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this ain’t a scene it’s a goddamn arms race

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Walking down the sidewalk, Father Mulcahy’s house in the night is a lighthouse, with all those yellow windows blinking as people move behind them. The cars it has lured from the dark pile on the street, crowd around in waves. Margaret stands between them all, Moshe chain-smoking while conveniently looking down at her phone, flipping it open and closed. Even with the noise of the rager beyond the main doors, it’s this defined, impatient sound in the quiet. Click, when it opens, clack when it closes.

Hawkeye starts to smile as soon as he sees her. 

“Hot Lips!” He exclaims when he’s just behind her. She jumps and he dives in for a kiss. She indulges him just long enough to jaw her sharp, manicured fingers into his side. “Ow.”

“Oh, you’ve had worse.” She rolls her eyes. “Where were you?”

“Napping,” he sighs, contented. “In the sweet, sweet arms of nurse Able. You know her?”

Margaret sticks out her nose, messing with Hawkeye's hoodie collar so it sits right. 

“She can’t keep a tray organized to save her life,” she huffs. “You could pick up your phone, doctor. I’ve been calling all afternoon. There’s no way you’ve been involved all-” She looks at his face. “Nevermind.”

“Wise,” says Hawkeye, offering her his elbow. “After all, I don’t kiss and tell.”

“Now, that’s a bold lie,” she says, but she entwines her arm with his and lets him open the door for her. “Listen, Hawkeye, there’s something you need to know-”

When they walk in, a group of strangers cheer loudly and he cheers right back. From between the chatter comes 3OH!3 hollering as advertised . This is Hawkeye's first weekend free from his residency in ages and it thrums under his skin. Margaret cuts through the crowd elbows first.

“Margaret, I’ve missed you,” says Hawkeye, so happy, and she rolls her eyes.

“We work together,” she says. “And if you could pick up your phone for once we could even talk outside the hospital.”

“And distract me from my Snake game?” He gasps, slouching closer to her. “I have 9000 points, I’m so good at swall-"

She shoves his head away.

“Everyone knows you’re good at swallowing!” She whispers, going red. “Stop bragging! It looks terrible on you!” 

Hawkeye bursts out laughing. He lets himself drop into a hug and Margaret huffs, put upon, but she pats his back and he can feel her smile against his cheek. She smells like flowers.

“Don’t sniff me,” she says. “Pervert.”

“No, come on, what is this? New perfume?” He asks. “It’s good.”

And then he opens his eyes and between the crowd, close to the stage, there’s Trapper John with one arm around Louise. 

Margaret feels his breath leave him all at once and she threads her fingers through his hair

“I told you there was something you had to know,” she murmurs, her buzzcut soft where he presses his nose against it.

“He’s supposed to be on tour.” 

“Special secret hometown show,” she says. “They are back on the road when they finish here.”

Hawkeye hums, tonelessly.

“I want to leave, now,” he decides.

“No, you don’t.”

“No, I don’t,” he agrees. “Get me drunk at least.”

“One blackout drunk spiral, coming right up.”

She takes his hand and leads him to the kitchen where some guy is sorting through the beers in the fridge and Father Mulcahy, chatting with a group of girls as he pours them tequila shots. He’s using his soft voice and intent eyes as he explains, oh, who knows. Maybe he’s giving communion.

“Padre, just pour straight into my mouth - hi, girls, don’t mind me - I don’t want to add to the cleanup tomorrow,” announces Hawkeye as he arrives, laying down all along the kitchen island, displacing the girls’ glasses as he goes. “Get a lime, Margaret, you’re going in once he’s done, I’m counting on you.”

“Oh, Hawkeye,” says Father Mulcahy. “I’m sorry, we tried to call you.”

“No big deal, you couldn’t have known,” he shrugs. “Though if you do develop precognition, fly me in from wherever I am, I’ve always wanted to see the canonization process live.”

“It takes longer than you think,” smiles the Father, grabbing from under a counter a cocktail mixer. He stares at it with a furrowed brow before giving it a cursory rinse and starting to pour gin. “Lots of paperwork. I’m afraid not even the Lord can speed up red tape.”

“If he ever opens a suggestions box, that would be a good one,” says Hawkeye.

Margaret shakes her head.

“Oh, stop it.” 

“It’s constructive criticism! I would think god would be better at receiving some than you are!”

“You’re a heathen,” she chides.

“And proud of it!” Laughs Hawkeye. Then, he turns to the girls. “What’s a place like this doing in a girl like you?” He smiles at the one closest to his head, who giggles and pours her shot down his mouth. “Oh, thank you, greatly appreciated. Anyone up for body shots?”

“Leave now or you will have him hanging off of you for the rest of time,” says Margaret darkly and they listen, bye-byeing at him in a cloud of smiles.

“Have a Martini,” says the Father, placing a glass next to him, olive and everything.

“Your generosity knows no bounds,” he says. “Is it dry?”

“As God permits it,” he nods. “I have to go do some rounds, will you be okay?”

“When have I ever been?” smiles Hawkeye as he sips.

“Oh, Hawkeye,” he sighs, putting his hand on his forehead, combing his hair down. Hawkeye blinks at him, something caught in his throat on contact.

“Don’t worry, Father, we will be okay,” Margaret saves him. “Thank you,” 

The Father leaves and she looks at him with soft eyes. Jeez, can’t he have a break?

“You know, if the church doesn’t work out, he would be a magnificent barman,” chuckles Hawkeye, sitting up suddenly, one leg crossed on top of the other. “Just imagine the pillow talk but in a bar.” Then, with his best Father impression, “My son! Please, don’t fear the gin mill. Dive in! Dive in?”

“Speakeasy?” says a laughing voice. 

Hawkeye blinks. The guy from the beers, now with something offensively hipster in his hand, stares right at him with a smile.

“Right,” says Margaret. “You are?”

“Forget her manners, she’s territorial,” says Hawkeye.

“B.J. Hunnicut,” says the guy, giving her a quick, winning smile (oh, the pearly gates!) before looking back at Hawkeye. “I can understand that.”

“Margaret Houlihan,” says Margaret. “And the stick bug on the counter is Hawkeye Pierce.”

“What does B.J. stand for?” asks Hawkeye.

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” he laughs. “Why Hawkeye?”

“It’s from The Last of the Mohicans,” grins Hawkeye. “My dad loves it.”

“Well, I can’t say my father loves mine, that’s for sure.”

Hawkeye stares at him incredulously before bursting into laughter.

“Oh. Two of you,” frowns Margaret. Her phone chimes and she looks at it quickly. “I’m going outside to wait for Helen, you stay here and-”

“If the strange man attacks, I bite,” he says.

“You bite?” asks B.J. 

“When given a good reason.” Hawkeye batts his eyelashes

“I’m a lady, why are you doing this in front of me,” Margaret laments. “Pick your damn phone when I call you, Hawkeye, or else-” And her promises for violence get lost in the crowd.

“She really is magnificent,” says Hawkeye, and B.J. nods, coming closer.

He’s tall, maybe even taller than Hawkeye, and blond and strong (his polo shirt is tight enough to show off the definition of his biceps, his pecs) and funny. No one can say Hawkeye doesn’t have a type. 

“Listen, I have a question and you seem to know your way around here.”

“Oh, absolutely. I also know my way around undergarments of all types,” says Hawkeye. “Thongs, French cut, strings, no strings, boxers, briefs, shorts, jockstraps, straps, and any combinations, therefore. Even Long Johns!” B.J. keeps looking at him like he can’t believe he exists. It’s getting to him. “But, shoot away. I make a wonderful Jeeves. My British accent is top-notch.”

“So is this Father really a priest?”

“Jesuit order,” nods Hawkeye. “ Eloquentia perfecta! He's a volunteer teacher at the Youth Center.”

“And on the weekends he holds punk shows at a coop,” says B.J.

“He's deaf, you see? Totally believes these are hymns," laughs Hawkeye. "And anyway, you should see his sister, the Sister. Incredible bassist. Won Battle of the Bands last year.”

“Pierce, I’m just a little confused.”

“Don’t let a little confusion throw you,” he smirks. “Where are you from?”

“San Francisco.” He shrugs. “Uh, Mills Valley, really. I’m a roadie with the openers.”

“Oh, so that’s why you’re so far from home!”

“You mean to tell me we are not in Kansas anymore Toto?” grins B.J. and maybe Hawkeye is a little dazzled. B.J. is very golden, on his defense, and he has these hands... When he goes to take a sip of his beer, though, there’s an especially gold shine to one particular finger under the kitchen’s light.

“Nice ring,” says Hawkeye, neutral.

“Yeah, thank you,” says B.J, just as bland. “My wife gave it to me.”

Hawkeye finishes his Martini and gets up to get the gin bottle, abandoned near the sink.

“Right,” he says.

“Hawk?” asks B.J.

“I don’t know what you heard or from who,” says Hawkeye as he pours. “But I don’t do that thing, I really don’t.” 

“Hey, woah, woah,” says B.J. and when Hawkeye turns to look at him he has his hands up in the air. “Are you okay?”

“Why wouldn’t I be!”

“Alright,” smiles B.J. tentatively. “I promise I had no idea who you were before this."

Hawkeye turns back to the sink.

“So what,” he asks. “Do you just flirt with random men while on the road?”

“Just the attractive ones.”

“Sure,” Hawkeye rolls his eyes. “And your wife?”

“Well, today it’s date day for her and her girlfriend,” says B.J. carefully. “Erin is with the babysitter.”

“And Erin is…”

“My daughter.” B.J. lights up. “Do you want to see her?” 

B.J. has already taken out his wallet before Hawkeye can open his mouth.

“She’s twenty-one months,” he says, passing Hawkeye a little creased picture of a toddler, smiling toothless to the camera in a denim dress with embroidered flowers, and then another of her with big sunglasses and a backward cap on and another, just a tiny baby in B.J’s arms as she drools herself to sleep. “She’s perfect.”

“Very cute,” says Hawkeye like this isn't- Like he isn't-

“Come on,” huffs B.J.

“What?” asks Hawkeye. B.J. looks bright-eyed, ready to fight. Hawkeye drinks more gin to blame any flushing on the ethanol.

“‘Very cute?’” B.J. rolls his eyes. “She deserves better than this.”

“Well, for all I know her conversation is dull,” tests Hawkeye.

“How dare you,” says B.J, failing at not smiling. “She has a vocabulary of nearly 100 words.”

“Oh, an intellectual,” nods Hawkeye.

“She’s a genius,” says B.J, only half-joke.

Hawkeye gives back the pictures and B.J. puts them back in his wallet with adoration. 

“So you’ve got it all pretty figured out, huh,” he says because he’s allergic to silence. “Baby. Wife.”

“Wife’s girlfriend,” adds B.J. “And dog.”

“Labrador?”

“Basset Hound.”

“And here next I was going to say Golden Retriever.” Hawkeye shakes his head.

“He’s really Val’s, my wife’s girlfriend. I’m enough of a dog for Peg,” says B.J. “That’s my wife.”

“Oh, I see,” nods Hawkeye. “Very clear, yes.”

B.J. smiles and looks at him long through his eyelashes. 

“I’m sorry,” he says. Suddenly, he seems bashful. It gives Hawkeye whiplash. “I haven’t really done this before. The, uh, hitting on attractive men while on tour. I didn’t mean to upset you. I know it can be hard to understand what Peg and I have. I just thought, well, you’re tall and cute and very funny. I thought, if he kisses me, it might make it worth it to be so cold and tired working for a band I don’t like while homesick.”

“Are the openers so bad?” asks Hawkeye.

“Terrible, I don’t understand how they booked a gig on the other side of the country,” grins fleetingly B.J. “But seriously, I like talking with you. I think- I think we could understand each other, that there’s something about you that I could really like. I wouldn’t mind being your friend.”

Hawkeye smiles back at him, just a bit.

“I wouldn’t mind being yours,” he says. “You really do love your wife, huh?”

“She’s my best friend,” says B.J. seriously. “Could always use more of those, though.”

 

Some guy thrusts his head into the kitchen.

“Hey, Hunnicut, dude,” he says. “We are on in five.”

B.J. nods at him then turns to put a hand on Hawkeye’s shoulder.

“You don’t have to answer now, find me after the gig, okay?” he says, shaking Hawkeye gently. Hawkeye nods and then he’s gone. 

All alone in the kitchen as people migrate towards the stage set up at the back of the house, Hawkeye takes out his phone and turns it on. Trusty little Nokia, it beeps at him with an accusing tone as it struggles to show him all his missed calls. Margaret, the Father, Klinger, even Henry Blake, and a whole bunch more. Half the scene knew Hawkeye could not function while in proximity to Trapper anymore. Incredibly embarrassing. He thumbs down aimlessly. Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, the Father, Margaret, Trapper, Margaret. He stops. He thinks of recalling and instead turns off his phone and grabs the half-full bottle of gin. If Margaret wants to find him she better entrust herself to the Saint Cristopher Father Mulcahy keeps in the entryway, he thinks as he dives into the crowd. 

Crowds don’t part for Hawkeye. The people that don’t like him like to say that he thinks they do but the reality is that Hawkeye just knows a lot of people that he has to say hi to and joke around with and generally don’t act heartbroken in front of. They give him passage but it is not free. And right now they all ask, have you seen Trapper? Have you talked to him? At some point, he crosses by Louise standing by herself, arms crossed low over her stomach, who gives him a tight smile and the benefit of looking away first. He had always thought she was so cool, with those sharp bangs and sharper eyes. She had taught him how to put on eyeliner, way before Margaret had her breakdown and coming out all in one afternoon and decided she would be the only female presence worth something in his life from then on. She had appeared at his flat at two in the morning to announce it and taught him what lip liner was while she sobbed as he shaved her head. Sometimes Hawkeye thinks about how if Trapper had spent the night that day, if he had chosen him instead, he wouldn't have opened the door and they never would have been friends at all. Margaret would hate him, she would have kept all her hurt inside her, married that horrible man, and then died, blood poisoned by shame. It’s a horrible thought. It kind of haunts him. 

On a sofa by the bathroom, Klinger holds court in a shiny, gold, floor-length gown. 

“Hey, Pierce!” He gets up when he sees him pass by. “Man, where are you going?”

“Oh, just seeing the sights,” he says. “Walking the walk, prancing around the park. Great look, by the way, give us a twirl, Klinger,” which Klinger obliges with a laugh. The back really is something.

“Listen, we’ve been trying to call you-”

“I know, I already know,” nods Hawkeye. “You’re all too kind, serious. I can’t believe how you would mobilize for little old me.”

“‘Little old me’,” laughs Klinger, whacking him on the back and turning to address the group at the sofa. “Can you guys believe it? This man... Anything you need, Hawk, whenever you need it.” He pauses, comes closer. “I do have to say that if it is to kill a man, my uncle needs payment upfront. Taking the bus from Toledo, those are business expenses, and he prefers to have them squared away as soon as possible.”

“Sure, Klinger, of course,” nods Hawkeye, shaking his hand seriously. “Anything for the fine touch of a professional.”

Klinger kisses his knuckles with a great resounding mwah.

“King among men!” He exclaims as Hawkeye goes right back into the crowd and nearly stumbles.

“Oh! Sorry, sir!” Says the meek little voice of the boulder on his way.

“Radar!” Hawkeye flexes his knees to look to the floor with him. “Have you lost anything down there? Maybe your height? You seem shorter than when I last saw you.”

Radar turns beet colored. 

“Well!” He cries out, his voice breaking. “It’s been so long, anything is possible, Hawk!”

“Ouch,” says Hawkeye, bringing a hand to his chest. “On my defense, it turns out they actually expect you to treat patients to become a doctor.”

“That sounds stressful,” frowns Radar. “How have you been? Have you seen Trapper is in town?”

Hawkeye brings an arm around his shoulders. 

“And now, questions I actually want to answer,” he says.

Radar thinks for a moment.

“Henry is in the back garden with weed, do you want to come?”

“We will make a gentleman and an officer out of you, yet.” He ruffles his hair through his beanie. “Let’s go.”

---

“He’s not answering,” fumes Margaret. “I told him to answer.”

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry,” says Helen as she smokes. “But this is the most unsurprising turn of events since you told me you were a lesbian.”

“Oh, shut up.” Margaret rolls her eyes. “You were surprised when I kissed you!”

“It was very nice!" Laughs Helen. "I was touched."

Margaret pecks the side of her lips. She hates when she tastes like cigarettes but can’t help kissing Helen when she laughs.

"It was nice," sighs Margaret. Then she redials Hawkeye's number. "I'm going to kill him. You know, he was flirting with some guy?"

"You've mentioned it," nods Helen. "A couple thousand times."

At her side, Ginger and Kellye snort quietly, arms around each other to keep warm.

"Houlihan, baby, can we at least go inside to look for him? It's cold out here," asks Helen.

Margaret hesitates.

"Please, Margaret," says Kellye, her eyes huge.

"Okay, alright," she accepts. "But whoever finds him first, let me know, okay?"

Inside, the wall of noise hits them headfirst. Someone really whiny is yelling about angels to everyone's displeasure. 

"Jesus," says Ginger. 

"Amen," nods Helen, haphazardly crossing herself in front of one of Father Mulcahy's Black Mary images. "I'm going to get something to drink, see you all later. Babe," and she kisses Margaret's cheek. "Love you."

"There are some people I have to say hi to," says Ginger, already heading for the stairs. "I'll check for Hawkeye."

"I'll go see if I find Radar," says Kellye. "He will know where he is. Check the bathroom?"

"Yeah, I'll do that," nods Margaret. "Thank you, Kellye."

Then, Margaret breathes in deep and marches into the crowd. She notices Trapper by the side of the stage, talking with someone who definitely uses dude too much. Built S.O.B., she thinks as the lights turn red and bathe him from tip to toe just when he leans forward to laugh, all loud brass. She turns in the opposite direction, glaring her way through the crowd. Someone is making out against the bathroom door and no one answers when she yells for Hawkeye from a prudent distance. Klinger looks at her half amused. 

“Try upstairs to pee, Houlihan,” he says. “They still have for a while.”

“Ugh!” Then she looks at him. “I hate your dress.”

“Just because you can’t pull off a halter neckline,” he sniffs.

“What are you- Excuse you ! Of course I can pull off a halter neckline!” She takes a step towards him. 

“Sure you can,” says Klinger, looking skeptically at her shoulders.

“Whatever, I don’t have to prove myself to you.” She looks at the crowd around her. “Have you seen Hawkeye?”

“A while ago, I don’t know where he went.”

“Great, thanks for nothing, Klinger.”

“A guy looks better in her wedding dress than her and everything becomes a fight,” he shakes his head. “Maybe he's outside, I heard Henry Blake came by with the devil’s lettuce!”

Because she’s going to listen to him after he makes fun of her like that. She needs some air.

Trying to get past people to the backyard is nearly impossible. Even if the music sucks (and, oh, does it suck!), this close to the stage people will take any excuse to collide into each other at great speeds. Some guy with a clear lack of forethought crashes into her and makes her stumble into one of the tech guys, who looks bored standing by with a guitar.

“Sorry,” starts to say Margaret but then she recognizes him. “You!”

“Me?” says B.J. Hunnicut. “Hi. Margaret, right?”

“Have you seen Hawkeye?” she barrels over him.

“Not since I started to do my actual job.”

Margaret frowns, looks at the stage then at him.

“Why does a two people band need some guy to hand them guitars?”

“You know, I have been asking myself that for two months,” smiles B.J. “They say it’s experimental, I say it pays my bills. Let them dream they are Moore and Ranaldo as long as I get my hourly rate.”

“That’s so stupid,” says Margaret. “Inefficient.”

“And what’s more, they are really, really bad,” B.J. says jovially.

Margaret rolls her eyes. From her periphery, she suddenly sees Trapper John appear, moving from his designated spot to destinations unknown.

“Listen, B.J,” she says, grabbing him by the strap of the guitar hanging from his neck. “If you see that guy there,” she nods discreetly at Trapper. “Move towards the backyard, you stop him, okay?”

“The new drummer for Stateside?” he asks. “Uh, sure, I guess.”

“Good, good.” And then, calculating, “he’s Hawkeye’s ex.”

“Oh,” says B.J, looking at Trapper again. “Okay.”

“Okay, exactly,” nods Margaret, tapping him thanks on the cheek. “Work hard.”

“Right,” says B.J, still looking at the crowd.

Margaret turns towards the pit to find the guy that pushed her and maybe yell at him, and there’s Helen instead, smiling at her. 

“Margaret,” she says, offering her a water bottle. “Drink?”

“No, thank you,” she says, accepting her kiss.

“No luck finding Hawk?” Helen asks before some guy elbows her, nearly knocking them over.

“Hey, watch it!” Margaret yells.

“Yeah!” Helen says, grabbing her wrist. “Let’s get out of here.”

Walking close through the crowd, Margaret lays her forehead between Helen's shoulder blades. Her leather jacket is so smooth against her skin.

“Hey, come on,” says Helen. “He’s fine. He is a grown man, you know?”

“I know that,” says Margaret. “That’s why someone needs to look out for him.”

“Oh, you can’t argue with that logic,” Helen laughs, turning to put an arm around her and kiss her forehead.

Outside, a group is huddled together hiding from the cold sitting one on top of the other on a ratty rattan sofa.

“Margaret!” Kellye giggles. “I found Radar and he found Hawkeye!”

“And I,” says Hawkeye. “Found Kellye’s lap!”

“You indolent cad,” Margaret seethes. “Make room.”

“Oh, sweetheart, I knew you couldn’t stay away.”

There’s a rearrangement of legs and arms and bodies as people complain and say hi and how have you been and ouch, that's my kidney. From between them all appears Sidney Freedman, passed out. Margaret leaves her bag on top of him before sitting on Helen’s lap.

“Radar, um, pass the blunt, please,” says Henry Blake at the same time Radar gives it to him, mumbling, “here it is, for you.” 

They blink at each other for a moment.

“Ah, alright,” nods Henry, beleaguered, taking a deep hit.

“Henry here was telling us how Lorraine is,” says Hawkeye.

“She says she’s fat,” sighs Henry. “I keep telling her, well, ‘darling, that’s on count of the baby’.”

“I don’t think I can imagine you as a dad,” says Radar.

“Yeah, me neither,” says Henry. “Oh, careful, Radar, don’t burn yourself, just hold it- yes, that’s it.”

“I’m sure you’ll be a fine father,” nods Margaret, self-assured. 

“At the very least, you are a wonderful dealer," laughs Hawkeye, blowing smoke.

"It is, uh, the good kush, yeah, ha," chuckles Henry.

The back door opens.

“Ah, what do we have here? A bacchanal?” Asks Father Mulcahy, smiling as he readjusts his hearing aid. Kellye shrieks excitedly when she sees Ginger behind him and unceremoniously dumps Hawkeye onto the floor to go hug her. Margaret starts to laugh so hard she cries.

“Father!” Hawkeye offers him the roach from the floor. “You want?

“Oh, well,” says the Father, accepting. “I haven’t done this since seminary, you will have to excuse me, I don’t know if I remember…” And he proceeds to blow three perfect smoke halos in the night. 

“‘I don’t know if I remember’, my ass,” snorts Margaret, still giggly. “Sorry, Father.” 

Helen laughs, and Margaret has to kiss her, and kiss her, and kiss her...

“It’s quite alright,” says the Father. “I’m wondering if it could be considered divine intervention that I didn’t choke.”

“I’m going to roll another,” says Henry, patting his pockets. “Where’s my, uh, where’s my-”

“Here’s your grinder,” says Radar, then he quiets down for a moment, paying attention to the noise coming from the house. “Oh, someone got hurt in there!”

“Half the nursing school is in that crowd, somewhere,” says Hawkeye, getting up. 

“Where’s the other half?” asks Kellye.

“Hopefully soon in my bed,” he wiggles his eyebrows. “I’m going in. Father, this band sucks.”

Father Mulcahy cringes.

“I’m afraid so, Hawkeye,” he sighs. “Their MySpace bio sounded quite hopeful, they seemed truly interested in the mixing of the liturgical and the profane but, ah, I should have tempered my expectations.”

“Temper away, Father,” says Hawkeye. “Please.” Then he turns towards the group. “Margaret? Are you coming? You know, Helen will still have lips when you come back.”

“You’re codependent,” Sidney mumbles in his sleep.

“Tell me something Freud doesn’t know,” says Hawkeye, holding the door open for Margaret.

Inside, it's all heat and noise. The accident, whatever it was, has made the openers end early and there's scuttling around the stage preparing for the next band. 

"I haven't forgotten you did not pick up when I told you to do it," says Margaret.

"You have to understand, I wanted to, desperately wanted to," says Hawkeye as he navigates towards the bathroom which is open and spilling bright yellow light into the dark interior. "But, you see? Trapper apparently called me and it became impossible for me to keep my phone on and not- not-"

"Good Lord," says Margaret, then she doesn't know what to say so she takes out her mother's flask. "Drink?"

"Ah, you always know just what I need," smiles Hawkeye, accepting it. 

In the bathroom, Klinger stands next to Oliver Harmon Jones, who has his arms crossed, observing kind of incredulous as B.J. of all people washes out his bloody nose.

“You sure?” he keeps saying, sounding skeptical.

“Yeah!” says B.J, very nasal. “Nothing broken, don’t need a doctor.”

“Aw, come on,” says Hawkeye. “Can I at least volunteer to wash you with a sponge?”

“Benjamin Franklin Pierce,” smiles Oliver, shaking his hand. “It’s been a while.”

“Why did we decide to go into medicine? No time for good friends at all,” laughs Hawkeye. “How’s the patient?”

“Fine,” says B.J, meeting Hawkeye’s eyes in the mirror and smiling. “Hey, Hawkeye.”

“Stubborn,” nods Oliver. “Margaret, how are you?”

“Playing second violin, as usual,” she sighs. “Hunnicut, look down, stop trying for suave when your nose is winning a sweet potato look-alike contest.”

“Yeah, some ice for the swelling wouldn’t be out of place,” says Hawkeye, reaching for B.J’s face, who hesitates for a moment before letting him touch. 

“Right up, doc,” says Klinger, disappearing. 

Hawkeye hums in agreement, busy turning B.J. this and that way, looking up his nose and saying something low that makes him huff out a laugh. B.J. relaxes all of his stupid bright teeth into a self-satisfied smirk and responds in a murmur. Hawkeye cackles.

“What happened?” asks Margaret loudly, looking away. 

“One moment I’m trying to find a way to disconnect the amp and save us all from that noise,” starts Oliver.

“Our hero,” says Hawkeye, and Oliver laughs, acquiescing with a nod.

“Yeah, well, next thing I know, this guy is punching Trapper John and he’s punching right back.” He imitates a right hook. “Very impressive, honestly. He sent Trap staggering.”

“Trapper John?” Hawkeye asks.

“Yeah.” B.J. stands tall against the sink. “New drummer for Stateside?”

“Nose down, Hunnicut,” says Margaret, feeling sudden, cold dread. 

“Why the hell did you punch Trapper?” Hawkeye yells.

“Well,” stalls B.J. He looks at Margaret and she looks at the floor. 

"Well, what?" Asks Hawkeye. "Spring? Toll? Bottoms? What! Why are you looking at- Margaret ."

He has these huge eyes, open in horror. She purses her lips.

“I see you all have this under control,” says Oliver, realizing. “I think I hear someone that needs an interning neurosurgeon somewhere that is not here, it’s been real nice. I'll see you at the hospital.”

He closes the door behind him politely. Margaret will make sure he only works with the rooky nurses that can’t even find a vein for the rest of the year.

With the door closed, the crowd is a loud hum broken suddenly by the static of an electric guitar and cheering. The next band must be starting.

“You were the one saying you didn’t even want him to call you,” Margaret explodes, then grimaces. She never wins when she starts first.

“There are some quite distinct differences between that and, and getting B.J. to punch him!” Hawkeye yells, his arms like windmills, turning to him. “What the fuck! Why would you do that? You don’t even know me!”

B.J. shrugs. 

“If you didn’t want to see him, then you shouldn’t have,” he says evenly, not looking at him.

“Ah, of course,” nods Hawkeye. “Makes sense, clearly.” Then, small. “I don’t, I don’t want your help. And I don’t like violence.”

“You never want help,” sighs Margaret. “And it’s not help . It’s looking out for you. You’ve done the same for me with Donald.”

“Yeah, because Donald sucks,” snorts Hawkeye. “Trapper is just- He’s- And, anyway, I never punched Donald, not proxy or otherwise.”

“Never needed you to,” snipes Margaret. She could do that herself, thank you.

“And I didn’t need whatever The Bodyguard roleplay this was, or nearly everyone I know blowing up my phone to tell me he’s in town or anything,” says Hawkeye. He sounds very final. “And yet you did it.”

“Oh, I hate when you do that,” says Margaret before she can help herself.

“When I do what, now?” Hawkeye’s laugh is an ugly sound. “Please, elaborate, what of my many mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, jokes, gaits, imitations, voices, face movements, ticks, et cetera, has annoyed you now. I’m just dying to know. Father Mulcahy can do my last rites after you’re done.”

“The accusing people of caring about you like it’s a fucking crime!” Margaret yells. Let him have it , she thinks. “I’m tired of you, I’m so tired of you and your self-sacrificing, impossible bullshit-” She stops suddenly. Not that, though .

Hawkeye nods slowly. B.J. behind him looks still and tense. He has one hand out like he was thinking of reaching out and didn't find the moment.

“If you’re so tired then don’t let me entertain you.” Hawkeye bows, melodramatic to the end. “It’s been nice, Margaret. I am now officially hopping off your strap-on.” And he disappears off the bathroom, nearly throwing Klinger off his heels when he opens the door and he’s right there.

“Ice for the gentleman,” says Klinger, with a flourish. “Where is Hawkeye going?”

“To cool off,” grimaces B.J. “Thanks, hm... Dude?”

“Ma’am, to you, stranger,” says Klinger.

“Of course, my lady, pardon me.”

“Oh, don’t be silly,” says Margaret. “Have a towel, B.J.”

She wraps the ice in a blue hand towel with neat, practiced movements and places it carefully against B.J’s nose, who winces.

“I think I lost my job,” sighs B.J. 

“You definitely did,” says Klinger. “A fight for the ages! I didn’t know people could go down like that.”

“Featherweight,” nods B.J. seriously. He looks at Margaret. “You alright?”

She breathes in and out for a moment. It’s fine. Fine! Hawkeye and her fight all the time. They are very toxic, ask anyone. 

“Sure,” she says. “Let me see your nose.”

B.J. keeps staring at her, half his face hidden by the towel.

“I don’t know you,” he starts.

“Exactly,” she nods.

“But apologizing isn’t easy for me, either,” he says, then he clears his throat. He looks uncomfortable. 

Margaret sighs.

“It will be fine,” she says. “Now, your nose.”

--

Trapper is contemplating going back and ending what the guy started (a way as any other to spend a morose fucking night) when Louise finds him. When she opens the door to the house and he sees her, his shoulders drop from his ears and he sits down on the step with his back to her. He hears her sigh, then walk slowly to kneel in front of him. He loves the shoes she's wearing. Then she reaches for his chin to raise his face, staring at him with hard eyes.

“Nice shiner, John,” she says, judgemental, as she pokes at it. 

Trapper huffs. 

She wets a kleenex with the tip of her tongue and tilts his head again so she can see the damage under Father Mulcahy’s porch light. Just a little bit of broken skin close to the eyebrow, where the guy’s ring (ring!) had cut him.

“Serves you well,” she says as she works. 

“Yeah, yeah.” He rolls his eyes, wincing away. “Whenever you’re done…”

“Dick,” she snipes.

“Asshole,” he shoots.

They kiss.

“You can’t leave well enough alone,” sighs Louise, which is not true. That had never been a problem for Trapper before, not leaving things behind. He’s an easy-going man, feet on the ground and ready to roll. Hawkeye is an exception, just like she is. 

He bites her lip.

“Don’t start something you can’t finish,” she warns (it's funny, it's so fucking funny that she says this now) but she goes for his earlobe, the one with the earring, breathing hot on his jugular as she does. It feels so good, with how cold it is. Trapper sneaks his hand down her back...

The door of the house bursts open.

“Oh, this is just fantastic,” says Hawkeye.

“I’m not here,” says Louise. “Be gentle.”

“When have I not been?” Hawkeye is jittery, pacing up and down, and can’t look either of them in the eye. “I’m the tentle gouch.” He breathes out harshly. “Gentle touch.”

“I didn’t mean you.” Louise rolls her eyes, closing the door behind her.

Trapper waits for Hawkeye to say something, anything, and it doesn’t happen.

“I,” he starts tentatively. “I didn't know you had shooters.”

“Ha!” Hawkeye says. “Yeah, me neither!”

Trapper nods and his hand finds his pack of cigarettes without him really thinking about it. He offers one to Hawkeye, who waves it away.

He keeps not talking, just walking. Father Mulcahy’s porch is seven Hawkeye Pierce steps long.

“I’m sorry,” says Trapper on Hawkeye’s third step so he can say it to his face, and he lights his smoke to not have to add anything else.

“Oh, are you? For what?”

“I shouldn't have left like that.”

“Left to get engaged, Trap,” says Hawkeye, precise. “ Engaged .” 

“I love her,” says Trapper

“Good for you,” says Hawkeye

“I'm not sorry for it,” he says. “I’m not sorry that she’s pregnant.”

“I don't want you to be!” Yells Hawkeye. “Shit, Trap, a baby! You know I-” His voice dies. “I really can’t have you fucking calling me.”

Trapper nods. Hawkeye keeps pacing then he stops. 

“Stateside? Really?”

Trapper shrugs.

“They are fine. They have a record deal,” he says.

“But they are not yours at all!”

Trapper smiles, flicking ash away.

“That’s exactly what I thought you would say,” he sighs. “We can't all be like you, Hawk.”

“I’m no one,” frowns Hawkeye.

Trapper starts laughing.

“What?” Hawkeye asks, but when Trapper looks at him it just gets worse. “What!”

“You’re everyone's favorite likeable dick,” chuckles Trapper. “You got this whole town in the divorce! You walk into a room, everyone ends up enamored with you, the good doctor, the witty commentator, the irreprehensible flirt- Like something out of a novel.”

“I-I’m just me,” stumbles Hawkeye.

“Well, it takes work for most people, for me, I can’t just be loved,” says Trapper. “Stateside lets me put in the work. And it pays.”

“Oh, come on, this isn’t about money-”

“Of course not.” Trapper takes a deep breath. “It’s about how I didn't want to be the guy that plays the tambourine while you recite your enigmatic, ironic truths about life as I became old and wrinkly so quietly. Can you blame me? Maybe I wanted people to appreciate me.”

“I appreciated you,” says Hawkeye. “From day one.”

Trapper shakes his head, he gets up.

“I loved you!” Hawkeye yells, hand to his chest. 

“You’ve never had a friend you didn’t love,” sighs Trapper, holding him. 

“What do you know!”

“I’m your friend, Hawkeye,” Trapper says in his ear. “Before we stumbled into bed, I was your friend and I have, for some strange reason, retained all this information about you. The way to open your apartment door, your damn phone number. Your hurts, Carlye, all of it. All of stupid you lives in my stupid noggin forever, let's accept it.”

“This is the most romantic thing you've ever told me,” sniffs Hawkeye. Trapper cracks a smile, claps him in the back, softly.

“Listen, Hawk,” he says, letting go just enough to look him in the eye. “The wedding will be next autumn. If you feel up to coming we would love to have you.”

“Louise hates me.”

“Lousie is hurt just like you are because I'm a brute.”

Hawkeye cleans his nose on his hand.

“The bull in the china store of interpersonal relationships,” he says.

“She misses you and so do I.” Trapper shakes him by the shoulder. “So take your time but please. Please.”

Hawkeye nods.

“I don’t want to resent you. I don’t want you to resent me. I-”

“I’ll think about it, Trap.”

Trapper nods. He thinks for a moment before smirking. 

“What’s with the blond?” he asks. “He’s new.”

“B.J?” Hawkeye frowns.

“I have only been introduced to his knuckles,” says Trapper.

Hawkeye snorts. 

“He came with the openers. Complimentary gift.”

  “He’s hot,” smiles Trapper.

“He’s not your type at all,” says Hawkeye.

“But he’s yours.”

Hawkeye looks at Trapper and his raised eyebrows.

“Shut up,” he laughs. “He is interesting, I-” He pauses. “Let's not, though. I have, uh, to go talk to Margaret. She’s good, by the way.”

“Yeah, you guys looked,” Trapper searches for the word and in the end settles for an accent. “Chummy, mate.”

“Rather!” Hawkeye exclaims, smiling. “With a bird like her, it's hard not to be!”

They smile at each other for a moment and Trapper feels. Not not hopeful.

Hawkeye opens the door.

“So long, Trapper John,” he says, and he goes back into the house.

Once he’s gone, Trapper collapses back on the step. He looks at the sky and there are no stars, only the streetlight bright like a sun.

--

When Hawkeye comes back, B.J’s nose is nearly back to normal. He keeps the ice in the towel on his face even as it starts to melt and drip down while Hawkeye takes Margaret by the arm and they talk and talk and talk. He really can’t look away. There are two times when he thinks they are going to fight again. Margaret has sharp nails painted khaki green, she would have him at her feet in seconds. But she holds his face between her palms and he puts his hands over hers as he murmurs. B.J. wishes for a moment to know how to read lips and immediately feels like a douche. Instead, he thinks of leaving. The guys from the band had said they knew someone that would let them sleep on their floor but now he doesn’t think he’s invited anymore. Staying at the party seems precarious. People keep staring at him and whispering. Apparently, Trapper John is a local celebrity, which is just his luck. And then, there’s the going back to California. He doesn’t think the band would leave him stranded on the East coast, but spending days again in a van with those guys as they talk theology while they hate him sounds like a circle of hell only Dante could come up with. 

“Vergil, guide me,” sighs B.J.

“What?” says Hawkeye.

“Ha, uh, nothing!” 

Hawkeye looks at his face and his hand twitches by his side.

“Don’t ask to check my nose,” warns B.J. “I think that if anyone else looks at it it’s going to fall off.”

It makes Hawkeye grin.

“And it’s such a nice nose,” he says.

Hawkeye’s shirt is too short, showing off a strip of skin for everyone to see. B.J. has to look at his fucking face, now .

“I’m sorry,” he says, biting the inside of his cheek.

Hawkeye waves him away.

“It’s fine,” he sighs, digging his thumbs into his eyes. “You don’t even know what’s going on.”

“I do have the impression I’m stuck in an episode of The Hills.”  

“Oh, am I Lauren?” Hawkeye asks.

“Oh, no,” says B.J. “You’re much hotter.”

Hawkeye laughs like a goose. It’s a full-body movement that has him leaving a hand on B.J’s shoulder for support, the other on his knee. He looks up at B.J. still chuckling and B.J’s heart races. Hawkeye notices and his smile turns long and dirty. 

“Hey-” he starts to say.

“Forget it,” B.J. interrupts. 

Hawkeye frowns, standing up.

“What?”

“It’s been a long night,” says B.J, hoarse and tired.

“What does that even mean,” says Hawkeye. Then, “I have beds. At home?”

“What does that even mean,” wonders B.J, and Hawkeye huffs.

“If you don’t want to anymore, you can just say that.” 

B.J. blinks. He sounds incredibly unhappy.

“That’s not- Don’t be stupid,” says B.J. “I thought you- I did punch your ex.”

“Trapper is not my ex,” says Hawkeye. “That’s the easy way out. I’m invited to his wedding.”

“What the fuck? Okay?”

“If I decided to go, and we did, uh, and then I called you, would you come with?” he asks. “It’s a shotgun wedding if that sweetens the pot.”

B.J. looks at him. Hawkeye shrugs. He’s the craziest man he has ever met. So, he leaves the wet towel fall to the floor and he grabs him by the arm to bring him closer and he kisses him, chaste first, then not so much.

“Alright,” says Hawkeye against his mouth.

The apartment Hawkeye takes him to is cold and very cluttered. Books line the hallway, narrowing it down to claustrophobic levels, and the doors open on each side with a sense of desolation in the dark of night. An approximation of a living room to the right, the quiet lines of a maybe kitchen to the left. At the end of it all, there are two closed doors and the silhouette of a sink haunts the gaping mouth of a third. There’s a couple of signs taped haphazardly to one of the doors (bedrooms, surely) that say, B.J. squints to read, Get Out Of My Swamp and Beware Ogre over a grainy, black and white picture of Hawkeye looking utterly fucked up, sweaty, bloodshot eyes. His shirt says, I’m not a lesbian, but my girlfriend is . Hawkeye opens that one with a flourish and drags B.J. in by the side of his shirt. Film posters adorn the walls and there are more books, piles of them acting as bed tables next to a couple of cinderblocks. Medical journals of all things levitate a plank of wood for a makeshift desk, and from it, beer cans hold shelves upwards to the ceiling. It makes B.J. want to play Jenga. The beds Hawkeye had mentioned are two bare mattresses lying on the floor, one on each corner of the room, leaving a great bareness in the middle.

“Hey,” says Hawkeye, suddenly with mismatched pillowcases in his hands. “Give me a show, pull the beds together.”

So B.J. takes his shirt off, then he kicks his Chucks away. He gets to Hawkeye in two steps and he has this grin, half-crazed, as he looks at him. B.J. smiles back with all his teeth and he bends down. As he pulls, he thinks of the way Peg lowers her sunglasses when it’s summer and he walks around the house with Erin in his arms in a shirt she cut the sleeves off of on purpose. The mattress slides easily over the floor, like it’s used to the manhandling, and when he looks up Hawkeye’s eyes are dark, dark things stuck somewhere near his rhomboids majors. He hands him the corner of a bedsheet and they work in silence. When they are done, Hawkeye looks at him and takes off his hoodie and t-shirt all in one go, revealing his long chest, smattered in dark hair, and then sits down on the edge of the beds (now one large bed, singular, thinks B.J. with trepidation) to take his time with his army surplus boots. His fingers, which seem clever, keep slipping because he can’t help looking up at B.J. with something way too close to disbelief in his face. B.J. takes off his own pants.

“Now, that’s unfair,” sighs Hawkeye, and he reaches out a hand, shoes forgotten, for B.J’s tight. “You’re furrier than I expected.”

“I’m blond.” B.J. shakes his head. “It’s my cross to bear. You’re lucky I have eyebrows-”

“Eh, depends on the light,” laughs Hawkeye. 

“My wife doesn’t have any, but that’s because she shaves them.”

“And the sprout?”

“When she was born she was just like a peach,” says B.J. “You know, how you can’t see the hair but it’s definitely there? Now she looks like Peg. Well, except for the eyebrows. She will not be allowed near the razor until she’s at least sixteen.”

“Being eyebrowless is a great responsibility,” nods Hawkeye.

“Exactly.” B.J. wishes he had a joke to follow up, because there’s something about bantering with this man, but Hawkeye’s hand keeps practically petting his inseam and it’s rushing to his dick. “Come on,” he says, and he drops to his knees to get his shoes off himself.

“Do you do it for your wife?” asks Hawkeye.

“What, shave her eyebrows?” says B.J. with a raised brow. 

“No, take off her shoes.”

B.J. hums.

“When she asks for it.”

“How does she ask?”

When B.J. looks up at him, he can see his chest rising steadily as he breathes.

“Well,” says B.J. as he thinks. “She will usually sit and she will look at me.” He gets his fingers in the pull loop and reveals Hawkeye's sweaty sock. “And she has these eyes like she can see right through me.” She has eyes like him, he realizes as he pulls at the laces of the other boot. He clears his throat. “She can see that I want to, to take off her shoes for her and-

“Shave her eyebrows?”

“And hold her head with one hand on her perfect cheek while I shave her eyebrows. Feel how warm she is. Kiss her.” B.J. pauses. Balls up one of Hawkeye’s socks inside his boot, then the other. “Have her baby.”

“Great family planning,” snorts Hawkeye.

“Shut up,” says B.J, bloodless. “Take off your pants.”

Hawkeye does, he lays back and he arches his back. He looks graceful balancing there, revealing his naked dick to the world. Or more like the quiet of the room, B.J. as the only conscious spectator of the show. Of course he went commando. He doesn't know him at all, and yet- He throws his pants over his head as he stabilizes Hawkeye with one hand on the hip when he threatens to topple over. Hawkeye is very warm, except for his feet, which are cold where they brush against his ankles. B.J. gets it, it takes time for blood to warm all of him, too, which Peg always gets huffy about in winter.

“Come on,” says B.J, urging him up the bed, half crawling over him to reach his mouth. Hawkeye likes pecking, little bites, now one lip, now the other. No pain, he's very careful, just something playful, joyful. B.J. moves the game down his long neck, rubs himself raw on his stubble. He starts taking his time. After the show and the walk home, Hawkeye's sweat had left him clammy in all those tender places where the head meets the chest. Going down one ear to his scapula, he smells sweet like weed and tastes salty. 

"That's nice," sighs Hawkeye, racking his nails through the scruff of his nape. "That's really, uh, really nice- Hey, B.J?"

B.J. hums against his collarbone, pressing his teeth there gently for a second.

"You never did tell me what it stands for," says Hawkeye. 

"You're wondering if I live up to the name?" grins B.J. He feels Hawkeye shrug against his lips.

"If you're offering…"

B.J. kisses him deeply once, then two times more. Hawkeye, for all that he had asked, keeps his hand behind his head as if he doesn’t want him to leave. 

“I’m here,” smiles B.J. “Not going anywhere.”

“Right,” says Hawkeye. He plays with the hair that curls slightly in the back of B.J’s head, kissing his lower lip and the very point of his smile. 

B.J. pushes up to look at him. 

“What?” asks Hawkeye, huffing into another kiss. “Oh, alright, alright, I get it.” He drives him softly down with one hand on his jaw. “There you go, I’ll show you the way.”

“Thank you so much,” says B.J. “I was afraid I’d get lost.”

Hawkeye’s dick suits him. B.J. hasn’t been with someone that had one since college, and he hasn’t missed it exactly, but the weight of it is nice in his hand. He is kind of thick, he muses. Compared with the rest of him, it’s a nice contrast. He licks up to the tip and Hawkeye moans, surprised. His fingers get tangled in his hair hard and B.J. closes his eyes, overtaken. 

“Sorry,” says Hawkeye. “Everything to your taste, down there?”

“Yes,” says B.J. sincerely, and he kisses his thigh, then his dick. “Do you have condoms?”

Hawkeye stretches and magics a box and some lube from behind some shoes.

“Always prepared,” he says, with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Alright, boy scout,” grins B.J, ripping one open and putting it on him. “Be prepared for this.” And he closes his eyes to open his mouth for him. 

Hawkeye’s left leg rubs against his side while B.J. figures out what he likes. It rushes up to his armpit in sudden pleasure when he flicks his tongue against the underside of his dick, and backs down (never relaxing, he can feel it jiggling) when he pulls out a moment to trail kisses up the whole length and build up saliva. It’s easy enough to control him, when B.J. gets a hand on his thigh and pushes lightly while he breathes on him he goes down like he got K.O’d, chest like a trapped bird. He doesn’t really buck up. He seems to like laying down there, B.J. realizes with a smile.

“What?” Hawkeye groans, looking at him from between his fingers. “Are you enjoying yourself?”

B.J. jacks him slowly as he takes a breath.

“It is kind of the point,” he smiles.

“Oh, you’re smug!”

“I do have a big head,” says B.J. conversationally, sitting up to fit his other hand around his own dick so Hawkeye can see.

“Huge forehead,” he nods in agreement.

B.J. goes down for a long, hard suck that has Hawkeye keening off the mattress.

“Normal-sized forehead!” He cries out, calling uncle against his shoulder. “Not too big and not too small, exactly right! And beautiful cock!”

B.J. smiles around his dick, fisting the base as he swirls his tongue. He starts going down and down, a bit at a time, stopping there and here to suck and breathe and adjust, as Hawkeye moans and moans and moans. B.J. can feel him throbbing and shaking against his tongue. When he can’t go further anymore (he smells the most here, and this he did miss, the thrill of how disgusting it feels this close to someone else), he pulls off completely, licking down to his taint and flat over his asshole. Hawkeye howls, his hand digging onto B.J’s shoulder.

“Come up, come up,” he says frantically and he kisses B.J. sloppily, starting at his nose, the first thing he can reach,  careless, before settling at his mouth, open and hot. He pushes at him with trembling arms until B.J. turns over and lets him sit over his hips, getting one clever hand around both their dick. “Fuck, that was hot.”

B.J. grins, massaging his ass with one hand while they kiss. Hawkeye fists their dicks fast once before reaching for the lube. Then, he’s slow with it. He keeps opening his eyes between kisses to stare at B.J. as he flushes and his breath turns shallow. B.J. can’t help but think of Peg, how her eyes flutter closed when she’s really enjoying herself and how much he loves that about her, about having sex, making love with her. He’s her, right now. It’s really sinking in, first a bit, then all at the same time. He hides his face in the pillow and Hawkeye bites softly at the cord of his neck, making B.J. gasp. Lower, then, on his collarbone, his right pec. He stops to lap over his nipples, consciously taking his time with each one. In the cold of the night it feels- It feels- B.J. peaks at him and he’s still looking at him. He can just see the bit of blue left in his heavy-lidded eyes and his tongue, so pink. His dick jumps in Hawkeye’s hand and he smiles, blindingly bright. B.J. reaches out with one hand to touch the way his lips stretch to make room for all his teeth on display and Hawkeye goes back down, feeling up his left thigh, his mouth close by. His jaw closes lightly on the meatiest part of it.

“Let's…” He doesn’t finish.

“Like the greeks?” Chuckles Hawkeye fondly.

B.J. shrugs, his heart pounding. Hawkeye twists his wrist and he moans.

“Don’t, uh, want to add to the clean-up tomorrow,” he sighs. Hawkeye had said that, and now it repeats inside his brain, how he had smiled wildly as he laid back. It had been a bit of a revelation.

“No, I think you just like it when it’s a bit gross,” thrills Hawkeye, reaching for the lube while pushing at B.J’s legs to get him to keep them flexed over his chest.

You like my thighs,” says B.J. He shivers when Hawkeye touches him dangerously close to his balls with cold lube. “You did that on purpose!”

Hawkeye looks at him with wide eyes, all, who, me? , but he takes care to warm it up now, tracing slow circles in the inside of his thighs while he goes back to fisting his dick. He looks at B.J. smiling, still, and it grows when he brushes his hair away from his face so he can see him better. Hawkeye’s dick is warm against where B.J’s ass turns leg.

“Come on,” says B.J, opening his legs and Hawkeye surges up. Their teeth clash before Hawkeye disengages to situate himself right between B.J’s legs, his hand, wet from the lube, coming back to his dick left on top of his stomach. When Hawkeye starts to move, clumsy, his feet fighting for hold on the mattress behind him, B.J. realizes that he’s right, that he does want the mess of it all very badly.

“More, uh, more lube,” he says, biting at Hawkeye’s ear where he has his face hidden in his neck, panting.

“Ugh,” he groans, struggling to get up with his arms. 

“Let me guess,” says B.J. “You never exercise.”

“And what do you call what we are doing right now?” Says Hawkeye, trying to wave between them and nearly falling on his face. “Picking flowers?”

“Well, it’s been a nice stroll so far,” muses B.J. “But I wouldn’t call it exertion.”

“Oh, okay, alright,” says Hawkeye, finally on his knees and pouring cold lube liberally on B.J’s stomach and thighs. “Tomorrow you will believe you’ve run the Crabapple Cove Marathon.”

“What is the Crabapple Cove Marathon?”

“Oh, it’s like the Boston Marathon,” says Hawkeye, hitching B.J’s legs up higher. “But in Crabapple Cove.”

B.J. bursts out laughing, surprised, and Hawkeye gets his fingers back around his dick. Everything is now very, very wet, B.J’s stomach, his happy trail, his thighs up to his knees. Hawkeye’s dick slips easily and he has skilled hands that know how to do incredibly obscene things, marvels B.J. and then his thought process turns to mush. He presses his thighs together after a particularly interesting flick of the wrist and Hawkeye releases a punched-out breath. And then it’s this, not going to lie, unsexy wriggling, this closeness and their breath that smells rotten like beer and liquor and is hot. It's this noise that they make together, mostly gasps. Goosebumps rise over B.J’s arms as he appreciates the way the flesh in Hawkeye’s back gives under when he presses his fingers into it. He’s soft, there, unguarded. Wet with sweat.

“Hawk,” he breathes and Hawkeye stretches to kiss him (his teeth, really). His hand ends on his chest, playing with his nipple absent-mindedly. B.J. is so close. Hawkeye notices, can read his flush somehow, and it’s not enough for him, he has too clear eyes, but his rhythm stutters anyway while he concentrates on B.J’s dick. And B.J. comes. He stretches his neck out, eyes closed, and his back rises off the mattress and his leg cramps up.

“Fuck, fuck,” he groans, whited-out. His foot hurts blindly. “Fuck!”

“Oh, my god,” laughs Hawkeye, falling on top of him.

“Now, who’s, uh, fuck, who’s smug,” mutters B.J. “Oh, this sucks.”

Hawkeye cackles loudly, rolling to the side to place gentle hands on B.J’s leg to help him stretch.

“I’d like to say I’ve never given anyone a charley horse during sex,” says Hawkeye. “But I would be lying.”

B.J. rolls his eyes but he can’t help but laugh too.

“Wouldn’t want you to commit perjury,” he says and Hawkeye grins at him. His dick is red and dripping, fading fast. B.J. wishes he wasn’t suddenly so tired. Still, once he can stretch out his leg again he moves to cover Hawkeye all over with his body.

“Oh, hey.” Hawkeye blinks at him. “You looked ready to pass out there, cowboy, but I won’t say no to another round.”

B.J. snorts and kisses him gently and closed-mouthed, his hand resting on his side. When he curls his hand against him, he gasps, opens his mouth, and B.J. can feel his ribs expand and stutter. He slips in his tongue and finds that deep in his mouth Hawkeye tastes like Chinese.

“What’s your usual order?” He murmurs before coming right back. “Pork Lo Mein?”

“What the fuck...” he starts to say but B.J. kisses him again and then he can only release hysterical little breathy laughs when they resurface for air.

“You need to wash your teeth, more,” shrugs B.J.

Hawkeye stares at him and his smile is soft and his eyes crinkle. B.J. works his dick with purpose until his mouth opens on an oh and that expression disappears.

“You have, uh,” he struggles to let out anyway. Clever moutherboat. “You have h-hidden depths. Hidden, dirty depths, B.J. Hunnicut- Fuck, that’s good. You’re g-good.”

B.J. crowds closer.

“Yeah?” he asks then cringes (oh, he sounds way too eager) but Hawkeye just nods, eyes closed, and kisses the side of his lips.

So he can smile freely, B.J. twists his wrist over the head of his dick and Hawkeye’s mouth opens again as he breathes warm and harsh against his cheek. His hand is wet with Hawkeye’s precum now on top of the lube but it’s not quite enough. He moves to lay better on top of Hawkeye, one of his legs between his knees, bringing his dick closer to his stomach and his come splattered there.

“Dirty depths!” Exclaims Hawkeye and B.J. parts his lips with his tongue to shut him up.

Before Hawkeye comes he shivers all over and he stops kissing back, distracted. His eyes flutter closed and he looks so, so. Vulnerable. B.J. thinks of looking away and he doesn't and then it's done and Hawkeye is breathing hard, blinking up at B.J. and smiling. He strokes one hand up and down B.J's bicep.

"Hey," says Hawkeye. "So you do exercise."

B.J. mimes a push-up.

“One,” he says and then collapses on top of Hawkeye who lets out a laugh with all of his air in it.

They settle one against the other. Hawkeye’s shoulder is on top of his, close to his chin, and B.J’s brain hums by itself. Should I kiss it? Would he like it? Is that too much? Was he for real when he asked me to the wedding?

Hawkeye moves to look at him and B.J. acts like his eyes were closed all along, blinking them up at the ceiling. On top of Hawkeye’s bed there’s a poster for Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O'Toole galloping towards the bed on a camel all blond and handsome. 

“So?” asks Hawkeye. 

“What?”

“First time not with the missus? How was it?” He’s trying for light and joking, but just sounds like he’s desperate to escape the conversation and go pee.

B.J. thinks about it.

“Different.” He stares at Hawkeye, holds his gaze steady. “I don’t know, I think maybe I need more data to come to a conclusion."

Hawkeye scratches at his nose, hiding a surprised smile.

"Oh, far be it from me to deny a handsome man a second orgasm," he laughs, but he doesn't really move. "Give me ten minutes.” A pause as he wiggles for a comfortable spot. “Hm, fifteen."

B.J. grins.

"Okay, achievable goals, then," he says. "Let's get to the bathroom, clean this up and work on from there."

They stay where they are.

"Any minute now," says B.J, moving somehow closer to Hawkeye so he can feel the way his cheeks stretch to make place for his smile against his neck.

“Yes, any minute,” murmurs Hawkeye and they really don’t go anywhere at all after that.

--

Charles wakes up at exactly seven AM, comfortably rested. He lays in bed for a moment and can hear nothing but a few pigeons cooing quietly. If he smiles, contented, there’s no one there to point it out. He arises only to choose the correct soundtrack for his morning routine, Chopin’s Mazurkas accompanying him as he makes his bed (maybe the less terrible thing of a service-less life is that his corners are always as tight as they should be, no lazy maids to overlook the basic details). He’s quick with his shower so he can take his time with his skincare routine (deep pore cleanser, alcohol-free toner, eye cream, SPF-infused moisturizer), then he dresses in his robe de chambre and his comfiest slippers and walks into his kitchen to find some, some shirtless blond staring into his cupboards.

"Ah, there you are, Sleeping Beauty-" starts to say the, ugh, the hunk but when he sees Charles he blinks. "Oh, hi. Good morning."

"Hm, good morning,” huffs Charles, presenting his hand, limp-wristed. "Charles Emerson Winchester the third."

"Wow," says the man, shaking it. "I think you stole all the letters missing from mine. B.J. Hunnicut. Nice to meet you."

B.J! What kind of parents… Charles stares at him.

“Are you, perhaps, Californian?” he asks.

“Uh, Bay Area-”

“No need for more, I know the rest,” Charles waves him away, standing tall and triumphant. “A wandering aspiring musician overtook by the gloomy, fish-smelling, rat-infested bric-à-brac, hm, charm of this place and its inhabitants.”

“Damn, got it in one,” deadpans B.J, his eyebrows high up his forehead.

“Maybe more its inhabitants than anything else,” muses Charles, taking a seat at the kitchen island. “I take it Pierce has once again infringed our cohabitation rules and refused to announce his intention of inviting a lover over. Either that or you’re a very polite squatter. I take my toast just off of burnt and my eggs scrambled low and slow, thank you.”

B.J. laughs, a single ha! that resonates through the apartment.

“You know, you’re really very funny, Chuckles,” he says leaning on the island with his arms crossed.

Charles Emer-”

“Morning, Chuck,” yawns Hawkeye, wandering into the kitchen. 

“Oh, why do I try?” sighs Charles, observing nose in the air as Hawkeye tentatively approaches this B.J. like some awkward bird, all leg. "You animals clearly could never understand the importance of naming conventions in polite society.”

Clearly not,” says B.J, but he’s too busy looking at Hawkeye, smiling shyly. “I don’t even have a name. It’s more of a suggestion.”

“Wonderful suggestion,” grins Hawkeye.

Charles spares a glance for B.J’s mouth. Not bad but he’s seen better. 

“You’ve already joked about your name,” he admonishes. “The lack of originality is disappointing, yes, but not surprising.”

“I was about to make eggs,” says B.J, ignoring him. He has a smile that makes Charles unfortunately have to revise his previous observation. “How do you like yours?”

“With a kiss,” says Hawkeye, then he huffs, looking embarrassed. “Over easy.”

“No, no,” says B.J. softly, grinning wider, coming closer to him and leaving his hand gently on Hawkeye’s elbow. “That sounds delicious, I just don’t know the recipe, will you help?”

Hawkeye laughs, enthralled, blushing , as he gets an arm around B.J. and kisses his cheek. Charles rolls his eyes but coffee comes around soon after and he decides to be magnanimous about B.J. and Hawkeye taking turns to flip eggs and bacon. Every time they do something utterly banal with their wrists (and aren’t they tired after all night?) they look to the other with raised eyebrows, all the while keeping up a stream of completely forgettable commentary.

Charles blames the dullness of the situation and the quiet way the bleached light of the morning comes through the window as the reason why he doesn’t notice B.J’s ring before. And when he does-

“You,” he says, his mug clicking hard against the counter. 

Hawkeye jumps at the sound and Hunnicut turns to look at him surprised. 

“Yes?” he prompts.

“Ever been…” Charles looks for the correct word. “Unfaithful?”

Hawkeye brings his eyes heavenward behind him.

“To whom?” B.J. asks, blasé.

“Whom! Who could you be unfaithful to?”

“Myself, for openers.” B.J. shows all his teeth in a plastic grin.

“No, no,” sighs Hawkeye. “You know what he means, to your wife.”

Charles nods, serious and superior.

“Have you ever strayed,” he says, hand elaborating in the air. “You know.”

B.J. looks at him, long and flat, then for a second at Hawkeye. 

“Never,” he says and Hawkeye looks straight back at him.

“Never been tempted?” stresses Charles.

“Tempted’s another subject,” he laughs.

Charles points at him.

“Ah-a,” he says. “You have been tempted.”

“Never,” grins B.J, and he’s forgotten all about Charles again, busy staring at Pierce’s little smile that’s growing with each word. “But it’s another subject.”

“You rat,” says Hawkeye, crinkly eyed, moving to kiss B.J. softly.

“Oh, alright,” huffs Charles but they don’t stop and he hurries to finish his coffee and leave the kitchen, not without piling bacon high on a plate. He may be a coward but he’s not stupid.

Hours later, B.J. long gone after a ridiculous scene at the door where they kept making each other laugh and making out against furniture, Pierce bursts into his room.

“Charles, you vindictive, old queen,” he starts.

“Old!” protests Charles. “Says the one that’s prematurely greying!”

 “A white hair for each time you’ve misbehaved,” singsongs Hawkeye.

“Ha! How juvenile! Stay away from my record player!”

Hawkeye waves him away. 

“Oh, relax, I just need something that won’t make me yawn in the middle of chewing you up.” 

Something positively Romantic and German fills the air.

“Are we feeling so tempestuous as to deserve this?” sighs Charles. “Please, do be quick, dear, I have a date with Margaret in an hour and still have to shine my shoes.”

“I’ll make you eat your shoes!” Exclaims Hawkeye. “Stop interfering in my sex life, it is not my fault that your country club fuckbuddies— you prude, that is exactly what they are!— won’t deign to come visit you here for whatever elitist excuse!”

“That was not interfering,” protests Charles.

“No, of course not,” grins maniacally Hawkeye. “Just some light interrogation, to go with the scrambled eggs!”

“Will you shut up,” says Charles, getting up to stop the symphonic poem before it gives him a headache. “You’re so dramatic. Can’t a, ah, roommate ask after the new amoureux of the buffoon he, unfortunately, has to share living spaces with? Hm?”

"It just doesn't seem your style, dear," grits Hawkeye. "It sounds rather selfless. And completely-"

"Unnecessary, yeah, yeah," Charles rolls his eyes.

"Lately I feel like the people around me can read my mind," says Hawkeye to no one. "But I'm not having as much sex as I believe that would bring me."

"Shall we remember the situation I found one Tuesday night as I innocently came home after McIntyre's engagement was made public?" Says Charles.

"Now that's playing dirty."

"You ruined my cologne!"

"Bah," says Hawkeye. "It made you smell like a cat on heat, that's the least of your problems. And anyways, Trapper and I are good!"

"Good!" Laughs Charles. "Permit me to reserve my judgement."

"I've been formally invited to the wedding," nods Hawkeye. "You would have liked it, it was very operatic. Trap was bleeding, I sobbed… Ah, anyways, I've invited B.J. to be my plus one. That's how I got him into bed."

Charles pauses. Hawkeye is this tall, slouchy creature fingering his records carefully. 

"Somehow, I think there's more to it than that. And I don't believe I will like it much when I inevitably I'm involved," he sighs.

Hawkeye's back like the hull of a boat tenses and cracks as if protesting the statement.

"But we shall see," says Charles. "Nothing left to do but wait and see."

"Oh, come on, Charles, old pal," Hawkeye cracks a smile. "There's also drinking."

And even Charles can't find fault with that.