A/n: This is something I started on awhile ago. It takes place during Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.
Saying goodbye to everyone would be hard enough…Margaret Houlihan realized that the moment she had heard the long awaited words: "This is the sound of peace." It had only been a few days since Hawkeye had been released from the hospital. Now everyone was preparing to leave for home, anxious to rebuild their lives. Margaret wasn't quite sure what to expect once she left the 4077. After much deliberation she'd finally decided to accept a position as charge nurse at Dallas Memorial Hospital. It wasn't what her father wanted her to do, but her mind was made up. But as happy as she was to have settled her career, there was one piece of her life puzzle that was left to be resolved. And that piece was standing less than a foot in front of her, a dark haired surgeon by the name of Benjamin Franklin Pierce.
"Pierce…You up for some company?"
Margaret ran up to her colleague as he walked alone. It was a welcome change of company. She'd been quarreling with Charles a lot lately. Prideful and arrogant, Charles had made it clear to her in no uncertain terms that he did not appreciate her help in landing his new hospital job. All she'd wanted to do was to see that his skill and intelligence be recognized; certainly she realized that his aptitude would speak for itself once hired. Why Charles couldn't get past his male ego and recognize this was beyond her.
At any rate she hadn't had much of a chance to speak with Hawkeye since his release, and she wanted to be certain that he was okay. Margaret had recognized the sign of fear and uncertainty in his eyes when he returned back to work from many a new staff member; she'd just never thought she'd live to see the day to see Hawkeye Pierce lack confidence. Her heart ached for him, though she dared not tell him so.
"Sure." He grinned his boyish smile at her. Everything had happened so fast after his release from the hospital; it would be nice to have a few last minutes with someone who had come to mean so much to him. "Hope you can keep up the pace."
"Can't believe tomorrow we're leaving. I thought we'd never go home!" she stopped when she saw how he flinched at the word home.
" He was going to tell you goodbye, Hawkeye." She said, referring to his best friend in the world who had left. B.J. had left in such a hurry that he hadn't had time to even write Hawkeye a good-bye note. Hawkeye had still been in the hospital and hadn't been informed of B.J.'s discharge.
"I'm sure he was. Just like Trapper was." Hawkeye said. "They were all going to say goodbye. But they couldn't and they didn't. But it doesn't matter now. I'm going home. You're going home. We're all going home. And that's the end of it."
But Margaret knew Hawkeye well enough to know his sarcasm masked deep feelings of hurt. She felt for him and everything he'd been through recently. First he had a nervous breakdown (as if that wasn't bad enough) but then his best friend left without getting the chance to say goodbye. It was breaking her heart to see her friend like this. She held out her hand as if she were going to touch his arm and tried twice to do so.
"You don't understand. He wanted to tell you that he was leaving. He went over to see you when you were…well, he said he tried to tell you. He just couldn't find the right words."
"Hey buddy, I got my orders, I'm leaving would have sufficed. Time to go home now. See ya! I'll write. Nice knowing you. Any of those would have done the trick. Margaret…" his voice cracked with emotion. "He didn't even try."
Margaret stopped in her tracks and touched his arm. "You're not listening to me. He did try to tell you. I don't know how to put this. B.J. was just worried about you- we all were. We all lo- were so worried about you…" she looked away, as if she blurted out something she shouldn't have said. She wasn't one to wear her heart on her sleeves, for sure, but the end of the war had stirred up her emotions. It was the end of an era. And she was standing here saying goodbye to someone she wasn't so sure she was ready to leave.
"He went to see you in the hospital. B.J. was going to tell you then that he was leaving. But he just couldn't find the right words. It's not his fault, and it's not your fault. If you're going to be angry then blame this …"
"I know. You don't have to say it. Blame the war. I know. I've been doing that a lot lately, you could say." He stared off into the sun.
Ever since that day in the O.R. when he accused the nurse of trying to smother a patient, everyone had been worried sick about Hawkeye. Margaret herself had been worrying about him, but for much different reasons than everyone one else. She herself had found herself reevaluating her feelings towards him. Once the thorn in her side, he had clearly become so much more to her. He had always been the clown, the cutup, the tower of strength for those around him. The more she thought of him, the more she found herself thinking of their one night of passion. Soon she began to daydream about kissing him, wondering what it would be like to hold him in her arms. At first she just chalked it up to simply girl fantasy, perhaps a sign of pent-up exhaustion. But with all of the other emotions-worry, compassion, caring…Margaret was starting to see way too many signs to doubt the direction her feelings were leading her. What she was going to do next, however, was a mystery. Could she even talk to Hawkeye, even if she wanted to, in his condition? Oh, this wasn't going to be easy. But there was no time for worrying about these things. Margaret's mind was made up. She just had to talk to the captain.
Margaret spoke up about B.J. "Well he didn't know he was leaving until the last minute. Everything was so sudden. He wanted to tell you. Please don't be angry."
"So…do you have any plans for when you get back?"
"Not really. Just going to take it easy for a little bit. Not so anxious to test out the old nerve machine if you know what I mean." He sighed.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.."
"You didn't do anything." He stared off into the sun. She wondered what he was thinking.
"Anyways…we're at my place. Wanna come in for a drink? Me, you, an open bar…." He grinned as he opened the door. "no time like the present."
"Why you…I'd rather be caught in the pouring down rain than to be caught dead walking into your tent!" she cried indignantly.
"Aha..you just don't want to be caught. If that's the case I can always have Charles play doorman. Whattya say?"
"Oh…I don't know why I even bother with you! I try to be civil with you and you go back to being a despicable uncivilized primate ingrate. "
Margaret stormed off. She knew that she'd overreacted but she couldn't help herself. After all who would Hawkeye Pierce be without some come-on disguised as a compliment? Maybe that was a good sign that he was feeling more like himself. Who knows? She could reason it all she wanted to, but this was no time for logic. She had less than 24 hours to decide whether or not to take a chance and fight for a man who she wasn't sure was capable of giving her what she deserved. Hawkeye was standing there making jokes at her expense when she was ready to finally face her feelings. How dare he! Well if that's the game he wanted to play, let him. Maybe love was just a game to him anyways, and she sure didn't want to be on the losing end of it.