The Best-Laid Plans

Chapter Three: Often Go Astray

Something just wasn't right.

Despite his desire for a personal relationship with his patients, Hawkeye had quickly found that the small hospital in Crabapple Cove just wasn't up to his skill set. He had begun splitting his time, working two days a week at the emergency room in Portland General, and at first that had seemed like the solution to his feeling of not fitting back into this life. But that wasn't it.

He had begun to think that his personal life was the problem. Maybe he just needed to get back in the swing of things. There was a nurse at Portland General he found attractive. Serena Barker. He approached her tentatively.

"Serena?"

"Yes, Doctor?"

He gave her his best smile. "Call me Hawkeye, and I was wondering something. Would you like to get dinner sometime?"

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"Lyle!" Margaret embraced her old friend. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming?"

The general smiled. "Well, I didn't know you were here, Major - still Major, I see," he added a little disapprovingly.

Margaret frowned and pulled away a little. She wouldn't forget soon that he had tried to bribe her with a promotion in order to get her to join his personal staff - or, as she often called it to herself, his harem. She might not have even acknowledged him, but she had very little in the way of friends here, and any friend, even one like this general, was welcome.

"I'll make it eventually," she said finally.

"I'm sure you will. Come on, let's go for a drink. What do you say?"

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Her fingers deftly worked through the buttons of his shirt as her mouth found his. "Hawkeye," she whispered in between kisses.

He didn't have any breath to respond. He tried to lose himself in her and ignore the fact that he felt a thrill of unease when she unbuttoned his pants. It had been awhile since he'd been with anyone, and a much longer while since he'd had a woman take the lead as she was doing, that was all it was. He was just glad his father had been out of the house so they could have it to themselves. He hadn't thought to make that request. He hadn't really been planning to go to bed with her on the first date.

He was fully naked, and she hurriedly slipped off what little she was wearing before pushing him gently onto his bed. "Just relax," she whispered. "You'll like this."`

He felt her hands on him as she worked to arouse him, and he tried to relax into the sensation. But his mind seemed to have other ideas. All at once the bed became a concrete floor, her brown hair turned to blonde, and the gentle whisper of the wind became the taunts and jeers of half a dozen men. "No," he whispered.

"Why? Don't you like it?"

He tried to use her voice to anchor him, to bring him back to the present, but it didn't help. "No," he said more forcefully. "No. Stop."

"What?" She didn't heed him. Her hands were still on him.

"Stop!" He pushed her away forcefully. "For God's sake, stop."

She had finally got the message, it appeared, and she was staring wide-eyed. "What? What did I do?"

"It's not you, it's just - I can't do that right now."

"Why?"

It was too much to explain. Most people didn't really understand how what had happened to him was possible, and at any rate it was something he would prefer to keep buried in Korea. So he just shook his head. "I'm sorry."

"What is it? You don't find me attractive? You have another woman you've already sated yourself with?"

"No, no, it's not -"

"If you don't want me," she snapped, beginning to yank on her clothes, "then I don't need you."

"Serena!" he called out. She might not be exactly the woman of his dreams, but he liked her. He didn't want to lose his only chance with her. He just needed her patience, her understanding.

"Forget it." She roughly pulled her shirt over her head. "Don't bother showing me out, I can find my own way."

She stormed out angrily and Hawkeye just laid in bed, drawing a blanket up around himself. Only when he heard the front door slam did he allow a few tears to fall. He wished it didn't affect him like this, but he had no way to change that. And it had just cost him a relationship.

He hated Janice Monroe for so many reasons. This was just one more to add to the list. Even when he was rid of her, he couldn't be free of her, free of what she had done to him. Even from behind bars, she continued to haunt him.

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"Maybe - maybe we shouldn't," Margaret mumbled through an alcohol-induced haze as the General began to undress her.

"If you really feel that way, I can stop." He ran his hand suggestively up her leg, bare thanks to the fact that he had just pulled her pants off. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No, no."

"I didn't think so." He lifted the very drunk woman onto the bed in his hotel room.

"Forgetting something," she said then.

"What?" he pressed as he finished disrobing both of them.

"I - I don't know. Don't remember. I forgot and I don't remember!" She began to laugh, but something was pressing on her mind. Yes, there was definitely something she was forgetting - what was it?

Oh, well. If she couldn't remember it couldn't be anything important.

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"What happened with your date?"

"It didn't end well," Hawkeye replied shortly.

"You want to talk about it?" Daniel offered.

He was going to say no, but when he opened his mouth the entire story spilled out, about asking Serena out and her wanting to have sex and how pushy she had gotten and the series of flashbacks she had thrown him into that had ended with him begging her to stop and her leaving in a snit. Daniel listened, shaking his head, and gently laid a hand on Hawkeye's shoulder.

"I'm sorry," he said sincerely.

"If she wouldn't give me the leeway I needed to deal with my problems, I guess I really don't want to know her." He said it fiercely, as if trying to convince herself.

"Doesn't mean it can't hurt."

"You're right," Hawkeye replied. "I know you are. Because it does."

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Margaret sat in her quarters, feeling miserable. She couldn't believe she had let him sleep with her.

That was the old Margaret, the Margaret that let anyone into her bed. The one that had rightfully earned the Hot Lips nickname. She had tried so hard to distance herself from that person, to become something better, someone who had her own self-esteem and didn't go throwing herself at every man she ran into. But last night, Lyle Wisecoff had managed to get her drunk enough to get Hot Lips to emerge again.

She had woken before him, fully sober if hung over, and immediately felt ashamed. She had dressed and slipped out without so much as a note. In her mind, he deserved nothing more for compromising her enough to make her compromise her values.

She wouldn't cry over this. This entire thing was her fault, and she deserved every bit of remorse and humiliation now coursing through her body. The best thing to do would be to forget it had ever happened.

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"Doctor."

"Serena, I want -"

"I don't know what you want, but it obviously isn't me."

"Serena, listen to me!"

"I did listen to you! I listened to you when you said you wanted to go out with me! I listened to you when you said you were willing to take me to bed! And look where it got me!"

She stormed off before he had a chance to respond.

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"It can't be." Margaret stared at the doctor, as if willing him to retract the news he had just given her. "It can't be true."

"It is true," he said unemotionally. "Now, we should discuss your medical needs -"

But he was left talking to her back as the woman walked out.

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"Serena, I -"

"The answer is no."

"Just to talk? I want to talk with you."

"I gave you a chance."

"No, you didn't. Not the chance I needed."

"Let me make this expressly clear," she hissed. "I've given you all the chances you are going to get. That was a month ago, and you haven't done anything to change my mind. The one and only thing I can say for you is that at least you haven't been harassing me. But let me give you a hint. Give up."

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Margaret stared at the phone that had just gone dead. "Lyle -" she whispered.

She didn't like him. She was still mad at him for getting her drunk to make her more open to his propositions, not to mention the promotion 'deal'. But she needed him. She needed him to help her. But after several almost cruel insinuations he had hung up on her.

She needed him. No, not him so much, she corrected herself. He was just the person she'd gone to first. But someone. She needed someone.

What about - and as soon as that thought crossed her mind, a wave of intense longing washed over her. Yes. Yes.

She had to be crazy. She hadn't spoken to him in months. But he was her only hope.

The irony, she thought bitterly, was that she now knew exactly what it was she'd forgotten.

*~*~*~*
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