Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of M*A*S*H, they belong to numerous other people and no matter how hard I wish I was one of them, I'm not... *sniffle*... No infringement of any kind was intended with this fic. I just wanted to play with them a while and then give them back.
Spoilers: "Period of Adjustment - This is a missing scene from the moment BJ breaks down to when they are next seen in the following scene... For those that haven't seen the episode, BJ has received a letter from his wife, Peg, and it deeply hurts him...
by Della Mills
Hawkeye grasped his friend as he openly wept without restraint; his own heart breaking at the sight. 'No', he silently admitted, 'you got me there, Beej, I don't have any idea at all how it feels.' He grasped BJ a little tighter as the shudders grew and then hugged him to him, silently wondering if the tears would ever stop. He could almost taste his friend's despair; bitter and angry and running rampant in the air about them both. He was also a little frightened that his inability to have any comforting words would drive his friend over the edge and get him to do something ultimately stupid.
Any other time and he wouldn't've worried. He'd seen BJ drink himself into a stupor before, but the problem that had driven him there in the first place had been manageable afterwards, but now, this letter that BJ had got from Peg; an innocent letter that had obviously been intended to make him smile for once in this hellhole; had actually created a void within his friend that had quickly filled with a bitter resentment.
Hawkeye knew that nothing in this world meant more to BJ than his family and especially a daughter that he'd had the briefest of glimpses of before coming here. This letter had taken what would have been his friend's first treasured moment and had twisted it painfully in his gut. The letter *had* been harmless but the place where they were and the time BJ had spent away from his daughter, Hawkeye knew, had left him bereft of a moment that was usually a crowning point in a father's life.
Hawkeye looked down at his friend, blinking past his unshed tears, and though he saw his chest rise and fall in a regular pattern, telling him that he'd fallen asleep, he could still see on his friend's face the pain he had experienced with his wife's letter and what his daughter had inadvertently done to her daddy.
How he wished he could do something. He sighed deeply and with regret. He wasn't about to wake BJ, so he eventually shuffled down and with his friend's head on his chest, he fell asleep; silently hoping that the cold light of day, along with one hell of a hangover, would bring his friend round.
Colonel Potter entered his office to find two sleeping friends lying by his door; his whiskey bottle hanging loosely from BJ's lax hand. He had no idea what had started the blond haired doctor and friend on the trail he'd taken this night, but he thought that it had to have been something bad. Never in all his lifetime would he have expected BJ to have hit Hawkeye. The two were inseparable and as close as any Brother relationship he had encountered before.
He knew that BJ loved him like a father, possibly as much as the father that he missed whilst over here, but he also knew that with something like this only Hawkeye would have done. He sighed and stepped over them both, gently prising the bottle from BJ's hand and moved towards his cabinet. He shook his head when he saw the broken glass in the window of it and sighed again. 'Hot-dang it, Radar,' he thought, 'I wish you were here.'
Potter turned to find Hawkeye blinking blearily at him and struggling to stand. "S'all right, son," he whispered back, "you can stay there."
"My bunk would be better," Hawkeye shrugged and then looked down at BJ.
"How is he?" Potter whispered.
Again Hawkeye shrugged, but softly replied, "I think the letter from Peg cut him deeper than any surgery he's performed over here."
"Is she leaving him, son?" Potter softly asked.
Hawkeye shook his head, "No," he whispered, "she wrote and told him of Radar's visit, how cute and friendly he was, but also how Erin called the little mite 'Daddy'."
Potter winced and looked down at the sleeping man. "That must have hurt... bad..."
"It did," Hawkeye softly agreed, "and it still does."
"Is there anything we can do?"
"I don't think so," Hawkeye muttered and then looked up at Potter, "unless you can fill out a hardship form for Beej here."
"More than anything, son, more than anything I wish I could."
Hawkeye smiled at that, "I know you do," he said, "I guess all that's left is to keep an eye on him a while and hope and pray that this war ends soon so he can get back to his family and stake the place that's rightfully his."
"You're a good friend, Hawkeye," Potter softly said and again glanced down at BJ.
"The best," BJ muttered though his eyes still remained closed.
"Hey," Hawkeye lightly protested, "you're supposed to be asleep Beej."
"Uh-huh," BJ softly agreed, but added, "but how can a man get any kind of sleep when he has his two best friends talking about him no more than a couple of feet away?" He opened his eyes at that point and though they glistened with unshed tears and his face held the telltale tracks of the ones that had escaped, he smiled gratefully at them both. He then shuffled backwards, pulled himself to his feet, with the aid of Potter's saddle, and wobbled precariously in front of his two friends.
Hawkeye was taking a hold of his arm as he whispered, "C'mon, Beej, let's get you to bed."
Despite his pain, BJ softly chuckled at that and admitted, "Been a long time since someone has said that to me, Hawk..."
Both Potter and Hawkeye guffawed, easing the depression a little.
BJ smiled at them both and then he spied the cabinet. "Sorry about... about that, Colonel," he muttered and pointed to the broken window.
Potter briefly glanced at the cabinet then with a shrug he said, "It can be mended." After a moment or two he added, "Can you be, son?"
BJ shrugged but softly admitted, "Might take a bit longer, but I guess I can be."
Potter nodded at that and whispered, "I think from what Hawkeye's told me, that your wife, Peg, was only trying to make you laugh, son."
BJ nodded at that and swallowed before he whispered, his voice quivering as he remembered the letter, "I know, Colonel, it's just that it didn't."
"I know, son," Potter just as softly whispered.
Hawkeye started to move BJ towards the door and with a tiny nod towards Potter they both left the older man standing in the middle of his office pondering the night's events.
Hawkeye and BJ entered the Swamp and cringed at the stench that assailed them.
BJ looked guiltily at the smashed 'Still' but before he could utter an apology, Hawkeye said,
"I'm sure gonna miss her, but," he added, "we'll get another one." He then spied a note on his bed and after he'd taken BJ to his own cot, he stooped down, picked it up and started to read it aloud.
Gentlemen, (though gentlemen does appear to be a compliment to the likes of you two)
I have made other sleeping arrangements for tonight; do try your best not to miss me. Whilst I dance with pleasure at the broken still, the stench it has left is unbearable. I can only hope that it will be fixed quicker than I can say "Oh no, you haven't built another one."
Oh and Pierce? Tell Hunnicutt that he has another letter. Please don't take this the wrong way, but try learning to duck this time.
Charles Emerson Winchester III
Hawkeye looked over at BJ and saw him reading the letter that Charles had mentioned. He braced himself for what might occur after, but then frowned with puzzlement when he saw his friend shaking his head and silently weeping again. "Beej?" he whispered.
"That stupid klutz," BJ whispered and shook his head some more.
"You wanna let me in on what's in that letter or should I leave now?"
BJ simply smiled and handed the letter over.
Hawkeye took it from him and started to read it...
Dear Dr Hunnicutt, BJ,
I met your wife; uh, she's asked me to call her Peg; so I met Peg and Erin at the airport as you had arranged. Gee, thanks for that. She's lovely, BJ, and so is your daughter. I gave them the presents that you asked me to give and Peg said she wished they were from you. I told her that they were and that I was the middle man. I pointed to my cheek where you'd, uh, you'd kissed me and she took your kiss from there. I did the same with Erin.
BJ? I, uh, the, uh, the reason I'm writing is cos Erin called me Daddy... I... I cringed cos I guess I knew that it should have been you she called Daddy. I know that Peg thought it was funny, but, but I didn't. I wished it was you standing there hearing her say that, you know?
I know that Peg is writing you to let you know that she thought it was funny, but I wanted you to know that I spent the rest of the visit telling Erin all about you and I got Peg to show her a photo of you and that the next time she called someone Daddy then it could only be to you. She promised me she would and she also wanted me to tell you that she loved you and wanted you to be home too.
I'm... I'm sorry, I'm sorry I took that moment from you BJ and I wish I could take it back for you, but... but I can't. I'm sorry, sir, I hope you can forgive me.
I also wanted to say that I... I miss you guys already, but that might change when I get to see Ma, but just in case, or even if not just in case, I've sent my address to you with this letter so that you can keep in touch with me. I know where you are, but you might not know where I am, other than home.
Take care of yourself, BJ, cos there's a loving family waiting here for you that miss you and love you...
Oh and can you say "Hi" to Hawkeye and the Colonel for me.
Yours affectionately and missing you guys
Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly.
Hawkeye glanced up at BJ and blinked the tears from his eyes. "You know, Beej," he whispered, "this is worse than him leaving his teddy for me."
BJ silently nodded, gently prised the letter from his friend's hand and read it again. Eventually he muttered, "Kinda makes me feel guilty about what I thought of him."
"It was understandable Beej. You got me sorta feeling the same about Trapper."
BJ shrugged at that. "I'm sorry, Hawk," he whispered with regret, "I got so caught up in my own little drama, that I didn't think what I said could-a hurt you too."
"C'mon, Beej," Hawkeye said, "if we apologised every time we thought we might have hurt each other those patients out there wouldn't get the best help that this damned war can offer."
BJ smiled, nodded and then stood. "I think what we need is a drink"
Hawkeye gaped at him and then gasped, "After the skin-full you just had?"
"Sure, why not. I wanna drink to Radar's health."
"Okay," Hawkeye relented, "but we have to go to the Officer's club. You went and broke our freebies."
"Yeah, about that..."
"Ah, sorry Beej, but you say another sorry and I'm disowning you for the remainder of this crazy war."
BJ laughed out loud, clapped his hand on his best friend's shoulder and said, "Let's go drink to a klutz and a good friend called Radar.
Hawkeye nodded and both men left the tent to get their honouree Grape Nehi's...