Chapter 9 - Who Comforts The Comfort-Giver?
Warning: This Chapter Contains A Spoiler For "Visions Of The Things To Be"
It was a dumb maneuver, running a man in Jack's condition up to Boston General. Charles had told her as much--loudly. But, he was forced to agree, that almost any other doctor would demand that Margaret be tested, given the right set of circumstances. Yes, Jack Scully had suffered a simple stroke--and yet there was more-there was always more, in her life. In one of life's funnier twists, Margaret Scully, wife of Jack, looked over at the sleeping form of Margaret Scully, wife of William, Jack's brother. She looked radiant, and was due in February-they were hoping for a girl. Would Jack live to play with his niece? Jack came from a family closer to Donald's and Charles' than she would have thought, but had found a home in the Army, a less intellectual pursuit than his family approved of.
Winchester had called in a specialist, and that specialist had brought someone with them. When Margaret saw who these two were, though, her eyes almost bugged out. The one, another doctor, went to help analyze Jack's blood. The other, a young woman sporting a page-boy haircut, said they had met before, and that she could help Margaret sort out her feelings this day. Lt. Col. Houlihan doubted both these statements, but she was willing to give it a go, just for trying's sake.
"I really am who I said, you know, Margaret."
"I don't want to doubt you. But the woman I knew exuded confidence."
"And inspired it, too. But while I'm not her, I...well, I am. And she had no counselling experience--diplomatic, yes, but no counselling. Unless you count...It gets confusing."
She was good at this therapy technique, acting more confused than her patient-at least it seemed like an act.
"Heh! You want confusing? Try this on for size. I love Jack Scully. I hope and pray to God Almighty that he will be alright. But I am not in love with him. And I never have been. And I never will be."
"Ooo-kay. You want to complete that paragraph? Cause' I can sense something's missing."
"No. I don't. The only thing missing is me. I'm always missing. I'm in the background, I'm out of focus. Somebody else has the limelight."
"Let me try a different tack. How did you feel, watching the news today?"
In her self-involvement, Margaret had forgotten what had happened to the country that November 22, 1963.
"I felt as though the last piece of the center had been ripped away. I didn't vote for the man. I despised his airy cheeriness. My friends at the Pentagon had some choice things to say about-well, about a lot of things. But Jack Kennedy was the President. And now Jack is dead, because of me."
"Say What? Margaret, what do you have to do..."
"I'm sorry. I meant my Jack. I'm confused. I just can't shake the feeling that his illness is all my fault."
Two doctors emerged. Charles--and another. The other spoke.
"Hardly your fault, Ms. Houlihan. But your relationship with him does have a bearing on it, sadly. I must return. The war effort, and all that. Uncle, a pleasure as always."
"Hardly. The pleasure is mine...Julian. Father, if you would."
From the background emerged Father Francis Mulcahy.
"I'm ready, Doctors. Ezri, will you be staying behind?"
Ezri Dax nodded her head. She was getting somewhere with Margaret, and the Padre would return for her later.
"Are you ready, Julian?"
"Yes, Francis. Just remember, hit the Promenade. The Kai has been on the lookout for you. Oh, who's the present for?"
"Oh, this. It's Molly's birthday gift, from me and Max. She is our families common link, you know."
"But, Molly O'Brien's birthday is not for 3 months."
They began to vanish in a halo of blue light.
"Julian, you know that hardly matters to me."
As Bashir and Mulcahy returned to the 24th Century, Margaret stared in wonder. Ezri used this as an opening.
"The Prophets sure like to give gifts. Granting Francis the ability to traverse time and space like that, that has to be a kick."
Now, Margaret turned on Ezri.
"My Chaplain is a traveler through time! One of my CO's drove a jeep straight at Godzilla! The other was a head-chopping Immortal, killed by people within our own government. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if that little weasel who killed Henry was the trigger-man in Dallas. Two more head-loppers : My head-shrinker, and the most nervous, sweetest kid I've ever met. Trapper and BJ hang out with that loose cannon archaeologist, Hank Jones, seeing God knows what! Charles sees fit to consult with his 'nephew' who hasn't even been born yet. Max and Soon-Lee Klinger tried to have affairs with their descendants-in-law, and have a milder version of the junk I was given. Said junk turned me into Nurse Wonder and the only man I've ever really loved into Super Doctor! Thank God for Peg Hunnicutt-the only normal one in the whole bunch."
"Mind repeating that last part--about Nurse and Doctor?"
"Don't be cute. I am in love with Hawkeye Pierce. But it doesn't matter. I've blown it. Killed our love. He hates me."
"Or do you hate him?"
"Why would I hate him?"
"How did he act, before the wedding--er, attempt?"
"Like--Pierce. Arrogant, getting his way, it's going to happen--it's inevitable."
"Do you like being inevitable, Margaret?"
"I don't mind the result. Just the presumption. And he is presumption personified. Just like that little tomboy he used to hang out with, when we were kids. No responsibility. Playing doctor at every turn -or- the two of them just running around. No one is supposed to be that free."
"You were kids together?"
"Did I say that? Wow. Ezri, I don't know where that came from. And I didn't say--no is..."
"No one is supposed to be that free. Easy answer : you resent and envy his irresponsibility and freedom, and I'm pretty sure he resents and envies your discipline. So call him."
"I can't. He has someone else..."
"I can't. I didn't go to Dan's funeral..."
"Margaret, CALL HIM!"
"Shut up! I will not call him and find out in the end that he's just like Frank, or Donald, or any other man!"
"Is he like any other man, Margaret?"
Margaret looked away.
"No. He's my heart. Loving him scares the hell out of me, though. Too many ups and downs with him."
"So he's crude, lewd, rude and arrogant, and offers too many ups and downs. Can I ask you a question?"
"He wouldn't be part Klingon, would he? I'm in the market since my transference."
"One more, then I gotta go. Too many ups and downs with him, right? What about without him?"
"May Jack forgive me, but without Hawkeye, I have nothing. And I know he feels the same way about me. Around each other, we are alive, powers or no."
"Then call him."
Charles walked in.
"It's time for Counselor Dax to go, Margaret. Have you called Pierce, yet?"
"Don't push me, Charles."
"Your relationship is your own concern, my dear. But for Pierce and yourself, Jack's condition is a health issue, and we need him here---now."
As Margaret picked up the phone, with the soon-to-be-departed Ezri and the omnipresent Charles watching, Margaret calmed her nerves by telling herself she wasn't surrendering to the inevitable--that it was surrendering to her. That her fate was not awaiting her in CrabApple Cove, but that Hawkeye's fate awaited him--with her. Lastly, she told herself, it was time she spoke the truth-both to herself--and to the man she loved. This newfound courage was a great help to her-because it wasn't Hawkeye who answered the phone. It was Samantha.