Explaining: the commentary track

I’ll start at the beginning. That’s the least I can do for you.

I may not be clever the way you have to be to be a doctor, the way BJ is; I may not even be as clever as I think I am, but I’m not stupid. Back when we were just friends, we’d stroll around town, part of the crowd, and see who caught our eyes; it was always easy to pick out what turned which heads (especially if the head turning for someone else was the one you happened to be in love with). BJ was as likely to be looking at a handsome man as a pretty girl, and I knew that. He’d never have admitted it, of course, and I wouldn’t have dared to ask.

Originally, this paragraph was the first. I wanted to write Peggy accepting BJ and Hawkeye (the threesome thing came later) so I did a sort of character sketch from her point of view. The first line-- which sets it up as "told to someone" was an even later development, when the 'Erin's book' framing device evolved. (The original version can be found here, incidentally, along with what people said about it. I tried not to turn it into an epic. I really did.

In those days, nobody asked. It wasn’t that things didn’t happen—people fell in love just the way they do now, the way they always have done. It was just that we were better at ignoring things society said shouldn’t be there, and nobody asked unless they had a very good reason.

Anyway, when he came back from the war and started talking about Hawkeye Pierce, it didn’t take a genius to see that he’d fallen in love. I’d guessed as much from his letters; and when I thought about the conditions out there, I found I couldn’t blame him for needing to take comfort. I wasn’t angry, and I surprised myself a bit when I found I wasn’t jealous. When things are tough you need a way out, something to obsess you so that you can stop thinking for a while. Heaven knows I’ve taken the odd bit of solace when it came my way—if an old friend was in town for a week, or with a man I happened to meet.  

There's some suggestion that this might have been Leo, BJ's practical-joking friend who appeared in one M*A*S*H ep.

BJ talked about Hawkeye almost all the time. He didn’t mention being shot at, even though he dreamed about it and woke up weeping; he didn’t talk about the operations he’d done out there, though he was clearly affected by them; instead, he told me—and you, though I doubt you remember—about Hawkeye until I felt I knew the man personally. I’d been starting to feel that way from his letters, but in a letter it’s somehow easier to look back and make sure that what you’re saying is balanced.

At home, though, all we heard about the war focused on Hawkeye, as if he was the lens through which all BJ’s experiences out there had been filtered. We heard about Hawkeye’s wit, as dry as the Martinis he drank; we heard about his still, in which the alcohol was lucky if it stayed around for half an hour; and I can repeat some of the stories about Hawkeye’s battles with Frank or Charles in my sleep.

It fell into a pattern. BJ came home every evening, we ate supper in silence broken only by your excited chatter about what you’d done at school or how Waggle had been funny today; and then when you were in bed he’d start talking. We stood in the kitchen, washing up together like we always had—my hands in the soapy water, him drying the dishes—but now there was another presence. Hawkeye Pierce. How he dumped a load of garbage over a colonel. How Frank tried to have him hanged for mutiny.

This paragraph should be where the reader starts to twig who "you" is. At the top, it could simply be the reader; here, it's clearly Erin. Only, maybe not so clearly the first time you read it. :)

For a long while, I bore it quietly, hoping that it would fade into the background as BJ got back into the rhythm of living life at home. No joy.

The final straw was the night BJ rolled over, put an arm around me, and muttered sleepily, “Love you, Hawkeye.” When we were alone the next evening, I asked why you and I didn’t get to meet the guy who obviously meant so much to him.

“You go on and on about him, BJ. Why don’t you invite him over for a few days—the guest room’s empty. You can tell each other stories about Frank Burns for a change.”

“Um… look, Peggy, it’s not that simple.”

The washing up was finished, and we were sitting on the veranda, supposedly simply enjoying each other’s company. BJ was starting to sound a little worked up, but I kept my voice low and calm. After all, I could guess what was really going on here. “What’s not simple, BJ? He’s your friend. You’d like to see him again, and I’d like to meet him.”

I still wonder if this is actually a reasonable reaction for her to have. I mean, it's possible, but not the most likely.

BJ took a deep breath. “Aren’t you jealous?” I wonder why he jumped to that idea so quickly? It suggested I was on the right lines.

“Should I be?” I kept it light, teasing, because I’d already guessed the answer. I should be, but I’m not, and that gives me control.

BJ looked at me in the twilight and frowned, but then quickly nodded as if he was afraid he’d lose the courage he had summoned if he didn’t act soon. I was right. I internalised the grin of triumph that threatened at this, rejoicing in the power that was in my hands. “I’m not jealous yet. Going to tell me anything more about why I should be?”

And once again I was slightly surprised to realise that I really wasn’t jealous. I loved BJ enough that I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me.

There's some weird mixed-tense stuff going on her. I should probably fix that at some point. Also, I should remark on my use of British spellings; I went with that, even later on in the diary sections where it's out of character, simply because US spellings would have niggled every time I re-read.

“Out in Korea, Peg. Things are different out there.”

“Oh? How so?”

“People… do things they might regret later.”

“They might, oh, fall in love with someone they shouldn’t, perhaps.” We were on the same track here, I sensed it, and we were reaching a conclusion. It was almost inevitable, however wooden and stilted the third person discussion might feel.

“Yes. They might fall for someone inappropriate.”

“And after the war, those feelings might remain. They might be glad to know that their wife understands, and that if they need to see… old friends… that would be possible.”

BJ nodded again, a rare smile creeping onto his face and up into that terrible moustache. “I’ll see if I can phone him, then,” he said, getting up. He must have been waiting for a chance for ages.

“You do that. I need to tidy the living room.”


That phone call must have been the most sweetest one I ever made—just to hear Hawkeye’s voice again was wonderful.

For me, it's that detail that makes the story. Drawing the reader into Peggy's world was important, but the ability to change POVs and share BJ's joy as well as very important.


A few days later, you ran in from where you’d been playing in the garden. “Mommy, someone’s here!”

“Who is it, darling? Do you know them?”

You thought for a minute, and then said with a smile, “I reckon it must be Hawkeye.”  

Writing Erin was fun. She has a little of Peggy's wiliness, and BJ's sense of humour.

I peered out the kitchen door, and saw him. I’d never seen a photograph, but from what BJ had said, I knew you must be right: a tall man, with dark hair and sparkling blue eyes. There was (and is) something about him—in his smile, perhaps—that shows his sense of humour, too.

If the summary didn't already give this away, the use of past and present tense here should tell the reader more about the set-up.

He walked along the back of the house with long, easy strides until he was standing in front of me. I straightened up and put on my best ‘visitor greeting’ smile as he dropped his suitcase onto the dirt and asked, “Mrs Hunnicutt?”

He recognised her, of course, from the photos BJ had shown him over the years.

“That’s me,” I said, and we shook hands. I could see even then why BJ was attracted to him, when I looked into the handsome face and shook his hands with their clever surgeon’s fingers. There was an air of danger to him, too, as if some grenade left over at the end of war was still inside him, waiting to burst out, that made me wonder if I was doing the right thing in welcoming him to my home.


“Hawkeye Pierce—and this must be Erin,” he said, looking down to where you were, but you had been overcome by shyness suddenly and run off, probably to watch from the next room. “BJ didn’t tell me she was invisible.”

“She’s just a little shy. Come on in. I’m afraid BJ isn’t here at the moment—something must have kept him late at the hospital.”

“I know how that happens. Where’s he working now?”

“Lady Alice Hospital—down south of here.” I waved him through to the sitting room, and offered something to drink.

More set-up for that later sections; Lady Alice is where they both go to work (no, it doesn't and never had existed, to my knowledge; I did research Mill Valley, but I didn't find anything that suited, so I invented.) The drinking is slightly foreshadowing, too. 

He accepted, and we sat in awkward silence for some minutes. Apparently the silver-tongued Hawkeye that BJ knows so well is reduced to the same dumbness everyone else suffers in the face of meeting his or her lover’s wife. I found it kind of comforting to see how human he really is, because when BJ talks about him he starts to sound like a god.

It must be admitted that sometimes these days I start to sound like that, too.

*grin* This is where the 'future'-- which is actually the present-- is made really obvious.

You crept in to look at the stranger, and Hawkeye smiled at you—do you not remember? Well, I suppose you were too young. It was warm and genuine, so you smiled back.

“Hi,” he said, nodding at you just the way he would nod to an old friend. There was a familiarity there at once.

Erin's acceptance is nearly as key to the plot as Peggy's, of course; if either of them had disliked Hawkeye, BJ wouldn't have been able to let him stay.

“Hello,” you replied, and—getting bolder—you went over to stand in front of him. “You’re Daddy’s friend, aren’t you? The one who was always being funny and fighting with Major Burns?”

This summing up of his character seems to have hit close to the facts, because his friendly smile broadened into a wide grin. “So BJ’s been talking about me, has he? Yeah, that’s me. Did he tell you about the time Charles nearly…”

The utter lack of curiosity I felt in the advent of *another* story about Korea, even told from a different point of view, was lost when a key turned in the front door.

I just hope that 'lack of curiosity' is enough to stop her being perfect.

“Peg! I’m home!” BJ called. Hawkeye and I followed you into the hallway, him carefully moving behind me. “Hi, Erin, honey. Have a good day at school?”

“Yeah. Hawkeye’s here,” you told him, your childish bluntness getting over any difficult moment there could have been. He hugged me quickly, not really looking at me, and then moved on to the man next to me.

“Hawkeye? Is it really you?”

“The one and only.” They started to shake hands, but then one of them decided that formality could go to hell and used the contact to pull his—friend? lover?—into a firm hug. The contact was perhaps too long, involved a little too much hip as well as shoulder, but it broke before I could really react to it.

That lengthening hug is one of the 'subtext pointers' I pick up on in the series. Peggy's a slasher at heart, you know.

“Good to see you again. What are you doing these days?”

“Nothing special—living in Maine, working in a hospital with actual wards, hiding the still under the sink. You?”

“Much the same. Barring being in Maine.” They shared a grin, and then BJ caught my eye. “And no still. Really, Peggy.”

I sighed heavily and pointedly, letting a little answering grin show through. BJ hadn’t joked like he used to for ages, so it was good to see it again even if it took a stranger to bring it out. “Are you just going to just stand there, or do you want dinner?”


I said “yes”, of course.

But do go on.


When I put my sewing away and headed up for bed that night, I realised I didn’t know where BJ and Hawkeye were, though it seemed logical to assume they were together. I checked on you—fast asleep, thumb in your mouth—and then opened the door of the guest room. Sure, I should have knocked, but sometimes you take a risk to know the truth.

The two of them were sitting on the bed, BJ near the pillow with Hawkeye leaning back into his arms, and they were kissing. It seemed I’d opened the door real quietly, because they both had their eyes closed as they explored each other’s mouths. Something about the scene—the looks of contentment on their faces, the slight curve of BJ’s lips into a smile as he kissed Hawkeye, or the simple fact that these were two men, kissing—touched me. I’d say ‘deep inside’, but it was a little less emotional than that; I was glad to see BJ happy, but the main thing I was aware of was being aroused by the sight. And not to anger, either: sexually aroused.

See? Slasher!

I stood and watched until one of them broke the kiss (I couldn’t tell who), and then I knocked on the door. Two pairs of blue eyes opened rapidly. They moved apart with lightening speed, BJ looking decidedly sheepish. “Peggy- love- I’m…”

I smiled at him, reassuringly. “It’s okay, BJ. Sleep well, both of you. I’m going to leave the radio on overnight.”

I did check that the radio is plausible, by the way. You've no idea how hard that was with only Google and a vague idea, either.

He swallowed heavily, unsure of what to say until his—‘partner in crime’ seems appropriate, but ‘lover’ is perhaps kinder—until Hawkeye rescued him. “Goodnight, Peggy. And thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Hawkeye. Goodnight, BJ.”

“Goodnight, Peg,” BJ finally managed to get out.

I slipped out of the room and went to the bedroom I’d become so used to sleeping alone in over the past few years. What did one more night of unfaithfulness matter, if it made BJ happy? I could live with that.


There are a lot of things that I might have expected to happen at that point. Top on that list would probably have been “she tries to kill me.” The fact that Peggy was—what was she? Accepting? Permitting? Not actively trying to end things? I didn’t know she was aroused by my humble self.

'humble' is really not the word, Hawk.

Don’t look at me like that, Peg, you’ve just admitted that you were.

Anyway, she’d left BJ alone with me again, and I intended to take full advantage of the situation. Never let it be said that Hawkeye Pierce didn’t take the opportunities life gave him.

Again, it was fun to be able to switch between the three voices here. I did make a rule that it had to be clear who was speaking in the first three paragraphs if not less, though.

I leant into him again, and ran my hand around the back of his neck, trying to bring his mouth down to meet mine. He resisted, frowning at the door his wife had just closed. “What’s the matter, BJ?” I asked. Perhaps it wasn’t my best line ever, but I was getting impatient.

“What’s the matter?” he repeated, bitterly. “The matter? My wife walked in and found me kissing a man.”

Angst! Luckily, BJ gets over it nice and quickly.

“And she seemed okay with that,” I pointed out. “Are you going to kiss me again, or not?”

“I don’t know, Hawk. I don’t know.”

Sighing, I sat up once more, shuffling along slightly to stay close to him. “Beej, she’s basically given us permission. ‘I’ll leave the radio on’—that’s the closest we’ve ever got to being safe.”

“Hawkeye, you don’t understand. This isn’t about what we could do. We’re both clever; we’ve always been able to find ways to do what we wanted. This is about what we should do.”

Quick attack of the morals-- it slows the story down and heightens the tension. And letting BJ have some makes an interesting counterpoint to Hawkeye's later stuff.

“What we should do is survive any way we can.”

“We’re not in Korea anymore, Hawkeye. There are no bombs to survive.”

Something in his voice brings it all home to me. We’re not in Korea anymore. He has a wife, a family. Stupid Hawkeye, to think that he might still really want you. A kiss for old times’ sake, but nothing more: that’s all you’re getting. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to make it,” I tell him, aware that more emotion than I’d like is showing in that phrase, and stand up, going to stand at the window and look out into the darkness.

But, of course, Bj's angst can't be simple; Hawkeye has to mis-read it and his low self-esteem had to kick in somewhere.

Who knows? Maybe the darkness out there will somehow balance that darkness in here. That’s how it works, isn’t it? You’re in a crazy war, so you go crazy to stay sane. You’re in the darkness, so you look for more to cancel it out.

“Oh, I think we…” BJ began, and then clued in. “Hawkeye, I’m sorry.”

“Why be sorry? You’ve got Peggy. You don’t need me.” I kept staring out of the window. His hands touched my shoulders, but I pulled away. Living over here again can be harder than it ever was in Korea. The wounds are mine, and I can’t fix them; the bombs are only in my dreams, there’s nowhere to go to escape them. When I came to see BJ again, I was looking for the safety I used to feel being with him, but all I could find was the brittleness of his doubt.  

There's a lot of angst here. Just... lots.

Perhaps, I thought, safety had gone for good.

The darkness was too much, I was nearly lost. And in the background, BJ was talking, as if that could fix it all. “Hawkeye, do you know why I asked you to come? It wasn’t my idea. It was Peg’s. The thing is, Hawk, I can’t stop thinking about you. I can’t stop talking about you. When I dream about Korea—and believe me, that’s often—the fact that you were there as well is the only thing that keeps me sane. Hawkeye, listen to me. I need you.”

That’s BJ all over. Always ready to say what he means, to tell me what I need to hear. Oh, he’ll joke: but sometimes those jokes aren’t, they’re just pitched so that I think he’s joking, when really it’s a truth that I won’t face.

“I really do, you know. I tried to build my own still and it exploded. I think you’ve got some sort of magical touch with them.”

“The trick is not to hold a match near the end result.” He’s got a magic touch, too, always able to bring me back from the edge. He put his hand on my shoulder again, and this time I let it stay.

“Come on, Hawkeye. Let’s have what we both want and worry about how to keep it in the morning.” His arms slid around me, and there it was: the familiar safety I had come here craving. The darkness outside suddenly seemed alien, so with a decisive gesture I pulled the curtains shut and turned to kiss him.

When he went to turn out the bedside light, I stopped him. “No, BJ. Let’s not be in the dark anymore.”  

Slightly inspired by a challenge which involved writing unusual sex scenes, including ones where they kept the lights on.


Eavesdropping is rude, my mother told me so, but I doubt she ever thought I’d be feeling guilty for quite this offence. “Your husband having sex with another man” (with or without your permission) was not on her list of things to be taken into consideration: though if it had featured there, I’m sure she would have disapproved of listening. However, my mother’s advice was not uppermost in my mind that night, as I pressed my ear to the wall adjoining the guest room.

I heard the distinctive rattle of closing curtains, and the faint creak as the bed was sat on. A double rumble of male voices, speaking softly throughout: I couldn’t hear what they said, just enough sound to know that they talked. Then squeaking, irregular at first, and I couldn’t remain detached any longer. I tried to picture them together in the darkness: BJ, whom I know so well, and Hawkeye, the stranger.  

She's so a slasher.

They must have known each other’s bodies in intimate detail, though. Briefly it occurred to me that it would be fun to swap notes with Hawkeye about how BJ reacts to things (like the fact that BJ’s ticklish) but the embarrassment that I was sure would end any such conversation quickly sent me back to listening.


The creaks became more patterned, and developed a rhythm. Soft deep mutters became groans, mumbles of pleasure. Instinctively, I reached a hand down to my panties and began to touch myself, rubbing harder as the sounds from next door became louder.

All too soon for me, mutters turned to cries—one familiar, one new to me—and the sounds faded in stillness. They’d finished, and I pictured them collapsing into each other’s arms as BJ and I did, hugging and kissing in an affirmation of love.

I went back to my bed, alone, wondering how BJ felt about this. I knew that I loved him, but did he still love me? His love for Hawkeye was clear.


The question bugged me as I tried to warm my feet, as I tried to fall asleep—it’s funny how quickly I got used to being next to BJ again—and was still there in the morning, when the sun peeped in at my window.

Rolling over, I half expected to find him next to me; but the bed was cold there. He hadn’t come back to me in the night.

I pulled on my dressing gown and went to find out: a girl takes risks when she needs to know.

And finally, adventure! This fic has everything Harry Potter has...

He and Hawkeye were curled on the bed, huddled together in the centre as if the bed were only two feet wide. Maybe it’s a memory of the army cots, with barely room to fit one person in, let alone two. Hawkeye’s face was all but invisible, turned towards BJ’s chest, but BJ was smiling, a grin of pure pleasure that I hadn’t seen for years.

...plus gay sex.

Either he’d been awake for a while, or I made some small sound, because his eyes opened, blue and as wide and happy as his smile. My heart felt full: with a sense of shared pleasure, but also with a nagging fear that I would lose him to this dark stranger who made him happy. I squashed the thought quickly, before it could affect me.


The door shut behind Peggy—God, I love your mother—and I went back to watching my lover sleep. I smiled to see him, but there were marks that worried me. He was deeply asleep, but it was a restless kind. His eyes moved under their thin lids, and his limbs shifted against me.

“Dreaming about the war, Hawkeye?” I asked, softly, knowing that he couldn’t hear me, and pretty sure that he wouldn’t answer if he could.

He stirred again, rolling over a little, so that his head rested partly on my shoulder and half on the pillow I was leaning on, the shock of black hair—streaked with white: grey wasn’t in Hawkeye’s repertoire—falling onto the white cotton pillowcase. I thought that I’d dispelled the tension somewhat the night before, but clearly not all of it had left him. Every movement, even in sleep, was laden with energy, his muscles wound so tight with the fear and worries of a war that now, a thousand miles and over a year away from it, they couldn’t relax.

The comment about his hair, someone late pointed out to me, isn't canon; Hawkeye's hair is definitely streaked with grey by season eight. But I left it anyway.

I wished there was something I could do (hell, I still do. It’s rarer now, but I doubt it’ll ever really end. Sorry, Hawk, but I feel I owe her the truth), but there wasn’t, and there isn’t. So I woke him, brought him back to a world I can help with, even if I’m the one who creates the problems it holds for him.

“Hawk, time for breakfast.” And then, because he was still asleep and couldn’t stop me saying it, “I love you.”

“Umhph?” Ah, the first sign of intelligent life. “What?”

Snarky BJ!

“Good morning, Hawkeye.”

“Beej?” He frowned, a quick flash of emotion, there and then hidden again.

“Yes, me. And before you ask, I woke you up because you’re lying half on top of me, and I want to go and have breakfast.”

“I wasn’t going to ask.” A quick smirk, and the old Hawkeye was back in place, the mask returned.

'The mask' is something you can see in effect in canon. Accompanying a change in posture, usually.

“You’re incorrigible.”

“And also encourageable,” he quipped, wriggling again, thighs rubbing on mine, a calculated move that often makes me give in and encourage him.

“Not now, Hawkeye,” and to forestall the pout that was surely on its way, “Peggy and Erin are waiting for us downstairs.” Too late. He pouted anyway—just a subtle change of expression, but the meaning was clear.

I'll swear blind he also pouts in canon. Especially at Trapper.

I had to take the plunge, as Peg did with me that night a week before, and try to be upfront and honest. “Look. This isn’t Korea; pouting at me won’t work. We’re not soldiers any more. I love you—don’t stop me saying it—I love you, but I also love Peg and Erin, and I don’t want to lose any of you.”

“What if that’s not possible, BJ?” Suddenly, he was serious, alert to the importance of what I was saying. “What if you can’t have both me and Peggy?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure I can make that decision.”

“Then you might end up with neither of us.” To lend weight to that, he turned away from me, rolling out of bed to stand in one smooth movement.

“Are you saying you’ll leave me if I try to stay married?”

“Does it look like I will? I came here, didn’t I?”

I stood as well, behind his unmoving frame, and noted that while he was always a little shorter than me, he stoops more these days, and looks at the ground. “Yes, you came.” Double entendre, why not? “And so did I.”

Posture. These visual details are important-- Hawkeye reveals so much in the way he stands, the way he moves. The words tend to be a protection, but the movements give him away.

“Yes,” and I could hear the smile in his voice with the memory, but then he was serious again. “Beej, I… We’re safe here, right?”

“As safe as we’ll ever be.” Which, as we both knew, wasn’t very safe, should anyone outside the family find out—and really, that meant outside myself, Hawkeye, and Peggy. The risk that you would mention it to a teacher or classmate was too high for us to let you know what was happening.

There's a lot that goes on in BJ's head he doesn't say, and he's much better at hiding it. That's why his head is fun to be in, but later on I resorted to the diary trick.

He turned back to face me. “BJ, are you sure?”

“Yes. Peggy would never tell anyone, and I think Erin’s too young to notice, let alone understand, if we’re a little careful.” I reached out to touch him, and he nodded, but looked away from my face again, down at the floor. “Hawkeye, we really are safe.”

“I know,” he said, but he was plainly still unsure.

With nothing else to say, I pulled him into a hug, trying to reassure him that whatever it was he dreamed about (surely there was more on his mind than me) wasn’t going to find him, whether it was bombs or disgrace.

Oh, boys. I love you both.


When they came downstairs—together, no pretence that they were separate—BJ still looked happy, but his smile, like Hawkeye’s, was tinged with worry or fear. There was nothing I could do or say to take that away, so I busied myself with the ordinary stuff of finding food, making sure you ate something reasonably balanced, getting tea and coffee and toast and more sausages when they were required.

The rest of the day, we all pretended it was a normal day, as best we could with ‘Uncle Hawkeye’ there. I don’t know why you insisted on calling him ‘uncle’ that day; he didn’t like it, and afterwards it was dropped, but to start with you wouldn’t say ‘Hawkeye’ to his face.

It was that evening, once you were in bed again, that we finally talked, all three of us. Sometimes all three of us at once, being the people we are. (But you’re finding out about that, aren’t you? Yes, BJ, that means keep quiet while I’m talking.)

To tell you the truth, we didn’t only talk, but I’ll get to that.


There was a lot of talking to start with, though.


That’s true enough, Hawkeye, and I will tell that part. Let me get it in order.

We sat in the living room, and we had a few drinks. Not so much that any of us were drunk, and we all remembered what happened the next morning; but enough to get rid of the edginess, the awkwardness, that had affected us up until then.

No, I’ve skipped a bit. First, we put you to bed: you’d been wanting Hawkeye’s attention all day—novelty value, I suppose (don’t pull faces at me, Hawk!)—and it wasn’t a surprise when you wanted him to read your bed-time story. While he was upstairs, BJ and I…


That’s not how it was. You took Erin upstairs, and BJ and I finished the washing up.


Hawkeye, who’s telling this? You or me?

I remember writing this dialogue-- it came so easily! They were loud and clear, and I basically only transcribed.


Erin said she wanted to hear what really happened. I’m just trying to get to that. You took Erin upstairs; BJ and I finished the washing up—didn’t we, Beej?


I’m not commenting. It’s been nearly thirty years, and who did the washing up isn’t really the interesting part of the story.

What happened, Erin, was this: you went to bed. The washing up had to be finished, and the table laid for the morning. These things were done, and then we went to sit in the living room for a quick end-of-the-day drink.

Also, nobody was quite sure who was sleeping in which bed.


We were waiting for you to decide, honey.


And without even meeting the guy, you’d taken a lesson from Colonel ‘Indecisive’ Blake.


I knew what I wanted. It just took some planning to make sure I got it.


You mean you planned what happened next?


Yes, something like that. Planning’s one of the things I’m good at. Anyway, are we going to tell Erin here what happened, or just bicker about whose brilliant idea it was?


I’m going to tell her.

When your father came into the living room, Peg and I were already drinking. I forgot why he was late. Over the course of that day, things had got a bit easier—I’d managed to get out of expecting Peggy to try and kill me…


And I’d got out of expecting Hawkeye to be either a threat to me (BJ made sure of that) or a real nuisance.


Yeah, now I look back on it, BJ worked hard all day to make us both feel happy.


At last they notice!


Well, don’t expect too much of us.

When BJ came in, Peggy and I were drinking in silence: still a little uncomfortable with each other, but not so much so that we were trying to get out of the room. Peg sat in an armchair by the fire, and I had settled into the wing-back chair, within easy reach of the sideboard and the drinks.

Don’t look so surprised, BJ. You do know me, don’t you? Hawkeye Pierce, semi-professional alcoholic?

Which, this is meant to imply, hasn't changed. It's a scar that's not going away.

He sat on the sofa, between us and facing the fire. “Scotch, BJ?”

“Thanks, Hawkeye.” We were silent for a minute,  and then Peggy spoke.

 “I think you owe me the truth, BJ.”

“I’m sure I do, love.”

“Truth about what, Peggy? The whole truth of the universe might take all night.”

“Just the truth about you and him, actually, Hawkeye. I know what I saw last night, but that isn’t so much.”

But it was quite enough, wasn't it, Peggy?

“Okay, Peggy—and you too, Hawkeye. I owe it to you both. This is the way it is.” He paused, swallowed the end of his drink, and then went on. “I love you both. Peggy, I’ve loved you since we first met, that night at the high school dance. I don’t know when I fell in love with you, Hawkeye: I didn’t let myself accept that I had for so long it doesn’t matter.

“Out in Korea, you both have to understand, friendship, and the love that friends can give, was the only thing that stood between me and insanity. When you’re that close, living that near to anyone else, the relationship that builds up is strong. And for some reason, in Korea—perhaps in all wars—everything is physical, to some extent. Hatred is expressed physically, in bullets or bombs, and love, friendship that at home would be no more than that, becomes physical too.

“You hate someone, and you want to kill them, strangle them with your bare hands. If you want to protect them, it has to be physical, because the threats they face are physical. And if you love someone, you have to express that physically.”

“That’s your excuse for having sex with Hawkeye?”

“I’m trying to explain why it happened the first time, Peggy.” He was calm, staying reasonable and rational, but I don’t think either Peg or I was managing as well as him. “Things change. Back here, I’ve got a choice. And so have you—both of you.”

BJ didn’t look at me, and I don’t think he looked at Peggy—he just went on staring into the fire, not putting us under pressure.

“What sort of choice have we got, though? We can’t both have you!” Even as I said that, I was rapidly becoming aware that maybe he had a point: another way was possible. Now, a lot of things went through my head in that moment, perhaps the most important of which was that I actually quite liked Peggy.

We’d spent the day together; we’d had fun. Between you and BJ, we had things in common, and being the person I am, I’d noticed that Peg is a beautiful woman. Before, I’d just been thinking of that in the ‘I can see why he married her’ sense, but now it took on a whole new meaning.

Oh, Hawkeye. Naughty Hawkeye.


I’d done that evaluation the day before, when we first met.


Well, my wonderful personality does shine through.


And I’d been hearing about you through BJ’s rose-tinted spectacles for years. But go on with the story.


“What are you suggesting, BJ?” Peggy asked. He looked up, at her then across at me, and we saw the grin that the 4077th had both welcomed and feared because it said that a Hunnicutt plan had just been successful—and that could be good or bad, depending which side of the practical joke you were on.

“There’s supposed to be room on this sofa for three, isn’t there?”


I got a pair of strange looks for that one, I can tell you.


Who’s telling this?


I’m taking over, Hawkeye. My plan, my story.

The idea was to stop having to glance back and forth between them like I was a spectator in a tennis match. However, it didn’t quite work like that. It’s surprising how often my plans have to be rearranged at the last minute. “Come and sit next to me,” I said. “Both of you.”

Neither of them moved. “Why?” Peggy asked.

“Because I’m fed up with being so stiff around both of you. When we’re out, it’s one thing not to be able to touch you, but at home—I want to kiss you.”

“Yes, but which one of us?”


Now you see why I had to point out that the beginning that I’m outsmarted by these two. It took me a while to catch on.

Not that she really is, of course. Later on, we see that while they outsmart her intellectually, she way outsmarts them emotionally. But you knew that. 


About this point, I made a plan of my own—and this is where Beej’s really started to fall down: or to succeed, depending how you look at it and who you ask.

“Mrs. Hunnicutt? Could I have a word with you in private, please?”

She frowned (like she’s doing now—see?) and nodded. With a smile at BJ, I escorted her out of the room.

In the kitchen, she turned to face me and said, firmly, “I’m not giving him up without a fight, you know. One night is one thing, but I need my husband.”

“I know. I’m not going to ask you to give him up, Peggy.”

“Losing you again would break his heart.”

Excuse me.


Handkerchief, Hawkeye?


Thanks, Peggy.

I muttered something along the lines of “Mine too.”

“So what do we do? Swap over a midnight?”

“I’ve got a better idea. You’re a very beautiful woman, Peg.”

“Thank you, but I don’t see how that helps.”

“Like this,” I told her, took her in my arms, and kissed her.


Oh! I always wondered what you two said to each other out there!


It wasn’t so much what we said that made the difference. As Hawkeye’s just told you, he kissed me.

I’d find it very easy at this point to lie to you, for one reason or another. I could tell you that it was a wonderful kiss, the best I’d ever had; I could tell you that I knew then what I wanted. Sadly, life isn’t that easy. It wasn’t a perfect kiss. Really it was average, tending towards badly judged: the table dug into my back, we weren’t at the best angle—it could have been better.

Again, desire to subvert fannish cliches a little-- not, in this case, one I got from M*A*S*H fanon, but from Buffy, both fanon and canon. "Buffy and Angel's perfect kisses" really grate on me.


I think I’ve just been given a bad mark.


Don’t be silly, Hawkeye—you’re a good kisser, but it can’t be the best one every time.

What the kiss did do was open up to me a possibility I hadn’t considered before. They’ve hinted at it, but not explained: I wondered if it was physically possible to put three people into a bed.


How much actually went on out there? Did you stop at kissing, or not?


Do you really want to know that, Beej?

Okay, okay. There was just the one kiss, and then Peggy said, “I think I see where this is going. Let’s go and talk to BJ again.”

So we did—and the rest, as they say, is history.


I think we should record that we did get to the bedroom before anything very much happened, but that’s all the detail you need.


Any questions?


Not about that night, Hawkeye. I would like to know, though: didn’t you have to go home at some point?

Adding Erin in at this point may have confused it too much. I just have to rely on my readers being intelligent.


Yes—but not for that long. By the end of that year, I was working in a hospital only eight blocks away from Beej’s, and living with your parents ‘until I found a flat.’ We never did get around to seriously looking for somewhere else for me to live.


There was some talk of getting him to move out—for appearance’s sake—but he can be as stubborn as a mule sometimes.


I remember some of the arguments.


Debates, Erin, debates. Doctors don’t argue.


My mother’s not a doctor.


True enough.


And you don’t always act like one, either.


Cheeky monkey! That’s quite enough from you.


I’m sure it is. Well, thank you, and goodnight: mum, dad, uncle.


Right, that’s enough.


Always have to have to last word, don’t you?


No, he doesn’t. Lovely daughter mine, hie thee to bed. Hawkeye, come here.




I’m going to kiss you. Peggy, I’ll be with you in a moment.


Folks-- Leigh-- I hope you enjoyed that.


Explaining Series Stories