"Mistaken Identities"

by Shell

Before the story begins, I'd like to take a moment to avoid any lawsuits. First off, the characters of the TV show M*A*S*H do not belong to me in any way. They all belong to Twentieth Century Fox. I am also not making any money whatsoever from this story, so I guess I need to find an after school job. J Thank you for taking the time to read this story. I appreciate it. Enjoy!

Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third scowled beneath his surgical mask. In the beginning of his stay at the 4077th, he thought being stuck in a M*A*S*H in the middle of Korea was bad. Unfortunately, he was proved wrong. Being incarcerated with surgeons Hawkeye Pierce and Hunnicutt in their small tent and endless hours of meatball surgery on wounded soldiers made the entire ordeal even worse.

He was proved wrong yet again. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was as intolerable as her. His skin crawled at the very sound of her voice or the feeling of her presence. She was Lieutenant Miranda Johnson, and she despised him almost as much as he her. They avoided each other at all costs, since confrontations usually ended in shouting secessions that were greatly enjoyed by the rest of the camp.

To make matters worse, she was an incredible nurse, and loved by the entire camp. Johnson was kind to anyone she came in contact with, with the exception of Charles. It was like a whole new side to her: a cold, sarcastic, and cynical side that only emerged for Charles. It was unbearable, simply unbearable.

"Suction," he ordered gently. Of all the nurses in the camp, she had been assigned to help him. Why couldn't she work with Pierce, Hunnicutt, or even the camp's Commanding Officer, Colonel Potter? Charles shook the thought away. There was no point in dwelling on it. He had to concentrate.

The case before him was a difficult one, even for him. The injured boy was barely twenty years old with a massive amount of shrapnel in his chest, dangerously near the heart. One false move and Charles could force a piece of shrapnel to poke into the boy's heart, tearing a small hole, or ripping the heart to shreds. He was picking the shrapnel from the soldier's chest, piece by piece, when the nurse regulating the anesthesia cried out, "Doctor! His pressure's dropping!"

Charles hissed beneath his mask. "That's impossible," he said. "There aren't any punctures in the heart. He is in the best hands in the camp. I don't understand what is going wrong."

"It doesn't matter!" Pierce spoke up from across the room. "Just fix it, Charles! You can examine your ego later!"

"Doctor, there may be a bleeder caused by some shrapnel." Johnson's tone was almost civil. He bit his lip to keep a comment from leaving his lips. Instead he lowered his glance back to the patient. He suddenly noticed a small bleeder on the aorta that was leaking heavily. He quickly sutured the hole, and the leak soon slowed. "Pressure?"

The nurse nodded quickly. "It's rising back to normal, doctor. Good job!"

Charles smiled. "Thank you, but I suppose I have Nurse Johnson to thank." He slowly turned to her. "Thank you for pointing that out to me, Lieutenant." That had been very difficult for him. Thanking others had never been his strong point, but he knew she would be gracious.

He was wrong.

"Well," she said, peeling off her surgical gloves. "If you would open your eyes and close your ego, you would have seen it yourself."

Pierce piped up again. "Ouch, Charles, that must hurt."

Johnson turned and almost smacked into Major Margaret Houlihan, the head nurse. "Watch your mouth, Johnson," she snapped. "Major Winchester doesn't need any of your comments."

"Sorry, Major," Johnson muttered, walking back across the OR to help B.J. Hunnicutt.

Charles was fuming and speechless. How dare she? He thought as another patient was placed on the table before him. Being so rude was bad enough, but he was a Winchester. He had never once in his life seen such manners given to anyone in his family before, and he was determined to end it, once and for all.

Luckily, surgery ended only half an hour later, so Charles was ready to confront the object of his constant annoyance. He spotted her just as she was leaving the OR and heading for her tent, still dressed in her white surgical gown over her green uniform.

He approached from behind. "Lieutenant, may I speak with you for a moment?"

She turned, and for a moment, Charles caught a glance of the real Lieutenant Johnson. She was beautiful. Her golden blonde hair accented her deep blue eyes, giving her face a lovely glow. Then, as quick as it had appeared, her beauty faded as she frowned deeply.

"What is it, Major?" She crossed her arms over her chest, obviously preparing for another battle. Charles wasn't about to give her the pleasure. He decided at that moment to put away his anger and hostility, and try to be civil with her. And he would do it if it killed him.

"All I want to know is why you are determined to make my life here even worse than it already is?" He had said it coolly and calmly; hoping it would go over well.

It didn't.

She scoffed. "I'm making your life miserable? Try the other way around, Major. Why don't you try to be less snobby and arrogant, and I'm quite positive you make everyone's life around here a little easier! The nerve of you accusing me for-"

"Accusing?" That was it. His anger returned, and was fully unleashed. "You are the problem! You have focused every snide and rude remark you have towards me since you arrived here, and that was six months ago!"

The rest of the conversation was a blur. There was a lot of shouting, and soon half the camp was surrounding them to listen in on the argument. B.J. and Hawkeye were taking bids on who would throw the first bunch, while the nurses cheered them on. Suddenly, Colonel Potter and the camp priest Father Mulcahy broke through the crowd.

Colonel Potter was furious. "Enough!" The crowd, along with the two fighters immediately silenced themselves. He shoved a finger at Charles and Miranda. "You two, in my office! Now!" The crowd slowly wandered away, while Charles and Miranda slowly followed Potter and Mulcahy to Potter's office, both scowling all the way.

After hearing both sides of the argument inside his office, Colonel Potter leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "Look, you two," he said. "Ever since Johnson got here six months ago, it's been nothing but bicker, bicker, bicker. And personally, I'm sick of it." Father Mulcahy nodded. "This can't be good for either of you."

"Then why don't you just transfer her and bid rid of it?" Charles asked simply. Miranda's face reddened in anger, but she kept her mouth shut.

"I thought of that," Potter continued. "But the fact is, she's a damn good nurse, and we need her." He leaned forward to make his plea clear. "Why can't you two just call it off and make a truce?"

"That's perfectly acceptable," Charles said, crossing his arms over his chest. "All Lieutenant Johnson has to do is be civil with me, and we can call the whole thing off."

Miranda snorted. "It's not just me, Colonel. It's him too! Major Winchester is an overbearing, arrogant, pompous, snobby, and irritating man! I suggest that we never work together. That should solve any problems."

Potter shook his head. "Lieutenant, the truth is I don't like Winchester, either. But I still work with him. Do you know why? Because he is an incredible doctor, just like you're an incredible nurse." He suddenly smiled. "That's why you two are going to spend some time together to get to know each other." Charles and Miranda both made moves to protest, but Potter quickly continued. "The 8063rd wants a doctor and a nurse to demonstrate the heart procedure you performed today, Winchester. Since you just performed it, I thought it fitting that you go, with Lieutenant Johnson assisting. Now isn't that a good idea?" He grinned.

Charles was aghast. "Colonel, you can't be serious..."

"He is," Father Mulcahy said with a smile. "You leave tomorrow."

Charles sighed. This was probably going to be one of the worst trips of his life, and one he wasn't about to forget.

Later that evening, Miranda was stuffing the gear she would need for the next day's trip. As she slammed the last of it into her bag, a knock sounded on her door. Who could that possibly be? She thought was an exasperated sigh. "Come in," she muttered.

When she looked up, she saw Hawkeye Pierce standing in the doorway, a smile curving his lips. "Hello there, Lieutenant," he said as suavely as possible. "I was just passing by your tent and couldn't resist visiting."

Miranda smiled in spite of herself. Hawkeye's lines were so stupid, that she found them funny. "That was very kind of you, Hawkeye. Please, call me Miranda."

He grinned. "Miranda? That's a beautiful name." He took a seat in her desk chair. "We have a lot in common, you know. We are both forced to work at the gates of hell, and we both can't stand Charles. Isn't that interesting?"

Why did he have to mention Winchester? Miranda's thoughts drifted back to the meeting that afternoon with Colonel Potter. "Yes, Hawkeye," she said. "It is."

He stood and stepped towards her. "I thought we could discuss it over drinks. How about tomorrow night around seven?"

Miranda laughed. "You certainly get to the point fast, Hawkeye," she said. "But unfortunately, I must graciously decline. Colonel Potter is sending Major Winchester and I to the 8063rd tomorrow to demonstrate a procedure for them. It's definitely going to be an interesting trip."

Hawkeye cringed. "Ouch. I feel your pain. Maybe some other time." He turned to go.

"I'll be looking forward to it," she said. He smiled and then left her tent.

Standing alone, Miranda laughed to herself. 'I'll be looking forward to it'? That comment was almost as stupid as one of Hawkeye's bad pick up lines, she thought. She saw her medical bag sitting on her cot and she sighed at the reality of her trip with Charles. Her mother had always told her that there were going to be times she had to do things she didn't want to do. She wasn't kidding. Mom, if you could only see me know, Miranda thought. She was knee deep in bloody and broken bodies constantly, and she was surprised she hadn't gone insane yet. Maybe this feud with Winchester was a helpful distraction against the war. She almost laughed at the thought. Maybe it wasn't.

The next morning Miranda was first to load her gear into the jeep that was waiting for her and Winchester near the entrance of the camp. The air was cool, but it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. At least one thing was going right for her. She sighed and leaned against the side of the jeep. She waited fifteen minutes, but there were no signs of life from the surgeon's tent, called the Swamp. Miranda was close to going over to see what was holding Winchester up when Hawkeye and B.J. suddenly emerged from the tent, their hands full of gear. Both looked terribly groggy and hung over, and Miranda couldn't help but chuckle as the two surgeons hurled the gear onto the ground.

Miranda decided to approach them. "Tough night?"

B.J. smiled as Hawkeye disappeared back into their tent. "You could say that. Hawk and I could barely get any sleep with Winchester whining all night." He sighed. "Hopefully while you two are gone we can get some sleep." He smiled apologetically. "Have fun. No offense, but I wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now."

She smiled in return. "Thanks, B.J. Neither would I." Hawkeye emerged again, this time pushing an equally groggy Charles Winchester out of the tent. Hawkeye glanced at Miranda and smiled.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," he said. "I brought your traveling companion. He's a little bad tempered, but he'll be good as new in an hour."

"I can't wait," Miranda muttered. "Come on, Major, the jeep's waiting." Charles nodded, gathering his gear from the ground. As they walked off towards the jeep, Hawkeye called jokingly after them.

"Now you two have fun, and don't stay out too late. And careful, Lieutenant. This is your first date with Charles, so don't let him get too fresh." He and B.J. watched the jeep as it drove done the road and disappeared from sight.

"He's gone!" B.J. cried with a grin.

"Come on, Beej," Hawkeye cried gallantly. "Our pillows await!" The two surgeons then rushed back into the Swamp, leaped onto their bunks, and fell instantly asleep.

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