It all starts when they are assigned to Battalion Aid. She doesn't want to go. The front terrifies her on so many levels, but she also knows she could never live with herself if one of her nurses went and was harmed. She puts on a brave face, hides behind her Major mask then challenges the surgeons as she volunteers.
He doesn't want to go anymore than she does but the luck of the draw decides for him. In a way she is relieved though as she knows he is the best and she feels an odd sense of comfort that it is Hawkeye and not Frank that will accompany her.
At the Aid station, it's as horrific as she imagined it would be. The burned out remainder of the station itself is enough to give her chills. The gunfire and explosions make her want to run but she is needed here. This is what she was trained to do. Together they fall into a seamless rhythm of work. The corpsmen bring the wounded in and she assists him in getting them stable enough for the ambulance ride back to the MASH. The pace is fast and punishing but keeps her mind off the gunfire and artillery shells.
At night the absence of the shelling is almost more frightening than the artillery itself. In the quiet her imagination conjures up horrific images; she has no illusions about what would happen to an American woman in enemy hands. Although she is exhausted the fear keeps her from being able to sleep. She lies in the dark with her heart pounding from adrenaline. The morning will bring fresh wounded and she needs her rest but she can't seem to close her eyes.
He must have known because he lies down next to her, pulling her close to him. For a moment, she resists, afraid to show her weakness.
"Margaret," he speaks in a low voice. She turns to him and in what light is there she can see such sadness in his blue eyes.
Wordlessly, she nods in understanding and wraps her arms around him. He pulls her closer and buries his head against her as he lets out a shaky sigh. They lay like this for some time. She rubs her hand in soothing circles on his back as his breath evens out. He sits up enough to look her in the eyes. Her breath catches in her chest at what she sees and before she can stop herself she rises up pressing her lips to his.
When he doesn't respond back, she panics thinking she has misread the situation. Pulling back, her face burns hot with embarrassment. She opens her eyes to see him staring at her with the same intensity he has in the operating room. Nervously she swallows and says "Hawk…"but is cut off as he kisses her back.
The silence of the night is broken by the quiet rustling of clothing and gentle sighs. Afterward, she drifts to sleep pressed close to him.
The next morning each awakes to the sound of gunfire, screams of the wounded, and a secret they both share.
Once they are safely back at MASH, they never mention it, but there is an understanding that stretches between them. They each continue on as if nothing has happened. He chases nurses. Frank chases her. And the war rages on around them.
A few weeks after their stint at Battalion Aid, they are mired in a particularly gory OR session. A village has been struck and small children are amongst the injured. She is assisting him on a very serious case but even in his gifted hands, nothing can be done. He won't give up, even after it is clear nothing will change the outcome.
She can only stare as he tries to fight Death itself, until Henry's gentle voice chimes in.
"Margaret, take him out for some air."
She nods, still unable to find her words, as she carefully takes his arm and pulls him out of the OR. She leads him to the scrub room away from the others. Sitting him on a bench she unties their bloodied scrubs. He never moves or acknowledges her until she turns away to dispose of them in the hamper.
Suddenly his arms wrap around her, turning her to face him. Thankful for a reaction of any sort she winds her arms around his neck. Instinctively, his lips find hers. In a few steps, he backs her across the room behind the curtained-off area making short work of her pants along the way. Effortlessly he lifts and presses her against the wall before roughly entering her. This is fast and furious and she can tell he is working through the anger. She is swept up in the intensity and the passion. It's over quickly and they redress in silence. She helps him scrub up to go back in again.
They enter the OR and Margaret is sure that everyone can tell what happened. Frank glares at his bunkmate in his typical fashion. Henry nods his approval at them, glad to see his Chief Surgeon in better spirits. Klinger brings them another patient and they fall back into their rhythm.
She tries to not think about this dance of theirs. For the most part they ignore one another. He spends time with her nurses and Trapper; she spends time with Frank and her thoughts. More and more her thoughts center on him. She can see the toll that the war takes on him and her heart aches knowing he didn't sign up for this, but he is needed here all the same. He does what he can to cope with it but there are times when it hits too hard and he seeks her out. She has grown comfortable with this give and take they have with each other because, for now, it seems to work.
Henry goes home, but he never makes it beyond the Sea of Japan. The camp is in shock and there aren't words enough to say what is on everyone's mind; so no one tries. Many crowd into the Officer's Club. Frank shuts himself up in Henry's office; his ferret eyes gleaming with the idea of command. She can't bear to witness it so she retreats to her tent. She knows he will come to her tonight. She waits in silence but after many hours she throws off the covers and pulls on her boots. Perhaps she miscalculated her importance to him and she realizes how much she has come to rely on him for her own sense of peace.
She can't sleep and is too proud to wait any longer for a man that doesn't need her. Leaving her tent, she opts to go to supply to take inventory. The camp is silent, as everyone has drowned their sorrows. Opening the door to the supply room, she reaches for the light switch only to have arms come around her from behind and push her farther into the room. For a moment she panics and opens her mouth to scream but is cut off by his mouth finding hers. His arms pull her closer and she almost collapses against him in relief that it is him and not someone else.
As she expects he is rough and demanding of her, using her body to work out his grief and his anger. And she does the same. He hisses as she digs her nails into his back marking him and she moans as he nips her neck a bit too hard.
The next morning she wears her black turtleneck to hide the evidence on her neck and by the look he gives her in the Mess Tent she knows he has taken extra care with the marks on his back. They continue their dance around one another, but the stakes are a bit higher now.
BJ arrives just as quickly as Trapper leaves. She was concerned for him to lose his friend so suddenly and without the goodbye that is so important to him, but seeing how easily he and the new surgeon get along she has hope he will be okay. Colonel Potter soon takes his place becoming the surrogate father figure they were all needing. The camp seems to have recovered from their loss and feels stronger than before.
Margaret, however, feels adrift and alone. She has two men in her life but neither can give her what she really needs. She no longer knows what that is; just that she needs more than to be hidden under the cover of night. Frank will never leave his wife; that was a school girl fantasy. As for Hawkeye….she tries to not think about it too much. Ignoring the situation has helped her keep her sanity about it, but she also knows that peace is fleeting.
This denial leads to her next mistake.
Tokyo is a true pearl in a sea of despair. It offers escape and dreams are found there. At least that is the illusion and Margaret is willing to believe in dreams enough that she lets herself fall a bit too much for a dashing Lt. Col.
It's all whirlwind and passion and she can't help but be swept up in it because he is so unlike the men she dances around. He isn't a major with a wife or a surgeon fighting the specter of Death and this makes him appealing on so many levels she just can't help herself.
She floats back to camp on silver clouds, not seeing the dark ones ahead for her. Later she will pity herself that she was a fool because it was too good to be true. She is, and always will be, a woman drawn to the wrong man.