"Save the applause for your own performance, Major," he hissed. "You think you're just a notch? Well, I'm not too happy about being cannon fodder in your war with Donald Penobscott."
"Are you saying I slept with you for revenge?"
"I'm saying it didn't take you too long to go from 'I mean nothing to him' to 'Please hold me!'"
"You rotten, despicable –"
"Look, I don't mind. And remind me to tell Charles and Klinger; I'm sure they'd be happy to help you get even with Donald."
Margaret slapped him. "If you dare breathe a word of this—"
"Margaret, did you hear that?"
"Listen to me, Captain!"
"I'm listening! Margaret, I think someone's out there."
"You'd better pray it's a North Korean!"
Grabbing Margaret, Hawk cupped his hand over her mouth. Just as the Asian soldier appeared, Margaret bit him.
"Would you be Captain Pierce and Major Houlihan?"
Hawk let go of his sore hand and nodded.
"I'm with the 8063rd. We're here to rescue you."
Hawk turned to Margaret. "You hear that, Margaret? It's over!"
Margaret glared at him. "No, it isn't! Not by a long shot, buster!"
So what if they'd spent their night under fire and their day traipsing around wet, dirty parts of what could be North or South Korea. They'd come to the 8063rd to demonstrate arterial transplant techniques, and they weren't leaving until said techniques were aptly demonstrated. But just because they were in an OR in front of dozens of people didn't mean Margaret Houlihan was ready to declare a cease-fire, and after she'd slapped Hawkeye for the upteenth time on the pretext of handing him an instrument, Hawk was ready to fire back.
"It's a new technique, but it's safe," he told the audience. Margaret slapped him again. "For the patient."
Margaret fought back. "Nurses, be careful you give the doctor everything he asks for immediately. Otherwise he's liable to turn on you viciously."
"Be sure to communicate exactly what you need and expect," Hawk countered. "Or you could be blamed for something you never intended."
"This is a difficult operation," Margaret continued. "Sometimes patients don't make it after all. But you don't have to let the surgeon fault you for his mistakes."
"And that does it." Hawk turned to a doctor behind him. "Could you close for me? Major, may I see you outside?"
Outside the OR, but not out of earshot, Hawk and Margaret let into each other.
"Whatever happens between us outside of the OR, stays outside of the OR," Hawk shouted.
Margaret glared at him. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"So now we've reached the denial portion of our program? Alright, I can play along with that, Major. Absolutely nothing happened between us last night. So let's start acting like it." He tied his mask on. "Shall we return for questions?"
Nothing less than a hero's welcome awaited them back at the 4077th, though Hawk would have been just as grateful for a swig from the swill and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Alone, of course.
But the entire camp turned out in the mess tent to drink to his and Margaret's return, and Hawkeye Pierce wasn't about to let them down. He laughed in all the right places, and did his best to remain civil to his traveling partner.
Margaret and Hawkeye stood up.
"Thank you," she said. "Thank you all so much."
"You're warm and affectionate and lovely," Hawk professed. "And so nice to come home too. Isn't that right, Major?"
She answered him stiffly. "Yes, indeed it is, Captain. I can't tell you how glad I am you found us."
Hawk smiled in genuine relief. "I can't tell you how glad I am you found us," he repeated. "Boy, am I glad you found us! You really saved my life!"
Margaret turned toward him. "Excuse me?"
Hawk faced her ... a mistake. She slapped him so hard, he hit the floor. By the time he'd pulled himself up, she was gone, having stormed out of the mess tent to Potter's observation, "Hell hath no fury as a woman sustained!"
Lying on his bed, nursing a martini and his eye, Hawk was on the verge of a profound sleep when the door of the Swamp opened and shut with a crash to wake the dead. Hawk opened one eye and thanked God for B.J. He really wasn't in the mood for any of Charles' sly insinuations.
BJ smirked at him. Hawk pulled a pillow over his head.
"Not you too!"
"Me nothing," BJ protested. "I'm not going to hit a man when he's down."
"I think someone's already beaten you to that, anyway."
"Care to tell me why?"
Hawk sat up. "Last night, we were scared and lonely, and we turned to each other. This morning, she didn't want anything to do with me. Didn't even want to talk about what happened."
"I've made a lot of women very happy, BJ. Even if it was just for an hour or two. Please don't tell me that Frank Burns was a more memorable experience than I was."
BJ tilted his head thoughtfully. "This isn't about sex."
"I can't be about my thoughtful demeanor and charming personality."
"Sounds to me like maybe she felt something for you, and it scared her."
"She felt something?" Hawk was flabbergasted. "For me? She felt something?" He jumped off his cot, reinvigorated.
"Where are you going?"
"To tell Margaret. If she felt something for me, I think she should know about it."
"Who's there?" Margaret called out after Hawk knocked on the door of her tent.
"Don't call the police; it's just me," he answered.
She ushered him in. "Hurry up, you can't let anyone see you."
"You can't be hanging around my door like that; you want people to talk?"
"Margaret, people are already talking."
Her shoulders slumped in defeat. "Is that what you came here to tell me?"
"No." Suddenly he felt as nervous and shy as a high-school boy on his first date.
Margaret crossed her arms and looked at him. He took a deep breath.
"I came here to tell you that ... whatever feelings you have for me, you don't have to deny them. It's okay."
Margaret stared at him in surprise. Then she started to laugh, long and loud. "Thanks," she gasped. "I needed that."
He grabbed her arm, and she stopped laughing.
"I suggest you let go of my arm, Captain," she spat. "Otherwise the only feelings we'll be talking about is the feeling of my fist in your face."
He dropped her arm.
"Fine. You don't want to talk about your feelings? Then I'll talk about mine. About how nice it felt to wake up this morning with you in my arms. And how good you felt in my arms last night."
She turned away from him, hands on her cheeks. "Please don't do this."
"Tell me you don't feel the same way, and I'm gone."
Margaret faced him. "What you said this morning ... about us being two scared and tired people ... those are my feelings. Don't turn this isn't something bigger than it is."
He shrugged and started to go, but she continued.
"It can't work with us, Hawk. Look at how different we are! I'm regular army. You hate the army. You can't put two sentences together without a joke. I don't even have a sense of humor. I'm married. You're the camp Lothario."
"Alright, you've convinced me. Last night was a fluke. The most we could possibly be is friends. So how about it? Friends?"
"Friends," she agreed happily.
Hawk held out his hand for a friendly shake. Margaret stood and stared at him. Then she grabbed him by the shoulders in a passionate embrace, tumbling him toward her narrow cot before he'd had a chance to catch his breath.
"Major, may I join you?"
Hawkeye slid next to Margaret on the mess tent bench and passed her a cup of coffee.
"Thought you might need this," he said in a low voice. "After I kept you up all night."
Unfortunately, not low enough.
"Up all night?" Charles asked, joining them uninvited.
"Patient," Margaret covered quickly.
"Captain Hutt," Hawk chimed in; at the same time Margaret elaborated, "Corporal Cot."
"Glad you two settled your brouhaha," Potter remarked as he sat down. "Why'd ya get your panties in a bunch, anywho?"
"He got us lost," Margaret said quickly.
"She ate all the crackers," Hawk answered.
Potter smiled. "I always knew if you were put to the test, you two would make a fine team."
Hawk grinned. "Finest kind, Colonel. Finest kind."