once more. "You're right. There is." 

Love still didn't make this smart, BJ knew. But love didn't care and nor did lust, the other driving force that pressed their mouths back together and put them into movement, BJ stepping blindly backwards until the backs of his calves hit Klinger's cot. He'd have liked to land gracefully but instead fell back, his spine making painful contact with a wooden beam. He hissed at the pain, sitting up immediately and reaching back to rub the sharpness out of it. 

"You okay?" Hawkeye asked, paused where he stood between BJ's legs. 

Grimacing, BJ nodded. "Yeah, just... ow... Damn it..."

"Poor Beej," Hawkeye murmured, reaching down and running a hand gently through his hair. "Want me to kiss it better?" 

"What I want..." BJ said quietly as the pain began to subside and he shifted on the cot, not sure it would hold out with both of them on it but centering himself in hopes it would. "Is you on my lap." He leaned back, reaching up for Hawk's hand to encourage him closer. 

"Oh, well, twist my arm, why don't you," Hawkeye smirked, getting one knee settled beside BJ's thigh, then the other. He felt BJ shift back beneath him, trying to make more room for them both and get more comfortable. 

It wasn't comfortable, leaning with one shoulder pressed hard into the wood and hearing some picture or postcard slide from the wall with a whoosh, but BJ didn't care. His arms looped around Hawk's middle as he craned up to kiss him again hungrily but it didn't last long, both breaking off with a gasp when Hawkeye let BJ support more of his weight. 

"Christ, Beej, you feel good," Hawkeye whispered hotly, wasting no time before rolling his hips, not just forward and back but from side to side, varying the friction and pressure of BJ's hard, clothed cock against his own. Not as nice and nude and well-slicked, but it had its appeal. He steadied himself with an arm tossed around BJ's shoulders, fingertips dragging at kimono fabric, a hold that tightened the better it all felt. 

"Just good? 'Cause you feel spectacular," BJ admonished and praised at the same time, reaching up to tug down Hawk's shirt at the collar, tongue swiping at his clavicle. He loved that he was aware of every shiver of Hawkeye atop him, hear every ragged breath so close to his ear and every one of Hawk's soft, not-quite-held-back moans, no matter how ill-advisable the sounds. He shouldn't have been finding it a little hot that they could be caught, either. He didn't want that. Not really. Far from it. But it was a little hot all the same. Okay, maybe more than a little, but he'd never admit it. 

With a soft purr of a growl in his throat, BJ reached down, hands squeezing at Hawk's backside and crushing their bodies harder together as his hips strained upwards. Hawk's whimper in response was as enticing as the first time he'd heard it, and he suspected it might never lose its novelty. His whole world had temporarily narrowed to the heat in his gut, how it spread outward through him, to Hawk. His Hawk, for as long as they could have each other.

Hawkeye's world at that moment was Beej, BJ's bulge and hoping he didn't burst before they'd even undone their belts but it seemed sort of a losing battle, and he decided not to mind either way when he had so little to complain about. All was grunt and grind and gripping hands, the only kind of exertion Hawkeye could bring himself to appreciate, kiss-muffled moans and no sign whatsoever of thinking. Bliss.

Bliss and, as mere minutes would prove, their fuses were so short they would have undoubtedly disappointed Peggy or a nurse. But in Klinger's tent, where BJ had once been brave enough to drag Hawk into a talk he didn't want to have, and Hawk had not only willingly but cleverly gained them access this time, that was probably, safely, conveniently for the best. 











The next morning, BJ stood before the Swamp's little mirror, towel around his shoulders as he started lathering shaving cream onto his face. Hawkeye returned from the shower tent before Charles, setting his own towel over the bar above his cot and plucking a semi-clean shirt from where he'd left it on his chair. He doffed his red robe, pulled the tee over his head and wandered over towards Beej, a catlike, dreamy smile on his face. 

I know that look, BJ thought suspiciously, raising his eyebrows. "What's up, Hawk?" He knew he could end up regretting asking but did so as he spread the foam on regardless.

Hawkeye stood just at his elbow and slowly reached a hand up into BJ's half-open robe. "Fuzzy..." 

BJ rolled his eyes, his arm gentle as he elbowed Hawkeye back. "Come on," he muttered, casting Hawk a reproving look through the use of the mirror. "Canvas is up. Afraid that means your petting zoo's closed." 

"It's not petting, it's groping," Hawkeye pouted. 

A silent laugh was exhaled through BJ's nose. "There's a difference?"

"Oh, yeah," Hawkeye purred. "Wanna find out what it is? The lesson's in Technicolor and full sound and all."

BJ chuckled in earnest, dipping his fingers quickly into the helmet that served as a sink to rinse them. "Quit it. I can't shave with you being all insatiable."

"Then sate me first, shave later," Hawkeye taunted further. 

"Ah, go sate yourself," BJ directed lightly, not budging on his own morning plans, lifting his jaw to ensure in the mirror that he'd covered all necessary ground the razor would follow.

"Well, geez, Beej!" Hawkeye sneered, kicking the dramatics into gear but doing a mere impression of his usual volume, not wanting passersby to wonder. "If you don't want me to grope you, maybe you should be less attractive! Ever think of that?"

So it's gonna be one of those days, BJ mused as he picked up the razor. One of Hawk's somewhat amusingly childish, verbally unpredictable, complete crackpot moods - but those usually actually meant he was content if not legitimately happy, and that was all that mattered to BJ. He'd humor it as long as he could stand to. "And just how," he asked calmly, tilting his head to carefully start below his jaw, "Do you expect me to do that?" 

"You could smile less, for starters!" Hawkeye demanded. "What gives you the right to knock me out every other minute with that million-watt grin of yours, huh?"

Aw, that's sweet, BJ thought as he shaved, trying not to laugh. "Isn't that your fault for making me smile?"

"Okay, okay!" Hawkeye nodded, wide-eyed and sweeping a hand back through his hair in frustration, though it was only the fun and funny brand of it. "How about you quit working out?"

"Noted! No muscles on display in the vicinity of Captain Pierce." 

"Not so much as a single toned bicep, Hunnicutt, I mean it!" he went on, pointing a finger at Beej as passionately as if in actual accusation. "And you could get a proper military cut! Get that... that stupidly cute swoop out of your hair!" Always fond of a manically dramatic exit, Hawkeye made for the Swamp's door, turning back to give BJ one more hilariously useless suggestion, "Better yet, Beej, grow a mustache!"

BJ stifled more laughter as he watched Hawkeye storm out - God only knew where to - the door swinging shut behind him. What a display all that had been. All because BJ wouldn't let him pet his chest hair. God. "Serves you right if I did," he muttered to himself with a chuckle before rinsing foam off the razor, then paused.

That would be pretty funny, wouldn't it? Growing a mustache just to mess with Hawk? Make him eat his words a little, no matter how soaked in jest the words had been? He could do that. Easy enough to get rid of, he figured, if he hated the feeling or maintenance of it. 

And who knows, BJ thought as he returned his attention to his reflection and began to shave again, smirking and keeping in mind to carefully avoid his upper lip, Maybe it'll look good on me. 







Chapter End Notes

"How glorious it is - and also how painful - to be an exception." -Alfred de Musset


"As you began
You'll end the year with me.
We'll hug each other while we can,
Work or stray while we must.
Nothing is, or will ever be,
Mine, I suppose. No one can hold a heart,
But what we hold in trust
We do hold, even apart."
-Thom Gunn



Attention, all personnel: you've been the best readers ever. <3
(and I'll consider all fic/let requests sent to After some sleep, anyway.)
Much love!


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