"..Bothered, and Bewildered"
By Rob Morris

Note: This story contains elements of my stories "Through Early Morning Fog I See" and "Visions Of The Things To Be". But it is not necessary to read those to understand this. Characters by Screen Gems and Fox.

Chapter 1 - There Goes The Bride...

June 24, 1959

She was a young woman possessed of extraordinary powers. She aged only a day for every year. She had survived war, a dragon, travels through time, and been romanced by a swashbuckling Immortal. This day should have been the happiest in her life.

She was to be married today, to a man she was perfectly matched with, who possessed the same powers and abilities as herself. She loved him, and he her, that she knew for certain. But for all this joy, she felt uneasy. She was supposed to be happy out of her mind.

But Margaret Houlihan felt the weight of the world upon her shoulders. But she had to go through with this, didn't she? After all, she and Hawkeye were fated to be together. The Klingon, Worf, had told them, that, in 2003, the eternal couple would bring down someone named Cahn. But in that tape she had seen, Hawkeye did all the talking. She had supported him, but that was all. Did she have to travel 5 centuries just to hear her fiancee get the last word, again? Despite what Jadzia Dax had told her, Margaret didn't feel much like she would play any role in the history to come.

She felt like life kept depriving her of choices. She had told as much to Sidney Freedman, when they had last spoken.

"First off, the military. I love it, and I love my country, and I love nursing! But mine was a military family, Sidney. I didn't know there was another way. There are no combat roles for women. So nursing is one of a few options I had."

"Might I add, you're quite good at it--Lt. Colonel Houlihan!"

"I'm DAMNED good at it, Full Colonel Freedman. There's another thing! We were both Majors about the same time, but you've got your bird! I'm not saying you haven't earned it, but why? Why must a woman work twice-or four times as hard- to get promoted, unless of course, she has a sturdy back?"

"Were you ever accused of having a sturdy back, Margaret?"

"Once. But that's because I did."

"You, Margaret? C'mon, leave the jokes to your soon-to-be worse half!"

"The jokes, and everything else, it seems. But no, I got to Captain the easy way. I felt my promotion was slow in coming, and I was attracted to the deciding officer anyway. Mind you, I felt like slime. Never before, Sidney, and never again. That is as low as I think I want to go, even if I were offered the Joint Chiefs!"

"So the chauvinism in the military has you feeling boxed in."

"No. I'm used to that. Oddly enough, I always preferred Hawkeye's honest leering to the snide innuendos I'd catch elsewhere. No, there's more. A lot more. Has anyone told you about Deep Space Nine?"

"Father Mulcahy did. That must have been a pretty heady experience, seeing your own future played out."

"It was. That darling romantic fool even made a proper proposal to me there! I was high as a kite until..."

"Until what?"

"Until I had a "Vision". I later learned that the future Captain, a man named Benjamin-that name again-Sisko, had lost his wife in an attack. Well, this time, I was the ship's Captain, and...and..."

She was sniffling, so Sidney filled in.

"Hawkeye died?"

"I hated him, Sidney! It made no sense, but I did. How dare he leave me, without explanation, like Donald? Or even Frank? I know I hurt Frank, but I didn't expect to not see him when I got back from my honeymoon. Did I tell you that Dad never visited when I was in training?"

"That must've hurt."

"He meant well. Felt it would toughen me up, and it did. But I felt so alone! Before I knew it, the war was on, I was in command of all these nurses, and pure chaos. Then when Charlotte and the others died, and we were forbidden to speak their names...."

Sidney had been quietly told about the dark day in October of 1950 that had seen the deaths and purposeful erasure of Duke Forrest, Ugly John, and SpearChucker Jones, and the three nurses they had been with. The same people who had compelled the 4077th's silence had later made sure Henry Blake never reached home.

"So, seeing your own future, plus a fear of being alone, has you feeling boxed in."

Margaret shook her head.

"I'm strong! I can take being alone. And I'm not going to whine about an extraordinary gift like time-travel, whatever it showed me. Its just---Sidney, may I ask you a question?"

"Well, its a reversal of fortune, but, fire away!"

"What's it like---being Immortal?"

"Your fiance's got a big mouth, you know that?"

"Did he tell you-about us?"

"What about you?"

Sidney felt his couch suddenly rise. Margaret was lifting it from beneath-using three fingers. She then gently set it down, and ran off. Two minutes later, she came back with coffee-from a shop across town!

"Maybe you better tell me all about it."

"You heard of the 3966th?"

"Yeah. Dirty Stuff. Bio-Warfare, people as guinea pigs. You mean-you--and Hawkeye?"

"It was against our will. They gave us some phony flu shots, shots that killed over 200 other people. Us, though, it ---changed. We're stronger, smarter, faster--but so many people, Sidney! Those lowlifes just didn't care!"

"What about aging? I'm not getting a buzz, so I know you're not like me--or Duncan."

"Negligible. So now I feel like the man I love anyway really is the perfect man for me. I know it-and so does he. He--goes on about it--and on."

"So loving Hawkeye and Hawkeye himself have you feeling boxed in."

Her response surprised both herself and the Immortal shrink.

"Yes. Hawkeye is making me feel boxed in."

It was the first time she had said this out loud, and despite her tears, it felt good to say it. She wished she had the guts to say it to Hawkeye's face. She did love him. But he was crowding her.

"Whadaya mean, delay it? We already delayed it, from May 17th! We can't keep renting the chapel, Margaret."

"All I'm asking is for a little more time, honey. Is that so much?"

"Yes, it is. In case you've forgotten, we're meant to be together! Its going to happen, whether we like it or not! Its fate! Its future history! Our neighborhood Klingon said so!"

"Doesn't it bug you at all, Hawkeye? Feeling that we have to get married? I mean, its not like I'm expecting or anything. Don't you feel, what with that obscene potion they gave us, and being made to view our own future, that we're being led down a path, rather than walking ourselves?"

"Three little words, Margaret! I- Love - You! Any path that has you at the end of it, I don't care how I get there!"

Margaret kissed him, at that, but still did not derive the comfort from his pledge that she felt she should have. The doubts persisted, straight through to the big day. Of their many friends from the 4077th, only Charles Winchester and Jack Scully were able to make it. This only made the whole thing feel more ominous in her mind. Then, some words broke her from her reverie. The Words.

"Margaret Houlihan, Do You Take This Man To Be Your Lawfully Wedded Husband?"

Again, her words were as much a surprise to herself as anyone else.

"No, I Do Not. I Can't. Hawkeye, I'm so sorry!"

Pierce was too stunned to act or move as she ran off-at normal speed, thankfully. This day was going to be enough of a pain without explaining what they had become.

Charles spoke up.

"It's all right, Hawkeye! She'll cool off, and then come back, and everything will be fine! Wonderful! I'm--certain of this."

While his friend meant well, Pierce knew that kind words from Winchester in place of their usual banter meant that things were really, really bad. A concerned Jack Scully asked Hawkeye a question.

"Hey, Hawk! You want me to go talk to her?"

"If you would do that, Jack, sure. I'm not sure what I'd say to her, right now."

As Jack left, Hawkeye realized he did know what he wanted to say to her-and it was none of it good.

When he first found her, Margaret told Scully to go away. But she still felt something for him, so they talked. Around him, she didn't feel the deep love she felt for Hawkeye, but she also didn't feel so claustrophobic. After 3 months of silence, Margaret phoned Hawkeye to announce that she and Jack had eloped. She asked him to be happy for her. He was not. A year after that, a heated phone conversation was seemingly to be their last.

After a year of wondering if somehow she would come back to him, it seemed over. After 2 months of moping, his father arranged for Hawkeye to visit a ski resort in Vermont. He went there, quite reluctantly.

That same morning, Margaret Scully kissed her somewhat apprehensive husband, Jack.

"I'm so sorry about last night, darling."

Jack smiled an awkward smile.

"Hey, you relocated my shoulder right away! Plus, you were with me! Who cares whose name you called out---five times."

"Well, Jack, that last phone call, he was pretty bitter, you know!"

Jack nodded yes. He was into something good, and didn't want to jinx it. But he knew that it wasn't out of bitterness that his wife called out Hawkeye's name.

At the ski resort, Hawkeye drank alone. He now really did drink liquor only for the taste. His system metabolized the toxins without so much as a burp. He did not consider this a benefit of what Immunita had done to him.

In walked an extraordinary woman, possessed of special powers. She was feeling boxed in by her family's rigid structure, and so came to this place seeking the company of people not her own kind. She, too had very slow aging. Now, she walked up to Hawkeye.

"Mind if I sit here?"

"Suit yourself. But I'm not gonna be much company."

"Weelll, when you consider that you're the only man in here who isn't drunk, making a pass at me, passing themselves off as a ski expert, or all three, I think I'll do fine with not much company."

"Yeah. Uh, my name is Ben Pierce. People call me Hawkeye."

The woman was a beautiful blonde. At almost any other time in his life, Pierce would have been trotting out his best lines. But right then he was quite numb.

"Pleased to meet you, Hawkeye! My name is Samantha."

"Samantha what?"

"Hmm. Never really thought about that, before. I suppose it would be EndoraTochter, if you came right down to it!"

"Endoratochter? Er, howabout I call you Sam?"

She smiled, and for a brief moment Hawkeye felt his heart turn back on.

"Sam. I think I like that. Hey, is something bothering you?"

He lied outright.

"Oh, it's...just those instrumentals they're playing. I mean, doesn't that jukebox have any Sinatra?"

Sam looked over, and her upper lip twitched while her face was turned away.

"Those Fingers Through My Hair, That Sly Come-Hither Stare...."

Hawkeye lit up.

"Hey, I Love this song!"

Samantha smiled.

"I've always thought it was his best one! Maybe I'm a touch biased, though."

"Hey, wanna dance?"

"I thought you'd never ask!"

As they danced to the Chairman's "WitchCraft", the two forgot their nerves and just drifted together. But Sam's eyes were darting around, looking for any of her family who might have followed her-one in particular. Pierce's eyes he cursed, for they kept turning this beautiful creature into the one woman he still wasn't sure he'd punch or kiss. Not wanting to punch Sam, he kissed her instead. They danced long into the evening. For the moment, they were happy.

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