*This story is kind of different, so here's a short explanation. The story is kind of a combination between "The Late Captain Pierce" and "Where There's a Will There's a War." I found it hard to combine these two, as they were from different times---Frank was still around in "The Late Captain Pierce" while Charles had joined the staff by "Where There's a Will There's a War." Therefore, I have written it as if Frank had already left (sorry Frank fans!) because I feel I write better for Charles than I do for Frank. I don't have Ferret Face's flair for the utterly ridiculous, I'm afraid. Thus this story contradicts what happened in the show (which I do not usually do but it was unavoidable), so therefore belief must be suspended. Well, that said, I hope you enjoy reading (and feel free to send me feedback at CLWshorty01@yahoo.com)!
by Cathy W.
"So, Charles, how much do you owe me? Oh yeah, $733.25, plus 10 drinks in the Officer's Club. Don't worry, you can pay me on an installment plan. You can start by buying me a drink," Hawkeye said and winked, gloating.
Charles snorted and replied, "You had to have cheated. No one can recognize my bluff unless they had some unseen accomplice working in the shadows."
"Don't look at me," BJ put in. "I lost too. Just not so bad." He grinned at Charles, also happy to have shown Charles up.
All Charles said was "Hmph." He put the deck of cards aside and made his way over to his bunk, where he sat down and picked up a novel. Just as he found his place and began picking up where he had left off last reading, the PA cracked, warning everyone that an announcement would soon follow. He put his book down in exasperation and thought, 'Every moment of repose I have is inevitably interrupted by the infernal war!'
Radar's voice blared over the intercom. Everyone invariably winced at the sudden noise. "Captains Pierce and Hunnicut and Majors Houlihan and Winchester, report to Colonel Potter's office, sirs, and uh, Ma'am." The system registered feedback, forcing everyone to grimace or cover their ears.
Charles looked over at Hawk and BJ with a smirk and joked, "What did you two do this time?"
"Whatever it is, it involves you and Margaret too," BJ pointed out.
The Swamprats hauled themselves out of their respective cots and dragged themselves to Colonel Potter's office, where he was waiting anxiously for them. When they arrived, Margaret, of course, was already there.
"What's going on, Colonel?" Hawkeye asked. "It better be good. I was busy doing nothing. That's the most important thing I could be doing right now."
"Yes, Colonel, what is this all about? We're all curious," Margaret added.
"Well, an aid station was already short-handed when one of their surgeons broke his wrist. He'll be out of commission for a few weeks, but it'll take a coupla days to get a replacement surgeon for that long. Since things have been pretty calm at this end, I volunteered to have one of our doctors go until the new cutter arrives. So, any volunteers?" All three of the doctors stared at him in silence, obviously not willing to volunteer.
"Colonel, what about if I went?" Margaret asked.
"No, Major, they need a doctor," he answered. He put his hand up to stop her mid-sentence. "Major...Margaret, I know you're gung-ho to go, but we really need one of those happy volunteers over there."
"I won't be outdone by Margaret," said Hawkeye. "I'll go, Colonel."
"Okay, Pierce. You leave in an hour."
"No, let me go," BJ hurriedly put in. "You got the last one, Hawk. It's my turn."
"Nah, don't worry about it. You owe me the next one, though."
"Okay, Hawk. Deal," BJ said in relief.
After their customary goodbyes (the "see ya" from BJ, the "be careful, son" from Potter, and the "you better take of yourself" from Margaret), Hawkeye was now driving along the bumpy road---if you could call it a road---to the aid station. He had just finished mangling a Vivaldi opera and was moving on to show tunes when he was suddenly interrupted by a large boom. He looked around in fear, then lost control of the jeep as a shell landed very close by. His jeep grazed a tree and flipped over, turning his world upside down. He screamed in terror and then everything was black.
Radar was sitting at his desk finishing up the daily reports in record time when the phone rang, making him jump. "Geez!" he mumbled to himself. He picked it up and out of habit replied, "M*A*S*H 4077th."
"Hello, is your CO there?" an unfamiliar voice asked.
"Umm, just a second," Radar answered uncertainly. He got up and slowly approached Colonel Potter, who was painting. Whenever someone asked for Colonel Potter over the phone, it was never good----especially if they just asked for the CO and not for him by name. "Uh, Colonel, someone's on the phone for you." As Potter opened his mouth to ask who it was, Radar interrupted him. "They didn't say who they were, sir." Potter followed him to the phone and picked it up.
"Colonel Potter, CO of the 4-0-double-seven. Who might I be speaking to?"
"Lieutenant Hodges, sir. I was just wondering if you'd sent that doctor yet."
"Yes, about three and a half hours ago. He should've been there a long time ago. Are you saying he's not?"
"Uh, sorry sir, but he's not here. Do you want me to send a party to search for him?" the suddenly nervous lieutenant asked.
"Yes, I would. I sent my chief surgeon out there," Potter emphatically stated, while the whole time he was really scared to death about what had happened to part of his "family." It really didn't matter that he was chief surgeon as much as that it was him.
"We'll get on it as soon as we can, sir. Right now, we're pretty much overrun with casualties. As soon as the fighting slows, we'll look for him," Hodges said.
"Be sure you do. I'd like him back." Potter slammed the phone down, not out of anger as much as out of frustration and....fear, he had to admit. 'God help him,' he thought fervently.
Hawkeye woke up to a bright blue sky and pain. His whole body seemed to throb in rhythm with his breathing. He groaned and turned over. He was eye-to-eye with a Korean soldier. 'Please let it be a South Korean, please let it be a South Korean,' he chanted in his head. "Boy, am I glad you found me," he said hopefully.
The soldier looked at him questioningly, then muttered something in a foreign language which Hawkeye figured logically was Korean. The Korean took a gun out and pointed it at Hawkeye's head. He motioned him to get up with his hands in the air and walk forward. 'I guess it's a North Korean,' Hawk thought dejectedly as he stumbled forward. The soldier poked him in the back with the barrel of his gun. "I got the message," he said sarcastically as he walked faster.
"Incoming wounded! Incoming wounded! Put on your best clothes, we're going to be waltzing all night," blared forth from the PA. The staff all got up and jogged to Pre-Op for triage.
BJ went over to a man whose shoulder was bandaged. "He can wait!" he called out.
"Doc, am I okay?" he asked.
"You'll be fine," BJ answered sincerely.
"Where's the doctor that was working on me? He got hit, I think."
"What'd he look like?" BJ asked worriedly. 'Please don't let it be Hawkeye,' he thought.
"I don't really remember. I was in too much pain to pay attention. The one thing I do remember about him, though, was that he joked around a lot."
'Oh no,' BJ thought.
"Johnson," another casualty piped up. "He died. I heard the other doctors talking about it."
'No! Please, no!' BJ desperately thought.
"So, you got food where we're going? I'm starving," Hawkeye said conversationally. He found that he could stay calmer if he pretended the soldier was his friend and understood him. The soldier grunted. Hawkeye's feet were killing him, and his back still hurt---from the crash, he assumed. After a few moments of silence, he turned back toward his captor and asked, "Is there a chance I could sit down and take a breather?" Hawkeye was literally on the verge of collapse. Just when he thought he could not walk any farther, he spotted some low, run-down buildings and a few tents scattered in basically a circular pattern. 'A camp?' he thought. 'I'm going to be a POW!' He anxiously surveyed the land all around, in case he ever got the opportunity to escape; he would need to know the lay of the land. The soldier growled gruffly and pointed his gun toward the most run-down and dirty of the buildings. "You want me to go in there?" he asked and pointed. He slowly inched toward it and as he reached the door, the North Korean kicked him. Hawkeye fell to the ground and the soldier used the tip of his boot to push him into the room. Hawkeye hissed in pain and the man gave him one last kick for good measure. Then the man shut and locked the door behind him.
After a short session in OR (at least short compared to their usual marathon sessions), BJ ran to Colonel Potter's office. "Any word on Hawkeye?" he asked desperately.
"No, son," Potter answered him sadly. He was just as worried about Hawkeye as BJ was, but the first rule he had learned as a CO was that you couldn't let the troops know how truly nervous you were. It only made them feel worse. "I'm sure we'll get word soon."
"You don't understand, Colonel! One of the wounded said a doctor who joked around a lot was killed. You know Hawk. He's a constant joke-fest. It could be him, Colonel!" BJ pushed. He was desperate to hear his best friend's voice, someone telling him he was alive and well at the Aid Station, anything. His heart had never been so heavy before. He was not only worried, but he was also guilty. It should've been him out there. Hawkeye had taken his place and it was all his fault. He knew it was unfair to think that way, but he just couldn't help it.
"Radar!" Colonel Potter yelled as Radar walked through the doors.
Radar said, "I already tried, sir. The lines are down" at the same time Colonel Potter said, "Get on the horn to the Aid Station and see if there's any news."
"Thanks, son," Colonel Potter replied. "Sorry, BJ. We'll try again later. I'm sure he's fine."
"Yeah, he's a fighter," BJ said distractedly and not too convincingly.
Hawkeye's claustrophobia was starting to get to him. If he didn't get out of there shortly, he was going to pass out. Suddenly, the door opened and the same soldier from earlier walked in with a glass and a small plate---more of a saucer, actually. There were a few moldy vegetables on it, and the glass contained half a cup of water. Hawkeye didn't care; it was nourishment nonetheless, however insubstantial. Once the soldier set it down, he gobbled it down like he had never seen food before. He regretted it soon after, because it gave him a stomachache, but he was grateful anyway. Also, the fresh air that came in when the door was opened had helped to make his claustrophobia more bearable. The soldier stood over him the entire time he was eating, watching to make sure he ate it all, and then he turned around and left him alone again.