He laughed out loud. "Beej? God it's good to hear your voice."
His friend's concern was instantaneous. "Why? Something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong," Hawkeye felt immediately guilty for worrying his friend. "You know, it's just strange. Being back and all."
"It's been over a year Hawk. You need to settle in."
"I know. I'm just having some problems with that."
"Maybe you should see someone. Someone that you could talk to."
Hawkeye laughed again. "You mean like Sydney? I don't think he's hanging out his shingle in this neighborhood. And the local headshrinker is hardly going to understand where we've been."
"Actually I didn't mean a psychiatrist. I meant...a friend."
BJ sighed. "Look, I got a call yesterday from Margaret Houlihan. She's getting out of the army and is looking for a job. Now I know that we have plenty of vacancies here. But I thought...maybe I should steer her your way?"
"Why you little matchmaker you. What makes you think she'd want to come out here. She hasn't tried once to contact me."
"Hawk, she doesn't sound like she is doing any better than you. I think you two need each other."
Hawkeye tried to fight down the hope he felt. "But she hasn't called, Beej. Not once."
"And you haven't called her either. Two more stubbornly foolish people I have never met. Now should I send her to Maine or not?"
For a moment he was unsure, than Hawkeye remembered the last time he saw her, the way she felt in his arms when they had kissed goodbye. "Send her, BJ. Send her quick."
Margaret took a deep breath as she sat in the car. It had been a long trip from Tacoma to Crabapple Cove. She had alternated between hope and fear. Hope that this would be the last stop for her. Hope that it could be a real home. And fear. Fear that it would all go sour. That she would have to run from here too.
"You planning to get out anytime soon?" A male voice, similar to Pierce's, asked. She turned to look out the open window. A tall, gray-haired man smiled at her. "I'm assuming you're Margaret?"
She nodded. "You must be Daniel?"
He nodded back. "Well now that we have that out of the way, can I help you with your bags?"
"Oh, I'm not staying here."
"Sure you are. The hotel in town isn't worth the lumber used to build it. And Spruce Harbor is such a cold town. You come on in now and make yourself at home."
"I don't know...I don't want to impose."
A new voice, a dearly familiar voice, spoke. "If Dad says you're staying, there's no use fighting."
He looked the same. His eyes were haunted though, behind the sparkle that was showing now. He was glad to see her. She felt relief flood her. "Then I guess I won't fight."
"Let's get her moved in, Son." Daniel held out his hands for the keys. He walked back and opened the trunk. She got out and helped them carry her things up to the second floor of their spacious home.
"Sure didn't bring much, Margaret," Daniel said as they cleared out her trunk on the second trip. "I like a gal that travels light. Hawkeye's mother never could get the knack of that." He smiled fondly at the memories. "Well, I've got some errands in town to do. I imagine they're going to take me most of the afternoon. So I'll be back for dinner. You two probably have some catching up to do."
She smiled at him as he left the room. Then she turned to face the man she had never forgotten.
If he could have drunk her in he would have. The scent of her, the sight, the sound, and hopefully...the touch. He moved toward her, wanting...needing to hold her. "Margaret."
"Pierce." She frowned at the name. Tried again. "Hawk."
He smiled teasingly, "You can stop there. I don't want to hear you calling me Benjamin."
She smiled back. "I've missed you."
"Same here. You didn't call, you didn't write."
"Neither did you." She looked as if she wanted to run. He tried to hold her with his eyes. She seemed to settle as she studied him. "You look good. And you don't. Trouble sleeping?"
He nodded. "You?"
"Uh huh. Nobody understands."
He heard the desperation in her voice. Hated it. He moved toward her. "I do." His hands found her arms, pulled her toward him. He felt her tremble against him, realized she was crying. Realized he was too. "I understand. We both understand." His arms wrapped tighter around her, he kissed her hair, her neck. "You're not alone anymore, Margaret. Neither of us is alone anymore."
She looked up at him. Her eyes, normally such a vivid blue, were drained. "I'm so tired of fighting all by myself."
"I know. You don't have to do it alone. I'm here. I love you, Margaret. I've missed you so much."
As he leaned in to kiss her he heard her answer back, "I love you, Hawkeye."
"Pierce?" She wandered through the deserted camp. "Hawkeye?"
She turned to the Swamp. Maybe he was there. Then she stopped. In the distance she heard his voice, calling her. "Margaret? Wake up."
A dream. And she was awake. Her bare body was pressed against his.
"A dream, Margaret. You're alright now."
She pulled him closer to her, felt him react to her. "Yes, I'm alright now."
The OR was packed. Too many bodies. What was he supposed to do? '
"Help me?" pleaded a soldier.
"Save me!" screamed a little girl.
"Heal me," moaned an old man.
"Hawkeye, wake up." Her voice. Margaret's. Calling to him. "Wake up."
He was lying next to her. Her body warm on his own. Her hand stroking his damp hair off his face. "Wake up, Hawk."
He pulled her closer. Felt her moan of relief, and pleasure.
"Love you," he murmured as he lost himself inside her again.
Hours later they still lay in her bed. She was listening for the sound of a car returning, already feeling guilty.
"Margaret, he knows what we're doing."
"No he doesn't." She felt slightly scandalized.
"*I'll be gone most of the afternoon?* What do you think he meant?"
"That he had a lot of errands." She answered back with a smile and a kiss.
"Tomorrow I'll take you into Crabapple Cove and we'll see if you can come up with a way to waste a whole afternoon there."