Margaret stumbled clumsily into the O'Reilly's bathroom and let out a heart-wrenching moan as she collapsed against the vanity in pain. Taking in a shaky breath she held it until the pain subsided.
"A contraction?" She asked herself in surprise as she gripped the sink tightly and took another slow, deep breath. When she felt a little better she lifted her head and looked at her reflection in the small mirror over the bathroom sink. She was surprised to find how pale she had become. Turning on the faucet, she bent down and splashed warm water on her face, taking several more deep breaths between splashes. After a few minutes her normal color began to return.
Now that the original pain had subsided, another pain began to afflict her. This one was coming from her conscience. It was pricking her keenly for getting so angry at Hawkeye before. She hadn't meant to, but she had been rather surprised and a little alarmed when she felt the pain coming on. It had come on slow, but had been fairly intense.
"It can't be a contraction." She whispered to her reflection, placing a hand on her rounded stomach. "It's too early." Even though her due date wasn't until next week, she was very well aware that the baby could arrive early. Beth had been an early baby. However, Margaret really hoped that the baby waited a few more days. She wanted to be back home in Maine, in her own home, with her own doctor when their baby decided to join the family. She feared, however, that that may not be the case.
She pinched her cheeks gently to try to encourage her color and then when she was satisfied with her appearance, she opened the bathroom door and went back downstairs.
As she walked by the living room door on her way back outside, she was surprised to find Hawkeye pacing back and forth, a very distressed look on his face. Quietly she opened the door and stepped into the room. When he heard the soft click of the door closing he turned to look at her.
"What are you doing in here?" Margaret asked gently, walking slowly towards him, a look of concern on her face. "Is everything alright?"
"Yeah, everything is fine." He said as he turned his back to her and fixed his gaze on his daughters who were outside playing Tag with the other children. "I just needed a few minutes alone to sort out my thoughts."
Margaret stepped up behind him and put her arms around him the best she could. "It's rough, isn't it, seeing everyone again." She tightened her arms to hug him harder. "I mean, I know we're all talking about the fun times, but it's hard to not think about the bad times as well."
"It's not that, Margaret." Hawkeye sighed, dipping his head slightly, as if something were pressing down upon him. "At least it's not just that." He debated telling her what was really on his mind.
Loosening her hug she moved so she could see his face more clearly. Seeing the sad look in his eyes she softly prompted. "What is it, darling? What's bothering you?" He turned and looked her in the eye for a moment before he began pacing again. "Come on, Ben." She encouraged. "Please tell me what's bothering you."
"You really want to know?" He asked, stopping and looking at her for a moment. The look in his eyes nearly broke her heart. It was the same look that B.J. had caught earlier. She stepped towards him and placed her hands on his waist.
"Of course I want to know." She assured him, her eyes eagerly searching his. "What is it?" When he hesitated she pressed. "Ben?"
Looking deeply into her eyes he finally admitted. "It's Frank and you, it's you and Frank." He sighed deeply and turned towards the window again.
Margaret watched him for a minute before she could ask. "What do you mean 'me and Frank'?" Her blond brows furrowed in confusion. "There is no 'me and Frank'. There's only me and you." At Hawkeye's somewhat skeptical look she pressed again. "Please Ben, don't keep it from me. Our entire marriage we've always been open and honest with each other. Please don't shut me out now."
Looking her in the eye again he finally continued. "When I came in here earlier and found Frank all over you I was so angry I was ready to kill him. Really and truly kill him...dead, as in doornail."
Margaret was mildly surprised by his earnest confession. She'd realized at the time that he was very bothered by Frank's persistent advances towards her, but she hadn't realized how deeply he'd felt about it. Slowly, she reached up and gently touched his cheek. "Oh, darling." She said in a soft tone. "I'm sorry that you were so upset by what happened. I didn't realize that it bothered you that much. Please don't let Frank's foolishness spoil this wonderful day for you. He didn't realize what he was doing."
Hawkeye felt his anxiety heighten as he listened to her. Why was she defending Frank? Maybe he was right and there was more to the little scene than he had witnessed. He was on the verge of dropping the whole matter when he remembered what Margaret had said a few minutes before. She was right, too. Their entire married life they had always been open and honest about everything and Hawkeye didn't want to do anything to change that, no matter how hard it was for him to tell her what he was really feeling. Taking a deep breath he continued. "Margaret, I wasn't just angry." He paused for a moment. "I was also jealous."
"Jealous?" She couldn't believe her ears. Hawkeye jealous of Frank? Whatever for? She voiced the question. "What could you possibly have to be jealous of?"
"You and Frank." Was his quiet reply.
"I still don't understand." She told him, searching his cloudy blue eyes for an answer. "Please explain what's troubling you."
"Margaret, I'm well aware of the fact that you and Frank had a relationship going on while he was in Korea." He sighed in distress. "Hell, Margaret, the whole camp knew about it, no matter how hard you tried to hide it." He paused and then turned and began to pace again as he continued. "When I came in here and saw him coming onto you, the first thing that I thought was that you might still be in love with him. And I saw everything I have, everything that I care about - you, the girls, the baby - all slipping away from me. I felt so hurt and...jealous."
"Oh, Ben." She stepped towards him and placed her hands on his arms. He reached a hand up and lovingly touched her face as he added.
"Then I saw you struggling against him and suddenly my hurt turned to anger and hate. At that moment I would have loved nothing more than to strangle Frank Burns." He dropped his hand and turned again. "Then when we were outside talking to Beej and Peg I began to feel that I was just being foolish thinking that you still had any feelings left for Frank. You seemed so eager and excited to talk about our relationship, that is until Frank showed up. After that you lost your happy, loving manner and suddenly started scolding me for arguing with Frank. Then you got up and left and I could tell by your body language that you were absolutely furious. I didn't know what to think. I suddenly felt so confused - and alone. It was a feeling that I didn't like."
Margaret's heart sank a little at his confession. She knew the reason why she'd scolded him for arguing with Frank and then left, and it had nothing to do with him. It was because she was in pain and wanted to get away from everyone until it passed, not because she didn't want Hawkeye picking on Frank. Frank was fair game as far as she was concerned. Gently she turned him to face her. "Darling." She said softly, looking into his blue eyes lovingly. "You have absolutely nothing to be jealous of. I am NOT in love with Frank Burns. I AM in love with Dr. Benjamin Pierce." Her smile turned a little sheepish as she continued. "I admit, years ago I 'thought' that I loved Frank, but let me assure you, the feelings that I had for him were nothing compared to the love that I have for you. You mean the world to me. I can't imagine my life without you. I couldn't have asked for a more special man to share my life with." She looked deeply into his eyes. "When we got married I didn't think that it was possible for me to love anyone as much as I loved you. But I was wrong." At his puzzled look she smiled. "I love you more now than I ever did before. You are a wonderful doctor, a loving father and a terrific husband and I want to be with you for the rest of my life."
"Really?" He asked, his tone reflecting his unsureness.
"Really." She nodded, slipping her arms around his waist. "I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have you in my life and I would never want to do anything to jeopardize what we have. I'd be lost without you."
Hawkeye's face slowly transformed as the sadness left his eyes and a relieved smile spread across his face. He raised his arms to envelop her in a tight embrace. Burying his face in her hair he murmured gently. "I love you, Margaret. I love you very much."
"I love you, too." She returned as she tightened her hold on him. "And I always will."
Hawkeye lifted his head and looked deep into her love filled eyes. Bending forward he brought his lips to hers and kissed her long and lovingly. They were soon so lost in each other that they didn't realize that they had an audience until they were interrupted by a voice sarcastically saying. "Isn't this so sweet." Hawkeye pulled his head back and turned to see Frank standing in the doorway of the living room, a very disgusted sneer on his face. "It's so sweet its disgusting."
"Well, so are you, Frank, so what's the problem?" Hawkeye commented, his voice light and teasing. Now that he knew that he had no reason to be jealous of Frank, the hatred that he felt towards him had subsided. In fact, he almost felt sorry for him.
"What do you want, Frank?" Margaret asked impatiently, tightening her arms around her husband. She was getting another pain in her abdomen and with it came the same horrible fear that she might indeed be starting to go into labor. It had been about twenty minutes since the one she'd had before, which could very easily be a sign that she was going into labor.
"What I want is an explanation." Frank replied with hostility as he stepped closer to the embracing couple. "And I also want Pierce to take his hands off of you." Looking at Hawkeye, his face reflecting his disgust. "She is a married woman after all. And you're a married man."
Hawkeye couldn't help but chuckle in disbelief. "Frank you've got to be kidding. Your sanity has definitely sprung a leak this time." Frank's face remained deadly serious as Hawkeye struck again. "Frank I think you've lost a few more screw since you've left Korea. Maybe that punch I gave you earlier knocked them loose."
"There is nothing the matter with my sanity, Pierce." Frank snapped angrily. "You said it yourself, Pierce. It's disgusting for a married man to hit on a married woman."
Hawkeye and Margaret glanced at each other in amused disbelief. "That's true, I did." Hawkeye nodded, his tone echoing the disbelief on his face at the other man's line of reasoning. "But that fact doesn't apply if the 'married man' is actually married to the 'married woman' he's supposedly hitting on."
"That's beside the point." Frank exclaimed in a snotty tone.
Hawkeye chuckled harder. "No it's not, Frank." He replied, an amused look on his face. "It is the point. I am the only married man alive or the only man for that matter, that is allowed to put my arms around Margaret and hold her and kiss her and tell her that I love her and that I can't live without her. You're a married man, Frank, or so I've been told. You should try it sometime with your married woman. It's a wonderful feeling."
Frank opened him mouth to speak, but no sound would come out. Margaret jumped in, voicing her agreement to Hawkeye's statement. "Ben is the only one that I want to have put his arms around me, and kiss me and tell me he loves me." She smiled at her husband. "I love him too, and I can't live without him." Hawkeye returned the smile, his heart soaring with love and happiness.
Frank eyed the couple carefully before continuing. "Margaret, I want to know how you could let this...this...person trick you into m-m-marrying him." He looked her up and down, his nose turning up in disgust. "And to have his children. I thought you had more sense than that."
"Frank, Ben didn't trick me into anything." Margaret replied with an exasperated sigh. "I married him because I wanted to, because I fell in love with him, willingly and of my own free will."
"But why, Margaret?" Frank whined, a pitiful look on his face. "Oh all people, why him?"
"Why not him, Frank?" Margaret asked, her eyes flashing with annoyance. "You may not want to see of accept this Frank, but Ben is a wonderful man. He has been my source of comfort and understanding for many, many years. I don't think I could have made it through those horrible war years without him." Frank's eyes widened in surprise causing Margaret to smile softly. "That's right Frank. I fell in love with Dr. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce while we were in Korea."
"You didn't love him while you loved me." Frank huffily exclaimed.
"To be honest, Frank." Margaret looked at him seriously, "I never really loved you." When Frank's face dropped she added. "I was infatuated with you, just like I was with Donald. But I never loved either of you. I was just so desperate to feel loved and accepted by somebody that I allowed myself to be used by both of you. To you I was the girlfriend you had on the side, only important because your wife wasn't around. To Donald, I was the wife he had on the side, important only when his other girlfriends weren't around." She smiled at Hawkeye before continuing. "With Ben, things are different. With him I take the front seat. I mean everything to him and he means the world to me. I didn't realize what love really was until I fell in love with him."
"But, Margaret, I do love you." Frank whimpered. "You mean a lot to me."
"No you don't, Frank." Margaret shook her head. "If you really did love me, than you would have showed it."
"But I did." Frank protested. "I showed you all the time and I told you."
"Frank, if you really loved me, you wouldn't have been able to live without me." Margaret replied. "You would have wanted to spend the rest of your life with me."
"I did...I do." He stepped closer to her. "I don't want to be without you."
"Frank, its a little late." Margaret commented. "I don't want to spend my life with you. I already have the man that I want, the life that I dreamed of. And I know that Hawkeye wants me, just as much as I want him." The couple smiled lovingly at each other.
"You see, Frank, it has to do with that little 'M' word that we discussed earlier." Hawkeye piped up, looked at the other man seriously. "Margaret knows that there is no one in this world that is worth losing what we have together. She knows that I won't do anything that could risk losing her."
Margaret smiled lovingly at him before addressing Frank. "Frank, I know you don't approve. But let me assure you, I am very happy. In fact, these last seven years have been the happiest of my entire life. And if you truly care for me, if you're really my friend, you'd be pleased for me."
"I am you friend, Margaret." Frank replied, giving her a tight smile. Then attempting to sound sincere he stumbled awkwardly. "And I am v-very h-h-happy for you...both."
Margaret could tell how difficult it was for Frank to say that. "Thank you, Frank." She replied with a friendly smile. "We really appreciate you saying that."
Before Frank could make another comment, Colonel Potter stuck his head into the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt folks." He said, noting the expressions on everyone's face. "But I was sent to tell you that dinner is almost ready to be put on the table."
"Thank you, Colonel." Hawkeye acknowledged. "We'll be right out." The Colonel nodded and then turned and left. Hugging Margaret again, Hawkeye kissed her gently on the forehead. "Shall we go?" She smiled and nodded in agreement. "Come on." With his arm around her waist he guided her past Frank and out of the room.
Frank stood motionless, sadly staring at the door that they had just exited through. As much as he hated to admit it, Margaret and Hawkeye did seem very happy together. Every look, every touch, every word seemed to reflect the genuine love and mutual affection that they had for each other. Frank was glad that Margaret had found someone that loved her so completely, but he still couldn't help feeling resentful that the 'someone' was Hawkeye Pierce, the man that had been nothing but a thorn in his flesh - and Margaret's he'd thought. Obviously there had been more to their...relationship than he had realized at the time.
"Hey, Frank!" Frank focused his gaze on Hawkeye who had poked his head back into the room. "Come on and grab a bite." The other man encouraged in a light and friendly manner. He even gave Frank a small smile. Frank hesitated for a moment and then followed the other man out.