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Written for [ profile] nestra's Back to Your Roots Challenge. I picked M*A*S*H because, while I was in other fandoms before M*A*S*H, it was the first fandom I ever wrote significantly for. Here is my prompt:

"Crazy skies all wild above me, now
Winter howling at my face
And everything I held so dear
Disappeared without a trace.
Oh, all the times I've tasted love
Never knew quite what I had."

Now all is over
M*A*S*H. PG-13.
"Eat a gun, eat a bullet, have it bounce around the brain, death comes quick and assuredly."

The telegram comes and it is the worst day in BJ's life. Worse than the day his draft notice came and rended him from his wife, his family, his life. Hawkeye is in the hospital, attempted suicide. They don't think he's likely to make it.

Odd, maybe, that he'd choose to cut his wrists, not eat a gun--Hawkeye of all people knows anatomy, knows the best way to guarantee self-inflicted death. Eat a gun, eat a bullet, have it bounce around the brain, death comes quick and assuredly. But with Hawkeye, Hawk, everything's symbolic. BJ's quite sure that he picked his wrists and slit them open to try and bleed out every last drop of Korea.

Peg finds him curled over the letter, tears wet on his face. Wipes them dry, takes the telegram, sets it on the kitchen counter. Holds his hands. "Honey," she starts, and BJ cuts her off with a laugh. It's not hysterical, not quite, hovering just on the edge. "Peg, don't. Please," he begs. "I can't deal with this right now."

"Erin will be home from practice," she says, instead. "Why don't you go wash up?"

BJ laughs, again, still hovering. "Why? So I can wash away the dust? The blood? They're on me, Peg, they aren't ever coming off, even if I bleached and scrubbed she's all over me."

Peg grips his hands a little tighter. "I know you don't mean that, dear," she says. "You're in shock and you need to go wash up and we'll eat dinner. You'll think clearer for it."

This time the laughter is bitter as BJ yanks his hands away from her. "Yes, I will. I don't want to think clearly, Peg, clear thinking is what has Hawk lying in a hospital. Clear thinking sent us all home and back to our neat lives where we all fitted back, even if we didn't, because clear thinking said that it was all much better than clinging to the ties we forged over there. But Hawkeye couldn't, he didn't have a life to go back to, so he choked on it, drowned in it, and no one to see it happening."

Peg sighs. "BJ, you're not making sense," she says, patiently.

"No," BJ says. "I'm not. Not to you. It doesn't make sense, any of it," and he grabs his coat and his keys and leaves his wife in the kitchen to explain to their daughter that he's run off.

Erin blinks up at Peg, "What do you mean Dad's not here? He's always home by now," she points out, reasonably. "Is he hurt?"

Peg chokes back a laugh of her own, swallows down her tears. "I don't know. He might be. He wasn't particularly himself when he left. I don't know when he'll be home, either, dear. Hopefully some sense will knock its way into that thick skull of his and he'll be home tonight."

"What happened?" Erin asks, wide eyes, worry and concern.

"He..." Peg pauses. "He received a telegram. About Hawkeye. Apparently he's been hospitalised. They don't think he's going to make it" she says. "I think your father went to visit him."

Erin swallows back anything she might have said, and hugs her mother. "He'll be back, Mom. He's upset, he just needs to clear his head, I'm sure," she says.

They eat dinner, and they wait and worry. For three days. And then the phone rings, and it's BJ. There's screaming and crying, and BJ isn't coming home, he's staying until the funeral and he's scattering the ashes back in Crabapple Cove.

When he comes home, a month later, Erin punches him. BJ absently rubs at his jaw, bruise already sprawling across it. "I suppose I deserved that," he says blankly. "Where's your mother, Erin?"

"She's at work," Erin spits. "We've had to do something to keep paying the bills. The hospital's been pretty understanding, considering, but not very forthcoming with the pay."

BJ flinches slightly at that. "I see," he says and crumples himself onto the couch.

"I remember Hawkeye," Erin says suddenly. "I liked him. He didn't coo at me and he had a nice laugh. He meant a lot to you, I remember. Kept you sane, you always said."

"Yeah," BJ says quietly. "He did."

"I really hate you right now," Erin says flatly. "You walked out on me and on Mom. Needing to visit Hawkeye and all, that's understandable. But you walked out. Nothing, not so much as a word for three days and you only now show back up."

"I'd say I'm sorry, but it wouldn't do much good," BJ says tiredly. "I am sorry, for whatever it's worth."

Erin laughs bitterly. "I'm sure," she says, and turns around in disgust. "Didn't know what you had was worth until it was gone, did you?" she spits.

"No," BJ says. "I didn't." He stands and pulls her into a fierce hug and kisses her soft blonde hair before letting her go. She stares at him, anger crinkling her forehead.

"But now I have nothing at all," he says. "So I suppose you're even, Erin."

I have peace to weigh your worth, now all is over,
But if to praise or blame you, cannot say.
For, who decries the loved, decries the lover;
Yet what man lauds the thing he’s thrown away?

Be you, in truth, this dull, slight, cloudy naught,
The more fool I, so great a fool to adore;
But if you’re that high goddess once I thought,
The more your godhead is, I lose the more.

Dear fool, pity the fool who thought you clever!
Dear wisdom, do not mock the fool that missed you!
Most fair,—-the blind has lost your face for ever!
Most foul,—-how could I see you while I kissed you?

So... the poor love of fools and blind I’ve proved you,
For, foul or lovely, ’twas a fool that loved you.

--He Wonders Whether to Praise Her or to Blame Her, Rupert Brooke
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December 2012

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