Hawkeye let his head sink into his hands. "God, I'm so dizzy. Just hope I'll make it to the jeep."
"We'll get you there, no matter what," Hunnicutt said, placing a comforting hand on Pierce's shoulder, granting him a few more moments to gather his strength. He gave his friend a gentle squeeze. "Be right back, okay?"
Hawkeye only nodded. Which proved to be a bad idea. A new wave of pain flooded his head as dark patches began enclosing his peripheral vision. Good thing I'm already on the ground. At least I won't collapse again.
Meanwhile, BJ pulled Radar to the side. "I don't think he'll be able to sit in that jeep. We'll better get him on the stretcher. I'll sit in the back with him."
Radar's eyes were filled with horror. It frightened him to see Captain Pierce in such a miserable condition. "How is he, doc? Will he make it?"
"Of course, Radar. He only has a bad concussion and we'll have to make sure that no bone in his skull cracked. But he'll pull through, I promise. Hawk is a tough guy. Now let's get our hero home, okay?"
Together they went back to their wayward friend and found him in the same position they had left him for the few moments of their conversation.
"Hawk, Radar and me will help you up now, okay? We'll guide you to the jeep and lay you down, alright?"
". . . 'kay."
Hunnicutt nodded at O'Reilly, and they lifted Pierce slowly to his feet. As they had suspected it they rather dragged than walked him over to the army truck. It was obvious that the last bit of adrenaline had deserted their buddy.
"Grab his feet, Radar." Together, they managed to transfer Hawkeye onto the stretcher. BJ fastened the belts over his feet and chest, then climbed into the backseat of the jeep. "All right, Radar, let's go."
As the threesome started the trip back to the camp, Hawkeye turned a final glance to the hut. There they stood, the members of the Korean family, looking out the door, waving him goodbye. He tried to raise his hand but encountered resistance. In his dazed state of mind he couldn't figure out just why he wasn't able to lift his arm. He didn't really care. He was busy enough controlling the bile that threatened to move up his throat in a way that it was not physiologically supposed to. His iron will not to throw up again despite the jeep's jarring movements consumed every bit of concentration he still possessed. In the end he didn't know whether he'd won or lost the battle.
The loud blaring of a jeep's horn made Colonel Potter run out of his office. Outside, he nearly collided with Major Winchester, who, despite his usual lack of sympathy, couldn't seem to hide a stressed expression.
The jeep pulled to a stop in front of pre-op and BJ had already jumped out of the backseat before the wheels stopped turning. All colour drained from the colonel's face when the realisation sank in that Hawkeye was not sitting but lying in the jeep. Beside him, he heard Charles gasp.
"Oh my goodness!" They ran over to BJ. "Hunnicutt, thank God you're here! How is he?"
BJ threw a quick glance over his shoulder. "It looks worse than it is, Colonel." He jogged next to Pierce briefing the others on his condition while Winchester and O'Reilly grabbed both ends of the stretcher and carried it into pre-op.
"He has a concussion, no doubt about that. Pupils are equal, but a little sluggish. He threw up once at the site of the accident, another time on our way back. I briefly checked the bruises on his face and there's a major swelling in the area of the occipital bone. I felt for fractures but I don't think anything's broken. A full skull series will tell us more. He lost consciousness a few minutes after vomiting. So that must have been . . ." BJ paused to take a quick look at his watch. ". . . about 20 minutes ago."
"Any other injuries, Hunnicutt?" Winchester asked, more than just professional concern showing in his voice.
"I don't know about internal bleeding, but apart from his head injuries I found a nasty cut on his right arm, right here. I applied a pressure bandage."
They set the stretcher down on a table in pre-op as Margaret Houlihan entered the room. "Oh my, he looks miserable. How's he doing?" All animosity seemed to be forgotten in the face of the situation.
BJ pulled her into a comforting embrace. "He'll be fine, Margaret. It could have been worse."
Margaret swallowed hard when she took in Hawkeye's discoloured face. Then she went straight down to business, the head nurse in her gaining the upper hand, knowing too well that standing around doing nothing wouldn't help their friend.
While she deftly cut off the ripped and torn clothing the doctors went on cleaning, disinfecting and closing the many cuts and lacerations. Thankfully the war around them granted the surgeons enough time to perform more than meat-ball medicine in this particular case. There seemed to be a lull, at last.
". . . pulse?"
". . . improved . . . BP's . . . over 75."
"Okay, let's . . ."
Bits and pieces of conversations flowed in and out of his consciousness, hitting his eardrums, their meaning, however, bouncing off his brain like tennis balls hitting a stone wall. The voices faded to an undistinguishable stream of vocals and consonants.
The picture of a whitefish formed in front of his eyes, complete with a white lab coat and stethoscope hanging around its neck. One of its eyes were perusing a written paper, the other was fixing him with a malicious stare.
"Pierce. Which muscles enable the human being to juggle three items? Name each muscle complete with proximal and distal attachment, innervation and main action"
"I . . . I . . .There are so many. I . . . don't know. I forgot. Omigod, everything's gone! My mind's a blank. I can tell you the bones of the hand . . ."
"The muscles, Pierce. I know you can juggle, so you should know which muscles are involved."
"I . . ."
"Pierce. This is your final exam. You shouldn't have spent all your time at "Soul & Soul" watching the waitresses and wondering what they wear underneath their uniform. Answer my question or I'm forced to fail you. Which muscles are used? Which . . . which . . . which . . .
Pierce woke up in a cold sweat, shaking. He wasn't aware of the strangled "Rescue me!" that escaped his mouth. All he knew was that suddenly BJ materialised beside him and gently pushed him back to a lying position.
"Easy, Hawk. Everything's fine. No need for a rescue."
"I had the most terrible dream, Beej. My professor for anatomy had turned into a whitefish and asked me all kinds of questions I couldn't answer. My final exam, and I couldn't answer a single question! What a nightmare . . ."
Hawkeye took a deep breath, only then he became aware of BJ's fingers lightly resting on his wrist.
"What am I doing in post-op, anyway?"
"You've got a bad concussion. And lots of cuts and bruises. You should see your face. No make-up artist could copy that look realistically. What do you remember?"
"I . . . I don't know. I drove the Company Jeep. Suddenly some kids appeared in the street. I had to swerve out of the way to avoid them. I guess I overturned the jeep. Then I dragged myself over to that family's hut. I sent a message with their eldest daughter, and then you and Radar showed up. After that everything gets kind of fuzzy." Pierce's features creased in pain as his hand went up to his head.
"How do you feel? Got a headache?"
"As if you had attached the still to that IV," he said, pointing to the needle in his arm. "How long was I out?"
BJ fastened an BP-cuff on his friend's arm and blew it up. "Oh, you went out on us in the jeep, that was . . . uh . . . about five hours ago. You had us worried for a while." After listening intently he deflated the cuff and took a look at his watch. "Time to catch some sleep, buddy. If you need anything let me know. I'm on night duty."
Hawkeye's eyes were already drooping and his mumbled "Thank God for small favours." Was barely audible. BJ Hunnicutt waited until his friend's breathing had evened out, telling him that he was fast asleep. After a final check of his patient's vitals, he carefully adjusted the bed covers. For the first time in hours he felt the tension in his body easing up. He breathed a silent sigh of relief.
"Hawkeye, good to see you up and around. How are you doing?"
"Much better, thanks. Colonel, I –"
"Your face looks almost normal, again. What about the headache?"
"Fine, just a little twinge now and then. Colonel, I'd like to borrow the Company Jeep."
"The new Company Jeep?"
"One should think you've got enough of driving jeeps across the country for a little while."
"It's that family, Colonel. They didn't understand me, yet, they kind of cared for me. They let me stay with them. Sent their eldest child to Ouijongbou for help. I got some little things for them and I'd like to give them our address in case they need us some time. One of them is pregnant. Shouldn't be long now."
The CO still looked doubtful. He didn't like the idea of sending his chief surgeon into no-man's land if there wasn't an emergency. With a reluctant sigh he opened the drawer in his desk and passed the younger man the keys.
"All right, you can have the jeep, son. But be careful, will you!"
Hawkeye grinned. "Thanks, Dad! Don't worry, I'll return it the same condition."
Before Potter could say another word Pierce was already out of his office.
Potter stood behind his desk, staring at the closed door. "Who cares about the damn jeep?" he mumbled. You'd better return yourself in the same condition.
He shook his head as if to clear it from too much fatherly concern and retuned to his daily duties.
Author's note: If one of the guys said something that didn't really fit it's probably because I have never seen an English M*A*S*H episode. I only watched them in German. In that respect be advised that I am not a native speaker. I did my very best, though. Comments on this little piece of fan fiction are very welcome. (firstname.lastname@example.org)