"Gee, nice place." He tossed the bags on the floor and looked deprecatingly at the red satin-covered heart-shaped bed. The purple satin chair and matching sofa were no better. Red heart-shaped pillows were strewn about. It was a tawdry room.

"Beautiful. You can have the bathroom first if you want it. God only knows what you'll find in there." She flopped down on the bed and looked around. The water in the shower started to run, and she turned over. Finally she could think about what had happened. Unfortunately, she was exhausted. Without another thought, she was asleep.

"Shower's yours," he called, rubbing his wet hair with a towel. He flipped off the light when he saw that she was asleep. Grabbing two blankets off a shelf in the closet, he made a bed out of the tacky couch and went to sleep.

He awoke in the middle of the night to a strange noise. He turned over and almost fell off the narrow sofa. He remembered where he was. But what was that noise? He glanced over at the bed, and realized that it was Margaret. She was crying softly. Without a conscious thought, he went over to the bed and sat next to her. "Shh, it's okay. It's me." She climbed into his lap and cried on his chest.

They sat that way for a long time. Finally, she sat up. She looked up at him. She reached up and laid a hand on his face. With that, they were arcing over the pillows, kissing each other wildly.

This is wrong, Hawkeye thought. He tried to pull away, but when he looked down at her upturned face, all thoughts of being noble flew out of his mind. He kissed her again, both of them struggling with cumbersome clothing as they hit the mattress.

The flight to Kimpo was quiet. They sat beside each other, holding hands, but saying nothing. She was remembering that last time, and wondered if now would be any different.

He was remembering the last time, knowing that he wanted this to be different, and hoping that she did, too.

When they landed, there was a jeep waiting for them. He threw their bags into the back and they left in silence. When they were a few miles from the camp, he pulled over.

"Margaret, look. I know that we don't have a history of being the most compatible, and maybe this is a lousy time to spring this on you, but I'm going to anyway. I want you. I need you so much." He looked into her eyes searchingly.

"I need you, too. Very much. But I can't be with you." She staved off his protests with a wave of her hand. "Please, let me finish. I didn't love Donald. I just wanted somebody, and he happened to be available. I don't want to 'happen to be available' for you. So you want me. Do you love me?" She looked at him carefully, measuring his reply for sincerity.

"More than anything. Be with me?"

He meant it. She knew him well, and she knew he was telling her the truth. "Always."

Christmas was upon them with a vengeance. Snow was falling outside the Mess Tent, and the ground was covered with white. There was a truce, so no patients at all, except two in Post-Op, recovering from a fight in Rosie's. The children from the orphanage were gathered around Colonel Potter, who was handing out presents with a jolly smile in a red Santa suit.

Hawkeye sat next to Margaret, each with a cup of eggnog. They smiled at the squeals of the children as they unwrapped the gifts, and touched their plastic cups together. "Love you, Margaret. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Hawkeye. I bought you something." She smiled and pulled out a box wrapped in brown paper with a red bow on top.

"I got you something, too." He pulled out a package much smaller than hers. "Here, you open first." She tore off the wrapping and smiled. It was a sterling silver frame, holding a picture of them cheating to win a three-legged race. Both bundled up in winter coats, he held her in his arms, and they were racing for the finish line.

"Thank you, Hawkeye. I love it." She kissed him quickly and pulled away. "This is for you," she said, holding out her package.

He tore into it with the same enthusiasm she had shown. Inside the box was a stretched piece of parchment with wood pieces at the end, like a scroll. "It's an inscription I found by Jonathan Swift that was written on a marriage certificate from a ceremony performed by Dean Swift. I read it and knew it was for us. I had an artist in the village paint it on here for you."

The inscription was, indeed, perfect for them. It said:

"Under an oak, in stormy weather
I joined this rogue and whore together;
And none but he who rules the thunder
Can put this rogue and whore asunder."

The End

Back | Stories