Series - M*A*S*H
Rating - M
Warnings - Romantic pairings in this fic include Margaret & Frank, Margaret & Charles as well as vaguely suggested Margaret & Hawkeye.
Disclaimer - I don't own anything and am making no profit from this.
Summary - Frank Burns gets the storyline resolution he deserves.
Author's Note - None.
Word Count - 2,490
It had been a winding road to recovery for Lt. Colonel Frank Burns. In some ways, he was almost thankful that he had finally broken down. The tension that been building up within him since he was a small boy had finally become too much to bear alone and letting it out had done him more than a world of good.
The army understood him the way it always had, and sent him back home, having decided that a man of his status was more valuable in a position stateside, instead of in the war zone that is Korea. Coming home had been an amazing experience. The salutes he got as he walked off the plane, through the airport and all though his hometown were just the kind of recognition he had always wanted in his life, despite the occasional group of long-haired weirdos that gave him a salute of a far less respectful kind.
Everything was finally as it should be, with himself in the position of command and authority, that he had desperately craved when he was younger. As he was being shipped back home, he got word that he was to be promoted to Lt. Colonel, a rank that he had only hoped to achieve for not only professional, but for personal reasons as well. He knew that Margaret was no longer in his daily life, but some small piece of himself still clung to the farfetched hope that she would come back to him. With a promotion he would no longer be the spineless coward that she had seen him as in Korea, but as an eligible officer, worthy of her time and attentions.
But oh how times had changed.
The minute his wife had learned of the charges brought against him, her first reaction was not one to lend comfort to her soldier, but to place a call to the family lawyer. Despite his repeated pleas, he had not been able to convince the mother of his children that he was innocent of any philandering during his tour of duty. She had simply taken the children and left. Not only with his children, but with all of the family wealth he had acquired through the years, plus alimony, as their prenuptial agreement had been rendered null and void in court upon the judge's review of his personnel file, which included the M.P.'s statements as to his erratic accosting of every blonde nurse in sight during his last days in Korea.
If there was one thing Frank Burns had learned over the years, it was that the Army worked in mysterious ways. Which is how he found himself in his private office in a comfy, veterans hospital, behind his desk as no one other than Lt. Colonel Flagg, walked though the door.
Despite having no idea why Flagg was now standing in his office, Frank decided it would be rude to not address any man who entered the same room as him, a habit he had long since picked up in the military. "Well if it isn't Colonel Flagg, what on earth brings you here? Shouldn't you be back in Korea on some sort of covert operation?" He said, giving the man a nonchalant look from behind his desk, followed by propping his feet on top of the fine grained wood as he scooted back a bit in his chair to get a better look at the much taller man, made even taller from his current point of observation.
"That's Lt. Colonel Flagg now." The ex-Colonel lamented as he took a slow stride across the room.
"What did they bust you for?" Frank asked, smiling a curious smile as to what the man could have possibly done to land himself in hot water, having once believed that he had some sort of immunity given his status as an agent for the C.I.A..
Giving Frank a blank expression as he examined several of the snowglobes that lined the office they were in, he responded. "Between you and me, I was busted down for allegedly stealing a General's jeep." Finishing his inspection of the wintery landscape in his hands, before placing the globe back upon the shelf.
"Well what's the big deal about that? I've seen alot worse in this man's Army. You borrowed it for some sort of secret agent stuff I'll bet." Frank inquired as his eyes continued to follow the khaki covered man across the room.
"As it turned out the General's wife happened to be in the back seat when I took it but that doesn't matter now." Flagg said as he moved to stand in front of the desk.
Still curious as to why the disgraced Lt. Colonel was standing before him Frank realized he hadn't quite gotten the answer he was looking for yet. "That still doesn't tell me why you are here." Frank said, slightly paranoid that Flagg was trying to gather evidence of some new crime he had committed, perhaps taking home those war souvenirs wasn't such a good idea. It couldn't be that he was here about the 4077th. That chapter of his life was officially closed now that he was back home where he was safe. After all, it wasn't as if he had any friends back in Korea. What could Flagg possibly need him for?
Looking down at the doctor, Flagg gave him a hard look of seriousness, conveying that he wasn't here to play. "I believe my demotion was the result of enemies that have made their way into even the highest levels of the C.I.A., and I'm here because I need to bring in a man from the outside, someone that I can trust, someone that I know to be a model American. That's where you come in, Burns."
Giving his fellow Lt. Colonel a weasel-like laugh, Frank simply grinned upwards, at least until he saw that the man wasn't kidding around after all. "Why me, Sir? I mean sure, I'm as American as apple pie and baseball, and willing to do anything for my country but surely you can see that I'm not really cut out for such a dangerous line of work."
"Soldier, What I'm about to tell you cannot leave this room, do you understand?" Flagg stated, stoically as he looked suspiciously around the room, checking to see if anyone was listening in, despite the hospital being closed for any sort of visitation over an hour ago. "I can no longer trust anyone in my outfit with this top secret information." Suddenly, he stormed over to the other side of the room, grabbing Frank's ladybug habitarium, smashing it against the far wall, watching it shatter into tiny glass shards.
"That's my pet!" Frank shouted, getting up out of his chair and going over to attempt to save his beloved companion, looking up at Flagg as if he too had lost his mind. "What on earth do you think you were doing?"
"I suspected it was bugged, you can never be too careful after all." Flagg said as he looked down at Lt. Colonel Burns, who was frantically cradling one of the dotted creatures in the palm of his hand.
Frank stood up and grabbed a glass of water off his desk, throwing the water onto one of his office plants, before placing the ladybug inside it's new makeshift home. Looking over his shoulder at Flagg, who was moving up beside him, Frank suddenly thought he might have understood what Flagg was thinking for a moment before realizing that he really didn't have a clue and was too bothered with his pet to care much.
Slamming a fist down on the desk, startling Frank once again, Flagg continued his explanation. "I need you to return to the 4077th on a fact finding mission, I need you to go back in there and dig up everything you can about fresh fruits and vegetables." Looking down at him with a look that was somewhere between anger and insanity.
For a moment Frank wanted to laugh again at Flagg's comments, secretly thinking it was sort of funny for him to ask him to 'dig up' information on fruits and vegetables, but thought better of it as he knew Flagg was completely serious. "So, let me get this straight, you want me to go back to Korea to ask around about some apples and carrots? You really are crazy if you think for one minute that I would go back into that snake pit!" Frank said as he picked off a leaf from one of his bamboo plants, placing it in the glass beside his ladybug. "But really, I mean, why send me on such a routine mission? It isn't exactly like I have any friends back in Korea. I would be surprised if any of that lot of misfits would even speak a single word to me at all."
"That's exactly why I need you, the importance of this mission must not be underminded by fraternizing with the enemy." Flagg said as he grabbed the glass from Frank, holding it up to the light under his scrutiny, as if he wasn't entirely sure that it was a real bug.
Surprised by what he was saying, and half afraid that his pet would suffer some new form of torture if he didn't give Flagg the response he wanted, Frank settled for looking straight into his eyes, hoping that he didn't mean what he thought he did. "You don't mean to say that some one at the 4077th is a Commie, do you?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying, that's why your country needs you to do your duty, soldier." Flagg said as he squeezed the glass so hard that it too shattered, leaving little bits of glass buried into the palm of his hand.
"Stop that!" Frank yelled, no longer caring what the crazy man in his office had to say. "Get out now! Do you hear me?" Crouching down Frank scooped up his only pet, no doubt the poor creature had suffered serious internal damage from falling such a height. Saddened, Frank thought back to the last, and only other pet he had ever owned, his dog. Unfortunately, Louise had taken him away from him in the divorce too, leaving Frank companionless until he had seen an advertisement in the newspaper about starting up your own ladybug farm. "What could vegetables possibly have to do with a filthy communist sympathizer anyway!"
"That's classified, but you can bet your G.I. Bill that it means our success in the Pacific Theater, are you in?" Flagg said as he walked over towards the door, turning to look back at Burns.
Looking at Flagg, and feeling like he was suffering from some sort of stress induced hallucination, Frank replied, no longer caring what the loony Lt. Colonel had to say. "Go pester somebody else! I've had enough of Korea for one lifetime."
Striding back towards Frank, Flagg thought he had a surefire way to get Burns on his side. "All right, Comrade, I think I know how we can work this out, you come with me back to Korea, and I'll personally see to it that you're promoted to full Colonel in the C.I.A." Placing a hand on either side of the shorter man, bearing down upon him in an attempt to solicit his agreement. "Think about it Burns, waltzing back to your old unit, on par with your old commanding officer, no longer the sniveling Major you once were. Think about how great it will be to show off to everyone who thought you were down and out. Think about a certain head nurse, how she would feel seeing her old flame, someone she turned down, a full Colonel."
"You mean Margaret?" Frank asked as he tried to shut out the thought of her once again, as he had done so many times before. "What good would that do me? She already knows I've been promoted to Lt. Colonel, and besides, she's got Lt. Colonel...what's his name. She doesn't want me and I don't want her!" Frank lied through his teeth, taking a breath to steady himself. He hadn't been ready to have the thought of Margaret in his head again, let alone the thought of being able to show her that he made good after the disastrous way he had left things. It didn't matter now, what could possibly make Flagg, or anyone else, think that Margaret would ever so much as speak to him again?
Sensing the effect his words had, Flagg had found the chink in Frank's armor that he had been looking for. "Margaret is no longer married to Lt. Colonel Donald Penobscot, she divorced him shortly after you left, more importantly, I don't think I need to tell you that America's future depends upon the success of this mission." Flagg finished as he took a step back from his prey.
Margaret got a divorce. He couldn't believe it. He let the words sink in for a minute, Margaret got a divorce from that lousy Donald Penobscot. She was available again! The thought sent thrills down his spine as he perked up immediately at the thought of seeing the Head Nurse once again. With himself a Colonel in the C.I.A. she would have to take him back, he just knew she would!
"All right Lt. Colonel Flagg I'm in!" Frank agreed quickly, without thinking it all the way though, he didn't have to, it sounded good to him all the way around. Getting to show off his golden Colonel bird to everyone in camp who had doubted his capabilities when it came to leadership, getting paid to ask a few simple questions, but most of all, getting to prove to Margaret that he deserved her more than any other man. After all, who was he to doubt the way things worked in the Army? They hadn't failed him thus far!
"That a boy, Burns! We leave first thing tomorrow for the 4077th., be sure that your ready to go, and one more thing, be sure to have that little guy checked out by a doctor." Flagg said, pointing at Frank's ladybug before kicking down the door of Frank's office, startling some of the elderly patients that were out for an evening walk inside the hospital.
Frank thought it was rather odd for Flagg to leave in such a fashion, after all he never let anyone see him leave, ever. I guess that means he trusts me. He thought to himself as he opened one of his desk drawers, shuffling things around until he found an old specimen dish, placing his pet inside before placing the dish inside his lab coat pocket. Grabbing his overcoat and rushing for the door, he couldn't hold back his excitement at the thought of going back to the 4077th. To think that just a few minutes ago he had never considered that he would be going back to Korea, let alone willingly, and that he was going to get to see Margaret again. Things are going to be quite a bit different this time around. Frank smiled to himself on his way out the door.
If there was one thing he had learned, it was that the Army did indeed work in mysterious ways.