Hawkeye woke to what he thought was the faint sound of shells booming in the hills. Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes and looked around the darkened tent. It was still night; Charles was bundled up over the other side of the tent, and BJ was sleeping with his mouth open, snoring faintly. Hawkeye shook his head trying to break off the feeling of uneasiness. Hitting his pillow experimentally, he moved Charlesí jacket underneath. No wonder he couldnít sleep, Charles was keeping a library in his pockets. He tipped it out and stared at the dark book in his hand.
A rattle of machinegun fire made Hawkeye jump to his feet and stare behind him. A Korean voice barked a sharp order, and many voices replied. Hawkeye stumbled blindly out into the compound, trying to escape the voices, and spun round to see a young Korean woman walk slowly towards him, her hand outstretched and her smiling face dissolving into the black and white of photographs.
"AAAH! Sao Yung!" shouted Hawkeye, falling to his knees and hiding his face. Looking up in terror, the beautiful face before him shimmered into that of Klingerís curious nose. He took a deep breath, and passed out.
"By all thatís holy, captain, what a noise!" said Klinger, dropping to his knees alongside the fallen surgeon. Hawkeye sat up groggily and grabbed the clerkís arm.
"Klinger, thank god itís you," he said, a nervous laugh in his voice. "What are you doing up so late?"
"I was reading because I couldnít sleep, heard someone else outside so I thought Iíd take a look," said the bewildered Lebanese.
"Not as far as I can see, sir," said Klinger anxiously, looking up at the sleepy BJ who was standing in the doorway, and Margaret who had hurried over.
"Was that Hawkeye shouting?" she asked, curiously.
"Yeah, are you alright, Hawkeye?" said BJ concerned, coming over to where his friend was sitting. Hawkeye smiled weakly. "I guess just a bad dream." He looked down and suddenly realised he was holding a leather-bound book. He dropped it as if he had been scalded and raised terrified eyes to Margaret, who sat down rather suddenly on the floor. Klinger stared.
"Is there something wrong with you too, major?" he asked incredulously. Just then Potter came out, tying his dressing gown and looking irate.
"All right, whatís all the kerfuffle about, folks? Can you not see the night outside meaning it is zed time?" he said. Hawkeye scrambled to his feet, giving Margaret a hand up. "Just a bad dream, Colonel. Though Iíd like you to put through a call to Sidney Freedman."
"Why, you going mad, Pierce?"
Hawkeye managed a smile. "No, itís for Parker in Post-Op. I think he needs someone to talk to."
Colonel Potter narrowed his eyes but nodded understandingly. "All right, Pierce, but go back to bed! All of you!" he said, looking around. BJ shrugged and went back inside, Klinger wandered off to his office. Margaret caught Hawkeyeís arm.
"Did I hear you say Sao Yung?" she asked in a low whisper. Hawkeye nodded slowly.
"Of Koreans, and guns, and that girl. Margaret, I..."
She laid a trembling finger on his lips. "Donít say any more. Iím fed up with this damn book and these damn dreams. Letís burn it. Now. Donít let it out of your sight, Iím going for some matches, Iíll be back pretty soon." She left like a pale wraith in the dark compound. Hawkeye drew in a deep breath. The book was ignored near completely as he stared after her. The feel of her soft finger still lingered on his lips, and those painful feelings suppressed for so long fought their way out. How could he bear living here any longer without telling her? He shook his head dazedly and tried to calm his wildly beating heart, whether from the dream, the shock or newer feelings. He stared fixedly at the dark shape of the book, nearly crying out in alarm when he felt a touch on his arm. Margaret looked concernedly up at him. He managed a smile, once more his roguish faÁade hiding his true feelings.
"Itís a shame we have no marshmallows for our campfire," he commented as the first flames licked round the dusty pages. The two of them sat on the earthen floor in the dark of the centre of the compound, the firelight adding flickering shadows and golden highlights to their hair and faces. Unthinking Hawkeye held out his arm, and Margaret leant into his half embrace, his breath just stirring her hair and her ear against his green drab jacket. They sat watching the tiny fire, golden flames slowly consuming the object of their fear. Hawkeye could no longer bear it. He turned his head and gently kissed the nurse in his arms. For a moment Margaret looked shocked. He leant away, stammering apologies, his blue eyes searching for something in her face. Margaret was inscrutable in the shadows. Then, slowly, she put her hand to his face and drew him back to kiss him deeply, letting all her hidden love and feelings show themselves for this dark haired man before her. He responded by wrapping his other arm around her and holding her closely as he kissed her back with all his heart.
Beside them, a photograph of a pretty Korean girl curled slowly into ashes as the flames withdrew from it.
Hawkeye closed the door of the Swamp dazedly, and leant against it, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. BJ, who was sitting up with a book waiting for his friend to return, looked at him quizzically.
"Where did you go? Put the phone call through?" he asked. Hawkeye looked at him confused a minute.
"Um, no, I was burning the book," he said, his eyes fixed in space and a small smile on his face. BJ put his head on the side.
"Book? That book you dropped?"
"I never told you about the book, did I," said Hawkeye, wandering over and sitting on his bunk. Taking another breath, he focused on his friend and quickly started outlining the story of the book, glad for an excuse for his strange expression. BJ sat back with a profoundly sceptical look on his face.
"That sounds very odd, Hawk. Are you sure?"
"You think Parker, Margaret and I all had the same dream because weíre all going mad? I donít think so, itís that book. And howinhell did Parker know Korean?"
"I guess," said BJ, looking confused. "Are you going to tell Sidney Freedman about it?"
Hawkeye sighed. "It came to mind."
Charles threw off his cover and sat up yawning.
"It is entirely too early to be awake," he stated. "Is there a reason why the light is on?"
"Not really," said BJ quickly, reaching up and putting out the light.
"Jolly good," said Charles, huddling up the blanket. Hawkeye sat back in the dark, his mind running in circles, remembering that kiss. And then Margaret had gently got up when the fire died, and leaving a lingering hand on his face slipped back to her own tent. He sighed and drifted into sleep once more, the horrors of the dream forgotten in this blaze of new interest.