Chapter 5 - Family - Lost And Found
It couldn't be called an exhaustive search-he simply didn't get exhausted anymore. But 5 hours of criss-crossing the streets of San Francisco did prove fruitless. So it was that Hawkeye Pierce returned to Peg Hunnicutt, having to tell her that the immensely angry BJ was nowhere to be found. He hoped that his girlfriend and lover, Samantha, was comforting Peg over BJ's mysterious tantrum. In fact, Sam knew well how to comfort Peg. She'd been doing it since they were children.
"I am so sorry, Peg. I couldn't find him in any of the haunts you described. I even doubled back to most, in case he was hiding on me. Unfortunately, my resume still doesn't include flight or x-ray vision. Why'd he storm out like that? What did you tell him--Oh, Peg, No-Not.."
"Hawkeye! That was one time, and BJ knows that. What he didn't know--was this."
Peg then twitched her cheek, and a ham on rye appeared, complete with a plate and garnish. She offered it to Hawkeye, who was not hungry but still surprised.
"You, too? Hey, guess what, Peg? Sam here is a witch, too...but you know that, don't you?"
Samantha , who was sitting on the arm of Peg's chair, gave her a quick hug for comfort.
"Darling, Peggy has known I was a witch from the day she was born-the daughter of Floyd Hayden, secretly a warlock, and Endora, my mother."
"You two--are sisters?"
"Half-sisters, technically. You see, my parents-Endora and Maurice-have been divorced for over a century. They use the euphemism, 'separated', but it's divorce all right-I had the tears to prove it."
Hawkeye reached over and took Sam's hand.
"I'm sorry, Sam, if I had known..."
"Oh, hush! I'm---over it--mostly. I think. Well, Mother married Floyd--ooh was I bitter--but when Peggy arrived, I was the happiest big sister on Earth-or anywhere else, for that matter."
Peg felt well enough to speak.
"I thought Samantha made the sun rise and fall-in fact, once, as a joke-anyway, I was as happy as a little girl could be. I pestered Sam, followed her everywhere."
Sam gave Peg a mock-angry look.
She then honked Peg's nose.
"Hey, was it my fault that I walked in on you and Rory? I thought you were playing "hospital", not what you were doing. Oh, Hawkeye, they used a 'grown-up' spell on each other, but they were so stunned at what they saw, they hid behind the two operating tables they conjured up."
"And then a certain mischievous someone decided to hide our clothes, right, Squirt?"
Peg seemed to be brightening.
"So how come BJ hasn't mentioned Endora? One would tend to think she'd come up, witchcraft or no."
Peg's smile faded a bit.
"Endora...can be difficult, Hawk. My father and her split, and he chose the life of a mortal-seeming veterinarian. Sam was in Maurice's custody at that time, and Mother wasn't in a mothering mood. Oh, how I hated it. Almost no magic at all! Dad didn't want to offend his neighbors. But it was a realer life than I'd been living, and so much more satisfying, at times. Thank goodness for Cheryl-my very mortal stepmom-for showing me things I thought you only did by twitching. She didn't care that I wasn't hers. Endora sometimes needed to be reminded of that, though."
"What about your brother--Bob?"
"Cheryl's son. But I have no steps, and no halfs, just a brother and a sister. I love them both."
"When Maurice-my father-got tired of fathering-I stayed with Floyd, Cheryl, and a certain someone who found herself shrunk to 6 inches, shortly after I arrived."
"Payback for the "doctor" incident, no doubt. I get the rest. Sam stayed with you til she was of the witches legal age, or like that. But, Peg? Why didn't you tell BJ?"
A voice in the door.
"That's kinda-sorta-wad I like ta know, EyeHawk!"
Hawkeye sometimes regretted his enhanced senses. BJ smelled like a distillery.
"Sam, would you do the honors?"
Peg spoke up.
"No, Hawkeye. This one's mine."
A little less gently than she normally would have, Peg gestured at BJ, wiping the alcohol from his system, bringing him to instant sobriety. He shook his head.
"Hey, what about the hang...Ohhh, forget I said anything."
Both looking a bit sheepish, Peg and BJ sat down together. A quick kiss didn't solve anything, but it was a good first step.
"Do you still love me, BJ?"
"What the hell kind of question is that?"
"One I'm asking."
"Of course, I love you. But--how could you not tell me, Peg? I can deal with you being almost anything, honey! But to keep this quiet for 15 years...."
"Hawk, I'm talking to my wife--how did you know about Trapper?"
"That's where you were. I couldn't tell because of the booze, but now I can tell his scent is all over you. Figures. The way you two get along, no one would look for you there."
"Poor guy finally threw me out, told me to apologize to Peg. Did you know that his ex is actually Melanie Louise McIntyre, and that she used her middle name as her first, but now, all of a sudden...right, subject. Peg, you could've kept me out of Korea. Or zapped me home on weekends. Or..."
Sam spoke up.
"No, BJ, my sister Peg could not have done that for you-I'll explain the sister part, later. If she had used her magic at that time, having married you, a -non-warlock- then, neither she nor my sweet little niece Erin would have been there when you got back."
BJ sat stunned, lost in thought. He shook his finger, remembering.
"I do remember Floyd arguing with this woman who looked like an Empress or-something. But then she wasn't there!"
Peg and Sam said it together.
"That's our Mother!"
"But what's this about you and Erin not being here, Peg?"
"Honey, when mortals started hunting witches and warlocks, a strong anti-mortal faction seized control of the Witches Council."
"Try to picture the Victorian Era, only it starts during the Inquisition and goes straight through to McCarthyism. Big rule : No inter-marriage--or else."
"Now it's changed?"
"Yes, mostly. When Mother approved you and me, Hawkeye, it was her call. Only 10 years ago, we would have had to submit to the Council-and not for a license, either. The Council's changed hands-though I wouldn't yet call it Mortal-Friendly. More Mortal combative."
Peg built on Sam's words.
"Back then, BJ, the Council scanned for stray witches and warlocks. Bringing you home would have signalled where I was. We would either have been on the run, or--they might have negated your existence-from birth."
"Wait a second. Wouldn't getting rid of me that way also affect...Oh, My God."
"To them, Erin would have been a half-breed, better off...Oh, BJ! I wanted to bring you home, stop the whole damned war, but..."
She was crying, and now BJ held her.
"I understand, now. But, again, Peg, why didn't you tell me?"
"For a long time after we met, I was scared. Scared of how you'd react. Then, we married, had Erin, and we had so much together, I was even more scared of losing it all. While you were in Korea, I had Erin to take care of, and I had to keep from twitching you back."
"Plus, Beej, remember how you were. If Peg had sent a 'By-The-Way' letter, God only knows how you would have taken it. Not to mention if someone like Flagg or Steele had opened it."
"I know, Hawk, I know. But, Peg, I came back home. I know we had our troubles, in 54, but--what about when I came back from the reunion in Tokyo? Why not then?"
Peg bowed her head.
BJ's eyes went wide with realization.
Hawkeye, glad to have all this out in the open, thriced the sentiment, holding out his upraised, opened hand.
Samantha was confused.
"Are we--talking about Walter O'Reilly, the young man who served with you? How does he figure into all this?"
Back in CrabApple Cove, a visitor popped in.
"Samantha! Benjamin! Daniel?"
Having missed Sam and Hawkeye, Endora instead sought out Dan Pierce. She found the straightforward mortal intriguing, at least a little. Not finding him inside, she decided to check by his little lake. She noted the presence of an Old One, now destroyed-by Hawkeye.
"Good work, Pierce. They are such awful creatures-why, they smell much like a wet burlap sack."
Then, Endora's eyes shifted to the top of the house-the very top of the roof. The wind was blowing-and yet Daniel Webster Pierce sat there, oblivious-to everything. Unable to think, Endora froze. She had no idea what was going on, why Dan would do such a thing. Later in the decade, it would be called an acid trip. But Dan hadn't dropped acid. It had been dropped on him.
Back in San Francisco, BJ explained to Sam about Radar.
"You see, er, Sis, Walter O'Reilly is an Immortal."
Unconsciously, Sam grabbed at her neck, indicating that she knew of Immortals- and their means of survival.
"Good, that saves time, anyway. Well, he got married to a girl named Cindy, who he tried to tell his secret before the wedding. As he found out later, she thought that was a joke-along with more than a few of her vows-but I digress. On their wedding night, he demonstrates his quick healing, to show he was telling the truth. Things-went downhill from there. None of us MASH folk are very fond of Cindy, mind you, Some of the things she said to him that night...Well, I go to the reunion in Tokyo, and he and another friend tell me their secret. In between Godzilla attacks, Radar tells me about his now-annulled marriage. I was upset for him. I--kind of love that little guy. We all kind of do."
A head poked out of her bedroom.
"I love Radar, too! Someday, I'm gonna marry him."
Peg folded her arms, and looked at her daughter.
"Erin Murphy Hunnicutt! How long have you been listening in?"
The girl smiled, then pulled on her cheek, and vanished, back into her bedroom. Everyone was taken aback. Hawkeye stated the obvious.
"Well, I'd say she's been listening for awhile now, but that's just me."
Peg smiled at BJ.
"Did I forget to mention that even half-witches have powers, honey?"
BJ laughed a little.
"Well, Sam, I came home and told Peg about Radar and his ex, and---I'm sorry Peg--I must have scared the hell out of you. Kind of like Erin scares me with that perpetual crush on Radar."
"It was my choice to be scared, honey. But hearing how Cindy tore Walter's heart out--on their honeymoon--I couldn't help it."
Samantha walked over and kissed Peggy on the cheek.
"Well, Sis, it's been fun, but I think we'd best leave you two to yourselves. Take care, BJ."
Samantha went in to kiss her niece Erin goodnight, and to plead with her not to give her parents too hard a time.
"Hey, Hawk? Thanks. What's with you and Sam?"
"Well, you may just be looking at your future brother-in-law, pal! On Thanksgiving, I'm gonna pop the question, Beej. God, she makes me feel like I'm in High School again."
BJ almost seemed to frown.
"High School ends, Hawkeye. What about you and Margaret?"
"What about me and her? There is no me and her-by her choice, I might add. Now she's another man's wife, and they're happy. Matter of fact, I talk to Jack every few months. He calls me, jokes with me about whether or not I still love her--hey, they're ecstatic. I don't love Margaret Houlihan anymore-how much plainer can I make it?"
"I just always thought, after the war, you two would----"
"That's what everybody thought, me and her included. Well, everybody was wrong. Period. End Of Discussion. Now go to your wife, before she turns you into a radio, or something."
The two shook hands, and Sam caused them to vanish. BJ walked into some of Erin's things.
"Sorry, honey, I'll tell her to put them away, first thing tomorrow."
When they arrived back in Maine, they couldn't believe their eyes. Dan was standing atop the house, shouting at the top of his lungs, like a madman.
"My son and Margaret Houlihan are complete idiots! They love each other, but they hide behind other people! Now, Jack Scully's a rugged fella, and Samantha has a hiney so beautiful that it should be registered as a lethal weapon! Oops! Sorry, Sam! But that bathroom does have a door, and a lock, if you'd remember to use it! She must get that behind from you, Endora! That shady character! Tellin me my son is dead! MY SON IS ALIVE FOREVER, AND SO IS THE WOMAN HE SHOULD BE WITH! You're great Sam, inside and out! But it's Margaret! IT'S FATE! I think---I better go for a walk. But first--a jump for joy!"
There is something about a life-or-death situation which can make anyone freeze up, no matter who or what they are. Hawkeye was a superhuman. Samantha and Endora were witches. They were certainly the most powerful people in all of Maine, but it bought them nothing. For you see--none of them actually thought Dan would jump. They were only able to move after a sickening thud registered. For all the bizarre times they'd had, this all seemed quite surreal. Too late, Hawkeye raced to Dan's side.
He had survived a war, and lived in the future. He had experienced triumphs, and had endured tragedy. He had almost been stepped on by a dinosaur. The future held even more challenges for Hawkeye Pierce. He was tough, able to take almost anything life could dish out.
But now, he was immersed in despair. A young woman who cared deeply about him, whom he barely knew. The CO he took for granted, never realizing he served with a Knight Of The Round Table-and one hell of a guy. A reporter, looking for the real war, and finding it. Six friends, erased by government edict. His beloved stepmother, whom he was so bitter towards at first. His own mother, whose passing was marked by better breakfasts. The surgeon and womanizer and survivor was once again an 8-year old boy, so fearful that his mother's death would soon be followed by another. As he buried his head in his father's chest, he spoke.
"Sam, please! Bring Him Back!"
But he knew she couldn't. Power is always defined by its limits. All of their power couldn't save Dan. By herself, Endora also cried.
"This--is why I hate--mortals. They're so blasted---unreliable. So---fragile."
Samantha held him close as he sobbed, unable to control her own tears. She had liked Dan Pierce-a lot. She loved his son, and saw that son in his father. Still crying into his father's chest, the little boy inside the man cried out loud:
"Daddy! Please--Don't Leave Me!"