8

"And me too," corrected Margaret.

"You! What do you mean?"

She looked up at him, startled that he didn't comprehend. "That first time, in the hut; I was still married to Donald then."

"You know, you're right. I never thought of it like that." Hawkeye was a somewhat disconcerted that this had never clicked before. "I mean, I guess I knew, but you, you're different."

"The bare facts are that you were having sex with someone else's wife." Margaret didn't reveal any emotion as she spoke. "But yes, if you take into account what happened afterwards with us, it was different. Besides the fact that Donald and I were having so many problems and I never was with him again after that."

"You weren't?" Hawkeye stared at his wife, getting one revelation after another. "I never knew that. But didn't you go to Tokyo to see him not long afterwards?"

"Yes, but we mostly just fought. I got my own room. And then before I could see him again, he skipped out on me and left Japan."

"Oh. Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"Why would I? What would it possibly have changed?"

"Nothing I suppose." Hawkeye considered this for a moment and then stopped in his tracks as something occurred to him. "Margaret, if you never went back to Penobscott, then when you thought you were pregnantů"

"If I had been, it would have been yours." She stopped walking a step in front of her husband and turned to face him.

Now Hawkeye felt shell-shocked. "And you didn't tell me? You thought you were pregnant with my child and you didn't tell me?"

"Why do you think you were the one I confided in about it?" Margaret wasn't exactly sure why she'd chosen today to let that slip, but wasn't sorry to finally be letting him know. "If the test had been positive I would have had to tell you, if only to let you know why I was beating you over the head with a chair for ending my career, but since it was negative, I didn't think there was a point."

"No point! Didn't you think I would have wanted to know?"

"Oh Hawk, what could you possibly have done? I wasn't sure yet then just how I felt about you and it would've made things awkward between us. Then later, I just didn't think it was that important. Besides, if I'd told you before I took the test, you probably would've gotten excited and told the entire camp. That I didn't need!" Margaret took his arm, pulling him along to make him start walking again.

This made Hawkeye chuckle. "You know, you're probably right about that. But can you imagine everyone's reaction if I'd gotten on the loudspeaker with that choice bit of news?"

"I don't think I want to. Honestly Hawk, you know I wouldn't trade B-Jane or Charlie for anything in the world, but I'm still glad they don't have a big brother or sister."

"I admit, it would have been a spectacular example of bad timing." They walked along, crunching the leaves underfoot. The disclosure surprised Hawkeye, but he realized that his wife was right. After all this time, it just didn't mean that much anymore. Letting the topic drop, he returned to the previous subject. "So what do you think I should do about Trapper?"

"Do? You shouldn't do anything." She searched for a way to explain herself. "Do you remember when that war correspondent came to the 4077? Aggie O'Shea?"

"Yeah, sure. The one who had the thing for BJ." Hawkeye wasn't sure where she was going with this, but amiably played along.

"Uh-huh. If you'll recall, you were trying pretty hard to impress her and she wouldn't give you the time of day."

A slightly embarrassed grin appeared on Hawkeye's face. "Oh yeah. But my real goal was to get to you, you know. See if I could make you jealous."

"I know." Margaret's reply carried with it just a hint of smugness. "And I knew at the time that you weren't really serious about her, but we weren't really out in the open quite yet then. Anyway, Aggie was sharing my tent and one night she complained to me about your juvenile antics."

"I'm hurt! You mean she didn't like the bicycle?"

"Hardly. But I explained to her that you were a special case, absolutely incorrigible, and allowed to be 'indiscreet' while others weren't."

"Why Margaret," Hawkeye's tone turned flirtatious. "Sticking up for me, were you?"

She looked at him slyly out of the corner of her eye. "What can I say? I've always had a soft spot in my heart for a certain charming doctor." Then she shrieked as Hawkeye grabbed her and tilted her backward in order to plant a resounding kiss on her. She eagerly responded for a moment, then extricated herself, scolding him. "Hawkeye! We're in public, people will see!"

"So? Let them see. The neighborhood gossips will have a heyday with our scandalous behavior." Completely unrepentant, he pulled her to him again. Laughing, this time she didn't pull away.

Finally, they did separate. "You're horrid. You do realize all those old biddies' tongues will be wagging nonstop now?" Margaret acted annoyed but secretly was rather pleased.

"Hey, not much happens in Crabapple Cove. It's my civic duty to add something to the gristmill every once in a while."

She mock glared at him, straightening her shirt in her best imitation of prim and proper. "Well, despite that little display, I think I can still say that I was wrong about you before, when I said that."

"Wrong about what?"

"You're not really incorrigible."

"I'm not? You'd better get word to all my girlfriends then. They'll be disappointed." The crack popped out of his mouth before he could think. Hearing it, he sobered, realizing that it did make him sound hypocritical.

Margaret, however, didn't notice and playfully punched him in the shoulder for the crack. "I'm serious. You're irrepressible, a little crazy, and maybe you flirt some, but no one but me gets any privileges."

"What can I say? You've got me well trained as a one woman man."

"And I wouldn't have you any other way. But I'm afraid Trapper really is incorrigible. I very seriously doubt he's ever going to change. I don't know how or why Louise puts up with him, but she does, and that's just the way it is."

"Do you think Louise knows?"

"I don't see how she couldn't! He's probably been cheating on her for the past fifteen years. I do wonder if he would take it as lightly if she were the one with a lover." Margaret pulled her coat around her a little tighter as the wind picked up. "It's really none of our business though."

"I know it. And as much as it goes against the grain to just sit idly by, if I'd had a chance to think I probably wouldn't have said some of those things last night. Although I don't know what I said that was bad enough to make him storm out of the pub."

"He did that?" Margaret grimaced. "It sounds like you're going to have to be the one to call and apologize."

"If I wait for Trapper to call me, it'll be another eight years before I see him again. It just ticks me off that after all this time I get in contact with him again only to have a huge blow-up like this! Makes me wonder if it's even worth the trouble."

"Hawk, I know you don't meant that. You've been friends with him for half your life and I don't believe you'd just let that friendship die."

"No, you're right. I don't mean it." He thought for a moment. "Except, you know, I can't call him. I don't have the guy's phone number."

"That's okay." Margaret was unperturbed. "I got it from Louise when we saw them last week. I'll dig it out when we get back to the house."

Hawkeye refrained from doing more than dropping a kiss on his wife's cheek. "Margaret, without you around, I think I'd lose my own head."

"Oh, so that explains the way you acted before you were with me. I'd always wondered." She glanced at him coyly and, at his appreciative laugh, this time she was the one who initiated a public display of affection for the old chatterboxes to blab about.


Back | Forward