7

The next morning, after checking her vitals again, she stirred. Hawkeye smiled and yawned at the same time, "110 over 70, my dear major you are almost the picture of good health. Your temperature is normal, your blood pressure is normal, your respirations are normal, your pulse is normal. The only thing that is not normal is your breakfast, but I'm afraid there is only so much I do in that department." The two chuckled and then he got more serious as he sat down on her cot by her hip, "How's the arm this morning? Are you in much pain?"

Margaret took a deep breath and shook her head, "Not as much as yesterday." She shook her head again, "I'm sorry Hawkeye..."

He looked confused and asked, "Sorry for what?"

She inhaled and answered, "I became a burden instead of nurse, I..." She looked down and took another breath.

When she looked up Hawkeye was shaking his head and tilting her face up with his finger as he told her softly, "You were not a burden. You were wounded, injured. This is a hospital. Its what we do, remember?"

She nodded and said, "I know, but usually I am the one redressing bandages, not the one having them redressed."

Hawkeye smiled and told her, "I know and after taking a look at my handiwork you may just a want to go over it again and redo it yourself." He got serious again, "Margaret, I really didn't mind taking care of you. We all care about you, I hope you know that."

Margaret then told him, "I know, at least I know that now. I'm not sure you would have said that about a year ago though."

He smiled and chuckled a little before saying, "Well there's a lot of things I wouldn't have said a year ago that I would say now. You certainly have changed Major Houlihan, and I mean that in a good way. I really am proud of you, the way you handled getting the wounded in here when we were gone. It takes a very strong person to do what you did. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised to find you the way we did, but I was."

Margaret could see the concern in his eyes. She told him, "I'm sorry about that."

Hawkeye shook his head, "No, there's nothing to apologize for. I just...look, if you ever feel like that again, come find me, ok? You don't have to face all this alone, I promise. I'll be your friend and I mean that as a true friend."

She thought for a second and then asked, "What if I get back together with Frank? Will you still be my friend?"

Hawkeye rolled his eyes but then caught for a second that she might actually be joking with him as she seemed to be trying to hide a smile. He told her, "Why you little..." He smiled even bigger and told her, "Yeah, even if you had a brief lapse in judgement and give ferret face another chance, yes...I will always be your friend Margaret, if you'll have me."

She smiled again, sat up and told him, "He says he's sorry, you know."

Hawkeye nodded his head and said, "Uh huh, I'm sure he did. Now if you ever want to trade up to chief surgeon, you just let me know." He meant it as a joke, but as soon as he said it, it was like he had a realization, it sounded a lot more serious and not like the wisecrack he was intending.

She saw the look on his face and decided to let him off the hook, "I'll think about that Captain. Right now I think I'm tired of the casual camaraderie. I just wonder if..." She seemed to get awfully wistful for a second.

He decided to prod a little, "You wonder what, Margaret?"

She blinked a few times and then said, "I just wonder if its in the cards for me, you know?"

Hawkeye wasn't quite sure how to answer so he asked, "What do you mean? Margaret, you can have whatever you want in life. You don't have to settle for a right now with Frank Burns. If you want a man you don't have share, you can have that."

Margaret looked at him, almost like a child and asked, "You really think so?"

He had to fight the urge to lean over and kiss her. Their eyes met and lingered for several seconds before he barely got out, "I know so. You are an amazing woman, Margaret Houlihan. I..." he couldn't stop himself, but leaned over her and incredibly softly put his lips to hers. His emotions had taken over as he thought over and over as he kissed her, 'I want to show you how amazing you are. Let me show you.'

Her eyes closed as she welcomed his kiss. They kissed several sweet little whispers of a kiss. His hand went to the back of her neck and ran his fingers up and down it. Hawkeye was the one to put his head down to break apart. He sat back and then told her, "I can't commit right now to anyone. I'm not ready, I..."

She stopped him and said, "I know, its ok. For the record, and I'll deny it if you tell anyone, that was probably the most intense kiss I've ever gotten."

He was speechless and told her as his own heart raced, "I thought it was just me." Then his mind caught up to him and he said, "I mean, I..." He stopped himself and decided to just be honest, "It was the most intense for me too. I just don't want to hurt you Margaret. You want a one woman man, and you should have that. I just can't be that right now."

Margaret told him, "Who said I was asking you? You know, captain, just because a woman allows you to kiss her does not mean she wants you to marry her, just so you know."

Hawkeye couldn't help but laugh with her a little bit and then told her, "I'll try to keep that in mind." He took a deep breath, "It is really good to see you laugh." He then got up and told her, "Look, I took out the IV last night and I really don't think you need anything stronger than aspirin now. I think its safe to leave you be today."

She then said, "You're right, it should be." She looked back at her desk and said, "Ugh, I've got get changed, choke down that breakfast, get the duty roster done, and I'm bound to have several hours of post op duty to make up, and..."

He walked back over to her and sat down again with her chart, "No, no you don't have anything to do but rest and try to choke that mess tent mess down, nothing else. Kellye is already handling the duty roster and we just sent the last of the wounded to the 121st. There's nothing for you to do. Oh and for added measure, I got Frank out of the camp for the next week, so he'll be leaving you alone. Potter isn't going to let you do anything for at least three days so enjoy the free time while you have it."

Margaret told him as he got up, "I will and thank you, Hawkeye. I mean it, for everything."

He told her, "You're welcome and come find me if you need me. I mean it." The two smiled and he left. After telling Potter that he thought her stroll through the mine field was done in a moment of exhaustion, he went back to the swamp where things went back to normal. At least that's what he told himself. Somewhere in his mind though he was feeling more and more for the beautiful major. It was more than what he had felt for Carlye or any other woman, and it now started on the basis of an large dose of respect of friendship.