When You Need Me Most

Chapter Six: A Woman Sustained

When You Need Me Most

Hawkeye had to admit that, while he might have preferred to travel with a nurse of his choosing, traveling with Margaret was hardly the worst thing he could have imagined. At any rate, it would give him an excuse to be alone with her.

There had been a few moments over the six weeks since her marriage when things had seemed almost normal between them. They had gotten drunk together after she'd discovered her husband cheating and he'd been left behind by a woman he'd been prepared to spend the rest of his life with. But the next morning, she'd acted like nothing had happened at all.

With that in mind, he tucked a bottle of Japanese scotch into his medical bag.

xxxxxxxxx

"If you come over here for any reason during the night, announce yourself. I intend to swing this to kill."

Hawkeye knew she was terrified, but he didn't think she'd let him anywhere near her. They still hadn't really made up. "Good night."

He laid down, everything she'd just told him running through his mind. Donald was cheating again. He couldn't believe Margaret would stay with such a man. He didn't deserve her, and she didn't deserve to be treated this way -

A bang. A scream. Hawkeye realized he'd fallen asleep. He also realized they were being shelled, and it was Margaret doing the screaming. She was trying to say something, but it was so fast he couldn't make head or tail of it.

"Margaret, come here," he snapped, having managed to crawl towards the hysterical woman.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed, slumping into his arms.. "I'm afraid."

"Me too. So am I." He pulled her tight.

"I don't like being afraid, it scares me."

"Me too," he assured her. "I'd be a lot braver if I wasn't so scared."

"Please hold me."

"I'm holding you." There was no harshness behind his words. He knew what it meant to be afraid.

"I can't feel it, hold me, hold me."

"Margaret, I'm holding you!" Another shell rocked the abandoned hut. "Will you cut it out? You want to kill us?"

His screams mixed with hers, and niether of them was sure who was screaming what. He pulled her even closer, and suddenly fell silent just as she did, painfully aware of how close together they were.

It was impossible to say who kissed who first, but they held each other tight, lips locked together. They drew apart and just as quickly came back together for another kiss.

He gently pressed her into the floor, ending up on top of her. Hands clutched at each other's clothing and began to remove it. He was lost in her, and she in him.

He was shirtless now, still pulling off her clothing. Her hands went to his belt and she unbuckled it and opened the fly. Suddenly he went rigid in her arms and gave a small squeak of terror.

"Oh, Hawkeye -" she stopped immediately, berating herself for not having thought of this. She should have known two and a half months wasn't enough time to really get over something like that. She did know. She just hadn't realized that this would be his first time since he'd been hurt.

"It's only me, Hawkeye," she said softly. "I won't hurt you, I promise. I won't hurt you. I just want to be with you."

"And I want to be with you." His voice was choked as his desire warred with his fear.

"We'll take it slow," she promised. "And if you want me to stop, just say so."

She gently took the waistband of his pants in her hands again and lowered them carefully. This time, he didn't hesitate.

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"Thank you, Hank." She smiled.

"Thank you, Darlene." He smiled back.

"There's one other thing," she said hesitantly.

"What?"

"You said things weren't going to be any different between you and me. Well - I'd like them to be. I don't like the way things have been between us."

"Niether do I," he admitted.

"You were right when you said I wasn't being fair to you, asking you to change to make Donald happy. What you said about our friendship, what it meant - it touched me, Hawkeye. Really. Things could go back to the way they were before the hut - but I'd rather go back to the way they were six weeks ago, before this all started."

"I'd like that too."

She hugged him, and he relished it. He had missed her hugs, the caring they demonstrated.

"And I - I want to thank you again. I was so busy trying to pretend everything in the hut hadn't happened that I didn't get around to telling you how much it meant to me, the way you treated me when I was vulnerable and scared."

"I hadn't realized you hadn't - I mean, that it was your first time. I figured at least that Korean woman..."

"I loved her, I shared her bed, but no. We didn't. She wasn't pushy and I wasn't really ready. You were my first."

She looked deep into his eyes. "Thank you for trusting me."

"Thank you for taking care of me."

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"Hawkeye, I have a - a confession to make."

"You want me to call the Father?"

Margaret laughed. "No, this one is strictly between you and me. I really should've told you this before, but I couldn't figure out how to say it, and I kind of figured you already knew anyway-"

"Margaret, will you stop talking in circles and tell me what you're trying to tell me?"

"When I thought I was pregnant, something else occurred to me. I told you I was with Donald about six weeks ago?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Remember what the Colonel asked me when I said I hadn't told Donald?"

"'Should you tell him?'" Hawkeye quoted, laughing softly. "Oh, don't tell me there was doubt."

"There was."

"Someone else?"

"You ought to know, you were there."

Hawkeye's jaw almost hit the floor. He stared, speechless, for a few seconds. "Margaret, are you trying to tell me..."

"It was just a thought. It doesn't matter now anyway."

"So what you're confessing is -"

"That I had this thought and didn't tell you. I mean, I figured you knew somewhere in the back of your mind -"

"Margaret, you sound like Radar. I understand what you're trying to say."

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course."

"If I had told you - what would you have done?"

"Well, that depends."

"On what?"

"What you would've wanted me to do."

"Donald is no Frank, Frank is no Donald..." she muttered to herself.

"What?"

"Nothing. Just thinking out loud."

"Want a drink?"

"Sure."

If anyone had been sitting right next to her at that moment, they might have heard her whisper, "They're both no Hawkeye."

"Have you ever considered having kids?" he asked as he sat on his cot.

"Not really, not until this latest incident."

"Why not?"

"As a child, it just never occurred to me. I wasn't exposed to 'girly' life the same way. Then I was raped, and the idea of - doing what would need to be done to conceive a child - was repulsive and terrifying."

"Margaret, I had no idea, you never told me -"

"That my first sexual experience was against my will?"

"I was going to put it more delicately." His abrupt comment was softened by the arm he slipped around her back.

"That's why I became Hot Lips, you know." She spoke her old nickname like it tasted bad. "After that - I felt like I was damaged goods. The good men would never go for a girl who was so tainted, so I should settle for whoever would take me - like Frank."

"And Donald."

She frowned but didn't deny it. "And then there's just being able to control things."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it seems to me that if a man wants something from me, he's going to take it no matter what, so I might as well give it freely and at least feel like I have some control."

"Margaret -" her matter-of-fact tone only made it more heartbreaking for him. "You shouldn't have to feel like that. You're no more 'damaged goods' than any woman, and as for the other part - a real man would never do anything you didn't want them to." He caressed her cheek. "You don't have to give anyone anything."

"Oh, Hawkeye -" He cut her off with a hug.

"What about you?" she asked, muffled against his chest.

"What about me what?"

"Have you ever thought about having kids?"

He shrugged. "I guess I've always assumed I would someday. I may be biased, but there isn't a better place for a kid to grow up than Crabapple Cove."

"If we had had a kid - would you have been there for him or her?"

"For the baby and for you. Every step of the way."

"You mean that?"

"I'm a lot of things, Margaret, but one thing I'm not is a father who walks out on his own kid."

*~*~*~*

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