Disclaimer: I do now own M*A*S*H! Oops, hit the wrong key, I mean I do not own M*A*S*H!
Pairing: Hawkeye/Margaret (Wait, there are other pairings? I thought it was just a rumour)
A/N: Yay, my 20th story! I made this story up when I was on my way home! And it's another HM story, because I'm a HUGE fan of those two. Please read and review!
A Game of Poker
Hawkeye Pierce, renowned doctor and womanizer, looked at the ever-falling snow. His gaze was fixed at the snowflakes but his thoughts were miles away. Thousands of miles. Korea. It was nothing more than a distant, mostly unpleasant memory now. He was living in Crabapple Cove now with his dad, and no-one else. Damn, why did he let her go? How could he let the most beautiful woman in the world, drive out of his life? He had been a fool, an idiot and all subcategories. He shouldn't, he shouldn't, he shouldn't had let her go. He should have run after her, hold her tight, kissed her again, and asked her to come to Maine with him. Why was he such an idiot?!
He took a deep, calming breath. His gaze fixed on a single snowflake, and he captured it with his hand. For a moment it laid in his palm, all white and frosty, the next it was gone, melted. He took a step closer to the edge of the cliff, on which he was standing. He knew it wasn't the safest thing to do when it was so slippery, but he could never resist. The view was magnificent in the winter, but even more in the summer. Those little thoughts were soon pushed away but her again. Damn, why couldn't he forget her? Why did she have to be constantly in his thoughts? If only he could forget about her, about Korea, the he would be able to live a normal life. But he would also lose some of the best friends he had ever had, and forget some of the happiest moments in his life.
True, Korea hadn't been all fun and games, but the people at that unit were all special. There was Klinger, who tried to get a Section 8. He had recently returned from Korea with Soon-Lee and a little boy. Soon-Lee's parents were dead. Hawkeye knew how hard it was to lose a parent, and he couldn't imagine what it must have been like to lose both of them. He missed all of those wonderful people. Sherman Potter, who lived in Hannibal and spent most of his time being Mrs. Potter's Mr. Potter; B.J. Hunnicutt, the proud father of now three kids; Radar O'Reilly who had married a girl named Patty, and now had a son named Henry Sherman O'Reilly, named after the two people who had been like a father to him back there; Charles Emerson Winchester III, still unmarried, still rich, and still snobby. Nothing new there; Father Mulcahy, deaf priest who helped people through tough times. Though he couldn't hear confessions anymore. Hawkeye smiled for a moment, thinking back to the time the priest had had hepatitis. He had been so eager to hear those confessions that Hawkeye had no choice but to let him. Then there was Trapper John McIntyre, who was still happily married with two daughters; Frank Burns... nobody knew what had happened to him. And then there was Margaret Houlihan. Major in the U.S. Army, and former head nurse of the 4077th. She had a wonderful sense of humour when she showed it, and she only did once you got to know her.
Now, thinking back, he guessed he could compare the relationship to poker. In the beginning you keep losing, but when you have learned the rules and strategies you keep winning. Until that day you bet it all, lose, and swear never to touch those cards again. He had been in love with her for so long. It all began some time after Margaret's engagement. He hadn't been in love with her, but she had stirred some deep, hidden feelings in him. And they had kept growing. In fact they had grown so much he had barely been able to control them. He had fallen for her so hard he was surprised he wasn't down by the core of the Earth now.
"I need you," he whispered. "God, I need you... I love you. I love you." He had to say it again. For the first time he actually said he loved her. Sure, he had thought about it several times, but he had never said it. He kept standing there, staring at the view thinking everything over and over.
She knew it was a mistake. She had told herself it was wrong, but the thought of seeing him again was irresistible. So she drove to Maine, and to the small town of Crabapple Cove. As she drove through she understood why Hawkeye had missed the town so much in Korea. It was beautiful, even in the middle of the winter. She smiled as she watched people walk by all looking at her. Maybe strangers weren't common here. She looked everywhere for a parking spot and finally found one outside a small diner.
She stepped out and looked around. Even though the town was small it would take hours to search. Hawkeye had always said that people knew each other in Crabapple Cove, so she went into the diner. Behind the counter stood an elderly woman, and when she saw her the woman's face lit up with a motherly smile. She could feel herself shaking a bit from nervousness as she walked closer and was opening her mouth to ask the woman about Hawkeye's address when she was interrupted by her saying: "Hawkeye lives just a few blocks away my dear."
When she saw her confused face she laughed and said: "Oh don't worry, Hawkeye had been telling everybody here about you and showed us pictures. Once he got started he could talk for hours about Major Margaret Houlihan. Though, I must say you look much prettier than you did back in Korea. Hawkeye has chosen right this time."
Margaret blushed slightly. Hawkeye had been telling everybody in Crabapple Cove about her. Why? He wouldn't tell all these people about her if she didn't mean something to him, would he?
"How is he?" she finally managed to say. The woman answered simply: "Ask him yourself. As I said he lives not far from here, you can't miss it," She then told Margaret the more precise directions to his house. "What are you waiting for?" she added the moment she was done. Margaret smiled and stormed out, walking as fast as she could.
And then she was there. It was the most beautiful house she had ever seen, but she only focused on it for a moment. She had an entire butterfly collection loose in her stomach, and she took a deep breath before walking to the door. She hesitated, with her hand lifted to knock. This was her last chance to turn around, to let go. She knocked three times and waited the butterfly collection growing bigger and bigger with each everlasting second that passed. Then it opened, but it wasn't Hawkeye but a much older man who stood in the opening.
"How can I help you?" he asked. He had a soft voice that made Margaret feel welcome, even though she wasn't even inside yet.
"I'm looking for Hawkeye... Hawkeye Pierce," she said, praying she hadn't been wrong and had entered the wrong house. She had been so sure this was the one.
"He's not in right now, but please come in," the man said. She looked him in the eyes, and was stunned for a second. Those eyes were an exact copy of Hawkeye's. She smiled and stamped off the loose snow before entering the house. It was just as beautiful inside as outside, paintings decorated the walls, many of them were of flowers, a rose was the most common.
"My wife painted those," the man said, following her gaze. "She loved to paint and could use hours doing so. She said it was so peaceful and magical, creating something new."
"They are beautiful," she admitted. The man took her coat and showed her inside. She sat down by a table and he took a seat opposite her. Like the hall, the walls of the living room were also covered, not with paintings, but with photographs, many of them of a young boy and a girl.
"So tell me... why are you looking for my son?" Daniel Pierce asked.
"We were..." she paused. What were they? Enemies? Friends? Something third? "...colleagues in Korea."
It was as though the man first now really looked at her. His stunning blue eyes studied her with new interest, and then they widened with realisation. "Margaret Houlihan." It wasn't a question, but a statement.
"Yes, has he been telling you much about me? Because I swear it's not true," she said half-joking. She had no idea what Hawkeye had told, and hoped it was good.
"So it's not true you are the most amazing woman and the best nurse he has ever met? That you are one of his best friends? It's all just one big lie?"
Margaret's jaw plummeted to the floor. Had Hawkeye said all those things about her? "He... he said that?" Daniel nodded and she laughed nervously. "If you had said he had said that I was a pain in the butt, I would have believed you."
Suddenly she could hear the front door opened and the familiar voice said: "Hi dad, I'm back, hope you didn't missed me too much."
'Here we go again,' Margaret thought when she felt the butterflies again. She was about to stand up, when Daniel gently pushed her back and walked out to his son.
Hawkeye was untying his boots when his dad came out. He felt his gaze on him, not leaving him for even a split-second.
"Son, remember that nurse you told me about... Margaret Houlihan?" Hawkeye felt the emptiness he always felt when he talked about her. It always brought the memories and regrets back, and he hated it, but he hid it, trying to appear happy and normal when he answered: "Yeah, what about her?"
"Remember all those things you told me about her. A good nurse... amazing... one of your best friends?" A nod. "Well, you should have seen the look on her face when she heard it. I swear, her jaw dropped so fast I'm surprised it is still attached." Hawkeye's head snapped up, focusing on his father, hoping it was a joke, but his dad looked too serious.
"She... she was here?" In shock Hawkeye didn't notice the coat and boots that had never been there before. He kicked the last one off and rose a bit too quickly, a few dots dancing in front of his eyes. He took a deep breath, forcing them away. Daniel nodded. "Where is she now?"
"Well, she's not here as you can see. But she left something in the living room; maybe you should go and check it out." Daniel quickly stepped aside when Hawkeye ran into the room, but soon he stopped dead. He couldn't believe his eyes. There slowly standing up was Margaret Houlihan.
"Margaret," he said silently. She looked so beautiful. Her hair was slightly darker than it was in Korea, and it looked like she had gained a little weight, but it all suited her. She was stunning, wearing a black skirt with a matching shirt, her hair loose. He wanted to go closer but he was frozen to the spot.
"Hi Hawkeye," she said. There was an awkward silence for a moment before Hawkeye finally moved a small step closer. That broke the spell, and they ran into each other's arms. He gently stroked her back, feeling the soft dark-blond hair under his hand. She leaned on his shoulder and a single tear ran down her cheek.
"I missed you," she softly said. He smiled and enjoyed the feeling of her for a moment before she said: "I missed you too. I can't believe I was stupid enough to let you go. From now on, no more letting go." She laughed but nodded in agreement. Hawkeye gently pushed her away so he could see her face. His thumb gently stroked the wet trail the tear had left behind, before he dipped his head and kissed her.
The kiss was sweet and soft, nowhere as passionate as their goodbye kiss and Margaret enjoyed, no, loved every second of it. All thoughts were wiped away from her mind as he kept kissing her, deepening it.
They were obvious to Daniel staring at them in the doorway. He smiled and grabbed his coat and silently closed the door, not disturbing the two of them. He knew how much Sally at the diner would enjoy hearing about this.
Hawkeye finally broke the kiss and looked at her again.
"Why are you crying?" he asked. "Was the kiss so bad?"
Margaret hadn't even realised that her cheeks were wet with tears and she hastily wiped them away. "No, the kiss was fantastic, actually it was the best kiss I have ever had. I'm just happy."
"So am I," he answered. "There is one thing I have wanted to tell you ever since we left Korea. I love you, Margaret Houlihan, and I want to be with you."
Margaret felt like she was choking on tears, but she answered in a shaky voice: "I love you too, Hawkeye. I also wanted to tell you back there, but something held me back." There was silence for a moment.
"So what now?" Hawkeye asked. Margaret shrugged and pulled away from him. "I mean now we have declared our love for each other, so what do we do now?"
"Now, I want to sleep," she said and yawned.
"May I join you?" Hawkeye asked suggestively and was rewarded with a sharp elbow in his stomach.
"I meant to sleep for real, which means alone..." realising for the first time it wasn't her house, she suddenly blushed before she said: "If it's okay with you, and you father, that I borrow a room."
"Margaret, of course it's okay. Mi casa es su casa, as some people say, me being one of them." He gently took her arm and showed her to the spare room. It was light blue, with a magnificent view over the sea. Margaret smiled as she walked closer and put her hand against the cold glass.
"I'll go downstairs and cook some dinner," Hawkeye said. She turned around and looked at him. "What? Are you surprised that I can actually cook? Don't worry I haven't poisoned anyone yet."
Margaret smiled again, and Hawkeye left the room. Making sure he was really gone, she slowly undressed herself and lay down on the bed. Soon, she fell asleep.
Two hours later Daniel slowly opened the door. There were quiet, a bit too quiet. He looked in the living-room, but there were no sign of Hawkeye or Margaret.
He walked upstairs and saw finally saw Hawkeye standing in the doorway of the guestroom.
"Ben," he began, but Hawkeye spun around and put a finger to his lips. Daniel walked closer and peeked over his son's shoulder. There lay Margaret, sleeping peacefully.
"Isn't she beautiful, dad?" he said. Daniel looked at his son and saw a look of deep emotion on his face. He knew that face from somewhere... he had had the same expression on the wedding photographs and from his marriage with Joan.
"I was thinking, dad, maybe we should play a game of poker tonight," Hawkeye said. "I have just found my deck of cards, and I was thinking maybe it was time to start betting again."