Chapter Seven: The Accident
He shook his head, trying desperately to clear his head, trying to clear a little of the debris off his body to get to the woman who had been standing just feet from him, trying to piece together the fragments of his memory.
It locked finally, but that was hardly promising. The only thing it told him was just how bad this was likely to be.
"Hawkeye, I swear, if you don't give me back my purse right this minute..."
He darted out of her range again, laughing. "Come and get it!"
"No fair!" She gave him an exaggerated pout. "I'm the one who's huge because I have two babies inside me!"
Laughing even harder now, he spun out of her grasp. Exasperated, she slapped him on the arm.
"Hitting me isn't exactly the best way to get your purse back." He ran off towards the next aisle of the small Portland grocery store, hearing her indignantly calling out his name.
Then he heard a boom. A crash. He turned, horrified, to see a car coming through the wall. "Margaret!" he screamed. "Margaret!"
He turned to sprint back to her, and a shelf hit him in the back. He tried to push it off , but more fell on top of it, and he fell to the floor, his vision blurring.
"Margaret!" He shouted again, hearing the sirens. "Margaret!"
He oriented himself as best he could without the aisles being in the right place, digging through the rubble as close as he could figure to where she had been, hearing sirens in the distance.
His hand hit something soft, and the realized it was hair. Reddish-blonde hair winding around his fingers. "Margaret!" He dug harder, trying to move more rubble off her, uncovering her head and shoulders. Wrapping his arms under her shoulders, he pulled hard, tugging her free. She slid out of the rubble, lying limply in his arms. He began to feel her body, searching her for injuries, suppressing a cry when he realized there was blood on her skirt.
The door was forced open and several rescue workers came running in. Hawkeye stood, waving down the nearest worker. "Help. Please. My girlfriend - she's pregnant and she's bleeding, she's unconscious."
He knelt again and the worker knelt with him, examining her. "Are you all right, sir?"
"Bruised, possible broken rib." He reached across Margaret and winced. "Yeah, broken rib, may have hit my head but I don't have any memory loss. I've had worse. Take care of Margaret."
"I'd like you to come with us."
Hawkeye nodded. Not only was he aware that he probably did need attention, but joining them would mean he could stay with his family, with Margaret and the twins.
She moaned a little as she was loaded onto the stretcher, and it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. He tried to swing himself into the ambulance but gasped in pain from his broken rib, and one of the workers took his arms and pulled him in. He sat down next to her stretcher, laying his head on her rounded, seven-month belly. "Be okay," he whispered. "Please be okay."
Hawkeye pushed his way into Margaret's hospital room, ignoring the doctors trying to look after him. "How is she?"
The doctor looked up. "You her husband?"
"Would it change something if I said I was?" As the doctor hesitated, he pressed on. "I'm the father of those babies. Please."
He nodded resignedly. "All right."
"I'm a doctor. What can you tell me about her condition?"
"She's going to be fine, but her amniotic sac has ruptured. We're going to have to deliver the babies."
He met the other doctor's eyes, hoping the tears shining in his eyes didn't show. "Will they survive?"
"There's a good chance, but we can't be sure."
Margaret turned her head, moaning softly. Hawkeye cupped her cheek gently. "Margaret?"
Her eyes fluttered open. "What happened?"
"Some idiot decided he wanted to park inside the store. How do you feel?"
"Sore, but I don't think anything's broken. Where am I?"
"You're in the hospital. You were unconscious."
"Oh!" She gasped suddenly. "What was that?"
"My stomach. Ah! Hawkeye, what's happening?"
He laid his hand on her rippling belly. "You're in labor. The accident broke your water, you're going to have to have the babies now."
She met his eyes. "I'm scared."
"I know." He slid his hand into hers. "Hold onto me. It's going to be okay." He prayed he wasn't lying to her.
A loud cry pierced the room, coinciding with another scream from Margaret. "One of the babies is out," Hawkeye told her gently. He glanced over at the doctor. "What is it?"
The doctor toweled off the baby and handed it to Margaret. "Take a look for yourself."
Margaret peeked under the blanket and smiled. "It's a girl." Then a moan escaped from her lips. "And I think her brother or sister is coming."
Hawkeye took the baby from her arms and cuddled her briefly before handing her back to the doctor, who carefully placed her in an incubator.
"Come on, Margaret," he urged gently. "Push."
She did, her scream echoing off the ceiling. A few more pushes and the second baby was out too, sliding into the doctor's hands. It cried, but it sounded weaker, and they shared a look of concern.
The baby was wrapped up and handed to Margaret. Hawkeye leaned over. "Well?"
"Another girl." Margaret smiled, stroking her cheek. A tiny hand came up and clamped around her finger.
She laughed delightedly and Hawkeye joined her.
The doctor stood over them. "I'm sorry to break this up, but we need to get her into an incubator as well.
Margaret reluctantly handed over her daughter, yawning widely. "What do you think, Hawkeye? What should we call them?"
They had gone over some names, but never really settled on something they liked. "I think we'd better get to work."
She smiled at him. "What did you say your mother's name was again?"
"Elizabeth," he replied. "Elizabeth Adrienne."
"I want them to have names that have something in common but aren't too much alike," she said softly. "I mean, they are twins, and the names should acknowledge that, but I don't want them feeling like we think of them as the same person, you know? They're twins but they're also individuals."
He nodded. "What are you thinking?"
"Maybe the same first letter but then not anything else. Get me a pad of paper and a pen."
"Margaret, you just gave birth. You should rest."
"I need to do this." She met his eyes. "Hawkeye -"
"Okay, okay. But if I get the slightest hint you're tired, this is over until you get some sleep."
"Well?" Hawkeye all but held his breath.
"I like it!"
"You sure you don't mind -"
He looked over her shoulder one more time, at the four words embossed in her messy handwriting.
The first name was based on Margaret's former commanding officer and best friend, Elaine Marquette. They had tossed around various versions of the name with both the first and middle names of Hawkeye's mother, but Margaret had been somewhat in love with his mother's middle name, and he liked it too. What had surprised him had been her idea of a middle name for his second child. She had assured him she didn't resent his past history with women, and he didn't resent hers, but it had surprised him that she had proposed naming their child after a woman he had once dated. Then again, Millicent Carpenter, and the words she had left behind after her death, had been a catalyst for a lot of what they'd been keeping hidden.
The doctor stepped into the room and frowned a little when he saw that Margaret wasn't sleeping, but said nothing on the subject when he noticed two pairs of blue eyes staring intently.
He broke the silence first. "The first baby is doing fine. Small and weak, but she'll be all right."
Hawkeye saw his own simultaneous relief and terror echoed in Margaret's face. On one hand, they had had no way until this point to be sure that either baby would be okay. On the other, why would they create this separation unless there was a difference?
"And the second?" Margaret finally whispered.
The look on his face said it all, even before he spoke. "We don't know yet. She's a lot worse off than her sister. The next few days will be the most important."
He left, and they just stared at each other. Margaret spoke first. "She'll be okay. She has to."
Hawkeye just nodded, lost for words. "Go to sleep. I promise I'll wake you if anything happens."
Margaret looked like she wanted to protest, but her eyelids were drooping, and he knew she couldn't deny her own exhaustion. She was out before her head hit the pillow.
Hawkeye wrapped his arms around her, letting his own head rest on the headboard. She'll be okay, he repeated to himself. She has to.