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Henry looks at the four faces in front of him. They all look wary- at this point, they know being called into his office is never good. Burns has his chin held high, his already beady eyes narrowed into slits, his chest puffed out to an almost absurd level. He stands as close to the door as possible. Margaret sits, ramrod straight, in the chair directly in front of Henry’s desk. Her face is set in a steely mask, the career army response to anything unanticipated. Henry wishes she didn’t have to be involved in this- she’s got too much happening already- but he’d find himself on the receiving end of a thorough tongue-lashing if he asked another nurse to be here.

McIntyre leans down, elbows resting on the back of Pierce’s chair, his eyebrows furrowed and his shoulders stiff. And Pierce sprawls across the chair, one leg up, one leg down, arms splayed across the back, a dead look in his eyes. They all know what’s going to happen. Henry takes a deep breath- it’s never easy sending his charges into the jaws of death. “Battalion Aid lost two surgeons and a nurse last night,” he says. All four of them draw back- whether from the horror of what happened or the horror of what’s going to happen, he’s not sure. “They need replacements. Good news is that it’ll only be a 24 hour shift. Bad news is, the 8063rd has bugged out, and nobody can reach them, so it’s all gotta be from here.”

“I’ll replace their nurse,” Margaret says, voice clipped.

Hopefully that’ll take her mind off her father’s problems , Henry thinks. “So who’s gonna be the doctors?” He watches as the three doctors all look at each other. Before Frank can launch into his usual tirade, he says, “Pierce, you went last time-”

“Yeah, but Henry, I only went for three hours before they got a replacement in,” Pierce says with a weary sigh. “Frank went before that for 24 hours. I’ll go.”

Burns’s eyebrows shoot up. “Well, you would be the logical choice. I mean, you’re just a Captain, and I’m a Major-”

“Frank,” Henry cuts in. He’s not in favor of breaking up yet another squabble between the foursome, and he knows how Pierce and McIntyre react when Frank gets sanctimonious. “Okay, Pierce, you’re going. That’s very decent of you.”

“How dare you!” Pierce gasps, feigning insult. Margaret rolls her eyes, but McIntyre speaks up before she can say anything.

“Hey, Hawkeye, wanna take my place too?” McIntyre jokes.

“Damn, Trap, I was counting on you to keep the bed warm there,” Pierce replies with a grin.

“Oh, pipe down,” Margaret snaps. “Colonel-”

“She’s right, you’ll have enough time for the jibber-jabber on your way. Frank, you and I’ll have to be working double-time. Margaret, who’s the nurse you’re putting in charge while you’re away?”

“Lieutenant Nakahara got it last time, right?” Margaret asks. “Uh… I’ll put Lieutenant Bayliss on it.”

“All right, good. Okay, now all of you, go get ready, please,” Henry sighs. “You’re leaving in half an hour.”

Both Hawkeye and Trapper know not to begrudge Margaret the driver’s seat, especially when she’s in a mood like this. Hawkeye leans back in the seat next to her, Trapper having been relegated to the back. “What’s got you all riled up?” Hawkeye asks.

“None of your business, Captain,” Margaret replies, her tone icy.

“Jesus, no need to bite my head off, Margaret.” Hawkeye props his feet up on the dashboard. Probably not the safest practice, but they could get blown up by a mortar at any minute, so he’ll take his chances. “Y’know, Trap, this is some prime real estate right here. You should look at investing.”

“Yeah, but you know what other stock just went up?” Trap asks.

“No, what?”

“Land mines.”

“Damn, I knew I should’ve bought in when I had the chance,” Hawkeye replies.

“Oh, will you two shut up?” Margaret snaps. “It’s not too easy to drive this thing, you know.”

“Oh, I do know,” Hawkeye says. “But try driving it with a girl on your lap, and then you’ll see how hard it is.”

Trap snickers behind him, and Hawkeye feels a warm glow of pride. The warmth is put out when Margaret slaps him on the arm. “God, why do you have to be so crude?”

Hawkeye debates whether he should ask what’s wrong or quip about oil prices. He does have a great opening. But alas. “Seriously, Margaret, what’s eating you?”

The wind is the only noise for a moment. Finally, Margaret speaks up. “You have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“Who would we tell?” Trap asks.

“Any number of people!”

“Well, we won’t say anything. I appreciate your high opinion of our social skills, though,” Hawkeye says. There’s another pause- Hawkeye fights the urge to crack another joke- and he starts to wonder if Margaret might just stay silent for the rest of the ride.

“It’s my father,” Margaret says eventually. She’s barely audible over the wind. “He’s got prostate cancer. They caught it early, it’s easy to cure, he’ll be out of the hospital in two days, but it’s still cancer. Things could still go wrong.”

“I’m sorry, Margaret,” Trapper says.

“Yeah, that’s gotta be rough,” Hawkeye adds.

“Shut up about it.” Margaret glares at the road ahead, looking like she’s trying to burn a hole through the windshield.

Hawkeye surreptitiously turns backwards and raises his eyebrows at Trap, trying to ask, Should we say anything more?

Trapper purses his lips and shakes his head slightly. So that’s a no on that, then.

After a pause, Margaret’s glare mellows a little. “Thanks.”

“He’ll be fine, Margaret,” Hawkeye tells her. She doesn’t reply, so he takes it as his cue to shut up. The rest of the ride is spent in silence, and Hawkeye wishes he’d sat in the back with Trap. He’s not quite sure what their relationship is- they’ve spent too many nights in the supply room together to just be friends, especially as the drunken trysts turned into sober ones. And they both value their lives too highly to be together . But at least in the back, Hawkeye could’ve gotten a little handsy. In the front, there’s only Margaret and her ice-cold, epaulet-covered shoulder for company.

They disembark as the sun begins to set, lighting the Korean hills on fire. Trapper lifts their three duffels out of the back and shoulders them as Margaret blows past them and Hawkeye leans on the Jeep. Sometimes Trapper thinks that Hawkeye’s made for lounging. He’s not much of an artist, but in his opinion, Hawk’s slim, long limbs and his near-permanent slouch should be in one of those paintings of Greek gods being fed grapes. He looks altogether too comfortable as he stares at Trapper, heavy-lidded eyes crinkling at the corners a little. “Ah, my faithful pack horse,” Hawk quips.

“Hey, you can carry your own damn bag if you’re gonna have that attitude,” Trapper tells him.

“Nah, I think you got it.”

Trapper gives Hawk a light push as they enter the aid station, Margaret leading the way like they’re some sort of battalion. A lone doctor leans against the far wall, and he startles when they enter. He strides over to greet them. “I’m Captain James Richards,” the doctor says, holding his arm out. His dark skin glistens with sweat, despite the cool night air and the fact that he’s the only one there- but Trapper knows how easily that could change.

“I’m Major Margaret Houlihan.”

“Captain Hawkeye Pierce, at your service.”

“Captain Trapper McIntyre, and if he’s gonna be at your service then I’ll take my break now.”

Richards huffs a small laugh. “Nice to meet you all.” He salutes them, and only Margaret returns it properly- Trapper makes sure to salute with his left hand, and Hawk just waves. “From what I’ve heard, the next few hours are going to be fine, but we’ve got a storm rolling in, and when the generals get wet, they get mad.”

“So, casualties.” Margaret shakes her head almost imperceptibly, and for a second Trapper can see exactly why she’s an army nurse.

“Yep. So get your coffee in now.”

“Uh… Deaver retractor!” Trapper says, gritting his teeth as his hands fly through the kid’s wrecked internal organs. Dust flies from the ceiling, filling the air- almost like snow- as the bombs and mortars and God knows what else drop around them. Trapper does his best to cover his patient, but it’d be a long shot to save this kid, even back at the MASH.

“No pulse,” the medic assisting him says.

Trapper stares at him for a second as the words sink in. “Whaddya mean, ‘no pulse?’” Trapper almost yells. “He had one a second ago!”

“Doctor, I’m tellin’ ya-”

“Trap,” Hawkeye says. Trapper looks up, immediately caught in one of Hawkeye’s intense gazes. “We can’t put the fixings on. You hear me?”

Trapper looks back down at the boy’s body- and it really is just a body now, isn’t it. Fuck the 38th Parallel. I swear to Christ, I’d eat turnips and beets and only ever read the Communist Manifesto if I could fix this . He looks up again. “Yeah, I hear you.” He turns to the medic, who can’t be more than 19 if the baby fat is anything to go by, and jerks his head. “Get the next one in here.”

Trapper waves goodbye to Richards as he drives away- not that Richards can see him, what with the wind blowing everything everywhere. He’s been up for nearly forty hours, but both Hawkeye and Margaret haven’t slept for almost fifty- perks of a post-op shift, he supposes. The road- or what little road hasn’t been washed or blown away away- is almost impossible to see, and the only thing keeping his eyes from drifting shut is the freezing cold gusts buffeting the Jeep. He’s just grateful that the rain has stopped- not without filling the bottom of the Jeep with water, though. He glances to his right, hoping that Hawk has managed to fall asleep, but he’s greeted by the sight of his friend hunched up on the seat like some sort of gangly, blue-eyed gargoyle. From what Trapper can see, Margaret isn’t faring too well on the sleep front either- she’s sitting up impossibly straight, as if someone’s jabbed a steel pole into her spine. Always military , Trapper muses. The roads in this area are similarly ramrod straight, and his mind starts to wander. His feet are starting to squelch. Maybe if- when- he gets home, he’ll get a swimming pool. The girls would love that. So would his wife. God, does he miss Louise.

He and Louise had come up with an Agreement, one born out of too many parties with too much whiskey and too many “jokes” about the same sex. Trapper would chase just about anyone, and whenever he’d manage to get Louise in bed with another man, she’d look bored. When they switched up their partner, however, it was another story. He’d asked her about it-

“I’m not- how can- that’s so hypocritical , to call me a homosexual!” Louise hissed under her breath.

“Hypocritical? What is that supposed to mean?” Trapper asked, feeling that familiar worry claw its way back up into his throat.

“It means that you’ve always been a master at spinning a bottle, and it’s landed on ol’ Danny Roberts much too many times to be a fluke! I mean, you spin it, it lands on him, the girl next to him takes it, and then you and him disappear-”

“Keep your damn voice down!” Trapper whispered. He cast a glance around them, at all the other cars in front of them at the drive-in. “And what about Marybeth, huh? You gonna tell me that was-”

Louise’s hand shot out and gripped his shoulder. “Zip it.”

Trapper stared at her. “Marybeth. Huh. Does she-”

“I swear to God, shut your fat mouth.” Louise’s eyes were wide. “Do you know what would happen-”

“Are you shitting me, Louise?” Trapper laughed. “I mean-”

“Okay, so we both know the stakes.”

Trapper looked at her. She was, at this point, one of his best friends, no matter how strange his father and uncle thought being friends with a woman was. And both he and Louise needed to avoid suspicion. He barely had to think about it. “Marry me.”

Louise blinked, long and slow. “I’m sorry, what?”

“If we get hitched and have a few kids, who’s gonna suspect us? I’m serious!”

Louise studied him for a few moments. Then her face split into a grin, and Trapper knew she was thinking about Marybeth in the same way that he was thinking about Danny. “You better get a nice ring.”

Danny had moved away a month after his and Louise’s wedding, and Trapper hasn’t spoken to him since. Marybeth, however, would love coming over to the pool.

“I think that we’re going to get blown off the road,” Hawkeye says, jolting Trapper out of his thoughts. Trapper looks over at his friend, whose face is more under-eye bags than regular skin.

“You look like shit,” Trapper says, waiting for a reprimand from Margaret that doesn’t come- either because she’s too tired, or because the wind is too loud to hear over.

“That’s really great to hear. For a second there, I thought that I looked like hell. Thank you for correcting me,” Hawk replies.

Trapper grins a little, doing his best to see the road and stare at Hawkeye at the same time. A retort dances on the tip of his tongue, and he’s so caught up in the moment- the first time in twenty-four hours that he hasn’t been thinking of death- that he’s still grinning when an explosion sends the Jeep straight into a hill.

The blast is solitary, but right now Hawkeye doesn’t give two shits about what caused it- he just needs to find Trapper and Margaret. There’s a few shards of glass and metal sprinkled all over his body, and he’s bruised to all hell, but nothing seems to be broken or even twisted. As he crawls out of the wreckage of the Jeep, he prays that Trapper and Margaret have been similarly lucky. He can barely see- there’s a tiny sliver of moon in the sky, and with all the trees in the way, it’s really no help. Panic starts to dig its claws into his stomach. “Trap?” he yells out, the wind carrying his suddenly-hoarse voice in ten different directions. Pipe down, Captain! There could be snipers anywhere, a voice in his head that sounds like Margaret says. “Margaret?” he yells. Fuck the voice in his head- if Margaret wants him to be quieter, she can damn well come and tell him herself.

“Pierce!” a familiar voice hisses. “Shut up! We’re both fine!”

God, Margaret can be unpleasant even in the best of times, but relief floods Hawkeye’s chest. They’re both okay. Trapper’s okay. “Oh, good. I was thinking about getting the store manager to make an announcement.”

Trapper’s familiar snort emanates from the darkness, and Hawkeye crawls his way towards it. He’s always been a fan of Trapper’s laugh, but given the circumstances, it’s the best sound in the world- vibrant, expressive, alive. “Hawk, what about you? You okay?”

Hawkeye’s hand finds a shoulder, and it’s much too broad to be Margaret’s. He lets out a tiny breath. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Trapper’s hand suddenly grips Hawkeye’s free one, and Trap squeezes for a second before letting go. Someone fumbles with something in the dark, and suddenly a tiny flame, being whipped this way and that by the wind, illuminates their surroundings. Margaret, her face drawn, holds the lighter- one of those little pistol ones. Hawkeye fights the urge to laugh. “Margaret, you-”

Trapper follows Hawkeye’s gaze, and he lets out a barely-stifled giggle. Hawkeye manages to restrain himself for a good six seconds, and then he cracks up, Trapper joining his chorus of guffaws almost immediately. Margaret glares at them for a moment, and then her gaze falls on the pistol lighter, and she snorts. She claps her hand to her mouth, but in three seconds, her whole body is shaking. Hawkeye lets his head drop onto Trapper’s solid, warm shoulder as he rocks back and forth with mirth, not caring if it’s closer to a nuzzle than a friendly gesture. “Aw, Christ,” Trapper manages to say before collapsing into laughter again. Margaret feigns pointing the lighter at Trapper, and their giggles redouble. Hawkeye wipes tears from his eyes as he cackles, and Trapper is practically doubled over beside him, and Margaret’s head is thrown back, and this has got to be the happiest Hawkeye’s been in a while. Alivealivealivealivealive beats like a drum in Hawkeye’s head with every shake in Trapper’s sides.

Eventually, they stop laughing, and Margaret purses her lips and makes a torch out of a stick on the ground. The lighter is put away, and they start to sort through the Jeep and its assorted debris for anything salvageable. The camp is only six miles away, but with the wind, it might as well be triple that. “We gotta find somewhere to sleep,” Trapper says, his hand brushing against Hawkeye’s. The adrenaline is still wearing off, but as it does, Hawkeye can feel the familiar fatigue settling into his bones.

“There’s a cave network near here,” Margaret supplies. The second the word cave comes out of her mouth, Hawkeye’s fatigue is replaced with fear.

“Caves?” Hawkeye asks. “How far?”

“Not far. Maybe a mile,” Margaret replies. Hawkeye catches sight of the dark circles under her eyes and her tip-tap-tapping fingers. He looks at Trapper, who looks only marginally better than Margaret- shoulders slumped, covered in stubble, with dark circles so severe that he looks like a goddamned raccoon. He swallows. It’s not their responsibility to deal with his claustrophobia.

“Okay. Okay, let’s go,” he says. Margaret gives a curt nod and starts walking, and Hawkeye and Trapper follow. Trapper’s fingers brush against his own, and Hawkeye fights the urge to grab Trapper’s hand like he’s a fucking schoolkid.

Trapper intertwines their fingers, and Hawkeye’s chest loosens a little. “You okay, Hawk?” Trapper asks quietly.

Hawkeye considers the truth for a second- that he’s scared shitless, that he’s going to die if he steps foot into that cave, that he can’t think of a single joke to lighten the mood- and then decides against it. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”

Margaret is so, so, so tired.

A cave is not the most exciting prospect, but then again, neither is a scratchy army cot under a scratchy army blanket in a scratchy army tent. She allows her mind to drift to thoughts of the States- thoughts that she usually keeps under lock and key, lest she forget what she’s here to do.

A real bed. A real shower. Laughter that isn’t a little drunken or a little crazed or both. She doesn’t have a home in the US, courtesy of an army brat upbringing, but she’d like to find a home. Not with Frank, definitely not. Even if he had the spine to divorce his wife, she wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her life with him. If she had enough courage to cut off her relationship with Frank, then maybe she could find new friends, new relationships. Or maybe she’d lose her one true ally in the camp, and then where would she be? Waiting for an armistice with nobody to cheer it on with.

Maybe in the States, she’d find a real man, or maybe find Helen Whitfield and see if she’s still interested in their college activities, sans the drinking. They’re still in touch- it wouldn’t be hard.

And this is why you don’t think about the States.

She keeps a regulation pace and marches, leading the group to the caves. In the puddles they walk past, she can see Pierce and McIntyre reflected in them. Holding hands- no, not holding, gripping, and somehow making it seem nonchalant. She’d had her suspicions. She’s not going to confront them, because they’re- well, almost her friends, and it’d be a bit hypocritical of her. She’s just going to make sure that she sleeps in a cave separate from the two of them. She’s seen the cave before, on the way back from Battalion Aid, and the stone twists and turns and creates little mini-caves that are more than sufficient.

Her feet are numb, and so are her hands and her nose and her ears. The damned wind is like a thousand tiny knives stabbing at all her exposed skin. The entrance to the caves looms up ahead, exuding an air of menace. She quickens her pace. The sooner they get to shelter, the sooner they can sleep and then get back to camp. Above them, the sky is starting to lighten a little bit. “Hurry up!” she calls.

Margaret reaches the caves after another five minutes of walking, and she’s about ready to cry with relief. She sags against the cave wall, her feet blistered and frozen. From where she’s standing, the cave actually looks kind of cozy. Margaret resolves to take the mini-cave farthest from the entrance- she’s sick of the wind.

Pierce and McIntyre finally catch up, and she doesn’t even bother to stand up straight. “I’m going to sleep, and we’ll talk in the morning. You two can take your own room, but I am sleeping by myself.”

“Rooms? What is this, a motel?” McIntyre jokes. Margaret raises an eyebrow at him and points inside the cave. He looks inside, and turns back to face her. “So it is a motel.”

Margaret’s so tired that she barely notices the conspicuous absence of one of Pierce’s idiotic (somewhat funny) jokes. She just wants to sleep. “Good night , captains.”

As soon as her head hits her pillow- or in this case, her wadded-up jacket- she’s asleep. And thankfully, for once, she doesn’t dream.

Trapper looks at the cave. Then he looks back at Hawkeye, who’s paler than the moon hanging above them. “Hawk-”

“I can do this,” Hawk replies. “It’s not like the cave is going to cave in or anything. That would be crazy. I’ve shared a tent with Frank. This is not the worst sleeping arrangement I’ve had to endure. Right?”

“Yeah. Right,” Trapper says. He’s not good with words. He failed his college English class the first time around. So instead of saying something, he grabs Hawkeye- uncharacteristically small, uncharacteristically stiff- and pulls him close, one hand on Hawkeye’s narrow waist, another grasping his shoulder, almost in a dancing position. “This good?”

“Yeah. Yeah, this is good,” Hawkeye says. His breathing is calming down, and Trapper lets out his own little sigh.


And then a bullet hits the cave wall.

Rock shards explode outwards. One grazes Trapper, and he swears. Hawkeye looks at him, blue eyes frantic. “Are you shitting me?!” Hawk yells. Another bullet hits the rock, and more fragments fly out from the wall. Trapper knows that they need to get into the cave, they need to get to safety, but he can’t do anything except stand there and watch, paralyzed with indecision. Hawkeye had helped him in the aid station. He needs to help Hawkeye now.

Hawkeye looks around, his gaze reminiscent of a caged animal, and Trapper knows he’s searching for any other way out. The sound of another bullet brings Hawkeye’s eyes back to Trapper. “Hawk-”

“Cave,” Hawkeye says, a shudder racing along his spine.

Yet another bullet strikes the wall. It’s far too close for Trapper’s comfort- not that he’s ever a fan of bullets, but this is just- goddamn, it just ain’t right.

Trapper grabs Hawkeye’s wrist and pulls him into the cave, scared out of his fucking mind and somehow even more scared for Hawkeye. “Hawk, you good?” Trapper asks, his voice a little shaky, as they press themselves against a wall.

“I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s just a cave.” Hawkeye starts to gesture wildly as he continues. “I mean, this godforsaken war is already hell, so what’s the problem with a cave? It shouldn’t- it shouldn’t-”

Trapper grabs Hawkeye’s wrists, and Hawk’s breaths- too ragged, too rough- steady just a bit. “Hawk. Look at me.” Hawk stares him in the eye with that manic gaze of his, and Trapper leans forward. Hawkeye meets him in the middle, their lips colliding with too much force and an abundance of passion.

Hawkeye Pierce is the most expressive, most intense person that Trapper knows. His eyes are always gleaming- with happiness, mischief, anger, whatever. He gives all of himself to everything and everyone at every given moment from the moment he wakes up to the moment he passes out again. He’s a hurricane, a force of nature, someone who makes Trapper want to go take a goddamned English class just to come up with the words to describe him. (And he’d vowed to never take English again.) Hawkeye Pierce is not, however, a god. He’s a man- Hawkeye Pierce is a man, and a very good kisser. He’s also shaking- not that Trapper isn’t- as rock shards fly everywhere. Trapper pulls back a little. “You gotta breathe, Hawk.” Hawk’s pupils are still blown wide, and his breathing is still labored, but now it’s just his hands that are shaking. Somewhere outside, explosions start going off.

“Shit. Margaret,” Hawkeye says. “Shit.”

“Shit.” Another blast goes off, and dust falls from the cave roof.

Hawkeye grabs him, this time, and presses their lips together again. It’s a little less tooth-rattling than last time, but with the exact same amount of passion (especially for a kiss without any tongue), and right now it’s the only thing keeping Trapper from punching a wall.

Trapper pulls back. “Fucking Christ, Margaret’s alone.”

Hawkeye looks as stricken as Trapper feels. “Shit.”

Trapper is torn- he can’t leave Hawkeye, but they can’t leave Margaret. Shit indeed. “Okay. Okay, I’m going to- MARGARET!” he hollers.

He’s never been so glad to hear the major’s voice. “McIntyre, there’s no need to yell!” she exclaims, clambering out from the depths of the cave. If she notices that Trapper and Hawkeye are holding hands, she doesn’t say anything. Another blast splits the air, and she lets out a small shriek. Trapper stares at her for a second- how she can go from pissed to terrified in 0.2 seconds will never fail to amaze him. “I don’t like loud noises,” she admits. “And they’re so much louder in a cave.”

Hawkeye chuckles weakly, and Trapper’s heart lifts at the sound. “This is unfair. Trapper is the only one who’s only got a healthy amount of fear in this situation.”

“Claustrophobia?” Margaret guesses.


Another blast goes off, and Trapper feels about ready to jump out of his skin. Margaret straightens up after their ears stop ringing. “We should try to sleep.”

“I don’t know about you, but I could stay up another forty hours,” Trapper says. “And from the sounds of it, that’s how long the shelling’s gonna go on.”

Margaret glares at him. “We all have to try. The shelling’s bound to stop, and then we’ll have to walk back to the camp.”

Trapper has to admit, it’s logical. “Nice to see Frank’s lack of brains hasn’t rubbed off on you.”

Hawkeye snorts, and Margaret gives him a shove. Trapper’s frayed nerves start to knit together a little, and he takes off his jacket to make it into a pillow. And then another bomb goes off, and Margaret grabs his arm. Dust starts to fall from the ceiling once more, and Hawkeye grabs his hand.

Two more drop in quick succession, and Trapper is gripping onto Hawkeye’s hand for dear life, and he genuinely thinks he’s going to die here. He’ll never get to hug Louise and the kids again, and he’ll never have actually gotten to know Margaret, and he’ll never get to kiss Hawkeye again-

“Do you hear that?” Margaret asks.

Trapper cracks open an eye. “Hear…”

Another explosion goes off, but this one is far away. “Oh, thank God,” Hawkeye says. He runs up to the mouth of the cave, and Trapper is right behind him- this is where the music would start playing in a movie, with the sun coming up, and all of us alive, I swear-

He’s jolted out of his thoughts by Hawkeye’s hands on the sides of his face, pulling him in for a quick kiss on the mouth that could look like a joke to Margaret but is anything but. Hawkeye’s grinning, so Trapper grins back, and Hawkeye’s eyes are so blindingly bright that it makes Trapper giddy. He kinda wants to poke Hawkeye- just to make sure he’s actually here. “Thanks,” Hawkeye whispers. “Margaret!” he calls. “Come here, let me give you a kiss!”

“I don’t think so, Captain Pierce,” Margaret says, but her tone isn’t the usual “you-two-are-idiots-and-I-wish-I-could-court-martial-you” one, and she’s smiling too.

They still sleep in the cave- well, Hawkeye sleeps outside, and Trapper sleeps half-in, half-out- before they head back to camp. Henry gives all of them a hug, and Frank bitches, and everything is normal.

But Margaret tells Hawkeye and Trapper- who hold hands through the whole conversation- about her father’s successful surgery, and they both react like they know her father personally. Frank doesn’t even think to ask about it, and it would bother Margaret, but she’s writing Helen more than she’s talking to Frank these days.