Disclaimer: Ah to own them would be a fine thing, but alas I merely own this little number.

This is quite an angsty chapter so be warned but other than that enjoy.

"You know, Major, it would be far easier for the Nurses to assist the Doctors effectively if you got off their backs once in a while!" Hawkeye Pierce snapped, as he and the blonde-haired Major left the OR after a particularly exhausting shift.

"I would thank you Pierce, to keep your nose, and any other parts of your anatomy, out of my Nurses. How I choose to organise and discipline them is my own business!" Major Margaret Houlihan replied, her eyes flashing with anger and her hands placed defiantly on her hips in what she hoped was a threatening manner.

"Yeah well, just cos you're so GI that you can't even go to bed at night without saluting your own pillow, it doesn't mean that the rest of us are, or that you have the right to try and make us that way. Those Nurses do a bang up job under appalling conditions, but you are so stuck in your regulations that you don't even see that. It's even made you forget how to be a good nurse, not that you were ever that good a one to begin with; I guess it was other 'talents' that got you your position, eh Major?" Hawkeye asked cruelly, directing a leer in the direction of Margaret's body. In his anger, he had allowed his usual sarcastic wit to become harsh and unfeeling and Margaret flinched visibly at his words.

For several seconds, she stared speechlessly at the black-haired surgeon, her eyes welling with tears as his last comment continued to echo through her thoughts. Helplessly, she tried to come up with a retort of some kind but the malicious expression in his normally kind, blue eyes caused her mind to go blank and instead she simply remained staring at him in shock.

"Wow, the Major's finally been silenced. What an incredible feat." Hawkeye mocked, seemingly insensitive to the pain shining in Margaret's eyes. His last comment still slashing against her battered heart, Margaret almost staggered backwards at his next comment, her heart constricting in pain. Desperate to escape him, Margaret looked around the room wildly, seemingly terrified of the man standing before her. Unfortunately finding no-one there to help her against him, Margaret instead turned and fled, her tears blinding her as she ran across the compound.

Hawkeye, his temper still boiling, stalked over to the sink and violently turned on the taps, vigorously scrubbing his hands, scoffing at the image of the Major crying in misery. 'She's probably just angry with me, I mean it's not like there's a heart beneath those walls.'

Hawkeye's was mistaken though, for Margaret, having run blindly across the camp for several moments after she fled the Scrub Room, had hidden herself next to the makeshift stables that Colonel Potter had built for his horse, Sophie. Feeling the need to hide from everyone in the camp, she had curled up in one of the corners of the stable, making sure that it was not directly visible from the road. It was here, hidden from view and safe from the cruelty of the other members of the camp, that Margaret had allowed her tears to finally fall. The last few weeks had taken their toll on her and Margaret was emotionally and physically exhausted. However the one person, who would normally have noticed her suffering was instead the one responsible for causing her pain.

Pulling her legs up tighter to her chest, Margaret wearily rested her head on her knees, and began to sob uncontrollably. As her tears flowed down her cheeks, they gently began to wash away the layers of make-up that she so carefully applied every morning, leaving behind clear examples of the impact of the pain that she had been suffering.

Black shadows lined the entirety of her clear blue eyes, a tribute to endless nights battling with insomnia. Her cheeks were hollow, her skin pale and wan and if anybody had looked closely it would have been obvious to them that she had lost a large amount of weight in a short period of time. Sadly in Margaret's case, no-one had been paying close attention to anything that either happened to her or that she did herself, not since...

Her breath hitched again and she moaned in pain, almost as if an unseen hand had grasped her heart and squeezed it firmly, but instead it was the pain of remembering the incident that had caused her misery that increased her sorrow.

It had started out as such a small fight, not even that, more of a discussion. Hawkeye had been complaining about the army, again, she couldn't even remember the specifics of his complaint, but tired after a long night trying to save boys who shouldn't even know the name Korea, Margaret had snapped at him and the small insignificant discussion had quickly evolved into an argument that could be heard by everyone in the camp. It wasn't until the next day however, that Margaret realised the true fallout of the fight. Devastated, Margaret had emerged from the fight to find herself alone and friendless; Hawkeye, her only true friend in the entire camp, had stopped talking to her.

The pair had been steadily growing closer ever since the breakdown of her marriage to Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott, and as she had begun to re-build her life, she had come to rely on the handsome surgeon more and more. They had always looked out for each other, but as they grew closer they also began to make sure that they were each eating and sleeping enough as well as offering the other a shoulder to cry on whenever the war became too much.

But that single fight had destroyed all of that, leaving Margaret isolated and fragile. She had put on a brave face, trying to hide the pain and hurt she felt every time Hawkeye referred to her simply as Major, or ignored her at mealtimes or worse still flaunted his stable friendships that he still had within the camp, as though trying to show her that he never needed her friendship in the first place. Margaret only wished that the same was true for herself, instead she felt like she was adrift at sea, with no hope of rescue. In the aftermath of the fight, it seemed to Margaret that the camp had taken Hawkeye's side, with the majority of the camp simply treating her as a visiting superior officer; they were respectful but not openly welcoming. This had led her to become even more withdrawn and as she struggled with her isolation and the hostility directed towards her by Hawkeye, Margaret had become increasingly irritable and defensive. This irritability had led her to more abrupt with her Nurses than usual during the earlier OR session which had in turn led to the most recent argument between herself and Hawkeye.

Margaret sighed, brushing at her tears, wishing that her pain could flow away as easily as her tears. She could barely believe that Hawkeye could have said such cruel things to her. She knew that he was capable of being quite blunt and hurtful in his words and actions, a trait he had displayed most when Trapper had been a member of the unit, but since the arrival of BJ Hunnicut, Hawkeye had become far more controlled and considerate in his manner. It seemed however, that these days she never saw the Hawkeye that had appeared in more recent months but instead she was constantly exposed to the cruelty of the old Pierce.

She was just so tired, so tired of fighting with him, of being alone. She needed to get away, it was just too much, his hatred and the indifference of the camp, they tore at her fragile heart every single day. She needed time to re-build her emotional walls and recharge her exhausted body. If she didn't soon, she wasn't sure what would happen to her next.

She would ask Colonel Potter for a pass to Seoul or Tokyo straightaway, it would allow her to escape the torment for her few days and hopefully help her to heal a few wounds too.

Firm in her resolve, Margaret stood up, and quickly brushing away the few strands of hay that had stuck to her uniform, she took a deep breath and began walking back across the compound, heading for Colonel Potter's office.

She was so focussed on her task that she barely even noticed when she bumped into BJ halfway across the camp. Briefly looking up to check that it wasn't Hawkeye, Margaret muttered a quick apology and then continued walking towards the CO's office.

BJ suppressed a startled gasp as his mind registered the image of Margaret's face. She had looked terrible. Her eyes had been bloodshot and weary, ringed by dark shadows that looked like bruises and the expression in her eyes had horrified him. They had looked haunted, almost dead, lacking any of Margaret's usual spark and instead displaying the true depth of her misery and pain. In addition to this, her face had also shown evidence of the extent of her suffering and with a pang of guilt he realised that she had obviously been barely eating or sleeping in the past few weeks. Running a hand through his sandy hair, BJ sighed miserably as he realised that no-one had noticed, or more accurately no-one had cared to look closely enough to notice the impact that the argument had had on Margaret.

'What had he done?' He thought miserably. In a misguided bout of loyalty towards Hawkeye, BJ had completely neglected his other friend, leaving her to suffer in silence. In a misunderstanding of Margaret's character, he had believed that since she hadn't complained, that meant, as Hawkeye had claimed, that she didn't care and had moved on entirely after the argument.

'What kind of person was he?'

Meanwhile, Margaret had reached Colonel Potter's office and knocking gently against the wooden door, she waited patiently for him to acknowledge his visitor. Hearing him call for her to enter, Margaret walked quietly into his office, keeping her eyes lowered as she moved towards the chair that sat in front of his desk.

Colonel Potter watched in silence as the normally confident woman nearly crept into his office, flinching and bearing an expression similar to terror when the chair she went to sit down on, scraped loudly across the floor. Concerned, he realised that Margaret seemed to be expecting to be shouted at for the noise she had made. Horrified, Colonel Potter quickly tried to conceal his worry at what had made his normally happy head nurse so fearful of making her presence known. Feigning cheerfulness, Potter placed a smile on his lips and asked,

"Why Major, what can I do for you this fine afternoon?"

"I was wondering whether I might have a Pass to Seoul or Tokyo for a few days, Sir?" She said, trying to sound her usual confident self, but still keeping her eyes locked on her clasped hands. Curiously, Potter watched the young woman speak, noticing the croak in her voice, a common side effect of crying, and the way she refused to look at him directly. He frowned as he realised that there was far more to Margaret's simple request than met the eye, therefore he decided to try and get more information out of the Major before he granted her request.

"Well I'm not sure I can spare you right now, Major. Maybe in a few weeks time, but I'm sorry I'm not sure I can give you a Pass right now." Potter explained kindly.

At his gentle refusal however, Margaret's head shot up and like BJ earlier, Colonel Potter had to suppress a horrified gasp at Margaret's gaunt appearance. However Margaret, seemingly unaware of his reaction, spoke.

"Please, Colonel Potter, I need to get away for a few days. Just a few days in Seoul, please that's all I want, just a few days away from here, please!" She begged, tears once again forming in her eyes as she desperately pleaded for an opportunity to escape the camp for a few days.

Colonel Potter was silent for a moment, his heart pounding as he beheld the distraught woman sitting before him, one thought passing through his mind,

'How could I have missed this?'

He had been away from the camp himself on the day of the fight and by the time he had returned the friendship between the head nurse and the chief surgeon had been over.

Guiltily, he realised now that he had let it pass, chalking the fight up to two stubborn personalities, neither of whom were willing to back down when they believed that they were right. In his ignorance as to the true nature both of the friendship and the fight, he had not made any attempt to see if the Major had been alright, wrongfully assuming that since she had not come to speak to him about the situation then that meant that she hadn't needed to talk about it. He should have known better.

This poor child had been alone and forced to be independent for so much of her life that she now found it difficult to lean on anyone else. Indeed there was only one person whom she had felt able to lean on but instead he had treated her worse than any other person, betraying the trust that she had given him. Potter sighed, he was just as guilty as Hawkeye in this instance, he had ignored her and abandoned her when she had needed his friendship and support the most.

"Colonel?" Margaret shyly asked, interrupting his thoughts. Potter shook himself slightly and smiled at her.

"Forgive me, Major, I was lost in my thoughts there for a moment." He smiled again. "You know what, Major, I think we can spare you for a few days. Go get packed and I'll get Klinger to get a pass and a jeep sorted for you."

Margaret smiled brilliantly at Potter's remark. "Thank you Colonel." She paused. "Would you mind if I drove myself though? I could use some time alone before I get to Seoul." She asked, her eyes pleading with him to agree.

"Alrighty Major, I guess we can manage that. The Jeep will be ready whenever you are." He smiled and patted her shoulder. "Go on then, scoot. Oh and Major, I'm sorry that I didn't notice that you were miserable, when you get back we'll sit down and have a chat, kay?"

"Thank you Colonel. Thank you so much," and then after giving him a quick but grateful hug, she turned and rushed out in the direction of her tent.

An hour later, Colonel Potter watched as Margaret drove the Jeep out of the compound, praying that she would find some peace during her R+R and return happier than she had been in the last few weeks. As she drove out of sight, the old man turned and sighed heavily, for once looking his age as the emotional turmoil of the last few hours began to weigh down on him. His eyes focussed on the Swamp and as had happened when Margaret had come to see him earlier, Colonel Potter found himself resisting the urge to go and punch his difficult, chief surgeon right in his big mouth. His anger at Pierce had been great but he had also recognised that it was tinged with his own feelings of guilt regarding his own actions over the past few weeks. Rather than comforting the young woman, he had left her alone to face the unkind faces and cruel words from the members of the 4077th. Mildred was right, he was an old fool.

A sudden sound caught his attention and he lifted his head just in time to see BJ Hunnicut striding across the camp, his gaze fixed on Hawkeye who was currently walking with a nurse, who had recently arrived from headquarters. As he continued to watch the pair, he saw BJ reach out and punch his best friend right in his nose, causing Hawkeye to fall flat on his back. Running across the compound, he grabbed BJ's arm before he was able to swing at Hawkeye again.

"Jeese, Beej what the hell was that for?" Hawkeye moaned, holding his nose gingerly, which had now begun to bleed profusely.

"You self-absorbed, pathetic, miserable excuse for a human being, I shouldn't have punched you in the nose, I should have broken your jaw so that you couldn't ever speak again!" BJ snarled, frantically pulling at the arms of the men, who were desperately trying to hold him back. "You treated her like she was nothing, and what's worse you convinced us that she deserved it, that she didn't care about what happened. I should beat the living tar out of you!" He yelled, still trying to reach Hawkeye, who had now had the good sense to move out of range.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Hawkeye asked, confused by the obvious anger on his friend's face.

BJ snarled again at the apparent ignorance on Hawkeye's part and was about to speak again when Potter loudly interrupted.

"Pierce, go have someone look at that nose, Captain Hunnicut march your butt straight to my office. NOW!" He ordered when BJ began to protest.

Unaware of these new developments, Margaret continued driving towards Seoul, her heart lightening with every mile that she put between herself and Hawkeye.
"Now look son, I understand how angry and guilty you're feeling right now, but breaking Captain Pierce's nose is not going to help anybody, especially not Margaret." Potter said, striding into his office and up to his desk.

"Yeah well, it sure felt good." BJ said, smiling humourlessly.

"Be that as it may, we need to find a non-violent way to deal with this problem. Margaret does not need to come back to find the whole camp up in arms, does she?"

"No, Sir. Hang on, come back? Where is she?" BJ asked, worriedly.

"I gave her some R+R. Poor girl practically begged me to let her leave for a few days." Potter explained, his heart twisting as he remembered the broken and pleading expression on Margaret's face as she asked him for her pass to Seoul.

"That's good, that's definitely good." BJ muttered to himself.

"Colonel Potter, have you heard anything yet? Has she checked in?" BJ asked, his concern for his missing friend increasing with every passing minute.

After their conversation, Colonel Potter had sent BJ back to the Swamp to calm down and had then gone to X-ray to check on Pierce. The man had still been extremely confused about the actions of his friend and had immediately asked Colonel Potter if he knew what was going on. However, Colonel Potter had been in no mood to explain anything to the surgeon and having fixed his nose, he simply sent him back to Post-op, to rest while the sedatives and painkillers wore off.

That had been a few hours ago and although Pierce had returned to the Swamp, still unsure of what had prompted BJ's actions. Neither BJ nor Colonel Potter had spoken to him about what had made them so angry with him, instead they had left him to his own devices and attempted to distract themselves with work.

However as the hours continued to pass and they still had not heard from Margaret, BJ had become more and more agitated and begun to pester Potter almost continually for information.

"No I haven't, BJ, if I had I would've told you." Potter answered shortly. "Look I'm sure she's just taking some time for herself before she checks in. We'll give her a few more hours and if she hasn't rung by then we'll ring the hotel." Potter said, trying to ignore his own increasing panic.

"Ok, Colonel. I'm sorry; I'm just worried about her." He smiled weakly. "I guess I'll go and finish my rounds. You'll let me know when she rings, right?"

"Sure, Captain."

So what do you think? This story is actually finished but it needs to be typed up and checked, but the rest should be up soon. Anyway I hope you liked it. Read and Review. A xxxxx