They collapsed onto the bed, giggling and already drunk after just an hour in Tokyo. They’d wasted no time getting started on their R&R — they were drinking homemade swill before they even left the 4077. Here they were, hours later, stumbling into the hotel, up the stairs, into their room, and finding only one bed. It was the funniest thing they’d seen in months.
Hawkeye wiped tears from his eyes and tried to catch his breath.
“Beej —“ he wheezed. “You don’t mind, right? One real bed is still a hell of a lot better than having a cot all to yourself.”
“Hate sleeping alone anyway,” BJ said with a shrug, which set them off again.
They kept laughing as they cleaned up and headed out on the town. The Ginza was waiting, and they only had two nights. They had to make the most of it.
Somehow Hawkeye always struck out when BJ was around. He’d always thought a best friend was supposed to be the best wingman, but something about BJ and him together seemed to repel any interest. He’d noticed the same thing at the 4077 — he’d never heard so many nos, certainly not when Trapper had been his sidekick. Or maybe he’d been Trapper’s sidekick. He’d never been that clear on which it was. Point is, it didn’t work with BJ. Something threw him off his game, or maybe BJ’s handsome face coupled with the wedding ring sent people packing. Maybe it was some unspoken thing that flared up between the two of them.
Tonight Hawkeye couldn’t really bring himself to mind. He’d eaten enough sushi to open an aquarium, and the sake had been flowing all night, and BJ had thrown his arm over Hawkeye’s shoulders as they walked back to the hotel. Hawkeye felt like he was glowing, the relaxation pouring out of him, or maybe soaking in. After another drink in the room, they fell into bed haphazardly, asleep as soon as they laid down.
Hawkeye couldn’t be sure if he was awake or dreaming. It felt real, but then again he was floating – so warm and so comfortable, it couldn’t be Korea. He felt arms around him, felt the warm mass of a body behind him. He sank into it, still in that half-asleep place where anything could be real or anything could be a dream. He wasn’t ready to surface yet. He’d just have to wait and find out.
The arms around him shifted, drawing him closer, and Hawkeye felt the prickle of a mustache on the back of his neck. BJ. Real. Waking up.
Hawkeye started mourning the feeling before he’d even lost it.
BJ gradually stirred – slowly reacting to the body in front of him. Hawkeye let himself enjoy it. He’d earned that much, he thought. Earned at least one morning of – whatever this feeling was.
He could sense the moment BJ realized – he loosened and tensed up all at once, arms falling away, hips tilting back, searching for distance. Hawkeye had expected it – had known BJ didn’t want this, not really – but feeling him move away opened up an aching cavern in his chest.
Once BJ had shifted back enough, Hawkeye flopped down flat on his back and looked over at him, wondering what he’d see. BJ ran a hand over his face and sighed.
“Sorry,” he rumbled, voice still waking up.
Sorry? Hawkeye thought. I’ll never be able to wake up again without thinking of this moment and all he has to say is sorry? Instead of saying that out loud, he shrugged onto his side, facing BJ.
“I should be the one apologizing,” he said. “I’m a lot bonier than Peg.”
BJ looked over at him sharply. For a split second Hawkeye thought he was angry – then BJ laughed.
“You are, you know,” he said good-naturedly. “So keep your corners to yourself next time, okay?”
Hawkeye feigned outrage.
“Me? You think I wrapped myself up in your arms in the middle of the night? You think I did that?” he asked, prodding at BJ. Maybe he was doing it on purpose, or maybe not – Hawkeye felt like he couldn’t help it, somehow.
“Oh, that’s just like you, Hawk,” BJ said, wagging a finger at him. “Trying to make it all seem like my idea.”
“Beej, you fink, that’s what you do to me , not the other way around,” Hawkeye replied, a real edge creeping into his voice.
“That’s not really my style,” BJ said nonchalantly, but with a glint in his eye that Hawkeye took as a very personal challenge.
“Beej, do you always pick a fight first thing in the morning? Maybe in California you get sick of afterglow, but back in Maine we like to savor it a little bit,” Hawkeye said with a dismissive flick of his wrist, “So pardon me if I try to hold onto a little bit of comfort before I’m kicked out of bed.”
“Who’s kicking you out?” BJ asked, a little bit incredulous.
“You are!” Hawkeye said, climbing out of bed. “You push me away, and you make a joke about it. Maybe I should just find another place to sleep tonight.”
“Hawk,” BJ was still smiling, like he couldn’t believe Hawkeye was really falling apart in front of him over something so stupid. Hawkeye couldn’t believe it either. He didn’t know why he was doing it. “Hawk, get back here.” His voice was commanding, and Hawkeye felt a quiver in his stomach. But he didn’t get back in bed. He started pulling on his robe, turning his back to the bed. BJ grabbed him by an elbow, throwing Hawkeye off balance. He tumbled back flat onto the mattress, and BJ got a grip on his wrist. Hawkeye wriggled around trying to get free, but BJ leaned his weight on Hawkeye’s shoulder and held him still. They were locked in some kind of wrestling match straight out of Hawkeye’s nightmares. Or were they his fantasies? Right now, all he felt was dread.
“Look,” BJ started. “I don’t know what set you off today – I can’t really believe it’s the fact that we woke up like that. So maybe I’ll just have to keep you here until you tell me what’s really going on.”
Hawkeye panicked. He tried to buck BJ off, but BJ had a couple inches on him and a few pounds, too. After a minute of halfhearted struggling, Hawkeye went limp.
“There you go,” BJ said with a victorious smile. He shifted onto one elbow, still half-draped over Hawkeye. His grip on Hawkeye’s wrist loosened, and his hand slipped to rest on Hawkeye’s ribs, fingers spread wide. It felt alarmingly like an embrace.
“Beej, it was just a stupid crack about Peg, don’t go taking it seriously,” Hawkeye said, suddenly hoarse. He was painfully aware that he and BJ were pressed together from shoulder to shin, with the delicious weight of a real, solid man pressing down on him. Hawkeye felt overwhelmed -- it was too much, having BJ so close.
“Beej, Beej – stop! Get off!” BJ immediately retreated, realizing that Hawkeye meant it, whatever it was.
“Hey, you okay? I was just kidding around,” BJ said, his eyes earnest in a way that sliced into Hawkeye’s chest.
“Yeah, well, maybe I don’t think this is something to kid around about,” Hawkeye said, throwing his legs over the edge of the bed.
“Hawk, you think everything is a joke!” BJ said in a disbelieving tone of voice. “What’s got into you?”
“Let’s just go, okay? We’re wasting daylight,” Hawkeye said, gathering his clothes up from the floor and rushing to the bathroom.
BJ exhaled heavily and laid back on the bed.
Hawkeye tried to keep his jitters under control as they explored Tokyo. It got easier the more they drank. He knew how to do that -- drink, keep it hidden, stop it from seeping out of him. He didn’t want to force BJ to confront whatever was happening between them. He didn’t think BJ understood it, not really. Hawkeye knew how it went – the dopey, kind look that would be on BJ’s face as he said, ‘oh, gee, Hawkeye, I really don’t think about you that way, but let’s go on being friends and I’ll pretend like you haven’t just ruined the whole thing.’
Hawkeye knew how it went, and he didn’t want it to go that way. Not when he was absolutely certain he would lose his mind or step on a landmine or go up in flames without BJ. It was pure desperation – he had to survive this. He could recover from the survival later.
So he made himself smile at BJ all afternoon and stopped himself from jumping when BJ’s arm ended up around his shoulder.
Eventually they landed in a bar packed with GIs. Hawkeye ordered at the bar while BJ found a place to sit. One he had the drinks in hand, Hawkeye searched through the dim room, struggling to find BJ – he’d ended up all the way back in a dark corner. It was a table for two, with no way to get a third chair into the little alcove. Cozy. Almost romantic, Hawkeye thought as he sat down with the drinks. He shook it off and downed his glass in two gulps, immediately standing up and heading back to the bar. He came back with a bottle.
BJ watched his progress across the room, how his hips swayed as he dodged the other drinkers. Hawkeye looked right at him and smiled from a distance, and BJ felt it trip something inside him. Back at the table, Hawkeye poured himself a second drink, while BJ finished off his first. He scooted closer, until their knees bumped under the table and their elbows interfered with each other’s drinking. Hawkeye gave him a wary look.
“Beej –” he started, then seemed to think better of it, opting for another drink instead. BJ watched him. There was always tension running through Hawkeye, but he imagined he could see the current of it right now, crackling underneath his skin, barely concealed. Like it would shock him if he reached out. BJ brushed his forearm against Hawkeye’s experimentally, somehow surprised when their skin didn’t spark. Hawkeye looked at him like he was crazy.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, voice warbling more than usual. BJ wondered if he’d been paying any attention to Hawkeye at all, before today. It all felt new somehow.
BJ shrugged in response, delaying as he tried to put it into words.
“I think – I think I just like being close to you. Whatever that means,” he said. Hawkeye stared at him, one eyebrow climbing toward the ceiling.
“Beej, you’re gonna kill me,” he said, shaking his head. BJ decided to let it go. He moved his arm away, but kept his knee close enough that they bumped into each other all night.
Stumbling back to the hotel, Hawkeye leaned his temple on BJ’s shoulder and whined about his head and his feet hurting.
“That’s what happens when you traipse all over Tokyo with a flask of bourbon,” BJ said cheerfully, which earned an even bigger groan from Hawkeye.
“What was I supposed to do, be sober? Inside my own head? I don’t think so,” Hawkeye said with a pout.
“You grouch!” BJ chided him. “What’s wrong with being in your own head, anyway?” Hawkeye stared at the pavement pointedly and promptly tripped over his own feet. BJ grabbed him around the waist, catching him just before he would have hit the ground. He hoisted Hawkeye back up, hauling him along with one arm still wrapped around his middle. Hawkeye only protested a little bit before giving in and letting himself be led.
Back in the hotel room, Hawkeye crawled into bed while BJ, only slightly more in control of himself, brushed his teeth. When he was done he nudged Hawkeye, who was barely holding on to consciousness.
“C’mon, Hawk. You’ll feel worse if you don’t,” he said, sloppily prodding him. Hawkeye groaned and cracked his eyes open, mad at the interruption but knowing BJ was right. He got up stiffly and made his way to the bathroom. BJ heard the shower start and laid back, hands behind his head. He thought about what he’d felt in the bar, that need to be closer. It didn’t make any sense – but then again he was always reaching out to Hawkeye. Of course he was. Did it mean something different now? He’d been lost in thought for minutes when Hawkeye stumbled back to bed, landing in a damp heap next to him. BJ tensed up, only relaxing when it seemed like Hawkeye had fallen asleep.
“Don’t worry about it,” Hawkeye said into his pillow, startling BJ.
“About what?” BJ asked. Hawkeye tried to shrug, but it was barely a twitch of his shoulders, flat on the bed.
“Any of it. Us. Me! Especially not me.” Hawkeye’s words were getting clearer, not quite as slurred; maybe the shower had sobered him up. BJ thought for a moment, trying to decide whether he should let it go for the night.
“I’m not worried about you,” BJ said. It wasn’t true. He worried about Hawkeye all the time. He was unraveling, BJ could see it. He would give anything to stitch him up in all the ragged places.
Hawkeye let out a sigh and rolled over onto his back, staring at the ceiling. BJ clicked off the bedside lamp and turned towards Hawkeye. He could just see his profile through the dark.
“What do you want from me?” Hawkeye asked in a soft voice. Not accusatory. Not angry. Maybe a little bit sad. BJ exhaled slowly.
“I don’t know,” he said, giving honesty a shot. Hawkeye turned away from him.
BJ let it lie. He turned too, so that they lay back to back on the double bed. He’d been so stupid, BJ thought. Stupid to reach out in his sleep like that, and stupid to think that Hawkeye would let him have – something. Anything. He still didn’t know what. Stupid to not have realized earlier that he wanted something in the first place. He was still cursing himself when he fell asleep.
The room was shaded with the quiet, pale blue of pre-dawn when he woke up. BJ had never been a restless sleeper, usually waking up more or less where he nodded off. But tonight he’d gotten all twisted around, and he had an armful of Hawkeye again. He couldn’t make sense of how he’d gotten here. Hawkeye was half on top of him, face tucked into BJ’s neck. His hair was still damp against BJ’s jaw. BJ had one arm on Hawkeye’s back, keeping him there, and Hawkeye was clutching at BJ’s shirt, hand tensed even in his sleep. Like he didn’t want to let go.
BJ let out a slow breath, already bracing for Hawkeye’s anger, or whatever it had been that came between them earlier. Something deep, something complicated. Something BJ couldn’t quite name.
He felt Hawkeye stirring and prepared for the worst, for him to push away or kick BJ out or any number of disastrous possibilities. Instead, Hawkeye burrowed closer. BJ couldn’t help it – he pulled Hawkeye in and pressed a kiss onto his forehead.
“Beej,” Hawkeye breathed out, and BJ froze. “Beej, I –“
In that moment, BJ understood it. What he’d been trying to wrap his head around. What hung so heavily between them.
“Me too,” he said. “Me too, Hawk.”
“What about Peg?” Hawkeye asked in a dull, resigned voice. BJ shook his head once.
“It’s not the same,” BJ tried to explain. “It’s – it’s different. It’s not the same thing at all.And maybe I’m crazy, but part of me thinks - she might understand.”
“Does that mean you won’t hate yourself tomorrow?” Hawkeye asked. BJ nodded.
“I won’t. I know it,” he promised. Then Hawkeye’s hand twisted where it was still clutched in BJ’s shirt, hauling himself up to be level with BJ. He leaned over him. BJ kept his grip on Hawkeye’s back and brought his other hand to cradle his head. He looked up at Hawkeye, suddenly desperate to warn him off. To give him a way out.
“Hawk, I can’t give you everything –” Hawkeye cut BJ off.
“I know. It’s okay, Beej, I know.” Hawkeye paused. “But maybe I could have – just this?”
BJ felt the tension in Hawkeye boiling over, and knew he could do something about it. So he did. He squeezed him even tighter, he held him even closer – he brought his face up to Hawkeye’s and kissed him softly on one cheek, then the other, the tip of his nose, his cheekbones – his mouth. Hawkeye groaned, and BJ felt it reverberating through his whole body. He focused solely on Hawkeye, telling him all the things he wanted to say to him, showing him all the things he wished he could give him. Hawkeye seemed like he was lost in a dream, barely holding on to reality but still clinging to BJ. When he paused to check in, Hawkeye practically panted.
“Don’t you dare stop,” he warned, so BJ kept going. Devouring him bit by bit, covering his skin with something that felt an awful lot like love.
The full weight of Hawkeye over him was making BJ dizzy somehow. They lay there, lazily exploring each other, until a bird started chirping nearby. It made Hawkeye giggle, which set BJ off too. Soon enough they couldn’t stop, locked in a giddy feedback loop of happiness and nerves.
They laughed all the way back to the swamp. It was the most relaxed Hawkeye had felt since – well, since he got to Korea, probably. BJ seemed more at ease, too. Hawkeye wondered if that was just wishful thinking, but he didn’t have too much time to ponder it. There were wounded to treat.
Between the patients and Charles, they couldn’t catch a moment alone over the next few days. Hawkeye wasn’t sure what was allowed, or what was wanted. So maybe he’d been keeping his distance a little bit.
It was movie night, some Ida Lupino crime flick. Hawkeye wasn’t really interested, but he liked the idea of sitting in the dark next to BJ for a couple hours, even surrounded by a crowd.
It only took 20 minutes for everyone to get bored and a little rowdy. The perfect cover, Hawkeye thought. He turned to BJ.
“So, Beej,” he started, almost immediately losing his nerve. “Uh – what happens next?” he finished clumsily. It took BJ a split second to grasp his meaning, then that warm, sincere smile broke out.
“Hawk, I have absolutely no idea,” he said, somehow seeming thrilled about that. On the bench between them, Hawkeye felt BJ reaching out to him, weaving their fingers together. Hawkeye looked down at their hands in disbelief, then around them. Back to BJ, who kept on smiling at him.
“Okay,” Hawkeye said, finally smiling back. “Okay.”