Note and Disclaimer: Yeah, we all know that we don't own M*A*S*H. Just thought that I'd write a new story, but it's something a little different and runs on the same vein as my other Margaret story. I know the actions seemed a little sudden, but I do hope you all enjoy it!
There is, perhaps, some justice in trying to get your commanding officer arrested for treason or trying to get something righted from the wrong, to make your life somewhat better. At least, that was what Master Sergeant Keith Miller thought as he walked fast towards the closet place he could call a shelter (and a home away from home), only some yards away from his last hideout, Rosie's Bar. Out on leave (he only had forty-eight hours before he had to be back at his unit), the master sergeant was already walking out on a thin thread. After all, he was going to the one place he thought he had some sanctuary…and getting a little drunk in the process before heading out of course.
It had been some months, Keith thought sullenly, as he shook his drunken head of flooding past memories, since he had been to the 4077th. Wounded three times already and nothing to show for it (even when he saved his unit from a raid from the North Koreans, all single-handedly), Keith had been treated decently there all three times and was welcomed several times to the movies, food and drinks there was.
Friendly with some of the doctors in the Swamp (save for the last, the snobbish one named Charles Winchester, whom nobody seemed to like), Keith was also keen on seeing someone more special than those doctors were. His angel of mercy, as it was (even if she did not know it herself), was one Major Margaret Houlihan, the head nurse of the unit. She was always encouraging him to do everything possible to better himself and his life, whether it was being positive about his station or getting his paperwork straightened out.
While not talking to her about his turbulent life, Keith was smitten with the blonde nurse who always showed him nothing but kindness and charity (even a sponge bath or two). Even if Margaret Houlihan did not share his feelings, Keith was sure to find some time with her, somehow worship her shadow if he could. Just the smell of her drove him insane. Her every word was obeyed. If Margaret Houlihan had a whim, Keith was sure he'd fulfill it for her.
Or tell her how I feel, whichever comes first.
It was also there at the 4077th that Keith knew that there was some sort of help. Other than Margaret Houlihan assisting him with some Army regulations and getting past the red tape, Colonel Potter was always there. Fatherly in every way that his own stepfather was not (because his absent father could not care less about him), Keith saw him as not only his savior, but also his ticket to Seoul, where he can report the incidents he saw without bias, without anyone trying to bury him. Not to mention, it would be without his commanding officer pushing the buttons that made him out to be the bad guy. He knew that his only chance was there.
Keith was nervous, even though he knew that he would be safe. After running under the unit's infamous sign as he staggered out of Rosie's Bar ("Best Care Anywhere" and Keith knew it), he beelined for Colonel Potter's office and was almost there. If he got there in time, before his own commanding officer knew where he was, then he could be safe. There was no chance in hell that he was going to be trapped again.
Before long, just as he was nearing Colonel Potter's office, Keith ran into two people he did not want to see at the moment. While he was pleased to see Hawkeye and BJ, he did not want the distraction. They made the time run rather slowly.
"Keith, old buddy, what brings you here?" Hawkeye Pierce laughed loudly, wrapping his shaking arm around Keith. It was obvious that he was off duty and drunk.
"Yeah, Keith, what brings you here?" BJ Hunnicutt asked him as he too wrapped his arm around Keith. He was drunk as well.
"Well, you two, I kinda need to see –" Keith began with some hesitation in his voice.
"Oh, come on, you need to get a drink," Hawkeye insisted as he and BJ navigated Keith to the Swamp instead of Colonel Potter's office. "Drinks are on us."
"But I just had a few down the road," Keith protested, breaking away from the two doctors in frustration. "I was just at Rosie's last night and today."
"At Rosie's?" Hawkeye stopped, incredulous and appearing to be highly insulted. "And you didn't invite us? How passé! Don't you think, Beej?"
Acting just as rude as their tentmate Charles, BJ stuck his own red nose in the air and folded his arm stubbornly. "Yes, indeed, my dear Hawkeye. It is outdated to be going to Rosie's. It's better to be drinking from our swill and becoming the state in which you want to be in."
"What state was that again?" Hawkeye asked.
"Ok, guys, enough for now," Keith said impatiently, backing away as another sharp memory twisted his stomach into tight knots. "I need to see Colonel Potter, on the double. This is super important, nothing that you guys can help with. Just let me conduct my own business. You'll know more later."
"See, Hawk? He needs no help from us getting into that state of states again," BJ slurred, laughing unevenly.
"Come on, you two, this is serious," Keith protested again, this time in a somewhat whiny voice. He began to run the other way. "I need to get into his office pronto because I have something he can help me with."
"Help you with what, Master Sergeant?" The cool voice of Margaret Houlihan quickly filled Keith's ears, almost making him swoon childishly before he could even move. "I heard your arrival here caused quite a drunken stir, so don't mind these two hooligans. You've been here, for what, not even five minutes? And those two want you to drink with them?"
"Oh, no, I usually don't drink now," Keith easily lied, knowing the many times he had gotten drunk with the two from the Swamp and from his tenure down the road. "I just needed to get back to what I was – I mean, Major, what I got to do – well, I need to see Colonel Potter, Ma'am."
Embarrassed, Keith blushed, but not without the humiliation that came from Hawkeye and BJ. And he knew that he was not getting any breaks. They saw the slip and picked up the teasing. This too was horrible. Keith already felt time rushing from him. As everyone picked up on his oops, he cursed under his breath.
"So, we're all in the hots for Hot Lips Houlihan?" Hawkeye asked, encircling Keith with his arm again.
"Don't know what to say, when to say it?" BJ continued.
"In what state?" Hawkeye added.
"Oh, enough of that, you two," Margaret fumed, almost much to Keith's chagrin (he wanted anything he could to spend more time with his angel). "You, come with me. We can leave these two to their own devices."
It was almost surreal to Keith, much as he despised being part of what he thought was a foolish fantasy. He felt his hand being taken, the same dirty hand that killed, and was led towards Colonel Potter's office by Margaret. He was only feet away, just seconds away, from getting the truth out to someone and some assistance received. He knew that the nightmare he had to live in for so long was now turning his way for once. It was almost like a dream that would never have him waking in sweat and one that he was anticipating his whole life. Margaret was going to make it right again.
With such a person on his side, Keith thought nothing could go wrong. However, as the pair walked away from BJ and Hawkeye, they both heard a familiar voice. While Margaret was not startled by it and only ignored its rudeness until pulled, Keith was and his ears perked up. It was the voice that turned his surreal scene into something akin to a living hell on Earth. It would make his mission now unfeasible and make his leave futile.
As Keith and Margaret turned around, they saw the figure of Colonel Brett Rifkin before them. Rifkin was Keith's commanding officer, the same man that had committed treason and had, for so long, turned his comrades into his enemies. Keith had hoped to avoid Rifkin. Hell, he wished that he wasn't so stupid. Rifkin knew where everyone went to on leave and why.
"Major, did you hear what I said?" Rifkin asked Margaret loudly, clearly seeing that both of them were not listening to him. "I said, hand over the man or I'm going to shoot."
"What do you mean, Colonel?" Margaret inquired innocently enough, outraged by the statement. "Why, he's coming with me to see Colonel Potter. Do you need to come along?"
"No, Major," Rifkin replied, soon flanked with MPs with guns aimed at Keith. "I need this man. He is now wanted in questioning for committing treason against the United States. Major, you are holding the hand of a traitor."