Just a note, I'm not a med. student. All medical references are fake.
I don't know why I'm so surprised. I mean, I've known sex makes babies since I was six. But it hadn't happened before and, of course, it would be Margaret. Just when we had gotten things somewhat settled. Figures.
I don't know why I'm so surprised. I mean, I've always known it could happen. But it hadn't happened before and, of course, it would be Hawkeye. And after I was so blatantly rejected. Figures.
I can't explain why I did what I did. It was stupid and I've regretted it ever since. I had the woman I've loved since I met her telling me she felt the same and I blew her off! I honestly don't think I've ever done anything dumber. But now there are bigger problems than just my stupid mistakes. I don't think I'll ever forget the way my stomach dropped when she told me...
"What's eating you?" Like always, she was being evasive. I thought that after that whole hut incident we were past that.
She said it so forcefully I was tempted to give up. But that's not my way, "C'Mon, you can't tell your number one nemesis, who can you tell?"
"Can't even imagine it's true..."
"Will you lower your voice?"
"Is this low enough?" I covered my confusion, just like every other emotion, with an attempt at humor, "I'm sorry, I'm using my larynx as a subway station." She wasn't amused, "What is it?"
"Well, I think..."
"I'm pretty sure that I'm...pregnant." "Pregnant! You mean 'with child'?"
"Expecting? Our little major's gonna have a minor? That's wonderful!" My hand inadvertently brushed her stomach and she flinched slightly. I muttered an apology.
"There's nothing wonderful about it."
"Are you kidding?" I guided her to a chair and we sat down. "All we see is death and destruction and now in the middle of an inferno that even Dante wouldn't buy tickets to, there's a little glimmer of life thanks to you. That's not wonderful, that's a miracle."
She sighed impatiently, "You know Donald and I are having problems..." Her voice trailed off and I nodded urging her to continue, "Well, the last time I, uh, you know, was in a certain bombed-out hut."
I was shocked speechless. A baby. I was going to be a father. The room seemed to spin for a moment.
"And you know what this means, don't you?" she continued.
"I'm a dead man?" I volunteered.
"Automatic discharge. My whole army career - kaput." She paused again. "This is *all* your fault."
"Well, you can't put it all on me. I mean, as I recall, you were there at the time." Again she wasn't even slightly amused. "So, what makes you so sure?"
"I have all the symptoms, morning sickness, nausea..."
"We all have that, from the mess tent take-out window."
"There's more, I've been irritable lately."
"Well, if you count irritability, you've been pregnant since I've known you."
"*Captain,* that time of month hasn't been that time of month yet, and that was last month."
"Maybe your watch stopped." Not even a slight smile. "Look, have you verified it medically?"
"Well, no lab test."
"Then what are you guessing for? Why don't you go see Colonel Potter and set up a test?" She looked slightly skeptical so I led her out with an arm around her shoulder. "C'Mon."
"You know I hate you men."
"Now she tells us."
It was the hardest thing I had ever had to tell anybody. I mean, the last thing we were thinking about on that dirt floor was that this might be making a baby. And yes, that was stupid and childish, but it's the truth. But even now, I wouldn't take that night away. That meant more to me than anything. But once I told him, things got easier. And whether he knows it or not, his slight attempts at humor throughout were what made it bearable. What I told him in the hut was true, I always did like his humor. But anyways, now that I had his support, it was easier. We went to tell Colonel Potter. I'm pretty sure he had no idea of what went on the day, well, actually the night, we were gone. He would soon know.
I paced and Hawkeye sat as we waited for Colonel Potter.
"Margaret will you sit down, I get holes in my shoes just looking at you."
"What's keeping that old coot!?" Now don't get me wrong, I love Potter like he was my own father, but this was not a good day to be taking his time getting in here.
"The old coot's here."
"I know, it was said with affection."
See, he knows. I was suddenly tongue-tied.
Hawkeye took over, "Colonel, Margaret may have a little problem." Ahh, Hawkeye Pierce, master of understatements.
"Is it you, Winchester or the nurses?" he asked as he sat behind his desk.
If only it were that simple, "I'm pregnant."
He jumped up as if he'd sat on tack. "Pregnant! Well, zipedeedoodah!"
"I used 'wonderful' and 'miracle.'" Hawkeye put in. I was actually surprised he was being so vocal. He must not know that Potter's going to be more than a little upset when he finds out whose baby it is.
"Did you tell Donald yet?"
Now we're getting to the root of it. I stalled, "Well..."
"I remember when my son was born, I was prouder than a stallion out to stud."
"Colonel, I don't think you're getting it. Um, Margaret and I...well...that is we...when..."
"What he's trying not to say is that Hawkeye and I...when we were, um, trapped, we...when we were missing for a day...we..."
"I think I get it now. Am I to assume this isn't an ongoing, er, relationship?"
"No," I assured him. "It was just one time." "Well, actually, in that one night, there were actually more like--" Hawkeye began but I cut him off, "He doesn't need the details."
"But then, that's all it takes." Hawkeye finished. "Not to mention the fact that the Army would make Margaret trade in her boots for booties."
"Isn't there some way around that?" I was desperate to stay in the Army. "Couldn't we bend the rules just a little bit?"
"Only if you stay just a little bit pregnant. We'll be sorry to lose you, Margaret."
Hawkeye continued, "Wait a minute, we're not even sure she's pregnant. How about a lab test?"
"Sure, I'll let you go to Tokyo."
"No, can't we do it here? I don't want anyone to know." The last thing I needed was for this to get out in public.
"We'd need a rabbit for that," Potter reasoned. "Then get one!" Hawkeye's eyes lit up.
"What about..." he motioned to Radar's office. "Radar!"
"Oh, he'd never go for it." Hawkeye put in. "That rabbit's his pet, he lives with it, reads to it. He'd even marry it if it was the same religion."
"If it's a choice between his rabbit and our head nurse-"
"Then I outrank him!"
Radar came in, understandably confused, "You sirs call me sir?"
"Have a seat, son."
Hawkeye gave him a chair, "Here ya go."
"Um, care for a drink?" Colonel Potter offered.
"No thank you, sir."
"Well I could use one." When could Hawkeye not use a drink.
"Son, we need a favor for you." Potter offered me a drink. I accepted it and suddenly it was snatched away from me. Hawkeye. I gave him my death glare but he just pointed to my stomach. I understand. Sometimes I truly think I underestimate him. I attempted a weak smile for him. He understands.
"Radar you have a female rabbit, don't you?"
"You mean Fluffy?"
"Yeah, we'd like to borrow her for awhile. For a pregnancy test."
"No sir, that couldn't be, see I keep her and Bongo in separate cages. If I didn't, well, you know what they say about rabbits."
"That's just talk." Hawkeye joked. Radar giggled.
"Can we get on with this!?" I really don't try to be impatient but this is important.
"The pregnancy test is for..." He motions in my direction.
"Captain!" Just when I think I've underestimated him.
"Well, on behalf of Fluffy, he has a right to know. The test is for Major Houlihan."
"You gonna be a mother, sir?"
Hawkeye tried to clarify, "Well we don't know yet."
"That's why we need the rabbit." Potter finished.
"Well, what does Fluffy have to do in the test?"
One day and a hostage situation later
Pierce stood staring silently into the dish through a magnifying glass.
"Well?" I prompted, in no mood for his games. "This is incredible..."
"I never knew my thumb was this big."
"Will you cut it out!?"
"All right, all right, and the winner is..."
"Positive..." His voice was almost a whisper, it held amazement and wonder. Positive. I couldn't even voice the word. I saw my whole future slipping away.
"You're kidding, right?" I knew he wouldn't kid about something like this, but I had to ask.
"See for yourself." And of course he was right. But then, somehow I think I would have been disappointed if it had been negative...
Late that night in the Swamp
"Pierce, Pierce!" He looked up at me with sleepy eyes. Not surprising for someone who had just been roused from a dead sleep.
"Well, I know I said no, but hey, since you're here..."
I disentangled myself from his arms. Gods was this man confusing. "Hawkeye, my watch started."
"That time of month is back."
That got him awake. He led me outside into the silence of the night. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, after 19 years I think I'd know."
He looked at me with concern and a little bit of fear in his eyes, "But are you sure it wasn't a miscarriage?"
"I think so. I mean, there wasn't enough blood. But some women have been known to continue through pregnancy. Although that is extremely rare. But then, why did I stop for a month and--"
"Margaret, you're rambling." He now held my upper arms comfortingly in his hands. "I really think we should consider going to Tokyo, just to be sure."
"Why can't we just do another test here?"
"Well, for one we're out of rabbits. And another, I'd feel better knowing a professional did it." I considered his arguments. They did make sense.
"But you don't have to go, I mean--"
"Of course I'm going."
"But people will talk."
"More than they did after we came back from the 8063rd?"
"If possible, yes."
"Then what do you care?"
I was too tired to argue. He was lucky it was so late. But I kind of did want him to come. I just had to give him a chance to back out. And this time, at least, he didn't take it.
"What do you mean there's only one room left?" I looked at the Japanese man behind the counter. Hawkeye had been talking to him but when I heard, I pushed him out of the way.
"That it. One room. Big holiday. Booked solid." He looked at Hawkeye. "It honeymoon suite, Joe." He looked at me knowingly.
"You listen to me, that's not the way things are, well,they could have been but he--never mind, that's not the point. Look, where's the nearest hotel?"
"Thirty mile that way." He pointed left.
"Margaret, we're staying here because the hospital is only a couple blocks away. I think we can handle sharing a room."
"Sure. Fine. Whatever." I had a headache anyways.
We went upstairs and opened the door. "If it bothers you that much, I'll just sleep on the cou-" We saw that the "Honeymoon suite" had one bed and a small bathroom and barely enough room to walk between the two. "Or the bed." he finished.
I sat on the bed while he used the bathroom. It would be interesting to spend a real night with him. Like with pajamas and a real bed. Not fatigues and a dirt floor. I took my turn in the bathroom. I had to admit it was certainly nicer than our latrine. I put my hair in pigtails to sleep. It also makes me look younger. Although I don't know why I care how I look. I had brought my silk pajamas, but I had also planned on sleeping alone. It was the beginning of summer and the nights didn't get very cool, so they were just a tank top and shorts in lavender. I also didn't have a robe or anything. I don't know why I was being so modest. I came out and sat on the bed. Hawkeye was silent, I knew the effect I had on him, so I slowly crawled under the covers.
"Goodnight, Hawkeye." I smiled, having no idea he had a surprise of his own.
"Goodnight." He slowly leaned over and kissed my forehead. Damn him. He's so confusing.
"Goodnight." He kissed my cheek, almost as though he was trying not to. As if he were in a war with himself, between what he wanted to do and what was safe. His mouth only left my face an inch or so and he zeroed in on my mouth. He kissed it.
Okay, I don't know what happened. I mean, one minute I'm fine, sitting on the bed and the next, she's prancing out of the bathroom wearing pigtails and lavender. I've always loved those pigtails. She wasn't wearing much and all I could think about was how much I wanted to feel her in my arms. To cover her whole lovely body with kisses. Then I thought of the hut, how we frantically made love and she didn't lose any of her feistiness throughout. I only meant to kiss her forehead and then just her cheek. Just a quick, friendly kiss. That's all I wanted, right, was to be friends? So naturally I kissed her mouth.
"I thought you made it quite clear that this would not work." I asked after he pulled away. He put his hand on my stomach,
"Well, someone up there sure thought it would."
"Will you make up your mind." I demanded through the effect his hand on my body was having. "Half the time it's 'I can't resist you' and the other half it's 'I think we can be friends.' You can't have both to switch back and forth between whenever convenient for you!"
He looked a little shocked but I continued. "You don't even have to be here. I am perfectly capable of doing all this myself. I don't need you sending mixed signals, sleeping with me and then blowing me off like one of your one night stands. Either make up your mind or get your hands off."
He was really shocked now. I waited a few seconds,but apparently he wasn't going to say anything. I turned on my side with a sigh, forcing his hand off my stomach. He turned off the light and pulled the covers over himself. We lay in silence in the dark. I was almost asleep when I felt an arm snaking under me and one over my side, to envelope me in his arms.
"I've made up my mind." He told me quietly.
I almost let it go without question. To accept love and comfort from this man, be it only for one night before he decides it's not going to work. But I couldn't. I wouldn't, I could not take that rejection again.
"Hawkeye, how do I know you're not going to ditch me again when morning comes? I thought you made up your mind last time to be friends."
"But I love you. More than anything."
"I seem to remember those words coming from you last time."
"I've had time to think, though. Although most of my thoughts have been of that night. Actually, almost all my thinking has been about that. Margaret-"
He paused. I knew it must be difficult for him. Well,good. It was about time he started being honest. I knew the crap about 'just being friends' was just that; crap. But at the time, I felt I had done too much pushing and just let it go.
"Margaret, I-I more than love you. I've said I loved many women before and it has lost its meaning. I need you,you help me be a whole person, you help me survive. I don't know what I would have done all those times you have been there for me. I was afraid to admit it. I've had to be so tough here, I learned to be superficially caring. Loving you, risking it all was too much of a danger. I couldn't bear to be hurt by the one woman I really care about."
I had never heard him be so serious in the whole time I've known him. Last time his declaration of love had been in between moans of pleasure. This was pure honesty. That's really all I've ever wanted. Sometime while he was talking, I had turned to face him. I suddenly noticed I had a single tear down my face. I went to brush it away but he held my hand back and softly kissed my cheek where the tear was.
"Hawkeye," I paused and he looked at me, waiting. "I'm sorry too. I think I learned to be superficially caring. That's why I was so insistent on you complimenting me. I felt rejected by Donald and was looking to feel accepted by someone else." He was looking worried, "But I do care for you, very much. I love you Hawkeye. Like I've never loved anyone before." He pulled me close and gently kissed the top of my head.
"I can't imagine what would've happened if you hadn't been pregnant."
I smiled at him, "We probably would've ended up alone, denying our feelings, with our only kiss being a good-bye on the day we go home."
"That's awful. But even we aren't that bad."
I woke up in his arms feeling safe and happy. Hawkeye looked around, "Where are my shorts?"
We sat in the doctor's office waiting for the results of the test. Hawkeye looked at the examining table.
"Hey, want to play doctor?" He smiled, "I am a licensed physician."
"You know, I don't think this is really the time."
"So you mean, 'maybe later'?" The doctor came in then so I didn't have a chance to answer. He really didn't need an answer, I knew he was hiding behind humor again. The doctor sat down.
"We got the results of your test back. You're not pregnant."
I felt like I had gotten the wind knocked out of me. I knew I should be happy but I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss.
"The reason you got a false positive reading was the same reason you stopped your cycle for a while. A rare chemical imbalance, probably brought on by the unique combination of stress and native diseases you encounter."
I could feel tears starting to build up in my eyes. I forced them away. I had been crying all too much lately. The doctor left.
"Now what?" I demanded irrationally of Hawkeye. "What do you mean 'now what'?"
"Aren't you going to leave me now that I'm not carrying your child?"
"That's ridiculous, I love you. And I will always want to be with you. I made a mistake. I'm only glad I was able to fix it before I lost you forever. I'm certainly no handyman. Especially in these areas."
I choked down a sob and Hawkeye held me close, comforting. I could now go back to the 4077th. My Army career wasn't over. But now that I think about it, was that really what I wanted?