"Jim told me he's innocent. He didn't try to kill Prescott."
"Yeah, it was an accident,"
"No. Someone else did it. Shot Prescott, then tried to kill Jim. And he wants to finish it."
"That's ridiculous," objected B.J. "Nobody is trying to kill-"
"No!" protested Hawkeye wildly. "Something is going on, Beej. You must look out for Prescott. He's in danger."
Hunnicutt was opening his mouth to protest, but Hawkeye stopped him.
"Beej. How many times did I ask you for help?"
"I can't count it," answered Hunnicutt with a smirk, then sobered. "Hawk, I'm just trying to tell you, that you was dreaming at the time. There isn't any ghost talking with you. Why would it? You're ill and can't help him in any way."
Hawkeye couldn't disprove the last sentence, but he will not let it be so easily.
"Please, B.J., believe me. Prescott is in danger, and someone must watch him."
"Hawk, Prescott is in Post-Op. With another bunch of soldiers and nurses. There is no way, someone could kill him there."
But B.J.'s words wasn't nearly as true, as he thought.
The first bolt came suddenly, like a falling bomb. Some nurses and patients jerked and awakened, others slept along without so much as stirring. Mike Timber opened his eyes to the dimly lit room and waited. There were still two nurses and the doctor who worked on Prescott. But his chance will soon come, he felt it. Tim Prescott will pay.
The darkness was back and Hawkeye found himself in the place smothered with white mist. Nothingness, that would describe the place. No sound, no smell. He felt hot and cold waves running through him, but nothing more.
On the ground knelt Jim, looking worried. Hawkeye headed for him with a feeling of urgency.
"You're back?" asked him the boy.
"Me? I thought, you're coming after me," wondered Pierce.
"No. I'm waiting, nothing more. It's your decision to come."
"We have only a while, doctor. It will happen, soon. You must stop him."
"Do you believe me?"
The question was sincere, but Hawkeye got a feeling, that Jim was planning something he won't like.
"I don't know you, Jim. But... yeah, I believe you."
"That's all I ask for. Give me your hand, doctor Pierce."
"Please," the urgency increased and Jim's eyes were shining with hope, when Hawkeye extended his hand and Jim grabbed it with a force, that was challenging the theories about spiritual body.
The darkness changed into the lightning on the sky and heavy raindrops were soaking through Hawkeye's army shirt and shorts. His bare legs were covered by mud and every step he took was followed by a spattering sound. It was weird, how a man could lose control over his own body. Hawkeye was somewhere in the background, thinking what would he do, if someone finds him wandering the "streets" of 4077th,
It was Jim who led him to the post-op. Hawkeye could only watch and wonder, when the lightning came down straight into the room with generators and everything went so white, he thought, the world had vanished. But it was just his eyes, which were blinded. After seconds of whiteness, his sight began to adjust to the real darkness. Hawkeye's steps were heading to the post-op, just within a hair evading B.J. Hunnicutt, who was sent to find out, what's with the generator. Hiding in the shadows, Hawkeye waited, until his friend disappeared in the rain, and he walked into the post-op, where the nurses tried to calm the patients. Some of the injured were thinking, that they're back in their nightmare - on the front.
Hawkeye was caught in place like a deer when one of the nurses called: "Doctor, I need a little help here," but the other nurse told her, that B.J. was outside. Hawkeye clenched his teeth, wanting to help them, but not able to do so. His body was moving and he could only watch, what the stranger, whom he believed, was going to do.
One of the occupants was lying quietly on his bed, sleeping under sedatives and calmly breathing. But he wasn't alone. Another form was leaning over him with a big stuffed thing in his hands. Hawkeye was next him in a moment, before he could put the pillow on Prescott's face and smother him, like a child.
"No!" grumbled Hawkeye, his voice lost in the raging storm. But the man turned and for a second, time didn't matter. It was just Hawkeye and him. The pillow dropped on the floor and Hawkeye barely evaded the swing of a crutch, directed at his head. Losing his balance, Hawkeye crashed into the wall with a whump that took the breath out of his lungs. The man with crutches took another swing, this time hitting Hawkeye in the stomach. Hawkeye yelped, but it was a soft sound compared to the storm outside and no one came to his help. His vision clouded over when Jim took over, and Hawkeye stood up, steady and straight, as if nothing happened. The man frowned and tried to hit him, but this time, Hawkeye side-stepped and hit him in the face with a fist. The man slumped down, halfly laying on Prescott's bed. Tim moaned and moved his head. Hawkeye leaned over him with a smile that couldn't be seen, ruffled his hair and said:
"You'll be safe, Timmy. I'd make sure of that. But... you must be strong. Tell the doctors, who tried to kill us. You must tell them, okay?"
Tim nodded, confused and tired, but understanding. Hawkeye let out a sigh of relief. The form on the floor wasn't a danger anymore - he was pretty good knocked unconscious. But the storm started to abate, and Hawkeye saw the light from batteries. B.J. was coming.
Hurriedly, Hawkeye left the post-op, somehow evading the two nurses, Hunnicutt, even Margaret, who was awakened by the lightning. He made it in the rain, not as strong, but there anyway, to the VIP's tent, and without a word slumped to his bed, asleep. Half hour later, when the nurse came in, he didn't even stir. But the nurse did, when she saw the mud on his feet, and his wet clothes and hairs. She cursed like a lady shouldn't, and turned on her heels, to call reinforcement.
A while later, B.J. Hunnicutt came in, along with Margaret Houlihan, who was ready to chew him out because she felt, that letting Hawkeye alone in here was a bad idea.
B.J. shook his head in amazement and doubt, also in anger, because it seemed like Hawkeye wandered the camp right in the storm. Thinking what could've happened if he was near the generators, B.J. shivered. Margaret in the meantime began the inspection, snarling, while she washed Hawkeye's feet, so that the bed won't get more dirty than it already was. B.J. leaned over him and began to check his vitals.
"We should change his clothes," he suggested, "before he also gets pneumonia."
"Strip him, then tie down to bed, so he can't move," voted Margaret and B.J. scowled at her. Sure, this was Hawkeye, but he didn't deserve such a medieval practices. Maybe they could drug him, thought B.J. smirking.
"At least, his fever is down a little."
"I wonder how long. He's the coldest person in this camp, at the while."
"Yeah. Help me, I need to sit him up, so we can get the shirt off him." Margaret mumbled something, but helped B.J.. Holding Hawkeye's back, she didn't see the big bruise on his left side, but B.J. did. Cursing, he took the shirt off and motioned to Margaret to lay him down.
"What's that?" he asked, furious.
"It looks like someone punched him pretty hard."
"But who? And why? Hell, he could hardly stand." B.J. began to examine the bruise, pushing at it, when Hawkeye moaned and tried to twist from his touch.
"Hawkeye? Come on, wake up. I need to talk with you."
Hawkeye groaned and opened his left eye, blinking to the light. The spare generator was functioning.
"Cold," he muttered and tried to pull the blanket over himself, but B.J. stopped him.
"I know you're cold. That's the result of your wandering in the rain. You're soaked."
"You stripped me?" asked Hawkeye dazedly.
"No, but it's on the best way. What were you doing outside, Hawk?"
"Yeah, the place where it's raining. You're soaked, your hair is wet. I'd tell, you were out."
"Uhm," Hawkeye was slowly remembering the recent events, and moaned, not for the discomfort he felt, but from thoughts, what will he tell B.J.. And Margaret, came the second thought, when Major Houlihan unceremoniously threw him clean shorts. Hawkeye didn't notice she was away.
"Oh no, I won't strip before her," he protested.
"Pierce, I've seen your butt more times, than I would like to think of. Don't be a baby and change."
Margaret scowled, but B.J. nodded and she let out a frustrated sigh.
"Okay, be an ass. I'm going back to post-op, where normal patients needs a "normal" care. Doctors," she slammed the doors, and Hawkeye jerked.
"She's mad," he muttered, changing into dry shorts, wincing in the process.
"Just like me," answered B.J. and Hawkeye looked down.
"Who hit you?"
"Uh... I don't know," replied Hawkeye with a shrug - it was true. He didn't know, who was it.
"Do you care to tell me, what happened?"
"I don't think you would believe me,"
Hawkeye nodded and slowly lie down, feeling the throbbing in his body, but also the chills.
"You hurt anywhere else?" asked B.J. in concern.
"No, just the usual. Plus my side, like a bonus."
"Yeah. It'll be sore a few days, but I don't think anything is broken. Probably just bruising."
"It's enough," hissed Hawkeye as B.J. touched the rough spot. "Hey, it's my bruise. Take your own, if you like it, but leave my alone."
Hunnicutt smiled and with a sigh pulled the blanket over Hawkeye's trembling body.
"What were you doing in the previous hour?"
"Can I just ask you something, Beej?"
"You found him?"
"The... the man with crutches. He should've been on the floor, next to Tim's bed. I know, I knocked him down," for a confirmation, Hawkeye demonstrated his fist with raw knuckles. B.J. inspected it with a frown, turning the hand in his.
"Pretty. Any other places with broken bones or other injuries?" Hawkeye chuckled.
"No. That's all."
"So now you can answer my question, what the hell were you doing in post-op?"
"I- don't think, even I can accept it, Beej. But... Jim was here." And Hawkeye told him everything, he remembered. B.J. was first looking dubiously.
"You hit your head, too?" he asked Hawkeye, as he was talking about the conflict with the stranger.
"Damn, Beej," protested Hawkeye, "I'm telling you the truth."
"Yeah, with ghost and attempted murder."
"Yes! Look, believe what you want. I'm just telling you, that someone with crutches and a fine bruise on his cheek, tried to kill Tim Prescott. I didn't hit myself, if you think that."
"No, I don't think that," protested B.J. fiercely.
"Fine. Then go to post-op and look at the patients. I'm sure, you will find him. And... talk with Prescott. He will tell you, what happened."
"Prescott is still unconscious."
"No, he isn't. I talked with him."
"And nothing. It was just a second. Please, Beej... just go."
B.J. sighed, then after a quick nod headed out, stopping by the doors.
"This time, stay in bed, you understand? Otherwise, I'll help Hot Lips tie you to bed."
"Gosh, I didn't know that Hot Lips is wanting me so much," joked Hawkeye and B.J. left him alone with his thoughts. They wasn't very romantic or comical, so Hawkeye rather fell asleep.
The night changed into morning, then to another hot day. It brought some news, but Hawkeye didn't hear them. He was in deep sleep, his body raged with fever. The doctors and nurses in MASH 4077 were occupied by a last dose of injured from the front, spending their time in operation room or post-op. Hawkeye was left to a tending care of father Mulcahy or one of the nurses, which one had a time. Soon, the VIP's only occupant was joined by another patient, as the camp was short of beds and place in post-op.
It was indeed weird to woke up thinking, you're alone, just to hear someone cough and tell you Hi. Hawkeye turned his head and surprisingly stayed silent. Here, on the next bed, lay Tim Prescott with a sheepish smile on his pale face.
"Hey," answered Hawkeye yawning. "What are you doing here? I thought..."
"They brought me here yesterday, Dr. Pierce," answered Tim. "I, ah - I asked them to."
"Why? Moment, yesterday?" Hawkeye was really confused.
"Well, yeah. You see, doctor, you was out cold for almost three days. And I asked to be brought here because - well - Doctor Hunnicutt told me, that you saved my life. On the post-op wasn't enough place and I wanted to thank you in person."
"Three days?" repeated Hawkeye and looked around. An infusion attached to his hand was slowly dripping, next to his head was a bowl with water. But one look at Tim, and Hawkeye smiled.
"So... you here for so long? You should tell me, what happened. They caught him?"
"Yes. I woke up that morning after the storm, and told them, who shot me."
"They didn't catch him?" asked the surprised Hawkeye.
"No. Apparently, Timber's had a head injury earlier, and you hit him, where he was bandaged. It knocked him out, but he came to himself and crept into his bed, so doctor Hunnicutt didn't found him. But after that, the post-op was too crowded for him to do anything, just wait. Once I got up..." Just then the doors opened and B.J. Hunnicutt walked in, smiling, when his eyes found Hawkeye.
"Hawk! Jeez, don't do this to me again. I thought, that you're gonna leave me with Winchester as the only bunkie. I'm going crazy from him."
"Good to see you, too," replied Hawkeye.
"Now, how do you feel?"
"Better than in the last three days, I hear. At least my neck's not so stiff anymore." Hawkeye shifted on the bed, moaning, "even if the rest of me is. Get this thing out of me," he pointed at the infusion.
"Let it drip out, Hawk. We don't have to waste."
Hawkeye rolled his eyes, but obeyed.
"What's the prognosis, Doctor Hunnicutt?" asked Hawkeye in professional tone, and Tim Prescott chuckled.
"Oh, once you get some brain into the head of yours, it should be fine."
"Any news from 8063?"
"They've another three cases. For now, it's three dead, two in critical condition, and three recovered or on the way to recovery."
Hawkeye was silently watching the grim face of his friend, and realized, how lucky he was. Not only because he survived this, but also for the friends he found around him.
"Where's Timber now?"
"On the way to Seoul."
"What?!" Hawkeye's eyes were unbelievingly staring at them, and B.J. couldn't hold the laughter, first one in the last three days.
"In the company of MP's, going straight into custody, then maybe Leavenworth."
"Yeah. Just what he deserves," said grimly Tim Prescott, thinking about Jim.
"Well, I'll leave you two for a moment. Don't overdo it, boys," with that, B.J. left.
"So, why was Timber wanting to kill you?"
"I saw him... doing something," Tim gulped and stared at the ceiling. Hawkeye allowed him a moment of much needed silence.
"What did he do, Tim?"
"We - were on our way to Inchon, when our tire went flat. You know how hot it can get, in this month. The nearest unit was twenty miles away and Mike just got creepy. He was weird the whole time - I mean - it was characteristic for him to act strange. But, that was just too..." Tim shook his head.
"We began to walk, but two miles away, Mike turned and said, that he must return to Jeep, because he left his gun there. It was true. So, he returned and we were waiting, but it took too long, so I headed after him. Tim and one other guy, Kyle, were going ahead, while I was going back to the Jeep.
When I was near the place, I heard shooting, so I started to run. I found Mike changing the tire from another Jeep. It was... it was a South Korean Jeep. I thought that the Koreans were helping him, but then I saw the Korean soldier in British uniform, laying in the bush, with a hole in his head. Mike killed the man, so we don't have to walk in the heat. It was our ally, but he saw only a Korean. No difference."
Hawkeye was shocked by the testimony, no more by Timber's atrocity.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing. I couldn't...tell it to anyone. I didn't saw the act, and Mike sweared it was just a self defense. I didn't believe him, and he put the gun to my head, telling me, that if I open my mouth, I'll be dead. So I kept it in silence, because I was afraid."
"But he tried to kill you,"
"He thought I talked about it with Jim. And... it would've been true, but he was faster. We had a watch, when Mike heard some commotion. It was a trap... Jim got to look - and then I only heard the explosion and ran after him. When I turned to call at Mike, he was standing there, with a gun aiming at me. I don't really remember when the first bullet hit me. Our CO was here two days ago and told me, that some North Korean shot Timbers, when he was "calling for help". I think it was my luck, because Timbers would've made sure, that both me and Jim were dead."
"I'm sorry," said Hawkeye after a while. He couldn't understand, why would someone do such a thing - and in the war like this...
"Still, I'm very grateful for your help."
Hawkeye turned away, once again ashamed.
"It wasn't really me.."
"Doctor Hunnicutt told me about Jim," confessed Tim.
"Yeah, I can be pretty adamant, when I want to. And if you remember, I wasn't so unconscious at the time you saved me."
"I heard Jim, but saw you. I hope, that Jim is at better place than Korea. Maybe he's dancing with some angel nurse," chuckled Tim and Hawkeye joined him.
"Yeah, maybe. Or he's watching out for someone else."
That was Hawkeye's first and maybe the last encounter with ghost.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, this is the end. I wanted to thank Emily, who reviewed this thing and encouraged me to continue in writing, also to others for their reviews on my other stories. Though one note: The disease Hawkeye caught was supposed to be Japanese Encephalitis. I get the informations about it on CDC, but I couldn't find dates. I donīt know if the disease was discovered in 1950-1953 while the war in Korea, nor do I know if there was any treatment for it at the time. I also had some problems to discovery some medical procedures - for instance - does anyone know, when the doctors started doing LP (lumbal puncture?) ? Because it's a common test in the suspected cases of encephalitis or meningitis. Nevermind, if you know about a good link where I can learn those informations, please write me about it at email@example.com
Also all reviews are deeply appreciated - begged for :-)