Hawkeye sighed deeply and said aloud. "I know."
Inside the house he heard the phone ring faintly. Knowing that his father was inside to answer it, he didn't move from his position on the swing. After about three rings he wondered if his father was going to answer it, but then the repetitive noise stop as Daniel picked it up. Hawkeye closed his eyes and allowed his mind to once again picture a beautiful blonde nurse who had stolen his heart so long ago.
A few minutes later his father appeared at the back door of their home. "It's for you, Ben." He told his son as he opened the screen door.
"Who is it?" Hawkeye asked without opening his eyes.
"It's BJ I think." His father told him.
"BJ?" Hawkeye's face brightened at the sound of his friend's name. Quickly he rose from his seat and stepped into the house. Picking up the phone receiver that was lying on the kitchen table he greeted. "Hey Beej! How's it going?"
"Fine, Hawk." BJ replied his tone warm and friendly. "How are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm alright." He told his friend, his tone losing some of its joy.
"Come on, Hawk." BJ pressed seriously. "I know that tone, what's wrong?"
"Nothing!" Hawkeye insisted a bit too emphatically. "Every thing is just fine. I'm fine, Dad's fine, Crabapple Cove is fine, every thing's fine."
"Hawk," BJ said in a tone emphasizing his disbelief. "I lived with you for too long to believe such a flimsy attempt at deception. Now come on out with it, what's bothering you?"
Hawkeye sighed deeply as he sat down heavily in a kitchen chair. "I have a date tomorrow night." He finally told his friend.
"A date?" BJ repeated with a surprise as he started to chuckle slightly. "Well that's certainly a good reason for your chin to be scrapping the floor."
"It's a blind date." Hawkeye added, his tone dull as he awaited his friend's reply.
"A blind date!" BJ exclaimed as he let out an amused laugh. "No wonder you're so down in the mouth. But wait a minute, I thought you swore off blind dates after what happened with 'Sweet Preserves'."
"I did...I have..." Hawkeye assured him quickly. "...I only agreed to do it to help a buddy at work out. His girlfriend's cousin is visiting for the week and they needed someone to escort her to this big charity banquet in Boston tomorrow night."
"A charity banquet?" BJ chuckled again as he pictured his best friend hobnobbing with the rich and snobby.
"A charity banquet." Hawkeye repeated without any emotion. "On top of a blind date."
"So what's the problem?" BJ asked, still trying to figure out why his friend was so down. "It's not like you've never been on a date before. I mean I'm sure you've been on what? Ten, maybe twenty dates in the last six months. I bet you've romanced every available female in Crabapple Cove."
"For your information, Beej I have been on a total of one date since I left Korea." Hawkeye told his friend seriously. "And that's including tomorrow night."
"You expect me to believe that the great Romeo of the 4077th hasn't been on a single date in the last six months!" BJ exclaimed incredulously, his tone raising in disbelief.
"I'm afraid so." His friend confirmed, his tone sorrowful.
BJ paused for a moment, trying to word his next comment carefully. Finally he decided to just say it. Taking a deep breath he remarked gently. "You still love her don't you?"
"Love who?" Hawkeye asked, his tone full of surprise.
"Love who?" BJ repeated, his tone rising with disbelief. "I thought there was only one woman in the world that you really and truly loved."
There was a pause before BJ heard his best friend whisper. "Margaret."
BJ paused for a moment before asking softly. "Have you tried contacting her since you left Korea?" The concerned friend asked curiously.
Hawkeye sighed slightly. "I wouldn't know where to start looking. She was going to the 8063rd, then to Tokyo...It's been six months, she could be almost anywhere."
"Have you tried asking the Army?" BJ suggested thoughtfully. "They may know where she is."
"The Army and I aren't on speaking terms." Hawkeye commented, attempting to add a little humor to the conversation. "I'm still waiting for an apology from Truman and MacArthur for sending me to that hellhole."
"I think it'll be a long wait." BJ chuckled slightly, going along with his friend's attempt to liven his dismal mood. "They have many other people to apologize to as well."
"It's probably for the best." Hawkeye commented causing BJ to frown in confusion.
"What's probably for the best?" The other man questioned, trying to follow his friend's train of thought.
"Margaret and I being separated. It's probably for the best." The lovesick man commented sadly. "She probably doesn't want to see me. She's probably celebrating that she finally has me out of her life for good."
"Hawk, you don't believe that for one second." BJ rebuked mildly. "I saw the way she kissed you goodbye. Nobody else got that kind of farewell from her."
Hawkeye couldn't help but smile at the memory of his farewell kiss with Margaret. "It was something, wasn't it?" He started chuckling.
"You better believe it was." BJ chuckled with him.
"I should have never let her go." Hawkeye commented, his tone turning wistful. "I should have held on to her forever."
"Yes, you should have." His friend agreed gently, but then with a lighter tone he continued. "I'll tell you what, Hawk. Next week when Peg and I are there I'll help you try to locate Margaret. We'll call Colonel Potter and see if he can give us some numbers to call and then we'll go from there, okay?"
"Okay." Hawkeye agreed, a smile tugging at the corners at him mouth. He was very appreciative of his friend's concern and enthusiasm in helping him finding their old Head Nurse.
"Don't worry, Hawk." His friend assured him. "True love always finds a way."
"I hope you're right." Hawkeye commented trying not to get his hopes up that he may actually find his beloved again. "When are you getting here anyway?"
"Oh, yeah...um..." BJ suddenly stumbled, his sentences becoming slightly quick and jumbled. "That's...uh...that's why I called...um...we'll be arriving at the Portland Airport on Monday afternoon. Our flight is due in a 1:30pm. Is that okay for you? Will you be able to meet us?"
"Yeah, that's fine." Hawkeye assured his friend eagerly. "I've cleared my entire schedule for the next two weeks, not that it was a busy schedule to start with..."
"Don't worry, Hawk." BJ comforted his friend, a slight chuckle in his tone. "We'll do all we can to remedy that."
Hawkeye couldn't help but smirk at his friend's positive attitude. "I'm sure we will."
"Listen Hawk, I have to go." BJ remarked, a trifle sadly. "But I'll see you in a few days."
"I'm looking forward to it." Hawkeye said eagerly. "I'm even setting up a still for the occasion."
"I'll bring the olives." BJ chuckled heartily. "See you Monday."
"See you Monday." Hawkeye echoed.
"And Hawk." BJ exclaimed before Hawkeye could hang up the phone.
"Have fun tomorrow night." BJ told him. "After all, it's just a date. You don't have to marry her or anything - unless of course the two of you hit it off, of course."
"I don't think we'll hit if off that much. Not unless she's a blonde, blue-eyed beauty who served in Korea during the war at a certain Mobile Army Surgical Hospital." Hawkeye replied, his tone remaining neutral.
"Well, hey, stranger things have happened." BJ quipped with a laugh.
"Yeah, and I've witnessed most of them." Hawkeye laughed with his friend.
"And caused the rest." His friend teased lightly.
"Good night, Beej." Hawkeye replied, giving his friend a slight chuckle.
"'Night, Hawk." BJ echoed. "See you soon."
Hawkeye smiled slightly as he hung up the phone. Talking to BJ always made him feel better.
"Well, you look a bit more chipper." His dad commented as he walked into the kitchen. "How's BJ?"
"Fine." His son replied, his smile still firmly planted on his face. "He, Peg and Erin will be arriving in Portland at 1:30 Monday afternoon."
"So, I'll finally get to meet this irrepressible joker that I've heard so much about." Daniel Pierce commented as he pulled a mixing bowl out of the cupboard.
Hawkeye chuckled slightly and rose from his seat. "So you will. And I'm sure you'll love him. He's a great guy and the best buddy a fellow could have." He paused for a minute as he leaned against the counter beside where his father was washing vegetables for a salad. "I'm glad Beej called tonight. It was just what I needed."
"I'm glad he called too." The elder Pierce agreed, looking over at his son who gave him a questioning look when he noticed the mischievous twinkle in his father's eye and the sly smile he was trying to hide.