Not for the first time, Hawkeye knelt beside his friend and checked his pulse. He wasn't surprised by the lack of response. He hadn't got one the last three times he'd done this very same thing. He had to admit that it had frightened ten years from him when BJ had suddenly succumbed, half way through a conversation, to unconsciousness.
He found the pulse to be racing and thready, another sure sign of the fever taking further hold of his friend.
He had been tempted to operate on BJ's leg, if only to get the bullet out, but the moment the thought had occurred to him, so had the knowledge that he didn't have a scalpel, or at least a penknife. On that, his frustration had also grown. He had resorted to pacing to and fro. One length of the room to the other and when the view of those sides of the room had taken their toll on him, he had switched and paced the width of the room, all the while cursing the absence of the helicopter.
He stood from taking BJ's pulse and turned to resume his pacing. He took no more than two steps when he stopped and cocked his head to the side. He could hear them, the rotor-blades of a helicopter. He returned to BJ's side and tried to rouse him, but to no avail. Nevertheless he still left a message, "Chopper's here, Beej,"
He stood and ran outside the building to where BJ's message still lay stark against the dry ground. He briefly glanced at it, silently cursed the fact that he did and then watched the helicopter begin it's descent.
Margaret looked out the side window, down to the ground where she could see a figure standing beside a message. She frowned at the message, but felt her heart flip a beat when she recognised the figure standing beside it. "Hawk..." she whispered.
"The crazy one," Tom chuckled.
"The crazy one, Tom," Margaret replied with her own laugh. Despite her anxiety, she felt like a schoolgirl meeting someone behind the bike shed for a quick kiss, and on that thought she felt her lips instantly tingle in remembrance of the one that she had received only a couple of hours previous.
Hawkeye anxiously watched the helicopter land, urging it to move quicker, despite knowing that it could not land any faster. However, the moment the runners had touched the ground, he was hunch-running to open the side door. He opened it and immediately started to rattle off the situation, "Okay, pal, here's what's goi..." He pitted out when he saw that the pilot had a passenger and then opened and closed his mouth, much like a fish out of water gasping for its return, when he saw that the passenger was Margaret Houlihan.
Margaret jumped from the helicopter and hugged Hawkeye.
Hawkeye pulled her away from him and harshly stated, "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I heard what had happened," Margaret replied.
"And, what, Hawkeye?" Margaret angrily retorted back at him.
"Margaret, in case you haven't noticed, this is not exactly Palm Beach."
"Don't you patronise me, Benjamin Franklin Pierce!"
"Whoa, Docs, c'mon," Tom suddenly interrupted them both, "don't you have a patient here or something?"
Hawkeye aimed a glare at Margaret and received one just as fatal back at him. He then looked away to Tom and asked, "You got a penknife, friend?"
Tom frowned a moment before sifting through the inside pocket of his jacket and pulling out a penknife. He leant forward and handed it over, "Here ya go."
Hawkeye took the knife, "Thanks..." he said, "Look, I found my friend, but he's hurt. I can't move him 'til I've operated..."
"With that?" Tom asked in disbelief, pointing at the penknife.
Hawkeye shrugged, "S'all I got..." then asked, "You gonna wait?"
Hey, c'mon Doc, what d'ya take me for? Course I'll wait."
"Sorry," Hawkeye muttered. He turned away from Tom, but stopped when he felt a hand on his arm. He looked up at the pilot with a frown.
"You need any help?"
"Thanks," Hawkeye replied, grateful for the offer, but added, "but I think you need to stay here, make sure we have a way out of here without having to go the hard way."
"All right, she'll be here... just try not to make it too long?"
Hawkeye nodded and as he moved off he said, "I'll do my best..."
Margaret glared at Hawkeye's retreating back, grabbed the first aid box from her seat in the helicopter, then huffed and ran after him. "Pierce?" she hollered at him.
"Look Margaret, I don't have time for this," Hawkeye stated, while still moving towards the medical building, "BJ's hurt and I've got to do an op on him with... with this!" He held up the penknife in front of her, snarled at it and then stalked past her.
"Then it's a good job I came along, wouldn't you say, Dr Pierce?!" Margaret retorted.
Hawkeye stopped and faced her, a scowl furrowing his forehead into tramlines.
"Look, Margaret, we know the war's over. Hell, you'd think everyone would know the war's over, but they don't." He huffed at her, "Why don't you ask BJ if the war's over..." He looked at Margaret then, *truly* looked at her, and sighed. "This isn't a safe place, you know?"
Margaret smiled at him and said, "When I got the scuttlebutt about a stupid Doctor and a crazy one, and that the crazy one was going back for the stupid one, I knew who it was they were talking about, Hawkeye." She paused a moment and then softly added, "I couldn't *not* come..."
Hawkeye sighed, "I know, but I wish you hadn't..." He stopped a moment in contemplation, then added, "I guess I get what BJ meant now..."
"He said the same?"
"Uh-huh, but only cos he was worried about Peg and Erin... He, uh, he didn't think he was gonna make it."
"And is he?"
Hawkeye took a deep breath in to calm his nerves. Eventually he whispered, "He's not good, Margaret. He's got two wounds, one in the shoulder and one in the leg. He's got a fever, possible septicaemia, definite infection in the leg wound."
Margaret processed the information before asking, "Is... is he conscious?"
Hawkeye shook his head, "Well, he was, but not for sometime now..."
Margaret took a hold of Hawkeye's arm, blinked back the tears that had risen in her eyes and said, "C'mon, Hawkeye, lets go save your friend... and mine..."
Hawkeye allowed himself to be pulled along and said, "Did I ever tell you that you look lovely when you let go of your hard exterior?"
Margaret chuckled, "Not in so many words, but I got it in the end."
Hawkeye's eyes briefly twinkled at the revelation, but then he frowned when the thought of BJ's condition just wouldn't leave him.
Hawkeye opened the door for Margaret and started to move where BJ had last been lying, only to find a hazy outline of his body on the floor. He turned to Margaret with a question on his lips, when a sudden roar to his right and the sound of movement had him instead pushing Margaret away and bracing himself for impact.
BJ hit him full force and took them both to the ground. Hawkeye grabbed at BJ's fists and tried to force him from him, but the strength of his friend, surprisingly so, kept him pinned. "C'mon, Beej, it's Hawkeye," he cajoled, "you... you really don't wanna be doing this, you know..." He looked up at that point and almost recoiled to see his friend's face blood red with anger.
"What have you done?!" BJ yelled, "I was on my way HOME! I was on my way home!"
Hawkeye felt his hands being pulled one way and then the next. He knew that if he let go, then BJ would let fly with his fists. He kept talking softly and soothingly to his friend, much like you would to a spooked animal, hoping something would connect. He suddenly blinked, his eyes immediately tearing. A sickly smell of peppermint, that also smelt like it had been doused in petrol, was almost overpowering. He looked up and found Margaret standing behind BJ, with her free hand over her own mouth, forcing a pad over his friend's mouth.
The moment BJ started to convulse, Hawkeye shut his eyes and held his breath. He wasn't sure whether it was the sight of his friend having a fit or whether it was the effects of the liquid chloroform that was making his nauseous. He suddenly let out a gasp when the full force of BJ's limp body hit him across the chest. He opened his eyes, to find his friend's closed beside him. He gently shifted BJ from on top of him and slid away.
Once away from BJ's inert body, Hawkeye quickly left the building and took large gulping breaths of air. He felt a hand gently touch his back and begin a soft circular movement around the centre of it. He could feel his stomach revolting against the brief inhalation of the liquid chloroform and couldn't stop the retching before it started.
"You all right, Hawkeye," Margaret whispered, as she continued the comfort rubbing of his back.
Hawkeye dry-retched once more and then slowly stood. His stomach still felt as though it was trying to make a God-awful escape through his navel, but he didn't feel nauseous any more. Eventually he managed to say, "I'm fine, Margaret... It just got me by surprise, that's all."
"I didn't know what else to do."
Hawkeye sort of chuckled and admitted, "Me too..." He looked to the door of the medical building and asked, "BJ all right?"
Margaret silently nodded, though a frown of worry caused her brows to knit together. "He's resting comfortably, Hawkeye," she eventually whispered.
"Ah," Hawkeye muttered, "back to business." He took another deep breath of air and as he slowly exhaled, he started to move back to the building.
Margaret linked her arm through his and silently walked with him.