Title: "Dot Dot Dot"
Summary: Erin is 11, going on 12. She has Questions. Hawkeye can handle that, can't he?
Characters: BJ/H, Erin
Genre: Drama, family, postwar, fluff
"Dot Dot Dot"
"Hawkeye, what's a period?"
Hawkeye smiled over the pizza dough. Erin was eleven, going on twelve, going on egads. Peg had been putting her in looser and looser sweaters for over a year and expressly forbidden two piece bathing suits, as if clothing could keep her little girl in a box for the next ten years.
"The dot at the end of a sentence," Hawkeye said.
Erin looked up at him, rolling her eyes. "Hawkeye. You know. . . . You do know, right?"
Hawkeye rolled the floppy disc of dough into the pizza pan. The smell of basil wafted up from the stuff he'd mixed into the flour. Erin's hands hovered over the chopped vegetables while she watched him. He glanced at the clock over the stove -- B.J. wouldn't be home for at least forty-five minutes. Of course the kid knew that. Why wouldn't she ask dear old Hawkeye? Hadn't he taught her how to clean a fish and build a volcano for her science fair project, not to mention bought her those Crickets records (when he had the money)? According to her mother, he'd been a bad influence from day one, so naturally she trusted him with the sex questions.
"I think I remember a thing or two from medical school," he said. He was working in private practice now, getting to know people's thoughts instead of just their guts. Half his patients were seventeen year olds with some kind of crotch rot.
"Good," Erin sounded relieved. "I just thought, you know, since you and Dad . . . I mean, Mommy is a woman and Daddy lived with a woman, but they're parents, you know? I mean, you're a parent too, but you're cooler than them. You know?"
"Sure." Hawkeye nodded, oh so casual. I'm cool, I'm hip, I'm cooler than B.J.!
"I asked Mom," Erin said, "but she started to cry."
Hawkeye laughed. "She's afraid you're going to grow up and have one."
"Hawkeye!" Erin blushed.
"No, really. You're getting so tall, your mom is scared one day you'll just step over her and walk away." Hawkeye reached around her and set the wall oven to 425 degrees.
"Yeah, I'm a real giantess."
Hawkeye almost twitted her back, but restrained his natural joke mechanism. While teasing a Hunnicutt was his favorite past-time, Erin had gotten awfully sensitive about her height and coltish long legs ever since she sprung up to five feet this year. She was going to be a beauty, with her mother's dollface and blonde hair and her dad's light eyes, but what did eleven know from twenty-one?
"You're beautiful," Hawkeye said. "You just have to wait for the other kids to catch up."
Erin shrugged. Apparently Hawkeye was dad-like enough that his compliments were so much horse shit.
"Well," Hawkeye said, businesslike, "if you're asking the question, I think you must know at least part of the answer."
Erin shrugged again. Her face was turning the color of the sauce she was stirring on the stove. Hawkeye took the pot and ladled the hot tomatoey goodness onto the dough. She was losing her nerve. Time to be the adult.
So he told her. Not everything; the female side of things, without wandering into the prickly area of sex. What do you tell an eleven year old you've known since she was four, but you're sort of second banana in terms of deciding her care? Hawkeye thought of her as a kid in his office; if she was going to be thinking about sex in a few years, what would he want her to know? More presciently, if things were happening to her body right now, and she was scared or confused, what questions would she have?
Dr. Pierce had no earthly idea.
He could feel his babble coming on. It came out when he was nervous or bored or confused or when an eleven year old girl was giving him a look like he was speaking French but she had the distinct idea that it was the kind of French you picked up from women of negotiable affections outside a burlesque house.
Hawkeye shoved the pizza into the oven and sat her down at the table. He rifled through the mail to find a large enough envelope on which to draw a diagram.
"You like baseball, right?" he said.
"I love it!" she said. "Guess what? I caught a pop fly last Tuesday? And it didn't even hit me in the face."
Hawkeye laughed. "Maybe when you tell people that story, you should emphasize that you took out a hitter, not that you managed not to break your face. Y'know, leave them with a little mystery."
Erin smiled. He could do this. He nudged his reading glasses into place and started drawing lumps and lines.
"What's that, a potato?" Erin asked.
"C'mere, let me show you something. The ovaries," he pointed to the outer lumps, "they're out here in left and right field. Outfielders. They throw the egg across this tiny gap to the Fallopian tubes." Hawkeye drew a line. "And the Fallopian tubes have these little catchers at either end to throw it down--" he drew another line, and whistled as the egg traveled. Erin laughed. "To midfield. That's the uterus. You've got your basemen in there, if you think of a cushion of blood and fluid as covering the bases."
"Every twenty-eight days," Erin, a quick study, supplied. "Like, the home games."
"Right. And if there's no other team in the uterus, then the egg doesn't get fertilized. The infielders fumble, and the egg gets a line drive down to the cervix, here." Hawkeye drew a thick circle at the bottom of the pear-shaped uterus, which was slightly tilted and oddly shaped, but as that was medically possible he didn't sweat symmetry too much. "And then it's out of the park. And that's a period."
"It all comes out?"
"That's right," Hawkeye chirped. He admired his little drawing. "All the infielders."
"It's only a few tablespoons of fluid."
Erin looked at all the x's and o's and traced their path with her finger. "Every woman has that stuff leaking out of them for a whole week of the month, all their life? That's like a quarter of your life when you can't go swimming or horseback riding or camping."
Hawkeye reached over his sketch and rubbed her arm. "I don't think it's as bad as that, honey. I don't know any healthy woman whose life is significantly interrupted by her period. The nurses I worked with in the war just went about their day, and those were sometimes long, hard days."
"It's still not fair." Erin sighed and put her head down on the table. Hawkeye smoothed her hair back over her ear.
"I never thought of it that way," he said, "but you're right. It's not."
"You don't have to wear a stupid junior shaping garment every day when it's hot or in gym class and Jamie Miles has a prettier one but Mommy said it's not the right fit for my shape."
Hawkeye blinked. "So . . . don't wear it?"
"Hawkeye! I have to wear a bra!"
Hawkeye crossed his legs and arms. A dozen delicious half-dressed starlets in treasured sultry movies suddenly became the opposite of erotic. "Right! Sure, of course."
The front door opened.
Erin took off, quick as a deer, leaving a shell shocked Hawkeye in the kitchen. She banged out the back door as B.J. came into the kitchen.
"What lit her fire?" B.J. set down his briefcase and shrugged out of his trench coat.
Hawkeye went to the stove, opened it, and closed it. He pointed out the window in the general direction of Erin's reading tree. "Never leave me alone with her again!"
"Yeah, well," Hawkeye smiled his nausea away. "Peggy should get that girl a book. By the way, what the hell is junior shaping and who decided my little girl needs it?"