Chapter Three

Hawkeye looked up the moment the bike was passing under a sign. "MASH 4077th - Best Care Anywhere" He hadn't been expecting to be returning so soon, if ever, and he certainly hadn't expected to be returning with a wounded man that also passed as his best friend. "Nearly there, Beej," he called over his shoulder, but frowned when he didn't get a response. "Beej?"

BJ mustered a reply, "Mm-mmf", then after a beat or two, he softly added, "I... I really don't feel too good, Hawk. "

Hawkeye slowed the bike, half turned to BJ to reply, but sat there with his mouth half open as his friend slowly slid to the side and fell from the bike. He stopped the panic that swiftly rose in him at the door, hopped away from the bike, not caring where it fell, and was kneeling beside BJ and turning him over before he could register what he was doing.

He quickly inspected the shoulder wound and found it bleeding again. He then turned his attention to the leg wound and softly swore when he found it to be puffy and red around the edges and also bleeding. He tried to rouse his friend, but to no avail. "Come on, Beej, don't do this to me," he begged in a whisper, his voice tight with worry, "Not now, not any time," He ripped at his shirt again and soon re-applied another ball of strips to BJ's shoulder wound.

BJ shifted and moaned in response, but quickly grew silent.

Hawkeye could feel his anxiety rise, inch by painful inch. He placed a hand on BJ's forehead and knew then that a fever had taken a hold. It was hot and dry to the touch. He could see BJ's breathing labouring a little, even though unconsciousness should have smoothed it out... another sure sign of a fever.

Hawkeye cursed those that had shot his friend, cursed the war that had ordered his friend away from the safety of his home and his loved ones, but most of all he cursed himself for his inability to do anything other than to sit and wait for the return of the helicopter. That thought had him checking his watch, which, after brushing away some spots of BJ's blood from the face of it, showed him that no more than an hour had passed. Another hour to go, he guessed.

He turned to BJ and tried to rouse him again. He got a muffled reply but that was it. He didn't like being out in the open, so he moved to his friend's shoulders, thankful this time that BJ was actually unconscious, grabbed his friend under the armpits and started to drag him towards the main medical building. He kicked open the two-way door and dragged BJ further inside, where, once the door had re-closed, he collapsed beside his friend in an exhausted heap.

The air was different in here. He could tell the moment he took his first gulp of breath. It still had the rank smell of what he associated with death; rotting blood, musky and putrid to his nostrils. He would have been sick had he not smelt this before. Each body that had been brought to him, the first incision had always left this lingering, pungent smell in his nostrils and no application of disinfectant had ever taken the odour away.

On hearing muffled, mutterings coming from his friend, he turned to BJ and wished, not for the first time, that it was him with the bullet wounds and not is friend. When it came down to it, it had nothing to do with being a martyr or anything to do with nobility, all it had to do with was the knowledge that his friend had a lot more to lose than himself. He had a family back home, a young baby girl that he'd not seen since one month after the birth, a wife that he knew loved BJ, unconditionally. Yeah, he had a lot more to lose... and so did his family.

Had it not been for BJ, even as unconscious as he was, Hawkeye would never have felt so lonely.

The first thing he saw were the sky-blue, lagoon coloured eyes gazing at him. He could have sworn that he saw almost every emotion in them; Fear, despising, disbelief, relief, shock, but the most overpowering of them all was love; love for him, despite the tears. He held those eyes with his own.

Not two steps later he encased the woman, the owner of those eyes, in his arms and held her tightly to his chest. He hushed and shushed the tears away; brushed a hand gently through her hair. He took a deep breath of her, his own relief held deep within that breath. "My God, Peg, you have no idea," he whispered to her with a feather-light quiver to his voice... the only indication of all his unexpressed emotions.

Peg looked up at him, her eyes shining with the shedding of her tears. "Come with me, BJ, I have a daughter to show you," she said, lovingly running a hand through his stubble and the moustache that occupied the space above his top lip.

BJ felt his heart skip a beat at the thought. For two years he'd waited for this moment. Two long, hard years of seeing things that should never be seen, with the thought that it would soon be over, and on that thought that he would soon see his daughter. For once his gaze drifted from the woman in front of him and searched the surrounding area for his daughter.

He saw Radar first and smiled in greeting. He hadn't changed a bit and he could hear his voice without the young man having to say a word. He chuckled, then his eyes drifted downward. His heart skipped another beat. There at the end of Radar's outstretched arm was the tiniest of women he had ever seen. Chestnut hair pulled into ponytails each side of her head; eyes that outdid the loveliness of her mother's and a mouth that pouted whatever the expression. A thumb that hesitated on it's way to her mouth when he saw her catch eyes with him.

He captured her gaze as he allowed Peg to take him closer. Not more than a foot away, Peg left him standing there on his own. He briefly felt bereft of her touch, but the anticipation of finally meeting his daughter quickly filled the hole. He took a breath in and held it.

He watched as Peg knelt beside the two-year old and introduced them to each other. With a gentle smile of greeting, BJ slowly exhaled and took a step closer, but then jumped to a halt, startled by a sudden high-pitched squeal of fright that pierced his eardrums.

"No-o-o-o! Mommy! Mommy! He's not my Daddy, he's not," the tiny young girl screamed. She started to whimper, her chin quivering with her obvious fear; tears streaming down both sides of her face, "Please, Mommy, Radar's my Daddy. Radar," she wailed and jumped into her mother's arms.

Hawkeye grabbed at BJ's hand and tried to stop his thrashing about. "C'mon Beej, it's all right..." he urged his friend, "it's all right...."

BJ arched from the ground, his body tensing with the images he was experiencing. "No, please Erin," he begged, "please."

"BJ" Hawkeye yelled, "wake up."

BJ flopped to the ground, a grunt of pain escaping him. He turned his face to the side, away from Hawkeye, willing all the good thoughts he'd had concerning his daughter to come back to him. "Sorry," he eventually whispered, his voice still thick with the nightmare. He swallowed hard against the potent emotions that were bombarding him. He was now aware that it had been a nightmare, but it still did not take away the pain of having his daughter reject him. His greatest fear spelt out to him in a dream. "Hawk?" he finally muttered, "What am I going to do if... if Erin rejects me?"

Hawkeye hated to hear the desolation in his friend's voice, no matter how understandable it was. He'd heard it before, had, once before, paid with a right hook to his face. His friend's ultimate fear. "Reject you?" he suddenly exclaimed with forced disbelief, "Reject you? C'mon, Beej, how could she reject someone like you? You, with a strong chin, cheesy moustache, huge feet, and smelly socks? C'mon, Beej, she'd be an idiot to reject you."

BJ had wanted to laugh, but it got caught somewhere in the middle of his chest and painfully remained there, steadily taking chunks out of his heart. "Thanks," he eventually managed to whisper, but quickly added, "Uh, l-listen, Hawk... give me a moment?"

Hawkeye let go of his friend's hand and stood. "Sure, Beej... I'll, uh, I'll see if we left anything behind."

"S-sure... and thanks."

"Yeah, right, sure Beej."

Hawkeye stood still a moment, wanting to move, but not happy to leave his friend alone, especially with the nightmare he'd just had. He took one more look down at BJ. He tried not to register the grimace on his friend's face, because he knew that if he let it go further than just seeing it, it would change his mind. But, he had to admit, if he were in the same position, he knew that privacy and his asking for it would have been first and foremost on his mind.

He eventually sighed and moved into the room where the last operation had taken place. He could still hear the voices now. BJ humming a little ditty, whilst his hands kept pace with the tune; a snip here and another snip there, padding a bleed and then ordering a nurse to stitch up. He then heard Margaret's voice, short and snappy; as efficient as her own skills. Long forgiven were the memories of her and Frank Burns' attempts at seeking some sort of revenge against him and BJ... and he had to admit that he had started to like this new and improved Margaret.

Radar... Colonel Potter... Corporal Klinger... Father Mulcahy... He could see all of them, each in their own way, striving to save another poor soul that had found themselves in their hands. He'd once said to BJ that he thought he would never be as close, or would want to be, to anyone else than those who he worked with at the 4077th... and it was true. He could feel each one of them climb inside his heart and take a space there that had otherwise been vacant.

Hating to dwell, as he always did, he suddenly shook himself and began a search of the cupboards, and whatever else around the edges of the room, for anything that might help BJ.

"So, Margaret, you worked with the Doctor's long?"

"Well, Hawkeye, the crazy one..." She stopped to chuckle at that. "Anyways," she started again, "I've worked with Hawkeye since the beginning of MASH 4077..."

"Sounds like you two got along just fine, ma'am..."

This time Margaret laughed out loud.

"Uh, ma'am?"

"We never got along, sailor... Well..." she quickly amended "not until recently that is." She looked at the pilot and started to explain, "He's not as crazy as you'd think. He hides his concern for others, which did include me, behind a barrage of jokes. Sometimes annoyingly so," she admitted, "The more worrying the case, the more with the jokes..."

"Ah," Tom nodded, "And the stupid one?"

Margaret smiled with affection, "BJ? He was always a good one, despite the practical jokes. He's married, with a kid that he hasn't seen since a month after her birth."

"Harsh," Tom stated with a wince.

"It was, and is, for him," Margaret agreed. She then thumped the front of the helicopter, "Of all the damned things to happen," she suddenly exclaimed.

"Hey, c'mon, Margaret," Tom muttered with concern, "we'll be there round an hour from now. You can see with your own eyes how good or bad-a shape he's in. Let's not worry 'til then... Okay?"

"Easier said than done, Sailor, but... but I'll give it a try," she promised.

Tom nodded at that and then turned his attention to getting the helicopter, as fast as he could make it fly, to the two Doctors that Margaret obviously had some sort of affection for.

BJ looked up from where he was lying to see Hawkeye coming back into the room. "You find anything, Hawk?" he asked.

Hawkeye shrugged, "Some, Beej," he replied, "A bottle of disinfectant and some liquid chloroform."

"Nice, well, as long as you don't make me drink them that is."

With a smile, Hawkeye shook his head and replied, "Not his time, Beej."

"Ah, well, good then."

Hawkeye moved closer, sat cross-legged next to his friend and gently asked, "Stupid question I know, but how are you feeling?"

"I've felt better, but I'm glad I'm not alone anymore."

Hawkeye raised an eyebrow at him, then fluttered his eyelashes and grinned, "Why Doctor Hunnicutt, are you making a pass at me?" he said.

BJ chuckled, moaned in pain and shifted to a more comfortable position in quick succession. "You trying to kill me?" he managed to grit out at his friend.

Hawkeye shrugged, "Well, at least you'd die laughing." He looked away at that point and pushed back the thought of it. He suddenly stood and started to pace, "Where the hell is that chopper?" he anxiously muttered.

"It'll be here Hawk. Just give it some time."

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