Author's note: Plain and simple, this is the episode "Sons and Bowlers" with a twist.
In this story, you'll have to ignore the episode "Father's Day" and pretend that Margaret's father is dead, like she said in "Bulletin Board."
Also, any feedback you have about this story is greatly appreciated, since that's the only payment I receive for my work.
"Pierce, you've been moping around for days. What's wrong?" Margaret asked as she sat on the bench across from him.
"Nothing," he said. He speared a piece of meat with his fork and ate it.
"I can tell something is wrong. You didn't smell your food before eating it."
He took a piece of meat and made a big show of sniffing it and then eating it.
"Hey, I'm not going to force you to talk," she snapped. Leaving her dinner practically untouched, she stood and left.
Hawkeye was on the phone trying to reach Portland, Maine so that he could get in touch with his father who was in a hospital there. He was talking loudly to the operator who couldn't hear him over the static.
Margaret, who was just getting off post-op duty, heard him and walked into the office. "What's going on?" she asked.
"Hold on a minute," he mumbled as he gestured for her to go away. She didn't leave. Instead, she sat on Klinger's cot.
"Damn it," he said as he slammed the phone back into its bag. He looked up and saw Margaret sitting on the cot. "What do you want?" he snapped.
"Your dad's sick, isn't he?" she asked, not even attempting to answer his question.
"Yes, he is," he said, "it's pretty serious, too." He took the crumpled up letter out of his pocket and handed it to her. While she read it, he paced around the office.
"Hawkeye, you're going to pace a hole in the floor! Sit down. While you're at it, calm down, too." Margaret felt bad for him, but from her own experiences, knew that getting worked up wouldn't help. "I know how you feel. It's rough, isn't it?" she said quietly as he sat next to her.
"No, you don't know what I'm going through," he said. He was annoyed that she was trying to sympathize with him when she hadn't gone through such a thing.
"Yes, I do," she said quietly.
Hawkeye replied without paying any attention to what she had said. "See? I knew you..." He stopped, mid-sentence, realizing what she had said. "Oh?"
"When I was fourteen, my father died." She thought back on that day, remembering exactly what had happened.
"I'm sorry," he said in a sincere tone. "Um...do you want to talk about it?"
"Sure. We can exchange stories about our fathers," she quickly agreed. She'd never actually been able to talk about her father to anyone. Her mother didn't want to hear it and neither did her sister, Kathleen. "Well," she said, beginning her story, "I don't think my parents were ever really in love. I do know that the only reason they ever married is because of me. You see, when my mother told my father that she was pregnant, he felt that he was obligated to marry her. Not only that, but he was hoping that it was a boy who would grow up to be the perfect soldier as he had done. Instead, they had a daughter -- me."
Hawkeye nodded for her to continue.
"Well, they tried again and my sister Kathleen was the result. So, on my fourteenth birthday, I had a wonderful surprise: my father had hanged himself from a tree in back of the house. I was the one who found him hanging from the tree branch. I know exactly why he did it, too. He felt that if he couldn't have a son, then he was not good enough to live," she stated coldly.
"What did you do?" Hawkeye gently pressed.
"I screamed, I cried, I swore. It scared me because only then did I realize I actually felt something for that bastard."
Hawkeye's heart ached upon hearing Margaret talk so hatefully about the man who was her father. "Then what? I mean, surely there's more to your story. If you don't want to talk about it, I understand."
"You're right, there is more. I was the only one around that day -- my mother and sister had gone to run errands. Anyway, when they got home, I ran up to them; crying hysterically, and told them what had happened. Do you know what my mother said? She asked me if I had taken him out of the tree! I told her I hadn't and she asked if I was waiting for the maggots to get to him."
"Oh, that was nice of her," Hawkeye commented. "And you were fourteen, right?"
"Oh, yes, I can see this now. What did you do?"
"The only thing I could do, which was what my mother told me to."
"You must have some good memories of him," Hawkeye said, trying to change the subject.
"Benjamin, that was the good memory," she said.
Hawkeye Pierce was shocked. Not only by what she had said, but by how she had addressed him. He turned and looked at her. She was hugging her knees to her chest, huddled in the corner where the cot touched the wall. He reached out and took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. For the first time since they had started talking, their eyes met. Hawkeye noted that she had tears in her eyes. Tears that were obviously caused by hate, not sadness. She used her hand to wipe the tears from her eyes and asked Hawkeye what his dad was like.
Hawkeye smiled. "My dad is great. I really love him. But there was the one time when I was ten ... God ... I didn't even get to say good-bye," he started sobbing.
Margaret moved over on the cot so she was kneeling next to him. "What happened?" she pressed gently.
He didn't answer. Instead, he reached out and pulled her closer to him. He needed someone to be with. But, realizing who it was, he let go of her nervously.
She could tell that he needed someone and she wasn't going to pull away. She wrapped her arms around him tightly and whispered in his ear, "I don't mind, Hawk."
He turned to face her and she pulled him even closer, letting him sob into her shoulder. "My mom ... died ... and he ... wouldn't tell me ... anything was wrong ... until it was ... too late," he sobbed.
Oh, how she hated to see him like this! She wanted to kiss him and make him forget his misery, but she knew that it wasn't right; not this time.
She made me remember, Hawkeye thought bitterly. If she hadn't brought up her dad's death, I wouldn't have even thought about Mom! This is wrong, he scolded himself, you're blaming Margaret for your hurt when she's trying to help.
Margaret finally broke the silence. "I know how you feel," she whispered. It was true, too. She didn't get to say good-bye to her dad. She didn't know how much she cared for him until afterwards, but it turned out that she cared very, very much.
"I wish you didn't," Hawkeye whispered back. He felt bad for himself, but even worse for others who had gone through it because of how awful an experience it was.
Margaret loosened her grip on him and he did the same. She looked into his eyes and he into hers. Margaret saw fear, pain, and sorrow in his haunted cerulean blue eyes. Her icy blue eyes were filled with contradictions: passion and hatred, joy and pain. Hawkeye couldn't comprehend why he saw passion or joy in her eyes, but he didn't question.
For what seemed like hours, they sat there in complete silence and looked at each other. Margaret pulled him towards her. Their mouths met and -
Hawkeye jumped off the cot and ran to the phone. "Hello? Dad?" He paused. "Uh, as far as I know, the morning reports are on their way ... okay... I'll talk to the company clerk about it." Hawkeye slammed the phone back into its bag. He was more than a little upset that it hadn't been his dad.
"It wasn't him, huh?" Margaret asked as she laid down on the cot and stared at the ceiling.
"No, it wasn't," the captain snapped. That much should've been obvious, he thought. Maybe what they said about blondes being dumb was true, after all. He almost threw himself onto the cot and sat there, not speaking for a long while.
Two hours later, they fell asleep in each others arms.
**Klinger's Office, the Next Day**
Hawkeye was awakened by the phone ringing. He disentangled himself from Margaret, wondering why they were there together, and stumbled over to the phone. A few seconds later, he exclaimed, "Dad!" He and his father chatted for the fifteen minutes they were allowed. "I love you, dad," Hawkeye said before placing the phone back in its bag. He turned and saw Margaret sitting on the cot, smiling at him. "I'm glad that your dad's okay, Hawk," she said.
Hawkeye grinned in reply.
**Officer's Club, that Night**
"To our fathers, who will always be a part of us," Hawkeye said, raising his glass of Scotch.
"Whether or not we want them to be," Margaret quietly agreed. She forced a smile as they clinked their glasses together.