Part 8 by Mark Kelly

And on their passionate embrace, a light shone from heaven. A single piercing beam which once only illuminated the tension between them, now struck the raw emotion overflowing like a glass of water.

"Ben...." With effort, she lifted her face from his, momentarily unaware of his insistent gaze, instead focused on a point past his eyes.

"Margaret, please don't say a single word..." His flood of kisses moved to her neck and shoulders once again.

"How about two words?" She seemed not to respond as before and still he persisted with kisses softer than the beat of an eyelash.

"Love, passion, destiny, you, me....pick any two.." He breathed the words softly into her ear like a man possessed.

"No Pierce. Try...'Security Guard.'"

"What....." It took a moment for full realisation to sink in but when it did, Hawkeye froze in a state of suspended animation and glanced questioningly into Margaret's eyes. Liking not what he saw, he turned from their embrace. It was only then that he saw the source of the light which had shone upon them. It was not a heavenly light, held by the winged angel of love, rather the battery-powered beam of a standard issue security torch in the hand of Frank, the local security guard.

Hawkeye and Margaret jumped apart as though stung by a bullet. Whilst Pierce tucked his shirt back into his pants, and ran his hands desperately through his hair; an action Margaret had mirrored only minutes earlier, she herself adjusted the straps on her dress, which had *accidentally* slipped and twisted down her arms.

"Ahem." The guard coughed pointedly and continued to shine the intense beam on the pair.

"Are you folks aware that there is a very important medical conference being held in the building this evening? There are brilliant doctors from all over the world here, which is rather ironic, considering that you two were out here trying to remove each other's tonsils."

He tapped the torch on its useless plastic holster, as though making some sort of intelligent statement and Hawkeye was reminded of another pretentious 'Frank' that he once had the displeasure of knowing.

Margaret, as usual, was the first to gain her composure, or at least that which remained of it.

"Oh.....we're very sorry see....Ben.......Dr. Pierce had something in his eye and since I'm a.....umm......nurse......I thought...." she trailed off, sensing that her story was about as believable as any political statement.

Sensing Margaret was drowning, Hawkeye grasped the reins.

"That's right officer, I had something in my eye and she was trying to get it off.....on.....out..." Hawkeye stumbled over his words and Margaret glared at him with daggers in her eyes, assuming that he had done it on purpose. His cheeky grin in her immediate direction seemed not to deny that fact.

"Do you think I'm stupid, cupid? I saw quite clearly what you two were doing out here and unless you've got some pretty fancy ID, I'm gonna have to report you to the police on charges of trespassing and public indecency." The security guard seemed to relish his position of power over both the embarrassed pair.

"I've got identification officer. My name is Doctor Benjamin Franklin Pierce and I am a part of the medical conference. My personnel badge is in my room upstairs if you'll just let me go and..." Pierce took a step towards the building but was forced back into his place by the offending torch beam.

"Well my profound 'Doctor' Pierce, the only identification you seem to be able to present me with is that lovely shade of lipstick on your neck. And you ma'am.."

"It's Nurse Houlihan." The words were crisp, as though Margaret were trying desperately to grasp some tiny shred of dignity which may have remained.

"You Nurse Houlihan. From now on I would suggest sticking to the traditional white nurse's uniform. Lots of zippers and easy access for doctors with roaming hands."

And suddenly fascinated by the same invisible spot on the grassed lawn of the hotel, Hawkeye Pierce and Margaret Houlihan blushed.

The bars slammed shut.

Hawkeye sat on the grey-blanketed bunk with his head clasped between his hands. His shoulders shook convulsively and Margaret felt a pang of sadness. She crossed the dirty concrete floor and suddenly had the most despairing sense of deja-vu. For the briefest of moments she was back in Korea, with dirt for a floor and the raging war posing as cell bars.

The bunk creaked in opposition as she sat down next to Hawkeye's lanky figure, but his attention yet remained focused on the floor.

"Oh Pierce, please try and forget what happened. It was an accident and I'm sure it won't damage our professional reputations in any permanent manner." Her hand rested on his shoulder and once again, she felt the pent-up tension which he had so often radiated in Korea.

With an anguished gesture he lifted his head and she saw the remains of a tear resting upon Hawkeye's cheek. Margaret ached to kiss all traces of it away but knew it to be neither the time nor the place. But then again, they had been to Korea and back, so of what use were time and place anymore?

And then she saw it. That familiar glint in his eyes which she knew to be followed by only a single thing.....

...Hawkeye started to laugh. He collapsed helplessly on the bunk in a heap, his hands covering the tears of laughter streaming down his face. His legs pistoned in the air as though warding off some brutal enemy, which may have been the realms of sanity.

And just as she had remembered, his laugh was a contagious disease which engulfed her senses and never failed to force an outburst from herself. She would once try to resist the urge to join Hawk in his trademark cackle and yet in this place it seemed futile. Margaret hit his chest and arms with bunched fists, though her blows were weakened by spasms of laughter.

"You bastard! How could you be laughing at a time like this Pierce!? We're in prison for god's sake!" Then she realised the stupidity and irony of the statement she had just made, with herself laughing like a hyena and so with a outburst, she submitted.

His chorus of laughter echoed throughout the small watchhouse cell into which they had been thrown together- "rather a stupid move," thought Margaret, "considering the....ahem.... close-natured circumstances of their arrest." And she couldn't help but grin stupidly.

"Oh...Margaret, you...should have seen your face when I said 'get it off'! AHAHAHA! I had never loved you more than in that single instant! You're so incredibly beautiful when you want to kill someone!"

And with that, Hawkeye fell off the bunk in a fit of laughter, grabbing Margaret as he fell. They landed in a heap on the floor, arms and legs tangled, still wracked with laughter and without a thought for all the torch-wielding security guards in the world.

"Oh shut up Pierce! I....can'!"

They ended up- Margaret lying on top of Hawkeye- in a heap where they landed. And as they became aware of their acute nearness, they were also aware of that which was unfinished between them.

Part 7 | Part 9