(Author's Note: An oldie from my files that was never posted here before. Probably the sappiest thing you'll read all day.)

The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve, 1954

"Wow, that took you long enough," Hawkeye said as B.J. came back downstairs.

"You try putting a three-year-old to bed on Christmas Eve. She's bouncing off the walls. She wants to catch Santa in the act." B.J. sat on the floor next to Hawkeye and admired the beautifully decorated tree in front of them. Hawkeye had finished it while he was upstairs with his daughter. "I gotta tell ya, I actually considered giving her a sedative."

Hawkeye laughed. "Well, at least she's finally out. She is, right?"

"Thank the Lord. Exhaustion finally won out."

"Good, because I want a little alone time with my man before we call it a night ourselves."

B.J. raised an eyebrow. "Alone time for…? Shouldn't we retire to the bedroom so we don't get interrupted by Santa?"

"Ah, there will be time for that later," Hawkeye said, somehow managing to look both lustful and coy at the same time. "I'm talking about giving you your Christmas present."

"Now? You don't want to wait until morning?"

"Now," Hawkeye insisted, pulling a small box out from behind his back and placing it in B.J.'s hand. "Merry Christmas, Beej."

B.J.'s heart began to thump; he knew a jewelry box when he held one. His mouth went suddenly dry. Carefully, he pulled off the wrapping paper, and sure enough, it was a jewelry box, just as he'd known. He opened the box, revealing a simple gold ring, and the implication was clear.

"We can't be married, I know that," Hawkeye whispered. "But I want you to have this ring as a commitment. That I will love you forever. As though we were married."

Tears formed in B.J.'s eyes. He stared at Hawkeye in disbelief. He knew Hawk loved him; that wasn't the surprising thing. It was that Hawk was expecting to love him forever. Was apparently convinced that he would love him forever. The thought was overwhelming.

"Hawk, this is… I can't believe you did this."

"Will you wear it?"

"Of course," he said, smiling and then laughing. He leaned over and grabbed the back of Hawkeye's neck and pulled him in for a deep, passionate kiss.

Hawkeye took the ring and put it on B.J.'s left hand while B.J. simply watched. "I absolutely insist," he said softly, "to get one of these for you too."

Hawkeye tilted his head, then shook it a little. "That isn't—"

"I know. But like I said, I insist. This is a partnership. I'll love you forever, too."

Hawkeye smiled at him. He leaned in for a quick kiss and then put his forehead on B.J.'s. "C'mon. Let's go to bed. Erin will be up before we know it, wanting to rip into her presents."

B.J. waited until New Year's Eve, after they were in bed. He reached into the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out a jewelry box, flipping the lid to reveal that it contained a gold ring that matched his own. "For richer or poorer…" he said as Hawkeye stared at him.

"Well hopefully for richer," Hawk quipped, but there was no mistaking the tears in his eyes.

"In sickness and in health," B.J. continued, undaunted, dismissing Hawkeye's attempt to derail him.

"Until death do us part," Hawkeye finished for him, his voice thick with emotion. B.J. placed the ring on his finger and kissed him.

They couldn't be married, but they could commit to each other, and did. They were together until death parted them, when Hawkeye passed at the age of 83.