Chapter 8

Dr. Babson tiptoed into the doctors' lounge as quietly as he could. Dr. Winchester had herded the remaining members of the 4077 family in there around midnight when Dr. Hunnicutt and his troop had gotten back. It was now nearly four and most of the lounge's occupants were huddled together dozing fitfully despite all the coffee they had consumed.

Dr. Winchester had taken the seat nearest to the door. He sat up before Dr. Babson got through the door. "How is Father Mulcahy?"

"Resting comfortably," the younger doctor replied softly. "He's going to be fine."

Babson crept over to the hard chair General Houlihan had insisted on taking. "Uh, ma'am? I'm very sorry to disturb you -"

General Houlihan was awake in an instant. "What is it? Have they heard anything yet?"

"There's a phone call for you in Dr. Winchester's office," Dr. Babson whispered.

"From - the President?" Margaret asked hoarsely.

"No ma'am, from the Coast Guard. A Commander King," Dr. Babson told her.

Margaret jumped to her feet and patted her clothes into place. Then she turned and marched out of the lounge. Charles waited a minute or two and slipped out after her,

He had barely reached the office when Margaret let out a loud shriek. Charles forgot courtesy and burst into the office.

Margaret was sitting behind the desk clutching the receiver to her breast and sobbing hysterically. "Four! There were four of them!" She held out the phone.

Charles snatched it without a by-your-leave. "This is Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester, the Third!" he barked. "For God's sake, tell me what has happened!"

"Everything's fine, Doctor," Commander King said in a deep, calm voice. "We've picked up Flagg and his four hostages on Nantucket Island. They're headed back to Boston as we speak."

Charles sagged in relief. "Thank God for that! Four hostages, did you say?"

"Yes sir, two older men and a teenage boy and girl," the Commander reported. "The young people have some minor injuries, but that's to be expected. Those hostages must've put up one hell of a fight."

"Oh, did they?" Charles asked.

"Yes sir! By the time we got there, Flagg had not only been disarmed, he was out colder than last week's chowder," Commander King said. "He's on his way to the prison hospital with a severe concussion. Apparently he threatened the young people and the little guy hit him with an iron doorstop."

"You mean Mr. O'Reilly?" Charles inquired. "Well, well, well!"

"Yes sir, he's the one. I can safely promise Flagg won't be bothering any of you for quite a while. As soon as he's back on his feet, he's going straight to Leavenworth," the Commander said. "There was enough evidence there to put him away for the rest of his miserable life."

"Will miracles never cease?" Charles remarked. "That certainly is wonderful news! And Dr. Pierce and his party are coming back here - to Mercy General?"

"Yes sir, they should be there within the hour," Commander King promised. "Uh, is the General going to be all right?"

Charles looked at Margaret. She smiled back radiantly through the tears running down her face. "General Houlihan is ecstatic," Charles told the Commander. "She was merely overcome with joy. You see, Dr. Pierce's granddaughter Kim is her godchild."

"Well, isn't that nice?" Commander King said. "She had me a little worried when she screamed like that. I'll sign off then, if you're sure she's okay, sir."

Margaret spoke up loud enough for the Commander to hear. "I've never been better! Thank you! Thank you so much! I'm just so happy!" She lost control again and wept for joy.

"I trust you heard that," Charles said into the phone. "Thank you for calling." He hung up and fell into a brown study. "What do you think of that? Four hostages."

"It's Harry - I know it is!" Margaret cried. "He came to rescue Kim! Oh, I am so happy! I could die content right this minute!"

"I'd much rather you didn't," Charles requested. He stared thoughtfully at the map of the state of Massachusetts on the wall. "How do you suppose he got from England to Nantucket so quickly? And without a vehicle? Why, it's almost like magic."

"Er - um - yes, isn't it?" Margaret suddenly found the desk calendar intensely interesting. Charles kept his eyes on his old friend. "Ri-i-ight. So, tell me, Margaret, is this boy Kim's dating by any chance a wizard?"

Margaret jumped. "Wha - why ever would you think that, Charles? A wizard! Wha- what an absurd idea! There are no such things outside of movies!"

"Please! This is Massachusetts," Charles told her. "We have an entire town devoted to witchcraft. So don't tell me there's no such thing as the Wizarding World! Just tell me if this boy Harry is part of it."

Margaret took a deep breath. "Yes. He is." She looked up at Charles. "Please - don't say anything to the others! These people who have magical powers are even more fanatical about secrecy than the KGB!"

Charles raised one eyebrow. "Are they really?"

"They nearly expelled Harry for helping Kim capture Osama bin Laden," Margaret said indignantly. "They don't want any one from the Muggle world knowing they exist!:

Charles held up his hand. "Don't feel you have to explain wizards to me. I have cousins in Salem and Danvers. I've known about them before Harry Potter was thought of."

"Charles! I - I had no idea you knew!" Margaret gasped.

"Then you can trust me to keep the secret, can't you?" Charles said with a smile. "Now, don't you think we should tell Emily that her father and daughter are safe?"

"You go ahead," Margaret said. "I need to wash my face - it'll scare her to death if she sees I've been crying. She'll think something's wrong when it's not."

Em Possible cried her own tears of joy as she tried to embrace Hawkeye and Kim at the same time. Trapper and BJ pounded Radar's back gleefully.

Only Harry stood apart. He suddenly felt shy and awkward, watching the obvious affection that this group of unrelated people felt for each other. For someone who'd never had any close family, it was strange and a bit frightening.

General Houlihan came over and put her arm around Harry's waist. "I knew you would come! I'm so glad you did." Her voice faltered and she reached up and kissed his cheek. Harry blushed. His brain felt like it was dried up and he couldn't think of a reply.

"Now, Margaret, don't monopolize the boy," Charles chided gently. He extended his hand. "How nice to meet you. Charles Winchester,"

"I'm Harry Potter," Harry managed to say. Without thinking about it he stuck out his injured right hand.

Dr. Winchester took it and frowned. "I suppose this is what the Coast Guard terms a minor injury?" he said dryly.

"It - it's really nothing," Harry stammered.

"Nonsense! That cut is very deep. You should have it treated," Dr. Winchester said in a tone that brooked no argument. He put his arm firmly around Harry's shoulder. "If you could excuse us, please, Margaret?"

Margaret smiled and nodded. "Of course." She patted Harry's arm and slipped away to join the group around Kim.

Dr. Winchester led Harry down the hall and into a large, well-lit hospital room. "I trust we aren't disturbing you this early, Father?"

The boyish looking man glanced up from the book he was reading and smiled. "Not at all. Please come in. I was just getting in a bit of reading to start the day."

Dr. Winchester motioned for Harry to take the chair by the bed. He picked up the chart that hung from the end of it. "Good, good. I brought you a visitor. This is Harry Potter. Harry, Father Mulcahy."

The priest beamed beatifically and put aside his Bible to take Harry's hand. "Oh, my! I'm so glad to finally get to know you! Kim's told us about you," He looked down at Harry's hand. "Why, you're hurt! Charles, have you -"

"Yes, Father, I have," Charles assured him. "Perhaps the two of you can entertain each other while I get the necessary medicines." He patted Harry's shoulder and left briskly.

"So everything went well? You captured Flagg?" Father Mulcahy asked.

"Yes sir," Harry hesitated a moment, then blurted out, "Radar did most of it. He hit Flagg with a some piece of iron and knocked him out."

Father nodded. "Not hard enough to kill him, I trust."

"No, sir, just knocked out," Harry replied. "The Coast Guard said he's dangerous - Flagg."

Father Mulcahy nodded. "Seriously disturbed, I'm afraid. Thank God you were all able to escape relatively unharmed."

"We all worked together," Harry told him. "That way we were stronger even if he did have all the guns. There was one point Radar could've gotten away, only he came back 'cause Flagg threatened to shoot me."

"Knowing Radar as I do, I'm really not surprised," Father Mulcahy said. "He's truly one of the most caring and giving people. Of course, you see a lot of that in the 4077 family."

"Flagg kept trying to say Radar was weak. But he stepped right in front of that rifle to keep him from shooting me," Harry said in an awe-filled voice. "And we hadn't even met fifteen minutes ago!"

"People like Flagg will never understand how powerful love is," Father Mulcahy said quietly. "Flagg kidnapped Hawkeye out of hatred and discontent. You, Kim and Radar were able to save him since you were all willing to sacrifice yourselves."

"Which we're all terribly glad you didn't do," Charles put in. He came in with an elastic bandage and a jar of what looked like the same purple liquid Madam Pomfrey used to heal cuts. "But Flagg and his ilk cannot comprehend love simply because they're not willing to extend it." He pulled up a chair next to the bed and looked deep into Harry's eyes. "Remember that in order to receive, you must be willing to give. And before you can do that, you must believe in yourself. That is the true magic."

Harry nodded. "I'll remember that, sir."

"Hey, there you are!" Radar exclaimed from the doorway. "I've been telling everybody how terrific you were and they're all looking for you, Harry, to thank you."

"We'll be done in just a moment," Charles assured him. He laid aside the cotton wool pad that he'd been using to apply antiseptic and picked up the bandage. "Then we can rejoin the others. I've ordered breakfast. I trust we're all hungry by now?"

"Sure, starving," Radar said. "Uh, I see you met Dr. Winchester and Father Mulcahy. How ya don', Father?"

"I'm just fine, Radar," Father Mulcahy answered with his usual cheerful smile. "Harry has been telling us that you were pretty terrific yourself."

Radar ducked his head. "Aw, I didn't do so much," he mumbled.

"Yes, you did," Harry insisted. "We were a team. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Well, I would've been in real trouble if you hadn't come." Radar looked up and grinned. "I guess we worked pretty good together."

"Yes, we did," Harry replied.

"Of course you did," Charles said firmly. "Stop being modest and come eat."

He ushered them out into the hall and went to get a wheelchair for Father Mulcahy. Radar leaned close and whispered, "I didn't tell about any of the magic stuff and neither did Hawkeye. Gosh, if we said we saw Colonel Blake, they'd think we were nuts!"

Harry nodded. "Thanks for not mentioning it. It's too close to the end of holidays to get called up before the Ministry of Magic."

"HEY!" An elderly man leaning heavily on a cane was coming up the hall at a remarkable pace. "You - stay right there! I've got a bone to pick with you!"

Radar's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "Holy cow! It's Colonel Potter!"

Harry stared at the old soldier marching toward them and then looked back at Radar. "Colonel Potter?"

"Yeah, he was the CO after Colonel Blake left." Radar explained. "He's regular Army, but he's a really great guy."

Harry watched the Colonel approach. "He doesn't seem too happy."

"He's all right, I tell ya," Radar assured him. He drew himself up as straight as he could as the old man strode up. "Colonel Potter, sir -"

"You better believe it's Colonel Potter!" the venerable man declared loudly and belligerently. "Hell fire and damnation! Can't I take my eyes off you people for a second? What's all this damned hoohah about you riding helicopters and knocking Flagg out with a doorstop? Are you all right?"

"Well, yes sir, I'm fine, sir," Radar stammered. "It's just that I hadda do something, sir! Flagg was gonna shoot -"

"Do we or do we not still have a military left in this blasted country?" Colonel Potter demanded. "You leave the heroics to them and stick to your cheese farm! Where you're SAFE! Dammit! Not one moment of peace! KLINGER!"

A swarthy man with a rather large conk was trying in vain to keep up with the Colonel. He finally caught up with the group and gave Radar an apologetic look. "Ten o'clock news," he managed to gasp.

"Well, for cryin' out loud! You came all the way from Missouri just 'cause we were on the news?" Radar exclaimed. "Ya didn't hafta go and do that!"

"Of course we did!" Colonel Potter snapped. He glared fiercely at Radar. "What the hell were we supposed to do? Stay home like a pack of ninnies? Horse hockey!"

In a lowered voice, Klinger said to Radar, "It was all over the television about Hawkeye being kidnapped and you and Kim going after him. The Colonel insisted on flying to Boston pronto. I don't know what airline we were on, but I sure felt sorry for them."

"Aw, Max, ya shouldn't have," Radar protested.

Klinger drew himself up. "Are you kidding? I couldn't let him go alone. He was already mad about missing the banquet and once he saw the news, he was furious. I hope your ears are burning, 'cause he cussed every one of you all the way to Quincy."

"But - why is he so angry at us?" Harry asked indignantly.

"Angry?" Klinger looked surprised. "He's not angry - if Colonel Potter were really angry, the roof would have fallen in by now." He moved in closer and muttered. "He was scared that something rotten might have happened to you guys. When the Colonel gets frightened, he yells and stomps around. The mad is all a cover-up, you see."

Harry thought of Mad-Eye Moody and how gruff and abrupt he could be as well. "Yes, I think I do understand."

"Good. Just so you know," Klinger said. He put out his hand. "Max Klinger."

Harry shook hands awkwardly. "Nice to meet you. I'm Harry Potter."

The Colonel, who had been studying Harry, also extended his hand. "You wouldn't be taking the mickey out of an old soldier, would you?"

"Huh?" Radar said. The conversation had lapsed into English and he was confused.

"No sir, that's my name, really," Harry told him.

"I'm Sherman T. Potter. Welcome to the family, son." The Colonel took Harry's hand in a surprisingly strong grip. "Busted you up a bit, did he?"

"Just a bit. It's no big, sir," Harry replied,

"Is to me," Colonel Potter insisted. "I may not be able to dance, but I have every intention of being at your wedding, young man! You take it easy with the daredevil stunts, you got that?"

Harry flushed hotly. "Yes, sir, I do."

"Gee, I hate that we loused up your weekend with Matthew," Radar said to Klinger.

"Don't sweat it, kid, it didn't happen," Klinger advised. "They canceled Matt's leave - some big shot politician touring the camp during election year. The damn Army sure hasn't changed since we were in it. If we'd known sooner, we'd have come anyhow."

"What about Mrs. Potter?" Radar whispered hoarsely.

"Soon-Lee and Sherri are looking after her," Klinger informed him. "She and Boots are in our guest room and hopefully there's enough Oscar Mayer wieners in the fridge to keep her happy for the rest of the weekend."

Radar was so startled he forgot to keep his voice down. "Mrs. Potter eats that many weenies?"

"Of course not, silly," Klinger returned. "The wieners are for Boots. Y'know, someone could make a fortune selling cat food that smells and tastes like Oscar Mayer franks."

"I'd be happy with stock in the company," Colonel Potter grumbled. "That way, maybe I could get back some of my money! Cat puts away three wieners a day," he explained to Harry. "Won't touch any other brand, not even the ones God advertises. Most spoiled animal in the state of Missouri."

Father Mulcahy came to the door in his bathrobe. "Is it my imagination, or did I actually hear Colonel Potter out here?"

The Colonel skewered him with a look. "Oh, you'll wish it was your imagination when I get through with you, Padre!" he promised. "Did I send you up here to be a target?"

"You sent me up here to bring your letter and to keep an eye on everyone," the priest reminded him calmly. "I was doing rather well until Flagg and I had a disagreement over the story of Cain and Abel."

"Uh huh, looks like you nearly ended up like Abel," Colonel Potter said sourly. "Dammit, the next one of these stupid meetings will be held at General Pershing VA, where I can keep an eye on all of you."

"What an excellent idea, Colonel!" Charles looked less harassed already. "I will gladly relinquish all hosting duties and concentrate on the role of historian. One word of advice, however -don't serve any food which can be easily flung."

"No problemo!" Klinger sang out. "We can have Oscar Mayer hot dogs! Everyone eats 'em and if any get thrown, then Boots can clean 'em up."

Colonel Potter glowered at his assistant over the top of his glasses. "And you'll be paying the vet's bill! We'll serve something else every one eats - Korean food."

"Ohh, no, not that!" Klinger groaned. He put his hand on his heart. "I still love kimchee, but it sure doesn't like me any more!"

"Is that so?" Colonel Potter asked dryly. "I haven't noticed that stopping you from putting it on just about everything you eat."

"Nor have I," Father Mulcahy spoke up. He winked at Harry and Radar.

"Gentlemen, perhaps we can discuss this over breakfast," Charles suggested.

"Great idea!" Klinger said enthusiastically. "I don't suppose you've got any kimchee for my scrambled eggs, do ya?"

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