Charles moved on to a different bed in Post-Op. Nothing new, all routine cases. He wondered idly when the new doctor would be showing up. She'd probably be a horse-faced old woman who was a backwater doctor in a one-horse town in Ireland. He wondered if she could operate. Almost assuredly not. No matter--he could teach her.

He heard an appreciative whistle from one of the beds. Probably just another would-be Lothario getting a glance of Margaret Houlihan. He turned to see what was going on, and his jaw dropped. He stared at the vision for a moment before shaking his head to clear it. She was still there.

Maggie watched, amused, as Charles stared at her, bug-eyed. He was appealing. Very appealing. Not the earthy, good-in-bed type of appealing that Captain Pierce was. She found Hawkeye handsome, but for some reason, this man, who was reputed to be arrogant as the day was long, was more attractive to her. It was just as well. She saw the way the handsome chief surgeon had looked at the beautiful head nurse when they shared a table in the Mess tent.

Charles recovered himself. Who was she? he wondered. Not the new doctor. No way could a doctor look like that. Could she?

He walked over to where she was talking to Lt. Anderson. He held out his hand. "I'm Major Winchester. Call me Charles. And you are...?" he finished questioningly.

She smiled back, and shook his proffered hand. "Captain Maggie Fitzpatrick. Nice to meet you."

He stiffened. What kind of a doctor had waist-length black hair? Or cobalt eyes that danced mischievously. "Well, the pleasure is mine. I must return to my patient." He turned and picked up the chart he'd been perusing. Private Franklin was an eighteen-year-old kid who'd been drafted six months ago. Tachycardia, which was a condition where the heart beats faster than 100 beats per minute, and arrhythmia, any abnormal cardiac rhythm, were both symptoms of shock and hemorrhage. His wonderings were interrupted by Captain Fitzpatrick.

"What seems to be the matter, Major?" She looked at the chart in his hand.

The perfect chance to see if she knew her stuff. "The patient presented yesterday morning with massive trauma to the abdomen. We removed shell fragments by the dozen, and four bullets. There were twelve holes in the intestine, in addition to three in the sigmoid colon. I did the operation, and had to cut it short because his pulse and pressure bottomed out, so I didn't get a good look around. Now he's tachycardic with noted arrhythmia's, and a fever of 103. Any ideas?" he finished.

"It sounds to me like the damage was too extensive to correct in one operation, and you need to stabilize him and get him back into OR. I think, based on what you just said, that you might have missed a fragment or hole, and the result was massive internal hemorrhage, which induced shock. How many pints of blood has he had in the last twenty-four hours?" Maggie looked up at Charles expectantly.

He scowled. She knew what she was doing, he had to admit. Irrationally, he wished she knew nothing of what she was doing. Unfortunately, she was correct. "Ten, and I think you're right, Doctor. After a few more units, I'll have him back on the table. Unfortunately, I think we're about due for some new casualties." He glanced up at the clock as he said it. 2300 hours. Pierce should be relieving him soon, and he could go get some rest.

As if on cue, Hawkeye sauntered through the door. "Evenin' folks!" he called in his best southern accent, which was lousy.

Maggie smiled anyway. He was funny.

Charles curled his lip. Yet another uncultured hick who thought Pierce was amusing. He stuffed his stethoscope in his pocket. "I trust that Lt. Anderson or Captain Fitzpatrick will update you, Pierce. Now, I'm tired."

"Where ya going, Chuckie?" Hawkeye taunted.

Maggie spoke before she thought. "To bed, to bed, to bed," she quoted.

All eyes turned to her. Charles raised his eyebrows. "You're aquatinted with The Bard? I'd never have guessed." He walked through the swinging doors, still thinking about her.

Hawkeye wrinkled his nose theatrically as he regarded the "food" on his tray. "What in the world is this?"

BJ made a similar face, and declined the spoonful of mystery that Igor offered.

Maggie smiled, also declining breakfast in favor of coffee. "Theirs is not to question why..." she quoted Tennyson with a rueful grin.

Charles finished the quote, again taken aback at her knowledge of literature. "Theirs is just to do and die."

Maggie glanced up at him. "Right, Major."

He sneered. "Or course I was right. You know, just because you can toss out a few memorized quotes doesn't make you brilliant. Are those two the only ones you know?" He didn't know just what it was about Maggie, but it seemed that everything she said irritated him. "Well? Any memorized response?"

"Just one: 'I send you and my pot to hell!' Chaucer." She glared at the stuffy doctor, wondering how the others could be such fun and this one could be such a schmuck.

"I know who said it. Do you happen to know which of his works it came from?" he challenged.

"Ridiculous is what this be, Major. This is naught but a grade-school, I believe it's called in America, pissing contest. But, in answer to your question, it was from Canterbury Tales."

He stiffened. How crude, he thought, for her to say that it was a pissing contest. "Good guess. I assume that particular work is his most well-known."

"You know what 'assume' makes out of you, don'tcha Major," Margaret taunted. Assume makes an ass out of u and me.

"Thank you for that reminder, Nurse. You should keep in mind that it does the same to me as it does to you. If you'll excuse me, I have duty in post-op." He huffed out.

Maggie set her coffee cup down, upset at the by-play, even though it appeared that she won. "I have some reading to do, if you'll excuse me." She didn't wait for a response before standing and exiting the mess tent.

Hawkeye shook his head as he watched her exit. "You know, Charles is rude to all of us, but his attitude to her is horrible. I wonder why he hates her so much," he mused.

"I know why," Margaret stated.

"Why?" Hawkeye asked, slurping from his coffee cup.

"Because she is just as smart as he is. And in the same areas. She quotes Shakespeare and other writers more often that he does, she's a good doctor, and she knows music. Not only that, she makes music." She quirked that one brow in an utterly Margaret-like gesture.

"You're right! I can't believe I didn't notice it. Funny, though." He glanced over at her, just then noticing that BJ had left. Hmmm. Odd, to say the least.

"What's funny?" she asked.

"Well, you'd think it was a match made in heaven." They both laughed a little at the flippant comment. Then their eyes connected, and an unspoken conversation occurred.

You think it'd work? her eyes asked.

Absolutely, his answered.

Well...hers said impatiently.

"Lets go!" They both jumped up and headed out the door.

*Margaret's tent*

"Here it is." She flipped open a manila folder. "The surgery schedule, along with post-op duty for the month." She grinned.

"Good. Lets put them together for the night shift all month long. Nobody else in there, we'll say we can't spare the nurse, and that's the shift that got cut back on because we're missing a nurse right now. That or else you can have duty those nights, and just stay out of their way." He smiled craftily.

"Perfect." She made a few changes on the paper. "We got 'em."

He draped an arm across her shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze. "You and me, kid, but mostly you."

She glanced up at him with an easy smile curving her lips.

Why him? Charles wondered sourly. Every rotten night that he had post-op duty, it was shared with her. Drat it all.

Maggie was sitting at the desk in the corner, glancing over the charts stacked up there. Why her? she wondered. Every blasted night she had duty, he was there, glowering at her. As if she'd grievously injured him or something. He was the one who didn't have a civil word for anybody.

A patient began to twitch violently. She jumped to her feet. "Charles! I need some help! Get me some Phenobarb." She turned the patient on his side and held his head still so he wouldn't injure it. Charles arrived with the drug and a bite-block, which he crammed between the patient's teeth, to prevent him from choking on his tongue. The seizure was over as soon as it had started. She sat back on her heels to collect herself. Charles did the same on the other side of the bed.

"Good job," they said simultaneously, and both smiled.

They realized at the same time that the patient had broken the bottle of blood suspended over his arm, and Charles was covered in blood. He glanced down at his hands. They were red.

"Will all great Neptune's oceans wash this blood clean from my hands..." She smiled softly as she quoted Shakespeare and got up. "Go change, Major. I'll hold the fort for a while."

"Thanks, Captain. 'Anon,'" he finished, changing the quote from Romeo and Juliet.

"Sweet Charles, be true," she provided the next line thoughtlessly. When she realized what she had said, she started violently and shook her head. "The shift's almost over, why don't you just knock off fifteen minutes early?" she asked, to cover her blunder.

"Thank you, I believe I will." He grinned mischievously. " 'Stay but little, I will come again.'" He finished the last part of the act and disappeared out the doors.

She shook her head and smiled. Maybe he wasn't so horrible, after all.

Back | Forward