As they sat in Rosie's, Meagan found herself talking to Margaret while Hawkeye was dancing with all the nurses. "25 is awfully young to be a head nurse already." Margaret said as she and Meagan sipped their drinks. "I was only 21 when I finished nursing school. I am not THE head nurse of the hospital..just of the surgical teams. Believe me I had to work very hard to get there!" "I guess that didn't leave much time for a social life" Margaret remarked. "Not really but my work was more important to me. What made you decide to come to Korea? It's not exactly a vacation spot." "Well" Meagan replied "I hadn't seen Jimmy since he got drafted. So When I found out he could get some R and R in Tokyo I decided why not? Then when he got called back early I decide to fly to Korea since I was so close and surprise Hawkeye. I hadn't seen him in such a long time. Jimmy's outfit is fighting near here and I was hoping I could see him before I have to go back. I am in no great hurry to get back, everything I care about is here." "Would you consider staying here as a volunteer?" Margaret asked "We are short on nurses and desperate for Good nurses. I spoke to Colonel Potter and he could make the arrangements." "I would love to stay! I could be close to Jimmy and see Hawkeye some. And I would be helping a lot of people. Do you really think Potter could work it out?" "He said he could." "That's great! I have got to tell Hawkeye!" she exclaimed as he walked back to their table. "Hawkeye! Guess what!" she asked him excitedly. "Margaret and Colonel Potter are going to arrange it so I can nurse here at the 4077th for a while! Isn't that Great!! we could work together and..." her voice trailed off as she noticed the angry look on Hawkeye's face. "What's wrong? " she asked. "we need to talk" he said. "Let's go for a walk." With that he pulled her out of Rosie's not noticing the shocked faces of his friends. "Hawkeye!! What are you doing?" she asked as he continued pulling her down the road away from Rosie's. "Hawkeye, would you please stop and tell me what is wrong!" She was close to tears when he stopped and turned to her, his face a mask of rage. Meagan stepped back, confused by the anger on his face...anger directed at her. "Please" she said softly. "please tell me why you are so angry with me."
"Are you crazy?!" he exploded. "You can't stay here! This is a war zone not a park." His voice softened as he noticed the tears in her eyes. "It's not safe here for you. You could be hurt or killed." "You could be hurt or killed too" she pointed out. "I don't have a choice! I have to be here. YOU don't. When I was drafted I wasn't given the option to not come. Why on earth would you want to stay!" "Hawkeye" she said looking at him. "I don't want to stay here for the fun of it. I want to help. I am a good nurse and I want, no I need the challenge. You need good nurses and Colonel Potter is getting it cleared. This isn't a combat unit. I would be safe enough here. Please Hawkeye, you don't understand how much this means to me" she said reaching out and laying her hand on his arm. " I want to do this. Please don't be angry." " I am not angry at you." he said giving her hand a squeeze. " I have always protected you and I don't want to see you get hurt." "I know" she said softly. "Everything will be ok, you'll see." " Alright we can try it for a while. Let's get back to Rosie's." "We better. They will all think you have murdered me out here!" she said with a laugh. " I am sorry" he said looking at her. "I didn't mean to lose my temper like that but I was seeing red thinking of you staying here. I just can't believe you would want to stay!"
"If you don't mind Hawkeye I think I am going to just get some sleep. It's been a long day and I am worn out. Care to escort a lady to her tent?" she asked with a coquettish grin. "Why sure madam" he replied in his not so great southern accent. After he left her at her tent Hawkeye wandered back over to Rosie's. Everyone was still there and looked at him strangely when he came in. Hawkeye went and sat next to Margaret and BJ. " Well?" BJ said as Hawkeye sat down, "would you like to tell us what that was all about? You practically drug her out of here and you looked fit to be tied. Where is she by the way?" "She's back at her tent getting some sleep." Hawkeye sighed. " I didn't mean to lose my temper so badly. I just cant believe it. She wants to stay here in this hell hole and YOU were encouraging her!" He said looking at Margaret. "Pierce she is a damn good nurse and we need help here. She wants to do it. You saw how great she was in OR today. She's a grown woman able to take care of herself. Maybe you need to remember that she's not a little girl anymore!" " I know that" he said, taking a drink of his scotch. "old habits die hard." Getting up from the table he bid them both goodnight and headed back to the swamp where he spent a restless night.
The next few weeks were busy ones at the 4077th. They had wounded coming in everyday some times 2 or 3 times a day. By then Meagan was a recognized face there. Potter had gotten the clearance needed for her to stay and she attacked the work with gusto. Everyone liked working with her as she didn't complain and always did her fair share and more. She and Margaret had become the best of friends. As she wasn't in the Army, there was no problem with Margaret's rank getting in the way of the friendship. In fact the two were tentmates and spent a lot of time just laughing and talking. She and Hawkeye spent a lot of time together also. reminiscing about the past and catching up. They oftened worked together and were a great team. The rest of the camp was rather in awe of the way they didn't seem to need to talk to communicate what was needed. Even Frank had to reluctantly admit she was a wonderful nurse. She had also taken to going to the orphanage with Father Mulcahy and Radar. She had always loved children and the Korean orphans were no exception. She and Radar had also become good friends. She found he was in a way a kindred spirit, both of them being small town people, quiet and shy with a great love for both animals and children. Many a day was spent, when she wasn't in OR, playing with the children at Sister Theresa's. It was a shock to them all to learn that she knew almost fluent Korean. It was a great help in all their dealings with the locals.
Today after a relatively short time in OR, only 8 hours, she and Hawkeye were walking towards the Mess tent to grab some lunch...at 3 in the afternoon. They were sitting inside drinking what passed for coffee and eating what passed for beef stew when Radar burst in through the door. "We've got more wounded coming in within the hour!! You guys gotta get back to OR on the double!" "Radar what happened?!" Hawkeye asked. "All I know is that there was heavy fighting at hill 411 and almost an entire company was killed or injured. I guess they walked into an ambush!" With that he ran out the door to inform the other staff what was coming up. Hawkeye finished gulping his coffee and started heading out the door. "What are you waiting for? We gotta get before...." he stopped noticing the look on her face. She was deathly pale and looked like she would faint. "What is it?" he asked rushing to her and grabbing her arm to keep her from falling. "Hawkeye" she said, her voice shaking," Jimmy's unit was fighting at hill 411!" "Oh God!" He exclaimed " I had forgotten that! You don't look too good, why don't you go back to your tent and get some sleep? The wounded won't be here for a while and we can get you when they come." " No I am fine" she said " I was just shocked but now I am ok." Hawkeye looked at her closely "I think you should lay down for a while. You are pale and you look ready to pass out!" "Hawkeye I'm fine! Now let's go. Besides I want to see the wounded and see if any of them know Jimmy." With that she went out of the mess tent almost at a run towards the pre-op ward. She passed BJ and Margaret as they were walking towards OR. "What's wrong with Meagan?" BJ asked as they watched her run by. " We just got the news about the company ambushed at hill 411" Hawkeye said. " Isn't that tragic " said Margaret. A whole company cut down." "It's more than tragic Margaret." Hawkeye said. " Her brother was at hill 411!" "Oh NO!" Margaret exclaimed " No wonder she looked so upset! Does she know if he is alright?" "We don't know anything except that the company was apparently ambushed with very few survivors. I just hope that he is ok." With that they rushed into the OR and started setting up for the deluge. Meagan was already there, working with nurse Kellye sterilizing the instruments. Just then "INCOMING WOUNDED! AMBULANCES AND CHOPPERS IN THE COMPOUND!" "Just Great!" Hawkeye muttered. "I thought they said an hour!"
The next few hours were hectic ones for the OR staff. The rumors were not exaggerated. The entire company had been cut down, the victims of an ambush. The survivors were all seriously injured. Meagan talked to everyone able asking news of her brother. Most of the men said it had all happened so quickly that all the could do was dive for cover. The last batch of wounded were finally being brought into triage. Among them was a face vaguely familiar to Meagan. She suddenly remembered meeting him in Tokyo when he was on leave there the same time as Jimmy. Rushing across the room to him, she saw that he had a belly wound. A bad one from the looks of it. "Greg!" She exclaimed. "Do you remember me? Meagan. Jimmy's sister! Where is he? Is he ok?" "What are you doing here?" he asked her groggily. "I am volunteering here at the 4077. I am a nurse here. Where's Jimmy" " she repeated. " I'm sorry" he said " he was cut down. I don't know he is alive or not. I just saw him go down right before I was hit." Just then Klinger came to take him into OR. " Go talk to Lieutenant Peters over there. He was there when Jimmy went down." " Good luck Greg" she said as Klinger wheeled in out. Peters was on a stretcher with a nasty leg wound. She ran over to him. "Were you with my brother Jimmy Montgomery when he was wounded? Do you know where he is?" she asked. "He didn't make it. I went to him but he was already gone. The shelling and gunfire were too heavy for me to take him out of there. His body had to be left behind. You say you're his sister? What are you doing in...." Meagan was already walking away from him, her shoulders shaking with silent sobs. "No" she thought " it has to be a mistake. It has to be." She didn't see Hawkeye coming up behind her as she walked out the Pre-Op door. "Meg" he called after her. "Where are you going? " She didn't stop and he ran to catch up with her catching her by the shoulder and turning her around. When he saw her face he knew. Without a word he opened his arms to her and she went into them. He held her while she cried, tears running down his own face for the loss of his friend.
After a few minutes, she pulled away from him. "Meagan" Hawkeye said, reaching out to wipe the tears from her face," I am so sorry. He was one of my best friends and I feel awful. I can't imagine how awful you must feel. C'mon. Let me get you something to eat. We are pretty much done in OR and Frank is on duty in post-op. I know you haven't had much to eat today." " I don't want anything, Hawkeye." she said. " I am gonna go back to my tent, I need to be alone for a while." "I don't think that's such a great idea" he said. " You have just had a major shock, you're exhausted and you haven't eaten. At least let me bring you a sandwich or something to your tent and we can talk." " No" she said. "I don't want anything to eat. I really just need to be by myself right now." As she started to walk away, Hawkeye reached out and took her shoulder, gently turning her around. On her face he saw a look. A look he had never seen there before. "I don't think you need to be alone!" "Please Hawkeye" she said. "I will be ok. I just need to go back to my tent and get some sleep." She reached up and laid her hand on his cheek. She stood looking at him, then shook herself and pulled her hand away. " I have to go" she said her voice shaky. "Don't worry. I'll be ok." Hawkeye stood and watched as she walked to her tent. He watched until he saw the light go out, then slowly turned and headed for the swamp and a drink.