Nine times out of ten he was right which meant one time out of ten he was wrong, and she was keeping score. When the final tally was declared she would amaze them all, amaze everyone but herself (she'd always known it; it was a kind of savvy combined with instinct and just a touch of who-the-fuck-cares-what-they think), amaze everyone but herself and her father who'd just grumble and nod, but he knew, he'd always known. Ten times out of ten, *she* was right.
Nine times out of ten, Pierce was right, and now, in the dark, her fingers on the soft swish of the inside of Private Anders' wrist she was waiting to see if this was one of those times. Pierce wanted to send this guy home, said he wasn't fit to fight and wasn't accountable for his actions. The MPs disagreed (the most disagreeable of the bunch being Captain Alan Sneed who'd given Margaret a most disagreeable evening in Tokyo nine months ago, but she wasn't thinking about that now), said he was destined for the stockade, open and shut, end of story.
Regular Army and Howitzer Houlihan said assist the MPs, Margaret, do your job, be a good little soldier. Lock the sonofabitch away.
Private Anders moaned and Margaret angled his chart so she could read it off the thin beam of light sliding in through the plastic window. He'd lost two brothers in combat and when news of the second one reached him he cracked, started firing his rifle at footballs and violins and photographs of soldiers' parents. Sergeant Howard had tried to stop him and had taken one in the gut for it -- two beds away he'd lost his only kidney and was scheduled for a lifetime of dialysis back home in New Jersey. He'd managed to clip Anders in the shoulder before he went down.
"You can't love something and be a soldier at the same time," Anders had said just before Kellye clapped the anaesthesia mask over his face. "You can't bring anything from home with you."
Sneed would be back in the morning and somewhere Anders' court-martial was already scheduled on a General's itinerary.
Pierce had called in Sidney Freedman, but with an arrest order and no medical reason to keep Anders at the 4077th Sidney couldn't offer any sort of official assistance. He'd winked at Pierce, though, clicked his tongue and said "you know, I've seen cases where the lead from a bullet has contaminated a patient's blood, traveled to his brain and made him do things he might not otherwise do." Pierce raised a glass in toast.
Sneed would be back in -- Margaret checked her watch -- three hours. With the signature of a doctor and a nurse to confirm Sidney's hypothesis Anders would be promised a full psychiatric evaluation in lieu of his court-martial, and a trip home to his mother in Arkansas with his brother's dogtags in his pocket.
In the hazy light Margaret looked at the chart again, flipped it open to the second page. "B.F. Pierce, Captain," it read in Hawkeye's black scrawl. The line next to it was blank.
Regular Army said this kid left with the MPs in the morning. That was the truth, that was official, under the stars and the stripes, long may she wave.
But nine times out of ten, Pierce was right, and Margaret, Margaret was always right. Fuck 'em if they disagree, Pierce or the Army or whichever side she landed opposing with her thumb to her nose (but quietly).
Margaret brushed the Private's hair from his sweaty forehead and picked up a pen.