"Ben, please, tell me what's wrong."
"Maggie, leave me alone."
"No. This sounds like one of our dumb fights we'd have in seventh grade. Let's quit fighting. There's enough of that go 'round up at the front."
"I'm sorry...you don't have to talk if you don't want to."
He gave her a brotherly hug and the two walked back to their tent hand in hand. "I take it you forgive me?" she asked once they were inside. "Yeah...how could I stay mad at you?" Hawkeye asked. Margaret blushed. "Hey, our tent needs a name...ya know, Trapper and Ferret Face's tent is named the 'Swamp' so, we need a better name than theirs," said Hawkeye. "Yeah..."
"Wanna call it 'Crab Apple Cove'?"
"That name's being used."
"How's about 'Maine Tent'?"
"I know! We can name it 'Tent Number Seven' 'cause we met in seventh grade."
"Brilliant. We may become famous for that name."
"Okay, so you don't like it, eh?"
"Not really, why don't we just not name it?"
"I'm begging ya, lemme call it 'Seven.' Please?"
"I give in."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"Under one condition."
"You let go of my hand! You're cutting off the circulation."
He let go of her hand, "Sorry."
"Hey, who was the klutz who fell when Al was comin' after us? Hmm? Well?"
"Okay, so neither one of us is all that coordinated."
"True. But, I'm still the smarter one."
"Ha! You wish!"
"Well, then home come I'm a doctor and you're only a nurse? Huh?"
"Wanna make somethin' of it, buster?" she kidded.
"You're on..I'm gonna kick your butt so bad, I'll really be able to rub it in."
Hawkeye burst out laughing. "What was so funny?" she asked as she went over her words in her mind. "Oh! Only you would laugh at that! You're such a pervert for thinking of that! You know what I meant!" she exclaimed as she too began laughing. "I guess I'm the funny one,huh?" teased Hawkeye. "No," said Margaret,"you, my dear brother, are the perverted one."
"Oh, save it!"
"Nope. It's true."
"Ha! May I ask, who was the one who was 'going at it' with Frank?"
"I certainly hope it wasn't you....or me..."
"Oh, funny, lady."
"Ha,ha. So funny, I forgot to laugh."
"Oh, shu'd up, 'major.'"
"I'd like to see you try and make me."
"Okay, but I warned you!"
He started to tickle her. "Stop it! Stop it, you idiot!" Hawkeye stopped. "I made you shut up, didn't I?" he commented. "Yeah...I have been beaten." He grinned, she couldn't resist, she stuck her tongue out at him. "I saw that!" he exclaimed. "You were supposed to."
"Ya know, for an older sister, you're certainly immature."
"Who was the first to leave home, huh?"
"And stupid for leaving us."
That's when what she had done only months earlier finally hit her. Left home. Left us. She'd packed up some of her stuff, and just left. How could I have done such a horrible thing? she wondered. "Hawkeye, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I left. That was really stupid. I'm sorry. Really sorry.How could I have done that? That was stupid. And immature. All I was thinking about was myself. Oh, God, Hawkeye, I'm sorry. Will you ever forgive me?" she began to cry. Hawkeye opened his arms to her and she leaned back into them. "I'm sorry," she said between choking sobs. "Shh...it's okay... we've all left home in one way or another and struck out. We've all tried to find a dream and a life of our own, but some find that that life is with family... it's okay... really," he said, trying to comfort her. She started to cry harder because of all of the times she'd held back tears when she thought of Daniel and Hawkeye back in Maine... Maine... how she longed to be there, both now and when she had been in Japan. Hawkeye tightened his arms around her. He thought back to all of the times similar to this back at home... when he'd first found out about what Al was doing to her... when she'd bombed the most important biology test they'd ever taken.... when she had found out that her mother had been killed and no one knew how or when or why... when she'd left home for Japan. "This is how I can sum up our lives so far, Margaret," Hawkeye said after thinking about all of those times they'd shared, "Well, we had a lot of dreams when we were younger, they thought we were crazy but we had the hunger. We kept a lot of friends; skipped a lot of class; been on top of the world and knocked on our -" he was interrupted. And he enjoyed how he'd been interrupted. A kiss. From Margaret. Right on the lips. Seventh heaven. He continued with his summary of their lives so far. "We lost touch; we lost in love; we lost our minds when things got tough; but beatin' time is a losin' fight, so I guess we're doin' all right."
"That's the most intelligent thing I've ever heard you say," she said. She'd meant it, too. "I love you," he said. "That's the second most intelligent thing you've ever said," Margaret commented. "Don't you have anything else to say?" he asked impatiently. "Yeah...shut up and kiss me." He couldn't ignore an order, could he? H*ll, no. He obeyed. Man, did he obey.
*Several Months Later*
Henry had just got his orders to go home. He was thrilled. His going home party was interrupted by choppers. One boy looked like he'd loose his leg. "Listen, I can save this kid's leg with a vein transplant," he'd said. "Henry, you're fired. Go home to your wife and kids," said Hawkeye. The crew bid Henry farewell. And he was gone.
*In the O.R.*
Around 1900 hours, Radar came in with a solemn look on his face. "I just got a message. The colonel's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. Spun in. No survivors." The operating room fell silent except for a few nurses dropping the instruments they had been handing the doctors they were assisting. "Oh my God," said someone after a minute. "Why Henry?" questioned someone else. "Now, he'll just be a number that his family will have to locate on a grid," commented someone else in disgust. "Henry was an all around good Joe. Why was it his time? Why? Who's next?" said someone. "Time is a teacher, and it's taught me well; the looser is the one who cries. So when you cry like a baby, and you hurt really bad, you'll know who's won. Evil." At this remark, everyone stopped to think. Hard. It made a lot of sense. Too much. Why did it have to be this way? Hawkeye recalled what Henry had once told him and decided to share it with the rest of the staff. "There are certain rules in war. Rule number one is young men die. Rule number two is doctors can't change rule number one." Well, why was Henry the one who died? Why did people you loved die? There aren't any answers to this, thought Hawkeye. None at all.
*Two Months Later*
The camp had finally gotten used to Colonel Potter and BJ Hunnicutt taking over the places of Trapper John and Henry Blake. It was tough, but they'd gotten used to it. There was one thing that was hard for Hawkeye to get used to other than BJ and Potter. Margaret. She was engaged! To Donald somebody, Hawkeye didn't remember his last name and didn't care to. Not in the least. He'd moved out of their shared tent and into the Swamp with BJ and Frank. Frank wasn't happy about Margaret's engagement either. Little did Hawkeye know that Frank and Margaret still saw each other occasionally. He'd never need to know now though. That was over. And so was Hawkeye and Margaret's relationship. They were still friends, however, I use that term loosely. Very loosely. To Hawkeye, the absolute worse thing was happening at this exact moment....Margaret was in Tokyo with Donald and when she came back, she wouldn't be Margaret Houlihan. She'd be Margaret Penobscott. How Hawkeye loathed that name. Quite a while later, Hawkeye heard Frank was missing. He didn't really care though. Days later, when Margaret came back and they'd gotten a replacement for Frank, they found the Charles Emerson Winchester the third was going to replace Frank permanently. Happy days. Hawkeye took out his anger by writing a letter to his dad.
Margaret's back. Frank's gone. Charles is here. I'm not happy about any of the aforementioned things. No way am I happy. She's probably going to (or maybe even all ready has) write a letter to you saying how happy she is and so on and so forth. She's lying through her teeth. I'm not saying this just because I'm jealous, but because I know it as a fact. She came back early from Tokyo. Tell you something? It tells me something. She ain't happy, no way, no how. I doubt this marriage lasts even a year. Don't worry, I'm not going to interfere. I promise. But, Dad, does this mean if she wants to live in our house and this thing does last, she will bring HIM home? Oh, no. In the next letter you send her, kick her out of the house for marrying that idiot. Please, I'm begging you. I can't live with those two. I know! Come to Korea and talk to her! She listens to you, Dad. Please. Come here before Donald breaks her heart and I'm left to pick up the pieces.
Margaret's letter home was exactly like Hawkeye had guessed, only Daniel never saw it. He was on his way to Korea when the letter Margaret wrote him arrived. What am I doing? wondered Daniel. I'm going to the middle of a war to tell my daughter I don't want her seeing this man...who happens to be her husband? This isn't going to be good. A day later, Daniel arrived and Hawkeye ran out to greet him. "Hi, Dad! I'm so glad you came to see us here!" Margaret was standing outside with Hawkeye and echoed, "Yeah, so glad." She didn't sound thrilled, thought Daniel. He ignored her tone. "Hey, Maggie!" he gave her a big bear hug. Same thing for Hawkeye. "How've you two been?" Dan asked. "Great," replied Hawkeye and Margaret in unison. "So, I hear you're married. How is it?" he asked Margaret. "Well, okay...I guess."
"Well, not even that good. He's a little liar."
"He cheated on me! Numerous times!"
"Oh, Margaret, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault."
"It must hurt."
"Maggie, you don't have to pretend to be tough. We know you too well."
"Okay, I'll be downright honest: it hurts bad. How could I have been so dumb as to fall for him?"
"Margaret, it's not your fault. You can't predict the future."
"I can right now. I see us getting a rather unfriendly divorce and me being alone for the rest of my life."
"Oh, what am I? Garbage?" teased Hawkeye. Daniel shot him a look.
"I hate to say this, but we're just standing in the middle of the camp here. Anyone could be listening," pointed out Hawkeye. They walked to the V.I.P tent where Daniel would be staying. "So, uh, I was wondering, do you still share the same tent?" Daniel was wondering about that for quite some time.
"Yes," answered Hawkeye. "Margaret, what did Donald have to say about that?"
"He wasn't too happy, but I told him it was nothing new for us to share a living space and nothing would go on and such. Too bad he can't live by the same thing..." answered Margaret. "You sound really mad at him. What are you going to do about him?" inquired Daniel. "Nothing. I can't do anything about it," replied Margaret who tilted her head down so they could not see her face. "Why?" asked Hawkeye and Daniel in unison. "I just can't," she replied. "Will he hurt you some how?" Hawkeye ventured. "No!" Margaret said it in a voice that didn't quite convince them, however it came close to it. "Honest?" Hawkeye asked. "Honest."
*Later That Night*
What was that? wondered Margaret.
Hawkeye was awake and had gotten out of bed to go see Daniel. That had to be it, she thought. Just to make sure, she turned on the light above her cot. That hadn't been it! Hawkeye was still in bed, asleep! Margaret prayed that she hadn't made a mistake by turning on the light.
It had to be a squirrel that just stepped on a twig outside, she decided. But, that doesn't account for the noises inside. Who had it been? Donald. He knew she'd found out about his secret. He didn't want her to know so he was coming after her. Closer and closer and then when he got to her-
"Argh!" she'd been scaring herself. How could I have been so childish? she wondered. Still, it all made sense. Perfect sense. That's what scared her. She needed someone to talk to. Daniel. He was like a father, after all. No, she shouldn't go wake him up at this hour. "Hawkeye?" she whispered. He groaned, "Not at this hour."
"Please. We need to talk," she said. "About?" he was wide awake now. "Donald," was the simple reply. How Hawkeye loathed that name. "What did he do now?" Hawkeye demanded. His heart was set on protecting his "sister" from that scum. "I'm afraid of him. I hear a twig snap, and I think it's him coming after me," she answered quietly. "Oh, Margaret," his voice was pained as if he felt her fear. "It's stupid. I shouldn't bother you with it. G'night," she turned off the light.
"Why are you afraid of him?" Hawkeye wondered. "I don't wanna talk about it," she snapped. "Okay."
*Two Months Later*
Hawkeye and Daniel had persuaded Margaret into getting a divorce and on this precise day, it was final. No more papers or anything. As far as Margaret cared, Donald didn't exist any more than the monsters that used to live under her bed, years ago. Hawkeye wished his dad was there to see the improvement the divorce had made in Margaret's attitude towards life. There was plenty of change to go around, too. Radar had left and Klinger took over as clerk. And, truce talks had begun again. This time was different, though. Peace seemed to be incredibly close. Months, perhaps only weeks and the war would be only memories.
*June of Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-three*
"At ten o'clock this evening, the Korean Conflict will be officially over!!" declared a voice over the P.A. How time goes by so quickly, Hawkeye thought sarcastically. The camp was dismantled for the very last time that day. No one had clear feelings about the events of that day. Someone would hear somebody else say something and start to cry remembering that would be the last time the saw that person. It was a happy, yet sad day. Friends stuck together in tight groups, hugging and talking or even just standing there savoring the last hours they had together. Then, slowly, the personnel left. The nurses, Klinger and his wife, BJ, Charles, the enlisted men, and Colonel Potter. Hawkeye and Margaret were the last to leave. The very last thing they did was pick a wild flower from the edge of the minefield and place it in the middle of a book. The Last of The Mohicans.
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