Love - Life's Richest Treasure

by Beth Mott

Hawkeye Pierce sighed as he sat down on a bench in the Surgeon's change room. Closing his tired eyes he leaned his head back against his locker, his thoughts in turmoil. He had just spent an hour in the Operating Room performing an Appendectomy. It was a very simple, routine operation, but he'd still found it very stressful.

It had been six months since he had returned home from the Korea war, or the 'police action' as the Politicians of the world liked to call it. Six months since he had left the horrors of the Korean operating room behind. But lately he couldn't walk into surgery without having disturbing flashbacks about the thousands of wounded soldiers that he'd treated during those horrible three years that he'd spent in that man made hell hole.

The thing that really got to him was that nobody at the hospital could really understand the nightmare that he had gone through. He was the only doctor in Crabapple Cove who had been sentenced to that Korean hell - the only one that had lived the death and destruction that war creates. The only person that he could really talk to about how he was feeling was BJ, and being an entire country apart made it very difficult to get real comfort from each other. Oh, they talked on the phone regularly and poured their hearts out to each other, and Hawkeye was very grateful for those conversations, and he knew that BJ was too. Even after months of separation they were still each other's greatest strengths but it was still very difficult not to have that visible contact as you bared your soul to the other. To see the look of sympathy and understanding on the other's face while you spoke. Hawkeye was glad that his friend and his family were coming to visit him next week. Maybe then he could relieve himself of something that has been weighing him down since he returned home. Something that he hadn't told anybody, not even BJ. Something that pertained to a certain member of the 4077th staff that he had kept a secret for a long, long time. 'Too long a time.' He thought regretfully to himself. 'If only he could have found his tongue before it was too late. If only he had said something when he'd had the chance. If only...' but it was too late for if onlys.

"Hey there, Hawkeye." A voice suddenly interrupted his thoughts. "How are you doing?"

Without even opening his eyes Hawkeye murmured. "I've died and haven't left a forwarding address."

The newcomer laughed and sat down beside his friend on the bench. "Well, I have some news that'll help resurrect you." He commented lightly.

"Oh, yeah?" Hawkeye replied as he raised his eyebrows his eyes still closed.

"How would you like to help a buddy out." The other man asked a large smile on his face.

"Doing what?" Hawkeye asked, his tone sounding very tired.

"Escorting a beautiful young lady to a Charity banquet in Boston this weekend." The other man replied.

Hawkeye turned his head and looked at the other man in disbelief. "Are you serious?" He chuckled slightly. "Could you honestly picture me attending some charity banquet and rubbing elbows with the rich and snobby. Come on, Brad, you know me better than that." Hawkeye hauled himself to his feet and started peeling off his surgical scrubs.

"I know this really isn't your thing, Hawkeye, but I really need your help." Brad pleaded, looking desperately at his friend. "My girlfriend's cousin is visiting her this week and Carrie asked me to find her a date for the banquet. I was hoping that you'd like to take her out."

"I don't know, Brad." Hawkeye sighed deeply as he tossed his dirty scrubs into the laundry basket. "I'm not big on blind dates. You never know who you'll end up with." His mind quickly drifted back to the last blind date he'd had. The one with 'Sweet Preserves'. He'd learned his lesson with that humiliating episode. It was very hard on a guy's ego to be 'had' by the entire nursing staff. Involuntarily his mind focused on the memory of one nurse in particular; the one who had orchestrated the entire rouse. He involuntarily smiled at the memory of her beautiful face, mischief and mirth written all over it as she looked at him and laughed.

Brad's voice brought him back to the present. "Hawkeye, when was the last time that you had a date period?" He eyed his friend with concern, having noted the far away look in his eye.

"About six months ago." Hawkeye replied, shutting his locker door and locking it.

"Exactly." Brad exclaimed, a worried look on his face. "You haven't gone out with anyone since you returned from Korea. That's not healthy, Hawkeye. You should be getting out and having some fun, not cooping yourself up at home every night after working your butt off all day."

"I do have fun, Brad." Hawkeye protested looking at his friend seriously. "Tonight for instance, after supper my Dad and I are planning a rousing game of Gin."

"Gin?" Brad repeated giving Hawkeye a look of disbelief. "You'd rather stay home and play Gin with your father than take a beautiful woman out to dinner?"

"As a matter of fact I would." Hawkeye nodded as he picked up his clipboard, preparing to leave. With a sigh he looked at his friend and said. "Look, Brad, I appreciate the fact that you're trying to help, but don't worry about me, I'm fine. Right now I just want to spend time with my father. You may think that seems strange, but for three years the only contact I was able to have with him was via mail and the occasional phone call. You don't understand how hard it is to be that far away from the people you love for that long. When you finally see them again you want to hold on, and never let go." Hawkeye turned to leave, his eyes threatening to spill the tears that had started building up.

"Hawkeye." Brad called after him. Before exiting the door Hawkeye stopped and looked at him. "At least think about it." The other man encouraged. "I think that you two would have a lot in common. She served in Korea as a nurse, maybe she'd understand what you're going through."

"I doubt it." Hawkeye stated his voice sad. "There's only one woman in the world that does. And I'll never see her again." With that he turned and left the room.

"Is there something on your mind tonight, son?" Daniel Pierce asked as he and Hawkeye sat opposite each other in front of the fireplace. They had spent the last couple of hours playing Gin, but Daniel had noticed that his son's attention didn't seem to be on the game.

Hawkeye looked at his father for a moment and sighed. "I'm sorry, Dad. I guess my mind is elsewhere tonight."

"So I've noticed." Daniel chuckled softly. "I very seldom win every hand of any card game, let alone Gin." He looked at his son for a moment before asking. "What is it, Ben? What's troubling you?"

Hawkeye sighed again and looked at his father. "Brad Millar wants me to escort his girlfriend's cousin to some charity banquet in Boston this weekend."

Daniel smiled delightedly. "So, what's wrong with that? It'll do you some good to get out. You haven't been out on a date since you got back home. How are you ever going to find a wife if you don't look for one."

"Dad!" Hawkeye exclaimed, looking into his father's twinkling eyes. He grabbed a pillow off the chair he was sitting on and threw it at the older man. Daniel quickly flung the pillow back, chuckling mischievously. The younger man caught the pillow and dropped it on the chair as he rose from his seat and began pacing back and forth. "What if she turns out to be a real looser or something? I mean the banquet alone is going to be incredibly stuffy and boring, what if my date is as well."

"Ben." His father said gently as he rose and came to stand beside him. "I have a feeling this has more to do with something else, not just whether this cousin will be a bore." He watched his son for a minute before asking softly. "You still think about her a lot don't you?"

Hawkeye looked at his father with mild surprise. "How did you..."

"It wasn't difficult, Ben." His father chuckled softly in reply. "Your letters were always filled with her. First it was about how much you hated her and how annoyed she made you, but by the end I could tell that you were crazy about her, maybe even in love with her."

Hawkeye couldn't help but smile, he should have known that his father would know him well enough to figure out what was bothering him. With a sigh he said, "I can't get her out of my mind. She's in my dreams, she's in my thoughts, she's everywhere I turn! Over the last three years she became such an important part of my life that I feel like a part of myself is missing and I lost it the moment she drove out of my life."

"Why don't you try and find her?" Daniel suggested, putting a supportive hand on his son's shoulder.

Hawkeye flung his hands out in despair and flopped down on the couch behind him. "I don't know where she is. She was staying in Korea for a little while to help with the consolidation of the 8063rd, then she was going to take a little vacation before coming back to the States. I don't even know what hospital she was going to work at, she hadn't decided yet when we left. She could be anywhere. It's hopeless, Dad. It's completely hopeless." His eyes started to water slightly, showing the depth of his despair. With a heart-wrenching sigh he said. "Maybe I should just forget about her and meet this cousin of Carrie's. Maybe she won't be so bad."

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