The Brightest Star @geradsredskittle666
Chapter 4

Brightest star

Disclaimer: I do not own MASH or any of its property. I make no profit off this work and do not intend to. I write to entertain.

Pairings: Hawkeye/BJ

Warnings: goodbyes, war, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, repression, ptsd, trauma, war related trauma, period typical homophobia.

Summary: The war is over and everyone has gone home. Our two local idiots in love are idiots (in love). Hawkeye finds it hard to adjust and BJ is busy pretending the war never happened. Can BJ make up for it by saving Hawkeye? Well, Peggy will surely give a go! ADHD!Hawkeye, Autistic!Hawkeye, Neurodivergent!Hawkeye, Autistic!BJ, Neurodivergent!BJ

Spoilers: none

AN: Set after the series finale. The war is over and everyone has gone home. ADHD!Hawkeye, Autistic!Hawkeye, Neurodivergent!Hawkeye, Autistic!BJ, Neurodivergent!BJ

The morning came earlier than either Hawk or BJ expected. For once Hawkeye felt rested...maybe not well rested, but certainly not like a walking corpse. He had forgotten how warm BJ was...maybe on purpose, after all who wants to know what they are missing out on, what they were not allowed to have? He was still surprised that BJ's wife was okay with this. Would she still be okay with it knowing that this was more than two army buddies missing each other, each having bonded over something as traumatic as war? If she knew that he actually loved her husband...would he still be welcome? He was still on thin ice here, even in this place of great comfort, he hoped he would not forget that.

BJ noticed Hawkeye has woken, he was glad his friend didn't pull away though; he never wanted to let go. Ever. Hawkeye would be saved, and would be his. Well his and Pegs. Hawkeye would never need to fall into a depression that bad again, because he would always be loved here. Hawkeye would know how much BJ loved him, how much Peg loved him already. And god help anyone who would try to part them! If the police came knocking, he would insist they all share a cell, because not even the law was big enough to stop this.

Peggy was watching them from the doorway, she was feeling calmer now that the initial crisis was over. It had been frightening but she knew better than to give in so easily. She was glad she had brought Hawkeye home, her husband looked happy and calm. Her husband was smiling for the first time since returning from the war. A genuine smile. For the first night since, BJ had not had a single nightmare. Yes, Hawkeye was going to be a welcome addition to the family. She would welcome the help, her husband was a good husband but he could get into these moods and nothing could be done for it. Besides, maybe Hawkeye would like Erin. Yes, a third in thier marriage wasn't a bad idea at all. And "taking in a war hero" was the perfect cover, who could argue that was a bad thing? That it was illegal? Surely a child having both thier parents and thier "uncle" support them was also a positive thing. More attention. More love. More support. More care. More emotional support. Yes, a Hunnicut-Pierce relationship would work.

Finally they got out of bed, finally hungry enough to be moved to action. Peggy was making breakfast. Just eggs and bacon on toast. Nothing fancy. Still it was real eggs and real bacon. And toast that was from bread baked that week! And butter that wasn't made from powder!

Hawkeye could smell it from the bedroom. Despite initial reluctance, after all he was not sure what his place was in this home just yet, he admitted that he was hungry. The eggs smelled wonderful! The bacon too! He was still exhausted but he felt more alive than he had on months. Even if that was simply a spark, a promise of a fire.

Peggy had made enough for at least 6 people...somehow sensing, or hoping, that Hawkeye would be encouraged to eat his fill. Or at least eat more than he had been recently. She, of course, turned out to be right. She watched him poke at the scrambled eggs, sniffing each mouthful, before actually eating it. He seemed transfixed by the taste, like he was eating ambrosia. It was a slow process but she kept the eggs hot.

She had heard in thier letters about the horrid mess tent food. How it was all older than they were, or so it tasted anyway.

Still, she was glad she could do this for him. She wasn't sure how easily he would trust her, at least outside a crisis. Her husband could provide the physical affection needed, but she wanted to let him know he was loved too. Food seemed to help.

She had been told he was fussy. She thought back to when Erin had been younger, how she had seemed fussy too. What had helped back then was giving Erin a choice, well as much of a choice as could be given, and observing what was liked and what was loathed. Maybe she could try a more grown up approach to this...she had an idea.

"Dear, do you think you could help me with the grocery shop today? Maybe Hawkeye would like to help too. You know Erin likes car rides too." She suggested casually.

BJ could see his wife had a plan. "Sounds like fun!" He agreed, "How about it Hawk?" He asked.

Hawkeye didn't know what they wanted him to say, but it didn't seem like a bad decision. And he could be helpful to them. So he nodded his agreement.

In the car, BJ turned to Hawk, "Let me know if it gets too much, okay? Peg can handle things" he assured. The whole trip BJ kept a firm hold on Hawks arm. Hawk leant into the touch and held BJ's hand. Both were still calm.

Peggy smiled at them. "Oh and Hawkeye, you're staying with us awhile so make sure to pick out some things you like. Don't worry too much about it, okay?" She said, knowingly using her "mum" voice. Sweetly spoken but with just enough of a an edge that this wasn't merely an offer. She expected him to choose foods he liked and he would do as asked. She expected it because he deserved it, not because of a threat of punishment.

He picked up on it and didn't seem to know what to say. He managed a nod.

They reached the store and parked. "You up for this Hawk? Sure it's not too much?" BJ asked his best friend worriedly.

Hawkeye nodded, smiling reassuring. It seemed to work.

The store was quiet. Peggy went to get a trolley and sort out Erin.

They went to the cereal isle, Erin at watched the products go by as she was pushed in the trolley. Suddenly she seem to fuss. BJ immediately jumped to concern but Peggy smiled and grabbed the cereal from the shelf. "She wants the Fruit Loops" Peggy said knowingly. "I let her have it once at a diner and created a little monster" she joked.

BJ burst out laughing and even Hawkeye was smiling in amusement. "That's my girl!" BJ said proudly.

Seemingly encouraged by this, Hawkeye finally broke free from the group and turned his eye to the wall of cereals. Finally he paused, he hadn't thought this far ahead. Sure he had thought about what foods he liked, and he had even decided on the first item he wanted. This was all a major step, but it was theoretical. Actually putting it in the cart...that was...an actual thing. "Cocoa Pops?" He heard BJ ask and flinched, the resulting crash of the cereal box hitting the floor made him flinched again. Just when had the box made it into his hand?!

He felt a hand on his back and focussed on his breathing. Finally calm, he picked up the cereal box, aside from a dent, it was okay. BJ took it from his hand and fixed it. Then put it in the trolley ignoring Hawkeye's undignified squeak of protest. BJ smirked, "Come along Hawk" he said casually with a devious smirk.

The process continued. BJ found Hawk staring at the vanilla ice cream as they passed the freezer isle, suddenly a tub of ice cream was in the cart. BJ ignored Hawkeye's embarrassment and continued on like nothing had happened. BJ vanished for a moment, reappearing with chocolate topping and sprinkles of different kinds. He looked proud of himself.

Even so, BJ stopped after that...Hawkeye had gone quiet. Probably exhausted by now. He certainly seemed it.

They kept shopping, Hawk following them at his own pace; hanging behind somewhat. He hadn't spoken since, nor showed interest in any items. Even when they asked him something, he just looked away, embarrassed. BJ didn't know what to make of it, but it made him uneasy. It wasn't like he hadn't seen Hawk at his worst in Korea, but somehow the fact they were in a brightly lit supermarket in USA seemed to amplify the behaviour. Maybe because it seemed so out of place in a nice neat supermarket with nice neat American families(stay at home mum, working dad and 2.5 kids) that had nice neat homes and nice neat cars...anything even vaguely odd stood out.

In Korea, insanity was no more common than the flu, and nothing to be too concerned with. In the USA, insanity in its mildest form was everything to be concerned about and any small deviance could bring ruin. BJ didn't like this thought. It made Korea, the semi free country torn by war that starred loud shells and surprise land mines, seem more free than the peaceful free land that was the USA.

He kept an eye on his friend. While there was no obvious sign of distress, BJs instincts told him different.

Hawkeye had a small piece of fabric in his hand, something that looked silky, and was rubbing his thumb over it. It was sewn onto the back of another square of fabric, that looked like it had come from a stuffed children's toy. A button was sewn into a corner. Something about it was familiar but BJ couldn't place it. Still, it seemed precious to Hawk.

BJ kept a protective eye on his friend. He didn't want to crowd him though.

They were done soon enough, Peggy gave him a smile and nodded. He knew what that meant, he was off duty. She could handle the rest. He hesitated but she had given him the 'I can handle things myself, what did you think I was doing while you were in Korea?! Raising your child and and taking care of the house!' talk before. She was right too. So he nodded back and went to Hawkeye.

Hawkeye didn't look up at him when he approached, but he didn't flinch away either. When BJ brushed his arm, Hawk pressed himself closer instinctively. "Hey, let's wait in the car, okay?"

BJ suggested softly. Hawk didn't speak but he did nod slightly. It was enough.

BJ gently led Hawk to the car, keeping the slow cautious pace Hawk set. Hawkeye did seem unsteady, but not like when he was drunk, more like a child's unsteady steps as they learned how to walk for the first time. He didn't have time to consider the matter further. His focus was on his friend.

Hawk took his seat in the car, somehow both relaxing and tensing at the same time (that man had always been a contradiction wherever he could be, however impossible). Then the tears appeared. Hawk drew his knees close and hugged tightly, hyperventilating. Though his tears were silent, his entire body shook with the effort.

BJ immediately pulled Hawk close, in the privacy of the car they could be as deviant as they wanted to be. He held the crying man in a tight hold, rubbing his back and softly speaking platitudes. When Hawk finally calmed, he just pressed himself as close as he could get and refused to move. BJ was fine with that.

"You alright, Hawk? Was that like back in Korea, when everything was too much?" BJ asked quietly. He felt a nod against his chest.

BJ didn't need to see Hawkeye to know that he probably felt guilty for making a fuss. "It's okay. I'm not mad at you. Nor is Peg. It's okay. I just want to help you." He assured.

Hawkeye didn't reply but he did relax further.

"It's okay, I won't force you to speak. I might need you to nod or shake your head, but that's it" BJ assured. "Right now though, I just want you to focus on deep calm breaths. Leave everything else to me. It's okay if you fall asleep" he gently ordered.

Hawkeye didn't reply but did as asked. He was fast asleep by the time Peggy brought the groceries to the car.

Peggy put Erin in the baby seat in the front seat. She checked on her boys. Hawk was clinging to her husband like a child, fast asleep but still seeking comfort. He seemed okay now. BJ smiled at her, "his okay. It was just a bit much for him. He was always sensitive to everything back in Korea".

Peggy nodded understandingly. "Erin gets the same way sometimes" she commented.

BJ wasn't surprised. "He will sleep it off" he assured her.

When they got home, he managed to manoeuvre Hawk into his arms and carry him into the house. He set him down on the sofa and helped Peggy put everything away (and keep an eye on Erin).

Peggy appreciated the help, but couldn't help but think that BJ was needed elsewhere. "Stay with him, I'll be fine handling Erin" she gently encouraged.

BJ nodded, glad for it, he was still worried about Hawkeye. His friend was still sleeping, to his relief, but it was only a matter of time before nightmares started up. He slipped in behind Hawkeye, and wrapped him in a tight hold. It didn't take long for Hawk to relax and slip into a more comfortable sleep. Just as they had done in Korea.

It was hours later that they both woke up, completely comfortable. Hawkeye belonged in his arms. He always had.

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