Hawkeye and B.J. had arrived in Seoul on R&R five hours ago and had yet to leave the hotel room. Their marathon lovemaking session had started on the bed, progressed to the shower, took a brief detour to the bathroom floor, and came full circle back to the bed. Now they disentangled and B.J. fell back, letting out a sigh. "You're wearing me out."
"I'm hungry," was Hawkeye's only reply to that.
"Whoa, slow down there, cowboy. I need some recovery time."
"I mean," Hawkeye said slowly, amused, "that I'm hungry for food."
"Oh." B.J. stretched, and Hawkeye couldn't take his eyes off that beautiful, glistening body. B.J.'s hand landed on Hawkeye's thigh with a light smack. "I don't think I have the energy to get dressed and go out. Why don't you go and bring something back?"
Despite being distracted by the tantalizing hunk of man laid out next to him, Hawkeye felt his stomach growling. "OK," he said, "but you're paying."
B.J. shrugged and gave a "go ahead" wave.
Hawkeye got up and quickly dressed, then fished B.J.'s wallet out of his pants pocket. He flipped it open and the first thing he saw was Peg Hunnicutt's photo. It stopped him dead. He stared at her, guilt and betrayal and sadness washing over him.
The room went still.
"You're married," he said softly, as if this were dawning on him for the first time ever.
B.J. propped himself up on his elbows, watching Hawkeye carefully. "We know that," he said. "We sometimes talk about my wife."
The attempt at levity wasn't working on Hawkeye. He was disturbed by the reality of the smiling woman in the photograph. "When this is all over, you're going to go back home to your wife. What are we doing?" And then something clicked in his brain, turning his concern back on himself, as some kind of defense mechanism against the guilt. "What are you doing? This is just some wartime fling to you. You're just using me, aren't you?"
"Hawk—" B.J. tried to interrupt the bizarre outburst, but Hawkeye was on a roll.
"Oh, I know," he said, holding up a hand. "Like I used all those women over the years. Maybe that's true, maybe I deserve this. But wait—you know what? There's a difference here. I think those women knew where they stood. They were just looking for some fun, too. This isn't the same. The difference is that I love you."
B.J. just stared at him, a measure of surprise crossing his features, and Hawkeye suddenly realized why. He had never said "I love you" before. Never… not even in the throes of passion.
A full minute passed, and then B.J. finally began to move. He crawled off the bed and stepped into his boxers. As he did, he looked at Hawkeye and said, "Actually, I won't be going back to Peg after the war."
It was Hawkeye's turn to be stunned. This was news to him.
"I would be living a lie if I went back to my old life, back to my wife, after this." B.J. slipped into his olive drab T-shirt, then went to Hawkeye and gently lifted the wallet out of his hands. He continued, his voice soft, "It's something I need to tell her in person, though. She won't be getting a Dear Jane letter from Korea. I refuse to do that. So I guess you don't have any guarantee that I'm telling you the truth, but I am."
Hawkeye still didn't speak. He considered it a miracle that he was able to blink. He hadn't come to Seoul with his best friend and lover to get a commitment, but that's what seemed to be happening. A fraction of him was scared, another fraction was skeptical (he'd been hurt before and it was certainly possible he'd be hurt again). But most of him wanted to believe this was real.
B.J. took some bills out of his wallet and handed them to Hawkeye. "Here, go get us some food."
Frozen in place, Hawkeye gazed at B.J. He was looking at comfort and friendship, at love and loyalty, at the one man he would willingly lay down his life for, if it came to that. He was looking at his partner in every sense of the word. Finally he got his brain and body functioning again, and he tossed the cash onto the desk behind him. "Food can wait," he said, the first words he'd spoken, he realized, since I love you.
"You were starving a couple minutes ago," B.J. pointed out.
"Well there's something else on my mind now," Hawkeye said, heading back toward the bed and pulling B.J. by the hand along with him. He looked B.J. up and down, cocked his head. "Why the hell did you get dressed?"
B.J. beamed at him. "I have no idea what I was thinking."
They peeled off each other's clothing and fell in a tangle onto the sheets.