Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to 20th Century Fox, not to me.
Sequel to A Rainy Night in Korea.
Some things can only be clearly seen in the darkness.
In the dimness of the supply room, kissing B.J. Hunnicutt made perfect sense. In the deep blackness of a Korean night, with the pounding rain a gray curtain hiding them from the world, going a little further made equally perfect sense.
But now, in the artificial bright light of Post-Op, Hawkeye wonders what the hell he was thinking.
He knew better. He knew that B.J. was too good, too decent, to be able to cope with anything happening between them. Sure, they'd been exchanging kisses for a week, but he'd guessed that was as far as B.J. could bring himself to go without major guilt.
And he'd been right.
Two nights ago, in a sudden downpour of rain and lust, they'd gone further. And since that night. B.J. has hardly spoken to him.
Hawkeye sighs as he goes through his rounds.
In the bright light, he can see very clearly that he's a fool.
The Swamp is dark, filled with shadowy black shapes. One of those shapes is B.J., curled up in a defensive ball on his cot. On his own cot, Hawkeye is sprawled out with his arm over his eyes, just so he won't be tempted to strain his eyes through the darkness and watch B.J. sleep.
Not that B.J.'s really sleeping. Hawkeye can tell. Neither of them is sleeping. They're both painfully, unnaturally still, but they're both wide awake.
It's late, close to midnight, but memories assail Hawk, forcing him to wakefulness. He remembers the feel of B.J.'s body beneath his, straining wildly, the feel of B.J.'s hands on his skin, the long, low noise of ecstasy that rose from the younger man's throat as he...
Hawk's body stiffens, and he wants to shift on his cot, but he doesn't. He lies there unmoving, afraid that if he moves, he might try to touch B.J. again. And he doesn't dare do that.
B.J. is only four feet away.
But the distance between them might as well be four thousand miles.
"Everyone's worried about you, Hawk," Corporal Radar O'Reilly tells him the next morning at breakfast.
"Worried?" Hawkeye sniffs dubiously at his powdered eggs and tries for humor. "There's no need for worry, Radar. I've eaten worse." Another sniff. "Not much worse, admittedly..."
"Not the eggs." Humor tends to go over Radar's head, but he can be very persistent when worried about his friends. "Everyone can see you and Cap'n Hunnicutt are mad at each other."
"We're not mad."
"But the two of you aren't talking." Radar gazes at him, his eyes wide behind his round glasses. "It's like... I dunno, it's like the whole world is all wrong. I mean, if you and Cap'n Hunnicutt aren't friends any more..."
"We're friends," Hawkeye says automatically, although he isn't at all sure it's true. "We just had a little... misunderstanding. That's all."
"Well, the two of you oughta talk," Radar says earnestly. "You really should."
Hawkeye nods, and pushes his eggs aside, uneaten.
"You're right," he answers. "We should."
B.J. turns around. He looks pure and clean and wholesome in his white coat, and Hawkeye is assailed by a fresh wave of guilt, the bitter awareness that he's sullied something that he should never have touched. B.J. is young and decent, almost painfully innocent, and shouldn't ever have been touched by someone like Hawkeye, let alone...
"What's up, Hawk?" A standard reply, but the customary warmth in his eyes is missing. There's a sort of cool indifference in them that makes Hawkeye want to weep. Because B.J. is first and foremost his friend, and he wants his friend back.
"I think we need to talk," Hawkeye says.
B.J. waves a hand, encompassing the long room full of wounded soldiers. "I'm kind of busy right now."
Hawkeye fixes him with a pleading look, or as close to pleading as he can come. "It'll only take a minute."
B.J. hesitates, and Hawkeye knows he's thinking of refusing. But Nurse Baker is watching them both, and B.J.'s smart enough to realize if the two of them aren't talking, people are going to notice, and wonder why. Sure enough, B.J. finally shrugs.
"Fine," he says, and motions to the door. "Step into my office."
The two of them step outside, into the bright morning sunshine, and walk around the corner of the building so they can talk in relative privacy. B.J. turns, the white coat swirling around him, and looks at Hawkeye. That's all. No words, just a steady, cool stare.
Hawkeye looks back at B.J. thinking how strange it is to be looking up at another man. He himself is tall, two inches over six feet, and he hasn't met too many guys he has to look up at. But B.J. has a couple of inches on him.
And it's not just B.J.'s height. He looks up to B.J., too. B.J. is a really good guy, much better than he himself is. Maybe B.J. is what he always wished he could be, but never was. Hawk has an acidic core of cynicism, a sardonic, belligerent, sharp-edged streak that B.J. doesn't possess. B.J. cares just as much about life as he himself does, but he isn't quite as angry about it.
Hawk realizes he admires the hell out of the younger man.
He pauses, gathering his thoughts, and then the words come out in a rush.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I shouldn't have-- I knew you didn't want to-- I pushed you too hard, and I know you're married and that you love Peggy and that what we did-- well, I'm sorry, Beej."
B.J. studies him for a long moment. At last he says, "It's not your fault, Hawk. It's mine."
Hawkeye blinks at him. It never occurred to him that B.J. might be mad, not with Hawkeye, but with himself.
"I think I had quite a lot to do with it," he says dryly.
"No. I..." B.J. sighs. "I led you on, Hawk. I let you think I was interested, and that was wrong. And then, when I let you... well, the sad truth is it makes me no better than Burns. Maybe worse."
It sounds like B.J. is taking all the blame onto himself. Hawk badly wants to reassure him, to point out that mistakes happen, that B.J. really loves Peg, that he's not just staying married to her because of her stocks and bonds. As far as he's concerned, that makes B.J. very different from Frank. But he's not quite sure how to put that into words, so he takes refuge in humor.
"Except your taste in lovers is better," he says lightly.
B.J. winces slightly at the word lovers, and Hawkeye instantly regrets it. B.J.'s words come back to him: I let you think I was interested, and that was wrong.
The idea that B.J. was never really interested, that B.J. didn't really want to do what they did together, slashes into him like a whip, cutting deeply.
"I'm sorry," he says again. "For my part in what happened-- I'm truly sorry, Beej. And I'd like it... I'd like it if we could still be friends."
B.J. looks at him, and some of the coolness leaves his eyes. "I'd like that too," he says.
Hawkeye tries for a grin. He has a feeling it looks more like a grimace. "Okay," he says, sticking his hand out. "Let's just forget anything happened, all right?"
B.J. nods, and takes his hand. Electricity tingles up Hawkeye's arm, but he struggles to ignore it.
"Okay," B.J. says. "Friends?"
"Friends," Hawk says, and squeezes B.J.'s hand.
In the bright daylight, this all makes perfect sense. Hawkeye is willing to give up his attraction to B.J. for the sake of their friendship, because that's what B.J. wants. It's very logical. Very sensible. It's the right thing to do.
But in the darkness, things look very different. He lies in his cot that night, flashes of memory bursting in his brain like fireworks, golden skin and the ripple of flexing muscles and the fierce arch of a body caught in the rapture of orgasm. A broad white smile and the caress of fingers on Hawk's skin and Pacific-blue eyes filled with sorrowful aloneness. The sound of a man crying out in pleasure, and the sound of the same man crying himself to sleep.
In the darkness, he knows that he and B.J. aren't just friends, that no matter how hard he tries, he will never be able to put his attraction to B.J. entirely behind him. He's only known B.J. a month, and yet somehow the younger man has worked his way into Hawk's heart, woven himself into the texture of his life, and Hawkeye can't pull away without ripping himself into shreds in the process.
Even if B.J. never touches him again, he thinks he'll never be able to let go of these feelings. He's lost, utterly lost, and he can't find his way back to how things were before B.J. entered his life. He isn't sure he really wants to, no matter what he told B.J. this afternoon.
In the daylight, he can claim that he and B.J. are only friends.
But in the darkness, he knows that the two of them are far more.