It's the last chapter! Thank you for everyone who read this and reviewed!
On the Fourth of July, the camp is given a chance to go to the beach and relax. Acting like children, the entire camp runs toward the water just to catch a glimpse of the ocean before playing different games in the sand. Toward the end of the day, Hawkeye and Margaret decide to find a space in the shade to cool off. Laying in the sand, the friends start to talk more like a couple as they ask about their childhoods and friendships. After a while the pair decides to crack jokes and any exuberance the camp has about their day off continues on the bus ride back to camp until snipers destroy any happiness they have left. Panicked and worried, everyone keeps quiet except the baby in the back of the bus. Logically, the man knows the baby cannot help crying, but he keeps hearing himself telling the mother to keep the infant quiet. The next thing he knows he is on a one way trip to see Sydney Freeman with special psychiatry sessions included. Margaret hates to be the one to make the call to send Hawkeye to Sydney, or at least tell Colonel Potter to, and dreads the moment she will speak to him. When Klinger places a call a few days after Hawkeye leaves, she is happy to hear what he has to say to others, but dreads talking to Hawkeye herself. To her dismay, Potter hands her the phone.
"'How do you feel?'" She asks once she is on the phone, careful to choose her words like the others. They are told he is subject to rambling and have no idea what will set him off.
"'Like a hostage'," Hawkeye answers sarcastically. "'How 'bout you?'"
Thankfully, the conversation lasts no more than a rather awkward minute before she passes the phone to Klinger. As the clerk says all the wrong things and goes on about the peace talks meaning nothing, Margaret quickly takes the phone from him and talks to Hawkeye again making it sound like the war will end soon. By his lack of reply, she can tell he does not believe her. Softly, she states, "'You just take care of yourself, okay? We all miss you here.'"
"'Then get me out!'" Hawkeye replies. Margaret almost answers when the line goes dead. Handing the phone back to Klinger, Margaret announces, "'Well, he didn't sound too bad.'"
"'Sounded more relaxed then I was'," B.J. admits. A week later, the younger surgeon goes to see Hawkeye and is astounded by how somber his friend is. Jokes are replaced by incessant rambling. However, it is still almost a week until Hawkeye comes back to the 4077th and into immediate surgery. He is also blindsided when he finds out that B.J. goes home. Although instead of wallowing over two friends and bunk mates he never gets to say good bye to, the surgeon heads toward the bus to help the wounded. Margaret works with Hawkeye during surgery and can see the pain on his face before he operates.
"'How are you feeling?'" Margaret asks worriedly.
"'Fine, fine. What could be wrong?'" Hawkeye deflects before rambling about how he is about to do surgery and his best friend is gone without a note just like Trapper. Prompting Hawkeye to start, Margaret gives a worried glance to Colonel Potter wondering if he really is okay to be back. She notes he is a little calmer when bandaging a soldier, which is a comfort. As he wipes his hands off from the plaster, Hawkeye sits on the desk that Margaret is at. Looking up at him from her seat, Margaret asks, "'You holding up okay?'"
"'All things considered'," He replies as an explosion sounds in the distance. Quickly he amends, "'Most things considered.'"
With the camp dealing with the bombing for days already, Margaret quickly grabs Hawkeye's arm and takes him to a room with sandbags to keep them safe. However, when the shelling gets to be too much for him, Hawkeye finds the tank that is being hidden and drives it into the dump. Coming back to camp, he is unaware of Colonel Potter deciding to call Sydney thinking Hawkeye's re-entrance to the 4077th is premature. As soon as they call to Syndey, the camp has a bug out due to a fire. While the camp is placed elsewhere, B.J. becomes the new surgeon for the camp, much to the camp's delight. A day later when the camp is playing with the orphaned children, all Hawkeye can do is sit back and watch. He is too afraid to be around any child right now with the memories of the smothered baby still fresh in his mind. The sight of Margaret playing with the kids is not helpful either. First a son he never knows dies, then he inadvertantly kills an infant by screaming at its mother. Walking outside of camp, Hawkeye is only a little surprised to find Sydney follow him.
"'Being around kids makes me a little uncomfortable these days'," Hawkeye admits to Syndey as they take a walk.
"'Well, that's something we'll have to work on'," Syndey states knowing Hawkeye will not be over his trauma for a while. Asking what else is wrong, Hawkeye admits that sleep alludes him and he is unable to get back in a rhythm during surgery. After Sydney leaves him, Hawkeye decides to walk a little more. Finding a nice spot that looks out onto some landscape, the surgeon sits down to try and keep from thinking. Taking a walk of her own, Margaret notices Hawkeye sitting alone and walks toward him. Quietly, she sits beside him as he stares ahead. She knows Hawkeye probably does not want to hear her words of comfort over his stay in an asylum, but states, "I know how you feel."
Hearing her friend scoff, the nurse quietly reveals, "Michael died in my arms. One night after work, I was feeding him and thought he went back to sleep. When I went to put him to bed, I found out he died."
She tries not to choke up, and is instantly panged by how direct her words sound. A frown crosses her face as she remembers the moment, but it seems a little more removed than before.
"Why are you telling me this?" He asks somberly bringing her out of her thoughts. Gently, she answers, "Because you can never get over this."
"Thanks," Hawkeye mumbles detesting the pep talk.
"You can only move on from it," Margaret finishes. "You may deal with it everyday, but you can go on."
Waiting for her to look at him, Hawkeye thanks her. She gives him a small smile answering, "Glad to help."
Going back to looking at the scenery, Margaret is unaware of Hawkeye staring at her. Finally, he asks, "How old was he?"
Eyes brimming with tears, Margaret whispers, "Three months."
"I'm sorry," He answers taking her hand. Leaning her head against him she feels a sense of pain when she hears Hawkeye state, "I wish I could've known him."
Squeezing the surgeon's hand, Margaret mumbles that they need to head back to camp. With a halfhearted groan, Hawkeye agrees before standing up and walking with Margaret. Unbeknownst to them, Sydney watches the pair walk back to camp knowing that as long as they stay together, Hawkeye will be fine.
The next day, the camp heads back to home base only to find it destroyed by the fire. Getting back to surgery, there are only short breaks as it seems like all the wounded in Korea come to their MASH. When Hawkeye is given a little girl no more than eight years old to work on, Potter asks to trade. Looking over at Sydney, Hawkeye declines Potter's offer. Somehow looking after the child is therapeutic. Not helpful, but therapeutic. When the surgery is over, Hawkeye goes to take a much needed shower before heading to Post Op to check on his patient and wait for the party to celebrate the end of the war. Entering Post Op, Hawkeye quickly finds the youngest patient and goes to check on her. Margaret watches from her post at one of the beds. She watches Hawkeye sit down and can see his demeanor stiffen a little. Walking toward him, Margaret places her hand on his shoulder which he easily covers with his own. Leaning down, Margaret whispers, "Just tell me when and I'll get you out of here."
"Is that an offer?" He teases. The nurse rolls her eyes before squeezing his shoulder and leaving.
After the party that night, Hawkeye and Margaret take a walk citing it as one last thing they will do together. As they walk, Hawkeye chuckles. Raising an eyebrow, Margaret asks what is wrong. Shaking his head, the surgeon states, "I was just thinking about that movie with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer on that ship. The one with pink champage?"
"Love Affair?" Margaret asks confused. Nodding, Hawkeye answers, "Yeah. I just thought that maybe after the war we could meet up again. Take a walk? You said you're going to work in the States, and I'm going back to Maine."
Margaret quickly notes a hint of wistfulness in her friend's statement asking, "You want to meet up again in New York?"
"Yeah. Make a new start for ourselves. Margaret, I never really got over not seeing you after that night. I don't think I could do it all over again."
With a sigh, Margaret admits she has the same problem and proposes, "How about we meet a month after the war. In Central Park."
"Deal. I'd prefer to not be wheelchair bound when we meet," Hawkeye quips. By now they are outside Margaret's tent which is sparse accept the cot. Everything else is close to packed away. The pair stands in front of the door unsure of their next move until Margaret takes Hawkeye's hand, cranes her neck, and whispers in his ear.
"Are you sure?" He asks. Nodding, Margaret leads Hawkeye into her tent both grinning like idiots.
The next day is a flurry of packing, a wedding, and good byes. Finally, only Hawkeye, Margaret, B.J., Charles, and Potter are left. Knowing her jeep will arrive soon, Margaret says her good byes. Stopping at Hawkeye just as her ride appears, she watches as he begins, "'So, uh, listen...'"
"'Yeah'," She answers knowing he is finalizing their meet up as well as last night. However with too much to say and too little time, the pair launch into a kiss that makes B.J., Charles, and Potter feel awkward and intrusive. When Margaret and Hawkeye finally break apart, Hawkeye states casually, "'Well, so long.'"
"'See ya'," She replies before hopping into the jeep. Unwilling to repeat history, Margaret turns and waves to the men she leaves behind. Instantly, she locks eyes with Hawkeye hoping he will understand that she will not leave him again. He gives a small nod, and gleefully the nurse turns around in the jeep.
As she walks through Central Park a month later, the now civilian nurse is happy to find a small breeze to break up the August heat. Sitting on a bench taking in the scenery, Margaret is unaware of her hat coming off until a tall man with blue eyes and an infectious smile remarks, "Penny for your thoughts?"
Looking up at him, Margaret grins as Hawkeye greets, "Hey, Major Baby."