Meanwhile, Claire sat at her desk in the Nursing office of Tokyo General Hospital. A pile of nursing schedules an inch thick sat before her needing to be finalized, but she hadn't bothered to glance at them all day.
She was spending that afternoon the way she spent a majority of her time, daydreaming. Her crisp white uniform had never been stained with blood, but it didn't even have the opportunity to be. The other nurses saw patients; Claire just walked around sometimes and made sure they didn't burn anything down. It was the babysitting job she had imagined.
A lot of the nurses went out to lavish parties the Generals threw after work. Claire always went home to her small apartment and read or listened to music. She knew they spoke about her behind her back. She was described as pleasant but distant, kind but bland. They had figured that Claire had lost her personality somewhere in Korea.
A nurse was walking down the hall at that moment when Major Carter stopped her. "Where are you going?"
"There's another call for Captain Morgan," the nurse replied. "From the M*A*S*H unit."
"Tell them she's busy," Carter said. There was a look of protest, but the nurse turned and walked back down the hallway.
Carter entered the office. "Good afternoon, Captain. Busy as usual, I see."
"Yes, Major," Claire said, jumping from her thoughts. "What brings you here?"
"General Embry is throwing another party tonight. I need you to come along to make a good impression on the nursing staff."
Claire shook her head. "No thanks, Major. I-"
Carter pointed a gloved finger at her. "That's an order, Captain. You're not getting out of it. You do have a decent dress, don't you?"
"Well, yes, but-"
"Good," Carter said with a smile. "I'll send the address along later. See you there." With that, she was gone.
Hours later, Claire was entering the lobby of what had to be the largest hotel in Tokyo. Wearing the royal blue evening dress she had brought from home, it was a strikingly elegant difference from her normal nursing attire. People were milling about everywhere, all engrossed in interesting conversations of every sort.
"Ah, Captain Morgan, you're here," Major Carter had practically come out of nowhere. She was wearing a dark red kimono-style dress, and Claire suddenly had the strongest urge to laugh.
"Well don't just stand there, Morgan," Carter said, grabbing her elbow. "You have to come and meet the General. And don't forget to make my nurses look as good as possible."
The dining hall she was dragged into was immense and richly decorated with bright red carpet, small dining tables, and a large central dance floor. A bar made of a fine dark wood took up the entire right wall.
The crowd was dense, but Major Carter navigated through it with ease. She pulled Claire to the largest dining table where a group had gathered around, laughing. General Embry was the center of attention, wowing his crowd with his war escapades.
Carter pushed a woman aside to tap the General on the shoulder. He turned and grinned. "Major Carter! What a pleasant surprise. Glad you could make it."
"Thank you, General," Carter said, pulling him casually aside from the crowd. "I want you to meet my new head nurse, Captain Morgan." She waved a hand at Claire.
"Nice to meet you, Captain," Embry said, shaking Claire's hand. "Major Carter has mentioned that you used to work in a M*A*S*H unit back in Korea. This must certainly be a difference."
"Yes, General," Claire said. "More than you can imagine."
"Do you see a lot of patients at Tokyo General?"
"Actually no," Claire began, and she soon caught a glare from Carter. She decided to ignore it. "I do all the paperwork."
Embry's smile slipped away. "What? An experienced army nurse like yourself shouldn't be wasting your skills by sitting behind a desk."
He put an arm around Claire's shoulders and began to walk away from the crowd, with Carter at their heels. "I used to know a nurse like you. Took a job as a secretary for some businessman. She got the opportunity to be a nurse again, but those years away from the hospital made her lose her skill. Were you aware of this, Major Carter?"
Carter looked like she was ready to explode. "Captain Morgan was fully aware of what she would be doing, General."
"But it wasn't as if I had a choice, General," Claire said pleasantly. "Major Carter gave me travel orders from HQ."
"I see," Embry said thoughtfully. "Well-"
"General," Carter jumped in. "If you'll excuse us a moment, I need to speak with the Captain." She put an iron grip on Claire's wrist and yanked her a few feet away.
"Are you insane?" She snapped. "What part of 'make the nurses look good' didn't you understand?"
"I just told him the truth, Major," Claire replied. "You and I both know I wasn't trained to baby-sit nurses."
Carter pointed a finger in Claire's face. "You had better be very careful, Captain. They don't want you back at your M*A*S*H unit, and if I decide I don't want you here, the only place left is an aide station on the front lines. I can guarantee you won't want that job." She gestured toward the bar. "Now go over and sit there. Don't speak to anyone important or it just might cost you your job, got it?"
Sitting alone with a martini, Claire was staring off into space, her drink left virtually untouched. She heard someone sit down beside her, but she didn't bother to look.
"Anyone sitting here?" A voice asked.
"No, but-" She turned to look and her mouth fell open.
Hawkeye Pierce was sitting next to her at the bar, nicely dressed in his formal brown Army uniform. His face held the same warm smile that it had the day she met him. "You should have told me you have such great parties here."
She ignored the comment. "Hawkeye, what in the world are you doing here? Does Colonel Potter know about this?"
He waved a hand in dismissal. "Of course he does. B.J. and I needed a vacation anyway. He's still at the hotel sampling the sushi." He smiled, but Claire didn't return it.
He took a deep breath. "Look, Potter told me what happened with Carter, and I shouldn't have said what I did. I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry in person." He put his hand over hers. "We really need you back at the 4077th. But we all miss you just as much. I mean, a few people are beside themselves…but I won't mention any names. So, please, will you forgive me and come back? Colonel Potter can work it all out-"
Claire couldn't help but smile. "I forgive you. And I'd love to come back. This place isn't really me."
Hawkeye grinned just as a song started on the dance floor. "That's great. But before we get back to the trenches, let's dance."
The 4077th had never looked better. As the jeep, B.J., Claire, and Hawkeye rode in rolled to a stop in the middle of the compound, Claire took a moment to take a long look at the rolling hills of Korea in the background, with the cloudless blue sky and shining sun that warmed her back. It really felt like home.
Colonel Potter and Margaret walked up to meet the jeep. "I'm glad you kids all got home in one piece." He smiled at Claire. "It's good to have you back, Captain."
"Thanks, Colonel," Claire said. "Hi, Margaret. Anything exciting happen while I was gone."
Margaret smiled and gave her a hug. "Nothing out of the ordinary. I'm glad you're back."
Hawkeye came over and put an arm around Claire's waist. "It really took a lot of convincing on my part, Colonel. But I finally got her to come with us."
"We only had to knock her out once," B.J. said with a smile.
An announcement sounded over the PA system. "Choppers in the compound! Choppers in the compound! This is no drill, folks!"
The entire camp sprung to action around them, and Potter sighed. "Sorry about this lousy timing, Captain Morgan, but we really need you in there."
Claire smiled. "Thanks, Colonel. It's good to be needed."