It was a cool, crisp day as they walked out of the OR. Hawkeye and B.J. had just finished for the day - 12 straight hours of surgery. It also had been one of their slower days.
"Ah, to be in war-torn Korea in the fall. How nice. How long have we been here, Beej?"
"By my calculations, way too long. An eternity, perhaps," B.J. replied, almost not really caring due to utter exhaustion. All he could think about was getting back to the Swamp, lying down on his cot, closing his eyes, and becoming unconscious for another twelve hours. It made the time go faster.
Just then, they heard Klinger's voice come over the PA system. "Captain Pierce and Major Houlihan, please report to Colonel Potter's office."
"I've been summoned," Hawkeye announced and turned toward the CO's office.
"What did you do this time, Hawk?" B.J. kidded with him. Hawkeye seemed to be a frequent visitor to the colonel's office for one reason or another.
"Nothing, but if I did do something, I'm not telling. I can't reveal all of my secrets," Hawkeye grinned slyly at him and walked off.
"Would I really want to know what your secrets are?" B.J. shouted to him, before entering The Swamp.
Hawkeye entered Klinger's office and found him in his usual spot near the phone, talking to God knows who, making a deal or pursuing some sort of scam. He was intent on getting the message he needed off the phone and didn't notice Hawkeye walk in. He continued through and found that Margaret had already arrived. "What a surprise," Hawkeye thought to himself. "She would be early for her funeral." He didn't mean that in a cruel way. It was just that her punctuality was something that never changed about her.
They each were having a drink, and Colonel Potter invited him to have one. "Sure, Colonel. A scotch would do."
"Coming right up. Now then, we'll get down to why you're here," Col. Potter figured it was time to get down to business.
"Yes, Colonel, enlighten us. Why are we here?" Hawkeye couldn't resist being sarcastic at times like these.
"Pierce, would you let the man talk? I have better ways to spend my time, other than listen to you shoot your mouth off," Margaret responded, clearly getting angry with him, as she usually did. Some things never changed.
"A call came in earlier today from an aid station, located right in the heart of the action at the front. North Korean soldiers moved in unexpectedly and killed some of the wounded and two of the doctors. Right now, they have one surgeon working round the clock." Colonel Potter stopped and looked at them, hoping to see some sort of reaction. Since none were forthcoming, he decided to continue, "So after giving this matter some thought, I volunteered both of you to go to help out."
"Of course, Colonel. I'll go," Margaret immediately said.
Hawkeye was not as quick to answer his request. Thoughts raced through his mind, "Go to an aid station... What if we get killed?" He was never thrilled with the idea of moving CLOSER to the front, farther away from the front wouldn't bother him as much.
"Pierce?" The colonel broke through his thoughts of his imminent death. "I need you both to go. You can do the job that needs to be done. Look, Hawkeye, you have traveled together before, you know each other really well and can make this work. Especially with the pressure of being at the front. I am just not comfortable sending out two others from here who haven't done stuff like this. This is a tough decision for any commander to make."
Hawkeye finally agreed. "OK, Colonel. I'll go, but the bill for this house call...."
"Just go get ready. I need you to go as soon as you can. Klinger will get you a jeep, and one of you will need to pack a gun," Colonel Potter added. He knew what reactions he would get, but he hoped one of them would do it. He had spent too many years in this man's army to not bring a sidearm when traveling into dangerous territory. Many years ago, he had a friend like Pierce. The friend was not around for very long. The enemy attacked and his friend refused to shoot his gun, until it was too late. To this day, he still had a hard time understanding men like Hawkeye Pierce. So against shooting a gun that they are willing to let themselves be shot at. After spending most of his life in the army, he just didn't understand that way of thinking any more. He had known too many Hawkeyes in his lifetime.
"Certainly, Colonel. I'll take one," Margaret volunteered. Colonel Potter was relieved. Pierce would end up listening to her, if they found themselves in trouble. He also knew that Pierce wouldn't let anything happen to her. That was the unique dynamic between them and that was one of the reasons he felt comfortable sending them off on this journey. If push came to shove, they would protect each other. They had a deep respect for one another. Yes, he felt comfortable sending them, but he feared what awaited them.
"Ok, then. Call us when you get there," Colonel Potter was hoping to
reassure them as he watched them leave his office. "Damn, I hate making
As they drove along, Hawkeye was unusually quiet. It unnerved Margaret to witness this. Usually, Hawkeye Pierce was the most talkative person in any given situation. She wondered if he remembered their last ill-fated trip together, but then again, when was their last fun trip together? Was that the reason for his silence?
"Should I tell her what I am thinking? Be honest with her once and for all? Will we get out of this alive?" Hawkeye dwelled on these questions in his mind, as they drove along. He knew that they were heading for danger, but how much? Usually, he wasn't one to sit back and reflect on things like this. He continued driving. A shell exploded just to the right of their jeep.
"Oh, my God, Pierce!" Margaret screeched at him, implying that this was somehow his fault.
"No problem, Margaret. It didn't get us. Would you rather I drive with my eyes closed?" Hawkeye intentionally made light of the situation, something he had become quite skilled at during his stint in Korea. He figured it was better than ending up in the funny farm.
"No, just drive and don't get us killed," she ordered him.
"Easier said than done, but I guess it would be nice to show up at the aid station in one piece," Hawkeye said.
They drove a little further down the road. The aid station was up on the left. An old beat-up shack would have been a better description. No windows, a roof that was barely still there, and bombs exploding everywhere around them.
"Great neighborhood, wouldn't you say?" Hawkeye tried once again to
lighten the mood.
Shells continued to go off. Bombs exploded sounding as though they were right outside the building they were in. They had never experienced this kind of action before. As they continued to treat the wounded that kept pouring in, the noise almost didn't seem to matter. What mattered was saving the lives of the young soldiers. For a moment, Hawkeye was able to forget where he was and why he was there. Margaret stood there next to him. He did have to agree with Col. Potter that they did make a good working team.
"Suction...Clamp...come on, let's go. We have ten more guys waiting in line after this guy," Hawkeye found that he wanted to work at a faster pace today. Nerves, anxiety, call it what you will. The North Koreans were closer than he had ever seen during his stay in Korea.
He was also feeling uneasy because of his fear that something horrible was about to happen. He had spent the last several hours trying to shake this feeling of impending doom, but he just couldn't. It really began to bother him.
"OK, let's get him out of here. Next!" Hawkeye called to the orderlies. "How are you doing, Major?"
"OK, as long as it keeps going like this," Margaret said. "I just don't want the North Koreans to come walking in."
"They won't, as long as I am here. They will have to kill me first, before they touch you," Hawkeye confided in her. They would have to kill him first, because he wouldn't be able to live with her being hurt in any way.
Just then, they heard the sounds of feet walking outside the aid station. Hawkeye was quick to realize that what he dreaded had arrived. A confrontation with the North Korean soldiers.
"Everyone, stay quiet!! They may not hear us," Hawkeye immediately took charge. This was the moment he had known was coming. Margaret moved closer to him. Somehow, she felt safer that way.
Three North Korean soldiers entered the building, and started randomly shooting at everyone in there. It was a terrifying moment for everyone, especially Hawkeye. For him, this was the kind of thing he had only heard of happening from the guys at the front in the middle of the action. This wasn't something that you actually participated in.
"Margaret, get down!!" he yelled at her. She appeared to be the only one who was still standing. He then heard someone scream. He immediately froze. He knew. He turned around as Margaret collapsed to the floor next to him.
"Oh, God, no!" he knelt down beside her. Nothing else seemed important from that moment on. It took all of his self-control to get over to her and try to see where she had been hit.
"Margaret, can you hear me?" he asked as he began looking for the source of the blood. It appeared to be coming from her chest area, glancing quickly at it. "She is alive, thank God," Hawkeye thought to himself. He was relieved, if only for the moment. He knew he was going to have to operate. It was too serious a wound to wait. How was he going to do this? When? Where? The North Koreans did not appear to be leaving anytime soon.
"Hawk.." Margaret whispered.
"Yeah?" He looked down at her, lying there helpless on the floor. She looked so terrified, so helpless.
"Is everything going to be OK?" she whispered to him and looked up at him with a look of terror in her eyes that he would never forget.
"Yes, I promise. It'll be OK, I'll make sure of it."
"I want you to find my gun and use it," she told him, hoping he could follow through with the request. She knew very well what his ideas were, and wished that she didn't have to tell him that. She waited for a response. She also knew he would have to do something or they were all going to be either hurt or killed.
He couldn't believe what she just asked of him. "What?"
"Hawkeye, just take my gun and shoot it. That's an order!" It took all of her remaining strength to argue with him. The pain was becoming unbearable. Someone was going to have to do something soon. She could still be a Major when push came to shove. She hated pushing him to do something he was completely and totally against. It was the only way out that she was able to see. Now, her only hope was that he would be able to forgive her later on. She laid her head back on the ground, and silently prayed that everything would be okay.
With the promise he made that everything was going to be OK, he clearly knew what needed to be done. He couldn't sit around and watch the woman he loved suffer like this. Also, he knew she was right and the more time he spent arguing with her, the less likely they would be to ever leave here alive. He glanced around the room. How was he going to shoot this gun? Guns terrified him. He knew from first-hand experience about the destructiveness of guns. What really got to him was operating on the young Korean children who were shot at. They would come into the 4077th, and they were so helpless and scared. Then, there were all of the times that Frank Burns would order him to use a gun and he so adamantly refused. If only Frank Burns could see him now.