Margaret stood up the moment the door to her tent had slammed shut. She looked out the screen that served as a window in the door and watched Hawkeye's retreating form head toward the Officer's Club. 'To drown his problems, no doubt,' she thought to herself. 'I can't blame him, though. I'd probably do the exact same thing if I were him.' She began pacing nervously. Of course, she was fond of Hawkeye, in a way, even if she didn't allow herself to show it. There was "Major Houlihan," the cool, no-nonsense exterior she put up. The Army was her job, after all, and she had to act professional. Even though she didn't enjoy this side of herself, she felt it necessary. Plus, it was a lot easier letting that side take over---going into autopilot was a heck of a lot easier than spiraling and spinning with her emotions. However, she didn't let the "Margaret" side out nearly often enough. In fact, that side sometimes seemed to her like it had withered away and died, until she went to bed alone each night. Then she would dream and allow "Margaret" out for a little fun. She thought no one even knew she had a side other than strict "Major Houlihan," but somehow Hawkeye had, and had even appealed to that side for advice. It was making her wonder again whether she was really showing her true self. Margaret had actually enjoyed the fact that someone had really and truly wanted to talk to her; people usually talked to her in a nursing capacity or they didn't want to talk at all, but rather use her for her body. Thinking about this, she was too distracted to really get mad at the two nurses who would now have to leave. They were great, but they could be replaced. What irritated her more was the fact that they hadn't felt compelled to speak to her like Hawkeye had. She was their head nurse, after all! But there was no time to dwell on it.
She suddenly had a thought and her stomach sank so fast that her head was spinning. 'If this could happen to not just one, but two, nurses at this unit at the same time, it could just as easily happen to me.' She went out the door, legs wobbling. 'Frank. I need to talk to Frank,' she thought.
Hawkeye walked into the Officer's Club, his eyes searching for Sarah or Lisa. He found them, surprisingly, sitting together. 'Sarah must not know that Lisa's pregnant with my child, and Lisa must not know that Sarah's expecting a child fathered by me too, otherwise they wouldn't be so friendly toward each other. I've got to diffuse this situation before it gets ugly.' He walked over and asked Sarah to come with him, on the pretense of needing her help in Post-Op, when he noticed something that outraged him. "Alcohol? You're drinking alcohol?" Looking over at Lisa's glass, he noticed that it too was a martini glass and added, "You too?" He balled his fists, angry that the two of them would endanger their childrens' lives. "You're nurses. I don't have to remind you of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant. I would've expected you to be more caring. Both of you." Realizing that he had revealed the fact that he knew both women were pregnant (therefore indicting himself in the other woman's pregnancy), he hastily covered up. "News travels fast, you know." Satisfied that each would think he was talking about the other, he took Sarah by the arm and led her outside. Just in case Lisa was still suspicious about what he said they headed toward Post-Op, but when they reached it they instead went behind it. "How dare you?! How....you know, I was going to go in there and ask if you needed my help or even wanted it, but now...now I see you don't even care!" With that, he stalked off.
"Force of habit?" she said to his back as he walked away.
Margaret burst into the Swamp without knocking. She needed to talk to Frank, and quickly. "Major Houlihan, what can I do for you?" BJ asked, looking up from his latest letter from Peg.
"Major," Frank nodded, acknowledging her presence. He was pretending to be completely professional and unaffected by her entry, but wasn't doing a very good job. Suddenly, his boots seemed to be of great interest to him as he stared intently at them.
"If you would excuse me, Captain, I must speak with the Major immediately," Margaret said curtly, turning to look at BJ.
"Yes, ma'am, Major, ma'am," BJ replied sarcastically and saluted, adding a wave of his fingers at the end. He walked out and toward the Officer's Club, then doubled back to listen in on their conversation.
"Frank, I really need to talk to you," Margaret started, then stopped and giggled. "Frank....."
Frank stopped nibbling on her ear and instead sniffed her hair. "I love the way you have your hair today, Margaret. It's very...blonde. Blonder than yesterday."
"It's just the light in here," she assured him, running her fingers through her hair. She smiled, then realized that she had a different reason for coming in here. "Frank! Stop it!"
"What?" Frank asked. "But I've been waiting all day, Ma-a-argaret!"
"Frank, this is serious!"
"More serious than you and me?" After a moment's pause, he asked, "Is it my wife?"
"Frank!" Margaret exclaimed, outraged. "I told you to never say that word in front of me!"
"Sorry, Margaret. You smell good tonight. Let me smell you, Margaret. Please?"
"Frank, this is important! Two of my nurses are pregnant and it got me thinking. What if this happens to me? What if it already has? I can't risk that. I'd have to resign my commission, and I can't do that. It's all I have. So we can't have...."
"Yes, 'discussions,' anymore."
"Please, anything but that, Margaret! I can't live without you!" Frank whined. He began to kiss her neck over and over.
"Frank, stop it! You know what kissing leads to!"
"No buts, Frank. Why don't we talk?"
"Anything you want to."
"I don't have anything to talk with you about."
"Nothing? Nothing at all?" Margaret demanded angrily. "You don't have a single thing to talk to me about?"
"Well...." Frank groped around for a subject, anything to keep her from getting mad at him. "Nice war we're having, isn't it?"
"Nice war?! Is that all you can think of? Nice war? Oh, Fra-a-nk!" Margaret stormed out of the Swamp, slamming the door behind her. She stomped to her tent and slammed that door as well.
BJ laughed and quietly made his way to the door. "What's the matter, Frank?"
Frank jumped. "None of your beeswax, Mr. Nosey!"
BJ laughed again, then went back to reading his letter from Peg for the fiftieth time.
Hawkeye, searching for either Lisa or Sarah, had wandered over to the Officer's Club. He saw Sarah sitting at the bar and immediately went straight over to her. Sarah looked up, saw him, and held up her glass. "Water, promise." After the little fiasco in the Officer's Club the night before, both Sarah and Lisa had agreed on two things: one, to only drink water out in public in case Hawkeye came upon them, and two, to not be seen together publicly. The plan was going great, and they didn't need it ruined. Hawkeye was obviously very nervous and uncomfortable about something, so she asked, "Is there something you wanted?"
"Umm, yeah..." he answered. "Listen, I'm sorry for what I said last night. I'm sure you didn't do it on purpose. I mean, I know this has got to be hard for you, and I'm wondering if there is anything I could do for you, anything you want or need? I just want to be there for you in any way I can."
He looked at her and noticed she had the strangest look on her face. Before he could ask her about it, she seemed to snap out of it and answered, "That's very sweet, Hawk. But there's really nothing you can do. I do appreciate you being there for me, though."
"Well, it's the least I could do," he replied. Then he looked down at her stomach and asked, very quietly and gently, "May I, you know..."
She smiled and nodded. "Sure." He lightly placed his hand on her stomach and smiled.
"My baby. Wow," he whispered in awe. After a couple of seconds, he added, "Bye, little baby. Bye, Sarah." He left, looking better than he had the past few days.
As soon as he left, Sarah got up to find Lisa. She needed to talk.
Sarah and Lisa were in the Supply Tent. After her encounter with Hawkeye, Sarah felt she needed to talk to Lisa. "Lisa, I'm having second thoughts. I mean, Hawkeye just came into the Officer's Club, all sweet and everything. He even put his hand on my stomach! I don't think I can keep torturing him like this. I think he's really starting to accept the idea of having children. It's one thing to make him squirm for a little while, but totally another to break his heart."
"Break his heart? What, like he did ours?" Here Lisa gave a cruel little laugh. "I just don't think it's been long enough. I mean, he still hasn't sent that letter to his father. We should just stick to the plan. It shouldn't be too much longer anyway. You know how he feels about his father. He feels an obligation to tell him, I know it."
Sarah sighed. "Yeah, but there's a thin line between teaching someone a lesson and being excessively cruel. I think we're treading that line pretty close. But okay, I'll keep following along, despite my objections. But this better not take much longer, otherwise I'll have no choice but to tell him."
"Don't worry," Lisa assured her, "it won't. It's going like clockwork, and there shouldn't be anything else to get in our way."
Sarah didn't quite look convinced, but she just shrugged and left to go to her tent.
After her little spat with Frank earlier, and after a few moments of raging in her tent, Margaret had gone out in search of the two nurses. After all, they would be leaving soon, and she wanted to help them on their way. Frank had treated her worries cruelly, and she didn't want them to be as disappointed as she had been. So she had decided to have their discharge papers ready, only requiring their signatures. She was starting to give up on finding them tonight when she saw Sarah step out of the Supply Tent. "Sarah! I think we need to talk," Margaret told her as she approached.
"Okay. What is it, Major?" Sarah asked, the confusion evident on her face.
"First off, I'd like to say that I'm not angry, although I have every right to be. Secondly, I'd like to say congratulations." She smiled and put an arm around Sarah's shoulders. "I just wish you had come and told me about your pregnancy yourself. I'd hate to think that my own nurses feel like they can't approach me with problems, especially when those problems affect everyone else in camp." They stopped, and Margaret turned to look her in the eye. "Now, I know this must be hard for you; I can only imagine what it feels like. So, I've decided to make things easy for you." She held the sheaf of papers she was clutching up to eye level, facing Sarah, so that she could clearly see what they were. "I've filled it all out for you---all it needs is your signature. It will probably still take six weeks, but this way you don't have to worry about that aspect of it. Here." She handed Sarah a pen that had been stuck behind her ear. "Just sign right here and everything will be taken care of."
Sarah took the pen from Margaret purely instinctually; when someone hands you something, you take it. However, she held the pen over the paper, hovering. The ink slowly dripped out and splattered on the paper. "I can't, Major. I just can't!" She ran, panicked, back into the Supply Tent and bolted the door. "Lisa, Major Houlihan knows! She just told me to sign my discharge papers! What are we going to do?!"
"I don't know...I didn't think anyone would tell her...who did tell her, by the way?"
"I have no idea! Hawkeye is the only person I told." Sarah's eyes narrowed as a thought came to her. "Did you tell anyone else?"
"Of course not! This was my idea! Why would I ruin it?" Lisa was yelling now, angry that her most carefully-laid plan had been ruined.
"Well, if you didn't tell Major Houlihan, and I didn't tell her, Hawkeye must have....you think?" Sarah raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"I don't know, but we've got to do something! I mean, this has gotten out of hand. Now we could be discharged from the Army! Not that I wouldn't want to go home or anything, but once they found out we aren't really pregnant, we'll have to go to a work camp or something! I'd rather stay here than go to a work camp."
"So would I!" Sarah agreed, adopting the look of a deer caught in the headlights, trapped and not knowing what to do. "We have no choice. We have to tell everyone that we're not really pregnant."
"I know, I know! But how?" Lisa, for the first time since they had implemented the plan, looked....well, like she regretted it all.
"Well, I guess we both have to go to Hawkeye together and tell him the truth."
"Now's as good a time as ever, especially with Major Houlihan," Sarah suggested, and at Lisa's nod they both headed out of the Supply Tent and toward the Swamp. Major Houlihan, who had been waiting for Sarah outside the Supply Tent, walked up to the both of them.
"What was that all about? I was only trying to help you, you know," Margaret demanded.
"Why don't you come with us to the Swamp and we'll explain it all there?" replied Lisa. Margaret looked confused, but she followed, hands on hips.
To be continued.....