Amy-Lee just stared at her, jaw on the floor. “What the hell’s going on here? I thought you didn’t know him!”
“I just wanted to have a bit of fun with him and you. He’s my cousin,” said Abby grinning.
“That’s right, she’s my baby cousin,” said Hawkeye poking her in the ribs.
“Stop it or I’ll tell Aunty Carol!” she squealed, in between bouts of hysterical giggles.
“Yeah whatever,” he said, flinging her over his shoulder then running out of the mess tent towards his tent.
They sat in his tent, aptly and again named the Swamp, talking.
“That’s going to have to be the story for everyone – you know, that we’re cousins,” said Abby.
“That’s no worry,” said Hawkeye distractedly.
“Then what is? I can read your mind Hawkeye Pierce, what’s eating you?”
“Why did you come here? You’re only 15 years old, you could get killed!” said Hawkeye angrily.
“So could you,” she countered. “Maybe it’s because I felt compelled to, you know, so I could look after you.”
“I’ve done this before, I can look after myself,” he said.
“Oh, and I can’t?”
“No, not in this situation,” he tried to say.
“I’ll have you know I can look after myself – I’ve done so for 5 years. Mum didn’t die when I was 14; she died when I was 10! Don’t lecture me about self-reliance you self-righteous bastard,” she yelled, before collapsing into tears and running to her tent.
Hawkeye threw his pillow at the tent wall and stormed out.
A few hours later, Hawkeye knocked on the tent door. “Abby you in there?”
“Yeah,” she mumbled.
“You’re not naked?”
“Nahh, come in,” she said with a lopsided smile at his attempt at humour.
“Look, I’m sorry I got angry – I just don’t want anything to happen to you,” said Hawkeye sitting on her bunk.
“Yeah well, I gathered that much,” she said.
“Come on, we’re on duty now,” he said, pulling her to her feet.
Next thing, an announcement came over the PA. “INCOMING WOUNDED! ALL STAFF TO REPORT TO THE COMPOUND AND OPERATING ROOM! LET’S GO PEOPLE, YOUR DANCE CARDS ARE FILLING QUICKLY!”
“Shall we mademoiselle?” said Hawkeye with a sweeping bow.
“But of course, good sir,” she said, and grabbing his offered hand they ran out to the OR.
“Come on kiddo, hurry up and retract that before I’m forced to cut around your B-cups,” said Hawkeye.
“What? How do you know I’m a B-cup?” she squawked as she did as requested.
“Because I’m your.... cousin and I know everything,” he responded with a wink. “Gimme a scalpel.”
“Scalpel,” she responded crankily.
“Ohhh, someone’s got their cranky pants on,” teased Hawkeye. “Suction.”
“Oh just shut up and operate,” she replied, crossing her eyes at him.
“Listen to the girl Pierce,” called out the colonel.
“Thank you colonel,” Abby called out, smirking at Hawkeye.
“Thank you colonel,” mimicked Hawkeye.
“Nuhhh!” he responded, going cockeyed at her.
The rest of the room laughed at the banter over the operating table.
After the last patient was fixed up, Hawkeye and Abby headed off hand in hand to the Officer’s Club. “Don’t tell Margaret I’m letting you drink,” he whispered with a grin.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” she responded, and with that they joined the rest of the doctors and a few of the nurses, including Amy-Lee who was with one of the doctors.
Months passed, and Abby grew accustomed to her surroundings and the people. Most of all, she enjoyed the company of Amy-Lee, Hawkeye and a young corporal named Michael Horwood, whom she had become increasingly close to. Abby was very fond of the rest of the staff, particularly the old colonel who was looking forward to retirement. Overall, despite the situation and conditions, Abby was fairly happy.
One afternoon, Michael and Abby were out on a walk not far from the camp, when the first of sniper fire went off. They dove behind a tree, and looked for the quickest route to run back to the camp.
“Let’s just run for it that way!” said Michael.
Abby looked, and said, “It’ll be the quickest and hopefully the safest. We’ll wait until they stop shooting for a moment then make a dash for it, OK?”
They waited a few moments, then Abby said “Now!” They ran as fast as they could go and made it to the compound in record time.
“Well that was close,” Michael started to say as Abby was shot in the stomach several times.
Abby rocked backwards, stunned, then fell to the ground holding her stomach. “Get Hawkeye,” she gasped, trying to stay calm and in control.
But Hawkeye was already outside and carrying her to the pre-op room. He ripped off her shirt crying, “Jesus Christ, don’t let this be happening.”
He lay her back on the table to look at her wounds when he felt a hand on his head. He looked up and saw Abby trying to hold his head.
“Hawkeye,” she whispered.
“Shh sweetie, don’t talk. You’ll use up all your energy and we’ve got to operate,” he said trying to be cheerful.
“Don’t waste your time,” she said. “I can feel it – I’m going to die and I don’t want you to operate and me die on you.”
“Don’t be silly, you’re not going to die,” he said with tears rolling down his face.
“BP’s dropping, pulse is slowing,” said McCarthy softly.
“No!” said Hawkeye fiercely.
“Cut the bullshit Hawkeye Pierce,” said Abby weakly. “Please.”
“Oh Jesus, my girl,” he sobbed, holding her hand.
“Hawkeye, listen to me. I don’t have a lot, but I want you and Margaret and the kids to have what I’ve got. Tell Margaret I love her, and tell Amy-Lee and Michael I love them. And as for you Hawkeye Pierce – I’ll see you later, somewhere else OK? Then maybe we’ll have another fifteen years to catch up on,” said Abby weakly.
“I love you Abby Pierce. Say hi to your mom for me,” said Hawkeye, kissing her on the forehead.
“I love you,” she whispered, then closed her eyes and died.
Hawkeye looked at the clock and said, “Time of death: 18:41,” then put his head down and cried.
Later on, he went to the colonel’s office and had a call placed stateside. The phone rang in the Pierce household a few times then Margaret picked up. “Hello?” she said.
“Hey babe, it’s me. I’ve got some bad news...”