"So you see, Sidney, we didnít know what to do. So we burnt it."
Margaret looked anxiously at the psychiatristís face. Sidney Freedman put one hand on his head. He, Margaret and Hawkeye were sitting at the end of the Post-Op ward, quietly discussing the facts. He smiled and asked a question.
"Were you both quite scared by the book at first?"
"I guess," said Hawkeye, looking at Margaret who nodded in agreement. Sidney smiled wider.
"Well then, thereís not much to worry about."
Sidney looked shrewdly between the two of them, the way Margaretís hand had unconsciously slid into Hawkeyeís, which gave her a reassuring squeeze.
"I tell you why this is strange. Iíve worked out from Parker, that he was part of the troop that cleared the foxhole. It wasnít empty when he got there. In his dreams he relived the moment and the last words of the Korean soldier he had to kill. Parker was overcome with guilt, realising that the soldier he had killed was someoneís son, someoneís brother, someoneís husband. ĎSao Yungí were the last words of the Korean."
"So that explains Parker, but why us?" said Hawkeye, leaning forward. Sidney held up a hand and continued.
"Margaret was more affected by the book than you, Hawkeye. Were you very sleepy that morning, Major?"
"I had a very bad hangover," admitted Margaret.
"And the thought of the book scared you and made a deep imprint. When you came back tired out from OR in the evening, you sat down. Do you remember picking up the book?"
"But you then threw it across the room without picking it up?"
Margaret opened her mouth, but shut it again and nodded. "I guess I must have then."
"Right. You then fell into REM sleep almost immediately, the last thing being the book that you thought of. You mind supplied the voices and the gunfire, the scene being so vivid to you. And that girl. You thought she was haunting the book or something, didnít you?"
The major nodded a little guiltily.
"That was why you dreamt of it being so lifelike. When you woke up, you were certain it was haunted and tried to get the book, that you thought was the problem, away from you."
"Does that mean Iím going crazy?" said Margaret, her voice
rising above the quiet level the three had been using. Hawkeye put his hand on
her arm, and she quietened down again. Sidney shook his head.
"You were just tired, Major. It happens. Now, the book was thrown across the compound, right?"
"Yup," said Hawkeye impatiently, waiting for the explanation.
"Major Winchester must have picked it up after that, thatís why you couldnít find it. Now, if anything, Hawkeye, you were more tired than Margaret. But - " Sidney paused again and looked at the two of them.
"If Iím not mistaken, you care a lot for the major, no?"
Margaret blushed, and Hawkeye laughed nervously and said "Well, of course Major Charles is like my second best friend!" Margaret narrowed her eyes and looked accusingly at Hawkeye. He caught her look.
"Iím sorry, Margaret. I guess heís right," he mumbled, looking at the floor. Margaret smiled a smug smile to herself. Sidney cleared his throat and the pair looked up, suddenly all interested in the story again and definitely not each other.
"Well, as I was saying, you were thinking about Margaret and her problem as you fell asleep, because you couldnít find the book and you didnít want her upset. Thatís why you thought you heard guns and you half woke up."
"You mean I was still asleep when I found the book in Charlesís pocket?"
"In a way, yes. The entire dream was not triggered until you actually saw you had been sleeping with that book under your pillow, was it? So that is why you had the same dream as Major Houlihan. If you had asked, Parker actually had a completely different dream from you."
"We were so busy that day," defended Margaret.
"Iím sure you were, Major, I wasnít saying you werenít. What Iím saying is that you shouldnít worry, that it happens to all exhausted people in such conditions as you two. You just had the strange book as a kind of catalyst."
Hawkeye breathed out and leant back in his seat.
"So weíre not crazy. I guess that we didnít need to burn the book then?"
"If you hadnít, Iím sure you would have thought of the book again after you had gone back to bed. Instead, you were probably thinking about something else as you fell asleep. Right?"
"Uh, well, maybe," said Hawkeye, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and reddening a little. Margaret let out a stifled giggle as she remembered what she had been thinking of and Hawkeyeís reaction.
"And you didnít dream."
"I did," volunteered Margaret.
"But not of the book."
"Uh Ė no," said Margaret, keeping a straight face and trying not to give away what Ė or rather who Ė she had been dreaming of.
"There! Problem sorted," smiled Sidney, getting to his feet and yawning. "Now, would there be any food, or shall I go back to sit with Parker?"
"I would sit with Parker," advised Hawkeye, tucking his hands in his white coat and wandering over to read the file on the end of a bed. "Iím sure you donít want to become the patient when you develop anti-army food allergies." Sidney laughed.
"I suppose not. But Iím still hungry. Coming, Major?" the psychiatrist asked.
"In a minute," smiled Margaret back. "Go on ahead, Iíll be there soon."
Sidney grinned back and closed Post-Op door behind him. The head nurse came and stood beside Hawkeye, who was studiously examining the clipboard in front of him without actually seeing it.
"Thinking about something else, were you?" she said lightly, peering over his shoulder. Hawkeye put his head on the side and looked back at her, his blue eyes full of laughter. "You dreamt of something?" he retorted, grinning widely. Margaret raised her eyebrows.
"I could have been dreaming about home for all you know, Captain Pierce," she said archly, following as he started walking to the door. Hawkeye turned round suddenly so she nearly bumped into him. "Did you?" he said, an attractive one-sided smile on his face as he looked at her.
"What do you think?" said Margaret, smiling coyly. He didnít reply but instead kissed her before walking back towards the office, whistling jauntily. Margaret half smiled, but half steamed at the cheek of the man. But that was his own type of charm, wasnít it? I must change that, said Margaret severely to herself. Along with other things, like those awful groucho glasses. Without realising the import of what she was thinking, she hurried off to the mess tent.
Yup, thatís the end! Comments are appreciated, or just random grumbles which is all Iím bound to get :P My A levels are getting a little heavy at the moment though... mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you really want to ^^ thanks for reading!