by Bettina Rezori
After a 16 hour shift Hawkeye and BJ emerged exhaustedly from OR.
"How about a drink in the Officer's Club, Beej? I could sure use it." Hawkeye's statement was underlined by a huge yawn slurring the last words slightly.
"I'd rather care for a little shut-eye. I didn't get very much of it last night, you know. How about we go to the Swamp and get our drink there."
"Fine by me. I'm too tired to discuss this, anyway."
The two of them started towards the door when Potter's voice blared through the loudspeakers: "Captains Pierce and Hunnicutt to my office on the double!"
BJ looked at Hawkeye: "How about the Officer's Club?"
"Straight!!" Potter, as though he had read their minds, made clear what he would think of this possibility. Over the PA, for all the camp to hear, he went on: "I know damn well you want nothing more than a drink and a few hours of sleep, but I'll find you wherever you plan to go right now. So get yourselves over here!"
"What about a drink in Colonel Potter's office?" BJ asked, sounding more encouraged to go there than he actually was.
"Of course, Honey. That would surely be lovely," said Hawkeye, hooking his arm through BJ's in a way that reminded the latter of his wife.
"Shall we walk or take a jeep, Darling?"
"You know that I love a little walk through the night air, Honey." Like an old couple they strolled out. It was little things like these that kept the surgeons going, kept them from losing their sanity.
"What's up, Colonel?" BJ asked, walking into Potter's office with Hawkeye at his side.
"First of all, sorry to keep you from your well deserved rest, but I don't have any choice. The 8063rd just called in. They have been under heavy shooting. Fact is, their chief surgeon got killed and another doctor badly wounded. There are loads of patients with only two cutters. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you . . ."
"No. Don't tell us. You're afraid you'll have to ask us to pack supplies, take a jeep and go to the 8063rd ?" Hawkeye interrupted.
Potter nodded. "This is exactly what I was going to say. Pierce, are you developing mind-reading skills like Radar?"
"I hope not."
"Otherwise he, too, would hear the choppers long before they arrive." BJ said dryly..
"Well, Radar already organises a jeep for you. Pack up a few supplies and surgical equipment, just to play it safe. You'll go first thing tomorrow morning" Potter paused. " I don't like sending you out there, but we can't stand aside and do nothing." He looked down at his desk.
"We know, Colonel. C'mon, Hawk, let's hit the sack. I wanna be well rested when I drive tomorrow."
"What are you driving at, Beej? You can drive me home, drive me to distraction, drive me out of my mind, drive away, drive in , drive on, drive over. You can even drive me up the wall, but it's me who'll drive to the 8063rd."
"Don't drive me crazy."
After the two of them had packed their bags and medical supplies the morning they got into a jeep with Hawkeye at the wheel. They drove in silence for a while, Hawkeye concentrating on the road and BJ staring ahead.
After a while Hunnicutt spoke up. "Actually, it's okay that you drive, Hawk. That way I have such a nice view of the beautiful countryside."
"If you now look to your right, my dear tourists, you will have a great impression of the local mine field. Should the temperature sink drastically below the freezing point the mines will blow up right before your eyes. Now kindly turn your head to your left, and you'll see another bombed-out house, Korean style, mid-twentieth century." Hawkeye managed fairly well to sound like a travel guide on a tourist bus tour.
"In a few minutes we will approach . . . " Hawkeye was cut off by sudden shooting coming from nearby woods.
"Duck!!" he shouted to BJ, pressing his foot down harder on the accelerator, while simultaneously putting on his helmet loosely. The jeep bounced along the road, landmines blowing up dangerously close.
"Beej! I don't know how long I can keep . . . Augghhh!!!"
BJ saw Hawkeye slumping in his seat, blood spreading on his jacket. He tried to grab the wheel, regain control over the jeep, but it was too late. The jeep got off the road, and before BJ could do anything to prevent worse, the vehicle turned over and he was flung into the air.
BJ Hunnicutt was flying, soaring high above the clouds. He liked that. He enjoyed this experience of freedom and ease.
But then, suddenly, he was falling, plummeting out of the sky. This was something BJ definitely didn't care for. He wanted to spread his arms like wings to break his fall, but then the ground slammed into him with tremendous force, giving him a painful lesson that humans are not designed for flying, after all.
When BJ came to, he found himself lying facedown on the ground. What the hell had happened? How long had he been lying here? A quick look at his watch answered his question: he had been out cold for nearly 20 minutes.
Suddenly, the events came back to his mind. Hawkeye and himself had been driving to the 8063rd. Then the shooting. Hawkeye crying out. At the thought of his best friend slumping over the wheel he felt sick. But when BJ tried to push himself up, excruciating pain shot through his left wrist, burning its way up his arm and exploding in his shoulder. He rolled onto his back and took one or two deep breaths before he dared looking at his wrist. It was swollen enormously, and his arm and elbow were already darkening rapidly. When he tenderly felt his hand he couldn't find any blood, but a broken bone could hardly be ruled out.
BJ's thoughts at once returned to Hawkeye. He couldn't spot him anywhere from where he was lying.
"Hawk?" he called hopefully. Silence. "Hey, Hawk, you OK? Speak to me!" Still no answer. He hadn't really expected one, but the silence greeting him seemed to confirm his worst suspicions.
Paying attention to not moving his left arm, he pushed himself up with his right one, ignoring the throbbing pain in his head, and limped to the overturned jeep, which had come to a rest on its side. Damn the Army clothes! One could hardly distinguish them from the background, not especially helpful in this situation, BJ thought.
His heart sank when he saw a black boot. Willing himself to move closer he realised that Hawkeye lay next to the jeep. Only unconscious?
BJ lurched over to his friend and kneeled down next to him. Blood was seeping steadily through his shirt- Ripping it open he saw that the bullet which had hit Hawkeye back in the jeep had only just missed his heart.
Hawkeye's laboured, but otherwise normal, breathing told BJ that the left lung had not been perforated. Hunnicutt felt for a pulse and breathed a sigh of relief when he felt it. However, this relief was short-lived. The discovery of the bullet still being stuck in Hawk's shoulder was BJ's major reason for concern. That and the fact that Pierce was losing an awful lot of blood. He wanted to move his buddy, drag him away from the wreckage, but before he could do anything of the kind he became aware of his friend's left leg being trapped under the jeep from the knee downwards.
"Thank God he's unconscious" BJ mumbled under his breath. The pain had to be unbearable.
But what could he do? He quickly dismissed the thought of emergency surgery under these conditions. Apart from the risk of an infection he would hardly be able to perform such a complicated operation one-handed. Turning over the jeep by himself to free Hawkeye's leg was also out of the question. He had already been dizzy when stumbling over to his buddy. Trying to move the jeep would not only be foolhardy, but it would also bear the risk of BJ blacking out himself. A state in which he wouldn`t be particularly useful for Hawkeye.
Dammit! He needed help, fast!
Keeping his left arm pressed against his side, he painfully pulled himself up and started searching for the medical supplies and the cb-radio which they had taken with them. The bags were scattered all over the ground, but BJ found everything. He set up the radio, hoping that it hadn't been damaged by the accident.
"BJ Hunnicutt calling MASH 4077. Radar, do you read me?"
"Hunnicutt to MASH 4077, we need help, answer!"
Still only static filled the air. Hell! Why did always everything go wrong at the same time, BJ wondered. Suddenly the radio came to life. Radar's voice could be heard faintly, accompanied by static, but understandable.
"We got your message, BJ. Where are you, what happened to you?"
"We are approximately three hours away from camp. We had an accident, Hawkeye's badly injured. He has a bullet in his shoulder and his leg is caught under the jeep. Send over a helicopter on the double! And see to it that you send one or two strong guys along for the jeep.
"We got a problem there, Sir. The next helicopter is only due to arrive in a few hours. That is . . . . Wait, I hear choppers! Help's on its way, BJ!" Radar cried, and then there was silence again.
Relieved, BJ grabbed the medical bags next to him. At least he tried to, but he forgot about his hand. The pain washing over him taught him drastically to refrain from using his arm like this again.
Grabbing the supplies with his good hand , he made his way back to Hawkeye. When he again squatted down next to him, he noticed for the first time that his friend was bleeding from a cut across his temple. Hawkeye was still out cold, so BJ decided the least he could do was cleaning the shot wound and bandage it. The cut on the head could wait.
When he had wiped the blood away and then proceeded to clean the area with a disinfectant Hawkeye suddenly showed signs of life, groaning and starting to move his head. Slowly, he opened his eyes and saw BJ leaning over him at the same time trying to swipe friend's arm away like an annoying insect.
"Take it easy, Hawk, don't move." BJ told him gently, finishing to dress the wound as best as he could with one hand.
Hawkeye cried out in pain.
"I know it hurts, Hawk, but there's little I can do for you here."
"Beej" Hawkeye got out through clenched teeth. "Where are we, what happened??" He seemed to be confused and disoriented.
"You were hit by a sniper on our way to the 8063rd. We lost control of the jeep and it turned over." BJ decided to say nothing about the leg, yet, since Hawkeye's mind was obviously too occupied dealing with the agony and shock resulting from the shoulder wound that it hadn't focused on the leg injury.
"How bad is it?" Hawkeye's pain-filled eyes searched BJ's for the truth.
"The bullet's still in your shoulder. You've lost a lot of blood, but both of us have seen worse."
Hawkeye tried to raise his head to take a look at the wound, but BJ pulled his face toward him, away from the injury.
"It's that bad? Remember, chests wounds are my speciality, but maybe I'd better leave this one to you." Despite Hunnicutt's efforts he had glimpsed his blood soaked, torn shirt, and all at once had to get a grip of himself not to get sick. Somehow, it was indeed a little different if one was the patient instead of the doctor.
After a while he said: "I didn't hear the bullet. Did you?"
BJ silently shook his head.
"Damn!" Hawkeye said. "Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bullet stuck in the shoulder. Just great."
"Help's on the way. Meanwhile, the thing I can do for you is give you something for the pain."
He pushed up Hawkeye's sleeve and disinfected a spot on his arm. "Don't you worry, Hawk, this won't hurt a bit." BJ said as though addressing a five-year-old. The fact that Hawkeye didn't respond to the teasing told BJ more about his condition than his pulse rate or blood pressure.
He prepared an injection with a painkiller, having considerable trouble with his hand when trying to pull the piston back to suck the drug into the syringe.
"What happened to your hand?" Hawkeye asked, watching BJ's futile attempts to fill the hypo. BJ didn't answer immediately, being too concentrated on finally getting it right. Which he did, after all. Hawkeye winced when the needle was stuck into his arm, but soon began breathing a little easier.
"Feeling better?" BJ inquired, concern having left deep creases in his forehead.
"How do you define 'good'? My head feels as if it's ready to explode."
"You do have a nasty cut there. But it's not exactly serious, taking into account the rest of your injuries. Let me check your shoulder again." BJ lifted the bandage slightly and peered under it. The bleeding still hadn't stopped. He pressed the gauze down a little harder to reduce the blood flow, with the result that Hawkeye screamed as if the bullet had hit him again.
BJ laid a comforting hand on his friend's good shoulder. "Sorry, Hawk, but we have to prevent any more blood loss."
When Hawkeye had recovered a bit, he said: "You still haven't told me what happened to your arm."
"Well, I was flung clear when the jeep turned over and must have landed kind of awkwardly."
"'Kind of ', eh? That doesn't look good. Here, let me see."
BJ wanted to tell him to rest, not to move more than necessary, but he realised it might take Hawkeye's mind off his own injuries and pain.
After a closer look, the chief surgeon of the 4077th MASH stated: "I don't think there are any broken bones, but the wrist seems to be badly sprained. Your left side definitely took the full force of the hit. Your shoulder and elbow is practically a single bruise.
"Thank you, Doctor, for your professional diagnosis. I will . . . Listen!!" The whirring sound of a helicopter could be heard in the distance.
"There!!" BJ exclaimed jubilantly, pointing to the sky behind Hawkeye. "That's our chopper. "We'll have you in OR in no time, Hawk."
The helicopter landed nearby, whirling up dust and soil, and Klinger and two other men jumped out carrying a stretcher.
"Man, am I glad to see you guys!"
"You can say that again, " Hawkeye whispered weakly.
"BJ, what happened ? How's Hawkeye?"
"Not good, I'm afraid. We'll have to get him out of here on the double." In a lower voice he added: "We have to get the jeep off his leg. Will you get it done without me? He possibly won't be able to move the leg, so chances are I'll have to pull it out."
"No problem" one of the men said.
"All right, then, but wait until I give you sign."
BJ returned to Hawkeye, Klinger at his side.
"Captain Pierce, what are you doing there, lying in the dirt like that? You'll ruin your uniform!" Klinger said sympathetically, not quite being able to expel the horror in his eyes when seeing the surgeon lying in a pool of blood in front of him.
"Klinger," Hawkeye smiled up at him, " that's a great disguise. A man hating the Army the way you do must really be crazy if he wears a uniform . . . " He tried to laugh, but was seized by a coughing fit which lasted several seconds. BJ wanted to lift him up, clap him on the back, but he knew this would cause his friend even more agony. Hawkeye groaned as the coughing racked his body with pain he wouldn`t have dreamed possible a few minutes ago. The world around him blurred, and he tried to concentrate on BJ's hand, which he felt on his shoulder.
"Hawkeye, Hawkeye, listen to me, look at me. Take a deep breath, come on, listen to me. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment and . . . All right, now let it slowly out. It'll be over in a minute."
After a few moments Hawkeye was calmer. BJ had been anxious to tell his friend about the jeep even without the coughing fit, now having to cause him still more inevitable pain was twisting his guts. But they couldn't wait any longer, Hawkeye needed treatment and surgery as soon as possible.
"Hawk, I really don't like telling you this, but the shoulder wound was apparently enough for your subconsciousness to deal with. It seems it ignored the fact that your left leg is trapped under the edge of the jeep." BJ's eyes were filled with empathy as Hawkeye's disbelieving stare locked into them.
He looked down, this time without BJ restraining him from doing so. His face went white as a sheet of paper.
"Klinger, the chopper pilot and the other guy will lift the jeep a bit and I'll have to move the leg. It'll probably hurt like hell, but we have no choice."
Hawkeye managed a nod.
"I don't know how bad it is, but I want you to bite on something, just in case. I don't have any tranquilliser that will spare you that pain." BJ accepted the rolled-up handkerchief which Klinger held out and handed it to Hawkeye, who reluctantly did as he was told.
"Let's get done with it, you ready Hawk?"
Again his bunkie gave a curt, determined nod.
"You ready, guys?"
"Ready as we'll ever be."
Hawkeye saw BJ positioning himself as best as he could next to his leg. Then the jeep was lifted and unbearable, excruciating pain erupted in his knee and thigh, closely followed by a horrible sickening feeling. The world around him disappeared and mercifully took the agony with it. Then only welcome blackness . . .
BJ had been successful in pulling his friend's leg free with his right hand, in spite of Hawkeye's terrible outcry that still echoed inside his head. The body beneath his hands went limp. Hawkeye had passed out. He gently removed the handkerchief from his pal's mouth and felt his pulse. It was beating as though Hawkeye had just run a marathon. No wonder, regarding the circumstances.
BJ returned his attention to the injured knee. The trousers were sticky with blood coming from a cut just above knee cap. He asked Klinger to cut open the trouser leg so he could take a closer look. It seemed to be worse than he had expected. Damn! He didn't have the time for a detailed examination, so he just disinfected it briefly and, with the help of Klinger, splinted the leg and put a makeshift bandage around the knee.
"Let's get him into the helicopter on the double! We must get him to the 4077th as fast as possible. But careful, he's in a critical state."
When the helicopter landed safely back at the 4077th, BJ jumped out and was greeted by Colonel Potter whom he immediately brought up to date on Hawkeye's condition. Radar and a paramedic BJ had never noticed before rushed to the landing pad in a jeep furnished with a stretcher. Both of them grabbed it and raced past BJ and Potter. Radar was so eager to do something for Captain Pierce that he bumped into Hunnicutt's left side.
Without warning, the pain returned with all its fury and burning, and BJ couldn't help crying out. Black spots danced before his eyes, clouding his vision more and more. Hunnicutt tried desperately to stay on his feet. Don`t black out, Beej! he told himself, Don't black out! But his body didn't obey the orders which his brain feverishly sent out, no matter how hard he tried to regain control of himself. He was vaguely aware of a hand closing around his right arm, trying to steady him. As though from very far away he heard Potter's voice, but the words found no access to his brain, made no sense.
The adrenaline which had kept BJ on his feet for the past hour had deserted him, at last, the accident finally taking its toll. The last person he thought of was Hawkeye, then his surroundings dissolved and he sank into Potter's arms.
"Scalpel!", Potter expectantly stretched out his hand. There were no other casualties to be treated , so Potter had immediately changed into surgical garb while Hawkeye Pierce had been prepared for surgery. BJ, who had regained consciousness only a few minutes after his collapse, had persisted to take over the job of the anaesthetist, since there was little else he could do with his arm in a makeshift sling. A cut on his head which he hadn't even noticed until then, had been cleaned and bandaged. Damn! He wanted to get the bullet out himself, now all he could do was to keep a close look on Hawk's vital signs and watch Potter, Charles , Margaret and the rest of the surgical team from the sidelines. Seldom had the operating room been so full. It seemed to BJ that half the camp was assembled to watch the progress of the operation.
Luckily, Potter and Charles were every bit as good as he himself, so Hawkeye was in good hands.
"Now, let's see what's wrong with you, Hunnicutt. Let me see that arm of yours." Potter said, throwing his blood-soaked surgical gloves to the ground. The bullet had been removed successfully, and it had turned out that the jeep had caused a cut, several world class bruises and a dislocated knee cap, which, luckily, didn't need to be operated upon. At least if no complications arose, such as Hawkeye starting to walk too early and without permission.
After being patched up, he had been transferred to Post-op, ice compresses on his knee and a Band-Aid on his forehead.
BJ clumsily tried to put off his shirt after he had taken the sling off, but didn't manage this normally automate move. Margaret saw the suppressed pain in his eyes and quickly approached with a pair of scissors to cut open the garment.
Potter's eyes widened when he saw the Hunnicutt's arm and shoulder. The swelling around the wrist had receded a little bit, but the elbow and shoulder looked horrible.
"Son, I don't need to examine that arm to tell you that there'll be no operations for you to perform for at least two weeks."
BJ grimaced as Potter tenderly took hold of his arm and carefully carried out a number of tests. The x-rays corroborated Pierce's earlier statement about not suspecting any broken bones.
"How long have you been unconscious?" Potter inquired, turning his attention to BJ's head, while Margaret wrapped the elbow and splinted the wrist.
"About twenty minutes, I guess." BJ didn't like the look in Potter's eyes, and quickly added:
"But I'm fine, no problem."
"Let a professional decide whether you are fine, will you ?" He took out a pocket flashlight. "Follow the light with your eyes."
BJ looked up at him in desperation. "Colonel, I can assure you I'm . . . "
"That's an order!"
BJ half-heartedly did as he was told.
Potter wrote something down on a chart, then palpated his scull for swellings, and eventually found what BJ hadn't wanted him to find, namely the bump causing the constant headache which BJ had tried so hard to ignore. "Hunnicutt, I want you to rest . . . "
"All right, I'll go to the Swamp and . . . "
" . . . in Post-op where we can observe you for a while. You most certainly sustained a concussion blacking out for over a quarter of an hour. I suppose I needn't tell you from doctor to doctor that something like this shouldn't be taken lightly.
"But Colonel . . . "
"No buts Hunnicutt.. We got a free bed in Post-op which is practically waiting for you. So be a good boy and lie down."
When BJ again opened his mouth to protest Potter stood up threateningly and added with a stern look: " May I remind you, Hunnicutt, that I'm not only a doctor but also your commanding officer! And as CO I order you to get your butt into that bed!"
Like a child being sent to bed earlier than usual, BJ slowly stood p and trudged over to Post-op. Mechanically, his steps directed him to Hawkeye's bed. Potter put his arm round his shoulders and gently but firmly steered him to the bed opposite to Hawkeye's. As BJ reluctantly lay down he realised for the first time how tired and sore he was.
"Colonel," he mumbled drowsily.
"Take care of Hawkeye, will you ? He needs to . . . needs to . . . " BJ did not finish the sentence. He had already fallen asleep.
"Sure will, BJ," Potter whispered, as he straightened Hunnicutt's blanket. "Sure will."
When BJ Hunnicutt woke up he felt every bit stiff and sore as before, but at least a bit better rested. He looked around Post-op, for once seeing it from a totally different angle. A strange feeling rose up from his stomach, when he realised that, for once, he wasn't part of the constant hustling and bustling of Post-op. Hawkeye must surely feel the same way.
Hawkeye . . .
BJ threw back his covers, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and standing up. He closed his eyes for a moment as the room reeled, darkness threatening to engulf him once more. He leaned heavily against the wall behind his bed, hoping desperately that no one had noticed his near collapse. He collected his wits, and slowly approached Hawkeye's bed. His bunkie was still unconscious. Mechanically, he took the chart hanging on the foot of the bed and flipped through the papers. Finally, BJ sat down on the right edge of Hawkeye's bed, careful not to disturb the injured knee. When he touched Hawkeye's wrist to check the pulse, Hawkeye's hand moved, groping about until his fingers closed around BJ's arm, not letting it go, as if he sensed that it was BJ sitting next to him.
"Beej, that you?" he croaked hoarsely, the three words being an enormous effort.
"It's me, Hawk. Everything's fine. We're back at the camp. Potter removed the bullet and patched you up."
"Hell, why am I so damn weak? What are you giving me here to keep me down?" he whispered.
"Don't worry, Hawk, you're in good hands. Keep in mind, you get nothing you don't prescribe yourself every day."
"I sure hope so," Hawkeye said wearily, his eyes closing, unconsciousness claiming him once again.
When Hawkeye woke up for the second time, he was blinded by a terribly bright light. He regretted having opened his eyes and squeezed them shut again. But the light was persisting. Somehow it worked itself through his eyes, no matter how hard he tried to avoid it. Or was somebody pulling up his eyelids?
Cautiously, Hawkeye once more opened his eyes. This time the blinding light had vanished. Blurry faces appeared above. Faces, which he gradually recognised as BJ's and Colonel Potter's.
"How do you feel, son?" Potter asked, concern showing in his face.
"I've been better," Hawkeye managed to get out. He tried to sit up, but several hands immediately shot out to push him back down. A measure which was hardly necessary since the room started spinning in front of Hawk's eyes and he sank back by himself.
"Now let that be a lesson to you. Just lie there and be happy you're still alive." Potter said. He turned to BJ.
"What are you doing here, Hunnicutt? Half an hour ago I told you to stay in that bed over there until tomorrow morning. Don't you ever do what you are told?"
"Never, " Hawkeye spoke up. "Doctors," he said, addressing his friends formally, "I don't feel so good, really. I hope my condition isn't as bad as the way I feel, because, in fact, I really can't stand hospitals . . ."
Nurse Abel walked by and thrust a thermometer into his mouth.
" . . . when I'm . . . " he mumbled with his mouth half shut.
"Quit talking, Pierce, you'll mess up the temperature reading!"
Hawkeye fell silent. After a while his eyelids dropped, and when BJ gently removed the thermometer from his friend's mouth, Hawkeye was already sleeping soundly.
"That's the best medicine for him now." Potter said quietly. "That and good care by a few friends."
"'Best Care Anywhere', isn't it?"
"I hope so. For Hawkeye's sake. Although the man providing a great deal of this care is lying right before us."
"Colonel" BJ mused, as his eyes settled on Hawkeye's pale face. "It's nice to be home again. For some time out there I wasn't really sure we would make it."
"Thank God you did."
I've already done that, BJ thought.
"Go to bed, BJ. You both went through hell and back, and despite those two or three hours of sleep your body needs time to recover."
"Yes, Colonel. Give me a minute."
When Potter nodded and left Post-op, BJ pulled himself a chair closer to Hawk's bunk. Slowly, he let the events of the past ten hours pass through his head. Wait a minute. Had he just told Potter he was glad to be home again? He? From his first day in Korea he had never dreamed it possible to call a filthy, bloody, god-forsaken place like the MASH 4077th his home.
Maybe 'home' is not only defined by a place but also by the persons who are there for you when you need them, BJ wondered. This place might be close to hell, but at least there is a family that cares. A makeshift family which would never make up for the long distance between BJ and his wife and baby, but a family.
Author's note: Again, folks, be advised that I'm not a native speaker and that I know M*A*S*H only from the German synchronisation. This was written before "A Missing scene from the episode 'Hawkeye'". Hope you guys enjoyed the story. Please let me know what you think!