A/N: Okay, folks. I doubt this story will get much traffic, unless the M*A*S*H fandom is a whole lot more active than I think it is. Either way, M*A*S*H is one of my very favorite TV shows and, since I just finished watching all 11 seasons on Netflix, I of course couldn't resist writing some fanfiction. This is going to be a Hawkeye/B.J. story. (No Hawkeye/Trapper; they are only best friends here.) This is only the first chapter-Many more to come!
Summary: Though long gone, Trapper John is still present in the hearts and minds of the 4077th, especially of one Hawkeye Pierce. Tired of hearing about his predecessor, B.J. grows increasingly jealous every time Trapper's name is mentioned. While struggling to control these feelings, B.J. is forced to confront the possibility that there might be more at play than simple jealousy.
Hawkeye and B.J. shifted down the line as Igor slopped food onto their trays.
"And tonight," Hawkeye announced, "we'll be having cockroach puree, lint al dente, and mystery greens!"
"Actually, sir, that's the meat," said Igor, serving B.J.'s rations of the food in question.
Hawkeye's stare darkened. He shook his head, an unamused smile stretching his thin lips. "No no. Don't say that. It's an insult to all the animals of the world."
"Especially the human ones," B.J. chimed in.
Tray full, Hawkeye sighed and glanced around the mess tent until he spotted Radar and Klinger. He and B.J. made their way over to the table, where they slid onto the bench in one fluid motion, almost as one conjoined person. Hawkeye reached immediately for the salt, B.J. for the pepper. When they'd finished, they swapped shakers.
"I don't even remember what meat tastes like," said Hawkeye. "If I ever get back to the States, my taste buds will probably go into cardiac arrest the first time I eat real meat again."
"Try a diet of baby food for a while," said B.J. "Might help your taste buds ease through the transition."
"Oh, it's not so bad, sirs," said Radar, shoveling a bite into his mouth.
Hawkeye lifted his fork to his nose and sniffed, then took his first taste. Gagging, he pushed the tray across the table to the company clerk. "All yours, Radar," he said. "My condolences." Radar shrugged and pulled the tray closer, taking his next bite from it.
"I'm with you, sir," said Klinger, regarding his own tray with much the same look of disgust. He dropped his fork, throwing up his white, lace-gloved hands in surrender. "I may be crazy, but not crazy enough to eat that."
"It's revolting," complained Hawkeye.
"Enough to make you want to revolt," said B.J.
This offhand comment was met with a trio of nostalgic grins. B.J. paused, looking confusedly round at his friends.
"What?" he asked. "What'd I miss?"
"We tried that once, sir," Klinger confided.
Radar took up the gauntlet, continuing the story. "Cap'n Pierce got real tired of the food one day, see, and he—"
"Now wait, wait a minute," interrupted Hawkeye. He turned to B.J., eyes twinkling, hands gesturing. "What you have to understand is that for two weeks the kitchen had served only two things: liver and fish. It was inhuman! A lesser man would have broken down in tears."
"But not you," B.J. surmised.
"Not Captain Pierce indeed!" said Klinger, with a level of pride normally reserved only for Toledo.
"So what'd you do?"
"Well," said Hawkeye, smiling conspiratorially. "With a little help from my friends, I ordered in some real meat." He sighed, placing a hand to his heart. "Barbequed ribs from the finest barbeque joint in all the U-S-of-A. Adam's Ribs."
"Adam's Ribs? Where's that?"
"Chicago?" B.J. gave a bark of laughter. No matter how long he spent with Benjamin Franklin Pierce, the man always seemed to have another trick up his sleeve. B.J. had the feeling that when it came to Hawkeye, nothing was impossible. "How on earth did you manage to pull that off?"
But Hawkeye was lost in a dream of juicy ribs and barbeque sauce. He licked his lips as though he could taste them. Still half starry-eyed, he turned to B.J. again. "You wouldn't happen to know anyone in Chicago, would you?"
"Sure, all my dressmakers live there."
"Remind me why we keep you around?"
"For my sparkling wit and personality?"
"No, that's not it."
"My pretty face?"
"Aha! I knew there was something!"
Finished chewing a large mouthful, Radar stopped long enough to say, "Kinda makes ya wish Captain McIntyre were still here, don't it? I mean, I'm happy for him that he's home and all, I only mean for the ribs."
"You can say that again," Hawkeye agreed.
"Oh? What's McIntyre got to do with it?"
"That's how we got them the first time, sir," said Klinger. "He called up a dame in Chicago, old acquaintance—"
"Acquaintance," Hawkeye echoed with a smirk.
"—of his, had her deliver the ribs to the airport."
"That's one heck of a favor," said B.J..
"Ah, that's Trapper for you," said Hawkeye, grinning in memory.
Inexplicably, B.J. felt something clench inside his chest.
"A finer cad I never knew!" Hawkeye continued grandly. "With a tongue of silver and lips of gold, he could sweet talk a girl into anything. He could sweet talk a nun into giving up her habit, if you know what I mean."
"He sure was something special, sir," said a smiling Radar.
Klinger nodded solemnly. "Aye, that he was."
Hawkeye raised his coffee mug. "To Trapper John, Captain of the McIntyre and king of our hearts!"
"Hear hear!" said Klinger, raising his mug.
Radar followed suit, with a, "To Cap'n McIntyre."
B.J. didn't feel in much of a toasting mood, but he knew his failure to join would raise some question marks. With a forced smile, he raised his mug. "To Trapper," he said.
The four friends shared a round of clinking mugs. Hawkeye, Radar, and Klinger chugged the coffee down like it was booze. None of them noticed that B.J.'s mug got no further than closed lips.