Title: And if that diamond ring turns brass
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Don't own them; just borrowing.
Summary: He left all his fighting in a town called Uijeongbu, where boys died hot under his hands and she was a little further away with each one he didn't save. BJ/Peg, BJ/Hawkeye. Post-war.
Notes: Once upon a time, I wrote stuff for M*A*S*H. I'm attempting it again.

She knows.

It's nothing that he does, nothing he says. He's too careful for that, too desperate to cling to this narrow peace, this life that used to be his. And Peg's too different for that; she's soft and pliant and light where now, he's too used to hard and sharp and dark. The most he allows himself is a stuttered breath against her neck as he comes ("H...H..."), and he doesn't even know he's allowing it, half of the time.

But she knows – as much as she can. He's not hers anymore, and that is enough to know.

Things keep falling. He's a little less desperate and his clinging grip loosens. He dreams the taupes and olives and blood-reds of Korea, the taste of gin and of someone else's stubble and tongue.

She wants to go down fighting, to try, and he's too tired to fight anymore. (He left all his fighting in a town called Uijeongbu, where boys died hot under his hands and she was a little further away with each one he didn't save.) "How do we do this?" she asks, and "What do we do to get us back?" and then somewhere along the way she stops speaking in the plural. "What am I supposed to do, lock you up and make you love me again?"

He flinches hard because he has always wanted to love her (always, always, forever), and she has the grace to cry though he's forgotten how. He kisses Erin as she sleeps and he leaves into the dark, and Peg hands him his duffel, olive drab, instead of asking him to stay.

He sends Erin a letter a day, sometimes two, from bus stations on his way east. His hand cramps not from the length of the pages, but from how tightly he grips the pen, and he wonders why he couldn't hold on this tightly when he still had her (them), mere days before. He's too tired to fight anymore, he reminds himself, and it's still true. He sleeps on the bus and dreams the taste of Korea, blood tinny in his mouth. He prays he doesn't wake up screaming.

From Indianapolis, he sends a telegram, and it goes ahead of him, always east. "I left her." (Stop.) He follows it, and maybe this is his new way of fighting. Maybe.

Then it's Kimpo all over again, jarringly harsh against the strange calm of Maine, except he barely remembers the boy he'd been then. The voice he hears is the same, though, if older and rougher. The boys died hot under these hands, too, these hands that grasp his, that move to his shoulders, his neck, brush into his hair.


He breathes.

Hawkeye tastes like gin and dust and a town called Uijeongbu, like sweat and ether and the blood of his dreams. It's not right – it's never been right – but against a rough, familiar mouth, he feels something settle.