Liz wandered absently around the compound until she found herself at Post-Op, and she walked in, wondering how her patient with that shrapnel was faring, and smiled when she saw BJ Hunnicut down at the other end of the room, joking with one of his patients.
She made her way down and soon found her patient.
"David," she said, sitting on the edge of his bed, his clipboard in her hand, glancing at it for a brief second before looking him over herself. "How are you feeling?"
He managed to move his head.
"Not all that great, nurse. My stomach feels like it's been hit with a truck."
She bit her lip at hearing him call her 'nurse', but decided not to say anything, not wanting to agitate him any further. He might be even more worried if he knew that a woman had operated on him; she knew more than a few people back home who felt that way.
Liz simply nodded, and then said, "Looks like your doctor did a good job at stitching you up. Well, I'll make sure you get enough pain medication, and in about a week, you'll be on your way back home."
She was always pleased when she got to send a boy home who was still in one piece and could continue to enjoy life afterwards, even if she couldn't allow herself to take any of the credit. Credit wasn't actually all that important to her; helping people was.
The kid smiled and nodded, saying, "Thanks, nurse. Tell the doc thanks for me, too. I've got a girl back at home waitin' for me and it'll sure be nice to see her again."
She nodded, again.
"Of course, David. You just rest, now, and I'll make sure you get everything you need."
She stood up as he started to nod off, and walked down to Captain Hunnicut, who had already left the bed of the young man that he'd been talking to, and she put her hand on his shoulder, grabbing his attention, and he turned around, a half-smile on his face.
"Hello, Major. What brings you to the Post-Op Ward?"
She discreetly pointed down at her now sleeping patient.
"The boy that I pulled all that shrapnel out of, Private David Smith."
"Ah, mister silent. Yes, I tried to talk to him earlier, but he seemed to only want to talk with the pretty nurses. How'd you get him to talk?" Liz gave him a look, and a look of comprehension came over him. "Ah, I see. He thought that you were…?"
"Yes…and I didn't feel the need to correct him. I don't think he would have taken well to knowing that I was the one who operated on him. Most people don't."
BJ gave her a reassuring smile and put his arm over her shoulders as they walked together out of Post-Op and said, "Well, if it were me, I wouldn't mind one bit. I saw how hard you worked to save him, and you seem more than capable in holding your own against people like…well, let's just say Hawkeye never makes it easy on the newbies."
She let out a small laugh.
"Thank you, BJ."
He squeezed her shoulders gently and said, "Anytime."
They continued to walk aimlessly for a moment longer, and then he said, "So, you seem to have something on your mind. Care to talk about it?" Liz shook her head, but BJ gently pushed, saying, "Around here, I wouldn't recommend bottling things up. Whatever it is, it usually helps to get it out in the open before it explodes at an inopportune moment. Like, perhaps, with Major Winchester earlier…?"
They stopped walking and she looked up at him in shock as he pulled his arm from her shoulders and gave her a pointed look, one eyebrow arched.
"How…how do you know about that?"
BJ let out a small chuckle.
"Well, I do share a tent with the man, and his grumblings weren't all that hard to figure out. Apparently, you were, in his words, not mine, insubordinate?" She said nothing, but was pleased when BJ said, "I didn't think that was even possible, what with both of you being Majors and all."
Liz managed a small smile at that, and so BJ nudged one more time.
"Really, Liz. What's on your mind?"
She shrugged, but at seeing his pointed look a second time, she caved in.
"The anniversary of my father's death is coming up soon and I can't seem to shake this depression that I've been feeling. It's…well, it seems a bit more overwhelming than it's been in previous years." She paused and then let out a long sigh and added, "And…well, I've been missing my mother, as well. I never really knew her, but out here, so close to the front, my thoughts keep on going to her and I'm not entirely sure why…"
He stopped walking and put a hand on her shoulder, causing her to do the same, and he gave her a long look, and then said, "Liz, this is normal. Trust me. You feel your losses a bit more acutely the closer you are to the war. Whenever I get too much alone time, my thoughts always go to my own father, who I lost about three years ago."
She looked him straight in the eye, hoping he wasn't just humoring her, and she saw no deceit.
"So…it's not just me, then?"
BJ smiled and shook his head.
"No. It's not just you."
Feeling reassured, she turned and began walking again, BJ doing the same, their shoulders nearly touching as they walked. They stayed quiet for a long while, simply enjoying the silence, and then BJ said, "Have you gotten into the betting pool, yet?"
Liz arched an eyebrow.
"Yep. We have one going for what stunt Klinger will pull next on trying to get his Section 8." She smiled and said, "Oh you mean the Corporal who does guard duty in the cocktail dress and heels?" He nodded, and she let out a small laugh and replied with, "Well, I'll put down five dollars on wearing a garter belt to the mess tent."
He smiled and said, "Five dollars on the garter. Copy that."
He then split off from her and she smiled at him fondly as she walked back to his tent.
BJ was certainly different from most of the men here at the 4077th. He seemed perfectly fine with the fact that she was a surgeon and didn't seem to have a sexist bone in his body, which made her feel so much more at ease around him. He almost reminded her of her father in certain ways, which made her even more comfortable around him.
She headed back towards the mess tent, her head clear and her heart feeling significantly less heavy than before. Having someone on her side made her feel remarkably less alone and much more capable. She knew that she was a good surgeon and an even better doctor, but it was men like Hawkeye and Major Winchester that made her doubt her own abilities. Liz frequently felt ostracized because of her quick mind and sharp wit, and often felt as though she had been born in the wrong time.
As she stepped inside and got in line for food, grabbing an empty tray, Liz thought over what she might do to change some minds around camp about her position as a M.A.S.H unit surgeon.
She wanted to be a part of a team, and not continually feel as if she was being excluded. Hell, from what she'd seen so far, Major Margaret Houlihan got significantly more respect than she did, and she was only Head Nurse. Not that it wasn't an important position, but Liz couldn't help but feel slighted at the discrepancy.
Letting out a sigh, she took her filled tray to an empty table…and then realized what the problem was.
By being a female surgeon, she was, by default, always going to be an outsider to anyone who thought that she didn't belong in her position. Mind you she hadn't had the opportunity to talk to Margaret Houlihan, and sincerely hoped that the woman would be on her side, but she wasn't entirely sure if she would be. All the women that Liz had met during her years in medical school had either thought she was ridiculously idealistic, or had resented her for her having the presence of mind to challenge the mold of the patriarchal run institution of medicine.
She took a few bites of her food…and was no longer hungry.
Not wanting to waste it, she set her tray down in front of Corporal O'Reilly, who she knew ate three times his weight in food, and walked out of the tent.
No use in getting worked up over it.
She mentally rolled up her sleeves and straightened her back.
She would prove that she belonged there. She would work her ass off until they realized that she had every right to be there, no matter what they thought. She was a surgeon, goddammit, and a damn good one, and she would show them that this was where she was supposed to be.
BJ watched the newest Major and surgeon as she walked away to the mess tent, wondering just what was going through her mind. In truth, he was thrilled to see a woman doing such hard work. From what he'd seen, she was one hell of a surgeon and knew exactly what she was doing.
However, he knew that his view was not a common one…however, Father Mulcahy seemed to be on the same side as the Captain.
BJ had been watching their interactions and couldn't help but notice just how well they got along. They had quite a bit in common, and that certainly helped, but BJ knew that she would not as readily accepted by the rest of the 4077th. He inwardly cursed at the idea. It shouldn't be that way, he thought to himself, shoving his hands into his pockets as he walked back to the Swamp.
Liz was smart and funny and vivacious…well, perhaps vivacious was too strong a word. Not vivacious, but…upbeat. Yes. She was an optimist, something that was rare and hard to find in that particular corner of the war, and he applauded her for it. However, he still felt bad for the resistance that he knew that she was going to face. Colonel Potter appeared to be alright with it, but BJ had the sneaking suspicion that underneath the older man's gruff acceptance was a stinging resentment at being given a woman surgeon.
Potter wasn't a bigot, not by a long stretch, but the Captain knew that he still held on to preconceived ideals of where women were supposed to be. He respected their intelligence, but most likely thought of them as having a, well, delicate, constitution.
After seeing his wife give birth and deal with not only him, but also a newborn and a new house all at the same time, BJ most certainly did not hold that opinion.
He respected women and the strength that they had. Margaret was a prime example of it, of course, but something about Elizabeth Camden said true strength, and not just the brash bravado that the female Captain waved around like a banner or a flag of honor.
There was a quiet, steady energy about her, and BJ knew that it would help her more in the long run than any of Margaret's techniques for dealing with the stresses of war. Liz would make it, and would probably come out of it the least unscathed out of all of them. She had an attitude that spoke of endurance, of knowing the harshness of war long before her time; she was resolute and knew where she stood, morally and spiritually, and that was exceedingly rare in the war.
Realizing that he'd been thinking about her longer than he'd expected, he swiped a drink from the still and sat down on the edge of his bunk.
Moments later, Hawkeye ducked into the tent and poured himself his own drink.
"Beej, what's hangin'?"
"My socks out to dry, I hope," the Captain quipped back, taking a sip of his very, very dry martini, silently wishing he had an olive to wash it down with.
Hawkeye hummed a response, taking a long sip of his own drink, and then coughed and said in a raspy voice, "Drier than I was expecting. We need to find something to wash this down with. Since olives are out of the question, how about Winchester's sweat socks? Think that might work?"
BJ let out a reluctant chuckle, not feeling the humor of the situation, and nodded.
"Sure, what the hell. Not like the man ever uses them, anyway."
Hawkeye nodded and walked over to the Major's side of the tent and began rooting around in his footlocker, and BJ shook his head.
"Never mind, Hawk. I'd rather deal with the dryness."
Hawkeye stumbled back over to his bed and drawled out, "Suit yourself," and then proceeded to down the rest of his martini in one long swig, before reaching over and pouring himself a second one, nearly draining all that they had left in their homemade still.
BJ stared at him a moment, opened his mouth…and then shut it. He could ask the question that he wanted to, and find out just exactly how Hawkeye felt about Elizabeth Camden, but he decided that that was a conversation he should probably save until the man wasn't trying to actively drown himself in liquor.
It could wait.