by Beth Mott
Hawkeye tossed restlessly on his cot. He was trying unsuccessfully to get some sleep. He and Charles were to head for the US Consulate in Tokyo in the morning and he knew that he would need all his strength and thinking ability to deal with the emotional turmoil it would bring. He couldn't believe what was happening. Why was it so hard to get that sweet child to the States, after all that's where her father is. Hawkeye could feel the anger well inside him again as he thought of the heartless soldier that had abandoned his little girl and headed to the safety of the States. If he could get his hands on him...but what good would it do? The guy obviously didn't care about the life that he had created. If he had he wouldn't have abandoned her and her mother, whoever the poor woman was. He felt even more heart sick at the thought that the child would grow up without knowing who her mother or father were. There had to be something that he could do. The thought of sending her to that cold monastery made him feel sick. There was no way he could do it. There was no way he could let that happen to her.
His thoughts finally drove him from his bed. As quietly as possible he put on his combat boots and his robe and slipped out of the 'Swamp'. He thought that maybe a quick stroll around the compound would help sleep to come, but before he realized where he was heading he was standing before Margaret's door. He listened carefully for several moments until he was certain that he heard the soft sounds of somebody stirring inside. He knocked softly on the door and called. "Margaret, are you up?" A moment later the door opened slowly as Margaret poked her head out.
"What do you want, Pierce?" She demanded in a terse whisper. "Are you trying to wake the baby?"
"No, I just want to see her." He replied in a low tone.
"She's asleep." Margaret repeated, her eyes narrowing slightly.
"I know." He acknowledged with a slight nod. "I just want to see her."
Margaret hesitated for a moment then pushed the door open further. "Come in." She said with a gentle sigh. "But be quiet. I don't want you to disturb her."
"I won't." He promised as he ducked into her tent. He stood just inside the door for a moment, his eyes fixed on the footlocker that held the sleeping baby.
"Well what are you waiting for?" Margaret asked, surprised that he hadn't moved. "She's not going to bite you."
Hawkeye didn't take his eyes off the makeshift crib as he stepped closer to it. Peering down at the child his eyes started to mist slightly. She was so small, so helpless...how could anyone abandon such a precious thing. He reached out to touch her cheek gently. Margaret stood at his side, carefully watching his face. She had never seen it take on such a look of tenderness before. She knew from experience that he was a very caring man, but the expression on his face was one she'd never seen before.
"She's so beautiful." He commented softly as he stroked the baby's cheek.
Margaret looked at him with surprise and couldn't resist commenting. "I think she's a little young for you, Piece."
Hawkeye shot her a look of annoyance. "I didn't mean it like that. I was just thinking how could anyone willing abandon their child. How could they leave her on a doorstep and allow God knows what to happen to her. How could anyone be so selfish..." He stopped when he realized that Margaret was starring at him with wide eyes. Looking back at her he asked curtly. "Don't you agree, Major?"
Margaret paused for a moment before commenting. She hadn't realized how deeply Hawkeye felt about the poor child's situation. She knew that he cared, but she didn't realize that he cared so much. "Of...of course I agree." She told him gently. "But what can we do about it? The Army, the Korean government, the Red Cross all say its impossible to do anything to help her."
"Well, I'm not giving up." Hawkeye said resolutely. "I'm not going to let her end up a recluse in some monastery. It's not her fault that her parents abandoned her, why should she be made to suffer her entire life for their mistakes."
Margaret put her hand on his arm and gently turned him towards her. "Hawkeye," She said softly, looking into his pain filled eyes. She was deeply touched by his obvious concern for the little girl's welfare. This was definitely a side of him that she had never witnessed before and it was having a profound effect on her. Boldly she reached up and touched the side of his face as she continued. "You are definitely one of the most caring men that I have ever met. I can't think of anyone else who would put as much time and emotion into helping that child as you have. But you're going to have to accept the unhappy reality that there is nothing that you can do."
"I can't accept that." He told her firmly. "There has got to be something, something we haven't thought of yet."
"Hawkeye, the only thing that you haven't tried yet is adopting her yourself." Margaret told him seriously.
His face brightened at her words. "That's it! That's the solution to this whole mess - we'll adopt her!"
"We? As in who - you and me? Are you nuts?" She exclaimed in shock. "There's no way they'd let us adopt her!"
"Why not?" He asked eagerly. "Nobody else wants her - not the Army or the Korean government or even her parents. They all think she's dispensable. Well I happen to disagree!"
"Hawkeye, there is no way they'd let us adopt her!" Margaret repeated.
"Why not?" He looked at her expectantly, his eyes searching her face carefully.
"Well, for one thing, in order to adopt her you need the permission of her mother and/or her father." Margaret pointed out. "And the chances of you getting that is very slim. I mean we have no way of finding her, no way of knowing who she is."
"Well there's got to be somebody that knows who her mother is." Hawkeye exclaimed eagerly. "Somebody must have seen her with the baby."
"What makes you say that?" Margaret asked curiously. "She could be from goodness knows where."
Hawkeye shook his head and said. "I think she's from around here, somebody who knows the camp, who knows us."
"What makes you say that?" She looked at him expectantly.
"The mother left a note addressed 'Dear Doctors'." He informed her, his expression thoughtful. "So she must have known that the 'Swamp' was the doctors' tent and in order to know that, especially in the dead of night or early morning she must have been familiar with the lay out of the camp. She couldn't just ask anyone."
"That's true." Margaret conceded. "But she could be anyone, anywhere. She may have left the baby and fled."
Hawkeye shook his head again. "I don't think so. I have a feeling that she is still around. She may even be keeping an eye on us to make sure that the baby is taken care of. I think we should ask around, maybe Rosie can help us."
"Okay, Pierce, say by some miracle you do find the baby's mother and she gives you her undying blessing to adopt her daughter, what then?" She looked at the excited expression on his face and said. "There is no way I-Corps would grant us the permission to adopt her."
"Why not?" Hawkeye pressed anxiously. "Why wouldn't they? We're both responsible adults..." Margaret smiled slightly, but didn't comment. "...We both have solid professions and a lot of love to give."
"We also happen to be living in the middle of a war and very importantly, we both happen to be very single." She pointed out. "And no judge in the land would grant custody of an infant to two single people who live in tents in a war torn neighborhood."
"Well then, lets get married!" He exclaimed excitedly, quickly solving one of her objections.
"What?" Margaret cried in great surprise. Her exclamation caused the sleeping baby to stir slightly. Lowering her tone she said. "Are you crazy? You and I get married? We'd kill each other before the honeymoon was over."
"Margaret, don't you see, it's perfect." Hawkeye continued, the excitement in his voice heightening. Now that he had the hint of a solution he wasn't going to let it go easily. Putting his hands on her arms he looked her right in the eye and said. "We can get married here - tomorrow- then we can start the paperwork rolling for the adoption. It may take until the end of the war for it to come through, but at least we can keep her here until we know if it's approved or not. Then after the war we can either go back to the States as a big, happy family or, if you want, we can get a divorce and I'll take her back to Crabapple Cove with me." Margaret just starred at him as his words sunk in. "What do you think Margaret?"