Oct. 14th: 1700 hours
"Charles, is B J still over in post-op?" Sarabeth asked. Inside the Swamp, she was sitting, with her feet elevated, next to her brother.
Winchester, standing at his desk, was pouring up some tea. "He is, indeed. He's worried about Private Wellington." The doctor walked over to the table and handed Sarabeth a steaming cup.
"Thanks, Charles." She grinned. "I can't wait to introduce you to iced tea."
"A culinary delight, I'm quite certain." Winchester responded. "Colonel? Another brandy?" He offered.
"No, thanks." The officer answered. "Wellington? Is he the kid y'all were working on when I came in?"
"That's the one. He's in bad shape. But he'll be all right." The young woman answered. "Especially since he's had a Texas transfusion." Sarabeth smiled at her brother. Opening a tin of cookies, she passed it around. "This is supper." She told them.
Returning to his chair, the major gave her a smile.
"You mean you aren't going to brave the mess tent again?" Crockett looked at her in amusement.
"Nope. The Geneva Convention prohibits two bad meals in the same day." She nibbled on a cookie. "Brother mine, Charles and I have to go on duty in two hours. I'd like for y'all to finish this game before then!"
"Well, if someone would stop being such a chatterbox, sister mine," MacAllister retorted, "we might be able to concentrate and finish sooner."
"Charles, I do wish you wouldn't talk so much!" She teased.
Unperturbed, Winchester tasted his tea. "I apologize, Sarabeth. I shall try to behave better." He answered dryly.
She laughed merrily. "OK. I probably deserved that."
Crockett MacAllister lifted an eyebrow at her in question. She arched one at him in return.
"I want to hear the full story on Fannin." The woman moved on to a different train of thought. Her brother didn't answer. "Crockett...." She warned.
"I know that tone, too." He told Major Winchester with a grin. "You know enough."
"All I know is that they dropped the court-martial charges. I want the details, Crockett." She spoke firmly.
MacAllister settled back in his chair. "You weren't supposed to arrive in Korea until October 3rd."
"That was not my fault!" Sarabeth answered angrily. "I was in the shower when they told me my transport was leaving for the airport in ten minutes. I didn't have time to contact anyone!"
"Whoa up, Sarabeth. I know that." Crockett squeezed her hand. "What you don't know is that I had sent Captain Sterling, a guard and a driver to escort you to the 4077th. They drove to Kimhbede on the afternoon of October 2nd; intending to spend the night and meet your plane early the next morning."
"They found the base in an uproar. The Officer's Club was wrecked. Many of the pilots had black eyes, bloody noses and loose teeth. Fannin was under arrest. And the base CO was in the hospital after being thrown through a window."
The woman shook her head sadly. "I knew Fannin would do something stupid!"
"No one had any idea where you were---except that you had gone off with some Australian outfit. Sterling contacted me. I had Fannin transferred to my custody. And we started our investigation."
"Around 1730 hours, a call was relayed to me. It was from the 4077th, stating that you had arrived safely. I talked to Colonel Potter soon after that. He told me what you said about the incident. He described the bruises on your shoulder. And he gave me the names of the Australians who rescued you."
"I contacted Lieutenant Cochlan's outfit. I found out that he had also reported the incident to his CO. The next day, I caught up with Cochlan and talked to him, too. I like him, by the way."
"So do I." She replied, reaching for another cookie, her smile impish.
Crockett eyed her thoughtfully. "Anyway, he told me what they had witnessed. And he told me some things that you neglected to mention in your call to me...like being under heavy enemy fire...the bullet hole in your sleeve...things like that."
Ignoring his implied criticisms, Sarabeth shrugged and drank her tea without replying.
"After I returned from the front, Fannin and I went to have a little talk with his CO. During our discussion, Lieutenant Colonel Donovan agreed to drop all charges against Captain Fannin MacAllister and against Lieutenant Sarabeth MacAllister."
"What was he going to charge me with?"
"Assault. You did rake your heel down his shinbone and then knee him in a rather delicate place." Crockett replied mildly. "Although, to be fair, he hadn't mentioned charging you with anything until after he went through the window."
"I gave him fair warning: I told him to get his hands off me or he would regret it." Sarabeth said. "What else went on during that little talk?"
"You agreed not to file counter-assault charges against him. Fannin agreed to let the matter drop with the other pilots. I agreed to help Donovan transfer to another base. And Fannin and I both agreed not to kill him...this time."
"I was afraid something like that was going to happen. That's why I wasn't going to tell y'all."
"Donovan was damned lucky that it was Fannin, and not me, who came back from a mission to hear him bragging about fondling a red-haired nurse! I wouldn't have just thrown him through a window...I would have taken him up in a chopper and bounced him off the ground a couple of times first!"
"Crockett," she whispered softly, "you won't always be able to protect me."
"I know that, Kitten." He gently touched her face. "But I will do everything I can to keep you safe!"
MacAllister looked at Winchester. The surgeon was sitting back in his chair, enjoying his tea, watching them with interest. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Major." Crockett apologized.
"That's OK, big brother." Sarabeth answered for the other man. "Everyone knows a doctor has to have patients."
The MacAllisters laughed and Winchester shook his head in response.
Oct. 14th: 1800 hours
Standing near Pierce's bed, Sarabeth quietly covered the sleeping surgeon with a blanket. She walked back over to where the men were still sitting at the table. She put her hands on her brother's shoulders. He stretched his arm around her waist to pull her closer to him.
"I've been trying to think of words that rhyme with Korea." Sarabeth whispered. "So far, all I've thought of is...diarrhea. Any others?"
"Huntington's Chorea." The major suggested.
"Gonorrhea." Was Crockett's response.
Several words were offered quietly.
"All of which aptly describe Korea." Sarabeth declared in a soft tone. "And, with those lovely words to inspire me, I think I'll go on duty early and see if I can't convince B J to come back to the Swamp to rest. Kellye may need some help, anyway."
"Kellye?" MacAllister didn't look up from the chess board. Nonchalantly, he asked, "Isn't she that pretty, dark-haired nurse who was collecting blood?"
"When she goes off duty, do you reckon Lieutenant Kellye might let me escort her to her tent?"
Sarabeth grinned. "I reckon she might. And, if she won't, the entire nursing staff will gladly volunteer for that honor."
She offered them the cookie tin. "Last call." At their refusals, she placed the container on the table next to the still. "The rest are for B J and Hawkeye." She collected her dishes. "Charles, where is the water bucket you keep for washing?"
"Pierce used it earlier to rinse out his socks." Winchester reported. "I haven't had the opportunity to refill it."
"Well, at least he's finally washing them!" Sarabeth smiled as Crockett helped her into her coat. "I get off at 0100 hours, brother mine. I'd welcome an escort, then."
"I'll be there." Her brother promised her. "Major, do you want me to leave, as well?" The older MacAllister offered. "So you can get ready for duty?"
"Not at all, Colonel. Let's finish this tie breaker, shall we?"
Releasing her after a quick kiss, Crockett watched Sarabeth through the door screen. He waited until she was inside her quarters before returning to his seat. His expression was troubled.
"How many sisters do you have, Winchester?"
"Only one. And I am very grateful that I do not have to worry about her being in this hellhole."
They resumed their chess game. For a few minutes, Crockett was silent. Then he said, "I could have her transferred to Tokyo General or even to a stateside hospital. And I probably should. But I know my sister. She's so fiercely independent! Short of chaining her to the operating table, there's no way you can keep her where she doesn't want to be."
Winchester grinned at the man. "I have noticed that she is rather...determined."
MacAllister grinned back at him. "You can call her hard-headed. I have...on occasion."
"Sarabeth told me that the people who call her hard-headed are wrong."
Crockett laughed. "Does she tease you a lot, Winchester?"
"All the time."
"Do you mind?"
"I grumble about it. Actually, however, I enjoy it."