He didn't argue. As they finally lay still, she cuddled in close, half on top of him on the narrow couch. He kissed her over and over, relishing being able to touch her this way, being able to let himself kiss her this way.

"Maybe it was fate that we both ended up here," he said.

She didn't say anything.

"Maybe we're meant to be together."

She just nodded, then she crawled off him. He grabbed at her hand, afraid she was going to leave.

She looked down, smiling at their linked hands. "I'm assuming you have a bed somewhere?"

He let her pull him up. "Thataway." He pointed down the hall. "Margaret, I--"

She stopped him again, but he pulled her hand off his mouth and whispered, "No, damn it. I get to say this."

She stared up at him, and her expression was angry, as if she was sure whatever he was going to say would hurt her in some way.

"I was just going to say that I'm glad you're here. Tonight. And at the hospital. I don't know if it's fate or not. I just know that life is easier with you in it."

She seemed to be searching his face, as if trying to determine if he meant what he said.

"Is it so hard to believe me?"

"Frankly, yes." She sighed. "We've been down this road before."

"No, we haven't. I've never told you I love you."

"You've implied it."

"There's a world of difference between implication and declaration. And I just declared it. And I'll declare it again. I love you, Margaret."

"But why?"

"Well, I don't really know at this particular moment why I love you. You're making it a little difficult, to be honest."

She sighed. "You know what I mean."

Pulling her into the bedroom, he drew back the covers and pushed her into bed. "Do you know how many people I've told about my dad since I came here?"

She shook her head.

"One. You." He pulled her close, the motion almost violent, and he felt her hand come up to his chest, as if ready to push away from him. "Do you know what I did to Carol when she tried to give me the sympathy you've shown?" He kissed her quickly, forcing her mouth open, finding her tongue. He didn't let go of her until he heard her moan. "I pushed her away. It's no wonder she found someone else."

Margaret pulled him back to her, her mouth just as demanding as his had just been. He met her eagerly, pulling her closer. They finally drew away from each other, and she laid her head on his chest.

"I died the day I found my dad in the boathouse. My heart didn't just break--it disintegrated."

She laid her hand on his chest. "It's still there."

"The only thing left is what Korea carved out of me. Only pain's left. And the only people who can get in are the ones who understand that pain." He buried his face in her hair. "I keep things inside. You know that about me."

She was running her hand down his arm. "I know."

"It's a bad habit." He kissed her cheek, moved toward her ear. "You know what it did to me there."

She nodded.

"I don't want to go crazy again."

"You're a long way from crazy, Hawkeye." She pushed him away slightly. "Is that why you want me? To keep you sane? Because I can't do that. I can barely keep myself sane."

He nuzzled her neck, holding her tightly until she squirmed and he let her go. As she settled into a more comfortable position, he murmured, "We can keep each other sane."

"I don't know."

"Let's try. Let's be brave enough to try."

"It's not like we have much to lose, is it?" She laughed softly.

It was a very sad sound.

Hawkeye stood in the doorway of his office, watching Margaret walk slowly down the hall, as if lost in thought. She looked up as she got closer and smiled but then veered off toward one of the O.Rs.

He followed her, catching her before she could turn into one of the rooms. "You're off duty, Major." He still called her that when he wanted to get her attention. It always worked--this time it worked too well.

She spun and glared at him. "Maybe I traded shifts?"

"As I recall you used to hate it when your nurses did that."

"As I recall what my nurses did was my business."

He checked the hallway, there was no one around, so he pushed her up against the wall, his hand running down her arm. "Margaret, what's wrong?" When she didn't answer, he said, "I'm off shift in half an hour. We can go to dinner. Anywhere you want." He leaned in, kissing her neck the way she liked.

"I'm tired, Pierce. I don't want dinner. I'm going home."


"--Leave me alone." She pulled away and hurried off.

Sighing, he followed her, but when he rounded the corner to post-Op, she was gone. He gave up; she knew the hospital better than he did, could always find an out-of-the-way stairwell if they wanted to be alone for a few minutes.

As he headed back to his office, he heard Barbara say, "I was surprised to hear that she's resigning."

Turning slowly, he stared at her. "She's what?"

"Resigning. Going to Chicago, I heard." She seemed to shrink, and he realized he was glaring at her--a look he usually reserved for pigheaded generals...and one head nurse.

"Damn her." He slammed into his office and winced as the door crashed shut behind him. He began to pace. So she wanted to leave. So what? There were women here who were much more attractive than she was. He was just trying to recapture his past, that's all. Everyone knew you couldn't do that, why had he even tried?

He looked at the clock. Forget his shift. Forget everything. He hung his exam coat up on the hook on the back of his door, and opened the door gently. Barbara peered over at him warily.

"I'm sorry I yelled."

"It's okay." She looked down.

"I'm leaving early."

She nodded. Then she looked up at him. "You really care about her, don't you?"

Sighing, he said, "I really do."

"She's lucky." Barbara smiled at him brilliantly, and he thought it was a smile that said "try me when she's gone."

"No, my sweet young thing. I'm the lucky one." Then he hurried out, down the elevator and out the door to his car. Fortunately, Margaret lived close--he was driving like a crazy man.

She opened her door on the first ring, took one look at his face and asked, "Who told you?"

"My googly-eyed gal Friday."

She smiled tightly. "That must have been fun for her."

"I don't know if it was, and I don't care. What the hell is this, Margaret? Chicago?"

"It's done, Hawkeye. Just leave it alone."

"I will not leave it alone. Why the hell should I leave it alone?" He tried to pull her close but she dodged him.

"Don't. Don't touch me. Don't kiss me. Don't tell me you love me. I can't think when you do that."

"You're not thinking now. This is good, what's between us. It's really good."

"And it won't last. Nothing good ever lasts. You should know that by now."

"So you're taking off? You're going to drop your bomb and leave me lying in pieces and run like hell, just like those pilots in Korea who never saw what a mess they left behind after their strafing runs?"

"Don't compare me to them. I'm not trying to hurt you."

"You're leaving. I love you, and I know you love me."

"I told you not to tell me that."

This time he managed to grab her, pulled her in, surprising her, he thought, with how much stronger he was than her. He'd never really tried to hold her against her will before--the stakes had never been high enough to try to do that.

He expected her to fight. He didn't expect her to break down, to start crying.

"Margaret, talk to me."

"I can't do this." She was kissing him, frantically, pulling at his clothes, and he realized she was trying to distract him.

"No," he said, stopping her, pulling her hands away from him. "Don't seduce me. Talk to me."

"I love you."

"So far, so good." He didn't smile, not even when she shot him a worried glance. "So what's the problem?"

"You. You're the problem."

"I'm the problem? I'm not the one making secret plans to leave."

"You will. As soon as you're not so sad anymore. Then you won't need me. And you'll leave." She looked down. "In Korea, you always turned to me when you needed understanding. But then when life perked back up, you always turned away."

"That's not true." But he had a feeling she was right. He probably had used her that way.

"It is true, Pierce. I was there. I was the one getting my heart sliced open every time you felt better." She sat down on her couch, shaking her head.

Sitting down next to her, he said, "Margaret, look at me."

"No. You have bad magic, Hawkeye. I look at you and I forget my resolve. I forget that I'm not going to let you do this to me again." She was crying again.

"Margaret, I won't deny that in Korea, I could be a real ass. And I probably still can be one." He put his arm around her, pulling her closer.

She turned, burying her head against his chest, probably so she wouldn't see his bad magic.

"But it's different now. Everything's different."


"That man who treated you so badly, he had his heart stomped on. Carol didn't just find someone else, she found my best childhood friend to throw me over for. My dad didn't just die--he died after we'd had an argument over whether I was ever going to grow up."

She finally looked up at him.

"He wasn't proud of me, Margaret. Not that day. I'd had a bad day at work. I was drinking when he got home. I guess...he'd had enough. He really let me have it. And then he went down to the boathouse. He didn't come back for dinner. I decided who cares. Let him stew." He realized he was crying, dashed the tears back, but that didn't help him with his breathing--why was it so hard to breathe? Why couldn't he swallow?

"Hawkeye," she said, sweeping the tears off his face with her finger.

"I didn't go check on him. He was dying. I could have saved him. I didn't go check on him. Not until it was too late."

She pulled him close, let him sob. "You don't know that. It could have been sudden."

"I'll never know. I'll always remember that I didn't go down when I first noticed he wasn't back. I let him die." He wept then, like he had those times in Korea when Sydney had come to talk him off the ledge.

He'd never wept in front of her this way, but now...now it felt like she was the only one he could weep with.

"You didn't let him die." She kissed his face, over and over, as if trying to kiss his tears away, but it was futile because he seemed to have a never-ending supply. "I did let my father die, Hawkeye. I...helped him die."

It took a minute for what she'd said to register. Then he pulled away and met her eyes.

"He was lingering. There was no hope. I...we both know there are ways to end suffering. Ways no one would think to look for, if they hadn't seen what we did day after day."

He touched her face. "I'm sorry."

"I've been running from that moment, running blind ever since I filled the needle. I didn't want to face it." Her tears had stopped, as if the truth dried her out instead of sending her into the paroxysm of weeping he'd suffered.

She took his hand, held it to her chest, over her heart. "Hawkeye, if your father lectured you, it was because he loved you. If he was disappointed in you, it was because he was used to being proud of you. My father didn't give a damn what I did. Nothing was ever good enough for him. Not in the army, not in life. I almost felt like I was getting revenge when I ended his life. All the things he never approved of in my life were adding up to that one moment. The means, the skill, and the resolve. I learned it all for him--some of it from him."

He sighed. "I thought I learned all my good things from my dad."

"I wish I'd met him."

"Me too." He pulled her close, kissing her as tenderly as he could. "The old Hawkeye, he didn't come back from Korea. I'm not the same as I was. I know you've noticed it."

"I have. It's what scares me. That I'll fall in love with this new Hawkeye even more than I already love the old one--just to find out he's only here temporarily."

"He's not."

"I want to believe you."

"Don't go to Chicago. Give us a chance. You don't have to make me any promises." He saw her expression twist, realized that had been the wrong thing to say. "Or you can. You can marry me."

She looked down. "You? Married?"

"We can get engaged. Think of it as a prolonged period of you checking under my hood and kicking my tires."

She finally smiled. "I don't know."

"Say yes, and we'll go get a ring. Something that will remind us both of what we've lost--and what we've found."

"You spin words like weapons, Hawkeye. My fear is that you'll say goodbye just as eloquently."

"And my worry is that you won't say goodbye at all." He began to pull off her clothes. "Stay with me. Here, in a city that neither of us are from."

"I hate it here."

"Yeah, me too." He kissed her. "Call Chicago. Tell them you've changed your mind. When we're ready to move, we'll move together wherever we want. All right?"

Sighing, she let him push her down.

"All right?" he asked between kisses.

"All right." She sounded almost put out, and he laughed. She was making it very hard to win her back.

He thought that was exactly what he--both versions of him, the ass from Korea and the newer, sadder model--needed.

"I love you," he whispered in her ear as he reminded her why they were so good together when they were lying down. If only they did so well on their feet.

"I love you," she said, her lips touching his in a very sweet kiss before passion took over as it always did. If nothing else, maybe that would save them. He'd never stopped wanting her, and he didn't think she'd ever stopped wanting him.

And maybe, if they did this right, they never would.


Hawkeye watched as Erin Hunnicutt ran around the Potter's front yard. She was a cute little girl, even cuter when she ran up to B.J. and jumped into his arms, squealing as her father spun her around.

As Margaret joined him, taking his arm gently, he murmured, "Do you think I could be like that?"

She shot him a look, clearly surprised at the question. "If you wanted to, I imagine you could do anything."

"But could I do that? Could I be a good father?" They'd had plenty of babies come through the 4077th. He'd enjoyed them, but he'd never felt the draw that B.J. or Trapper had. Had his own dad been ready made for fatherhood? Or had he had to learn how it all worked too?

Margaret looked down at the ring on her finger. It sparkled brilliantly in the late morning sun--he'd bought her a big stone. Not because she'd wanted it--to his surprise, she hadn't seemed to care that much what it was. In fact, she still seemed a bit stunned that he'd bought her anything. No, he'd gotten her a big rock because he needed to see it on her finger--and he needed others to see it. It didn't make sense to him just yet, but he accepted it for what it was: a territorial response--and a bit of a fearful one. He still wasn't sure she wouldn't run.

He smiled at her. "Your honor, the witness refuses to answer the question."

She suddenly pulled him down, kissing him sweetly, then she whispered, "I hope to god you will be a good father." When she pulled away, she looked like she was going to throw up.

He stared at her, then felt a grin breaking out on his face, his mouth starting to curl up slowly, then picking up steam like a runaway train. "You're...?"

"That quiet little wedding we were going to have in the summer? We might want to move it up."

His grin threatened to grow bigger, which he didn't think was possible. His face already hurt from smiling this wide. "That's great."

She looked very relieved.

"Did you think I wouldn't think it was great?"

"I'm not sure what I thought. All those years in Korea fooling around, and I only had a few scares. Now, I spend a few months with you and boom, I'm pregnant." She grinned up at him, as if she wanted to take the sting out of the words.

"You want this, don't you, Margaret?"

Her eyes softened and she nodded.

He found himself softening too--as if some great tension had been lifted off him. He wondered if his dad could see them--he'd always wanted grandkids. "My dad would have loved you."

"I would have loved him."

"Well, lets see this ring." Potter was heading their way, beaming madly. "Heard he put a dilly of a diamond on your finger."

She laughed and held out her hand. "He went a little overboard, Colonel."

Hawkeye shot her a wounded look--one of his old ones, from when they'd fight in Korea. "Margaret, you wound me. You know nothing is too good for my woman."

"Your woman?" She shook her head as if she couldn't believe she was putting up with his nonsense, but her eyes were very soft as she looked at him.

He'd spent a lifetime pushing her away. He imagined she sort of enjoyed the idea of having captured him so completely. Although she'd never tell him that. She was enjoying making him work for her far too much to claim victory anytime soon.

Potter grinned. "I always knew there was something going on with you two." He hugged them both close, and Hawkeye felt as if, for a moment, he had his father back.

When Potter let them go, his expression sobered. "I was sorry to hear about your fathers. I remember when I lost my dad. It was tough time."

Hawkeye nodded. Tough didn't begin to describe it. But he imagined that years from now, when he was consoling some younger friend, "tough" would be exactly how he put it. He put his arm around Margaret, managing to get his hand on her stomach. He couldn't feel any indication that she was pregnant, and she looked up at him, shaking her head slightly.

He nodded even more slightly. She was right, they shouldn't tell anyone yet. He didn't want them thinking he was marrying her because of the baby. He imagined she didn't want that either.

He let his hand slip back to her waist. "So where's our man Radar?" He could feel her relax--someday, maybe, she wouldn't immediately think he was going to hurt her. He shot her a look that she seemed to read with perfect ease because she gave him a sheepish grin.

"I love you," she said, as they followed Potter over to where Radar sat with his mother.

"And I love you." He kissed her cheek, saw B.J. watching him, a smile full of approval on his face. "Both of you."

She laughed and took his hand, and for a moment, he forgot about his father and the bad parts of Korea, and just let himself enjoy all the good things--these wonderful people and the woman beside him.


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