by Brenna "Snakelady" Dawkins
Disclaimer: 20th Century Fox owns the rights to M*A*S*H. I've made no profit from this fic.
Summary: Klinger and Houlihan deliver a baby on the front and are forced to reconcile their differences... temporarily.
(Authors note: My first M*A*S*H fic. No pairings in this... gasp! Probably a first for me. I'm a Klinger fan and noticed the lack of Klinger fics here and thought I'd do something about it. It also turned out a little differently then when I first started. Must admit, was nervous about writing it, but had fun with it when I started. Enjoy!)
Sparky was being unusually obnoxious that day. Radar was feeling the onset of irritation settle in from the operators antics. Why couldn't he just patch him through to I-Corps and let them know that the front was too close for comfort again? Couldn't the enemy ever get their lines straight? Sure a M*A*S*H was meant to be mobile, but they had set to ground here in the swamp after so many years and were loathe to relocate. Hawkeye had blasted through, headed towards Potters office complaining about what a damned nuisance war was and how could anyone get any work done? He had to agree.
"Come on, Sparky," Radar changed his tone into pleading this time. "If you want, I can send you over some fresh goats milk cheese. Homemade."
Sparky only made some lame excuse to which Radar blurted, "Colonels orders!"
And speak of the devil, an agitated Col. Potter, followed by an equally agitated Hawkeye Pierce, came to a dramatic halt in front of Radar's desk.
"Let me see the horn, son." Potter's kind words did not mask the dark mood at all.
Radar sat back as he listened to his Commander in Chief holler Sparky into submission. He tried not to eavesdrop, but it was difficult when the talker was not two feet away from you.
"To the front? But... that's dangerous." Radar, ever the innocent, even when he was dropped smack down in the middle of a war.
"Their medics are bogged down. In dire need of supplies." Potter told him as if it were the most sanest thing in the world.
"We can't afford to give up our best doctors." Radar replied worriedly.
"Well, WE don't have to worry about that, only I do." Potter said matter-of-factly. Radar knew not to ever argue with him when he's laid down the law as such. "Pierce, you, Hunnicutt, Houlihan..." he paused, "and Klinger."
Which only got a grumbling response from the Corporal when he was told of the excursion. He hated this war practically more then anyone he had ever met and he was called to the front. Of course, it seemed that the front had found them once more and it wasn't as if he had to wander that far into unknown territory. It just galled him to think that he was called to ferry the officers to the front and act as a perfunctory nurse.
"I'm not even that good a nurse." He'd complain, a fact that Houlihan had staunchly agreed upon. "Why me?"
"Because I said so, that's why!" Potter growled in his usual way. Klinger was a good kid, just hard headed, he surmised. Always had to be reminded that there was only one way to go about things... his way, the army's way. To which Klinger could only meekly scurry about to accomplish the order.
Pierce was the most vocal about this situation. "Why not just paint the whole of Korea as a red ex and designate it as a war zone? That way, it'd be easy to find casualties!"
"Don't be so crass, Hawkeye." Major Houlihan complained, just as uptight and afraid of going to the front as the Captain, but she always handled things like fear in a manner that was as different as night and day to Captain Pierce.
"I'll be anyway I like," Hawkeye grumbled as he tossed the rest of the bags into the jeep.
Rizzo shoved a requisition order in front of the Major's face for the jeep. She signed with a scowl. "Bring it back in one piece. I remember the state of the last one you brought in." Rizzo bravely replied.
"So sorry about your precious jeep getting caught up in sniper fire. As to the occupants that were driving it, we'll be more considerate next time." Her voice was ice and Rizzo wisely backed off.
Klinger unhappily sat himself in the drivers seat as he was surrounded by his fellow officers. The mood was dark as they left the 4077th. "It better not snow before we get there." He complained and eyed those clouds warily. "Well, this is a fine day at the beach." Klinger said in his usual sarcastic way.
"I'd hate to see what the beaches must look like in Ohio." Captain Pierce shot back in ill humor.
Klinger snorted and the jeep jerked into gear and then lumbered down the long stretch of road with its four unhappy occupants. The usual idle chatter was conspicuously absent as they came ever closer to their ultimate destination. It did seem that the 4077th was just a stones throw from where all the action was.
They had to pass through a small village (in the loosest sense of the word) before they met up with the frontline medics. It consisted of a handful of hovels that lined the street and probably had more farm animals roaming it's property then people. But even so, the street seemed to be crowded with people. It was either run them over or stop, and Klinger opted to stop the jeep. The natives were pawing at the jeep and jabbering in their language plaintively.
"Think they're upset that the war was brought to their backdoor step?" B.J. asked.
Hawkeye fended off a woman who grabbed at his army jacket, "Either that, or they're hot for the best of the army's winter fatigue fashions."
"Klinger! Drive through!" The Major ordered as she tried to keep herself warm unsuccessfully in the open top jeep.
"They're in the way." Klinger insisted, reluctant to proceed.
"Oh for crying out loud!" Houlihan complained and stood in the jeep, she tried to shout at them to clear the road, but no one, it appeared, knew any English but them.
Hawkeye snorted, "Well, well, they don't understand English. How inconsiderate of the country we're occupying."
"Stuff it, Hawkeye!" The Major stormed and sat resolutely back in her seat.
"They definitely want something. From us." Klinger gripped onto the steering wheel to keep from being dragged out of the jeep.
"Maybe they want... us?" B.J. ventured as an older woman clutched after his med bag that he held in his lap.
The Major was exasperated, "We don't have time for this, we've got our orders!"
It was then that they heard a wailing from inside one of the nearby houses. That instigated a new sense of urgency with those who surrounded the jeep.
"That sounded pretty bad." Klinger and everyone in the jeep looked in the direction the wail came from.
Hawkeye impulsively leapt from the jeep with his med bag in hand and jogged to the house where the wailing had come from.
"Get back in here, Hawkeye!" Houlihan shouted feeling like she had lost control of a situation she never really had control of in the first place. "Dammit!" She swore then she, followed by B.J. and Klinger left the jeep to follow in Hawkeye's footsteps.
The scene in the hovel that greeted Major Houlihan's eyes was one she knew all too well. There was a very tiny and very pregnant Korean woman writhing on a straw mat on the floor. Scratch that, as the Major took a closer look. It wasn't a woman, she was just a kid. She exhaled and shook her head. She also recognized the signs.
"She's in labor and I have an idea there's no one here that knows a thing about midwifery." She told the men who surrounded her. She took liberty and felt the woman's bulging belly. She shook her head again, "It's a breech too. If someone doesn't assist her, she'll die. She's too young."
"I'll stay." Hawkeye offered.
But the Major had other ideas. "No. They need you on the front. I know more about this then you do, doctor. You three go on, I'll stay here."
But Pierce knew that it would be dangerous to leave her behind, what with the enemy so close by. "I'm not going to leave you here by yourself."
"You've got your orders, doctor." Houlihan was not going to budge from that hovel of a house. "You get those supplies and your ass to those that really need you on the lines. I'm needed more here then there."
"Then Klinger is going to stay here with you."
"Klinger?" Houlihan shouted in reproach.
Klinger blinked. Did this mean he didn't have to go to the front after all? He'd help deliver a thousand babies if it meant he'd never see that!
The Major was not going to have it though, "I don't need any Corporal mucking around a birthing!"
"Hey!" Klinger objected but was shushed by Pierce.
"It's Klinger or no go."
The two squared off at each other in typical fashion. One fire, one ice. A clash of the titans in most cases, Hawkeye fiery passionate and Houlihan coldly methodical. But Hawkeye was not going to back down. "Besides, you'll need someone to assist you who can understand English."
Houlihan had to admit that made sense. She was going to need assistance with something like a breech. It would be difficult to try to mime what she wanted from the villagers when she needed it right then. She cast a withering look at the meek young man who did his best to look placid. She sighed, at least he was wearing respectable army issue instead of those dresses her mother wouldn't even be caught dead in.
"Alright, Klinger stays." She finally agreed reluctantly.
Klinger inwardly sighed with relief. Things might just be looking up after all! "Okay, Major! Just tell me what you need and I'll get it!"
Houlihan rolled her eyes and cast Hawkeye a glance that said payback was to be expected at a later date. Hawkeye just shrugged and tossed her his med bag. "Good luck, Major. Come on, Beej."
"Now Klinger, don't let in any of those annoying Amway salesmen!" B.J. called after.
"Aye-aye, Dad!" Klinger shouted back.
"Can we have SOME semblance of order here?" Houlihan gruffly replied, irritated that she was saddled with the disreputable Corporal. The two Captains came back with extra supplies and two blankets.
"It's not much, but we have to save the rest of it for the front." Hawkeye was apologetic.
Houlihan waved him off, "That's fine. We'll make due. General Andrews is waiting for you and those supplies. Get."
To which Hawkeye amazingly just nodded and accepted mildly and with no contest.
The two doctors left them there surrounded by the villagers.
"Well, Major... what do you think we ought to do first?" Klinger asked.
"Well, first we have to make her as comfortable as we possibly can, though under these circumstances," she shivered at the cold biting her hands and exposed face., "and that means clearing out the riffraff."
So Klinger spent a good part of the afternoon shooing away all those who weren't even kin. Of course, this was made all the more difficult since no one but them spoke English. But soon only an old woman, an old man they assumed was the husband of the old woman, and another young woman were left in the hovel.
Klinger stood by anxiously as the young woman whimpered in evident pain beside him. A gust of wind blasted through the doorway. After so many winters there in Korea, Klinger could tell it was going to snow sometime before evening. He wished he had his nice, warm mink with him, but the Major had refused it coming onto the jeep. She said she was not going to be embarrassed nor have him distracting on the front. Besides, she had suggested that any flamboyance on the front would make him an easy target for the enemy. That argument, above anything else, made him decide that maybe blending in with everyone else as a unit wouldn't be such a bad idea. For now.
"Find something to cover that door." The Major ordered as she started to clear away things from the young woman and tried to prop her up to make her more comfortable.
"Sure thing, Major!" Klinger saluted her and then scurried about the hovel, hoping to find some sort of rug or something. There was nothing, no scarves, no rugs, no other reed mats (the laboring woman was on the only one). With an urgent pantomiming, he got the old woman to understand why he was procuring two, long kimono's. He managed to hang them both up as a make-shift windblock. It wasn't a very pleasing to look at, but it sorta worked. "Better then nothing." Klinger mumbled at the jury-rigged drapery.